Rights versus redistribution 

Regarding the July 19 letter by Mr. Norm, we force ourselves to read these types of editorial page letters because we want to make sure we get all sides of every argument. This one was particularly tough to get through, because the writer has no concept of why the Right has had it. 

At least with Fox News, he would get both sides of the subject instead of being fed only the ideas he agrees with since, the Left has a stranglehold on every other media outlet (KDT excepted, of course). 

 Also, he needs to “reread” his Constitution, because he’s wrong about so much of that. This is sadly what our school children are being taught, too, so no wonder there’s so much ignorance about what is a right and what is not, and so much hatred for what Americans have been literally dying for for years to give them as a wonderful legacy, such as the liberty he mentions.

Mr. Norm, a right is granted by God, such as the right to protect yourself and to pursue happiness. Everything else he talks about is redistribution, i.e., theft from your fellow citizens. So health care, education, etc., is something our government has no business sticking its big, inefficient, bureaucratic nose into. And yet here we are.

So far, the Left on your pages has showed a serious lack of understanding of economics (ala ACortez with her scary Boston University degree in same) and an acceptance of the profane call to violence from spokespeople on the Left and the shrill lack of patriotism of the Left in the house on the hill. We don’t want to just let you vomit your illiterate opinions without some response. 

We call it diversity, sir. 

Martha Loomis, Kerrville

Policies of US GOP are fascist 

Wednesday morning we were treated to yet another treatise on the Constitution by Stephen Lehman.

In one brief column he declares Democrats to be ignorant, socialist, “obedient to Marxism” and “might as well be the Communist Party”. That’s a lot of deflection there Mr. Lehman.

I find the timing of this delusional diatribe quite prophetic since only, this past weekend, his President went off the racist rails attacking elected members of Congress as “unAmerican” for opposing his inhumane policies along our southern border and telling them to “go back where they came from”. Regardless of your opinion of our broken immigration system, we should all agree that Trump’s policies are what are un-American and unconstitutional. We treat POWs better than we are treating legal asylum seekers and their children.

On Tuesday, House members were given the opportunity to stand up against Trump’s racism. Only four Republicans had the courage to cast a vote denouncing racism. That means there are 187 Republicans in the House who aren’t ashamed to have a racist in the White House and are OK with him and his policies or are just spineless sycophants. The difference hardly matters.

So instead of blaming Democrats for every ill befalling our country, perhaps Mr. Lehman should turn his focus onto the fascist policies being promoted by his own party.

The 17th Amendment, proposed in 1913 and ratified by 36 states the next year, is not Marxism, it’s a democratic republic responding to the rampant corruption going on in state houses of the time.

As far as the Democrats’ primary candidates are concerned, any one of them would make a better president for the people than the current occupant of our White House.

Richard Coleman, Kerrville


(17) comments


Thank your your letter Mr. Coleman. Have you ever thought about applying your political beliefs in place where you live?

Mary Lou Shelton

Ms. Loomis, there are no rights granted by God. you need to go back and do some serious reading of your bible. Our rights come from the constitution and various amendments, and are back by the rule of law, not the will of God. But next time you write, try another unhinged rant. they are quite impressive displays of thoughtful reflection. gene


Gene, you need to familiarize yourself with the founding documents. The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence begins "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I can assure you that the opinions of the Founders on this point did not change between 1776, when the Declaration was written, and 1787, when the Constitution was drafted. Ms. Loomis has it right. If you actually read the Bill of Rights, you will find that they do not say anything about empowering the people with rights. They explicitly forbid the federal government from taking actions which would impinge on those God-given rights. To hold that our rights come from the government is tacitly to acknowledge that the government can take them away. If you want an example of something unAmerican, you could take that idea. Since it is accurate to say that the government could fully respect our rights by leaving us completely alone, it follows that virtually every law that this and every other Congress has passed violates our rights. To say that our rights are backed by the law is a very bad joke. You claim some expertise in neuropsychology. Please provide references for the claims you make in the other two comments.

Mary Lou Shelton

Excellent letter Mr. Coleman. Conservatives in general tend to be authoritarian personalities, and the harder right they are, the more "I know what is best and you are a fool" they think. they are dominated by the right amygdala which is related to fear responses. they are more likely to engage in quick, shallow thinking than in-depth analysis, and hence posit simple solutions to complicated problems. they are also more preoccupied with unpleasant thoughts and images than most. all this is fertile breeding ground for fascist thinking, as they long for a strong leader who can solve all their problems in a quick, effortless way, and who will keep them safe. the people who run the people who run the Republican Party are well aware of this, and they will not hesitate to use whatever method possible to whip up fear and anger, and then capitalize on the disruption they have created. they really need to go back to where they came from and stop impeding the progress of others who are less fearful, engage in greater depth of thinking, and who are looking many years down the road. gene

Mary Lou Shelton

discussing brain differences does not imply that one form of thinking/reacting is necessarily better than another, just that different triggers exist. for example, conservatives will gaze longer at unpleasant images, their brain will show higher activation in certain regions, and the activation will last longer. so the puppet masters put out things like: disease ridden, dirty, rapists, criminals, America haters, wanting to destroy our culture, etc. and of course that is picked up and repeated by the hard right. liberals have their triggers too, and the puppet masters also pull them. but it is well proven that anger and fear, while once totally necessary to survival, interferes with the ability to learn from new experiences and to engage in logical thinking. and the inability to think logically certainly explains some of the really far out letters that reek of hate and intolerance, and that are based on false information. gene

Mary Lou Shelton

warren, because the founding fathers referred to god given rights, that makes it so? they were saying what they believed to be true, with some most likely paying lip service to a creator that they had no belief in. we dont use the bible to run the govt. we use the constitution backed by the rule of law. and yes, some of those rights can be taken away and have been taken away. think back to ww2 when Japanese who were American citizens had their liberty and property stripped away. not to mention slavery and the years of jim crow. gene


Gene, what they thought about God isn't relevant here. What matters is what they meant. By identifying the source as something outside human control, they were saying that these rights cannot be legitimately abrogated by human action; the rights were, to use their word again, "unalienable". I personally prefer to think of these rights as "natural", arising out of our existence as self-aware, self-actuating, rational beings. There is no operational means of telling the difference between these two sources, if they are different in any meaningful way. The essential factor is that, either way, our rights are unalienable. What identifying the origin of our rights as being beyond human control has to do with running the government with the Bible, I don't know. Sadly, we rarely if ever use the Constitution to run the government. Only a tiny fraction of the legislation passed by Congress is constitutional. Recall Pelosi's response to the question about the constitutional basis of the ACA: "You must be joking!" Granted, FDR was a monster and the Democrats of the post-Civil war era had their share. Acknowledged that they illegitimately, illegally and immorally stripped citizens of their rights. What's your point here?

Mary Lou Shelton

warren, on 5 different occasions I attempted to post a link to multiple studies. I will try again. and I make no claims about being an expert in neuropsychology. and if the paper once again does not print the link,, then you can simply google: brain differences between liberals and conservatives and all sorts of studies will pop up. I dont post stuff that I can back up, warren, unlike so many writers and posters. gene


Gene, I've done as you suggested. In fact, I copied and pasted the very words you used! The first article that popped up was a refereed meta-analysis of nearly 100 studies. Does that meet your standards of a reliable source? I have two technical quibbles about this assembly of research. First, two-thirds of the subjects of the studies (and there were 10s of thousands of them) were undergraduates, who, in our society, are still in the midst of the transition to adulthood. How relevant are the results to fully-formed adults? Not irrelevant to be sure, but ...? Second, the correlation coefficients (remember that these studies are all about correlations between attitudes) reported were uncomfortably low. A few got as high as 0.8 (1.0 would be perfect correlation, -1.0 perfect anti correlation), but the great majority were below 0.6, ranging all the way down to near zero, ie. uncorrelated. What I think that means is that people are complicated, and most are capable of holding a broad spectrum of ideas, even somewhat contradictory ones, and still functioning. That's not a surprise; we all know people like that, and it's reassuring, in a way, that the studies support that conclusion. On a more fundamental level, we are all products of our biological heritage and our experiences. That combination, and especially our experiences during our formative years (recall that the majority of the subjects of these studies were undergraduates) will form our world-view, and because we all have a relatively low tolerance for ambiguity, it is not surprising that we come out of the process with relatively consistent world-views. It is that consistency that these studies set out to demonstrate. It is not surprising that it is successful in doing so. As you say, there is nothing in the studies that elevates any one world-view over another, although the authors of the paper are more than happy to imply it. That would required studying the correlation between attitudes and actual objective real-world experience, which is beyond the scope of these studies (and probably beyond the scope of this comment. Perhaps another time). That there are correlated structural differences between people's brains is no surprise, either. It is commonplace knowledge that experience can alter neurological structure. To take an experience we all share, consider language. Every human infant arrives capable of pronouncing every phoneme in every known human language, and does so. It is called babbling, but researchers have found all those sounds in it. Those phonemes that the child hears are reinforced and the others fall away. In fact, the brain loses the capacity to make those sounds, as anyone who has tried to learn a new language after the age of ten can attest. So, what's the takeaway? Yes, we tend to hold a consistent world-view. Is it immutable? Of course not! I personally started our as a progressive, switched to something like a conservative, and finally recognized enough evidence that I should reject both positions, at least as they are represented in the two major political parties. Change is possible. Does it help change peoples' minds to describe their consistencies as character flaws? It does not, it merely hardens attitudes and identifies you to them as "enemy". This whole psychosocial babble, while it might be reassuring (you, too, like to have a consistent world-view!) does nothing to advance your cause, if that was your objective.

Mary Lou Shelton

warren, for the 6th time I posted a lnk to a site that summarized 20 studies, and for the 6th time the paper chose not to post it. but like I said, just google brain differences between liberals and conservatives. and keep an open mind as the studies are not suggesting that any particular style is superior to the other, just different. they are also not saying that this is an all or none thing, rather it follows a bell shaped curve, with some liberals reacting much more or less strongly than the average, and the same for conservatives. they are also not saying that this is the sum total of a persons personality, just an aspect. the point I have been trying to make for a long time is that we are not nearly so independent thinkers as we imagine, and not nearly in so control of the decisions we make. some of this original research was conducted back as early as the 50s, and the powers that be know how to use this info in their propaganda machines to arouse either side they choose. I think a good example is that most of the name calling and expressions of anger in letters are written by conservatives. and the part of their brain that controls this is larger and more active than in the brains of liberals. ditto the looking/thinking about disgusting images. where do you think the terms stealing our culture, stealing our country, dirty, disease ridden, wanting to leech, murderers, rapists, etc came from? do you think they were just randomly thrown out? surely you know this is just a continuation of Atwater's scorched earth approach to politics, and the words have been carefully chosen to captivate attention and create anger and fear. now I know some of you guys think it is really mean when we liberals look something up to refute you and post it, but that Is not being mean at all, just trying to present another side. but as to the constitution: I have gone to numerous sites and read conclusions just the opposite than yours. they cite not only logic and intent to make a better country, but also many court decisions. now I could begin writing letters citing all those opinions, but who cares? nothing you think or write about the constitution will change anything, nor will what i think or write. its kinda like discussing how much aliens contributed to our culture, or how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. and look up the studies, and then come back and refute me with the new information you have learned. gene


I wish they wouldn't wipe out paragraph structure in these comments!


Actually, Gene, I think you got something backward: the article I found said that "conservatives" were more repulsed by 'disgusting' images than where "liberals", and turned away sooner. To follow the logic of my previous comment, that probably means that they have had more experience of dealing with 'disgusting' slop than have their "liberal" counterparts. And as far as language is concerned, I've heard "racist", "homophobe", "sexist" and many other derogatory adjectives uttered by "liberals" far more frequently than by "conservatives" Both parties are guilty of scorched-earth politics, and screaming across the divide about how evil and disgusting the other guys are does nothing to span the divide. The nice thing about the constitutional debate is that you don't have to rely on what anybody says about it or puts on their blog or publishes in a law journal. You don't have to be a legal expert and you certainly shouldn't accept everything you read on the internet at face value. You can go to the source. The documents themselves are short, well-written and generally easily understood. Where there is any question, the answers are also readily available. The Founders undertook an extensive publicity campaign in their efforts to have their Constitution ratified; they published numerous articles that are available in collected editions as "The Federalist Papers". In addition, each of the states held ratification conventions, where all these questions were raised and answered again. In particular, look for the proceedings of the Virginia convention. We know what the Constitution says and what it means, and some of us, at any rate have stood in front of a judge or other official and sworn "to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic". Generations of politicians and lawyers have labored mightily to produce arguments that the Constitution does not mean what it plainly does. They did so to gain wealth and power, and their work continues. They say the Constitution must adapt with the times. I reject this: a document that can be redefined to mean anything anyone wants, means nothing. The very idea that the courts should have the final word on constitutionality is itself unconstitutional. You could challenge that assertion by finding the language in the Constitution that vests that power in the courts. I look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, I ask you to consider whether it makes any sense now, or would have made sense in 1787, to give a creation of the Constitution, which the courts are, power over the document that gave it being. That flies in the face of common sense and certainly is not an idea that the victors of a long and bloody war against a government that espoused it would want to preserve in their own government. The Constitution does identify the entities charged with determining constitutionality. Since that power is not granted to any other by the document, it reverts to the founding entities, the states and the citizens thereof. This is implied in the document itself, and explicitly stated in the Tenth Amendment. Refute you? I don't need to refute you; there's no advantage in that. What I want is for you to educate yourself by going to the original source material and understanding what it says. Don't settle for someone else's pre-digested pablum. Learn for yourself what it means to be an American. Your final sentences fill me with despair. We better hope that we can come to an agreement with words. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

Mary Lou Shelton

Warren, very impressed with your research and your response. you took the time and effort to look something up and write a reasoned, pertinent response. not only do they wipe out paragraph structure, but you can only see what you are typing, not what the other person wrote. so since I cant remember all your response, will respond just to what I do remember. much of what you said is similar to what I said in an earlier post, that research just exposes a small part of us. there are other factors which in total shape our behaviors far more that what is exposed by the research. but it is immaterial that most research used college students, as people start forming strong ideas by age 12. and I did not mean to imply that we were necessarily born that way (though there is some research that suggests that). the events that we experience shape us, they do change brain chemistry, and they do change brain function. but we change very little after age 30 in terms of our general outlook and how we deal with things. but as to the research, I have read hundreds of these type of studies over the years using various age groups, not just college students. the differences are even more pronounced in those over 60 than in college students. and many of the correlations are much higher than you cite. but I never implied that being one way of the other was a character flaw or made a person an enemy. I am simply pointing out that due to factors not under our control the things we react to and how we react to them are used to manipulate us on a daily basis. both the left and the right do this. the research is solid and well replicated. the various political (propaganda) organization understand the power of persuasion and how to pull certain strings. that's because they have read the research and understand the implications. you dont have to move large masses of people to win an election, just small percentages. and people on the extremes are easy picking. so since you read all the research, I will ask you, why do you think the words like dirty, germ and vermin invested, diseased, murderers, rapists, etc were selected by the trump team? dont you think it is possible to made a case to tighten up the laws and their enforcement by using a more logical approach? do you think it is possible they knew that they could arouse a certain percentage of people by using those words? have you read letters to the editor repeating those exact same words? the brain effects I described have potency and influence a high enough percentage of the population that groups are willing to spend millions pulling the strings. gene


Ha! Figured out how to restore paragraphs! Put this set of three characters

at the end of the paragraph, and lo!


Foiled! I should have realized that the web page would not let me show you those three characters -- they're HTML formatting commands, so it just does it and removes the evidence. Let me try a different approach: at the end of a paragraph, type SHIFT comma, lower case p, SHIFT period.

Mary Lou Shelton

and I will add that of course you have heard the words racist, homophobe etc come more from liberals to conservatives. there's a pretty logical reason for that and it has to do with the actions and words of one group as compared to the other. gene

Mary Lou Shelton

warren, my post containing links to dispute your statement that I have it backwards. of the 20 studies on the link I tried to send, 4 clearly stated that conservatives were more aroused in terms of brain activity and spent more time looking at unpleasant images. maybe it will pop up later as I am not going to repeat. but we have beaten this dead horse enough. I seem to remember we beat the climate change horse to death on time a few years back. at any rate, I am ready for a fresher dead horse to beat. but I do always enjoy the interchange with you. you are quite intelligent and knowledgable and willing to spend some time thinking. but dont always assume I am touting the superior of one idea vs another, just that there are always multiple points of view. gene

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