Monday, November 23, 2015


I get a lot of crazy emails with far fetched stories that are intended as satire. You know, sort of like the nonsense you see emblazoned across the headlines of the check out counter gossip magazines.

This one claimed that two Muslim truck drivers who had been fired for refusing to deliver beer as required by their employer ended up getting a verdict of $240,000 against the Star Transport Company because of its failure to accommodate their religious beliefs.

A quick check told me that the article was discussed on the Snopes web site, and I carelessly failed to read the whole article. Phony “news” stories really push my buttons, and I fired off an email to the friend who sent me the article, warning him against further publication.

Then, over lunch, chatting with two very smart women – my wife and my daughter – I began to question whether I was right about the Muslim truck driver story.

So, back at the computer, I dug deeper, and stumbled onto this:  It’s a press release by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in which they said on May 29, 2013, that their Chicago office had found Star Transport Company of  Morton, Illinois guilty of religious discrimination against two Muslim truck drivers who refused to deliver beer because their religion opposes drinking alcoholic beverages. And the agency was filing suit on their behalf.

Fast forward to October 22, 2015. Another Press release from the Federal EEOC appears, this time announcing that a federal jury in Peoria. Illinois had awarded the sum of $240,000 in back pay and damages to Mahad Abass Mohamed and Abdkiarim Hassan Bulshale in the EEOC discrimination lawsuit against Star Transportation.
June Calhoun, one of the federal government’s attorneys had this comment:

"This is an awesome outcome. Star Transport failed to provide any discrimination training to its human resources personnel, which led to catastrophic results for these employees. They suffered real injustice that needed to be addressed. By this verdict, the jury remedied the injustice by sending clear messages to Star Transport and other employers that they will be held accountable for their unlawful employment practices. Moreover, they signaled to Mr. Mohamed and Mr. Bulshale that religious freedom is a right for all Americans."

Pocketing his share of the $240,000, Abdkiarim Hassan Bulshale commented, “This case makes me proud to be an American.”

I don’t wish to appear cynical, but I do have to wonder whether the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Office would be equally as energetic on behalf of Agnes Murphy and Mary Jane O’Neill, two employees of the Star Bakery Company who might claim to be unjustly fired for refusing to bake a cake for a same sex wedding.

Or keeping it closer to home, suppose it were two Roman Catholic truck drivers fired for refusal to deliver condoms.

No doubt enlightened employers in a free country like ours ought to show some consideration for the religious beliefs of their employees. Firing people who don’t want to work on Good Friday or Yom Kippur or who want extra time off during Ramadan could well be something State laws might prohibit.

But in a free country, when someone is hired on a job, is it too much to ask that they inquire about the duties they are expected to perform? A Muslim waiter or bar tender ought to know what the job entails, and shouldn’t expect religious accommodation, just as an Evangelical Christian who applies for work at Planned Parenthood should know what she is getting into.

My embarrassment about this story stemmed from the fact that Snopes claimed that the report was partly false. According to Snopes, the story claimed that the White House was complicit in prosecuting the case, and that, according to Snopes, was not true.

Still, politics being what they are, one does wonder how far up the totem pole the decision making goes. And it was pretty obvious from the statement of lawyer Calhoun that the EEOC was keenly aware of the political ramifications of the judgment not only for other employers, but also for folks who need a little encouragement to be proud of their American citizenship.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


The news of the day is all about Syrian refugees. President Obama chides the Republicans for wringing their hands over the flood of Syrians seeking asylum on our shores. A number of Governors have announced their intention to refuse to cooperate in settling refugees.

It’s a question that has divided our nation. It has become a kind of litmus test that determines whether your concern for the welfare of your fellow human beings out ranks your concern for the welfare of your state and nation.

Our President describes the refugees as women and their three year old children. Surely providing shelter for women and children is a work of charity with universal appeal.

The Governors who would deny refuge see it differently. Many are concerned that refugees are not fully or properly ‘vetted’ meaning that we don’t know enough about them to be confident that they come in peace.

Surely no one wants to welcome thousands of potential Islamic terrorists to our homeland. Some spokesmen for the administration have insisted that we have a ‘robust’ system of vetting, that we can be confident that the refugees come to our shores in peace and brotherhood.

At the same time there are other voices, some quite knowledgeable, who insist that the vetting process is inadequate and deeply flawed. They are saying that we simply do not have reliable background information on most refugees, and we do not have the manpower or resources in place to investigate every person who knocks on our door.

Whether all of the refugees are, as described on the statue of Liberty, “wretched homeless refuse yearning to breathe free” or whether indeed some of them are fanatic Jihad enemies of freedom and democracy is a question we ought to address before we undertake to offer wholesale asylum.

I recently wrote a blog in which I insisted that Syria should be a Syrian problem; that Syrian territory belongs to and should be governed by the indigenous population.

Preparing this blog, I went on Google and asked to see pictures of the Syrian refugees. Google obliged with pages and pages of pictures. To my utter surprise, I discovered that the mass of people known as Syrian Refugees are at least fifty percent males. Military aged males. Young men who, in our country, would automatically be included in what our Constitution calls ‘the militia.’

They are the people who would be drafted to fight for the homeland. They are the able bodied males who are expected to step up and fight to protect their homes, their wives, their children, their families.

Why are they leaving Syria? Aren’t they Syrians? Why won’t they stand and fight for their homes?

Why are 19 and 20 year old men seeking refuge in Europe and the United States when their ancient motherland is in turmoil?

And while we are asking questions, here is another: why aren’t the Persian Gulf States of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qator and Bahrain taking in any Syrian refugees? They have a lot more in common with Syrians then Frenchmen, Germans or Americans do. And they are a lot closer.

All of which leads me to offer this suggestion to the several America Governors who are resisting the influx of Syrian refugees: why not simply declare that no able bodied adult males will be welcomed? That is a form of vetting which is easy to enforce, and should go a very long way to comfort those citizens who are concerned about the Trojan Horse syndrome.

When Bush 43 was told of the attack on the World Trade Center, his immediate reaction was “We are at war.” France’s President Hollande came to the same conclusion after the November 13 attack on Paris. The problem in both cases is defining just who we are at war against.

I should think that a formal declaration of war would define the enemy, and what the object of the war will be. If, as seems to be the case, the enemy is radical Islamic terrorists, (RITS?) what is the goal? How do we define winning? Are we bent on killing all the RITS? Or are we merely intent on punishing those who attack us?

No Christian nation will knowingly adopt genocide as a public policy. The question is, how do you fight an ideology?

Saturday, November 14, 2015


The ruckus at the University of Missouri, now spreading to other campuses turns a bright light on the issue of free speech versus political correctness.

I am no fan of political correctness. I am a devotee of freedom of speech.

That said, I will doubtlessly draw a host of disagreement with this blog.

What I want to say here is simply this: an educational institution should have the mission of educating its students. Educating – from the Latin e duco, means leading out. Specifically, it means leading the students out of the darkness of ignorance into the bright light of knowledge.

It means teaching. It means training. Education is more than simply transmitting knowledge. It involves instilling discipline, developing habits of thought, or action, and yes, of speech.

Americans have the constitutionally protected right of free speech. They do not have a constitutionally protected right to attend any particular institution of higher education.

There is nothing in the law to prevent a college or University from imposing discipline on its students, It can require them to wear uniforms. It can require them to sing the school alma mater, recite the pledge of allegiance, memorize the Gettysburg Address or the ten commandments.

A college or University may require its students to address its faculty with respect, refrain from cursing, dressing inappropriately, and yes, engaging in politically incorrect discourse.

There is no reason why a college or University could not ban the use of George Carlin’s ten words you can’t say on television anywhere on campus, and no reason why it cannot ban racial slurs by its students or faculty.

It short, there is nothing in the Constitution of the United States which forbids an institution of higher education from purveying the full measure of  higher education, such that its graduates will not only know things like history, literature, science and psychology, but will be trained to speak and act and think like a truly mature, cultured and civilized human being.

All of which is not to say that colleges and Universities are required to be operated like finishing schools. Indeed, most public Universities are committed to a kind of open ended freedom of thought and expression which is based upon the relativist notion that there is no such thing as absolute truth, and right or wrong are entirely personal opinions that each student is expected to divine for him or her self before receiving a diploma.

Given that kind of a mission statement, it is difficult for the academic administration to impose, retroactively or selectively, specific restrictions on speech or conduct.

Especially so when the ban is imposed at the request of an objecting minority.

Example: A college declines to ban a showing of The Vagina Monologues based on the objection of evangelical Christian students to its libertine message, but is then asked to ban the same movie by transvestites who take personal offense at its content.

Unhappily, much of the discord on college campuses has political overtones. It is not really about free speech so much as it is about who is in charge. 

Experience tells us that radical political change is often incubated on college campuses. Certainly campuses were the battlegrounds of dissent and protest during the Viet Nam War. College students like to chant in unison. They do it at football and basketball games and they do it on the lawn in front of the President or the Chancellor’s house.

There is a certain bravado that comes with solidarity. And solidarity is easier to achieve when condemning a person than when cheering for an idea.

How many “discussions” of issues on the Internet quickly dissolve into name calling. Young people who have not been imbued with a sense of propriety are especially quick to resort to ad hominem argument.

And let’s face it, “I respectfully disagree with your major premise” is not as much fun to say as “Yo Mama wears soldier boots.”  


Monday, November 9, 2015


Sometimes called The Arab Republic of Syria, the nation we call Syria was one of the original, founding members of the United Nations.

It remains a fully accredited member of the General Assembly. The government of Syria, which is recognized internationally as the ‘de jure’ or legal government of that country, is headed by Bashar al-Assad, who was elected by the Parliament as President to succeed his father Hafez l-Assad in 2000.

The Congress of the United States has not declared war against Syria. The people of the United States are not at war against the people of Syria.

We hear a lot of talk these days about “boots on the ground” in Syria. Just last week, we were told that President Obama, reversing his previous positions, has authorized the deployment of a limited number of “special ops” onto Syria soil.

This in furtherance of massively expensive ‘training and equipping’ of opponents of the al-Assad regime in pursuit of some unofficial, ill-defined, economic and/or political ‘interests’ of the United States in the Middle East.

Russia has established a military presence in Syria. They are there, presumably at the request of the Syrian government headed by Bashar al-Assad, for the purpose of bolstering his sovereignty.

So here we are, seven years into the reign of President Barack Obama, our erstwhile, amateur Commander-in Chief, literally at war with Russia on Syrian soil.

Here we are, nearly forty years after the end of the Cold War, with the immortal words of  Ronald Reagan demanding that Mr. Gorbachev ‘tear down that wall’ still ringing in our ears, with two generations of cooperation between American and Russian astronauts proving that civilization on this planet has advanced beyond the primitive urge to kill anyone who speaks a different language or worships a different version of the Creator, stumbling into a shooting war thousands of miles from our homeland.

And why? To what purpose? Is the profit of the military-industrial complex so crucial to our economy that the blood of our youth must be spilled on foreign soil to bolster it?

On July 2, 1957, 181 years after the Declaration of Independence, which he called man’s noblest expression against political repression,  John Fitzgerald Kennedy stood on the floor of the Senate and told his colleagues and the nation that the greatest enemy to freedom in the world is imperialism.

Imperialism is nothing more nor less than the extension of sovereignty by force of arms; conquest, invasion and subjugation. Kennedy argued, in brief, that “Algeria is for the Algerians.”

In so saying, he was recognizing the simple fact that political freedom means the right of an indigenous population to do what our founders did in 1776: “to assume among the Powers of the Earth the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.”

The consent of the governed is not always given at the ballot box; indeed peaceful revolution is the rare exception in human history.  The majority of the 193 nations represented on First Avenue in New York City are governed by people who came into power or are retained in power by force.

It matters not. People will have the government they choose or the government they tolerate. In the last analysis what matters is that the indigenous population is in charge.

The Soviets learned it in eastern Europe and we learned in it in Viet Nam:
You cannot control or rule a hostile indigenous population.

There was a lot of excitement among well meaning utopians about the so-called Arab Spring, which was touted as a tidal wave of modern democracy washing over the primitive governance of the Middle East.

Not hardly. It turned out to be just another chapter in the seemingly endless tribal and religious warfare that has stained the sands of Africa for centuries.

It is time for us to come home and frack our own oil.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Being married to Polly for 64 years qualifies me to brag about my humility.

Back in 1962 when I began service as a Judge of the Detroit Common Pleas Court, several of my lawyer friends used to drive me downtown. One snowy winter morning, the fellows were at the curb honking the horn and I was making haste to get out the door.

Polly pulled my overcoat out of the closet and held it up by the shoulders. I assumed she wanted me to put my arms into the sleeves and turned my back attempting to do so.

Surprise. My dear wife did not hold the coat up. She dropped it on the floor, announcing cheerfully, “Put it on yourself, big deal judge!”

I was still laughing when I got into the car and told the guys. They promptly christened me the “BDJ.” a nickname that stuck for many years. Sometimes you have to wait until all your friends are dead before the razzing stops.

There are many opportunities to exercise and enjoy the virtue of humility. For instance, this morning, while searching for an essay written by a friend, I stumbled onto the web site of The Heartland Institute, a Chicago based think tank which operates a thing called the Center for Constitutional Reform.

Among the pages on that web site, I found a list entitled “Leaders of the Constitutional Reform Movement.” Under that title, a dozen organizations are identified. No mention of Judge Thomas E. Brennan, the book I wrote or Convention USA, which has been on the Internet at  for more than five years.

I suppose that some people who have been writing and speaking about the Article V Convention since 1982 as I have, might be somewhat put off to see that they are not recognized as leaders of the movement.

Not I. I am keenly aware that my efforts are not directed toward a “conventional” convention. I have been cheerfully marching to a different drummer, content in the knowledge that what I am doing is both more practical and more philosophically sound than the efforts of the recognized leaders of the movement.

Here are the differences:
All of the other “Fivers” (supporters of an Article V Convention) are trying to get 34 State legislatures to ask Congress to call a limited convention.

I don’t think Congress will ever call a convention, no matter what the State legislatures ask for or how many of them ask.

All of the other Fivers fear a ‘run away’ convention.

I don’t.

All of the other Fivers want a convention controlled by the State governments.

I believe an Article V convention is an assembly, not of the States, but of the people of the States. There’s a difference.

All of the other Fivers are working within the so-called ‘two party’ system, either proposing amendments favored by conservatives or favored by progressives.

I believe a convention must be non partisan; not bi-partisan. There is a difference.

In short, unlike the recognized leaders of the Article V movement, I believe that the only way the people of the fifty states can take their government back from the career politicians who infest Washington, D.C., is to organize and conduct an amendatory constitutional convention and propose the necessary reforms of our national government.

Whether those reforms are finally ratified and become part of our Constitution is a political question. It will depend on the wisdom and merits of the proposals and the popular support for them.

But that is always the case, isn’t it?