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The president of the NRA has famously said “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”  Let us say for just one minute that he is correct.  The next question is then who constitutes being a “good guy?”  In most circumstances of criminal activity, most people would say that the police are supposed to be the good guys.

He also has said that criminals should not be allowed to own firearms.  That is something that most reasonable people would agree with.  So, to sum it up simply, only “good guys” without criminal records should be allowed to own firearms in the U.S.  I believe that is a fair analysis of Mr. La Pierre’s stance.

Then there are the “open carry” groups around the country toting their guns everywhere the go.  They argue that people should not be afraid of “law-abiding citizens carrying guns.”  According to them, everyone you see openly carrying a gun is a “law-abiding citizen” and you have nothing to fear from them.

That brings us to a small very underreported story in Georgia.  Being that Second Amendment Rights state that it is, they recently approved the “stand your ground” laws to allow people to carry firearms  into airports, libraries, churches, and nightclubs.  Now they have gone one step further in the Dennis Kraus affair.

For a little background,  Krauss, an ex-cop who was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in 1999, regained his gun rights — despite the fact that he initially attempted to rape the woman with his gun!  Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Explains:

According to the record in Krauss’ trial, the former officer was dispatched to the home of a woman who called 911 alleging that her husband had hit her. Rather than arresting the husband, however, Krauss asked the victim to ride with him in his police car. Once she was in his car, “Krauss told the victim that he could take her to jail if he wanted to” or, if she did not want to be arrested, she could have sex with him instead. Krauss’ words, according to the court opinion, were “[w]e can go to the motel or you can go to jail.”

At the motel, Krauss drew his service weapon and told the woman that he wanted to anally penetrate her with the gun. When she refused, and began to cry, “Krauss then pushed her back, pulled off her pants, and had sex with her.” And then he drove her home to the same husband that led her to call the police in the first place.

In addition to his conviction for sexual assault, Krauss was also charged with several other instances of harassment or disturbing physical violence, including beating a prisoner “so severely the man’s brain bled” and threatening to file false charges against another man in order to have sex with his wife, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But neither those allegations nor his sexual assault conviction have permanently prevented Krauss from owning firearms; he regained that right in 2013.

Kraus isn’t alone in getting his guns back either.  The state has reinstituted gun ownership privileges to some 400 convicted felons.  Included in those numbers  44 had committed sex crimes and 32 had killed another person. Whether those crimes were committed with firearms is not noted, but it also is not relevant.  Murder is murder regardless of how you killed someone.

Which brings us back to La Pierre and the “Open Carry” groups around the country.  Who constitutes a “good guy with a gun?”  According to Georgia, Kraus and the other violent convicted criminals apparently are considered “good guys with a gun.”  If these people fall under your definition, I would hate to see what a “bad guy with a gun” is all about.  We can thank Georgia for having the foresight to shed light on the utter stupidity of how states define “a good guy with a gun.”  Without their bravery, this definition would never have come to light.

But then, Georgia must be correct in their actions.  Mr. La Pierre and the Open Carry groups have been absolutely mute about this situation.  It can be construed, in this case, that silence from them means they agree with the rulings.

The right-wing war hawks are revving up again.  The usual actors are calling for a “big war plan” against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.  Heck even Paul Ryan said that the U.S. military needs to “finish [ISIS] off because we will either fight them here or we will fight them there,” adding that the deployment of ground troops to Syria or Iraq or wherever should not be “off the table.”   Not to be outdone, Sen. Lindsey Graham said that President Obama “is becoming derelict in his duties as commander-in-chief to protect our homeland by not aggressively confronting ISIL wherever they reside, including Syria.”

The President has already assigned about 1,000 troops into Iraq as advisors.  The right-wing says that isn’t enough and more “boots on the ground” are needed.  Of course they complain that we didn’t keep a military presence in Iraq when we pulled our troops out.  Of course, they fail to mention that Iraq refused a treaty that would have kept troops there.  As a result, we could not keep troops in Iraq because the Iraqi Government told us they didn’t want us there.

When the problems in Syria kicked off, the right-wing was all for bombing and putting troops in Syria to help oust Assad.  But, just like in Iraq, they didn’t have an end game for after Assad was kicked out.  It was that lack of an end game in Iraq that led to the mess that is occurring there now.

President Obama recently has ordered surveillance planes over Syria to gather intelligence.  The war hawk Washington Post editorial board takes that to mean we will soon be shooting in Syria.  But, their advice is a little different from Graham’s.  The U.S. needs to launch a war on the cross-border Iraq-Syria theater and find partners: “Kurds in Iraq and Syria, Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq, the Iraqi government if it can become more inclusive, what is left of the Free Syrian Army.” That should be real easy to do with a few phone calls. “Aiding them does not require a U.S. invasion,” the editorial continues, “but it will need ‘boots on the ground,’ as Mr. Obama already has acknowledged by sending close to 1,000 special forces back to Iraq. They will be needed for training, to assist in air targeting and perhaps more.”  Aren’t “boots on the ground” the same as an invasion?

The White House’s main concern, at this point, doesn’t seem to be about getting involved in Syria — it’s about “how to target the Sunni extremists without helping President Bashar al-Assad,” as the New York Times writes.  As we know, you can’t have a nice little war without boots on the ground too.  But, there is a big problem with all of this war talk that no one seems to be talking about.  How are you going to pay for it?

President Clinton left President George W. Bush a surplus budget.  Two wars later we are $17 Trillion in debt mostly due to the cost of the wars that were not paid for.  Additionally, we are a war-weary country.  Our troops have spent their blood in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We know that the VA is  a mess and veterans are still having problems getting their benefits including health care and disability ratings so they can get their pensions.  Yet, the war hawks are calling for more war across international borders.  You know the same kind of borders that they claim Russia is breaking in the Ukraine, which he is.

It is amazing to me how the only “veteran” who is calling for more war is John McCain, and he should know better.  Regardless of what you hear from other forums, military personnel are not all gung-ho to go to war.  We are the ones who pay the price for war.  We would rather be a tool used to prevent war rather than a tool to force it.

I would like to think that all of these war hawks would encourage their own children and/or grandchildren to sign up for the military right now.  Maybe, they wouldn’t be so quick to send our troops into another war.  How about Sarah Palin telling Bristol she should join up as her patriotic duty?  Or Lindsey Graham tell his children or grandchildren to sign up.  I say that knowing full well that will never happen.  War hawks want a war, they just don’t want their families involved in them.

They like to keep it to the “little people” like us.  My father served in WWII and the Korean War.  I served 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard.  My son served in the Marines during the second Iraq War.  My grandson is going through the process to enlist in and serve in the Navy.  There are a lot of reasons why we have all served.  Mostly it is because we love our country.  Unfortunately, these war hawks don’t feel the same responsibility to serve their country.

I don’t know if we will be forced to join in a war against ISIS or ISIL whatever they call themselves.  But, if we are, it must first be voted on by the full Congress.  We must make sure that every single member of Congress either buys into another war or goes on the record against it.  And, it must include a way to pay for it!  We also must make sure that these veterans will be properly taken care of when the fighting is over.  Something that this country has failed miserably at for generations.

It was once said that war is hell.  It is!  I urge the President to force a vote on this issue in Congress.  Even if it is a bombing campaign.  There can be no doubt in November who was for and who was against military action in a foreign country.  I have no doubt that the men and women in uniform will do their job whatever the outcome of this debate is.  It is time for Congress, and especially the war hawks to do theirs first!

There has been a lot of talk lately about Libertarianism in the Republican Party.  Everyone seems to think that Rand Paul is a Libertarian like his father, Ron Paul is.  However, most people who refer to Libertarianism don’t really know what that really means.  First off, if one is a true Libertarian, then one has to decide if he is a Capitalist Libertarian or a Socialist Libertarian.  There are wide differences between the two.  For example, the Capitalist Libertarians advocate for laissez-faire capitalism and strong private property rights such as land, water, infrastructure and others.  While Socialist Libertarians seek to abolish capitalism and private ownership of means of production in favor of their common or cooperative ownership and management.  Then of course there is the minarchists who seek to abolish the state as an illegitimate political system.

I think it would be safe to say that those who claim to be Libertarians in the Republican Party wouldn’t consider themselves as Socialist Libertarians.  Nor, do I suppose they would be minarchists either.  I believe we can safely say that they are firmly entrenched in the Capitalist Libertarian wing.  Or, are they?

Libertarianism is based on the philosophy that individual liberty trumps government control.  There are a lot of ideas that Libertarianism have that fall in line with the current batch in the Republican Party.  There are also a lot of other items that fly in the face of true Libertarianism.  True Libertarianism believes that individuals and corporations are best suited to handle all of the economic problems in the world.  They believe that the government should play no role in business regulations.  After all, the people who are running the businesses know best.

This includes banking regulations.  Libertarians believe that all banks should be allowed to compete in anything they want.  Even though they were the main cause of the 2008 meltdown.  They believe that, although the ecology of the planet must be protected, they believe that the “owners” of the land are the best people to tend to it.  They believe that the government cannot and should not regulate pollution emissions or energy production.

Of course they also believe in “free trade” uninhibited by government regulations.  Oddly enough, they believe that people should be able to cross borders just like commodities.  They do call for some regulation at the borders to keep out criminals or others who would do the country harm, but they don’t seem to believe that immigration for the sake of work should be restricted.  Sounds like an open border to me.

Libertarians also believe that income taxes are illegal.  They advocate for the elimination of income and corporate taxes and they want the IRS abolished.  They don’t say how they plan to pay for their “limited” government, but definitely won’t be through income taxes.

Finally, they firmly believe that the government has no role in regulating wages or bargaining rights.  They say that corporations have the right to bargain with unions or not.  There should be no minimum wage law because it is the responsibility of each person to “negotiate” wages with the owners of corporations.

With all of this in mind, some current Republicans can call themselves Capitalist Libertarians.  But, there is a whole lot more to Libertarian philosophy than simply economic issues.  There are social issues as well.  This is where the current crop of Republican Libertarians depart from the Libertarian philosophy.

For example, true libertarians believe that if a person wants to use what is now defined as illegal drugs, they should be allowed to do so.  They want the “war on drugs” ended and all drug use made legal.  They also firmly believe that what a person does with his or her body is nobody’s business but the person.  This includes abortion.  Libertarians believe it is up to the individual to determine if abortion is right for them.  The government should have no role in allowing or disallowing abortion rights.

Libertarians also believe that consenting adults have the right to engage in sex or marriage with whomever they wish.  They are for same-sex marriage and say that the government has no right to deny civil liberties to same-sex couples.  All they want the government to do is recognize a marriage as a marriage regardless of who the parties are.

They are also against interventionist wars.  They only want a military of sufficient size to defend the country against aggression.  They are totally against intervening in foreign wars or troubles.  Basically, when it comes to military intervention, they are isolationists.  Let the world burn as long as it doesn’t affect us.

These are just some of the things that true Libertarians stand for.  Problem is, that there are very few real Libertarians in this country.  Like other groups, they like to cherry-pick the items they like and throw out the ones they don’t like.  But, since Libertarianism seems to be a hot button in the Republican Party, more and more are trying to align themselves with Libertarian philosophies.

The number one person in the party that is acclaimed to be a Libertarian is Rand Paul.  The only reason he is considered to be a Libertarian is because he is the son of Ron Paul.  Ron Paul was probably as close to a real Libertarian as anyone I know.  He even ran for president as the Libertarian Party candidate.  But, lineage is as close to a comparison as Rand can get to Ron in terms of Libertarianism.  Rand Paul is simply a right-wing conservative who is trying his best to masquerade as a Libertarian.

All you need to do is look at his speeches.  He waffles back and forth on issues like a wind-blown leaf.  First he is for immigration reform, then he is against it, then he is for it, and then he is against it.  It is the same on every issue he talks about.  Remember the “run and hide” gambit he did in Iowa?  When a “dreamer” wanted to talk to him and Rep. King, Paul almost choked on his hamburger and ran away.

I actually feel sorry for the Libertarian Party.  They have to stand on the sidelines and watch these con artists act like they are Libertarians when everyone who knows anything about Libertarianism realizes they are not.  When it comes to economic issues like abolishing government regulations, privatizing public schools, eliminating departments like the EPA, OSHA, and the Department of Education, right-wing Republicans are similar to Libertarians.  When it comes to social issues, the right-wing Republicans are totally opposite.

I think that whenever we hear about a Libertarian movement in the Republican Party, we only need to know that it is nothing more than a publicity stunt to gain ink.  There is no Libertarian movement in the Republican Party.  Like everything else, they are merely cherry-picking things they like and pretending to be something they are not.  Maybe the acronym GOP should stand for “Grand Old Pretenders.”

School is beginning.  As we know, there have been a lot of pieces about college rape.  Unfortunately, there have been too many fluff pieces that actually make the victim out to be the guilty party.  This phenomenon has made talking about rape even harder than it has always been.  Now Bloomberg has joined the chorus of men being taken advantage of by the rape issue.

Their headline declared that the hookup culture was waning “amid assault alarm.”  They seem to think that there is a massive hookup culture that is the root cause of these rape allegations.  But, Last year, a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association found that less than 30 percent of college students had more than one partner in the previous year. Which about equals data from surveys taken over the last twenty years. This means, as Time’s Maia Szalavits noted at the time, college students “aren’t hooking up more than they ever were, or even more than their parents did.”

Not to be swayed by these facts, the Bloomberg piece says:

Sex and relationships are always tricky terrain for college students. Those arriving this year are finding schools awash in complaints and headlines about sexual assault and responding with programs aimed at changing campus culture that has been blamed for glorifying dorm-bed conquests, excusing rape and providing a safe haven for assailants. For many young men, it’s an added dimension in a campus scene that already appears daunting, said William Pollack, a Harvard Medical School psychologist.

Pollack said a patient recently told him about making out with a girl at a party. Things were going fine, the student said, when suddenly a vision of his school’s disciplinary board flew into his head.

“‘I want to go to law school or medical school after this,’” Pollack said, recounting the student’s comments. “‘I said to her, it’s been nice seeing you.’”

And here again is the trouble with how we talk about sex, consent and sexual violence in the United States. There are so many ways to flirt and have really enjoyable casual sex without being predatory, but we never talk about them. Part of the problem is that the importance of listening to the person you are interested in having sex with isn’t being taught in schools.  Nor is being alert to non-verbal cues.  So we get a vacuum about relationships and healthy sexuality.  That vacuum gets filled by wackos like George Will, Caitlin Flanagan and the people on Fox News who can scream the loudest saying that much of what is called sexual assault is actually just “regretted sex,” a product of the ambiguities of the hookup culture.

But it is more than just a lack of proper education in schools.  It is down to pop culture as well.  It is also down to the antiquated religious beliefs of man’s entitlement!  The very idea that a man is entitled to whatever he wants, and a woman’s place is to be subordinate to a man, is at the heart of this problem.  How can we expect men to behave properly when they are subjected to years of this “a woman is subject” to a man theory?  It has been proven that men who objectify women are more likely to coerce a woman into having sex and/or raping them if they don’t submit.

During my life I have heard all kinds of “definitions” of what it is to be a man.  It is rare that any of these definitions include the phrase that a “woman is an equal” in life.  I have been married for a long time.  Yes, I do sometimes say “my wife.”  But, I never mean that she “belongs” to me or that she is “property” of mine.  She has been a partner in life.

Women are not objects.  They are not property.  They are people who deserve the same consideration that men deserve.  It is stupid pieces like Bloomberg that have men basically viewing their female peers as rape bombs just waiting to explode and ruin their lives. “Some men feel that too much responsibility for preventing sexual assault has been put on their shoulders,” according to one of the men interviewed for the piece.

The Bloomberg piece is mostly framed to support the idea that women cry rape and that asking men to assume any responsibility to prevent sexual assault is asking too much.  Of course, the Bloomberg piece also doesn’t mention that rape in committed by men.  Rape is a violent crime against a person.  It is not something that is an entitlement because a woman is supposed to be subordinate to a man.

I wrote once before that if you asked a man what he would do if his daughter or wife was raped, you would probably hear something like “I would kill the bastard!”  But, if ask you the same man what he thinks about his son being charged with rape, you would probably hear something like  “She asked for it”, or “The bitch probably had it coming!”

This is the attitude that needs to be changed before rape is treated as the violent crime it is.  This is the attitude that makes the victim the guilty party in a rape case.  This is what it looks like when women are treated as objects and not as people!

 

We are getting close to the end of the August recess for Congress.  The mid-term elections are just a few months away.  The Republicans are fighting hard to win control of the Senate.  They need 5 seats to win the majority in the upper chamber.  In the next couple of months, the election season will begin anew and the fight will get real nasty.

Most of us have already come to the conclusion that a Republican controlled congress would not be good for the government.  With President Obama still in office, we can be sure that the veto pen will be in heavy use.  We also figure that the Republicans will continue their assault on personal liberties in the name of “liberty”.

But, Mitch McConnell has come out and laid the groundwork for a Republican controlled Senate.  I guess he wanted to make sure the Tea Party was fully aware of his plan to run the Senate and destroy the country.  I don’t say that lightly either.  The plan he laid out will definitely destroy the country.

Interviewed by Politico aboard his campaign bus, the Senate minority leader offered his vision for the Senate should he be promoted to majority leader: confrontation, manufactured crises, and the ever-present threat of a government shutdown:

In an extensive interview here, the typically reserved McConnell laid out his clearest thinking yet of how he would lead the Senate if Republicans gain control of the chamber. The emerging strategy: Attach riders to spending bills that would limit Obama policies on everything from the environment to health care, consider using an arcane budget tactic to circumvent Democratic filibusters and force the president to “move to the center” if he wants to get any new legislation through Congress.

“Move to the center” is a real nice catch phrase.  But, what it really entails is that the President and the country will be held hostage again and again under a Republican controlled Senate.  The tactic is quite simple.  Add bogus riders to legislation so the President has no option but veto the bill.  Since the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the “line item veto” the Republicans thought was so wonderful as unconstitutional, there is no longer any other measure to stop their radical agenda.  If moving to the center is such a great idea, why doesn’t Mitch McConnell “move to the center?”

According to Mr. McConnell’s plan, seniors, the poor, vets, and anyone who depends upon the government will be held hostage by the Republican Senate in order to get what they want.  You know, like the last government shutdown over the Affordable Care Act.  There are going to be a whole lot of ugly legislation proposed by a Republican Senate.  They will attack Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, WIP, Food Stamps, Unemployment Insurance, Woman’s Rights, Welfare, Same Sex Marriage, etc.  You can bet that under a Republican controlled congress, the debt ceiling will be blocked and we will default on our debt.  That alone will destroy our currency since it is based on the full faith and promise of the U.S. Government.

Other things will also be under attack.  They will go after the Department of Education.  They will try to eliminate the EPA.  They will make sure all “free trade agreements” are passed quickly without debate, meaning thousands more jobs will be exported.  They will push for their donor’s tax cuts they promise all of the time.  They will try to open up drilling in all of the national parks.  They will do everything they can to eliminate any subsidies for clean energy while increasing them for the oil companies.  They will try to pass legislation eliminating the Federal Minim Wage Law.

These are just a handful of their pet projects, and you can be sure there will be flurry of activity by a Republican Senate to make them real.  Of course, the Immigration Reform Bill will die completely.  The Transportation and Infrastructure Bill will die completely.  And, a Personhood Amendment will surely be introduced.  They will also push for another war in Iraq and one in Syria.  Don’t be surprised if they even pass a formal declaration of war against both countries in an attempt to force the President into war again.

Well, there you have it.  Mitch McConnell is planning to take hostages, shut down the government, and basically destroy the country.  That is his plan if the Republicans win control of the Senate.  And, he said so himself!  If you think that the gridlock in Washington is bad now, wait until McConnell gets control of the Senate.

If the Democrats don’t use this as a fighting point and make hay out of it, then it is possible for it to happen.  They need to make sure all of the states who are holding Senate elections understand just what they are in for if the Republicans win control of the Senate.  If the Republicans win, it just might turn out that Mitch McConnell and his cronies will be able to do what the Russians were unable to do.  Bury us!

 

I think it is fair to say that all too often, justice is not blind.  At least it isn’t blind in terms of race, sexual orientation, or other factors.  Too often, the color of the people involved in an incident helps determine who is guilty and who is not.  There are exceptions of course, but I think that race plays a big role in determining who is to be arrested and who is not.  Who is allowed to “fear for his life” and who is not.

Wednesday, Matt Zoller Seitz shared a story to illustrate how white privilege kept him from getting arrested or otherwise harmed by the police after he started a fight on the street.  The piece is worth reading.  But, it is really interesting the conversation he had with the police when they arrived.  Matt Seitz admits in his story that he instigated the fight with an Hispanic man outside a deli.

After telling the two white officers that he had confronted the guy and punched him in the face after the stranger jabbed him in the chest with his fingers, the cops asked Zoller Seitz if he wanted to press charges for assault:

“I don’t think he actually meant to touch me, though,” I said, while a voice deep inside me said, Stupid white boy, he’s making it plain and you’re not getting it.

“It doesn’t matter if he meant to touch you, he hit you first,” he said. He was talking to me warmly and patiently, as you might explain things to a child. Wisdom was being imparted.

“You were in fear of your life,” he added.

By now the adrenaline fog seemed to be lifting. I was seeing things in a more clinical way. The violence I had inflicted on this man was disproportionate to the “assault,” and the tone of this exchange with the cop felt conspiratorial.

And then it dawned on me, Mr. Slow-on-the-Uptake, what was really happening: this officer was helping me Get My Story Straight.

Understanding, at long last.

Zoller Seitz even admitted that when the police arrived, he had the stranger on the ground in a chokehold.  Which most reasonable people might conclude that he was the attacker.  But, while Zoller Seitz was speaking with the police, the stranger was being held face down on the sidewalk and handcuffed.  In the end, Zoller Seitz was allowed to go home.  He does not know what happened to the stranger he admittedly attacked.

This is important to remember.  There is a grand jury being seated in the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Wilson.  If this case does go to trial, it would be apparent that at some point the notion that Wilson could have reasonably feared for his life during his confrontation with Brown.  Witnesses at the scene have said that Brown had his hands in their air to surrender.  Others, mostly other police officers, hint that Brown charged Wilson so the resulting shooting was a result of physical confrontation.

I wrote in an earlier piece this year that the called “stand your ground” laws would cause more trouble than they were worth.  Remember the case of George Zimmerman, who is white and Latino, after he killed Trayvon Martin?  His lawyers got him off by using the “afraid for his life” argument.  In the case of Theodore Warfare, the jury came back with a different result.  In that case, Renisha McBride, who had arrived on his porch seeking help after a car accident was shot and killed through a locked screen door.  The defense in that case claimed that the loud knocking so alarmed their client that he felt he had no other choice but to shoot her.  Fortunately, this jury didn’t buy the “afraid for his life” argument.

Then there is the case of Marissa Alexander, a black mother in Florida.  A man with a documented history of physical violence, a man who told Alexander that he was going to kill her, did not present a credible threat. Alexander’s husband, Rico Gray, broke down the door of the bathroom where she was hiding during a domestic violence incident. He grabbed her by the throat, and choked her as he held her against the floor. Alexander then tried to escape through the garage, but found herself trapped when the door wouldn’t open. She returned to the house having retrieved her handgun from her car and fired at a wall near where Gray stood. No one was harmed. But when Alexander tried to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law in her defense, she was denied. Twice. According to State Attorney Angela Corey, Alexander was “not in fear” but “angry” when she fired the warning shot. She now faces up to 60 years in prison.

It isn’t just color that defines who is allowed the “fear for his life” argument.  Luke O’Donovan, a white queer activist in Georgia, was last week sentenced to two years in prison and eight years of probation after he used his pocket knife to stab five men who had confronted him in an alleged anti-LGTBQ hate crime in 2012. Donovan was stabbed three times.  Apparently if you are gay in Georgia, being stabbed three times is not a sufficient “fear for his life” argument.

These are just a few examples of how our justice system is not as blind as people would have us believe.  Color, sexual orientation, race, even religious beliefs are all factors in determining who is being blamed and who gets off.  Zoller Seitz’s story is very telling.  Especially when compared to these other incidents.  The straight white guy got a break.  The others did not.  It makes us wonder just how the case in Ferguson will turn out.  But, one thing is for certain.  As long as white privilege is a reality, more Fergusons will happen.

Until we, as a society, come to terms with this phenomenon nothing will change.  If we do come to terms with it, then maybe we will have a society where justice was truly blind!

There have been screams from the right for years about how tax-payer money is spent.  They scream about tax-payer money being used to fund abortions for example.  There have also been screams from the right about unions using union dues for campaign contributions.  They want to make sure that any union member can “opt out” of their dues being used to support candidates.  We all know that if unions were endorsing Republican Candidates, this “opt out” wouldn’t be necessary.

Their argument has always been that tax-payer money cannot be used for things like these because everyone doesn’t agree with them.  So, if you disagree with abortion for example, your tax money should not be used to fund abortions, even for military personnel.  On the surface, that seems logical.  But, on the other hand, they have no problem with using tax-payer money to pay for things like Christmas scenes on government property.  They call that religious freedom.

Well, the State of Kentucky has just taken this one step further.  It seems that the State of Kentucky is recognizing a particular religious cult.  They are willing to offer tax incentives and tax-payer money to them to show their support.  Of course, Kentucky is saying they are doing this not to recognize a religious cult, but rather to create jobs.

Here is the story.  Ken Ham and his nuts are planning to build a life-sized Ark based on the biblical story of Noah and the flood.  The Ark Encounter is being built by Answers in Genesis, which also runs the Creationist Museum in Kentucky.  The issue is that this clearly religious organization has been approved by the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority, a state-run agency, for a great deal of state money. Yep, this religious group has received preliminary approval for an $18 million tax incentive.

However, the State is turning a blind eye to the fact that the people who apply for these jobs will be subject to discrimination based on their beliefs. Daniel Phelps, a geologist, president of the Kentucky Paleontologist Society, and vice president of Kentuckians for Science Education, pointed out:

“However, it is apparent that Ark Encounter is likely to discriminate against non-Christians. Moreover, Catholics, mainstream Protestant Christians and some conservative Christians who have different doctrinal beliefs are also unlikely to be hired.

The job description included this statement: ‘Our work at Ark Encounter is not just a job, it is also a ministry. Our employees work together as a team to serve each other to produce the best solutions for our design requirements. Our purpose through the Ark Encounter is to serve and glorify the Lord with our God-given talents with the goal of edifying believers and evangelizing the lost.’”

The entire job description requires a salvation testimony, a creation belief statement and a confirmation of your agreement with the AiG Statement of Faith.  That “Statement of Faith” includes these items.

“Those who do not believe in Christ are subject to everlasting conscious punishment, but believers enjoy eternal life with God.”

And:

“The only legitimate marriage sanctioned by God is the joining of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other, and has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, or any attempt to change one’s gender, or disagreement with one’s biological gender, is sinful and offensive to God”

And:

“By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.”

It doesn’t take much reasoning to figure out that this Statement of Faith, which is required by anyone who will be employed will lead to discrimination against non-Christians, Catholics, LGBT persons, atheists, or anyone else who does not agree with the Statement of Faith.  Yet, As Phelps put it: “The tax incentive, along with the city tax breaks, and the parcel of land sold to the project at a discount by Williamstown, plus $200,000 cash given by the Grant County Economic Development Commission is clearly a case of government entanglement with religion.”

The State may claim that this tax money is being used to create jobs.  But, it is being used to create jobs for a small minority of people.  It will be used to discriminate against anyone who disagrees with the Statement of Faith but still needs a job.  As a result, there can be no conclusion other than the one that says the State of Kentucky is guilty of “recognizing” a particular religion.  That is an obvious violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that says “the government shall not recognize an official state religion”.

Kentucky, the home of the renowned constitutionalist Mitch McConnel, seems to think that the First Amendment doesn’t pertain to them.  But, that is the way it always works.  Vilify your enemies and reward your supporters.  Even if it breaks the law.

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