I am willing to bet that most of you have not heard of a group called ARAWC.  If you haven’t heard of them and you are a worker, you had better take notice.  ARAWC is actually trying to gut worker’s compensation in the country.  ARAWC stands for Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation.

As you can guess, it is a conservative organization that wants to make it legal for companies to “opt out” of Worker’s Compensation.  As you probably know, Worker’s Compensation is your protection in case you were injured on the job. The way Worker’s Compensation works is if you suffer an injury on the job, the employer would pay your medical bills and part of your wages while you recovered. In exchange, you give up your right to sue for negligence.

It is a system that has protected workers injured on the job for years.  But, it is the job of ARAWC to change the laws that require companies to carry the traditional Worker’s Compensation.  Their laws will allow companies to “opt out” of the plan.   Employers that opt out would still be compelled to purchase workers’ comp plans. But they would be allowed to write their own rules governing when, for how long, and for which reasons an injured employee can access medical benefits and wages.

That is where the rub comes in.  They want worker’s comp plans that are restricted in what is covered, how much the company must pay, and for how long.  Where does ARAWC get their funding from?  Well there are about two-dozen corporations including Wal-Mart, Safeway, Nordstrom, Lowes, and Macy’s.

Not surprisingly Texas and Oklahoma already have such “opt out” laws. In Texas, the only state that has never required employers to provide workers’ comp, Wal-Mart has written a plan that allows the company to select the physician an employee sees and the arbitration company that hears disputes.

The plan provides no coverage for asbestos exposure. And a vague section of the contract excludes any employee who was injured due to his “participation” in an assault from collecting benefits unless the assault was committed in defense of Wal-Mart’s “business or property.” It is up to Wal-Mart to interpret what “participation” means. But the Texas AFL-CIO has argued that an employee who defended himself from an attack would not qualify for benefits.

A 2012 survey of Texas companies with private plans found that fewer than half offered benefits to seriously injured employees or the families of workers who died in workplace accidents and half of employer plans capped benefits.  The state plan, which these employers “opted out” of covers both benefits to seriously injured employees or the families of workers who died in workplace accidents, and pays benefits throughout a worker’s recovery.

The next state they are targeting is Tennessee.  Other Conservative Southern States like Florida, Georgia, and Alabama are on their short list.  They have even hired lobbyists in both North Carolina and South Carolina.  The goal of ARAWC is to change the Worker’s Compensation laws in all 50 states.

The law being discussed in Tennessee  bears many of the hallmarks of the Texas and Oklahoma system: It allows businesses to place strict spending caps on each injured worker and to pick and choose which medical expenses to cover. “We took the best of both and put it together to make it work for Tennessee businesses,” state Sen. Mark Green, who introduced the bill, told an insurance trade magazine.

The bill as introduced does not require employers to pay for artificial limbs, hearing aids, home care, funeral expenses, or disability modifications to a home or a car for injured workers. All of these benefits, notes Gary Moore, president of the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council, are mandated under the state’s current workers’ comp system.

“This piece of legislation is designed as a cost-saving measure for the employer,” Moore says. “Anywhere they save a dollar, it costs the employees a dollar. It’s just a shift in costs.”

Furthermore, Green’s bill would allow companies to stop paying lifetime benefits after three years or $300,000, whichever comes first.  The current law requires employers to cover a worker’s medical expenses for as long as he needs treatment.

Rick Levy, the legal director for the Texas AFL-CIO says “It’s the people who are hurt more severely and have ongoing issues who notice a big difference.  Those people are going to find this to be a disaster.”  Even people like   Mary Elizabeth Maddox, a Tennessee workers’ compensation attorney who represents both employers and employees opposes Green’s bill.  She recalls a case in which a workplace accident paralyzed a 23-year-old man and confined him to a wheelchair. He sued her client, the employer. “For him, $300,000 is not going to go very far.”

ARAWC is not ashamed to state that the goal of these laws is to slash health care costs by claiming the law will “lower costs to employers” and allow businesses to “require more accountability from injured workers” by choosing their doctors and forcing them to stick to the company doctor’s treatment plan to retain their benefits.

They also claim that Texas businesses who opt out have superior medical care and higher rates of satisfaction by covered employees.  However, there is little evidence to substantiate this claim.  You see, Max Koonce, the head of Risk Management for Wal-Mart, is also ARAWC’s CEO and he and lobbyists for the Texas Alliance of Nonsubscribers have helped defeat legislation requiring opt-out companies to report how much they pay in wage replacement and medical benefits to injured employees.

As Levy says:  “They have a lot of nerve, the Richard Evanses of the world, saying that they’re doing this for the worker, when year after year, we’re out there saying, ‘Well if you guys do such a great job, why don’t you allow us access to your data?’ And every session we are met with complete stonewalling.”

Once again we have a conservative group that is looking to hammer the working class in this country.  They claim that this bill is “good for the worker.”  How can anyone in their right mind say that a bill gutting a worker’s right to compensation for being hurt on the job is good for the worker?  Especially when that bill is being sponsored and funded by the very employers who don’t want to pay the full worker’s compensation required now.

The proponents for these sweeping changes to Worker’s Compensation claim that the worker will be allowed to sue the company for damages.  But these suits are filed under Federal Courts.  They are very expensive and take years of litigation to resolve.  How can someone who cannot work because of an injury caused on the job, afford to sue the company without any money?

So, if you are an employee and are hurt on the job, these companies and conservatives desire that the company say who your doctor should be, how much they will pay for your medical treatment, and what will be covered.  It is not hard to imagine companies taking the most expensive medical treatment off of their “menu” of covered injuries.

As a Serf, how could you expect anything more?



I hear people talk about their “Christianity” as though they are wearing some kind of “badge of courage.”  I constantly hear these same people ask “what would Jesus do?”  As everyone who is a regular here knows I don’t care what religion you may follow.  I don’t care if you don’t follow any religion.  I don’t care if you don’t even believe in religion or god.

But, what I do care about is that if you truly believe in religion, you have a duty to actually live by the teachings you say you believe in.  As I have written before, all religions have their faults.  All religions, by definition are discriminatory.  That is just the nature of the religion business.  You can’t really believe in a religion unless you believe the “my god is better than your god” theory.

As we know, America is predominantly a Christian country.  That doesn’t mean that Christianity is the “official religion” of America as the Christian Cult want’s you to believe.  It just means that more people in our country count themselves as Christian than anything else.

Conservatives are the most vocal “Christians” we hear talking today.  So, I ask, if conservatives are so Christian, why are their policies so “Un-Christian?”  Why is it that Conservative Christians claim to have “accepted Jesus as their lord and savior” and yet go against 99% of his teachings?  How is it that Conservative Christians can claim to follow the “teachings of Jesus” all the while hating their neighbors and pass discriminatory laws and policies?

I ask these questions now because Christians are celebrating their most holy week, Easter Week.  This is when Christians are supposed to “reaffirm” their belief system and their acknowledgement of the teachings of Jesus.  It is also a time when we are seeing more and more discriminatory laws being passed by states whose politicians claim to be “Conservative Christians.”

We are seeing more anti-LGBT laws being passed under the false pretense of “religious liberty.”  Just for the record, Jesus never said a single word about the LGBT community.  What he said was that there were only two commandments:  “Love God with all your heart and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Now, I don’t care what version of the Bible you read, you will not find an asterisk after the “love your neighbor as yourself” quote.  There was no “exception” offered by Jesus to this law.  But, todays “Conservative Christians” want you to believe that asterisk exists.  That is the only reason there is such an outcry about same-sex marriage we see today.

Just in the great-thinking state of Texas, over 20 discriminatory bills have been introduced already this year.  All are in the name of “religious liberty” and of “states rights.”  Only these bills have been written by national organizations with their roots in the belt-way.  Hardly something that screams “states rights.”

There have been a lot of talk against the Islam “Sharia Law” in this country.  These discriminatory laws are nothing less than “Sharia Law.”  I guess it depends on which “Sharia Law” you support on whether or not it is good or bad.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday.  Many Christians were in church starting their Easter Week holiday celebration.  The Governor of Indiana was on television trying to defend the law he passed making it legal to discriminate against LGBTs.  In his interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos he utterly refused to answer the yes or no question about whether the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” would allow discrimination against LGBT Indianans with either a yes or a no. Eight times.

The funny thing is that Jesus did mention something about your yes and no answers.  It’s in Matthew 5:37 and it’s really very simple. Jesus said, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.”  If the Governor cannot give a simple yes or no to the question about discrimination, one has to wonder what the real purpose of the law is.  Another example of a so-called “Conservative Christian” claiming “religious liberty” all the while avoiding what his savior, Jesus told him to do.  Answer with a yes or no.

Look, I don’t care if discriminatory laws are intended to hurt LGBT, Blacks, Latinos, Irish, Germans, Muslims, Jews, or anyone else.  They are evil all by themselves.  Their intent is to create a multi-level citizenship status.  They are an attempt to force one person’s religious beliefs on everyone else.  There is no other reason for them.

Additionally, these same Conservative Christians are all in support of a budget blueprint that raises the budget numbers for DOD while paying for those increases by hacking the social safety nets for our most vulnerable people.  These are the same people who want to gut Medicare and make it a voucher system.  They want to make the VA a voucher system.  The want to gut food stamps.  They want to take away health insurance from the poor and needy.  And, they don’t want to raise the minimum wage so people at the lower ends of our society can earn a living through their hard work.

On the other hand, they refuse to raise taxes on the wealthy.  They refuse to close loopholes that allow the rich to “hide” their money overseas so they don’t have to pay taxes on it.  They claim they want to “balance the budget” but keep adding to the deficit by adding “breaks” and “incentives” to the wealthy without paying for them.

To me, these actions by the Conservative Christian Cult just don’t add up.  If you really are a Christian and claim to be “a God-fearing” person, how can you support laws that take away the civil rights of other groups?  How can you openly support what I call “hate laws?”

How can you be willing to let the most needy in our society suffer even more while protecting the income of the most wealthy?  Didn’t Jesus say “It is harder for a wealthy person to enter heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle?”  With policies like the ones they are pushing, I can see how that is so.

I guess the easy answer would be to say these Conservative Christians aren’t really Christians at all.  But, I won’t go to those lengths.  I won’t try to look inside the hearts of people to find their motivation.  But, I will say that if they truly believe in the teachings of Jesus, they have a funny way of showing it.

I once had a priest tell me that “religion is supposed to bring hope and comfort” to people.  If that is true, the policies of our Conservative Christian politicians are doing just the opposite.  It is more like the saying of “do what I say and not what I do.”

Sometimes I wonder that if Jesus lived today, if our Conservative Christians wouldn’t be the first in line to crucify him.  I believe their actions and policies say they would be.

Our country sits on the crossroads in history.  For the last 100 years or so, we have what many people believe to be a model for democracy.  Yes, we have had our problems with race before like slavery and the Jim Crow laws.  But, beginning in the 20th century, we have basically been a country that passed laws that protected the rights of individuals.

All of that is changing in front of our eyes, and we don’t seem to give a shit!  The Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that abortion was legal.  Since then we have seen a strong opposition to that ruling.  In the last several years, several conservative states have passed laws taking that right away from women.  They have even passed legislation in several of these states that require doctors to tell women who want an abortion false information.  The object isn’t to protect the woman’s health, it is to make them change their mind about getting an abortion.

We have seen a so-called “church,” whose name I refuse to even mention,  protest at military funerals.  They claim that the soldiers were killed as “god’s punishment” for America’s acceptance of gay rights.  When the families object to their being there, nothing is done to keep them away.

There are voter suppression laws being passed in several states.  They are not-so-thinly veiled attempts to reduce the number of people who usually vote Democratic from gaining access to the polls.  In the last election just last year, several thousand people were denied their right to vote.  In some cases, it resulted in swaying the outcome of close elections.

Now, Indiana has taken the lead in authorizing legalized discrimination.  Governor Mike Pence signed the legislation yesterday.  It is called The Religious Objections Law.  Under this law, if you own a business and you don’t like someone, you can refuse service to that individual as long as you can say you have religious beliefs that says you don’t have to serve them.

The Governor says it is not a discrimination law.  He says “this law is not about discrimination.”  If it isn’t about discrimination, what is it about?  This law has come to fruition because the courts have ruled that same-sex marriage ban that was passed by Indiana is unconstitutional.  In order to fight against same-sex marriage, Indiana came up with this discrimination law to satisfy the far right-wing and the Christian Cult.

This is the reality in Indiana right now.  If you own any business, you can discriminate against anyone you want.  Pence may disagree with that statement, but it is true.  What if I owned a business in Indiana.  I decided that I don’t like Evangelical Christians.  I can deny business to any Evangelical Christian if I simply say it is against my religion to serve them because I consider them heretics.  This law gives me that right.

The laws about discrimination are very clear.  If you own a business, you are not allowed to discriminate against anyone.  Once you open your doors to the public, you are required to serve the whole public.  That is a very simple fact of doing business.  If you own a catering service and say you will cater all events except gay events, you are breaking the law.  This Indiana Law allows you to disobey anti-discrimination laws already upheld by the Supreme Court.

There is only one thing to do.  Businesses must boycott Indiana.  As a matter of fact, Salesforce.com co-founder and CEO Mark Benioff announced on twitter, shortly after Pence signed the bill, that he was cancelling programs that require his customers or employees to “travel to Indiana to face discrimination.”

The odd part is that Salesforce.com bought Indianapolis based marketing software company ExactTarget for $2.5 billion and kept several hundred employees in Indianapolis.  I hope he has the good sense to remove those jobs from Indiana so his employees don’t have to “face discrimination.”

Also, the timing is perfect for a national outcry.  Next week is the Final Four for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.  The Final Four is being held in Indianapolis.  For once, I would love to hear the NCAA do the right thing and announce on national television that this will be the last Final Four, or any round of the tournament held anywhere in the state of Indiana.  I am not holding my breath on that one, but it would be really nice if they did.

NCAA President Mark Emmert did say in a statement:  “We will work diligently to assure student-athletes competing in, and visitors attending, next week’s Final Four are not impacted negatively by this bill.”  The law, by the way, doesn’t take effect until June.

He went on to say “Moving forward, we intend to closely examine the implications of this bill and how it affects future events and our workforce.”  Sounds promising.  But, the NCAA isn’t known for always doing what is right.

Let’s look at just one example of a situation.  It is football season.  A team is due to meet Indiana University at Indiana.  One or more of their players have announced that they are gay.  What happens if the hotel the team is supposed to stay at refuses to allow the gay players to spend the night based on “religious grounds?”

Before you snicker, this is a very real possibility.  But, what if that hotel doesn’t say they won’t allow the gay players to spend the night until the team arrives?  That team will either have to find alternative quarters for the whole team, or follow the old Jim Crow laws and just find alternative quarters for the gay player(s).  What about pro-athletes?  There are a handful of openly gay players in professional sports?  Will they be denied a room when their team meets a team in Indiana?

Nothing will have a bigger impact on Indiana and this stupid law than the NCAA announcing immediately that they will hold no tournaments in the state due to this law.  Maybe that will make Indiana repeal this discriminatory law.

The only way to fight this kind of discrimination is through economic power.  If a state wants to legally discriminate against a segment of our citizenry, they should not be granted anything that would bring money into its economy.

Major sporting events like the NCAA tournaments, the Super Bowl, and others should not take place anywhere inside Indiana.  Wouldn’t it be great if the Indianapolis 500 was held without anyone attending?  Major corporations should sever their ties to Indiana.  Convention organizers should avoid Indiana like the plague.

At least two groups have announced that they were going to reconsider plans to events in Indianapolis because of this law.  These groups are the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Gamer’s Convention.  I hope both go elsewhere.

But, that is not enough.  Every person who lives in Indiana and opposes this law should boycott any business that is willing to discriminate against someone based on “religious grounds.”  Any business that openly discriminates against anyone does not deserve to remain open for business.  Boycott them and shut them down!

I have family in Chicago.  When I travel home to visit, I must pass through Indiana.  I promise you that I will make sure I have enough gas to get through the state and I won’t stop to eat.  I refuse to give any of my money to their economy.  I hope all travelers who need to pass through Indiana do the same thing.

If these things happen, the economic impact will be severe.  Not only to businesses who openly discriminate using this law as cover, but to the tax rolls in Indiana as well.

Since several other states are already looking to Indiana as the model to follow with similar laws, it is time to fight back.  By showing the economic implications of such legalized discrimination, maybe those other states will think twice before following suit.

To show just how much this law is legalized discrimination, Pence was asked if he would follow Illinois’ lead and add sexual-orientation to the state’s civil rights law.  He responded “That is not on my agenda.  I will not be pursuing that.”  Therefore, no one can argue that this law is anything but legalized discrimination sponsored by the state of Indiana.

In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel spied on the U.S. negotiations with Iran.  They reported that Israel intercepted classified material dealing with the negotiations.  The article opened up Pandora’s Box, but no one wants to look inside.  The media on all sides are very quiet about the incident.

It wasn’t the actual “spying” that opened Pandora’s Box.  This is not the first time that Israel spied on the U.S.  Of all the “friendly” countries that have spied on the U.S., Israel rates as number one.  But, even though Israel is a “friendly” country, one must remember that it is a foreign country.  We have, in the past, convicted people who have “helped” Israel spy on our country.

There has been a lot written about those 47 Senators who wrote their ill-advised letter to Iran.  I wrote on it myself.  But, there is something else in the Wall Street Journal that opened Pandora’s Box and is even more disturbing to me than the fact that Israel continues to spy on the U.S.

According to the article, members of Congress received briefings from the Israelis using the very classified material they “intercepted.”  The sole purpose of these “briefings” was to influence Congressional action against the Iran negotiations.

You may ask, so what?  Members of Congress should be able to know what is being negotiated.  That is true.  It is also true that Congress has the right to argue for or against any treaty that an administration negotiates with a foreign country.  But, the fact that Israel apparently received this classified information through spying makes that act illegal according to our laws.

Furthermore, anyone who receives and uses this information who does not possess both the appropriate security clearance and authorization is also committing a criminal act.  That means that any American who knowingly gained unauthorized access to this information and used it on behalf of a foreign government to disadvantage the United States a criminal.  By any American, that means even members of Congress not specifically cleared for this information but who received it as a result of briefings provided to them by representatives of the Government of Israel.

That is where the reprehensible behavior comes into play.  Members of Congress are sworn to defend the Constitution.  How can one defend the Constitution if one is taking part in violating its laws on classified information?  In layman terms, violating the laws on classified information, when it pertains to a foreign government constitutes treason.

One only needs to recall Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. Naval intelligence analyst turned Israeli spy who is currently serving a life sentence for espionage.  This will help you to understand that Israel is not an extension of the United States, but rather a foreign nation.  Not only a foreign nation, but one whose policies are often at odds with those of our own.  A foreign nation that will go to any extreme, including spying on its supposed close friend and ally, to see those policies through to fruition.

This administration has aggressively prosecuted those who have leaked classified information.  Bradley Manning was imprisoned for facilitating the massive release of classified military and diplomatic reports and cables to WikiLeaks. And former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was likewise convicted and imprisoned for leaking sensitive intelligence to the New York Times.

The question then becomes did members of Congress who received these “briefings” from the Israelis committed a criminal act?  Well, it would appear that the members of Congress who received Israeli briefings derived from intercepted U.S. diplomatic communications did illegally receive classified information.  They also actively coordinated with the Israeli government to undermine the policies of the U.S. Government.  This is criminal activity chargeable under 50 U.S.C. § 783 and other U.S. statutes.

In January, John Boehner announced that Netanyahu would address the U.S. Congress about the issue of Iran.  That coincided with a concerted push by the Israeli diplomats, armed with classified U.S. diplomatic traffic detailing the ongoing talks with Iran, to sway Congress into their way of thinking.  This represents acts chargeable under 18 U.S.C. § 371, the same general conspiracy statute used to convict others accused of acts of espionage. Both are felonies, punishable by fines and up to ten years in prison for each charge. We’re not talking politics as usual here; we’re talking criminal behavior.

Now, I don’t know exactly who received these “briefings” from the Israelis.  I don’t know if Boehner was privy to this information or not.  Nor, am I saying that members of Congress actually knowingly committed treason.  But, during my time in the service, I did live in and complied with the laws of maintaining classified material.  They are very stringent, and there no alibis for not following them completely.

The very hint that members of Congress may have knowingly committed criminal acts according to these laws is very disturbing to me.  We all took the same oath.  The fact that they are members of Congress does not exempt them from obeying the laws and upholding their oaths.

This congress has been very “hearing” happy.  We have had all kinds of hearings about the behavior of members of the administration, the IRS and others.  Maybe it is time that Boehner appoint a “special committee” to look into the possible criminal behavior of members of Congress in this matter.

If there are members of Congress, and I don’t care who they are or what party they belong to, who violated these laws, they need to be held accountable.  Israel is an ally.  The threats that Israel face are real.  But, that does not excuse members of Congress from violating the oath they took to defend our Constitution and our National Security.  Israel, after all, is a foreign country.

Climate change is something that can rile up almost anyone on both sides of the issue.  We have seen the peak winter arctic ice at its lowest levels in history this past winter.  The planet has just suffered through its warmest winter in history.  The GOP is still arguing that climate change is a hoax, and are looking to defang the EPA from doing its job in protecting our air and water.

Maybe it is time to stop talking about pollution being the cause of climate change, and refocus it back to pollution being a health hazard instead.  Maybe, if politicians are bombarded with complaints from constituents that pollution from coal-burning electric plants, or other manufacturing is affecting their health, they might listen.  But then again, I doubt that will happen either.

There are two cases pending in two different courts that exemplify this to a tee.  Two lawyers Brendan and Nessa Coppinger apparently live in a row house in Washington, D.C.  They have sued their neighbor for smoking in his own house.  That is right, they have sued their neighbor for smoking in his own house.

“This is a health concern,” Nessa Coppinger, who is 38 and pregnant with her second child, told the Washington Post. “We don’t smoke. We don’t allow smoking in our home. We have smoke in our house all the time.”.  In the law suit they are seeking damages in the amount of $500,000

D.C. Superior Court Judge Ronna Lee Beck ordered that all smoking, of all substances, be banned in the neighbor’s home until the lawsuit is resolved.  Of course, this whole mess raises intriguing questions about a person’s right to smoke in his own house.  Or, for that matter what rights a homeowner really has when it comes to his own property.

Now, this may all seem like something reasonable.  Except for one thing.  Records indicate that Nessa Coppinger, an “environmental lawyer” — often litigates against the environment, including cases in which she’s defended industry clients against people besieged by pollution.

Suncoke Energy, Inc. is being sued by four Ohioans.  The plaintiffs claim that a local metallurgical coke plant, operated by a subsidiary of the billion dollar corporation, “emitted and released blue/gray Noxious and Hazardous Substances-containing clouds or haze,” which poisoned their water, soil and, yes, air, with just about everything one might consider to be a health concern: “sludge-like deposits, strong odors, particulates, lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium, creosote, coal-tar pitch, coal-tar pitch volatiles, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g., benzo(a) pyrene and chrysene) (“PAHs”), sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, dioxins, volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”), hydrochloric acid (“HCL”), volatiles, carbon monoxide, benzene, flue gas, chemical clouds and haze, other solid and hazardous wastes, other hazardous substances and pollutants, and mixtures containing such substances.”

The lawyer defending the billion dollar giant is none other than Nessa Coppinger.  The plaintiffs reported experiencing unpleasant odors infiltrating their properties, claimed to suffer respiratory symptoms from the smoke and said they “are concerned and apprehensive about risks to their and their family members’ health from their past and ongoing exposure to said substances.”  No court order has prohibited the plant from spewing the pollutants, as alleged, onto its neighbors’ property.  This lawsuit has been ongoing for five years.

So we have a lawyer who is seeking $500,000 from a neighbor because his smoking in his own house is seeping into her house causing “second-hand smoke” issues defending a company who is polluting its neighbors with even more toxic pollutants.  The biggest difference is that the “smoker” is smoking within his own house.  The company polluting its neighbors are not polluting inside their own facility.  Rather they are openly polluting the entire area.

If this sounds rather familiar, remember the Exxon CEO who, last year, joined an anti-fracking lawsuit after nearby drilling activity threatened to lower his own property values.  The same Exxon CEO who claims that fracking is perfectly safe and won’t cause harm to the environment or property values.

I firmly believe that these cases point out the simple fact that the fight to protect polluters has nothing to do with climate change or anything like it.  It is to defend the billion dollar companies that are killing our planet and us.  But, as long as it happens to someone else, it is okay.  Just keep it from our neighborhood.

That is why the GOP will continue its stupidity on climate change and its attack on science and the EPA.

Actually, that question can be asked of all of the media.  You may or may not have heard about this incident.  It occurred at the New Orleans Airport over the weekend.  We all know that if a Muslim had done the attacking, it would be headlined around the country as an “act of terrorism.”  But, the attacker wasn’t a Muslim, so we haven’t heard the term used even once.

Last Friday night, Richard White, a 63-year-old former Army serviceman carried a duffel bag holding six homemade explosives, a machete, and poison spray into the airport. He approached the TSA security checkpoint, and then sprayed two TSA officers with the poison. He then grabbed his machete and chased another TSA officer with it.

He was then shot and killed by the police. After the incident, a search of Mr. White’s car by the police revealed it contained acetylene and oxygen tanks, two substances that, when mixed together, will yield a powerful explosive.

I have read several pieces on this attack, and no one ever mentioned it as an “act of terror.”  It certainly looks on the surface as an act of terrorism.  But, no one ever called it that.  As a matter of fact, within hours of the attack law enforcement was quick to chalk this incident up to the attacker’s alleged “mental health issues.”

Mr. White has been retired for some time and living on social security and disability checks.  Further, he was reportedly a devout Jehovah’s Witness.  Interviews with his neighbors, however, don’t even give a hint that he had mental problems. They described White as a “meek” and “kind” man who a few had spoken to just days before the incident and everything seemed fine.

Now, maybe Mr. White does suffer from some “mental issues.”  But, I still find it funny that no Muslim involved in something like this can possibly suffer from “mental issues.”  If Mr. White was a Muslim, you would be certain Fox News would have plastered their headlines with “Terrorism” for weeks on end.  But, since it wasn’t committed by a Muslin, Fox News is somewhat quiet about the incident.

Furthermore, the police never even looked into whether or not Mr. White had some sort of grudge against the government.  Nor, did they investigate whether or not he expressed any anti-government sentiments prior to the attack.  After all, he did only attack TSA officers.  He did not attack any of the passengers waiting in line with him.

We have seen conservatives attack the TSA in the past.  They have argued that the TSA is only interested in taking away our liberties.  For example, Alex Jones’ Infowars website is filled with anti-TSA articles claiming that the TSA’s goal is not to prevent terrorism but to “harass” travelers and get into “our pants.”  Glen Beck warned in the past  that the TSA was potentially becoming President Obama’s “private army” with the goal being to take away our liberties.

Then, in 2012, Senator Rand Paul lashed out against the TSA for what he viewed as the agency’s improper treatment of him. In fact after the incident, Paul penned an op-ed denouncing the TSA, writing that “it is infuriating that this agency feels entitled to revoke our civil liberties while doing little to keep us safe.”

Ted Cruz who announced his candidacy for president yesterday is famous for saying that the President can’t make himself to say the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”  Well here is an example of what some would call “radical Christian terrorism,” and Mr. Cruz is silent on the issue.

Conservatives, trying to show some concern for Muslims often say that “every Muslim is not a terrorist,” but “every terrorist is a Muslim.”  Considering that this story received no coverage about it being even possibly an “act of terrorism,” makes it easy to understand why the average person may believe that nonsense.

Mr. White’s attack is not the first attack on TSA either.  In October 2012, Paul Ciancia traveled to LAX, where he took out a rifle from his bag and shot two TSA officers, killing one. Ciancia had written anti-government tracts in the past and was—to little media fanfare, and none from the right-wing media—actually charged months later with an “act of terrorism.

Because of this twisted mindset, we are more unsafe today than we were ten years ago.  The fact that we will only use the word “terrorism” if a Muslim commits an attack, and refuse to recognize “terrorism” committed by Christians who are U.S. citizens makes homegrown terrorists even more dangerous.

As I wrote before, terrorism is terrorism.  It doesn’t matter who the terrorist is.  We need to recognize that fact and stop apologizing for the non-Muslims who commit “acts of terrorism.”  But, that will take away the right-wing’s us against them narrative.  Maybe that is why none of them covered this incident as an “act of terrorism.”

Well it is official, sort of.  Ted Cruz has announced that he is running for President in 2016.  At least he tweeted that he is running in 2016.  It is probably appropriate that he is the first to officially announce his candidacy.  I just wonder how many “birthers” are going to come out of the closet about his citizenship.  If one truly believes that you must be born inside the U.S. to run for President, they now have someone who was definitely not born inside the U.S. or even one of its territories.

But, that is not what this article is all about.  I said it is appropriate that he be the first to announce because he is the one who shouts the most about “liberty.”  Especially about “religious liberty.”  But of course, when he talks about “liberty” he doesn’t really mean personal liberty to be enjoyed by everyone.  He means only those “liberties” that fall into his definition of what “liberty” is all about.

Unfortunately, “religious liberty” has become the rallying cry for bigots of all shapes and sizes.  I am even going to go so far as to say the terrorists have picked up the rallying cry of “religious liberty.”  People like Ted Cruz who constantly cry about “religious liberty” continuously prove my point.  They are not interested in real liberty.  They are interested only in the parts of “liberty” that allow them to hate, disrespect, and discriminate against anyone who doesn’t agree with their twisted view of society.

Last week this came more to light when Jeb Bush said that we should “respect” those who wish to be involved in a lifetime same-sex marriage, but we should also have to the right to discriminate against them if we “hold religious beliefs” that do not agree with same-sex marriage.  That is the real issue here.

I would love for someone to logically explain to me how we can “respect” others all the while we are allowed to discriminate against them.  You won’t hear a logical explanation because there isn’t one.  Oh, people will talk about how if you own a business it is your right to not serve anyone based on your “religious beliefs.”  However, that is a fallacy, too.  Once you open your doors to the “public” you must serve all of the “public.”  You cannot pick-and-choose who you are going to serve.  The Supreme Court has already ruled many times that is discrimination, and that is illegal!

This “religious liberty” fantasy that Cruz and his followers are trying to inflict on society is all based on a lie.  The right to believe what you wish does not allow you to discriminate against a fellow citizen in the conduct of normal daily business or life.  This lie has grown out of the absolute hatred of the Cult towards same-sex marriage.

Since recognizing same-sex marriage is becoming more mainstream, the Cult is trying to make it legal to discriminate against same-sex couples in the name of “religious liberty.”  If this is allowed to continue, who will be the next group that “religious liberty” will go after.

Will we return to the days when it was illegal for a black to marry a white because someone’s “religious belief” doesn’t recognize it?  Are we going to base our immigration laws on what religion is allowed to immigrate into the country?  Will County Clerks be allowed to discriminate against people of different faiths getting a marriage license because that clerk doesn’t believe in inter-faith marriage?

The right and the cult want you to believe that religious beliefs trump the constitution.  They want you to believe that if their beliefs say you can discriminate against someone, you have that right.  They want to impose their “religious beliefs” on you as the law of the land.

But, I remember when Catholics were discriminated against in this country.  I remember the outcry that the right and the cult had when John F. Kennedy first ran for office.  I remember his speech about religion and politics.  I remember how he had to assure the country that his religion would not interfere with his responsibility to “defend the constitution.”

Now, the same things that the right and the cult were so worried about when JFK ran for office is their rallying cry.  Religion trumps the Constitution as long as it is “their” religion.  The same people, and groups of people who were so worried about JFK instituting Catholicism on the country, now want to institute “evangelicalism” on the country.

“Religious liberty” can be very dangerous buzz words.  Just for the sake of argument.  Let us assume that someone from ISIS is a citizen in this country.  That person kidnaps a “Christian” and kills him because he won’t convert to Islam.  That same person says he is acting under the banner of “religious liberty” to justify his killing.

I don’t think that anyone would try to argue that this killing falls under the guise of “religious liberty.”  Some of you will argue that this is an absurd comparison.  But is it?  Where do you draw the line when you talk about “religious liberty” being the basis for discrimination.  Murder is one of the most horrific examples of discrimination and intolerance.  Our history is rife with murder for the sake of discrimination.  Religious murder is just as horrific.

Yet, under the banner of “religious liberty” it may be considered by some to be justifiable.  If a person truly believes that they are acting in accordance with deep religious beliefs when they murder another person then say is was legal under the banner of  “religious liberty,” how can Cruz or anyone else who discriminates under the same banner argue against it?

Some will argue that this analogy is ridiculous because there are laws against murder.  There are laws against discrimination, too.  Yet under the banner of “religious liberty” you are willing to break those laws.  Even worse, make breaking those laws legal.

It really doesn’t matter how you slice it.  The common thread is that “religious liberty” has become nothing more than a rallying cry for bigoted people to express their hatred for anyone who is different from them.  They have forgotten, and/or want to erase, or at least change the words on the Statue of Liberty.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

With the announcement of Ted Cruz as a presidential candidate, we are going to hear a lot more about “religious liberty” in the coming months.  That will definitely be one of the major planks in his platform. But when you hear him, and others, talking about how it is “religious liberty” that allows you to discriminate, ask them a couple of questions.

How is it possible that people who profess a belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ who tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself” can convince themselves that he really didn’t mean “every neighbor?”  How can they justify that the person they claim to be their “savior” said “judge not lest you be judged by the same standard” didn’t mean “don’t judge everyone?”

I am positive that you won’t get a logical response to these questions.  That is because these people who claim “religious liberty” in the name of discrimination aren’t Christians.  They are bigots who have hijacked religion for their own nefarious reasons.  Listener beware!



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