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Archive for the ‘Race’ Category

The Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s affirmative action ban.  The ruling means that the State of Michigan is able to eliminate race as a basis for determining who gets into college or not.  This ban was passed by a voter initiative.  The old argument of “race doesn’t matter anymore” is the battle cry.  There are currently three states that have similar bans.  Michigan, California, and Washington.  In all three states, minority enrollment into State Colleges has plummeted since the bans were put in place.  There is currently a battle raging in California to reinstate affirmative action in determining college enrollment.

The Roberts Court has overturned several laws that were the result of fighting against the Jim Crowe court.  That court basically ruled that blacks do not have the same rights a whites.  That was finally overturned in the sixties with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.  Now, the Roberts Court is trying to bring the basic “separate but equal” stupidity back into vogue.

The problem is that this will not just cover minorities of race.  Blacks and Latinos are the prime victims, but other groups are also in the cross-hairs of the Roberts Court.  Only four states that ban same-sex marriage is not having their bans challenged in court, yet.  Popular opinion has swung in favor of same-sex marriage rights.  There has been hope that the courts will rule in favor of same-sex marriage.  But, there are other precedents that this court has used to overturn rulings from the past, and one very disturbing opinion from the Michigan case that may stop equal rights in its tracks.

The elimination of the most important part of the Voting Rights Act that was struck down, namely that states with a history of voter restrictions must get pre-approval before implementing new voting rules led to a mass of states passing voter restriction laws called “Voter ID” laws all in the name of “combating voting fraud”, which really doesn’t exist!  They are clearly intended to disenfranchise minorities, youth, and elderly voters.

But in the Michigan opinion, one thing stands out to me that is very disturbing.  Justice Anthony Kennedy said voters chose to eliminate racial preferences, presumably because such a system could give rise to race-based resentment. Kennedy said nothing in the Constitution or the court’s prior cases gives judges the authority to undermine the election results.  So what Justice Kennedy and his majority on the court are saying, if the voters choose to deny rights to a group of people, the courts cannot do anything about it to protect the minorities being adversely affected.

A large number of states that have passed same-sex marriage discrimination laws have done so by a ballot initiative.  Justice Kennedy’s writing seems to suggest that if a discrimination voter initiative manages to pass, that will be the end of it.  His argument of  “presumably because such a system could give rise to race-based resentment” echoes all to well the Jim Crowe courts actions.  Since when does the constitution or civil rights depend upon worrying about “race-based resentment”.  If that were the case, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act would never have been passed.

The Republicans have coined the term “slippery slope” to deny rights to citizens.  They use it in instances like “if we allow same-sex marriages, it will cause a “slippery slope’ to bestiality.  But this “slippery slope” can work both ways including affecting large groups of our population and put them on a path of second-class citizenship.  If you can take away race, you can take away sexual orientation.  If you can take away sexual orientation, you can take away religion.  If you can take away religion, you can take away nationality.

It may be harsh to say, but the actions of the Roberts Court has taken on a very similar smell as the Jim Crowe Court.  Only time will tell how the court rules on the same-sex marriage issue.  We will get some understanding of how it is leaning when they decide on the birth control mandate in the ACA that companies are challenging on “religious” grounds.  If their argument is upheld, the flood-gates will open and we will see many more rights taken away from everyone not considered a “true conservative”.

There is something very wrong with a Supreme Court that rules that corporations and corporate spending in elections is the same as “people”, yet is willing to overturn rulings that give equal opportunity to “real people” just trying to get ahead.  All of the social progress we made in the last 50 years is hanging on the Roberts Court.  Will we continue our progress?  Or, will we return to the Jim Crowe days with old and new victims?

 

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As usual, this time of year is somewhat slow for politics.  Easter holiday has come, spring break has come, and Congress has taken its, what 54th recess this year?  So, other than the usual right-wing nonsense going on continuously, there isn’t much to talk about in politics.  So, it is time to start to strategize for the mid-term elections.

Everyone is missing the whole point of the Republican strategy.  Their whole premise is to hold the House and take the Senate.  They don’t plan on doing this through strong policies that appeal to the electorate.  They know they don’t have any strong policies, or weak ones for that matter, that appeal to the electorate.  So, they are counting on their gerrymandering of districts and passing as many voter restriction laws as possible.

That should be their undoing not their success.  Rather than complaining about the laws and gerrymandered districts, Democrats need to show how Republicans are rigging the elections and they need to start getting the electorate fired up about how the Republicans are trying to destroy democracy.  I don’t care what polls you watch, what people you talk to, or what demographic you listen to, they all have one common belief.  Democracy is sacred in America and they don’t want anyone to take it away from them.

All of the voter restriction laws are aimed at the same people.  They are aimed at the poor, minorities, the young, and the elderly.  Why?  Because these groups of people traditionally vote democratic.  So, in order to win the election, these people must be disenfranchised.  These people must be kept from voting.  They are not the “right” people who should be allowed to vote.

On top of all of that, the Republican money machine is cranking out the TV advertisements in record numbers.  All going after the ACA and Democrats who voted for it.  We have come to a time in this country when people can simply spend money wherever they wish, even in districts they are not represented in.  That is thanks to the SCOTUS rulings about financing in elections.  Now, a rich person can spend money wherever they want, at whatever amount they want, all in order to “buy” an election so their economic interests are better protected.

We have seen these types of shenanigans before.  It isn’t new.  We have overcome them before too.  We can overcome them again.  But, it will take a lot of hard work.  Look, I know that mid-term elections usually draw a small percent of the voting public.  But, this time we need to make those numbers rise.  We need to make the electorate so hopping mad at the Republicans that they want to vote them out.

Democrats don’t have to lie about the Republican agenda either.  There are plenty of examples to use to fire up the electorate.  There are the voter suppression laws, women’s issues, minority issues, minimum wage, reduced spending for public education, privatization of schools, the Republican plan to privatize social security and medicare, the elimination budget for welfare, WIC, food stamps, veteran benefits.  The list goes on.

Democrats need to espouse these items and use them against the Republicans.  More importantly, they need to mobilize like they did before.  They need to have groups look at the voter suppression laws and figure out how these disenfranchised groups can obtain their ID so they can register and vote.  Then, they need to mobilize people to assist them in getting their IDs.  Stop saying who can’t get them, and start helping them get their ID.  Make it local!

When we discus minimum wage, stop just talking solely about fast food workers in urban areas.  Point out that white rural workers are affected just as much as urban workers.  After all, the Republican base is mostly white rural people.  We need to show them that voting for Republicans is voting against their pocketbooks.    As Bill Clinton once said, “it is all about the economy”.  Make it local!

When town hall meetings are held in Republican districts, and the candidate says “Obamacare is a disaster” step up and ask what their alternative is.  Then ask what do we do about the “people in this room” who now have health coverage they didn’t have before?  Stop making this a national issue by talking about the “millions”.  Start making it a local issue.  Even in Republican states, people who never had health coverage now have it.  What will happen to them if the ACA is repealed?  Don’t let them talk in generalities either.  Make them state what they plan to do!  Make it Local!

You can also ask them about the minimum wage and how it affects their constituents.  All over America there are people making minimum wage, or just above it, that can’t make ends meet.  Show them in these town hall meetings that the Republicans are going to keep them down.  That they won’t do anything to help them in their plight.  Make it local!

Ask them if they attended public schools.  If they did, ask why they propose to reduce the public school budgets.  Ask them why your children can’t be afforded the same education they got in order to get ahead.  Make it local!

Ask if they voted for or against the Violence Against Women Act.  If they say they voted no, ask how they could justify not protecting women from violence especially domestic violence.  Ask them how that could possibly square with their idea of the “rule of law”?  Don’t be afraid to point that probably at least one in three women in the room have probably been a victim in the past.  How do they plan to protect these women?  Make it local!

It is time for the people to take back their government from the 1% group.  It is time to show them that no matter how much money they have, they cannot buy the American Government.  It is time to stop this bigotry in its tracks.  It is time for the Tea Party to be thrown into the Boston Harbor and drowned!  I won’t happen until we put the Republican Candidates on the spot!  Until we make them say something specific about their plans!  When they won’t be specific, we will have the ammunition to say they don’t have a plan.  We will be able to make it local?

It won’t happen until democrats and other groups see the same dangers of these policies like they did the segregated south in the fifties and sixties.  Until there is a mobilization of the American People who rightly stand for true democracy, the oligarchs will continue to corrupt the  political process.

If we want America to remain a true democracy, we need to start action now.  We cannot wait for the next Presidential Election.  If the Republicans gain control of both houses this year, the next Presidential Election may be too late.  If you want to beat them, change the game.  Make it local!

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As we start gearing up for the 2014 mid-term elections, we have to look at not just what each candidate is saying, we need to look at what the American People are saying as well.  When you look at the polls on any variety of issues, the American People are saying one thing, and the Republican Party is saying another.

The mid-terms could be an avalanche for the Democrats if only they would actually state the real differences between them and the Republicans.  Now, I am not a Democrat nor a Republican.  I stand by my independence.  I do lean left as everyone knows, but that doesn’t mean that I universally reject anyone solely based on a their party affiliation.

But, I am going to say this very clearly.  This mid-term election offers America two choices.  This election is between a party that is looking to keep American growing into the 21st Century, and a party that is pure evil!  Yes, I said pure evil!  The Republican Party has proven time-and-again over the last five plus years that they are the party of pure evil.

There are multiple examples of their evil all across the country.  You only need to look at the recent Republican Budget passed by the House to see their true intent.  This budget guts almost every social safety net, but continues to call for tax breaks for the wealthy.  Mr. Boehner the other day said he would not bring the Extended Unemployment Insurance bill passed by the Senate to the floor for a vote.  Thereby dooming over 2 million people to poverty and even losing their homes.  But, he doesn’t care.  The reason he won’t bring the bill to a vote?  He wants cuts in the corporate taxes.

He heads a party that claims they are for freedom.  They claim they are for the constitution.  They claim they are for keeping the government out of our lives.  They claim they are for equality in the workplace.  The claim they support job creation.  They claim a lot of things.  But, when you look at their policies and their talking points, you soon realize they are only for divisiveness and hate.  That is pure evil!

Let’s look at their policies and measure them against their own standards.

They are totally against same-sex marriage.  They stand by their “definition” of marriage being between one man and one women.  They claim “freedom of religion” as an excuse to discriminate against gays.  They say they are for the “freedom of religion”, but they really mean that they are for the “freedom of their religion” but not anyone who disagrees with them.

Here is a question that they will never answer.  If marriage is a state sponsored institution, what does it have to do with religion?  Yes, marriage is a state sponsored institution.  Marriage gives couples protections under the law about taxes, inheritances, child rearing, home ownership, and a host of other “privileges” that single people don’t get.  Therefore, since marriage is a state sponsored institution, refusing to allow same-sex marriage is unconstitutional since that act openly discriminates against certain groups of people based on religious belief not the constitution.  It is no different from saying a black cannot marry a white.  That is pure evil!

They are against abortion rights.  All across the country, the Republicans are passing legislation in states to deny a woman the right to an abortion if that is her decision.  All the while saying the government should “stay out of our lives” they are more than willing to crawl into the life of a woman.  There is no social justification for this attempt to ban abortion.  It is purely religious.  All the while they cry that their “religious freedom” is being ignored because they cannot discriminate against gays, they are denying a woman her “religious freedom” in determining whether or not to have an abortion.  That is pure evil!

The constitution clearly states there is to be a separation of church and state.  Therefore, passing legislation that is based solely on religious beliefs is unconstitutional.  If you claim to be in favor of the constitution and the freedoms it guarantees, then passing legislation that is unconstitutional, is pure evil!

The Affordable Care Act mandated the expansion of Medicaid in all states.  It even gives 100% of the cost of expansion to the states for the first three years, and 90% of the cost of expansion thereafter.  The Supreme Court in its idiocy struck down that portion of the bill and said states have the right to choose whether or not to expand Medicaid in their states.  At least 24 states decided not to expand Medicaid.  Every one of these states is either fully or mostly controlled by Republicans.

As a result, millions of people who would have been able to get health care cannot.  It is estimated that up to 17,000 people will die from preventable causes each year because of their decision to withhold health care from their citizens.  There is no reason or any shred of justification for this denial of health care.  They simply don’t like it.  That is pure evil!

They want private companies to be able to “pick-and-choose” the contraception coverage offered by company sponsored health insurance plans.  They claim that the owner’s “religious beliefs” should be the deciding factor.  Hobby Lobby sued over the mandate for contraception coverage.  All the while they are investing from their “retirement plans” funds in the very companies that make these same contraceptives.  According to Hobby Lobby, it is okay for the company and their employees to make money off these companies, but not okay for their employees to use the very products they are investing in.  They don’t see any hypocrisy either.  That is pure evil!

They claim they are for creating jobs.  Yet, they have proposed no legislation to create jobs.  The only thing they say will create jobs is cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy.  This has failed for the last 30 years, yet they continue to repeat the same failed slogans.  The administration has offered several bills that would create long-lasting, well-paying jobs.  The Republicans have failed to bring one of those bills up for a vote in the House.  These bills would improve our roads, bridges, electrical grid, sewers, water lines, and other parts of our infrastructure which is crumbling.  That is pure evil!

They claim they are for upward mobility.  Yet they continuously vote to slash education funding.  They continuously vote to hold down the minimum wage.  The repeatedly vote down equal pay legislation so women cannot be guaranteed the same pay for the same work.  As a matter of fact, several members of the House, on the Republican side, even want to eliminate the Federal Minimum Wage altogether.  That is pure evil!

There are a lot of other examples to offer like voter restriction laws, but I think you get the idea.  The problem is if the Democrats don’t start calling out their opponents on these issues and show the American People just how evil the Republican Party has become, they are doomed to fail.

Yes, we have a definite choice in this mid-term election.  We can either vote to move the country forward, or we can vote for pure evil.  Remember when you are standing in the voting booth, if you vote for pure evil, they will soon be coming for you as well!

 

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This year is the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Civil Rights Bill.  There has been a lot of discussion on the “talking heads” shows about how Lyndon Johnson used his “power” to get the bill passed.  Johnson did twist a lot of arms to get the bill passed, and he deserves a lot of credit for that.  However, if this bill came to a vote today, Johnson would have been able to get it passed.

Even though there was a lot of bigotry and hatred in the sixties, there were also a lot of “cooler heads” in Congress.  Politics was just that.  Politics.  When legislation like the Civil Rights Bill came up, politicians were willing to at least discuss the bill, and look at whether or not it benefited the country.  Today, that type of politics is dead.  Therefore, I do not believe even Lyndon Johnson could get the Civil Rights Bill through the Congress today.

It is very easy to come to this decision.  Just look at all of the bills, similar to the Civil Rights Bill, that are languishing in Congress.  ENDA, The Fair Pay Act, Same-Sex Marriage, and the list goes on.  Why could Lyndon Johnson get the Civil Rights Bill passed and we can’t get these other bills passed?  Mainly because the Conservative Christian Cult has put theocracy above the constitution.  To be more blunt, they are putting their theocracy above the constitution.  Then when someone disagrees with them, they cry their “religious freedoms” are being attacked.

Many politicians of the day, especially the so-called “Dixiecrats” used similar “biblical arguments” against the Civil Right Bill that the Christian Conservative Cult is using to block these other bills.  They are famous for saying they are right because “the bible tells me so”.  They are also famous for trying to convince people that our country was founded on “Judeo-Christian” values.  Of course they are wrong.

In fact, John Adams, one of our founding fathers, said in the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797 that “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion”.  So much for the argument that the founding fathers used Christianity as the basis for our form of government.  That very argument falls in the face of fact as well.  Our government is based on what is supposed to be the “will of the people”.  Christianity, and all religions for that matter, are based on a dictatorship where the “leader” tells the “faithful” what they are supposed to do and how to act and what to believe.

The true divisiveness in politics today is not based on the difference of opinion of what is wrong with the country and how to fix it.  It is based on one side taking a theocratic approach to government.  “You only have rights if you believe what I believe.”  Since that it the total foundation of the Christian Conservative Cult, we still have unequal pay based on gender; we still have discrimination in marriage rights; we still have employers being allowed to fire someone because they believe that person is LGBTQ; we still have law suits against contraception coverage in health insurance because the “liberty” group wants to control women’s lives.

No, even Lyndon Johnson with all the leadership qualities he had would not have been able to pass the Civil Rights Bill today.  There is no way the Conservative Christian Cult’s view of American Theocracy would have allowed a democratic bill like the Civil Rights Bill to pass through Congress.   They would have cried, as they do today, that it violates their “religious freedom” to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t agree with them.  So much the worse for us!

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I finally get it.  I humbly offer my Republican friends an apology.  I may even go so far as to apologize to the Tea Party, but that may be a mea culpa too far.  All this time, I figured that the Republicans are against equal rights.  Especially when it comes to pay.  I humbly admit I was wrong.

The Republicans have a great plan for the future of our country.  Under their plan, there won’t be any “class warfare”.  There won’t be any envy.  There won’t be any discrimination against any race, color, creed, or sexual orientation.  There will be equal pay for all working class Americans.

Why didn’t I see this before?  Why didn’t I realize that they just want to even the playing field for everyone.  Their policies are aimed at this equality, and it won’t require socialism to achieve it either.  The market will set pay for everyone.  It will set education levels for everyone.  It will solve all of our problems in one swell swoop.

Why these crafty Republicans didn’t open up about their wonderful plan is a mystery to me.  If they had, Mitt Romney might have been president.  They may actually control both houses of congress.  They might actually have achieved the power they all crave.  But, they must have made a horrible mistake somewhere along the way, because most of us just didn’t get it.

If you are still having trouble seeing their plan, here is how it will work.

  • If you are white, rich, and Christian Conservative, your children will get the best education available.  They will be allowed to go to private schools under “vouchers” paid for by taxes.  That way, they will be able to maintain their status.  Everyone else will be sent to underfunded public schools.  It will be all they need.
  • If you are wealthy, one of the makers, you will have your taxes cut in half.  You won’t have to pay any more, because all of those annoying safety-nets will be radically cut or eliminated.  Besides they won’t be needed.  Their plan will ensure full employment for everyone.
  • If you are a woman, you can do anything you want.  As long as the “man” in your life says it is okay.  But, don’t even think about contraceptives, abortion, or being a CEO of a company.  A woman’s place is in the home taking care of the “man’s” children.  If you are a single woman, you can work as a secretary or some other menial position like maid or nanny until you get married.
  • If you are LBGTQ, you will either be refused work, or you will have to take a position similar to women.  If you are an immigrant, you will have to “go back to where you came from”.
  • If you are a senior, you better have planned better for your retirement because Social Security will be slashed.  But, to be fair, we will give you a small stipend so you can buy health insurance on the private market.  With no guaranties of coverage, of course.
  • Here is the best part.  Everyone who works for a living will receive the exact same pay as everyone else.  There is no reason why companies can’t create new jobs and ensure full employment.  Everyone will make minimum wage!  That way, no one can claim a man is making more than a woman.  No one can say that race is a factor.  Yes, equal pay for everyone.  Plus, employers won’t have to supply any costly mandates like health insurance.

What a wonderful society the Republicans have planned for America.  Think about it.  No one will be able to complain that someone else who works for a living will have more than they do.  No one will have to go through bothersome law suits to get fair treatment at work.  It will be a wonderful utopia for all!  How could we not vote for something as wonderful as that?

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We have been going through a period where insensitive jokes, comments, accents, etc., have shown up in the Republican Party.  We have seen episodes in Wisconsin and yesterday in Florida.  There is another type of insensitivity that gets mentioned from time-to-time.  But, since Americans love their sports, it doesn’t get the attention is probably should because many people don’t see it as political.  Of course, I am talking about sports team nicknames.

There is currently a lawsuit filed against the Washington Redskins by Native American Groups.  The lawsuit is looking to strip the team from its federal trademark protection.  Dan Snyder, the owner of the team, says that the nickname is meant to “honor” Native Americans.  In order to show just how much he cares about them, he announced that he is creating a foundation to assist Native Americans.  I applaud him for that foundation.  However, I take issue with his statement that the name is “honoring” and “showing respect to Native Americans”.

In a letter he says:

”It’s not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans.  ‘We must do more.”  The letter goes on to state the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation will ”provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities” for Native Americans. The announcement did not state whether Snyder will personally donate any money to the foundation and gave no other financial details.

A major opponent of the nickname said Snyder’s move was ”somewhere between a PR assault and bribery.” Suzan Shown Harjo, a lead figure in a long-running case told The Associated Press that Snyder is showing the ”same arrogance” that he’s shown previously when defending the nickname.

”I’m glad that he’s had a realization that Native Americans have it tough in the United States,” Harjo said. ”All sorts of people could have told him that, and have been trying to tell him that for a long time.”

If Mr. Snyder would take a little time to look at history, he will discover, probably to his amazement, that the term “redskin” was used as a racial slur towards Native Americans.  Native Americans were considered as “savages” by the white community throughout our history.  White society valued the land Native Americans held as hunting grounds, and went out of their way to mostly kill-off the native populations.

Since that time, Native Americans, especially those living on reservations, suffer in extreme poverty.  Many reservations don’t even have basic infrastructure.  They have mostly been ignored by the government and other American Citizens.  Their plight is almost invisible to most Americans.  That has resulted in nothing being done to help them get out of the poverty they suffer.

I find it very difficult to believe that anyone could claim that using a racial slur as a team nickname is “honoring” those people.  What kind of outcry would ensue if a team renamed themselves Honkies?  Or if a team called themselves the Hymies?  These wouldn’t go over well.  So, why should we condone the use of Native American nicknames?

In the movie The Dog Soldiers, an anthropologist who specialized in Native American scholarship said “What happened to the Native Americans was inevitable.  The way it happened was unconscionable”.  Continuing using Native American nicknames for sporting teams could fall under the second sentence.  It is time we listen to their concerns.  After all, they were here first!

 

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Tomorrow morning the U.S. Supreme Court will hold a 90 minute hearing on the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for insurance coverage to include birth control.  As usual, the media are focusing on this one point.  However, this case will involve a whole lot more than just the ACA mandate.  It will have either a positive or negative effect on the position of corporations in America.

We have already seen, in the Citizen’s United case that corporations believe they are people.  It stands to reason then, that their “religious beliefs” should be able to trump regulatory laws.  But there is even more to the issue than that.  This case could affect the entire corporate law structure in the country.

According to the case, Hobby Lobby, et al., say that the majority of stockholders hold religious beliefs that contraception is immoral.  Therefore, they should not be forced to provide coverage in their insurance plans.  To some, that sounds reasonable enough.  However, it also flies in stark contradiction to other corporate laws.

In order for this case to move in the favor of the complainants, the Court has to rule basically that corporations are people.  That would make Mitt Romney happy.  But what about all the rest of the laws that these new-found “people” object to under “religious beliefs”?  Would that mean laws like the Arizona law that would have legalized discrimination based on sexual orientation wouldn’t be needed because any of the new “people” could claim religious beliefs in refusing to serve people?  Would that extend to race, creed, color, etc.?

What if one of these new-found “people” object to paying Social Security Taxes or Medicare Taxes under “religious belief”?  What about environmental laws?  There are a whole myriad of laws that could be affected, not just the ACA mandate.

44 corporate and criminal law professors wrote an Amicus Curiea brief in support of the government.  You can find it at www.americanbar.org.  I urge you to read the entire brief.  But, here is a pertinent excerpt from it:

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga argue that they should be exempt from federal law because of the religious values of their controlling shareholders, while seeking to maintain the benefits of corporate separateness for all other purposes. These corporations have benefited from their separateness in countless ways and their shareholders have been insulated from actual and potential corporate liabilities since inception. Yet now they ask this Court to disregard that separateness in connection with a government regulation applicable solely to the corporate entity. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga want to argue, in effect, that the corporate veil is only a one-way street: its shareholders can get protection from tort or contract liability by standing behind the veil, but the corporation can ask a court to disregard the corporate veil on this occasion. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga cannot have it both ways.

According to this argument, shareholders and corporate leaders should be allowed to be protected under corporation laws, but they should be able to “pick and choose” what other laws they should follow. Remember, the ACA mandate does not affect an individual.  It only affects corporate entities.

To emphasize this a little more, if the Court decides in favor of these corporations, they will be going against their own reasoning in a 2006 case called Domino’s Pizza Inc. v. McDonald. In that case, the sole shareholder of a corporation — an African-American man — alleged that Domino’s had been motivated by racial animus to violate several of its contracts with his business, and in so doing had violated his civil rights. The court was not sympathetic by ruling:

It is fundamental corporation and agency law — indeed it can be said to be the whole purpose of corporation and agency law — that the shareholder and contracting officer of a corporation has no rights and is exposed to no liability under the corporation’s contracts. The corporate form and the rules of agency protected his personal assets, even though he negotiated, signed, performed, and sought to enforce contracts for [the corporation].  The corporate form and the rules of agency similarly deny him rights under those contracts.

So, if the Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, et al., wouldn’t they be effectively negating their own ruling in this case?  Religious freedom is a very important part of our Constitution and laws.  However, these freedoms are for individuals to be able to believe and/or worship as they choose.  It is not intended as a protection for corporations to pick and choose the laws they favor.

If I owned a company, could I choose not to pay minimum wage to my employees based on religious freedom?  I don’t think that would fly too well in our society.  But, then again, following the Christian Conservative Cult’s thinking, I just might be able to get away with it.  It may well depend on the Court’s ruling in this case.  If the Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, et al., it could bode very badly for our nation’s secular laws.  The Christian Conservative Cult’s dream of a theocracy may be closer than we think!

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The Conservatives have been making their case for what causes poverty.  Naturally, in their view, it is caused by “laziness” as Paul Ryan said, it is caused by “Uncle Sugar” as Mike Huckabee said, it is caused by “culture of taking” as the entire Republican Party has said.  There are a couple of other things that they don’t mention.

The second item is the undermining of unions.  By passing what have been called “Right to Work” laws and going after public service workers unions in many states, the Conservatives have actually set up a practice of “Right to Work For Poverty Wages!”  They have attacked unions as being the villains that cause plants to close down.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t wash in the real world.  Since they have passed their Poverty Wage bills, more plants have shut down than ever before.

Unions used to be the workers voice at the bargaining table.  When unions were at their strongest, the middle class emerged with good paying jobs.  Any chart or table from research you look at shows that the middle class pay stagnation is directly tied to the union busting that conservatives employed.  With no “workers voice” anymore, companies were allowed to lower wages in the name of bigger profits.  In the meantime, these same companies offered millions of dollars to the executives of their corporations in annual income and benefits.  We need unions to help reclaim a fair portion of the big pie from these corporations.  Without it poverty will continue to rise.

The ten poorest states in the country are almost entirely in the South.  These are states that first brought up those Poverty Wage laws.  Additionally, the most religious believers are almost entirely in the South.  Both of these categories are led by states like Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana.  Looking at this combination, it would be safe to draw the conclusion that Religion Is The Main Cause Poverty!  Especially, conservative Christianity, which of course isn’t a religion at all.  It is a cult and political movement designed to keep the poor, poor!

How can I make such a simplistic claim?  Past surveys have shown that if you ask people, particularly in the south if they like Obamacare, most will tell you no.  If you ask them if the prefer the Affordable Care Act, most will tell you yes.  If you ask them if they want the minimum wage to be raised, most will tell you yes.  Maybe that is because most of them who work in the south make minimum wage.

So, what is causing these same people to keep electing people to office who are obviously voting against the very things they want?  Religion.  Conservatives in the south don’t argue against any real economic issues.  They know that would be suicide come election day.  No, they argue the conservative religious issues.  And yes, they are very racist, misogynist, homophobic, and anti-immigrant.

They tell their voters that poor people are lazy.  Of course they are referring to poor people of color not white poor people.  They tell voters that women are kind of smart, but they need to be guided by the government in reproductive rights because women are too stupid to think for themselves.  They tell voters that if women get equal pay, men will lose their jobs.  They tell voters that immigration is a direct threat to their jobs.  They tell voters that voting for equal rights for gays is the equivalent of slapping god in the face.

They get help from the “pastors” of the conservative Christian churches.  They preach from the pulpit the very same things as their politicians.  They justify everything by saying “the bible tells us so”!  The same argument that allowed segregation to exist for over one hundred years in the south.

This has turned into a full-fledged conspiracy of the conservative Christian cult!  By threatening their congregations with eternal damnation if they vote for progressive ideas, which would actually help them out of poverty, they are able to collaborate with their political pals to keep power.

I am not against true religion. Everyone has a right to their religious beliefs.  But, a blind “follow-the-leader” cult such as conservative Christianity is very dangerous not only to democracy, but especially to the members of the cult.  America is full of religious cults.  As a matter fact, our very democracy allows them to thrive.  But no religious cult has come to any good.  Conservative Christianity is just another cult bound to keep its flock in line with whatever means necessary.

This type of religion is the real cause of poverty.  Until the cult members wake up, they will continue to vote against their own best interests.  Which is what their cult leaders want.

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It has been another wild week in politics.  The right-wing has managed to offend just about everybody.  If they managed to go one week without saying something offensive, I might think we were facing the end times.  But fortunately, they keep those lines coming.

We have discovered that poor people, especially in the inner-cities, are poor because of their “culture of laziness”, thanks to Mr. Ryan.  But, of course, he isn’t being racist, just inarticulate.  Funny, he didn’t mention the millions of white rural people.  That must mean he only believes that poor “black people” are the lazy ones.

We have also discovered that Disney apparently has been purchased by Satan.  That tidbit comes from Religious Right talk show host Kevin Swanson.  According to him, no one should take their children to see Disney’s animated movie Frozen because it is intended to “indoctrinate children to become lesbians”.

We have discovered from Pat Robertson that if you watch horror movies, you are bound to be possessed by the devil.  But according to him all you have to do is:  “This thing may be living around you and what you need to do is speak it — command this thing to leave — and ask God to forgive you.”  I guess you can watch horror movies and not be possessed if you just use his little advice.

We discovered that, according to Jim Brown who is running for Congress in Arizona that slavery wasn’t all that bad.  He posted on his Facebook Page:  “Back in the day of slavery,” he wrote, “slaves were kept in slavery by denying them education and opportunity while providing them with their basic needs. Not by beating them and starving them. (Although there were isolated cases of course.) Basically slave owners took pretty good care of their slaves and livestock and this kept business rolling along.”  Some people just never attended history class.

But, one item that has really set off the right-wing nut-jobs is the Presidents plan to revise how overtime pay is handled.  The overtime rules would be aimed at salaried workers who make more than $455 a week and those who are ineligible for overtime because they are designated as management even though their supervisory duties are minimal.

The last time these rules were changed was in 2004 under President G.W. Bush.  That was when the per-week limit of who gets overtime and those who don’t was raised to $455.  Funny, the right-wing wasn’t screaming about that change.

Of course Fox’s Stuart Varney got apoplexy over the very idea that people should be “paid” for their extra work.  He said:  “This is redistribution by executive order,” he sputtered. “The president is buying votes. He is commanding higher salaries for millions of people. Right before an election. Don’t you think that those millions of people will be grateful and say, ‘Thanks for the pay raise, Mr. President. I’m voting Democrat.’ Don’t you think that’s in there?”

He went on to say:  “In the earlier days of Google, they had all kinds of youngsters, up-and-coming strivers, who would work day and night. That’s how they built the company. Tech startups with really a drive to succeed and climb that food chain.”

Of course, Mr. Varney didn’t say that these new rules would not have affected all those hard workers at Google.  The rules do not apply to anyone making over $50,000 per year.  Those hard-working software programmers all made substantially more than that.  But, we can’t let any facts get in the way of a good scare tactic, can we.

Not to be outdone, Mr. Boehner said:  “The president’s policies are making it difficult for employers to expand employment.  And until the president’s policies get out of the way, employers are going to continue to sit on their hands.”  Well, Mr. Boehner, the President’s policies have created 8.7 million new private sector jobs.  How many have your jobs bill created?  Oh that’s right, you don’t have a jobs bill.

Paul Ryan says that the inner-city residents are “lazy”.  And, that is the cause of their poverty.  He doesn’t mention that even when they do work, they receive minimum wage which will guaranty they remain in poverty even though they are working 40 hours per week.  Mr. Varney thinks that paying people due overtime is “wealth redistribution”.  Mr. Boehner has no plan to speak about.

Somehow, I just can’t get the thought out of my head that the Republican Party in general, and the right-wing wackos just like to hear themselves talk.  It seems that the only things that comes out of their mouths is something ridiculous.  It is usually offensive to minorities, women, immigrants, gays, or the American Public.  What are they drinking in those closed-door sessions of their caucus?

So, we are facing a problem of poverty in this country because inner-city people, but definitely not the white rural poverty ridden people,  are lazy.  We cannot raise the minimum wage because it might help those in poverty.  We cannot pay overtime to people who earn it because that, along with minimum wage, is “wealth redistribution”.

That leaves us to draw the only conclusion from all of this.  Neither the Republican Party, Christian Conservatives, Libertarians, or other Right-Wing Conservatives care one bit about working Americans.  So, what else is new?

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Although I understand the importance of religion in the lives of millions of people, I am not a religious person, per se.  That is not to say I am an atheist, agnostic, or anything else.  I simply have my own beliefs that do not necessarily match well with established religious beliefs.  I believe that in order to live in a democracy it is important to have an understanding and tolerance of other people’s beliefs.  That is what makes democracy work.

In 1966 Time Magazine had an article and cover that stated “God is Dead”.  Naturally, it caused a sensation to say the least.  Of course, in the minds of many people they were simply wrong.  Even today to say “God is Dead” is an exaggeration and won’t fly in the face of real believers.  However, it is correct to say that “Religion is Dead”.  Religion has fallen victim to the very people who claim to hold religion so dearly.  Religious Conservatism has killed religion in this country, and it is attempting to kill the country I love as well.

When I say Religious Conservatism, I am referring to all Religious Conservatism regardless of what brand they are pushing.  But, it is fair to say that Conservative Christianity has killed religion in America.  Conservative Christianity, especially Evangelicalism is guilty of perverting Christianity.

What’s more, with they kinds of laws they have vigorously supported, they are attempting to kill democracy in America as well.  They have actively campaigned against all true forms of democracy in an attempt to create their theist government.  In doing so, they have tried to reduced the civil rights of many groups of people and are proud of that fact.  They are so proud, they continue to wage their wars against women, LBGT, people of color, young, old, poor, and non-Christians.

We have seen the far right-wing of conservatives embrace the Conservative Christian hatred and they have all but shut down the government.  I am not talking about the November shutdown of government, but the shutdown of meaningful legislation being passed.  They have also seen their “power” being diminished because there are a lot more people of color than when Reagan was elected.

In an attempt to gain their “power” back, we are beginning to hear the old Reagan idioms rise from the ashes.  “Welfare Queen”, “Johnny Surfer”, “Lazy People”, “Entitlements”, “Enterprise Zones”, “Lower Taxes for the Rich”, and “Government is the Problem”.  These are all attempts to wage the type of class warfare that Reagan waged in order to get elected.

We have seen laws passed in several states restricting voter rights.  Requiring voter ID.  Closing polling places in minority precincts and college campuses.  Eliminating same-day registration.  Reducing voting registration drives.  Reducing early voting times.  Reducing, or out-right eliminating abortion rights.  Making same-sex marriage illegal.  Denying women access to contraceptives.  Denying women equal pay for equal work.  And the list goes on.

In Arizona last week, the state legislature passed a bill making it “legal” for private businesses to discriminate against gays on “religious grounds”.  So, according to the law, if you go into a restaurant in Arizona and the proprietor believes you are gay, he can refuse to serve you because he can claim he believes homosexuality is a sin.  He doesn’t even have to prove you are gay, just believe it.  Arizona is not the only state thinking this way either.  Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and several others have tried to pass similar laws.  In effect, they are making discrimination legal!  The Governor hasn’t “decided” yet if she will sign the bill or veto it.

The Conservative Christians are doing all of this in the name of “freedom of religion”.  Not only is that an absurd claim, it is an outright lie.  They don’t give a damn about “freedom of religion” they only care about discriminating against anyone who doesn’t think like them.  The anti-abortion and anti-contraception laws are perfect examples of how they view “freedom of religion”.  They don’t believe in these things, so no one else is supposed to either and the “small government” they all want out of their religion is supposed to make sure these rights are eliminated for all.

I must have slept through my catechism class when they discussed how righteous it is to discriminate against someone who is different from me.  That never seemed to come up.  Instead I heard things like “love your neighbor like yourself”.  Or, “judge not lest you be judged by the same standards”.  Or, my favorite, “it is easier for a camel to pass through an eye of the needle than a rich man to get into heaven”.  Or, “give up all that you own and follow me”.

There have been plenty of laws introduced in the Congress that would take away food stamps from the needy.  States have legislated that drug tests are required to get food stamps or welfare, but not to run of office.  Social Security,  Medicare, and Medicaid have been under attack for a generation.  Poor people seem to have no rights under the Conservative Christian agenda.

Ted Cruz said the other day that we should all pray so the LGBT community does not gain same-sex marriage.  According to the Canadian, same-sex marriage is “subverting” traditional marriage and we need “god’s help” in overturning this trend.  According to the Senator it is okay to deny civil liberties to these folks because they are “different”.

Even Tom Delay got into the act last week.  He says that “Americans have forgotten that God wrote the Constitution”.  Again, I must apologize, I never heard in my civics class that the almighty was part of the Constitutional Convention.  I would have thought that the word “god” would have appeared in it somewhere if he had.  But, I can’t find one instance of “god” being mentioned in the Constitution.

Christianity, and many other religions, have at least a bit of “socialism” associated with it.  We are supposed to help those in need.  We are supposed to love our neighbor.  We are supposed to not judge others.  We are supposed to seek God’s grace not wealth.  All items that the Conservative Christians don’t believe.  They believe we should not help those in need.  We should not love our neighbor if they are “different”.  They believe discrimination is not judging.  They believe we should not seek god’s grace but rather our wealth is a “reward” from god.  As a result, it is safe to say that Conservative Christians are anything but Christian.

I wrote once before that Conservative Christianity is a smoke screen for the KKK.  In the last several weeks, I have seen nothing from them that proves otherwise.  So-called Conservative Christians and their far right-wing Conservative friends have proven their true colors.  Or, should I say color.  They are trying to make America a place to be if  you are white, hateful, bigoted, misogynist, greedy, and rich.  If they win their wars, we will lose our democracy and our freedom.  That is their idea of Christianity!

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