Saturday, February 15, 2014

Equal means equal. And All means all.

              If you listen in the quiet chill air of a frigid February you may hear the explosions of intolerant heads across the country.

The United States District Court of the Eastern District OF Virginia overturned the Virginia Constitutional Amendment forbidding same sex marriage and forbidding the recognition  the same from other States. The usual right wing vitriol spewed forth on cue. As additional fodder the fact that Virginia's newly elected Attorney General, seeing the case as a loser decided to not fight the suit.

One thing to remember Attorney's General, like City, County and District Attorneys across America can decide not to prosecute a case. That is an executive decision on allocation of resources and the case's merits. No responsible prosecutor wants to try a weak case of dubious constitutional standing.

Naturally AG Mark Herring (a newly elected Democratic AG) took flack as being lawless like the President did over DOMA by not sinking money and personnel into defending theVirginia Amendment which likely would not withstand constitutional scrutiny.

Tony Perkins of The Family Research Council was furious at Herring. He declared the AG had not carried out his duty to vigorously defend the indefensible.  According to Perkins, Herring was required to uphold the laws and Constitution of Virginia. Perkins makes sure he mentions the Amendment garnered 57% of the vote in 2006 when it was passed.

This is always brought up wherever these Amendments are under siege. If being popular majority views were grounds to stop challenges, then there would still be slavery in the old South. The things about rights are they are rights,.They are not something subject to the whim of a vote. Perkins also says that this was not just a law,it was a Constitutional amendment.

Where to start, Tony? Sure it was an amendment to a STATE constitution. The Federal Constitution and law is supreme when in conflict with State or local law. Also, when a State joins the Union, the Constitution of that State is examined to ensure it is in accordance with the Federal Constitution.

Perkins also attacks Judge Arena L. Wright Allen who handed down the decision. Since the decision is something he disagrees with, Perkins hammered her as "Arrogant" and an "activist Judge". The usual tirade when the right loses a big one. SCOTUS' decision re; Citizens United, which scrapped more than a Century of precedent was just fine.

"It appears that we have yet another example of an arrogant judge substituting her personal preferences for the judgment of the General Assembly and 57 percent of Virginia voters. Our nation’s judicial system has been infected by activist judges, which threaten the stability of our nation and the rule of law."  * from Politicus*
Once more. Where to start?

A judge who rules against your views in not necessarily substituting personal views or ideas for law. Once more being passed by a legislature and having a majority vote does not exclude a law from being found lacking as to it's constitutionality.If anything judicial review enhances stability and rule of law.

Contrary to what Perkins believes Judge Wright Allen used what appears to be solid reasoning based on accepted views of the portions of the US Constitution she cites. Perkins continues to act as if the tyranny of the Majority is a good thing and somehow enshrined in American law.

James Madison one of the authors of The Federalist papers (written to explain why a strong Federal Government was better than what existed) and the Constitution was concerned by the issues presented by simple majority. To avoid the tyranny of the masses Madison and company created checks and balances to the simple whim of the majority which could undo what had been fought for. He knew in a Republic that balancing the rule of a majority against the rights of a minority was a dangerous tightrope that needed navigated carefully.

As usual Perkins rewrites history to his view so as to make it easy to use as a cudgel.

When the framers of the Constitution wanted to be vague, they would be. When they wanted precision they were precise. Perkins seems to see ALL as a simple rhetorical flourish that really meant conservative white fundamentalist Christians. Everybody else were the dregs of humanity and not worthy of the same rights accorded to others.

Perkins and his allies suggest Judge Allen Wright got to be an attorney and judge without understanding the Constitution. They contend by striking down discrimination based on sexual orientation the country will lose and be overtaken by inequality. Huh?

He continues by sliding further off the rails. It seems that same sex marriage sends the message that children are worse off in a same sex family. It will result in contempt for law and the courts. It undermines States right to discriminate. It also ignores The Constitution is based on the Old Testament.

Of course this decision is also called a social experiment conjuring images of the Commies and Nazis. Also the fact this Judge was appointed by President validates decision this as social engineering and validates all conspiracy theories.

This case was rightly decided on the Fourteenth Amendment. Equal Protection and Due Process. If, Virginia recognizes marriages performed in other States and Countries as valid, they must also recognize legal same sex marriages. The State can not show an overwhelming need not to and may not pick and choose what to recognize.. Equal is equal.

Judge Wright Allen imposed a stay pending appeals which of course are going to happen. Flog that dead horse.

The Right is spiraling out of control.

               Bouncing around on Facebook today I noticed more stories of Right Wing asshattery today than normal. They ran a gamut from insane to the absurd. Interspersed was sheer arrogance and pure disdain for others humanity.

The State of Kansas voted to legalize discrimination based on sexual orientation. All in the name of Religious rights. It basically boils down to if you being LBGT offends my tender faith based sensibilities, I can discriminate.

My restaurant does not have to serve you. I don't have to cut your hair or allow you in my theater. As an MD I don't have to treat you. As a business I don't have to hire you. As an EMT I can let you die on the street. Dental work. Eww. I don't know where that mouth has been. Don't even ask me to bake a cake.

The best thing is, I can't be sued for discriminating. Because this is all for my Christian belief systems. Good to see the old Confederate traditions updated for the 21st Century. Jim Crow is back. In the North this time.

A Missouri Lawmaker introduced a bill forcing schools to notify parents if evolution is going to be taught. He ten gives the parents an opt out. No. Really.

State Rep, Rick Brattin(R) went on to say the teaching of evolution violates  peoples belief systems. Proving he has absolutely zero grasp of how science is done. he reinforced that by claiming the Theory of Evolution was simply pulled out of thin air. Simply to annoy Christian's, I bet.

As Bill Nye has said we can't afford to have a generation of scientifically illiterate children. It will mean no further scientific innovation here. Allowing science to be taught a la carte is tantamount to child abuse. Facts don't care if they violate your belief system. Facts are facts. Beliefs are subjective.

On a related subject a National Science poll found 26% of Americans think the Sun revolves around the Earth. 39% went with The Big Bang. 48% believe in Evolution. About half know antibiotics don't work on a virus.

As usual a bitter, brutal, storm laden winter disproves Climate Change because...snow. They don't seem to care weather is not climate.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Klingon Empire) filibustered the bill to raise the Debt Limit passed by the House. he forced minority Leader Mitch McConnell and others to vote yes for cloture. This denied them the political cover they need at home by casting a yes vote to be able to cast a no vote on the bill itself.

Cruz said he did this to expose McConnell as a closet liberal. So, Cruz purposely did this to give ammo to those challenging from the right in primaries. I guess he wants to burn down the party and rebuild some appalling travesty on the ruins.

There was a time this behavior would be ridiculed and cost a politician his job and dignity. Now ignorance and intolerance is worn as a badge of honor. The more outrageous the belief or position the more likely it is said in front of mics and cameras.

What ever happened to the GOP that helped pass the Civil Rights Act and helped fund Mercury, Gemini and Apollo? What happened to sanity" The reign of raising our children to be fundamentalist science deniers will result in the demise of The US as a scientific leader. It's all done because they feel the have a right to ignorance as they burn us down. They set the fire, let the air out of the Fire truck's tires and say it's the government's fault. They stand ready to build a Christian version of the Taliban's world.

Monday, February 10, 2014

I'm not Anti-Christian. Honest

                   Those of you who have read my rants here or on Twitter and Facebook know I have some hot button issues that send me careening off on a rant.The teaching of creationism in PUBLIC schools is one. The attempts to ignore the prohibition of enacting Christian dogma as law is another. Some have asked if I am a person who hates the church. No. I am not. More on that later.  

The attempted reshaping of America as a Conservative Christian theocracy sends me right off the rails. It simply denies the founders vision of a republic free of the co-mingling of church and state. They had lived under a British Crown that had a State religion. The Church of England. These men had seen first hand how the church in Europe had abused its power and position by inserting itself into national affairs and policy decisions.

Madison and the other framers of the Constitution were clear about making laws establishing a state religion. It was clearly and strictly forbidden. They also forbade any religious test or requirement to hold office in this Nation. The language is not oblique or unclear on this issue.

These were the well educated elite of this fledgling Country.Products of the Enlightenment and the age of reason. There was a belief in the inherent goodness of humanity. The use of reason, rather than blind, dogmatic faith to preserve the basic freedoms gained with blood and treasure.

When the young United States was a fairly homologous population of European Christians there was a shared reality. The oppression of Christianity was a battle of  assorted denominations. The mainstream Protestant faiths marginalized Catholics and the newer evangelical sects. The Baptists. The Pentecostals and others. The dominate Protestant faiths and the Mormons waged actual running armed skirmishes for decades as the Latter Day Saints were pushed west. The Church of England became the Episcopalian Church to distance themselves from the Mother Church of England.

On the whole we escaped the bloody, widespread religious conflicts that plagued Europe for the Centuries following the Reformation. We avoided that trap by not having an official religion.

In the last century we saw fundamentalist, very conservative Christian Churches spring up across America. They were usually rural as was most of America. When the migrations from farm to city happened, these evangelical faiths came along, following the flock.

In the last half of the 20th Century and first decade of the 21st these fundamentalist faiths learned how to take control of cultural discourse in the public arena. They quickly became adept at using the new communication  technologies. First travelling preachers used newspaper advertising to bring in the flock to the tent revivals. Then they used radio, effectively raising their profile and raising money to support new national ministries. Then TV expanded the reach of their message.

These preachers were no longer locked into a small rural church and flock. The reach of their message was national and then global.

This growth was not lost on the Republican Party. Richard Nixon forged the first alliance of political party and conservative faith. It gave the GOP a solid base that could be counted on to staff campaigns with volunteers and the give the life blood of politics, money.

Following the fall of Nixon the party paid lip service to the important cultural issues that drove the Christian right's anger.

It took Lee Atwater and Ronald Reagan to forge the unholy alliance with the Falwell's, the Robertson's and their ilk to reshape the Republican party into a de facto political arm of fundamentalist Christianity.The pairing took aim at the progressive advances made since FDR and the New Deal. It was a merger of a political party, corporations and those who saw their idea of American values being rejected and attacked.

Reagan and his disciples adroitly fashioned the fears of these conservative Christians into wedge issues to drive turnout in elections. The politics of fear and division had gone mainstream.

This alliance spent the two Reagan terms waging a slash and burn agenda against the average American. They demonized the word liberal and secular. They invented a war on religion as a plot by secularists to destroy American ideals. The religious right supported the gutting of the social contract. The welfare queen was invented. The mentally ill were marginalized and thrown out onto the streets without treatment. Those who needed help were derided as lazy and shiftless.

The Unions were portrayed as thugs getting money for nothing and crippling commerce. Distrust of the educational system was promoted by claiming it was rife with liberal indoctrination. The seeds of today's rejection of science and history were sown with reckless abandon.

Since 1980 we have seen America morph into a nation where the rich and corporations are richer than ever. The working American is working harder and longer for wages that have stagnated. Pensions have been decimated in the name of the bottom line. The shift has been to IRA's and windfall profits for Wall Street.

The regulations that kept our environment, medicine, the work place and the food supply safe have been decimated in the name of profit. During this demise of the American dream the alliance held.

With the election of George W. Bush this began to change.

The Christian Right realized they had been taken for granted. Their issues were paid lip service during campaigns to ensure boots on the ground and money for the GOP. After the election they were pretty much ignored. Their social agenda was on the back burner.

So, having learned how to run a campaign the religious right mutinied.

They staged a coup by winning primaries with their candidates, pushing aside the established GOP office holders. They knew the path to victory ran from local elections up. The took school boards. County governments.State legislatures and then national offices.

They were zealots. Compromise was an obscenity.Unleashed from the moderating influence of old guard Republicans they pursued their agenda with a passion.

They went after abortion. They tried to establish creationism as a viable subject to be taught in schools. They pushed for Charter schools to fund religious schools.The political push is to attempt to force religious views as basis for law.

The religious views the right want codified are always the most conservative, fundamentalist ideals. You never see mainstream Christian dogma pushed as a model for legislation.

We see people in power that claim to be Christian. They wear the term as a badge of honor. They see themselves as soldiers in a war against modernity. This clique is Christian in name only.They always champion scripture from the Old Testament. They warn of a vengeful God sitting in judgement of America.

They decry independent women as a cause of America's decline. Office holders actually say women should be obedient to their husband. The result is tornados as punishment. The very fact LBGT rights are existent is punished by drought or other natural disasters. The intolerance these people spew as Gospel is not Christianity. They turn their back on the poor and downtrodden as they exult the wealthy. Faux Christianity is used as cover to say the most hateful rhetoric and implement policies that crush the neediest among us.

They have hijacked Christianity and shaped it into something the martyrs and saints would never recognize.

This is why I go off the rails. The New Testament describes a God of love and mercy. Jesus overturned the money changer's tables in the temple. He didn't hold them up as paragons of virtue. Christ fed the hungry and healed the sick and infirm. HE did not demonize them as lazy moochers. HE preached peace not endless war. According to these Christians in name only Jesus would be a socialist.

I understand true faith.A person's religion gives peace and a structure to live by. It gives comfort in times of loss or strife. Belief is a powerful thing. There is beauty in those parables. There is hope. All wonderful things. Worship as you will. All religions should be granted the same freedom to believe. Not just the chosen.

Where I draw the line is wanting the state to force a certain religious view on me against my will .Do not push me to the Cross using the power of the State. I tend to react badly. That is not how you correct the ills you perceive. Often pushing an unforgiving point of view is very counter productive.

I have dear friends who live their faith. We may debate but we treat each other with respect. That's all we should ask. Mutual respect and tolerance.

The bumper sticker sermons ask what would Jesus do? He would look at what many do in his name and weep.