With Liberty and Justice for All

June 29, 2011

 

I would like to start off by proudly recognizing the state of New York for their recent advancement in the LGBT movement toward equal rights for all Americans.  Just a few days ago, aggressively supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York legalized the institution of same-sex marriage.  This is a very large step for all of us supporting the LGBT community. Being that New York is such a large and populous state, this vote has created an overflow of media coverage for the cause.  And with such media attention comes the hundreds of uninformed, bigoted naysayers.  It’s not all their fault though.  Most of them were fed these sexist ideas from an early age.  It’s all they know.  And most people are terrified of change.  Were we not terrified when we left England in search of freedom of religion?  Were we not terrified when woman were first able to vote?  Or even when churches started recognizing interracial marriages?  Change is the only constant.  There is no fight or argument strong enough to keep this from being true.

But, what about the Bible?  God says that homosexuality is wrong and is a punishable sin.  Wrong.  The Bible never endorses one form of marriage over another.  Adam and Eve is a story of creation, not a story of marriage.  They said no vows nor was there an exchange of rings.  Their relationship more resembles that of an arranged marriage; being the only two people on Earth and God forcing them to procreate with each other.  Even in Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians 6:9 where he includes a laundry list of vices to include “male prostitutes and sodomites,” most people omit the other vices listed such as; “fornicators, adulterers, and idolaters.”  Paul is condemning all sexual deviances not just those of the same-sex variety. In Mark 10:11, Jesus even preaches to his people that those that are to divorce and remarry will be committing adultery, but that’s not stopping anyone.  Let’s look at some statistics from the Barna Report:

 

Divorce rates among various faith groups:

Baptists ……….34%                                    

Jews………30%

Mormons………24%                                   

Born-again Christians…….27%

Catholics……….21%                                  

Atheists, Agnostics………21%

Lutherans………21%                                 

Protestants………25%

 

Not to mention that the AP confirmed Barna’s results.  They analyzed divorce rate statistics from the US Census Bureau and found that the highest divorce rates are in fact found in the “Bible Belt.”  According to the Boston Globe, “The AP report stated that the divorce rate in these conservative states is roughly 50% above the national average. By comparison, states in the Northeast were among those with the lowest rates to include; Connecticut, Vermont, and New York.”  I always thought that in this country freedom of religion included freedom from religion.

This is not only a battle for our freedom of or from religion; it’s a clear matter of basic civil rights.  Did you know that same-sex partners cannot make any medical decisions for their partners in the case of an emergency?  If their partners are arrested they can be compelled to testify against them in a court of law, which a legally married couple would not be forced to do?  Families of same-sex couples can completely overturn wills, custody decisions; even seize real estate property being purchased together in the event one of the partners dies. Yet, all over the world couples are being forced into marriage to secure business deals, military personnel are marrying to receive added benefits and illegal immigrants are marrying to be able to stay in our country.  Who’s to stop LGBT’s from marrying a person of the opposite sex?  But, God forbid they should marry another, whom they actually love, who they want to profess this love to in front of  God, friends, and family, and their legal state of residence will not allow this.  Under the 14th Amendment, it states that all persons are entitled to equal protection of the law, and it makes no exceptions for gays.  So, if we are entitled to special treatment for being married, under the 14th Amendment, same-sex couples are due those same treatments. With liberty and justice for all…right?

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Charges agains Emily Good dismissed

June 29, 2011

In an earlier post New York cops behaving badly I  reported that Emily Good was charged with Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree.  As a result of these charges she was arrested by the Rochester Police.  I am now happy to report that this past Monday the charge was dropped.  First Assistant District Attorney ,Sandra Doorley, said “For Good and her supporters, the dismissal of the criminal charge was proof that she had been wronged when she was arrested by Rochester police.”

This outcome is a huge victory for the American public.  The ability to record the police will ensure that they obey the law as well as enforce it.  I encourage all of my readers to record the police whenever possible.  We must send a collective message to the authorities.  They aren’t the only ones gathering evidence, and that their little brother is watching them.


Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011

June 27, 2011

On June 23rd Representatives Barney Frank and Ron Paul introduced bill HR 2306, or “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011”.  To quote Bill Maher “In these hyper partisan times this issue was able to unite a flaming liberal from Massachusetts and a crazy Republican right-winger from Texas. Oh marijuana, is there anything you can’t do?”

HR 2306 would not legalize marijuana, instead it would no longer classify the drug as a federally controlled substance.  According to Congressman Barney Frank  “Criminally prosecuting adults for making the choice to smoke marijuana is a waste of law enforcement resources, and an intrusion on personal freedom.”  Aside from Ron Paul and Barney Frank, the bill is also supported by representatives John Conyers, Steve Cohen, Jared Polis, and Barbara Lee.

In the video posted below Ron Paul debates Stephen Baldwin on the pros and cons of marijuana legalization.  Ironically Baldwin was in the film Half Baked.

I think Paul said it best when he said “Drugs are very dangerous, but there are a lot of things that are dangerous.  Who should regulate danger?  Should we take responsibility for ourselves, or should we let the government take care of us?”

Unfortunately the proposed legislation already appears to be doomed.  House Judiciary Committee Chairman ,Lamar Smith, had this to say about the bill “Marijuana use and distribution is prohibited under federal law because it has a high potential for abuse and does not have an accepted medical use in the U.S.”  To make matters worse The Office of National Drug Control Policy made this statment to the LA Times “Our concern with marijuana is not borne out of any culture war or drug war mentality, but out of what the science tells us about the drug’s effects.  The facts are that marijuana potency has tripled in the past 20 years and teens are using the drug at earlier ages.”

The Blue Scholar Blog wants to know what you think.  Should marijuana be federally decriminalized?  Please feel free to share your opinions by leaving a comment.


New York cops behaving badly

June 23, 2011

On May 12th, Rochester police apprehended Emily Good for recording a traffic stop.  The arresting officer Mario Masic alleges that he felt threatened by her.  Officially, Mrs. Good was arrested under New York Penal – Article 195.05 Obstructing Governmental Administration in the Second Degree.  According to the code:

A  person is guilty of obstructing governmental administration when he intentionally obstructs, impairs or perverts the  administration  of  law or  other  governmental  function  or  prevents or attempts to prevent a public servant  from performing  an  official  function,  by  means  of intimidation,  physical  force  or  interference,  or  by  means  of any independently unlawful act, or by means of interfering, whether  or  not physical  force  is involved, with radio, telephone, television or other telecommunications systems owned or operated by the state, or a  county, city,  town,  village,  fire district or emergency medical service or by means of releasing a dangerous animal under circumstances  evincing  the actor’s intent that the animal obstruct governmental administration.  Obstructing governmental administration is a class A misdemeanor.

The entire ordeal can be viewed in the video posted below.

After watching this video, I am hard pressed to believe that Emily Good has violated the NY penal code.  According to NPPA General Counsel, Mickey H. Osterreicher, “While it may be understandable that your officers had a heightened sense of awareness, that is still no excuse for them to not recognize a citizen’s right to take photographs/video of an event occurring on a public street.”  Thankfully, Good’s friend Ryan Acuff was able to continue taking footage.  “The real reason they arrested her was because she was videotaping,” Acuff said.  His account of the incident can be read at http://rochester.indymedia.org/newswire/display/27018/index.php

Emily Good will be back in court on June 27th.  Stephanie Stare, her public defender, and the NPAA want to have the charges dropped.  According to Stare, “The video’s going to speak for itself.  People can watch it and draw their own conclusions.”  Rochester city councilman Adam McFadden had this to say about the incident; “It did not look well for us in terms of how we police and what it is we’re attempting to accomplish for public safety.”  Meanwhile, Rochester Police Chief, James Sheppard has ordered an internal investigation.

Have any of you been wrongfully harassed by the police?  The Blue Scholar Blog wants to know what you think.  Please feel free to leave a comment.


Romney Unemployed

June 21, 2011

On June 16th, during a Tampa, FL campaign stop, GOP presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney was quoted as saying “I should tell my story, I’m also unemployed.”  Much like the unemployed group he was speaking to Romney does not have a job, however he is independently wealthy.  I find it in poor taste for a man worth $200 million dollars to compare himself to unemployed citizens.  Mitt also said “I wish I had a job for everybody, I may be unemployed for longer than I’d like.”  Somehow I don’t think Mr. Romney will have any trouble paying his bills if he doesn’t secure the 2012 presidential election.

In the video below the audience is laughing with Romney when they should be laughing at him.

Romney’s jobs record is a sick joke.  When he was governor of Massachusetts his state placed 47th out of 50 for job growth.  Adding insult to injury he also had a reputation during the 80s for being a Wall Street shark.  Ray Buckley the Democratic Party chairman of New Hampshire had this to say regarding Mitt Romney “He was a corporate raider who often made companies profitable, not by helping them perform better but by simply laying off employees and killing jobs.”

It looks like Mitt is taking his queues from Gordon Gekko.  The Romney campaign may need to change their slogan to “greed is good”.


Off Target

June 18, 2011


On June 17th workers at a Target store in Vally Stream, N.Y. voted against union representation.  The United Food and Commercial Workers and several Target employees have immediately alleged wrongdoing.  The union asserts that the vote of 137 to 85 was a result of illegal union busting.  The UFCW has asked the National Labor Relations Board to investigate Target.  A 9 year veteran of the store Sonia Williams had this to say “This is not actually a victory for Target.  They should understand that something is radically wrong up in that store, Target won through fear.”  Williams went on to say “Mark my word, it’s going to be hell up inside that store for we who wanted the union.  But I went into this with my eyes wide open,and this is just the beginning. Because we have all of the other retailers looking at us.”

I think Williams said it best.  Other retailers are looking at Target right now.  When fewer workers have union representation it drives down wages for the entire labor pool.  This loss may set e precedent where more and more workers are paid the bare minimum.  Another Target worker Betsey Wilson had this to say when asked about her $20,000 a year in wages “I don’t mind being on food stamps, I pay taxes, I deserve them.”  Unfortunately for their workers and the taxpaying public, Target is failing to pay their employees enough to survive.  In lieu of paying living wages Target opts to let the taxpayers pick up their slack.

From the outside looking in it would appear that Target’s management has created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.  They have been inundating their workers with anti union propaganda, The following pamphlet insinuates that they may close unionized locations.

Anti Union Pamphlet

The retail giant has also shown a propaganda video.  The hypocrisy of this video is almost unbelievable.  Ironically both of the actors in this video are represented by a union.  Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks breaks this video down play by-play.

Cenk’s rendition of this videos soundtrack is  spot on.  With all the money Target saves by paying subsistence wages, they should get some decent music.  The star of the film Ric Reitz has been quoted as saying “Am I pro union?  Absolutely.”  Looks like we can chock this one up to Ric’s impressive union resume.

Ric Reitz IMDB page

Last but not least.  Lets have an applause for our costar Nicky Buggs.

Nicky Buggs IMDB page

An employers best interest is to pay you less.  With collective bargaining there is a chance to earn an equal days pay for an equal days work.  “The UFCW is committed to raising living standards for all retail workers, including those at this and all Targets,” said union official Audra Makuch.  To know more about UFCW please visit their website http://www.ufcw.org/

To learn more about unions in general visit the AFL CIOs unions 101 page.



The War on Drugs has failed

June 14, 2011

Ever since prohibition began in America, the war on drugs has been a colossal failure.  Much like a recidivist most of our politicians have been repeating the same mistakes over and over again.  Fortunately not all of our leaders are on the same boat.  Regarding U.S. anti-drug efforts in Latin America, Sen. Claire McCaskill had this to say “We are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we are getting in return”.  In the video posted below Ron Paul can be heard criticizing current drug policy.  He argues that prohibiting narcotics presents a very real threat to personal freedom.

Not only is the War on Drugs ineffective it is also a huge waste of resources.  According to the LA Times Counter-narcotics contract spending increased 32% between 2005 and 2009.  That is an increase from $482 million to $635 million.  In addition to these expenditures the Department of Defense has spent $6.1 billion since 2005 detecting planes and boats containing illegal drugs.  What exactly has this gotten us?  The drugs are still flowing into our country with no signs of stopping.

The enormous financial burden of the War on Drugs is staggering.  Far more worrisome is the human cost of this war.  Countless nonviolent drug offenders have been imprisoned for inordinate lengths of time.  According to the International Centre for Prison Studies The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world.  The report America’s One Million Nonviolent Prisoners states that the level of nonviolent offenders exceeds the combined populations of Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

The Blue Scholar Blog wants to know if any of you have been impacted by the War on Drugs.  Please feel free to share your experiences and opinions by leaving a comment.