Nel's New Day

April 6, 2016

Mississippi Wins Most Hateful Contest

If the states had a contest to see which one could pass the most hateful and broadly discriminatory law, Mississippi would be the winner—at least for now. Mississippi is the “South of the South,” according a friend familiar with “the South.” To keep their pride—and poverty— the state legislature has passed, and Gov. Phil Bryant has signed, a law that may be the model for the conservative extremists in other red states. Legislators started with right-wing reaction to giving marriage rights to same-gender couples and then accelerated with the thought of transgender people using the bathroom that matches their gender identity—and their appearance. The claim is protecting “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions,” but its purpose is to allow discrimination against most people to run amok. It allows employers to use not only bathroom and locker access policies but also dress code and grooming.

Bryant claims that “this bill does not limit any constitutionally protected rights or actions of any citizens of this state under federal or state laws” and “is designed in the most targeted manner possible to prevent government interference in the lives of the people.” It actually doesn’t limit the rights of any Christians who profess religious liberty, but everyone else has lost their rights.

The law has the standard stuff about permitting people to be turned away from businesses, refused marriage licenses, denied housing, and turned down for essential services and care. On July 1, 2016, the law grants this “religious freedom” not only to the organizations that IRS grants freedom because of religion but also any private sector or government entity that wants to decline goods and services to anyone who they find objectionable.

In addition to LGBT and human rights groups, the Mississippi Economic Council has come out against the law for fear that it will negatively impact both customers and employees of businesses. The Mississippi Manufacturers Association also opposes the law because of the negative impact on business and industry in Mississippi. The law violates corporate policies, keeping b businesses from staying in or moving to the state. Nissan, Toyota, and IBM have all expressed concern about the new law.

Mississippi isn’t alone in a hate bill based on protecting religion: almost three dozen states introduced almost 200 anti-LGBT bills in their legislatures this year. Most states have failed, including South Dakota and Georgia where the governors vetoed these bills. North Carolina succeeded before Mississippi, and it will be a litmus test on how hate legislation affects the state’s economy. PayPal has already abandoned plans to expand into Charlotte (NC). Both Kansas and Missouri have new “religious freedom” bills.

New York, Vermont, and Washington have already banned  ban state-financed travel to Mississippi. As in North Carolina, federal agencies are reviewing the possibility of pulling funding because of the law.

The law makes any sex outside marriage illegal. According to the Washington Post,it prevents the government from ‘discriminating’ (through taxes, fines, withholding benefits, or other forms of retaliation) against a ‘person’ (broadly defined as an individual, religious organization, association, corporation and other kinds of businesses) for acting on their religious convictions regarding sexuality and marriage. That includes employers, landlords and rental companies, adoption and foster care agencies, people and companies that provide marriage-related services (rental halls, photographers, florists, etc.).”

All state employees can openly express their beliefs without consequence because the law states that no one can be sued for discrimination.Doctors using the religious conviction excuse are protected if they refuse to provide counseling, sex-reassignment surgery, fertility treatments, and other services. Counselors, even those paid by taxpayers, can refuse to serve people. Foster and adoptive families may religiously “guide, raise or instruct” children anyway that they want, including forcing children into “conversion therapy.”

People can decide “whether or not to hire, terminate or discipline an individual whose conduct or religious beliefs are inconsistent” with their beliefs or moral convictions as well as decide to whom they will sell or rent housing they control based on their religious beliefs or moral convictions. Any person  or school can establish “sex-specific standards or policies concerning employee or student dress or grooming,” and can manage the access of restrooms and other sex-segregated facilities.

Protect Thy Neighbor, a project of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, listed some hypotheticals of the law’s results beyond the LGBT community:

  • An adoption agency could refuse to place a child with a family if the parents lived together before they were married.
  • A counselor could refuse to help a teen who called a suicide hotline.
  • A car rental agency could refuse to rent a car to a single unmarried mother.
  • A corporation could fire a woman for wearing slacks.

All people who use religion as a reason to discriminate are protected from tax penalties, loss of contracts or grants, or loss of other benefits such as licenses or certification. And on and on! Citing religious beliefs for discrimination not only gives people victory in court but also compensatory damages. The law also voids any anti-discrimination laws in cities or counties.

Five years ago, 46 percent of Mississippians wanted to outright ban interracial marriages, and now a Mississippi landlord is able to refuse rental to a married interracial couple, a Hispanic/Native American woman and a black man. The man is a member of the National Guard. The law legalizes this egregious act.

Although anyone can be blocked from being served by both private companies and government agencies, the Mississippi legislature does have concern about safety in church. The state senate passed the “Mississippi Church Protection Act” allowing concealed carry in churches without a permit and provides immunity from civil and criminal penalties for any designated “sergeant at arms” who has supposedly undergone training. The bill also includes a provision allowing people to concealed carry without a permit. If it passes, Mississippi would be the ninth state to have this law. The Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police strongly opposes the bill, but they have no say about the lack of concealed carry permits.

Bryant said that Mississippi law is all about giving freedom to people, but he must not consider women to be people. Women who want to have an abortion in the one remaining women’s clinic in the state must have state-directed counseling in person to discourage her from the procedure and then wait another 24 hours–meaning two different trips to the clinic. A woman must undergo an ultrasound and be offered the option of seeing the image.

Health plans under the Affordable Care Act can cover abortion only in cases when the woman’s life is endangered, rape or incest. Insurance policies for public employees cover abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape, incest, or fetal abnormality. Telemedicine with medication abortion is prohibited. Abortions are performed after 18 weeks only if the woman’s life is endangered, her physical health is severely compromised or there is a severe fetal impairment because state legislators believe that a fetus can feel pain after that time.

Thus Mississippi protects Christians—except for women who need abortions—and no one else. My question is when two different people’s Christian beliefs conflict? Which one will have the rights?


In an effort to interpret “what would Jesus think,” the anti-discrimination organization Planting Peace has put up this billboard a few blocks away from the state capitol.

January 17, 2016

Nikki Haley Wrong about Religion

Filed under: Discrimination,Religion — trp2011 @ 7:56 PM
Tags: , ,

South Carolina governor shows her ignorance in claiming that the U.S. has “never…done anything based on race or religion.”

South Carolina Nikki Haley gave a far better presentation following President Obama’s State of the Union speech than Republicans have done so in previous years. Her pearly whites sparkled, she didn’t reach for any water, and she looked at the right camera. The GOP presidential wannabe did manage to offend her own party by partially telling the truth—that the GOP is somewhat to blame for the country’s problems.

She also made a huge gaff in her speech, however, when she said that “we’ve never in the history of this country passed any laws or done anything based on race or religion.” Born in South Carolina to Indian Sikh parents, she may have not been educated about the U.S. Constitution originally counting a black person as 3/5 of a person or keeping blacks as slaves before the Civil War. She also skipped over the Jim Crow years that kept blacks from voting and white people lynched blacks with impunity. Perhaps she thinks that the discriminatory voting laws in her own state at the current time come from a rejection of poor people rather than people of color.

How she could have missed the “done anything based on … religion,” I don’t know. Here are a few examples.

Kentucky conservatives are considering a bill to postpone the opening of school for the 2016/17 session so that Ken Ham will make more money for his creationist museum that shows people living at the same time as dinosaurs. The state has already given Ham money to build the place.

Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court justice in perpetuity, said that the constitution does not provide religious neutrality in a speech at Archbishop Rummel High School, a Louisiana school. He explained to his audience that the United States is successful because of God and that the government should honor the Christian deity.

Rep. David Brat (R-VA), replacement for former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, said that President Obama should not be allowed to use the Bible’s position on Syrian refugees because conservatives “own” Christianity. Brat further complained that the president is “using the Christian tradition and trying to bring about compassion by bonking Republicans over the head with the Bible. It’s almost a comedy routine on what compassion and love is. He’s mocking his enemies in order to compel a larger federal state using the tradition of love.”

Taxpayers are forced to support Catholic hospitals who typically refuse women simple procedures because of Catholic belief that voluntary sterilization is intrinsically evil. Women getting C-sections have to leave the Catholic hospital to get a tubal ligation. When Rebecca Chamorro sued Dignity Health’s Mercy Medical Center for refusing “pregnancy-related care” for non-medical reasons, illegal in California, a San Francisco Superior Court judge declined to issue an emergency order to allow Chamorro’s the procedure, requiring her to have two separate surgeries at two different hospitals. Catholics are taking over hospitals at such a high rate than millions of women in the United States lack easy access to non-Catholic hospitals.

According to a poll, 82 percent of people in the U.S. place the highest priority on preserving religious freedom for Christians while protecting other religions—or non-religion—is lower. For many people, freedom of religion is only for religions that they like and doesn’t apply to all, as the Constitution states. Rick Santorum argued in a recent debate for GOP presidential candidates that Islam doesn’t deserve religious liberty because it’s also Sharia law. He said nothing about laws in the United States based on Christian religion.

Although marriage equality is now legal in the United States, hundreds—perhaps thousands—of people have refused to issue licenses to lesbians and gays or to marry same-gender couples. Santorum also said in last week’s debate that the economy won’t improve as long as “gays” have children.

Pam Martens and Russ Martens reported on the persecution of Muslims in the U.S.:

“Mosques in 31 states in America have been the targets of firebombs, arson, acid attacks, gunfire, hate speech or other forms of religious intolerance since 2005. In Joplin, Missouri, a mosque’s sign was torched in 2008. Four years later, its roof was set on fire with the perpetrator caught on a surveillance video. One month later, in August 2012, the mosque was burned to the ground.

“In 2008, Chris Rodda, reporting for the Huffington Post, wrote about Muslim babies and children being gassed in an attack on a mosque in Dayton, Ohio during the same week that a DVD of the race-baiting, anti-Muslim documentary Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West was mailed to thousands of households in Ohio and inserted into newspapers around the state….

“Approximately 100 newspapers and magazines in the U.S., including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, and St. Petersburg Times, distributed millions of these DVDs. Including the direct mail campaign, 28 million DVDs flooded households in key states.”

Anti-Muslim writer David Horowitz took an “Islamo-Fascism Awareness” program to more than 100 college campuses. Tracing the money for the creation and distribution of the DVD led to right-wing billionaire Charles Koch.   The money behind the distribution came from right-wing billionaire Charles Koch.

What has religion “done” in the United States? It’s made people ignorant through using Christianity in place of education; it’s killed LGBT people and denied them jobs and housing; it’s blocked health care for women and kept them subjugated to men; it’s heightened racist beliefs; it’s denied women equal rights; it’s stopped immigration reform; it’s decimated the Native American population and taken their lands; and it’s set the United States back almost a century in many other ways.

When domestic terrorists kill people in the United States on the basis of Christian religion, they are regarded as suffering from mental illness. The few Muslims who have done the same thing ar regarded as animals from another world and hated because of their religion.

Gov. Haley, you are wrong. The history of the United States is filled with passing laws and doing anything “based on race or religion.”

February 12, 2015

Islamophobia Kills Muslims, Drives War Debate

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 11:14 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Craig Stephen Hicks, a white man in Chapel Hill (NC) shot three Muslim student–Yusor Mohammad, her husband, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salh–in the head. His wife claims that it wasn’t a hate crime, and police have said that the motivation was a parking place dispute. Hicks is a self-declared atheist, and his Facebook page shows a rabid opposition to any religion. If the situation had been reversed—three Muslim killers and one white man—there would have been claims of terrorism and demands that all Muslims condemn the action while the nation went into lockdown. Hicks, however, will most likely be seen as an isolated psychopath instead of a terrorist, and media reports about the event were initially minimal with the Washington Post ignoring it for 17 hours.

Muslims, however, are more often the victims of violence in the United States than the perpetrators. The year 2013 saw more than 160 anti-Muslim hate crimes in which mosques and Islamic centers have been firebombed and vandalized. During Ramadan in 2012, seven mosques were attacked. In 2010, a white college student and self-described patriot tried to slash the throat of Bangladeshi cab driver Ahmed Sharif. The white supremacist who slaughtered six people in a Sikh temple in 2012 may have thought he was targeting Muslims as did Erika Menendez, who pushed Sunando Sen in front of a subway train in the same year.

The police came to the conclusion that the parking place was the motive in less than 24 hours, despite the fears of their neighbor that the victim had expressed before their murders. Tensions for Muslims in the area had been increasing since the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris. Nearby Duke University has canceled a plan for the Muslim call to prayer from a campus chapel tower after the Fox network and evangelist Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, opposed the idea.

While Congress ignores terrorism against Muslims on the home ground, they’re quibbling about the problems in the Middle East. For six months, the GOP leadership in Congress have complained about the president not asking for permission in his military offensive against ISIL. They’ve demanded that the president seek permission from them but refused to put together any resolution. Yesterday, the president decided to play their game and stop bickering by providing Congress with a proposed resolution for new war powers to go after ISIL. The proposal replaces George W. Bush’s 2002 legislation that authorized the debacle in Iraq but leaves the resolution passed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Democrats said the proposal is too broad with too few restrictions, and the Republicans said it is too narrow with too many restrictions.

As Steve Benen pointed out, the process was predictable:

  1. Congress’ demand to President Obama: “Send us a resolution!”
  2. President Obama responds to Congress: “Fine, here’s proposed language.”
  3. Congress declares to everyone: “We don’t like this resolution!”

Sen. Marco Rubio reacted by saying that the requested authorization should be just one sentence: “We authorize the President to defeat and destroy ISIL, period.” That’s probably what he wants if he gets to be president—limitless power to do anything, anywhere.

As Congress debates a war against ISIL and most people in the United States ignore the building anti-Muslim fear and antipathy in the country, religious leaders foment more hatred. For example, former governor and likely repeat GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said that the Obama administration is “bending over backwards to do everything possible to accommodate Muslims but they don’t mind stomping all over Christians and they do it regularly.” Another possible GOP candidate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal warns of an Islamic “invasion” and “colonization” of the United States designed to impose Sharia law on unsuspecting Americans.

Bill O’Reilly started talking about “no-go zones” in Paris because of Muslims, and the far right religious leaders have declared that these exist in the United States. Tony Perkins thinks that they’re in part of Minneapolis, and Reagan administration Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Frank Gaffney has identified Dearborn (MI) as one of these areas. WorldNetDaily columnist Erik Rush called for all Muslims to be killed in response to the Boston Marathon bombing and now blames all Muslims for the death of 12 people at the Paris satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

These are the sources for conservative “thought,” the impetus for war, and the persecution of Muslims in the United States.

February 5 was the seventh annual Texas Muslim Capitol Day in Austin (TX) when Islamic believers go to meet with lawmakers and learn about the democratic process. This year, however, virulent anti-Islam protests greeted them. One of the lawmakers said that she would require the Muslims to “publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws.” In Texas, at least for some lawmakers, this step is required before politicians will speak to constituents.

The 9/11 attack moved the Islamophobes from a fringe group to the mainstream by 2010 when leading conservatives opposed a small Islamic prayer center near Ground Zero in New York. In her 2010 campaign, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), along with 16 other candidates, called it a “victory mosque,” celebrating (in her mind) the Islamic conquest of the U.S. on 9/11. Eight states passed legislation against “foreign law” or “sharia law” in the past five years. In 2010, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich called for a federal ban on sharia law.

By 2012, the far-right had convinced 30 percent that President Obama may be a Muslim, double the number in 2008 after vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin accused him of being a Muslim and started a whisper campaign against him. The numbers of people who are openly Islamophobic rose enough that leading Republicans are comfortable with anti-Islam rhetoric in order to gain votes. During his 2012, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called Sharia law “an enormous problem” in the country, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) called for restricting Muslim immigration to France and the U.S. That’s a strong statement from someone who claims that he is a libertarian.

For 2016, the question is whether the holdouts will cave in. In 2011, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appointed Muslim-American attorney Sohail Muhammed as a state Superior Judge and accused the opposition to his act of being “crazies.”  Christie hasn’t looked very strong lately, however, considering his backpedaling with the vaccine situation after he quarantined a healthy nurse, then said vaccines should be optional, and rapidly switched to possibly mandating them because of negative publicity.

Muslim-baiting in the United States will continue until a Republican leader is brave enough to confront the haters like Jindal or Palin. The question is when that Republican decides to stand up. Until then, the violence against Muslims in the United States will grow, and the taxpayers will fund more wars in the Middle East.

March 17, 2014

Move Parades to Inclusion

Parades are funny things—and I don’t mean ha, ha. Our town has an annual celebration of “Loyalty Days.” The holiday began on May 1 in 1921 in reaction to the Red Scare to replace National Workers Day, commemorating the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago. It faded when World War II brought an uneasy truce with Russia but reemerged in 1958 during the Congressional legislative move toward nationalism and religious terms on government products such as “In God We Trust.”

Although Loyalty Days have largely disappeared throughout the United States, Long Beach (CA) prides itself as “the longest consecutively running commemoration” of Loyalty Day in the country. The Veterans of Foreign Wars reorganized the event in 1950 as “a historically rich celebration of patriotism.” My small town will celebrate its 58th Loyalty Day festival this year, complete with car shows, Shriners on tricycles, and races. And of course, the parade.

Seven years ago, Newport Loyalty Days leaders decided that some veterans would not be allowed in the parade. Lincoln County (Oregon) Democrats had invited the Veterans for Peace Squadron 13 bus to march with them in the parade. Loyalty Days organizers had granted permission for the bus. When the veterans arrived, however, the county sheriff said that the bus could not be in the parade, and head organizer, Patty Louisiana, explained that the veterans message of peace “doesn’t support the spirit of our community.”

The “loyalty” theme did permit soldiers marching in formation, military Humvees, and a sidewalk recruiters’ office.  Like other parades, taxpayer funds supply the police to control the proceedings. This particular parade closes down Highway 101, the only federal highway along the Oregon Coast, for several hours.

Yesterday, more parades in the country excluded the “undesirables.” Today is St. Patrick’s Day, but parades were in cities such as New York and Boston to collect as many people as possible on a Sunday. In some cities, LGBT people were excluded because of their “sexuality,” according to Taioasearch Enda Kenney, Ireland’s prime minister.

Parade organizers in Boston said that gay groups can march, but they can’t carry gay-friendly signs or identify themselves as LGBT.

This year’s parades were different. Beer, a stereotyped staple of the Irish community, withdrew their sponsorships, including the Boston Beer Company (Samuel Adams beer), Guinness, and Heineken. Although no Boston mayor has marched in that city’s parade since 1993 because of discrimination, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio also boycotted the parade for the same reason. He is the first mayor of the city in decades to refuse to march.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh opted out because a gay veterans groups was not permitted in the parade. “As mayor of the city of Boston, I have to do my best to ensure that all Bostonians are free to participate fully in the civic life of our city,” he said.

Walsh also said:

 “The St. Patrick’s Day parade was born out of the celebration of Evacuation Day, a day set aside to recognize and honor our military and those brave Americans who have banded together for the sake of freedom. And so much of our Irish history has been shaped by the fight against oppression.”

Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to recognize same-sex marriage, but the parade continues to discriminate against the LGBT community—even the veterans. The history of discrimination in New York goes back over 20 years when the parade organizers claimed that they had too many applicants but would share who they are.

The Chicago parade has permitted LGBT groups since the 1990s, and LGBT groups march openly in Dublin, Galway, and other Irish cities with no problem.

A smaller, but no less enthusiastic, crowd comes out for the St. Pats for All Parade in Queens. De Blasio spoke to the crowd: 

“This parade is what New York City is all about. This is a parade that celebrates inclusion, diversity, unity. That is what has made this city strong. A lot of times you have to start things in the direction of progressive values and start a process of change… and over time people take to it and understand it is the right way.”

human rights

pink banner LGBT

I am always amazed at the insistence of people who have been marginalized to discriminate against other segments of society.  When the Irish immigrated to the United States out of desperation following the Potato Famine in mid-19th century, they were rejected by many of the people already here. Media called them “white Negroes” and published drawings of ape-like images of Irish faces in their effort to show Irish as an “inferior race” as compared to Anglo-Saxons.

Irish were stereotyped as alcoholics, thieves, and pagans, the last because of their mythology and folklore. Many of them were physically attacked, and Irish accents would bar people from public houses and employment. Protestants in the United States tried to keep Catholics from public office in the “Know Nothing Movement” of the mid-1850s. Ministers and priests fought “intermarriage” between Catholics and Protestants. Signs of “Help Wanted – No Irish Need Apply” proliferated.

One float in the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade promoted diversity and threw Mardi Gras-type beads. Parade creators will hopefully learn that diversity goes beyond party-time in New Orleans. Or perhaps they will remember that at one time their status in the United States was far lower than the LGBT community is today.

And on today, St. Patrick’s Day, let’s think about how a minority successfully integrated into the fabric of the United State. May it happen to everyone! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


[Update: A group of gay activists stealthily invaded the Boston parade with a pro-gay float bearing a rainbow cannon infiltrated the Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade with a group of 30 marchers, the majority of whom were gay men. The marchers themselves reportedly brought roughly 500 pairs of green and rainbow color beads that were tossed to spectators in the crowd. Evidently that was the float earlier that passed the application process by describing itself as a “diversity float.”]


July 8, 2012

Bigoted Christianity Rampant in the U.S.

The “Nuns on the Bus” have finished their 15-day tour with Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Susan Collins (R-MA) introducing a resolution honoring nuns. The senators said that the resolution “recognizes the Catholic Sisters’ fulfillment of their vital missions to teach our children, care for the sick, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, lead major institutions, demand corporate responsibility and fight for policies that promote human dignity.” These brave women are opposing Republican lawmakers, led by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who ignore the Christian belief in aiding the poor and avoid the nuns.

Republicans are not only busy keeping the poor in poverty but also industriously using religion to destroy the credibility of Democrats. Preening themselves on their fiscal responsibility, the conservatives accuse Democrats of having a way on faith. Fiscal responsibility seems to be a problem at the Vatican, however; they have a $19 million deficit. The Rev. Federico Lombardi said that they need to get savings from somewhere although probably not from the layoff of any of the 2,832 Holy See personnel.

Meanwhile Republicans make it very clear that their definition of faith is only Christian. Colorado state Sen. Kevin Grantham wants a law to ban building new mosques: “Mosques are not churches like we would think of churches. They think of mosques more as a foothold into a society, as a foothold into a community, more in the cultural and in the nationalistic sense. Our churches–we don’t feel that way, they’re places of worship, and mosques are simply not that, and we need to take that into account when approving construction of those.”

Even the government suffers from serious religious prejudice. The military found it appropriate to use the depiction of a Muslim woman for target training for the Navy SEALs until they received complaints. Hanging on the wall behind the woman were verses of the Quran, a holy book to the second largest religion in the world with almost as many members as Christianity.

Some Christian leaders clearly show bigotry toward those of their same faith. The Rev. Mel Lewis, organizer and keynote speaker of last week’s Christian Identity Ministries’ three-day conference in Alabama, invited “all white Christians.” Asked about the discrimination, he said, “We don’t have the facilities to accommodate” those who are not “part of the chosen race.” The event, surrounded by Ku Klux Klan flags and supremacy slogans, culminated Friday night by what they call a “Christian cross lighting” as they hold a cross-burning. Some of those who attended also wore KKK garb.

Christians are sinking lower and lower on the scale of belief in the Constitution’s statement “for the general welfare.” Only 40% of Republicans agree that “It is the responsibility of the government to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves.” This number has gone down 18 points in the past five years; in 2007 58% of the Republicans thought that people who cannot take care of themselves deserve help. In three surveys during the George W. Bush administration, no fewer than half of Republicans said the government had a responsibility to care for those unable to care for themselves. In 1987, during the Ronald Reagan’s second term, 62% expressed this view.

One example of right-wing selfishness comes from many Republican governors’ refusal to accept billions of dollars in Medicaid funds to insure millions of people. According to those whose incomes are below 133 percent of the poverty level may receive federal Medicaid but cannot receive the subsidies that are provided for others of lower income.  If governors accept the federal money, everyone can be insured. Without this acceptance, between 3.5 million and 9.2 million people will have no health safety net. Ten Republican governors have stated that they will refuse the funds, and another 19 are considering it. Even three Democrat governors are questioning whether they will take the federal funding in Missouri, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Republican austerity is only for the poor and middle-class, however. Corporate taxes are at a 40-year low, with an effective tax rate paid of 12.1 percent. They’ve fallen from about 6 percent of GDP to less than 2 percent.

Radio host Jan Mickelson shows the conservatives’ lack of respect for others in his comment about the nuns on tour to Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA). “Do you guys, do you have any power to pull the nuns on the bus over and pistol whip them? They say [Paul Ryan] is evil, they say he is fake Catholic. They’re the ones that threw the first punch.”

Several years ago leadership of the Mormon church used its political clout to defeat California Proposition 8’s ban on marriage equality; now it is providing its resources, against church rules, to elect Mitt Romney. One action is giving away LDS Tools that provide full directories of church members including that of stake and district presidencies. The app also offers event calendar listings and a “birthday list,” and the Mormons are reaching out through Facebook and Twitter.

Cheers for the nuns! According to sister Simone Campbell, bus tour organizer and executive director of the Catholic social justice group NETWORK, “Congressman Ryan [is making] an outrageous claim … that the Catholic faith, that is all about serving the poor, validates his budget—which does nothing but decimate services to the poor and provide further tax cuts for the wealthy. By lifting up the work of Catholic sisters, we will demonstrate the very programs and services that will be decimated by the House budget.”

The country needs to look back at another Ryan—John Ryan, a prominent theologian who published A Living Wage in 1906. He claimed that economics must be shaped by and rooted in morality as he advocated fair and equal pay that started the living wage movement. His “Program for Social Reconstruction” (1919) was considered a blueprint not only for President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal including Social Security but also for collective bargaining rights, the right to organize, and the prevention of child labor—all aspects of the Labor Relations Act in 1935; comprehensive insurance—realized in the Social Security Act of 1935; and a minimum wage—that fueled the movement toward the Fair Labor Standards act of 1938

A century after the first publication of A Living Wage, we have similar economic conditions with rampant economic inequality and wealth in the hands of a few. The top one percent took over 40 percent of the national wealth last year. I prefer the philosophy of John Ryan over Paul Ryan when he declared the three guides to equality: Laws should promoting the general welfare; every individual has inherent dignity; and individuals are stronger through community.

On the eve of the nun’s bus tour, Sister Simone Campbell avowed, “This is a fight for the soul of our nation. Catholic social teaching says that the positive role of government is to counter the excesses of each culture. Our excess at this point is individualism, so the work of government is to counter that by emphasizing our responsibilities to each other.”

Paul Ryan needs to learn that.


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