A “Conservatarian” View of the SCOTUS Same Sex Marriage Decision

I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I’ve invested a good amount of time in this issue. I don’t need to reiterate what others have said about the intricacies of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Simply started, the Equal Protection clause states that all Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law, period.  What bears stating is the legal precedent in referencing the Fourteenth. Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there were “Jim Crow” laws in the southern states that required the states, under law, to segregate based on race. Facilities were supposed to be “separate but equal.” They rarely were equal. President Woodrow Wilson, an overt racist, practiced gross discrimination. The equally overt racist Democrats of the late 1800s through the mid 1960s did everything possible to undermine the anti-segregationist policies of the Republicans. The southern states felt their state sovereignty allowed them to discriminate within the borders of their states. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth was the constitutional basis for the federal government to overrule state sovereignty because the federal government is responsible for ensuring all citizens get equal protection under the law. Given the preponderance of states that have marital equality laws, it was not, in my mind, a far stretch to apply the same principles that shot down Jim Crow. What the Fourteenth does not touch is the right of people that are not agents of the state from discriminating except in areas such as housing and employment. This ties into the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. By law and practice, churches are not agents of the state. Congress cannot force a non-agent to act. I am an ordained minister. I cannot be compelled to perform any service for anyone. I don’t know the individual laws of every state where marital equality is the law, but I can tell you that Maryland’s law is well-crafted and explicitly protects the clergy. Here is the text of Question 6, the public referendum for marital equality in Maryland,

“Establishes that Maryland’s civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.”

I am a libertarian. I voted for Question 6 even though I will not personally perform a same-sex ceremony. I am not discounting what I believe to be the biblical truth on the topic. I am standing behind the right of two people to enter into a legally binding contract, which in the eyes of the state, is what marriage is.

The reason we have this mess is that our bloated government stuck its nose into marriage, a thing formerly under the scope of religious bodies. It chose to grant legal privileges to married couples. Once it did that and the individual states began to legalize same sex marriage, it was inevitable that it would have to respond.

Before we are too quick to respond to this ruling, think of where America would be if Jim Crow was still in existence.

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The Oligarchy Times, a Reminder that the Obamanation has More Issues than the Ones in the News Today

The Oligarchy Times, Volume 2, Issue 3

In this issue of the Oligarchy Times, we have another look at Obamacare because the President really cannot be allowed to run away from the disaster he created just because has created so many others in addition.

Four months ago, in regard to people losing their health insurance as a result of the inappropriately named “Affordable Care Act,” Harry Reid said that “there are plenty of horror stories being told…all of them are untrue” (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSJOLivL-NU).  I was doing some research on a paper for my doctoral program, and look what I came across…an article that was printed in the Contemporary Pediatrics journal just three weeks before Mr. Reid’s claims.  I know, it must be that the Koch brothers and the Benham brothers chipped in and bought Contemporary Pediatrics and Fox News gathered all of the fake survey respondents.  It’s just one more fake scandal.  Oh good, now I can rest safely in the Obamanation.
aca pediatrics

 

I Support Barack Obama’s View on the Debt Ceiling 100%

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.  It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is “trillion” with a ‘T.’ That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion.

This year, the Federal Government will spend $220 billion on interest. That is more money to pay interest on our national debt than we’ll spend on Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. That is more money to pay interest on our debt this year than we will spend on education, homeland security, transportation, and veterans benefits combined. It is more money in one year than we are likely to spend to rebuild the devastated gulf coast in a way that honors the best of America.

Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), 2006

A Second Open Letter to Sen. Tom Harkin

On September 24, 2012, I posted the following letter to Senator Tom Harkin’s Senate Web page.

________________________________________________________________________

Senator Harkin:

As a veteran and taxpayer, I appreciate your desire to have the money used to educate our veterans be used effectively and efficiently. However, the presentation that you authored has issues. I’m trained in statistics and because of that, I could make a laundry list of issues. You are a very busy man so instead of going item for item, please allow me to point out one blatantly wrong slide. You have a slide entitled “For-Profit Colleges Employ Many Recruiters But Few Placement Staff.” From a subjective perspective, to have a slide with a title that indicates an issue with For-Profit Colleges as a group but then indicts a single one is disingenuous and ineffective because your case is that many schools have this problem, yet you showcase only one. It also smacks of a lack of objectivity and personal bias. Even if your chart is accurate, it does not make the point that this is a systemic problem.

Objectively, the slide in incorrect. University of Phoenix, the largest school under the Apollo Group umbrella, has an extremely robust Career Services site that covers the gamut of services from resume writing to career research to interview preparation. The site also lists major employers that Phoenix partners with to help find jobs for its graduates.

Your data was gathered from 2007 to 2010. I started at Phoenix in 2010 and I don’t know what its career placement services were like then. It could be that in 2010, your statement was accurate. However, it is nearly 2013 and it definitely is not accurate.

If I had the 20-30 hours free to write it, I would write a report that shows slide for slide, just how bad this report is. I don’t have the time to write it and anyone as busy as you doesn’t have the time to read it. Please consider making this “update” to your report as a show of good will. I’ll be the first person to thank you for that by making a post to that effect on my blog, andyknaster.com.

Since your Senate Web site has a link to that report on its home page, it appears that this is a report you are proud of and feel the people need to read. Don’t you owe it to your constituents and all of America to be accurate and up-to-date?

This is my second letter to you. I requested a response to the first one and I have not received it. I posted to your Facebook page and got no response. Please respond to this message. This is a very non-partisan issue. In this highly contentious and partisan time, taking action on a non-partisan issue is something I think would resonate well with many Americans.

Respectfully yours,
Andrew Knaster, BA, MA, MCP
University of Phoenix Master of Information Systems student, class of 2013

Sen. Tom Harkin needs to tell the truth

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released a report that takes to task for-profit educational institutions such as the University of Phoenix, Capella University, DeVry, Kaplan, and others.  One of his slides states the Apollo Group, the owner of University of Phoenix has no career services or placement staff.

Senator Harkin's incorrect graph about the University of Phoenix's career placement staff

Senator Harkin’s incorrect graph about the University of Phoenix’s career placement staff

Source: http://www.harkin.senate.gov/documents/pdf/4f9ac62292704.pdf

That would be a very serious problem if it was true.  However, as the next picture clearly indicates, Sen. Harkin needs to study the facts a bit more and tell the American people the real truth instead of his truth.

University of Phoenix career services page

University of Phoenix career services page

Mr. Obama’s impact on Frankenfood

Frankenfood, a/k/a GMO’s, a/k/a Genetically Modified (I prefer “Mutated”) Organisms, is food and food support products that has been genetically modified for various purposes, all of which end up in profitability for companies that produce GMO’s.  They hold within them the potential for all sorts of diseases to include cancer.  Mr. Obama has had a profound effect on GMO production.  His policies and appointees have significantly PROMOTED its production.  As a man who paints himself as a champion of the people and enemy of selfish businesses that profit at the expense of the 99%, he is actually more like Janus, the two-faced god of the Roman pantheon.  With one face he looks at the citizenry and tells them he is the agent of change and their representative against the evil empire.  With the other face, he smiles at Monsanto, DuPont, and other purveyors of Frankenfood and tells them he is committed to helping them in their mission.

Before you discount what I’m saying as right-wing rhetoric, consider the fact that I am not a Republican nor do I lock step with most conservatives.  Also consider the fact that the quotation you are about to read is from the Organic Consumers Association (organicconsumers.org).  The OCA promotes many things that are considered liberal and Democrat issues such as Fair Trade, global warming reduction, world peace, “Mother Earth,” etc.  What I really like about the OCA is it is brave enough to name names, regardless of party.  I truly believe that it believes in its causes solely on the merit of the fact they believe they are right, not because Barack Obama, Chris Matthews, or some liberal pundit told them to.  We need more organizations that are committed to right because it is right and not because it sounds right or is anti-right.

Getting sick from experimental food is not a partisan issue.  Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Socialists, Communists, Anarchists, the unaffiliated, and the unconcerned are equally at risk from this stuff.  Here is what the OCA wrote:

President Obama knows that agribusiness cannot be trusted with the regulatory powers of government. On the campaign trail in 2007, he promised: We’ll tell ConAgra that it’s not the Department of Agribusiness. It’s the Department of Agriculture. We’re going to put the people’s interests ahead of the special interests.

Tom Vilsack

But, starting with his choice for USDA Secretary, the pro-biotech former governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack, President Obama has let Monsanto, Dupont and the other pesticide and genetic engineering companies know they’ll have plenty of friends and supporters within his administration.

President Obama has taken his team of food and farming leaders directly from the biotech companies and their lobbying, research, and philanthropic arms:

Michael TaylorMichael Taylor

[Michael Taylor is the] former Monsanto Vice President, is now the FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods.

Roger BeachyRoger Beachy

[Roger Beachy is the] former director of the Monsanto-funded Danforth Plant Science Center, is now the director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Islam SiddiquiIslam Siddiqui

[Islam Siddiqui is the] Vice President of the Monsanto and Dupont-funded pesticide-promoting lobbying group, CropLife, is now the Agriculture Negotiator for the US Trade Representative.

Rajiv ShahRajiv Shah

[Rajiv Shah is the] former agricultural-development director for the pro-biotech Gates Foundation (a frequent Monsanto partner), served as Obama’s USDA Under Secretary for Research Education and Economics and Chief Scientist and is now head of USAID.

Elena KaganElena Kagan

[Elena Kagan] who, as President Obama’s Solicitor General, took Monsanto’s side against organic farmers in the Roundup Ready alfalfa case, is now on the Supreme Court.

Ramona Romero who is corporate counsel to DuPont, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as General Counsel for the USDA.

Source: http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/index.cfm

Notes:

1) One of the leading purveyors of Frankenfood is E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, a company that made $38 billion in 2011. Known simply as DuPont, it is headquartered in Delaware, the home state of Vice-President Joe Biden.

2) All of these people work or have worked for huge businesses and their incomes probably put them all in the top 1% of income earners.

Lumber, nails, tacks, and shingles

I was having a discussion with several people about the whole “you didn’t build that” thing.  A good friend who is a liberal that believes true discourse is marked by civility, dignity, and respect, pointed out that if it were not for the government providing lumber, nails, tacks, and shingles, referring to infrastructure, we’d not have been able to build our businesses.  I wrote the following in response:

_____ is absolutely right about lumber, nails, tacks and shingles. However, we all need to bear in mind that it was our money that bought all of that. We bought the lumber. We bought the nails, the tacks, and the shingles. We assembled the roads and bridges. We laid the cables and connected the pipes. We paved the roads. We provided our lives in countless conflicts to make sure our land was safe enough to build the things we paid for. Long before there was a government that did these things, people got together as members of communities and built up their towns. Look at the Amish. Without a penny of government money and no advanced technology, they have social programs that build buildings for their children, care for their sick, engage in commerce, and maintain a quality of life that has worked for centuries. We call them backward. I call them successful. Is there a single business or government on the face of the earth that has never changed its business model in hundreds of years and is still in the same line of business? I have something to say to Mr. Obama:

“Nobody in Washington, on either side of the aisle, ever built anything. The only thing that Washington has ever done is take our money and then pay us back with it so that we could build that. The road that led to my in-laws’ office is mine because I paid for it. The only contribution that you have made is the taxes you’ve paid on over $12,000,000 that you, according you own Web site, have earned since 2005. You wrote your books. You traveled to speaking engagements. You worked as a community organizer. Every accomplishment you have made is because you, private citizen Obama, built that. You should be proud of what you actually built and not give the government the slightest responsibility for what every other hard working American like you has built.”