Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

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Conservatives have very high moral standards. Just don’t ask them to demonstrate any.

When I was learning to fly some years ago, the ability to stop a plane in a very short distance when landing on a runway was a badge of honor. We would practice short-field landings and brag about how few feet we needed to get the plane on the ground and stopped. Sort of like what naval airmen do to practice carrier landings.

Well, the son of the owner of our flight school would brag that he could bring a Cessna 172 to a stop in under 1000 feet at our home airport, which had a 5000 ft runway. (that’s the part to remember in this story). His bragging would be quite irritating at times so we decided to put him to the test. We all got in our planes and flew to a local field that had a 1500 ft runway and gave him a chance to show us all how it was done. Every time he tried, he had to go around, (pilot speak for not being able to stop in time and having to apply the throttle to take off and try again). After numerous attempts he finally gave up and we all started for home. Upon our arrival, we all sat around the pilot’s lounge and ribbed him about it and asked why the short-field king had done so badly. His response was classic. He said, “I’m still the short field landing king…just not on short fields!”

That experience reminds me of the way many Conservatives view the world. To wit:

Remember when we became very concerned with the birthplace of our President?
Then came Ted Cruz, born in Canada.

Remember when cheating on your wife was grounds for impeachment?
Then came Donald Trump with multiple cheating scandals on his various wives. And David Vitter with his hookers.

Remember when first ladies were supposed to be the moral equivalent of librarians?
Then came Melania Trump posing nude.

Remember when having children out of wedlock was shameful?
Then came Sarah Palin defending Bristol’s two out-of-wedlock love-children.

Remember when Richard Nixon bragged that his wife wore a “Republican cloth coat”, to indicate what a humble man he was? (in the 1950s)
Then came Donald Trump bragging about his mansions and jets.

Remember when having errant family members was an embarrassment for a President (Roger Clinton selling drugs, Billy Carter and his beer drinking, Neil Bush losing $1 billion in the bank he ran)?
Then comes Ted Cruz bragging that his father ran out on his mother, defended Castro, then found Jesus.

The point to all this is not that Progressives are any better than Conservatives. They’re not. We’ve had more than our share of scandals. The point is that Conservatives constantly claim the moral high ground. They claim to be the most patriotic and ready to defend the country, but not a single Repub candidate has served in the military. They claim to be the party of morals, but they have had an equal amount of sex scandals as Progressives.

Has anyone ever taken a poll outside a Planned Parenthood office and ask how many of the women seeking birth control are Conservatives? How about abortion clinics? Does anyone want to bet that just as many Conservatives are “baby killers” as Progressives? Go down to the Food Stamp center and see if they’re all Progressives since good Conservatives ostensibly “pull themselves up by their bootstraps”.

I talked to a died-in-the-wool, lifelong Conservative the other day who had his lower leg in a cast. I asked him what was wrong and he said that he’d been injured and that the doctors had injected stem-cells into the muscles to facilitate healing. I asked him how he could reconcile his party’s stance against stem-cell research while he as benefitting from it.

His lack of introspection was revealed in his glib response. “Progress”, was what he said. Interesting choice of words, wouldn’t you say?

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Why Isn’t Benjamin Netanyahu on the Repub Ticket?

The Iran deal was approved by 6 nations: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany.

Two of them have claimed publicly that they will no longer maintain the sanctions against Iran if the deal is not accepted, simply because they want to buy Iranian oil and restore other trade with them, for the benefits of their own economies. Those two are China and Russia. In that case, Iran can continue exploiting its nuclear capabilities and will have the benefit of most of the sanctions going away-immediately. It will be as if we never had any agreement at all. It will set us back to the status we had with Iran when Bush was President

Three of the remaining 4 have stated, publicly, that if the US does not ratify the deal that they, by themselves, will continue to support the deal and help fund the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to commence inspections as per the agreement. America will then be an international pariah and have been humiliated and its power in the world severely compromised by the political party which is always complaining about just that.

The only remaining country, the US, is not the sole signatory to this deal. Other people, many of whom do not have the ridiculous and unexplained allegiance to Israel that we maintain, are perfectly fine with the deal after having had their own nuclear scientists and political operatives review it. The turmoil is primarily in the US and it is the result of the fact that so many of us believe that which Benjamin Netanyahu says but fail to trust our own President.

Netanyahu has a disproportionate amount of power among Repubs, the partial evidence of which is the fact that Mitt Romney repeated during the 2012 election, on numerous occasions, that he had gone to school with him and that they were friends. When has any American running for President used his ostensible friendship with a foreign leader as evidence of his qualification to run this country? That should tell you a little bit about the true motivations of the Repub hissy fit with this deal.

Repubs have more allegiance to a man who oversees a racist, exclusionary society of xenophobes than to the leader of their own nation. And that, my friends, is the primary reason that they, in isolation, are against this deal. It’s time that someone pointed this embarrassing little fact out to those who would deny it.

Americans: Are We Elitist Hate Mongers?

Here is a list of all the groups that I receive hate mail about. Most of it admonishes me for defending members of these groups. Most are also quite reductive in their sentiments. It makes me wonder if we, as Americans, pride ourselves on how many different groups we can hate. To wit…

.Mexicans are invading our culture and taking our jobs. They want what we got.

.Blacks are invading our culture, filling our jails, raping our women and destroying our music. They want what we got.

.Muslims and other Non-Christians, (except in some cases, Jews) are invading our culture, trying persuade us to face Mecca on our knees 5 times daily or some other weird religious traditions (unlike Baptists who drink snake blood and kill live chickens) such as grow beards and make our women cover up with hijabs and force us to follow Sharia law, secretly planning to launch terrorist attacks from within the country and want to convert us all to Islam. They want what we got.

.Communists are invading our culture and want to subjugate us to their failed system of government and make us all allegiant to a dictator. They want what we got.

. Gays are trying to convert us to their lifestyle and have sex with our children. They want to subvert our religion and destroy our families. They don’t want what we got, they got their own, thanks.

Please let me know if I’ve missed anyone.

The point is that when taken in context, we’re some hatin’ sumbitches, aren’t we? But we tell the world that we’re the peacemakers. I know that they don’t believe it, which is why so much of the world is perfectly willing to hate us right back, and we wonder why…

Are we that special, or that stupid?

Whiny Cops and Crime Rates

On the news recently has been the revelation that crime is increasing in various cities. Repub police apologists have breathed a collective “Aha!” smug in the assertion that this proves that pissing off cops increases crime, and by extension, strongly suggesting that we have wronged these poor, misunderstood police officers. Bullshit…

The blindingly arrogant assertion, also made by police union officials, that we have hurt morale by questioning the motives and operational effectiveness of these local police departments would be comical were it not so tragic. We are now being told that if we hurt the feelings of these civil servants that they will stamp their feet and sulk, refusing to enter high-crime neighborhoods and “go the extra mile” as one Fraternal Order of Police employee said on the radio the other day. Balderdash…

The premise that police, in isolation, be cowered to lest they refuse to do their jobs misses one very important point. It is their JOB! When people refuse to do their job, they are typically fired! So fire them!

How many of us have jobs that we do so poorly that our bosses feel the need to put body cameras on us to record what we do all day? How many of us would not be insulted to the point of wanting to do our jobs better in order to end said scrutiny, rather than whine about being subject to it? How many of us would have the abject, unmitigated gall to complain about being subject to surveillance and completely ignore the rationale behind it?

Police departments throughout history have been consummately secretive about the operations and have always resisted oversight, especially by civilians. I lived in NYC when thousands of cops were found to be on the take from drug dealers and remember the “blue flu” epidemic when cops called in sick by the thousands in protest of the fact that they had been caught on the take! This tribal attitude has been the milieu of cops from time immemorial. I get it, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to abide it.

And to those who will make the unsubstantiated and unprovable claim that we won’t be able to hire police to replace those we’ve fired due to this low morale, your naiveté’ and ignorance of human nature is stunning. First of all, you seem to be suggesting that hundreds of thousands of cops are independently wealthy and don’t need their high paying jobs (the median pay for a NYC cop is $62,000. Same in New Jersey. Baltimore cops start at almost $50,000 and can make over $100,000 after 20 years).

In addition to the pay, anyone who thinks that there won’t be a long line of recruits for a job with the badge, the weapons, the uniform, the training and the power that comes with being a cop has apparently never met, or been accosted, by one.

I’m sorry if honest cops are being unfairly castigated and seen in an unflattering light by the ostensibly few corrupt and racist cops. (I’m tempted to put the word ostensibly in quotes, but I don’t want to be mean-spirited). I’m sorry if your morale has been diminished. But I’m more concerned with my freedom to walk the streets without being accosted than with your apparently fragile self-esteem. You’re a tough guy. Suck it up and get over it.

One well-known radio personality this morning claimed that a cop told him that the cop’s little girl asked if he shoots black people on purpose. This little bit of melodrama was obviously intended to pull on transparently pliable heart strings, rendering an image of a doe-eyed little girl looking up to her hero daddy for an answer to her innocent question. This particular radio personality conveniently neglected to mention what the cop said to his little girl in response, (since the entire story was likely fabricated for effect), but I would suggest something along the lines of “no sweetie, but some of my co-workers do”.

Dennis Hastert and Josh Duggar are Only the Latest. Why Are There So Many “Conservative” Perverts?

I haven’t got a problem with sex. Straight or gay, pre-marital, post-marital, extra-marital or whatever other (your choice of words here)-marital sex there is. It’s been around long enough that I’ve kind of accepted that people are going to have it, with wives, husbands, lovers, men, women and, at times, Republicans. C’est la vie as far as I’m concerned. Boff your heads off whenever you like. I really don’t care. I create my own moral universe and don’t need anyone else’s advice. Nor do I give any regarding personal sexual predilections. As long as its legal and mutually consenting, I couldn’t care less who you do.

What I do care about is when you gain notoriety, fame and sometimes political office by claiming to have this or that moral position on sex, and then, after you’ve locked in said notoriety, fame or policial office, completely disregard that which you’ve been admonishing others not to do as sinful. And then getting caught doing it. You know, like the Christian right.

Now some of you will immediately pull up your pants and say “Wait a minute! Democrats have affairs too!” To which I would respond, “Of course they do”, like Bill Clinton, Anthony Weiner, John Edwards, and Elliot Spitzer, but they tend not to go around the country claiming how morally superior they are to all of us who dive, genitals throbbing, on the first willing victim who’s breathing. (yes, Democrats require them to be breathing).

And so, my friends, I decided to compile a list of those Christian right hypocrites who continue to tell us to keep it in our pants, while wiping their faces of, well, you get the picture.

1. Jimmy Swaggart

Pentecostal televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, who is a cousin of rock-and-roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis and country singer Mickey Gilley, was preaching fire-and-brimstone Christian fundamentalism before the 1980s; his television program started in 1975. But it was during the 1980s that Swaggart rose to prominence in right-wing politics and, along with Rev. Jerry Falwell, Rev. James Robison, and Rev. Pat Robertson, greatly influenced the Christian Right’s influence on the GOP. Swaggart’s sermons are as political as they are religious, and he has never been shy about describing feminists, liberals, Democrats and rock musicians as agents of Satan who promote immorality at every turn. But in 1988, it was revealed that the adulterous Swaggart had been cheating on his wife with a New Orleans prostitute named Debra Murphree. And his association with prostitutes did not end after his famous “I have sinned” speech of 1988. In 1991, Swaggart was with prostitute Rosemary Garcia when he was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol; Garcia said Swaggart had asked her for sex. On top of all that, Swaggart has admitted to having a long history of porn consumption (even though he has often called for tougher enforcement of obscenity laws). And he appears to have dabbled in something else Christian fundamentalists condemn: BDSM. In a 1989 Penthouse interview, a woman named Catherine Campen said that when she was having an affair with Swaggart, he asked her to beat him with a riding crop.

2. Laura Schlessinger

Although America’s Religious Right has been dominated by Protestant fundamentalists, not all far-right culture warriors are Pentecostals or Southern Baptists. For example, talk radio host Laura Schlessinger, a.k.a. Dr. Laura, was a convert to Orthodox Judaism (before renouncing it in 2003), and she has made a career out of railing against sex education, abortion, premarital sex, porn, feminism and homosexuality (the gay-bashing Schlessinger once said that “a huge portion of the male homosexual populace is predatory on young boys”). But for all her moralizing, Schlessinger hasn’t always acted like a Puritan; in the late 1990s, some nude and topless photos she had posed for in the mid-1970s were published on the Internet. The photos were taken by the late radio shock-jock Bill Balance, who sold them to an adult Web site. Schlessinger filed a lawsuit for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement, but a court ruled that the photos were not her intellectual property. Schlessinger’s “queen of family values” routine is also laughable considering that when her mother died in 2002, it was widely reported that Dr. Laura hadn’t spoken to her since 1986.

3. Newt Gingrich

In 1998, President Bill Clinton was lambasted by a long list of Republicans when it was revealed that he had cheated on his wife, Hillary Clinton, with intern Monica Lewinsky. One of his loudest critics was House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich (who asserted that Clinton showed “a level of disrespect and decadence that should appall every American”). But while Gingrich was lambasting Clinton for committing adultery and trying to get him impeached, he was also cheating on his second wife, Marianne Ginther, with a woman (Callista Bisek, who became his third wife) who was 20 years younger. And that wasn’t the first time Gingrich committed adultery. In the early 1980s, Gingrich cheated on his first wife, Jackie Battley, with Ginther—and when Battley was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery, Gingrich insisted on discussing the terms of their divorce. After that, Mr. Family Values refused to pay Battley either alimony or child support (a local church took up a collection to help her out financially). Despite his history of serial adultery, Gingrich had no problem playing the “family values” card during his recent bid for the GOP presidential nomination.

4. David Vitter

Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana is infamous for his extreme social conservatism and for pandering to the Christian Right. Vitter has supported a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage nationwide (although he claims to support “states rights,” Vitter makes an exception when it comes to gay marriage), promoted abstinence-only sex education, called for school board meetings in Louisiana to open with prayers, and repeatedly preached against abortion. Vitter loves to play the red state/blue state card, saying that he represents socially conservative “Louisiana values” rather than secular “Massachusetts values.” But in 2007, it was revealed that Vitter had been a client of the Washington, DC escort service operated by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, a.k.a. the DC Madam; Vitter admitted he had cheated on his wife with a prostitute, but no criminal charges were filed because of the statute of limitations. Despite his blatant hypocrisy, Vitter was re-elected to the Senate in 2010.

5. Rush Limbaugh

“The Rush Limbaugh Show” has always been full of sexual contradictions. On one hand, the far-right talk radio host has a long history of supporting the Christian Right and telling his audience that the Republican Party is the true voice of morality in the United States. On the other hand, the twice-divorced Limbaugh is quite fond of off-color humor (“PMSNBC” is his name for MSNBC) and sexual innuendos. Limbaugh will use sex to boost ratings at the same time he’s preaching God, family values and morality to the GOP base. Limbaugh’s schizophrenic relationship with sex was recently exemplified by his heavily publicized attack on Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke, whom he denounced as a “slut” and a “prostitute” for saying that health insurance plans should cover female contraception. Limbaugh said that if other people were going to pay for Fluke to have sex, she should film the sexual act for his viewing pleasure. In other words, he was asking Fluke to make a porn video, which is ironic in light of how much time Republicans have spent railing against the adult entertainment industry. Limbaugh’s hypocrisy doesn’t end there; previous Limbaugh scandals have ranged from his well-documented addiction to painkillers in 2003 to being detained for three hours at the Palm Beach Airport in 2006 for possessing a bottle of Viagra that wasn’t in his name.

6. Larry Craig

During the many years he spent in Congress (18 years in the Senate preceded by 10 years in the House of Representatives), Republican Larry Craig of Idaho was a strident social conservative with a very anti-gay record. Craig opposed gay men serving in the U.S. military, and he favored adding an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have outlawed same-sex marriage nationwide. The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy group that rates politicians’ voting records on gay issues, gave Craig a rating of 0 in 2004. But in June 2007, the married Craig was arrested for lewd conduct in a men’s room stall at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport; an undercover police officer said that Craig’s behavior indicated he was seeking a sexual encounter (Craig pled guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct). And in December 2007, no less than eight gay men alleged to the Idaho Statesman that they had either had sexual affairs with Craig or that he had made sexual advances to them.

7. Ted Haggard

Evangelical minister Ted Haggard has never been known for embracing a moderate approach to Protestant Christianity. Very much a fundamentalist, Haggard was a strong supporter of George W. Bush’s presidency and did a lot to rally GOP “values voters” in 2004. Haggard has been quite the culture warrior, loudly preaching against abortion, premarital sex, adultery and gay marriage. But in 2006, a male escort named Mike Jones revealed that the married Haggard had been a client; in addition to paying for sex and committing adultery, Jones said, Haggard was fond of using crystal meth. Admitting to his followers that he was guilty of “sexual immorality,” Jones resigned from his position with the National Association of Evangelicals.

8. Henry Hyde

Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones, but the late Illinois Republican Henry Hyde (who spent 32 years in the House of Representatives and died in 2007) threw plenty of stones (figuratively speaking) during the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton. Clinton, Hyde insisted, had disgraced the presidency by committing adultery and lying about it under oath. But it turned out that Hyde had his own history of adultery. In the 1960s, Hyde was married with four sons when he had an affair with a woman named Cherie Snodgrass, who had three children with Fred Snodgrass, her husband at the time. In a 1998 interview with Salon.com, Fred Snodgrass denounced Hyde as a “hypocrite who broke up my family.” Hyde described his affair with Cherie as a “youthful indiscretion,” although he was 41 when the affair started.

9. Jim Bakker

Jimmy Swaggart was not the first right-wing Pentecostal televangelist to be involved in a major sex scandal. In 1987, Jim Bakker (who co-hosted “The PTL Club” with his wife, Tammy Faye Bakker) was disgraced when it came out that he had cheated on his wife with church secretary Jessica Hahn and paid her $265,000 to keep quiet. In 1989, Bakker was convicted of fraud and racketeering charges in a federal court and sentenced to 45 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, but he was granted parole in 1994. Swaggart, ironically, was vehemently critical of Bakker in 1987, calling him “a cancer on the body of Christ” because of his affair with Hahn—and all the while, Swaggart was every bit the adulterer himself.

10. James West

The late Republican James West, who died in 2006, was a champion of anti-gay causes during his years in Washington State politics (first in the Washington State senate, then as mayor of Spokane). West promoted, among other things, a blatantly discriminatory bill that would have prohibited gay men and women from working for schools, daycare centers and certain state agencies. But in 2004, West was caught in a sex scandal when the Spokane Spokesman-Review conducted a sting operation and alleged that West, in a gay online chat room, offered a possible City Hall internship to someone he thought was an 18-year-old man (in reality, the “18-year-old” was a private investigator hired by the Spokesman-Review). The Spokane County Republican Party called for West’s resignation, and in 2005, he lost his position as mayor when voters opted to recall him.

11. John Ensign

During the years he represented Nevada in the U.S. Senate (and before that, the House of Representatives), Republican John Ensign was held in high regard by the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family and other Christian Right theocrats. Staunchly anti-abortion, he was a Pentecostal who considered himself “born again.” He voted in favor of a constitutional ban on gay marriage, and he was active in the Promise Keepers. The Christian Coalition gave him a 100% rating in 2003, while the Human Rights Campaign gave him a rating of only 11% in 2006. Like many other Republicans, Ensign called for Bill Clinton’s resignation in 1998, saying that an adulterer was unfit to be president. But as much as Ensign liked to talk about the sanctity of marriage, he didn’t practice what he preached; Ensign ended up resigning from the Senate in 2011 because of the scandal surrounding his adulterous affair with Cynthia Hampton, the wife of Douglas Hampton, an administrative aid in Ensign’s office and a close personal friend.

12. Michael D. Duvall

As a member of the California State Assembly, Republican Michael D. Duvall had a reputation for being an outspoken social conservative. Duvall opposed abortion as much as he opposed gay marriage, and he insisted that heterosexual marriage had to be protected because it was the backbone of America. But in 2009, Duvall not only admitted to cheating on his wife, he bragged about it. During a lull in an appropriations committee meeting, Duvall told fellow California State Assembly member Jeff Miller that he had been cheating on his wife with two different women (one of them a lobbyist). Duvall didn’t realize that a microphone was picking up the conversation, and his comments, some of which were quite graphic, became a matter of public record. For someone who loved to paint himself as a staunch moralist, Duvall certainly took a great deal of pride in committing adultery. Duvall resigned from the California State Assembly the day after the story broke.

13. Bob Allen

Like James West and Larry Craig, Bob Allen is among the Republican politicians who has a history of being anti-gay but ended up in a gay sex scandal. Allen supported a lot of anti-gay legislation during the seven years he spent in the Florida House of Representatives. In July 2007, Allen was arrested after offering to pay an undercover police officer $20 if he could perform oral sex on him in the public restroom where they met. Found guilty of solicitation for prostitution, Allen didn’t serve any jail time, but was sentenced to six months probation and fined $250. Allen resigned from the Florida House of Representatives shortly after that.

14. Tony Alamo

In the 1970s, evangelist/cult leader Tony Alamo, a.k.a. Bernie Lazar Hoffman and his wife Susan made a name for themselves in evangelical circles preaching a far-right version of fire-and-brimstone fundamentalism. But in the ’80s, Alamo’s behavior became so bizarre that much of the Christian Right distanced itself from him. After his wife’s death from cancer in 1982, Alamo put her embalmed body on display for months and insisted that when his congregation raised her from the dead, she would tell them when Jesus Christ would return to Earth. Also around that time Alamo began publishing his conspiracy theories involving the Catholic Church (which he considered “the Great Whore of Babylon” and believed was controlling the Soviet Union, Islamic terrorists and the Reagan Administration all at the same time). Initially, Alamo was a Ronald Reagan supporter, although he turned against Reagan when he decided that his administration was pro-Vatican. The worst, however, was yet to come. In 2009, Alamo was sentenced to 175 years in prison on a long list of charges that included sexual abuse and transporting underage girls across state lines for sexual purposes. Alamo’s ex-followers testified in court that he was guilty of numerous acts of pedophilia, including taking an eight-year-old girl to be his “wife” and having sex with her. Despite a mountain of damning evidence, the sociopathic Alamo has maintained that he is innocent of all the charges he was convicted of and insists that he was framed by the Vatican.

15. Bob Livingston

When numerous Republicans were attacking Bill Clinton in 1998, porn tycoon Larry Flynt was anxious to expose their hypocrisy and offered $1 million to anyone who could prove that a Republican member of Congress was committing adultery. Flynt obtained concrete proof that Rep. Bob Livingston of Louisiana had cheated on his wife numerous times. Livingston was among the many Republicans who had demanded Clinton’s resignation over the Lewinsky scandal, and Flynt was happy to show the public that the Louisiana congressman was very much an adulterer himself. Livingston, who probably would have replaced Gingrich as speaker of House of Representatives had it not been for that sex scandal, resigned from the House.

16. Mark Sanford

These days, the Christian Right has so much influence in the Republican Party that it is next to impossible to become the Republican governor of a southern Bible Belt state if one isn’t a social conservative. Mark Sanford had a socially conservative record during his years as governor of South Carolina (he was elected in 2002) and before that, a member of the House of Representatives. He opposed abortion and gay marriage, voted to impeach Bill Clinton, and described Clinton’s actions during the Lewinsky scandal as “reprehensible.” Sanford, however, became involved in a scandal of his own when, in 2009, it was revealed that he had been cheating on his wife with a woman from Argentina named María Belén Chapur (whom he had met in Uruguay in 2001). Sanford was censured by the South Carolina House Judiciary Committee for his misuse of state travel funds.

17. Lou Beres

Lou Beres is the former head of the Oregon Christian Coalition as well as the former chairman of the Multnomah County Republican Party. In 2005, when he was 70, Beres confessed to police that he had a history of sexually molesting adolescent girls, including his sister-in-law Elizabeth Jonas in the 1960s and two friends of his daughters in the 1970s. Because the crimes occurred so long ago, Beres wasn’t facing any criminal charges; Jonas was in her 50s when she came forward. But a civil lawsuit was filed against Beres, and Jonas was seeking $2 million in damages.

18. Mark Foley

Florida Republican Mark Foley served in the House of Representatives from 1995-2006, during which time he had a reputation for being socially conservative even though he wasn’t quite as conservative as some of his fellow Republicans would have liked. In 2003, Foley received an 84% rating from the Christian Coalition, which was lower than the 100% rating John Ensign received that year but much higher than most Democrats typically received from that organization. And his voting record was generally anti-gay, which was ironic in view of the fact that, in 2006, he got caught up in a gay sex scandal involving teenage male congressional pages. Foley, who had been sending the pages sexually explicit emails, resigned from Congress.

19. Roy Ashburn

Republican Roy Ashburn had a very anti-gay voting record when he served in the California State Senate from 2002-2010; he organized rallies opposing gay marriage, and he voted against having a day in remembrance of the slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk. In 2010, however, Ashburn was arrested for DUI after leaving a gay nightclub in Sacramento. Ashburn announced that he was gay, and gay activists pointed to his anti-gay voting record as a classic example of self-hatred.

20. Rev. Michael Hintz

When George W. Bush was running for re-election in 2004, Rev. Michael Hintz (a youth counselor at the First Assembly of God Church in Des Moines, Iowa) asserted that re-electing Bush was the Christian thing to do. The United States, Hintz said, was in the middle of a major culture war, and the country needed a man of God in the White House who would fight against abortion and porn. But it was also in 2004 that Hintz (who was 35 and married with four kids at the time) was fired by the First Assembly of God Church for becoming sexually involved with a 17-year-old girl he had been counseling

How can you people stand being you?
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Ink Up for Gun Rights!- A reprint of my blog from August 2013

I’ve been noticing that there are some militant gun owners who’ve chosen to get tattoos of the Second Amendment. This curious trend made me want to research exactly what these people thought they were accomplishing by doing so. On it’s face, it appears that they believe that, having read one sentence out of The Constitution, their brilliant legal minds were instantly able to deduce that all one needs to know are these 27 simple words regarding gun rights. As is quite typical of those who perform these simplistic and reductive acts, they should have read juuuuust a little further along, since there’s quite a bit more to the story.

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Second Amendment: A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The “well-regulated militia” part is the subject of great debate, with some asserting that it limits the right to bear arms only to a militia. We will not address that issue here because it is, admittedly, vague. I will assume that this amendment gives everyone the same rights, militia or not.

The second part, which says that the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed, is the part that appears to be quite black and white,(aka Tattoo-worthy) with some believing that it settles the argument about gun rights. That would be true until you remember that the Constitution is not limited to the Second Amendment. There’s a few other words in there as well…

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Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This amendment quite simply states that if the Constitution does not address an issue, then the states may do so. It is often ignored by those who are biased toward the Second Amendment, since it doesn’t serve their purposes. What a shocker.I guess it also doesn’t look as good scrawled across one’s back on a drawing that looks like aged parchment.

So, by simply reading just one more of the Amendments, we should understand why any state can pass laws to modify the Constitution, within the limits of the Tenth Amendment.

Below you will find the language of the State Constitutions of 8 states, which do, in fact, modify the Second Amendment to make it mean something quite different. This list is not comprehensive, only a sampling of the states that have chosen to modify the right to bear arms in their respective states.

I picked out these specific states because there are many, like Michigan and Alaska, among others, which do not modify the Second Amendment at all. In those states, there is no infringement whatsoever on your right to bear arms. In the states I’ve list below, however,(some will surprise you), there are quite specific, legal limitations on your right to bear arms.

On a side note, if anyone doubts the veracity of what is printed below, I got it directly from the NRA’s web site at http://www.nraila.org/gun-laws/state-laws.aspx. We all know that the NRA would never lie, so we’ll use their data to make our point.

Florida: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the state shall not be infringed, except that the manner of bearing arms may be regulated by law.” (This basically says you can, unless we say you can’t).

Georgia: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but the General Assembly shall have power to prescribe the manner in which arms may be borne.” (Same restrictions as Florida. Yes you can, unless we change our minds).

Kentucky: “All men are by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned: … 7) the right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the state, subject to the power of the general assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons.” (If they can regulate concealed weapons, they can regulate all weapons).

Missouri: “That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned; but this shall not justify the wearing of concealed weapons.” (Same as Kentucky).

Oklahoma: “The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power, when thereunto legally summoned, shall never be prohibited, but nothing herein contained shall prevent the legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons.” (The legislature can regulate, which is basically saying that the legislature can “infringe”).

Tennessee: That the citizens of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms with a view to prevent crime.” (Once again, if that “regulation” lessens anyone’s right, then it is “infringement” and is apparently legal in Tennessee of all places).

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Texas: “Every citizen shall have the right to keep and bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State; but the Legislature shall have power, by law, to regulate the wearing of arms, with a view to prevent crime” (Who would have thought that Texas can decide when you can or can’t “wear” your arms).

Utah: The individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the State as well as for other lawful purposes shall not be infringed; but nothing herein shall prevent the legislature from defining the lawful use of arms.” (Here they simply say that your rights will not be “infringed” but that the legislature gets to define just what “infringed” means).

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Interpret this as you will, but there is not a lot of road between “regulating” and “infringing”. You can debate this all you like, but the fact that some states limit your Second Amendment rights, and have for quite some time, proves, via statutory as well as case law, that they can.

For this reason, if you don’t want to look like an imbecile, it would be advisable that you know what you’re doing before you put ink to skin.

Unless looking like an imbecile is just how you roll…
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The Pencil is Mightier Than the Pen

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Science writes in pencil. As it progresses, it joyfully keeps handy an eraser. Religious dogma is written in pen, as indelible as it is lacking in relevance.

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