Breonna Taylor murdered, mourner murdered, Louisville, USA

This 28 September 2020 video says about itself:

A Police Cover-Up? New Bodycam Video from Night of Breonna Taylor’s Killing Undermines State Account

We speak with Vice News correspondent Roberto Ferdman about new body camera footage he obtained from the police raid that killed Breonna Taylor in Louisville in March, which has raised troubling questions about the integrity of the crime scene, and the investigation that followed. “The public deserves more information to understand what we know for sure and what we don’t and why things have been presented the way they have been,” Ferdman tells Democracy Now!

A 28 June 2020 video from Kentucky in the USA used to say about itself:

Kentucky Shooting! Armed Man Showers Protesters With Bullets!

Warning: this is graphic. A white man opened fire on a group of peaceful protestors in Louisville, Kentucky, today. Local reports claim there are multiple victims.

Louisville, Kentucky, USA protest against police murde of Breonna Taylor

The people attacked by that gunman are protesting against police murdering local healthcare worker Breonna Taylor, shot eight times for sleeping while black.

This 27 June 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

[White supremacist] ‘Armed militia’ group rumored to counter-protest in Louisville

As rumors about an armed militia group coming to downtown Louisville continue to circulate, LMPD has made plans to close some streets.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Man shot dead in Kentucky anti-racism protest

In Louisville, Kentucky, a man opened fire on protesters last night. A man was hit and died of his injuries, a second victim was taken to hospital injured.

In the park where the attack took place, a protest was in progress following the death of Breonna Taylor in March this year. The 26-year-old black woman was killed in her home by police bullets. …

The police have not yet revealed anything about the circumstances of the shooting incident last night. It is also not clear whether the gunman was arrested or identified. …

George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in late May has also sparked protests against racism and police brutality in Louisville. The case of Breonna Taylor was also put into the spotlight again.

The agents who were involved in the raid on her house in March had a so-called ‘no-knock warrant’, which allowed them to invade without notice. …

After Taylor’s death, the city council put an end to the no-knock warrants.

PROBE CASTS DOUBT ON POLICE CLAIMS OF SUSPICIOUS MAIL AT BREONNA TAYLOR’S HOME When a police officer in Louisville, Kentucky, requested a search warrant for Breonna Taylor’s apartment, he told a judge that a drug suspect had been receiving potentially suspicious packages at the woman’s home. It was a key reason provided by the Louisville Metro Police Department to convince the judge that a warrant was necessary. But, according to an internal police investigation, officers were told “repeatedly” that no packages ― “suspicious or otherwise” ― had been delivered to Taylor’s home in connection with the drug probe. [HuffPost]


After George Floyd murder, New Zealand, Kentucky

Protest against the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis USA, in Auckland, New Zealand

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today, about Auckland, New Zealand:

In New Zealand, thousands of people have marched in a protest march following George Floyd’s death. …

In the US city of Louisville, Kentucky, police officers shot a man dead last night.

US governor pardons child rapist for money

This 28 December 2019 video from the USA is called [Republican] Kentucky Governor Pardons Violent Criminals For Campaign Cash.

Former Kentucky Governor Bevin pardoned a child rapist. One of his reasons: The 9-year-old victim’s hymen was intact. By Ray Sanchez and Evan Simko-Bednarski, CNN.

By Veronica Stracqualursi and Natasha Chen, CNN, December 19, 2019:

Bevin pardoned and commuted the sentence of Patrick Baker, who convicted of reckless homicide in 2017.

The Courier-Journal reported that Baker’s family had held a fundraiser and donated to Bevin’s gubernatorial campaigns. Baker served two years of a 19-year sentence, while his co-defendants are still in prison, the newspaper reported.

From that The Courier-Journal article:

The Friday order was one of 428 pardons and commutations Bevin issued since his narrow loss in November to Democrat Andy Beshear, who was sworn into office Tuesday.

The beneficiaries include one offender convicted of raping a child, another who hired a hitman to kill his business partner and a third who killed his parents.

Kentucky, USA, unpaid miners stop coal trains

This 2 August 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Blackjewel Protest in Cumberland

Shaylan Clark and I speak to the protesters in Cumberland, Kentucky.

By Samuel Davidson in the USA:

Kentucky miners block train tracks for sixth day demanding back pay

3 August 2019

Out-of-work Kentucky coal miners are now in their sixth day of blocking railroad tracks and preventing the coal company from moving coal out of the bankrupt mine that they worked.

On Monday, a group of miners at the Blackjewel Cloverlick mines in Harlan County, Kentucky, stood on the railroad tracks as a train loaded with coal attempted to leave the closed mine, demanding that they receive the back pay they are owed (see: “Unpaid Kentucky Blackjewel miners block coal train to demand wages”).

Word quickly spread, and the miners were soon joined by fellow miners and dozens of other supporters in this small town. Miners have continued blocking the train round the clock and are now in their sixth day.

Nearly 600 miners worked at the Blackjewel mines in Kentucky. Another 1,300 miners worked at the company’s other mines. Blackjewel employed 500 miners in Virginia, 30 in West Virginia, and nearly 700 in Wyoming in part of a massive strip mine operation in the Powder River Basin.

On Monday July 1, Blackjewel LLC abruptly declared bankruptcy, shutting all its operations. Miners found out about it only when they showed up to work that morning. A few days later, local banks began notifying the miners that the paychecks they received the week before had bounced.

Most workers had already used the money to pay car and home loans, credit cards and utility bills. Many have been hit with bounced check fees and late fees on top of no longer having a job.

“No Pay, We Stay”, are among the signs that are posted around the workers’ camp site.

In addition to missing their paychecks, workers have found out that the company canceled their health insurance, stopped paying into their pension plans and even stopped making child support payments for miners who had the money directly removed from checks.

Many workers report that they had to pay cash for needed medical procedures when medical facilities refused to take their insurance.

Kentucky law requires that companies that are less than five years old take out a bond to insure four weeks of payroll. Blackjewel never took out the insurance, and Kentucky lawmakers never mandated any enforcement of the law.

While workers are being robbed of their livelihoods, Blackjewel CEO Jeff Hoops continues to build a $32 million resort and golf course.

On Wednesday, state police were called to the Cloverlick Mine along with officials from CSX, which owns and operates the railroad. They reportedly worked out a deal with the miners to allow them to remove the two engines they had there, while leaving the cars loaded with coal in place.

Workers are continuing to occupy the tracks to prevent any further attempt by the company to remove the coal.

On Friday, the federal judge overseeing the bankruptcy approved a bidding process for the company’s assets. Tennessee-based Contura Energy submitted an initial bid of $20.6 million for Blackjewel’s Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines in Wyoming and Pax Surface Mine in Scarbro, West Virginia.

Contura previously owned the Wyoming mines and sold them to Blackjewel in 2017. Contura itself was created out of the 2015 bankruptcy of Alpha Natural Resources. Other bids will be accepted until Wednesday, with an auction between the bidders held August 15.

A hearing before Judge Frank W. Volk that had been set for Saturday has been moved to the morning of Monday, August 5.

Coal operators play a continuous shell game, forming and declaring bankruptcy to provide a legal cover for robbing workers and their communities of millions in unpaid taxes and other fees while absolving themselves of any costs for the environmental damage they do to the areas they mine.

A host of state and local politicians have visited the site of the Harlan County occupation … most recently US Senate Majority Leader [Republican] Mitch McConnell, who represents Kentucky. …

Far from an ally of miners, McConnell has been instrumental in blocking funding for black lung benefits and healthcare for miners.

Many miners and supporters have pointed to the fact that Harlan County was the center of bloody battles by miners in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s to build the union and secure for miners safer working conditions and a better living standard.

The current resistance of the miners in Kentucky is part of a growing international movement of workers against the attacks of the government and big business. From the wave of teachers’ strikes last year in West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma through the strikes by auto parts and other workers in Matamoros, Mexico, to the Yellow Vest protest in France, workers are entering into struggle against attacks on their living conditions.

Kentucky coal miners continue protest as Blackjewel assets auction proceeds: here.

“It’s not just miners, but all blue-collar workers, like the teachers, who have been mistreated too”. Blackjewel miners in Kentucky vow to continue fight against coal operator: here.

HOW A GANG OF ANGRY TEACHERS BEAT KENTUCKY’S TRUMP  No one besides Gov. Matt Bevin himself did more to cement his status as the least-popular Republican governor in the United States than Nema Brewer, the public school employee who sparked Kentucky’s mass mobilization of teachers last year. [HuffPost]

Kentucky, USA racist murder of African Americans

This 31 October 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Kentucky Shooting of Two Blacks: ‘No Surprise,’ Given the Rise of Ultra-Right

Lost in the news of hate crimes over the past week was a random shooting of two Blacks in Kentucky by a white man. President Trump’s fanning of racial resentment is leading to an atmosphere where such attacks are becoming more and more common, says Prof. Gerald Horne.

After West Virginia, teachers’ strikes all over the USA?

This video from the USA says about itself:

West Virginia Teachers’ Strike May Soon Sweep The Nation

20 March 2018

West Virginia may just be the beginning. Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down.

“Teachers from numerous Kentucky school districts are preparing to rally at the state capitol Wednesday to protect their pensions against proposed cuts, just one week after Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (Republican) blasted them as “selfish” and “ignorant.”

Several Eastern Kentucky school districts plan to close to accommodate teachers attending the rally, which is expected to draw hundreds of public school employees to Frankfort. Wednesday’s rally is the latest in the weeks-long fight against Senate Bill 1, a measure that would cut retired teachers’ yearly cost-of-living raises from 1.5 percent to 1 percent, an effort to save the state’s ailing pension system. The decrease would remain in effect until the Kentucky Teacher’s Retirement System is 90 percent funded and, as the Lexington Herald-Leader reports, it would result in a loss in income of more than $65,000 for the average teacher.”

Read more here.

See also here.

The number of workers participating in strike action in the US during 2018 reached the highest level in 32 years, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report issued Friday morning in Washington. The figures document the rise in the class struggle in the course of the year, spearheaded by public school teachers who rebelled against their unions and carried out statewide strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona: here.

WEST VIRGINIA SENATE BATTLES TEACHERS AGAIN West Virginia teachers successfully went on strike in February to protest a bill that would open up the state to charter schools and help students pay for alternatives the public education system. Earlier this month, the state Senate passed two similar bills, but made it harder for the educators to strike. [HuffPost]

United States wars come home as school mass shootings

This video from the USA says about itself:

Student recounts “terror” amid Kentucky school shooting

24 January 2018

Tristan Cline, a junior at Marshall County High School, had just arrived at school Tuesday when a shooting was unfolding. He was able to rush his friend to the hospital. Cline joins “CBS This Morning” to discuss what he witnessed.

By Tom Eley in the USA:

Another American mass shooting, this time in western Kentucky

25 January 2018

Western Kentucky became the scene of the latest American mass shooting on Tuesday morning, when a 15-year-old boy opened fire with a handgun inside Marshall County High School in Benton, killing two and wounding 18.

Baily Nicole Holt, 15, died at the scene. Preston Ryan Cope, also 15, died later at a trauma center. Sixteen other students were struck by bullets, and two more were injured while trying to escape. Three of the injured are reportedly in critical condition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. The injured range in age from 14 to 18.

The assailant, whose identity has not been released, was taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies. Authorities have stated that he will face charges of murder and attempted murder. Marshall County Attorney Jeff Edwards said he would be tried as an adult.

The shooting began at 7:57 a.m. The suspect was arrested, apparently without a struggle, at 8:06 a.m. The minutes between are described by witnesses and survivors.

Students were “busting down the gates and fences just to get out,” said Shea Thompson, whose two siblings survived the attack. Her brother Shawn, 15, called her “in complete panic,” she said. “He was yelling: ‘Someone’s shooting! Someone’s shooting!’”

Other students called their parents, including Missy Hufford’s son, Ethan, 15. “[H]e said, ‘Mom, there’s been a shooting.’ And I asked him if he was okay, and he said, ‘I’m running,’”she told a reporter.

The Kentucky shooting came one day after a teenager opened fire in the Italy, Texas high school cafeteria. A 16-year-old girl was wounded in the attack in a small town south of Dallas.

The response from politicians and media to the latest shootings has followed a tired and predictable pattern, with half-hearted lamentations about the “tragedy” and “senselessness” of the violence, invocations of god and prayer …

The politicians dare not confront the most glaringly obvious question: Why do these attacks happen with such frequency in the United States? What is it about American society that incubates the propensity for these crimes, which are so very often carried out by young people?

This is not even western Kentucky’s first mass high school shooting. Just one month ago, area residents gathered to unveil a monument to the victims of the Heath High School shooting of 1997, in which three students were killed and five students wounded by 14-year-old Michael Carneal, who is now serving a life sentence in prison. That shooting took place in West Paducah, just 40 miles from Benton.

Two years later, in 1999, came Colorado’s Columbine massacre, in which two teenagers killed 13 in a high school, and then themselves. Since West Paducah and Columbine, one mass killing has followed the previous one with ever greater frequency.

The epoch of the mass shooting roughly corresponds to the quarter century of war waged by the American ruling class: Iraq (1990), Somalia (1993), Yugoslavia (1999), Afghanistan (2001-present), Iraq again (2003-present), Libya (2011), and Syria (2014-present).

Over the same time-frame a much longer list of mass killings has taken place, including in the last five years alone the 2017 Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting (27 dead) and Harvest music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada (59 dead); in 2016 the Pulse Nightclub shootings in Orlando, Florida (49 dead); in 2015 the San Bernardino, California shooting (14 dead) and the Umpqua Community College shooting, Oregon (10 dead); in 2013 the Washington Navy Yard shooting, Washington DC (13 dead); and in 2012 the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Newtown, Connecticut (28 dead) and the Century 16 movie theater shooting, Aurora, Colorado (12 dead.)

According to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization, 2017 was “the deadliest year of mass shootings in modern US history.” The outfit tallied 345 mass shootings, defined as an incident in which four or more people are shot (not including the shooter). Overall, the web site calculates that more than 15,000 people in the US died from gun violence last year, with another 31,000 injured.

Each of the perpetrators of the mass shootings that have taken place at schools, colleges, and workplaces in America over the past quarter century has had his or her individual psychological history. But even individual psychological problems are rooted in social conditions.

The general brutality of American society, the degree to which human beings are treated by the powers that be as thoroughly expendable, has played a role. Government officials routinely refer to “taking out” alleged terrorists or entire governments that stand in the way of US foreign policy. Individuals are dispatched without so much as a second thought, whether through legal, barbaric executions in many US states, or by illegal “targeted assassinations” and drone strikes. Above all, there has been endless war.

A 16-year-old high school student today would have no conscious political memory of any time when America was not at war. Quite possibly neither would his parents: A 40-year-old would have been but 13 at the time of Desert Storm, the first war on Iraq.

The last quarter century has also witnessed a vast social and cultural retrogression. There is nothing readily available to help youth to understand history and the potential of humanity. Funding for the arts and social studies have been cut from the public schools, very nearly to the vanishing point. Hollywood, popular music, the entertainment industry as a whole, often appeal to the basest instincts—violence, revenge, moneymaking.

Earlier generations of Americans could turn to the trade unions, or mass movements of working class and middle class youth—including the Civil Rights and antiwar movements—to understand some of their problems and channel their anger.

Benton sits near the old coal mining regions of eastern Kentucky and southern Illinois and Indiana, near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. At one time in this region’s history the United Mine Workers (UMW) provided a voice not only to the miners, but to the region’s poor. From the 1890s to the 1940s, union locals—heavily influenced by socialism and, occasionally, powerful national strikes—gave outlet to common problems. Now, where it still exists, the UMW functions as another layer of management. The story is much the same across the country. Only the names of the industries and the unions have to be changed.

In the absence of organized resistance from the working class and the youth—which had been a constant factor in American history for a century previous—there has been nothing to hold the appetites of the ruling class at bay. Social inequality has reached unprecedented levels and continues to accelerate. An entire generation of youth faces the prospect of unemployment or low pay, the inability to start a household, and, with all of that, an attendant mood of hopelessness and desperation.

It is not possible, in short, to understand the contagion of mass violence in the US outside of an understanding of American capitalism, in all of its violence and reaction—and, more necessary still—outside of the fight against it.

US Republican governor threatens violence if Trump loses election

This video from the USA says about itself:

Republican Governor Warns Of Bloodshed

14 September 2016

Gov. Matt Bevin used the violent ‘Tree of Liberty’ quote in a speech to Values Voter Summit. Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

By Nick Barrickman in the USA:

Republican governor threatens violence if Hillary Clinton is elected

15 September 2016

On Saturday, Republican Governor Matthew Bevin of Kentucky made a threat of violence if Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is elected in November. In an apocalyptic screed at the socially conservative Value Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., Bevin urged an audience of conservative activists to “fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically. But that may, in fact, be the case.”

“Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive, that we’d ever be able to recover as a nation?’” Bevin asked rhetorically. “I do think it would be possible, but at what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood of who? The tyrants, to be sure, but who else? The patriots,” Bevin declared, paraphrasing the famous Thomas Jefferson quote. “Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren.”

Continuing, the Republican governor appealed to an array of religion-based social prejudices, stating, “Look at the atrocity of abortion, so many have remained silent. It’s a slippery slope. First we’re killing children, then it’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Now it’s this gender-bending, don’t ask, don’t be a bigot, don’t be unreasonable, don’t be unenlightened, heaven forbid.”

Bevin’s comments follow in the wake of a number of statements made by prominent Republican officials during the presidential elections hinting at violence. Speaking of a future President Hillary Clinton before an audience in North Carolina a month ago, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stated, “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks … Although the Second Amendment [gun-owning] people—maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Amid a media backlash over the obvious suggestion that only Clinton’s assassination could prevent her appointing judges after she entered the White House, Trump’s campaign released a statement declaring that the comment regarding the Second Amendment right to bear arms was simply a reference to voting.

Right-wing violence has been a regular occurrence throughout the 2016 elections. In March, two protesters were physically assaulted by audience members at a Trump campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky. News cameras captured one protester, an African American woman, repeatedly hit and called racial slurs by audience members after Trump had stopped his speech to demand that security remove her.

Bevin, who was elected last year as Kentucky’s governor, succeeding Democrat Steve Beshear, is one of the highest-ranking Republican officials to make such threats. The increasingly strident invocations of bloodshed and violence are aimed at whipping up and channeling the anger of deeply disoriented social layers and lay the groundwork for a fascistic movement, whatever the outcome of the November election.

The principal target is not Clinton and the Democrats, who are right-wing representatives of the ruling class, but the working class. It is part of the assault on democratic rights as a whole, as the corporate and financial elite prepares to meet social opposition with repression.

After the Kentucky Governor’s statements received harsh rebuking from local Democratic Party officials, his administration claimed that the “blood of tyrants” comment and others were references to military service. “Today we have thousands of men and women in uniform fighting for us overseas, and they need our full backing,” Bevin said. “We cannot be complacent about the determination of radical Islamic extremists to destroy our freedoms.”

On the face it, such a “clarification” is nonsensical. Bevin was clearly talking about physical resistance to the policies of a future Clinton administration. As for his reference to ISIS, one of the key planks of the Clinton campaign is to extend and deepen the US military’s operations in the Middle East and beyond.

Bevin, a former US Army captain and businessman, began his political career in 2014, challenging Senator Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republicans in the US Senate, from the right, as the candidate of the so-called Tea Party. After a landslide defeat in the primary, he switched his focus to the 2015 gubernatorial race.

In September 2015, Bevin offered full-throated support to Kim Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, who went to jail rather than obey a federal court order to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Upon entering the governor’s office last December, Bevin issued an executive order which allowed state law clerks to have their signatures kept off of marriage licenses “to ensure that the sincerely held religious beliefs of all Kentuckians are honored.”

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The Republicans plumb the depths
[20 July 2016]

A billboard in Maryland has been slammed for warning liberals to “get your guns” before trying to impeach Trump.

WARNING: ‘NO PEACEFUL TRANSITION’ IF TRUMP LOSES ELECTION Cohen concluded his testimony by predicting that the United States would not see “a peaceful transition of power” if Trump loses the 2020 election. Here are all the wildest moments from the hearing. [HuffPost]

‘THERE IS NO REPUBLICAN PARTY’ Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the Republican Party is “taking a nap somewhere,” claiming “There is no Republican Party … There’s a Trump Party.” [HuffPost]

Homophobic preacher’s equal marriage boycott fails

This video from Texas in the USA says about itself:

Raging Homophobe Checked By Cowboy Hat Wearing Bystander

27 October 2014

“An angry man was caught on video last week attacking a fellow passenger at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, apparently because he thought the man was gay. But then, a group of bystanders, including a man in a cowboy hat, quickly took action to bring the man down, according to the video.

That was homophobia in practice. Now, about the theory of homophobia.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Conservative pastor tries to get Christians to boycott same-sex weddings, fails

Posted an hour ago by Evan Bartlett

A Baptist pastor in the southern states of the US is trying to get Christians to shun same-sex weddings – even of their own children – claiming that attendance justifies the “sinfulness of homosexuality”.

The problem for Rev Al Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, is that not many people seem to be listening.

The Southern Baptist church was founded in the nineteenth century by pro-slavery Baptists who disagreed with anti-slavery Baptists in the northern states of the USA.

In a new book called We Cannot Be Silent, the right-wing pastor claims that same-sex marriages are sinful and even urges transgender people to consult their church leaders about “reverting“.

According to the Huffington Post, the controversial Mohler has even claimed in the past that the Pope holds an “un-Biblical” office and has stated that Christians shouldn’t practice yoga.

At some point, attendance will involve congratulating the couple for their union. If you can’t congratulate the couple, how can you attend?

Rev Mohler

Despite Mohler’s calls, Think Progress has charted the growing movement of pro-LGBT Christians in the US who are rejecting his hateful message.

The Presbyterian Church (USA), Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and United Church of Christ (UCC) all now marry those in the LGBT community and a recent study showed that the majority of most religious groups in the US support equal marriage.

Perhaps Rev. Mohler is worried that if parents attend such a wedding, all they will see is a sacred and holy commitment being made between two people and an invitation to God to be present in the couple’s relationship — as Christian as any marriage could be.

Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man ordained as an Episcopal bishop, speaking to ThinkProgress

Separately, the Huffington Post quotes Stephen Arterburn, a Christian author and radio host, who said: “I have to extrapolate that Jesus would be all for attending a same-sex marriage ceremony,” based on Jesus’ example of dining with prostitutes and drunkards.

Jesus called us to love one another, not boycott our friends and family. Perhaps Rev Mohler is concerned that if he attends a same-sex wedding, the real miracles won’t be Jesus turning water into wine, but hatred into compassion.

Alex McNeil, head of pro-LGBT advocacy group More Light Presbyterians

This music video is called Leon Redbone- Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now).

Talking about Louisville: according to this music video, there was once a man there called Big Bad Bill. However, he changed his behaviour for the better. So, maybe the ‘Reverend’ Big Bad Al from Louisville will one day see the error of his ways, and become Sweet Albert.

United States Republican candidates support breaking equal marriage law

This 4 September 2015 video from the USA is called Meet Homophobic Christian “Hero” Kim Davis.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Six Republican presidential candidates back defiance of gay marriage ruling

7 September 2015

Six of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination have come out publicly in support of Kim Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, who has been jailed for refusing a court order to begin issuing licenses for gay marriages.

The open defense of anti-gay bigotry is an indication of the drastic shift to the right in American capitalist politics, in which arguments based on religious doctrine are increasingly accepted by both parties as legitimiate in making policy decisions.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Texas Senator Ted Cruz have taken the most strident public positions, joined by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

Several more Republican hopefuls, like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, have expressed sympathy for Davis’s actions and urged the Kentucky state legislature to find a way to accommodate anti-gay bigotry and the Supreme Court’s decision striking down legal barriers to marriage equality.

Davis remains in jail for defying the order of US District Judge David Bunning to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Five of her six deputies—the exception was Davis’s own son Nathan—began issuing licenses Friday in her absence.

The Rowan County clerk has drawn national attention and support from Christian fundamentalist groups. She is one of three Kentucky county clerks to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples, along with a dozen or more from Alabama and a scattered few in other states.

A Democrat elected in 2014, Davis is a member of an Apostolic Church that adheres to a literal interpretation of the Bible. While presenting her actions as an assertion of her religious freedom, Davis is really trampling on the freedom of others, using her position as the issuer of marriage licenses in Rowan County to prevent gay couples from gaining the legal sanction for their relationships that they are entitled to receive under the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

Walker discussed the case on a right-wing talk show Thursday, claiming that Davis was only exercising her freedom of religion. “I read that the Constitution is very clear that people have freedom of religion,” he said. “You have the freedom to practice religious beliefs out there, it’s a fundamental right.”

Santorum told CNN’s “New Day” program Friday, “What Kim Davis did, in my opinion, was heroic.” He claimed that the Supreme Court “acted unconstitutionally” when it ruled that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

Jindal declared, “I don’t think anybody should have to choose between following their conscience — their religious beliefs — and giving up their job or facing financial sanction,” adding, “You should be able to keep your job and follow your conscience.”

Rand Paul, speaking on CNN, said, “It’s absurd to put someone in jail for exercising their religious liberty.” While Paul has in the past presented himself as “socially tolerant,” supposedly because of his libertarian views, he has pandered to the Christian fundamentalists in Kentucky, his home state, where he will be a candidate for re-election to the Senate next year.

The most strident defenses of Davis came from Cruz and Huckabee. Cruz issued a vitriolic attack on Judge David Bunning, a conservative Republican appointed by George W. Bush, for ordering Davis to comply with the Supreme Court decision, declaring, “Today, judicial lawlessness crossed into judicial tyranny. Today, for the first time ever, the government arrested a Christian woman for living according to her faith. This is wrong. This is not America.”

This assertion is preposterous. Davis is jailed not for “living according to her faith,” but for refusing, as an elected public official, to carry out her duties under the law. When Christian pacifists attempt to disrupt the functioning of US nuclear weapons facilities, they are invariably arrested, and reactionaries like Cruz do not shed any tears, let alone howl about the persecution of nuns.

“Those who are persecuting Kim Davis believe that Christians should not serve in public office,” Cruz said in a statement this week. “That is the consequence of their position. Or, if Christians do serve in public office, they must disregard their religious faith — or be sent to jail.”

Here theocracy raises its ugly head. Cruz & Co. seek to impose the religious views of a specific Christian sect on the entire population of a vast and diverse country, in defiance of the constitutional separation of church and state laid down in the First Amendment.

Cruz cited the dissenting opinions in Obergefell v. Hodges, particularly that of Justice Antonin Scalia, who predicted that local and state officials might choose to defy it—demonstrating that the ultra-right faction on the Supreme Court was deliberately appealing to the most backward and reactionary forces in American society.

Even more vocal was Mike Huckabee, the former preacher who is basing his campaign on the mobilization of evangelicals, home schoolers and the like. He devoted his entire appearance on the ABC Sunday interview program “This Week” to the Davis case, and announcing a rally in Kentucky Tuesday against what he called “the criminalization of Christianity,” and plans to visit her in her prison cell.

Huckabee absurdly compared the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage to the Dred Scott decision before the American Civil War, grossly distorting both the historical context and consequences of that decision. His interviewer, the abysmally superficial George Stephanopoulos, entirely ignored this issue, if he even recognized it.

Stephanopoulos did press Huckabee on the separation of church and state, playing a recording of the famous declaration by John F. Kennedy reassuring an audience of Baptist ministers that his Roman Catholic faith would not determine government policy. Would a President Huckabee carry out the terms of the Supreme Court decision on recognition of gay couples, for example, on health benefits for spouses of gay federal employees? Huckabee simply avoided responding.

Only a handful of the Republican candidates have adhered to a traditional constitutional position, that the Supreme Court interpretation of the law was binding, and that Davis, as a public official, had to carry out the law and not her personal religious beliefs.

Others sought to square the circle, giving lip service to the separation of church and state while seeking to appease the Christian fundamentalist right.

Jeb Bush said, “It seems to me there ought to be common ground, there ought to be big enough space for her to act on her conscience and for, now that the law is the law of the land, for a gay couple to be married in whatever jurisdiction that is.”

Chris Christie said, “We have to protect religious liberty and people’s ability to be able to practice their religion freely and openly, and of course we have to enforce the law too.”

Marco Rubio issued a statement: “While the clerk’s office has a governmental duty to carry out the law, there should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of individuals working in the office.”

Billionaire Donald Trump, who leads in polls of Republican voters, said that Davis “can take a pass and let somebody else in the office do it.”

These statements ignore the fact that Davis has ordered her deputies to enforce the prohibition of gay marriage. In effect, she has made her own religious views the basis of official action by everyone in the clerk’s office, regardless of their individual beliefs.

What is involved here is an effort to legitimize government-imposed bigotry and overturn constitutional principles established more than 200 years ago in the Bill of Rights, which barred the government establishment of any particular religion, or of religion in general.

Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who made headlines in 2015 after refusing to issue a marriage license to a gay couple, lost her re-election bid to a Democratic challenger.

THE KNOW-NOTHING CANDIDATES “The 2016 campaign, especially on the GOP side, is setting a modern record for vacuity and even pride in ignorance about government. The widespread lack of civic education, the failure of media interest and growing public cynicism have made not knowing any details a perverse qualification for the highest office.” [Howard Fineman, HuffPost]

Oregon judge against same-sex marriage displayed Hitler photo in courthouse. Vance Day, who is under state ethics review for refusing to marry gay couples, said he put up picture of Nazi dictator to honor second world war veterans: here.