Morality with an asterisk differs from hypocrisy in that people engaging in it apply double standards to third parties, and not necessarily to themselves. For instance, when the Reverend Franklin Graham recently called on Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to repent for his homosexuality, which the Rev. Graham claims is a sin according to the Bible, he appears to have ignored sinning on the part of his favored politician, the current president, who numbers serial adultery among his transgressions. That is asterisk morality.
Overlooking sin or defective character when it comes from a political favorite is nothing new for the Rev. Graham, his late father, or white evangelical Christians generally. They do not apply the same standards of forgiveness to their political opponents. When their politician stands accused of misdeeds in the forum of public opinion, the charges are fictional, a smear; but when they have the slightest opportunity, white evangelical Christians do not hesitate smear their political opponents, usually citing the Bible. Where is that Bible when examining the character of Their Guy (almost always a man, and certainly an avowed heterosexual man)? That is asterisk morality.
President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office with the Reverend Billy Graham, father of Franklin Graham, on August 10, 1971. Hobnobbing with presidents who perceive themselves as above the law appears to be a family tradition. Photo from the National Archives.
It would be interesting to see if the Rev. Graham might withhold criticism of Mr. Buttigieg’s personal life if their political views aligned. In reference to the character of the current president, the Rev. Graham appears to have no publicly stated misgivings, and is enthusiastic about him in every respect. All this politicking by the Rev. Graham and other white evangelical Christians is clearly in violation of the 1954 Johnson Amendment to the United States tax code, which was intended to restrict the ability of tax exempt organizations such as churches to engage in partisan politics. It has been laxly enforced. The current president has pledged to abolish the Johnson Amendment. Maybe if Mr. Buttigieg did the same, he too could be without sin* in the eyes of the Rev. Graham and his flock.
* As long as he advocates political policies favored by white evangelical Christians. Amen.
A jury at San Francisco’s Superior Court of California has awarded school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson $289 million in damages in his lawsuit against Monsanto, maker of the glyphosate herbicide Roundup. Mr. Johnson has a form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and it was his contention that the herbicides he used in the course of his groundskeeping work caused his illness, which his doctors have claimed will likely kill him by 2020. Hundreds of potential litigants around the country have been awaiting the verdict in this case against Monsanto, and now it promises to be the first of many cases.
Migrant laborers weeding sugar beets near Fort Collins, Colorado, in 1972. Photo by Bill Gillette for the EPA is currently in the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. Chemical herbicides other than Roundup were in use at that time, though all presented health problems to farm workers and to consumers. Roundup quickly overtook the chemical alternatives because Monsanto represented it, whether honestly or dishonestly, as the least toxic of all the herbicides, and it overtook manual and mechanical means of weeding because of its relative cheapness and because it reduced the need for backbreaking drudgery.
Monsanto has long been playing fast and loose with scientific findings about the possible carcinogenic effects of glyphosate, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently sides with Monsanto in its claim that there is no conclusive evidence about the herbicide’s potential to cause cancer. In Europe, where Monsanto has exerted slightly less influence than in the United States, scientific papers have come out in the last ten years establishing the link between glyphosate and cancer. Since Bayer, a German company, acquired Monsanto in 2016 it remains to be seen if European scientists will be muzzled and co-opted like some of their American colleagues.
The intensive use of glyphosate herbicide to remove all ground vegetation in olive groves on Corfu, a Greek island in the Ionian Sea, is evidenced by the large number of discarded chemical containers in its countryside. Photo by Parkywiki.
The scope of global agribusiness sales and practices that is put at risk by the verdict in Johnson v. Monsanto is enormous. From the discovery of glyphosate in 1970 by Monsanto chemist John E. Franz to today, the use of the herbicide has grown to the preeminent place in the chemical arsenal of farmers around the world and has spawned the research into genetically modified, or Roundup Ready, crops such as corn, cotton, and soybeans. There are trillions of dollars at stake, and Monsanto and its parent company, Bayer, will certainly use all their vast resources of money and lawyers to fight the lawsuits to come.
Because scientists have found traces of glyphosatein the bodies of most people they have examined in America for the chemical over the past 20 years as foods from Roundup Ready corn and soybeans spread throughout the marketplace, they have inferred it’s presence is probably widespread in the general population. That means there are potentially thousands of lawsuits in the works. Like the tobacco companies before them and the fossil fuel industry currently, agribusiness giants will no doubt fight adverse scientific findings about their products no matter how overwhelming the evidence against them, sowing doubt among the populace and working the referees in the government.
Once again Arizona has stepped forward with groundbreaking legislation after the State Senate passed on Wednesday, February 22, a bill that would allow the state to charge the organizers of peaceful protests with racketeering if rioting erupts. Among the niceties of the bill are civil asset forfeiture, allowing the state to seize the property of the protest organizers. How do you keep taxes low? By stealing! The bill awaits review in the State House of Representatives. The last time the Arizona legislature made such a big splash in the national news was 2010, when it led the way in the fight against illegal immigration with the “Show me your papers” bill that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which struck down three of its four provisions. The back and forth on that bill between Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and President Barack Obama ultimately led to the finger wagging incident (Yay, Jan!) on the tarmac of the Phoenix airport in 2012.
A scene from 1984, starring John Hurt, Richard Burton, and Suzanna Hamilton.Lest we forget Obama and his usefulness, he’s masquerading here as the hated Emmanuel Goldstein on the screen in the auditorium.
This seems as good a time as any to propose an Alternative Constitution. There’s no need to formalize things with a constitutional convention, though if one were really necessary there couldn’t be two better candidates to co-chair the convention than Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona, and Yvette Felarca, a leader of the violent “By Any Means Necessary” group in California. Both are tough-talking, no-nonsense types who will make sure things get done at the convention or they’ll bust some heads to know the reasons why. Like Archie and the Meathead on All intheFamily, they are opposite sides of the same coin, though not nearly as many laughs.
All in the Family reminds us that politics colors nearly everything in life, like it or not.
Here are some highlights of the Alternative Constitution:
Amendment 1 – Congress shall make no some law[s] respecting an establishment of [a certain] religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof [of some of them]; or abridging the freedom of speech [for some people], or of the [not fake news] press; or the right of the [certain] people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances [of some people].
Amendment 2 – A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, [T]he right of the people to keep and bear Arms [lots of them; high powered semi-automatics, too], shall not be infringed.
Amendment 4 – The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not [sometimes] [often] be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable [almost any] cause, supported by [sometimes secret] Oath or affirmation, and particularly [vaguely] describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized [and locked away for good!].
Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 – No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no [non orange and non bigly] Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument [except rental income and business favors], Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.
Cactus with flowers, a true gift of Arizona.
Pretty good, huh? Feel free to alter the text yourself, and to print it out in ALL CAPS, if that suits your political bent. Nothing gets a point across like YELLING, after all. The Dated Constitution, or DC, will be kept around in the National Archives, where tourists can gawk at it and scholars can squabble about the nuances of its language. The late Justice Antonin Scalia, who soon may have a federal courthouse named after him in Charlottesville, Virginia, cleared the way for interpreting our most important national document by underscoring that freewheeling activist judicial decisions are BAD, except when rendering a judgment in a case such as Bush v. Gore, which was GOOD, and not activist at all. (To which Justice Clarence Thomas might have added, were he to speak, “Ditto!”) No worries then with the Alternative Constitution, or AC, which will be the document of record for folks like University of California-Davis campus cop Lieutenant John Pike and the eloquent Zack Fisher of Phoenix, Arizona, both stout defenders of freedom against the despicable encroachments of sniveling protesters and pushy brown immigrants. Thanks to Arizona’s new law, all these paid protesters will soon get their comeuppance when they try their shenanigans in The Grand Canyon State, and Supreme Leader at the helm in Washington is sure to have Arizona’s back, regardless of what activist so-called judges may have to say about it.