Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Last Call For Your Religious Freedom Update

Tea Party types are very eager to push "religious freedom" as an excuse to disobey laws they don't like.  Of course the problem with that is they then turn around and use the same excuse to go after other religions they don't like.

A Florida gun store owner has announced that Muslims are now banned from his gun shop
Andy Hallinan, owner of Florida Gun Supply in Inverness, says that, effective immediately, his store is a “Muslim-free zone.” 
In a controversial video posted online, he speaks of the history of the Confederate flag and goes on to say, “Our leaders are telling you Islam is a peaceful religion full of tolerance and love and hope. Don’t believe their lies.” 
Hallinan stated that last week’s deadly shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was the final straw for him. 
He is also offering concealed-carry classes for free and is opening his gun range to anyone who wants to use it.

Is this legal?  Well, given the fact that the Supreme Court last year said that "closely held religious beliefs" trump laws in the now infamous Hobby Lobby case, who's to say that as a business owner that Mr. Hallinan's religious beliefs allow him to do what he wants?

I guess religious freedom only applies when it's Christianity.  That's where Hobby Lobby put us last year, and I'm sure one of these will head to the Supreme Court soon to test those boundaries.

Better hope we have a President who nominates the kind of justices that will put a stop to this.

Otherwise, it was nice knowing democracy rather than theocracy.

International House Of Whinecakes

Republicans have been outmaneuvered by President Obama and the United Nations on Iran, and they are very very angry about it.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) slammed the Obama administration on Monday for backing a United Nations's vote on the Iran nuclear agreement, citing "bipartisan skepticism" of the deal in Congress. 
“It is inappropriate to commit the United States to meet certain international obligations without even knowing if Congress and the American people approve or disapprove of the Iran agreement," the Tennessee Republican said. "There is bipartisan skepticism about whether this deal can prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and bipartisan concern over allowing the leading exporter of terrorism access to well over $100 billion in cash." 
The chairman of the influential committee added that "the administration's decision to endorse this agreement at the U.N. prior to a vote in Congress on behalf of the American people is contrary to the spirit of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act." 
His comments came after the U.N. Security Council unanimously endorsed the Iran nuclear deal earlier Monday in a 15-0 vote.

Nice to know that 1) Congressional Republicans believe themselves smarter and more informed than the entire UN Security Council, and 2) that these snotheads thought the UN Ambassador was going to veto the bill because the GOP hasn't quite finished pitching a fit over something they can't do anything about.

The move threatens to antagonize a handful of Senate Republicans, including Corker, who are undecided on the deal, as well as key Democrats who remain skeptical. The vote has also drawn backlash from all corners of the Republican conference, uniting leadership and the party's 2016 candidates.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the majority whip, called the administration's backing of the vote "an affront to the American people."

"The administration is more concerned about jamming this deal through than allowing the scrutiny it deserves," the Texas Republican said. "Congress will carefully examine this agreement and, regardless of what the U.N. believes, vote it down if it jeopardizes American security and paves the way for a nuclear-armed Iran.” 
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is running for president, also called the vote "an affront to the American people," addng that it is "further evidence of a weak president trying to sell a bad deal."

Yes, a 15-0 UN Security Council unanimous vote indicates a "weak president trying to sell a bad deal" alright.  Or maybe everyone realized that the GOP was going to try to wreck the deal regardless, and rightfully the Security Council ignored them.

During the closed-door talks in Vienna on limiting Iran’s nuclear program, Secretary of State John Kerry argued that theUnited Nations Security Council should not vote on lifting sanctions on Iran until Congress had a chance to review the deal. 
But he ran into a wall of opposition from Iran, Russia and even the United States’ closest European allies, who argued successfully that Security Council action should come first, according to Western officials.

Clowns, these GOP members of Congress. You lost, shut up, go home.  Even 41% of Republican voters back the Iran deal. I guess they're stupid and want us to die in a nuclear holocaust too, huh?

Naah, it's all a tantrum that in the end, signifies nothing.

Checking On Grandpa's Guns

Various federal agencies participate in the federal background check system for firearms purchases as far as reporting information into the system, but there's been one huge loophole in that arrangement for years: Social Security has never been required to do so.  President Obama is expected to change that, and that could mean major differences for millions of older Americans.

Seeking tighter controls over firearm purchases, the Obama administration is pushing to ban Social Security beneficiaries from owning guns if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs, a move that could affect millions whose monthly disability payments are handled by others.

The push is intended to bring the Social Security Administration in line with laws regulating who gets reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, which is used to prevent gun sales to felons, drug addicts, immigrants in the country illegally and others.

A potentially large group within Social Security are people who, in the language of federal gun laws, are unable to manage their own affairs due to "marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease."

There is no simple way to identify that group, but a strategy used by the Department of Veterans Affairs since the creation of the background check system is reporting anyone who has been declared incompetent to manage pension or disability payments and assigned a fiduciary.

If Social Security, which has never participated in the background check system, uses the same standard as the VA, millions of its beneficiaries would be affected. About 4.2 million adults receive monthly benefits that are managed by "representative payees."

The move is part of a concerted effort by the Obama administration after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., to strengthen gun control, including by plugging holes in the background check system.

But critics — including gun rights activists, mental health experts and advocates for the disabled — say that expanding the list of prohibited gun owners based on financial competence is wrongheaded.

Other than change the law, there's not much Congress can do about that.  Which federal agencies participate in the NICS system is determined by the executive, not the legislative branch.  This is simply using the power Congress gave the presidency.

Having said that, I'd need to see the details of how Social Security status would be used to determine eligibility to purchase a firearm before commenting.  A blanket "no" on anyone having their Social Security managed by someone else doesn't seem like the best idea, but then again it is the same standard that the VA uses and I have yet to hear anyone complain about that.

Of course, Republicans are going to go apeshit and lie and say Obama will take guns away from all Social Security recipients, or something equally false and stupid.  But Republicans have lost battle after battle with supposedly "lame duck" Obama over the last seven months.  I don't see them winning too much at this point.


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