Apr 16, 2016

Republican Billionaire Governor Vetoes Bible, Corporate Subsidies Continue

Haslam Turns Away from Voters
The Republican Establishment continues to do everything possible to ensure the nomination of an anti-establishment Republican candidate for President. It appears that they have decided to project palpably to the public constant contempt concerning anything besides benefiting big business.

Apparently, feeling left out by the crowd of Republican governors who vetoed religious-freedom legislation in response to pro-homosexualist corporate boycotts, Tennessee's billionaire Republican governor, Bill Haslam, vetoed a law honoring the Bible.

Haslam endorsed Rubio. Trump won Tennessee.

Over five years of rule, the governor has only vetoed four bills. His last big veto ended efforts to strip state funding from Vanderbilt University because of its rules requiring Christian groups to accept non-Christian leadership. Previously, he criticized and refused to sign a measure protecting teachers who want to teach the debate about global warming and evolution. Fretting about the conservatism of representatives elected by the people of Tennessee, he commented, “I think what we’ve tried to do is focus on the bigger issues that people really care about ... the most conservative principle there is, is giving people a dollar worth of value for a dollar worth of tax paid." As an example of what he thinks people care about, here's a link to his National Public Radio defense of hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate subsidies. For example, he has spent tens of millions of state dollars promoting a the Disney-ABC  "Nashville" television show created by Hollywood darling Callie Khouri, who won an Academy Award for "Thelma & Louise."

Prominent promoters of atheism, like the Freedom From Religion Foundation's president, Annie Gaylor, praised the anti-Bible veto: "...hallelujah ... I think we're turning a corner in our country that we are seeing [this from] a Republican governor in the South ... and not apologizing about it."

Indeed, we are turning a corner with Republicans and the country.

Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, was equally delighted: “We applaud Governor Haslam for his leadership ... Publicly elected government officials cannot use their official positions to favor one religious belief over another."

It's funny, but I don't remember the ACLU being upset when the USG commanded all Americans to give material and symbolic support to same-sex unions. Obviously, they must not have known that there were religious beliefs about marriage.


  1. Hi, Eric.

    I wonder two things: firstly, in what way have come to know about the motivations of the Governor in making this veto? You said it was apparent that he felt left out by the crowd of those making decisions regarding "homosexualist" policy. In what way is it apparent that his decision about the Bible veto was connected to feeling left out? I, of course, not living near there, and not having read any of the man's background papers about this, have no idea whatsoever on this, so I'm not disagreeing, but just want to know how you know. Or, if you are only speculating, what makes you connect those two matters in the governors mind?

    Secondly, and of more interest to me, is where you stand on the bill he vetoed, that would make the Bible "the state book." I really don't know what a state book is -- I guess it is like a state bird. Or a state motto. We're changing ours here in Pennsylvania. I'm not that interested, myself, in state books or birds. You seem to be, so could you tell us about that? Why should a state have the Bible be it's "state book" and how in the world will that matter? I'm eager to hear why you seem to favor this odd little bit of legislation.

  2. Byron, thanks for the questions.

    First, we only know about someone’s intentions through inference. Even when people state their intentions, discerning people’s intentions requires great care and charity. For example, when someone speaks ironically, they often say one thing and intend to be understood to mean another. As a further illustration, I did not intend to be understood to claim that the Republican Establishment wants to do everything possible to ensure the nomination of an anti-establishment Republican candidate for President, even though that’s what I said. My true intention had to be inferred from the unstated fact that people aren’t motivated by their own political defeat. Why did I speak this way? Irony is a traditional jeu d’esprit, a taking of pleasure in communicating in alternate and myriad forms, the pleasure of a pocket-billiards bank shot over the direct line. Sad as the Republican sell-out is, I have a lot of joy and it fits my mood sometimes to write playfully even about what is sad. Similarly, when I said that Haslam was motivated by feeling left out from participating in actions that appear ignoble, I didn’t intend to be understood that this was his actual subjective motivation because people do not desire to appear influenced by corporate boycotts. I get your concern about judging people’s motives charitably and carefully. But I think you missed mine here.

    Second, I think the purpose of the vetoed legislative action was to honor the Bible, as I wrote. I think what we honor is quite important individually and is an important part of governmental activity, too. The giving of medals, putting up of statues and commemorative naming of buildings and ships, for example, is important political work. I disagree with you that this is an odd little bit of legislation. Honorary designations are commonplace and significant. Whether a country honors the Decalogue and the Constitution or Mao’s Little Red Book and the U.N Declaration of Human Rights matters a great deal. If the legislation were really of such insignificance, then why do you think Haslam vetoed such a popular measure? According to the American Library Association, the Bible is the sixth most challenged book in American libraries; it is excluded from almost all public school curricula. We need political leaders to insist that the Bible is something that can be publicly treasured and honored and respected without fear of cultural reprisals from those who dominate our courts and academies. There is a culture war in the United States and the symbols of traditional American political identity are being trampled. When Pennsylvania changes its state slogan, not motto, from commemorating its special role in gaining American Independence to describing itself as a place to purse your happiness, it matters, too. I’m surprised you don’t agree with that.