Tag: Arkansas

An Arkansas pastor speaks the truth about conservatives and their un-Christian ways

Melanie Tubbs, a college professor and Christian pastor from rural Arkansas, wrote this piece a little more than a month ago on the progressive website Liberal America about how conservatives in this country, while promoting their Christian faith at every opportunity, act in a very un-Christian manner. The piece is certainly a must-read, even if you’re not of any kind of Christian faith (I’m an atheist, and I’ve read the piece).

Here’s a couple of points that Pastor Tubbs made in her piece:

I live my life for God, but I do not think God belongs in our Constitution. Separation of church and state; It’s a thing. Look it up.

[…]

Consenting adults have a constitutional right to get a government document certifying their legal marriage. The 14th amendment guarantees it. Not only that, marriage is love, what this country is needing to combat the hate and violence we are infected with. Love and marriage are not what we should be focusing on. Starving children, mass shootings, immoral lobbying, planet destroying, violence, and hate, those are our problems.

I strongly encourage other progressive-minded people in Republican strongholds to speak out about their values. There are many progressive-minded people in this country, even in the strongest of right-wing strongholds.

My list of America’s top 10 state parks

While our national parks contain some of America’s most prized natural features, some of America’s most beautiful landscapes and historical landmarks are located in state parks. Sadly, our nation’s state parks are often unappreciated by the public and by politicians, as many states have severely cut, or even eliminated, public funding to state parks in recent years.

I’m going to list my ten most favorite state parks in the entire country. In order to qualify for consideration for this list, a “state park” is a park, forest, recreation area, historical site, or other type of area administered by a state government agency that is responsible for the operation of state parks.

#10: Bethpage State Park, New York

Bethpage State Park, located near Farmingdale, New York on Long Island, is not your typical state park. Instead of natural beauty, Bethpage consists of five 18-hole golf courses. Bethpage’s Black Course, one of the most difficult golf courses in the entire country, hosted the 102nd and 109th U.S. Open golf championships in 2002 and 2009, respectively. In addition to golf courses, Bethpage State Park also has a polo field.

#9: Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas

Arkansas is home to the only publicly-accessible diamond-bearing site: Crater of Diamonds State Park, located in the Ouachita Mountains near Murfreesboro, Arkansas. Tourists can search for diamonds in 37.5-acre plowed field in the park.

#8: Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Located along the Illinois River near North Utica, Illinois, Starved Rock State Park is proof that Illinois has some impressive natural wonders. Outcroppings of soft sandstone provide some very impressive geography, including cliffs, canyons, and waterfalls.

#7: Custer State Park, South Dakota

Named after U.S. Army Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, who was killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, Custer State Park includes some of the majestic terrain of South Dakota’s Black Hills, the scenic Needles Highway, and a heard of free-roaming bison.

#6: Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona

While Arizona’s Superstition Mountains are located in a federally-administered national forest, you can get an impressive view of the mountains from nearby Lost Dutchman State Park. The park includes desert scenery and hiking trails that lead into the national forest. The park gets its name from the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

#5: Washington Monument State Park, Maryland

Believe it or not, there are actually three monuments to George Washington, our nation’s first president. The most famous Washington Monument is run by the federal government and located in Washington, D.C., and there’s also a Washington Monument in Baltimore, Maryland. However, a lesser-known Washington Monument is located west of Boonsboro, Maryland, in Washington Monument State Park. The Boonsboro Washington Monument is the oldest of the three, having been completed in 1827, The monument sits near the top of Monument Knob, one of many peaks on South Mountain, a long ridge that extends from Maryland into Pennsylvania.

#4: Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

Located at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada near Cantil, California, Red Rock Canyon State Park provides some of the most beautiful desert scenery you’ll find anywhere. Cliffs, buttes, and rock formations provide a spectacular landscape that has been featured in many movies.

#3: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Florida

Located near Key Largo in the Florida Keys is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, an underwater state park in Florida. Named after conservationist John Pennekamp, the park features coral reefs and associated marine wildlife.

#2: Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia

Located near Davis, West Virginia, Blackwater Falls State Park provides some of Appalachia’s most splendid scenery. The park gets its name from the 62-foot Blackwater Falls, where the tannic acid-darkened water of the Blackwater River flows into Blackwater Canyon.

#1: Copper Falls State Park, Wisconsin

While Wisconsin Dells and Door County state parks are far more famous, Wisconsin’s Copper Falls State Park, located near Mellen in the northwestern part of the state, is what I consider to be Wisconsin’s most beautiful state park, and my favorite state park in the entire country. The Bad River and Tylers Forks, a tributary of the Bad River, flow over a series of waterfalls within the park. The park also includes Loon Lake, trails, a campground, and a ton of opportunities for recreation.

State parks provide this country with natural scenery, historical landmarks, and wonderful recreation opportunities. They deserve more funding and public support.

Ending workplace discrimination against LGBT people should be the next fight in the LGBT rights movement

Thanks to a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision issued earlier today, same-sex couples across the entire United States of America can now enjoy the same legal right to marry that heterosexual couples have long enjoyed. To put it mildly, this is a huge victory for love and equality in America.

However, in 32 states, some, if not all, LGBT workers, can legally be fired simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity:

  • In 21 states (Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming), all workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 3 states (Arizona, Missouri, and Montana), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but state employees can be fired on the basis of gender identity, and private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 5 states (Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, but private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
  • In 2 states (New Hampshire and Wisconsin), all workers cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but all workers can be fired on the basis of gender identity.
  • In 1 state (New York), state employees cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and private-sector workers cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation, but private-sector workers can be fired on the basis of gender identity.

If the source I linked to above has inaccurate and/or outdated information, please leave a comment on this blog post with accurate information for a particular state.

While it is a huge victory for the LGBT movement to secure marriage equality in all 50 states, the fight for full equality for gays, lesbians, bisexual people, and transgender people is far from over. The next big fight in the LGBT rights movement should be to push for laws prohibiting public and private employers from firing people based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

My thoughts about the 47 Republican Senators who signed the traitorous letter in an attempt to undermine U.S. diplomacy with Iran

I find it highly outrageous that 47 members of the United States Senate, all Republicans, signed a letter in a blatant attempt to undermine attempts at negotiating a deal with Iran to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons, apparently violating the federal Logan Act in signing the letter.

The 47 Senators who signed the Cotton Letter are as follows:

  • Richard Shelby of Alabama
  • Jeff Sessions of Alabama
  • Dan Sullivan of Alaska
  • John McCain of Arizona
  • John Boozman of Arkansas
  • Tom Cotton of Arkansas, the ringleader of the effort to undermine diplomacy with Iran
  • Cory Gardner of Colorado
  • Marco Rubio of Florida
  • Johnny Isakson of Georgia
  • David Perdue of Georgia
  • Mike Crapo of Idaho
  • Jim Risch of Idaho
  • Mark Kirk of Illinois
  • Chuck Grassley of Iowa
  • Joni Ernst of Iowa
  • Pat Roberts of Kansas
  • Jerry Moran of Kansas
  • Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Majority Leader
  • Rand Paul of Kentucky
  • David Vitter of Louisiana
  • Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
  • Roger Wicker of Mississippi
  • Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Steve Daines of Montana
  • Deb Fischer of Nebraska
  • Ben Sasse of Nebraska
  • Dean Heller of Nevada
  • Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire
  • Richard Burr of North Carolina
  • Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • John Hoeven of North Dakota
  • Rob Portman of Ohio
  • Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
  • James Lankford of Oklahoma
  • Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
  • Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
  • Tim Scott of South Carolina
  • John Thune of South Dakota
  • Mike Rounds of South Dakota
  • John Cornyn of Texas
  • Ted Cruz of Texas
  • Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Senate President Pro Tempore
  • Mike Lee of Utah
  • Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
  • Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
  • Mike Enzi of Wyoming
  • John Barrasso of Wyoming

All 47 of those individuals who I named are traitors to this country who are more interested in starting World War III by undermining the sitting President of the United States and allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons that they could use to bomb the United States and our allies than doing anything that would actually be productive, such as fixing crumbling roads and bridges, making it easier for Americans to go to college, helping the private sector create more good-paying jobs, and so on.

Also, regarding the so-called “pro-Israel” lobby’s support for the Cotton Letter, the Cotton Letter puts Israel, as well as other U.S. allies and the U.S. itself, of even greater danger of an attack by Iranian forces, since the Cotton Letter is designed to undermine efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons that could be used by Iran in an attack on the United States and its allies.

I’m calling for the U.S. Justice Department to bring up all 47 of the senators who signed the Cotton Letter on federal criminal charges for violating the Logan Act, which legally prohibits U.S. citizens who are not authorized diplomats from negotiating with a foreign government.

Why Illinois is one of the most earthquake-prone states in the entire country

Map of New Madrid and Wabash Valley Seismic Zones (Map Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey)
Map of New Madrid and Wabash Valley Seismic Zones (Map Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey)

You might be surprised by this, but my home state of Illinois is one of the most, if not the most, earthquake-prone states in the entire country.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone and Wabash Valley Seismic Zone, a pair of intraplate seismic zones (i.e., fault systems within one of the tectonic plates that make up Earth’s crust, in this case, the North American Plate) provide a significant threat of earthquakes to a region including parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. The New Madrid Seismic Zone, the better known of the two seismic zones, extends roughly from the southernmost part of Illinois to the Memphis, Tennessee metropolitan area, and any large earthquake in this region would significantly affect parts of Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and other states further away from the New Madrid Zone. The Wabash Valley Seismic Zone, the lesser known of the two seismic zones, extends roughly along the Wabash River from Terre Haute, Indiana southward, and any large earthquake in this region would significantly affect parts of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and other states further away from the Wabash Valley Zone.

However, there’s two main factors that would make a large earthquake in this region of the country, which hasn’t happened since 1812, even more devastating than an large earthquake in other areas of the country. First, since virtually all homes, buildings, and other structures in this region of the country are not built or retrofitted to withstand large earthquakes, the devastation that would be caused by a large earthquake in this region of the country would be considerably worse than the devastation that a large earthquake in, for example, California would cause. Second, because of the geology of this region of the country, any large earthquake in this region of the country would be felt over a wider area than an earthquake in, for example, California would be.

Jennifer Rukavina, the chief meteorologist at WPSD-TV, the NBC affiliate in Paducah, Kentucky that covers an area roughly corresponding to the northern half of the area that would be the most severely affected by a large earthquake centered in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, did a three-part series of news features for WPSD-TV on the New Madrid Seismic Zone in 2011:

If a 7.7 or greater magnitude earthquake were to occur in either the New Madrid or Wabash Valley seismic zones, it would be one of the worst natural disasters in modern U.S. history. Most, if not all, structures near the epicenter of the earthquake would be destroyed. Roads, bridges, railroads, power lines, power plants, water lines, water pumping and treatment facilities, and other types of infrastructure would be damaged or destroyed for tens, if not hundreds, of miles around the epicenter, many local radio and television stations in the region would likely be knocked off the air for days, if not even longer, sand blows and soil liquefaction would occur in some areas in the region, large rivers in the area, such as the Mississippi, Ohio, and Wabash, could be moved off of their current courses by upwards of two miles, if not even further, fatalities would likely be in the thousands, injuries would likely be in the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, the earthquake would probably be felt as far away as places like Boston, Massachusetts, Duluth, Minnesota, and Denver, Colorado, and at least minor damage could occur in places as far away as Madison, Wisconsin, Columbus, Ohio, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Wichita, Kansas.

The areas within and near the New Madrid and Wabash Valley Seismic Zones, which includes parts of several states in the Lower Midwest and South, including my home state of Illinois, are some of the most earthquake-prone areas in the entire country, and that’s something that many people don’t realize.