Tag Archive: American Culture


Healthcare and Religion

I have many friends on both sides of the political spectrum who are currently blowing up my news feed about the Hobby Lobby decision yesterday. I’ll start by saying I have not had the time to read either the majority or the decent in it’s entirety so I have no intention of debating the legal ramifications of the ruling, because while I do see some worrisome precedent being set I’m not prepared to dig into it yet. This post rather is going to be a few thoughts that I’ve had in response to the reactions I’ve seen in the mainstream and social media.

 

Perhaps it is because I am an increasingly cranky Libertarian but I honestly think both sides are missing the point here. If you want your boss and the government to stay out of your healthcare decisions then we shouldn’t encourage either party in any way to be involved. I do believe that your health is a private matter between your physicians and your family and where applicable God. That said if you expect your boss/company to pay for your healthcare in a subsidized fashion (anything other than a normal wage), you are bringing them into the mix.  If you want the government to provide money for healthcare it is also going to come with regulations and laws as they can not give money without doing so.

 

Adding those extra parties of government and employer into the system of healthcare to allow it to function at an affordable cost erases the possibility of true freedom. It’s the recurring catch 22 of the ever present freedom vs security paradox, in this case the security of having reliable, regulated and affordable healthcare versus your freedom to do whatever you want to do with your own body. It’s a horribly flawed system we have in the US because of that paradox and attempts to fix it are likely going to make it even more messy.

 

Unless we are willing to find a way to make healthcare a completely private industry again, there will be continuing infringements upon our personal liberty in this area.

 

Thoughts on the Rulings

I’ve spent most of my free time today reading the court opinions on DOMA and Prop 8, and since I think my last post here was about my thoughts during the hearings, here are some thoughts from the rulings.

First on DOMA, I think it is a ruling I expected and I am happy to have the end outcome be to give power back to the states.

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment. This opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is affirmed.

It is so ordered”

I do want to point out however that a part of my heart also agrees with the sentiments of what Saclia closed with in his dissent:

In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated. It is hard to admit that one’s political opponents are not monsters, especially in a struggle like this one, and the challenge in the end proves more than today’s Court can handle. Too bad. A reminder that disagreement over something so fundamental as marriage can still be politically legitimate would have been a fit task for what in earlier times was called the judicial temperament. We might have covered ourselves with honor today, by promising all sides of this debate that it was theirs to settle and that we would respect their resolution. We might have let the People decide.

But that the majority will not do. Some will rejoice in today’s decision, and some will despair at it; that is the nature of a controversy that matters so much to so many. But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.”

*note: an interesting write up of Scalia’s dissent can be found here including some of the parts I don’t agree with

As for Prop 8 I believe the court made the only reasonable decision it could; that is that it could not make a decision. This ruling well and truly puts the issue back in the hands of the states, where I believe it should stay. This sets up a lengthy battle in many states to pass legislation of on one side or the other, and it still allows there to be a potential future question around full faith and credit. I do not see this as a victory for civil rights activists the way the media represents it, however as a friend pointed out it is certainly not a defeat. I can honestly say here I believe the courts acted responsibly in not creating their own legislation and in limiting their own power (despite some of Scalia’s voiced fears voiced in the dissent of the DOMA ruling).

I wish that was the message being broadcast on the “breaking news” banners on every media website. A message that this was not a full “victory” and that there is still a long road ahead, a road that may someday be made harder by this decision not easier. Still while my heart may long for the day when all people share the same legal rights despite their differences in religion, my overwhelming feeling today is that of relief. I believe these decisions were steps taken in the right direction, and perhaps most importantly it was done responsibly.

Supremely Frustrating

Today and tomorrow the Supreme Court is hearing cases having to do with gay marriage, and because of that it seems almost everybody has lost their minds. It seems like a large portion of the people I know are loudly clamoring that we need to show the supreme court (insert your side of this issue here) RIGHT NOW.

First off, have we forgotten that we don’t want the supreme court to care what the popular opinion is? Have we forgotten that they are supposed to be unbiased judges of the law? Have we forgotten that they must be detached in order to be what we need them to be? I believe firmly that everyone has the right to protest, march, picket, yell, scream, and express their opinion in whatever they want, but don’t mind me while I pray and hope fervently that it doesn’t make the smallest bit of a difference in what the court decides.

We will not know for months what the court’s decision is and endless speculation, vilification of the opposition and fear mongering only creates a hostile climate that drives us farther apart as a nation. The decision will not change the fact that there is a deep divide amongst the people. The opinion of those few justices may effect the practicalities of the law, but it will not end this discussion, nor will it solve this problem.

I support gay marriage as both an issue of equal rights and an issue of freedom of religion, however I will not be doing anything out of the ordinary this week because the supreme court is holding a hearing. Ask me what I believe and why and I will gladly tell you, this week or any other. I’m not saying that the rulings will be unimportant to me or that I don’t have hopes that they will go a certain way, but rather that I care more about being a calm voice for what I hope is sound reason for the long term. I believe that is the only way there will be real change.

Five years ago I moved to Washington DC with the intention of finding a job on the hill. I took a job in the private sector to pay my bills but always assumed that before long I would make it back to the hallowed halls of the Capitol. Now despite my love of government and an education in congressional politics I would be hard pressed to think of a place that seems less appealing than the hill.

When I was an intern in 2005 I saw some ugly political battles, and some even uglier attitudes and posturing be hind the scenes. Still I retained faith that “my party” would get their act together. 7 years and two changes of House leadership has proven me wrong. Not only has the party that I once identified with been imploding but the other party shows little hope of being any better.

I have been sitting back and watching the fiscal cliff battle over the holidays, and I have never been more deeply disgusted with politicians. Anyone who has a passing familiarity with the basic concept of having to do your own budget (a basic life skill) knows that when addressing a budget issue you must consider both revenue and spending. This problem is so big it can not be chipped away at from only one side of that coin.

I hate paying taxes and I tend to like my schools, roads, hospitals, and social services to be well funded, but the simple fact of the matter is that we are spending too much and we are running on borrowed time. At this rate it will not be long before our country’s proverbial credit card gets cut in half.

Leaders in both parties are acting like spoiled stubborn children, unwilling to admit past mistakes or to compromise on future actions and it really is simply disgraceful. It’s been years since Congress has passed a real budget (despite being constitutionally mandated to do so annually) and even longer since that budget has been even remotely balanced and that should outrage the American people.

We need our president to be a real leader and we need the party in charge of the House of Reps to get its act together. Our politicians need to stop worrying about keeping the fringe minority sects from their parties happy and start dealing with the reality that we are in trouble and only hard and likely unpopular decisions are going to fix that.

Debates Take 2

Last night I watched about 15 minutes of the Presidential debates before I wisely walked away before I could start hating both candidates to the point of total voter apathy. In those 15 minutes (somewhere in the middle when they were talking about immigration) I observed a few things.
* Obama literally got 2x as long to answer the same question without being interrupted. (I’m told Romney was allowed to go over earlier but I didn’t see it) What is the point of a moderator if they aren’t going to moderate?

*Both candidates making stupid smug faces while the other is talking and attempting to interrupt the other.

*Both candidates and the moderator all talking at once, over each other, all seeming like spoiled children screaming for attention.

*Both candidates pointing out technicalities rather than facing the actual questions or issues.

 

From the very little I saw, I got a better impression of Romney, but that is probably because Obama blatantly disregarding the time limit went against all things that speech forensics in high school taught me. To me both of them seemed to be acting rather childish and the moderator seemed to have lost ALL control of the situation. This is pretty much exactly why I refuse to actually sit and watch these debates in full. I would rather actually figure out the grand picture of what a candidate wants to do rather than the “safe” talking points and petty accusations that seem to be the only purpose of these debates anymore.

 

 

In closing I will leave you with a Facebook post that a friend posted about the current state of the debates. I couldn’t agree with his idea more:

I would like to propose a new style of presidential debate- one where the candidates describe their policy positions in-depth, contrast them with their opponent’s policies, and avoid ad-hominem attacks and pandering to the base. We will call it The Smart People’s Debate and it can be broadcast via NPR so the idiots can’t find it. When obfuscation and avoidance become the political norm we must ask ourselves: who do our politicians really work for? Who are they hiding their opinions and ideas from and why?

 

So despite the fact that I competed in speech and debate all through school and that I have a degree in Political Science  I can not stand the presidential debates. I’ve never been able to watch them without getting frustrated at both candidates. The posturing, refusal to ACTUALLY answer questions or debate real points, and general mockery of an actual debate setting is usually too much for me to handle. Therefore I spent last night playing video games with my boyfriend.

This morning when I woke up I was extremely shocked to see that the same media that had been saying a “victory” for Romney would be just holding his own, were actually now saying that he had won handily. The cynical part of me wonders if Obama was throwing the debate, since everyone says he was far from the charismatic likeable candidate he generally portrays himself as,  so he can play the comeback kid. That same cynical nature also wonders if the media needs this race to be closer so they can increase readership/viewership. Still in any case it seems like this race got a lot more interesting after last night, it’s almost enough to make me want to watch the recording. Almost, but not quite; instead I’ll settle for my twitter feed from my newly minted twitter account, and share the ones that made me giggle this morning.

HuffPost Hill@HuffPostHill

Don’t worry, Jim Lehrer, it gets better. #stopbullying

David Krumholtz@DaveKrumholtz Jim Lehrer’s pre-existing condition is death. We are watching the ghost of Jim Lehrer moderate this debate. He just floated through a wall.

David Krumholtz@DaveKrumholtz It would be awesome if Obama’s face morphed into Honey Boo Boo’s face right now, wouldn’t it??

David Krumholtz@DaveKrumholtz

Guaranteed paid for phony fest begins now!!! Phony 1 wears a blue tie, Phony 2 wears red. Predictable answers, rebuttals, no Rachel Maddow.

jimmy fallon@jimmyfallon

Obama: Blue Tie, Romney: Red Tie = Brian Williams: Purple Tie. #primarycolors

Bill Maher@billmaher

Obama made a lot of great points tonight. Unfortunately, most of them were for Romney

Wil Wheaton@wilw

So, in retrospect, I think the real loser of tonight’s debate was anyone expecting some of those promised zingers.

Wil Wheaton@wilw

Network note for Obama: We know you’re the leader of the free world and this other guy is a clown, but you’ve got to dial back the disgust.

Wil Wheaton@wilw

Okay, so I think this show needs a whacky neighbor to really spice things up. Maybe a talking baby, or a dog. OMG MAKE THIS FAMILY GUY!

Wil Wheaton’s Cat@WilWheatons_Cat

So I’m not political because I’m a cat…but in my opinion, the dude in the blue tie is taller.

TheBloggess@TheBloggess

Back the fuck up. If Mittens is elected he’s going to cancel Downton Abbey? I think I just got involved in politics.

Big Bird@BlGBlRD

Yo Mitt Romney, Sesame Street is brought to you today by the letters F & U! #debates #SupportBigBird

Will McAvoy@WillMcAvoyACN

If you had “not answering the fucking question” in the debate drinking game, please get yourself to a hospital.

Conan O’Brien@ConanOBrien

Just noticed that Jim Lehrer has no whites in his eyes. #Discuss

Swing Voters

I’ve seen a surprising trend in election coverage over this week… swing voter bashing.

 

I’ve seen swing, or independent voters, characterized as ideological idiots, fickle, apathetic, clueless, uneducated, and various other not so flattering terms from both left and right leaning media outlets. Perhaps I am slightly sensitive to this due to the fact that ideologically I am a Libertarian, but characterizing someone who doesn’t have a strong party allegiance as dumb, fickle, or an otherwise uninformed person isn’t quite fair.

 

Personally I have a degree in Political Science, I tend to keep up on political news, and heck now I even write a blog about current events. I am far from uninformed, uneducated, or fickle. Still I do not believe that either party has a platform that I can wholeheartedly agree with. In fact BOTH parties have things that I quite violently disagree with, and I honestly believe that there are quite a few people out there just like me. These people aren’t picking a candidate based on the concept of the “lesser of two evils” out of ignorance, but instead out of pure frustration with the system that only comes from knowing it TOO well.

 

Saying Washington is broken seems to be in vogue for both parties right now, but it is fairly accurate. However I think there are a growing number of independent voters who blame the parties themselves as well as partisan politics for this brokenness. The concept that ONE party can be on the “good” or “right” side of EVERY issue breeds the intolerance for active, academic political discourse that plagues our government. Even the concept of there being a “good” or “right” side to every issue adds to the vitriol that has poisoned the political environment of our country.

 

Both political parties would do well to realize that there is a base of voters out there like me, who realize undying allegiance to a party that can in it’s very nature never completely represent them  is unrealistic and dangerous. I will cast my vote in November for the candidate and by proxy for the party that I think will protect my liberty, and represent me on the issues I care about most. I’m sure neither of them will do it well enough to earn my undying commitment, but honestly I don’t expect them to. There are a lot of people out there in the exact same boat and me and that is ok, but I’d really like it if I wouldn’t have to be insulted by the media over it.

 

 

Religion and Tolerance- Part II

Over the weekend the unrest across the globe has not weakened, and rather continues to grow.  My heart truly breaks as I hear people spout ignorant and hateful words blaming the entire groups of people who have nothing to do with what is going on.

 

I am horrified to see that the ignorance and misplaced hatred quite clearly goes both ways. The violent groups are taking out the anger and hatred caused by a few lunatics and turning it toward the larger east target of the US as a whole. Meanwhile so many people here are taking out their anger and frustration on Islam and the region as a whole.

 

I have no real ideas on how we can stop this vicious cycle, all I know that my thoughts and prayers will continue to hope for peoples hearts and minds to be opened.

 

I found this opinion piece to be quite interesting. Here are some key points that stuck out to me:

“The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.

No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate.

The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction. There is a better way, the way of Christ who, when reviled, did not revile in return, who when insulted, did not insult in return, and who taught his followers to love even those who define themselves as enemies.”

“The way of Christ is a gentle strength that transcends the vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge.”

Religion and Tolerance

I have been deeply saddened by some of the comments that I have read responding to the rising tension in so many countries that seems to have been started by one hateful film. Comments from friends, political candidates and the media have all fueled the flames of hate and misunderstanding.

I pray that we can come out of this stronger and show that we will not be dragged into blaming all members of a faith for the actions of a misguided few. I pray that we can prove that those who would paint our nation as hateful and intolerant in order to justify violence are quite decidedly wrong. We must show that we are a nation of tolerance and acceptance for all people who embrace liberty and peace no matter what God they pray to or what building they do it in.

Here are some remarks that Secretary Clinton made that felt were quite appropriate, and that I desperately hope will continue to be true:

“I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries…Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.”

“We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer…They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult; answering ignorance with enlightenment; answering hatred with understanding; answering darkness with light.”

“In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue…But that’s not what I believe, and I don’t think it’s what you believe… Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future,”

A Somber Anniversary

Yesterday as we mourned the events of 11 years ago on the other side of the world terrorists again took the lives of Americans. While the scope of the attack can in no way be compared to that of the attacks years ago on our own soil, again I find myself shocked and saddened by what the world has come to.

As I read more information about what happened in Libya last night, I find my emotions and thoughts keep getting jumbled. For the time being here are some general thoughts and feelings about it now:

*This was a terrorist act, from extremist groups, the general public and government of Libya seem to be condemning the act. The US should not, and can not focus the anger toward the country nor the general Islamic public who did not have any part in this.

*It is truly tragic that a group of US Diplomats who worked so hard to bring freedom and peace to this country died while serving. Their lives of service should be remembered and honored.

*Our global community and great blessing that the internet can be is a dual edged sword. It is quite amazing and horrifying that a few people could create a video that would cause a ripple effect that would end up causing people who had nothing to do with it to lose their lives.

*Uncle Ben from Spiderman was right, “with great power comes great responsibility”. We now have the ability as individuals with very little investment to reach a global audience, and no standards to which we have to be held.  From the name of a teddy bear, swimsuit models, and even opinion documentaries it appears we are now anything could ignite a culture war. Can we really hold anyone accountable for how someone who has a completely different world view might interpret what they are saying or how they are saying it? Should we ever consider censorship? Should we censor the masses to prevent a few (in some cases arguable insane) people from getting upset to the degree of committing violence?

*Honestly the some of the comments and Facebook statuses I have read today make my head and heart hurt. We should be angry, but we must be careful who we focus that anger on, and how we let it effect the big picture. Hate will breed hate,  but I would like to think that we can rise above some of it. We must learn that we can not respond to ignorant hateful acts like this with more ignorance and hate or the situation will only become worse.