Monthly Archives: April 2015

Gays: Religious Freedom To Marry?

The Supreme Court will decide later this year whether or not the government of an individual state can prevent homosexuals from marrying. No matter where you stand on the issue, recent decisions  would seem to render any negative decision by the SCOTUS as a moot point.

If the SCOTUS decides that states can interfere with the rights of adults to marry whom they choose they will be facing a problem that they, themselves, have created.

Recent decisions, (Hobby Lobby,  for example) have made it clear that religious beliefs take precedence over the law. Irregardless of how absolutely insane that concept is, the SCOTUS has judged it so. If your religious beliefs are opposed to paying full medical benefits  to your employees, so be it. Don’t pay them. This Pandora’s Box will be used over and over again to avoid various laws.

Which brings us to homosexual marriage.

Currently there are a number of religious groups which do marry homosexuals. And more bless homosexual unions.  For example, the United Church of Christ performs and recognizes gay marriage. Some Quaker meeting houses do, some don’t. The Unitarian Universalist Church performs and recognizes gay marriage. Rabbis of Reformed Judaism perform and recognize gay marriage, as do some conservative Jewish synagogues.

This raises the question. Can the SCOTUS on one hand claim that a private business like Hobby Lobby has religious rights, while denying religious rights to legitimate religious organizations? Can the SCOTUS , on one hand claim that private businesses and individuals can evade the law while on the other refusing to allow churches to practice freely based on religious beliefs?

I would think that the next step, if the SCOTUS decides to deny individuals the right to marry, would be for those individuals and their churches to return to the courts under the auspices of religious freedom. This would be especially true in many of the states that have passed “Religious Freedom” laws directed specifically at undermining gay rights. Those laws may, in fact, be used to assure the religious rights of gay Americans.

Can those decisions and laws now be used as a doubled edged sword to guarantee those same individuals the right to be married in their churches and synagogues. If there is any logic to SCOTUS decisions they will decide that preventing people from marrying is a violation of the First Amendment and freedom of religion. A right they CLAIM to hold so dear.

We shall see.

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Filed under Christianity, Churches, Conservatives, Constitution, gay marriage, gay rights, Hobby Lobby, homosexual, SCOTUS, Supreme Court

NYC Police DON’T Kill a Black Guy

In one of the weirdest stories on the interweb this week we see the NYC police in action.

There is a fight on the uptown 6 subway and the conductor calls for help. Four cops, not in uniform , immediately respond. They subdue both of the apparently homeless black guys who are fighting. Since the cops are not carrying weapons they have to use their BARE hands. But they get the job done.

No choke holds. No tazers. No guns drawn and fired. Using only their wits and training they stop the fight and hold the men down until more help arrives.

While one of the combatants yells and screams the police CALMLY settle him down. The police keep their cool. Defusing the violent situation. One cop can be heard calming reassuring  a combatant as he holds the man in check and tries to calm him down. No punching. No choking. No threats. No slurs.

Police work, par excellence.

These NYC cops should be commended for their bravery and their ability to stop a violent situation with only their bare hands and wits. In fact, NYPD commissioner Bratton does just that. He says they have done a “great honor ” to  their police department and to their country. Shining examples of what police work can be! So, who are these men?

Samuel Kvarzell….Marcus Asburg…Eric Jansberger…Eric Nalsund……what ?….what ? …oops…

Slight correction.

These off duty cops were not NYPD.  Ummmm. They were actual tourists. Cops from Sweden. Cops that have evidently been trained to do high quality police work without drawing their weapons.

And the homeless black guys are still alive.

http://mashable.com/2015/04/24/swedish-cops-new-york-subway-fight/

http://nypost.com/2015/04/24/bratton-salutes-swedish-cops-for-subway-heroics/

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Filed under african-american, blacks, choke hold, crime, NYC, NYPD, police, police brutality, tazer, violence

Contestant #4: Rubio…Less Than Meets the Eye.

(This is the fourth in a series of biased reports about the people who think they are qualified to be president. Really. They do. They think they should be the most powerful human being on earth. Really.)

I somehow missed it. On April 13 Marco Rubio evidently announced that he wanted to be President of the US. I missed it.

I had a little trouble finding his campaign website but I finally did. (marcorubio.com).

In announcing his candidacy he emphasized that he was a break with the old way of politics . A new beginning. A new way. Oh, I almost forgot. He announced his candidacy to his wealthy donors before he told the rest of us. A new way?

I checked his Senate website looking for specific legislation he has sponsored and/or passed. None mentioned. (rubio.senate.gov)

His campaign website has 5 issues. Each has a nice picture and the usual Obama-is-bad statements. I think someone should tell Marco that Obama will not be running again.

His 5 issues: Isis, Cuba, Iran, Abortion,Israel.

Nothing on health care. Nothing on unemployment.  Nothing on job creation. Nothing on immigration. Nothing on gun violence. To look at his website you would think he is running for Secretary of State….hmmm.

On ISIS he says we should kill them. He says we cannot “ignore” the problem. Yet, he has proposed no legislation authorizing the POTUS to do so. He does sit on the foreign relations committee, so he could write a bill.  But killing ISIS is a good idea. Obama should have thought of that.

On Cuba he says that Cuba is an exporter of terror and we should not have relations with dictatorships. Isolate dictatorships. An interesting principle. But he makes no comments about our China policy. He wants to keep Cuba isolated because it is a “communist” dictatorship. Maybe China is a nice communist dictatorship?  Did I mention he rejects the policies of the past and looks to the future?

On Iran he says we should isolate them as well. We should do what Netanyahu tells us to do. Does Rubio really think that the US can unilaterally decide world arms policies? And why should we look to Israel to determine our foreign policy?

On Israel he is clear. Obama  (there he is again) has “failed to stand with Israel”. But a quick check of military aid to Israel shows that under Obama the US has given much more aid than under Bush. More, in fact, than any other administration. Giving more aid and making it clear that we will support Israel in any attack is somehow “failing to stand” with Israel?  (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/U.S._Assistance_to_Israel1.html)

The only domestic issue he chooses to include on his website deals with abortion. He is unequivocal. Roe v Wade, which guarantees a woman the right to an abortion, is “morally wrong” and should be overturned. He does not elaborate .

In some of his speeches Rubio has called for more tax breaks to create jobs. (Reaganomics) He has denied the science of climate change. Wants to go back to a time when all abortions were illegal. He was for immigration reform or not. Opposes any gun restrictions. Wants to isolate Cuba. Did I mention that he wants to look to the future and rejects the policies of the past?

His main claim seems to be that he is young. He emphasizes his youth as though it is somehow a qualification in and of itself.

In the political boxing ring Rubio is not a lightweight. He is a featherweight. Old wine in new skins. A blast from the past.

Much, much less than meets the eye.

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Filed under candidate, Clinton, Congress, Conservatives, Elections, foreign aid, Foreign policy, GOP, government, gun control, Hilllary, Immigration, Islam, Israel, obama, Rubio

Contestant #3: Hillary: There is Nothing Like a Dame.

(The third in a series of essays regarding the relative merits/demerits of announced Presidential  candidates).

Hillary Clinton. If you are Republican then “you can’t live with her, can’t live without her.”

Hillary Clinton. If you a Democrat then “there is nothing like a dame”.

Hillary Clinton. Liberal on social policies. Corporate on economic policies. Mildly hawkish on foreign policy.

Hillary Clinton. Long record. Lots of words. Lots of deeds. None of it matters.

Unlike the other candidates Hillary Clinton is a known quantity. She is either the devil incarnate or touched by an angel. She has been in power.  She has been around since 1992. She has actually accomplished things. There is nothing she can say or do that will significantly change support for or against her.

Hillary Clinton. Nothing new here.

Hillary Clinton. the first Woman President of the United States.

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Filed under candidate, Clinton, Democrat, Elections, Hilllary, Republicans

Contestant #2: Dr. Rand Paul’s Prescription: Take A Vague and See Me in the Morning

(This is the second in a series of biased reports about the potential candidates for the presidency. As these giants among men proclaim their desires to be the most powerful human being on the planet I will attempt to file a short report on each).

Rand Paul, son of former Texas congressman Ron Paul, announced today that he was willing to serve as president of the US. A major surprise to all Buddhist monks still alive in Tibet. To anyone else, not so much.

As with all candidates the best thing to do is to start with their own websites. On his website Dr. Paul stresses the fact that he is a doctor. A doctor of ophthalmology and that he does good works. That is very noble. And humbling. But for some reason in his bio he fails to mention his board certification. Dr Paul was certified once to practice his “doctoring” by the ABO (American Board of Ophthalmology). But something happened. And he let that certification lapse. So, he was then certified by the NBO (National Board of Ophthalmology), a group NOT recognized by the (ABMS) American Board of Medical Specialties, the national group that certifies the legitimacy of boards. Why not? It was just a board made up by some doctors. UH. Actually, Rand Paul was the president of the group that certified Rand Paul, with Kelly Ashby Paul (Rand’s wife) as vice-president of the group and Rand Paul’s father-in-law as secretary. But, he WAS certified to practice, at least by his kinfolk. (For some reason that NBO was dissolved in 2011).

So, what would a Rand Paul Presidency look like?

Rand Paul’s’ website (www.randpaul.com) has about 16 issues. I will focus on only 4. You can read the rest. Good luck.

Sanctity of Life. Rand believes in the sanctity of life. Well. That is good news! He defines “life” as existing at conception. He says that American women have murdered over 50,000,000 CHILDREN since Roe v Wade. (Did I forget to mention that he is doctor, yet he thinks an embryo is a child?). He opposes all abortions. Period. He thinks states should be able to make any laws they want in this regard . So, I guess you might say that Rand is not a real fan of the US Constitution. A Dr. Rand Paul presidency would not enforce Roe v Wade. I think. He is vague on that point.

Health Care. Dr. Paul wants to repeal Obamcare. And replace it with…. what we had before Obamacare…only better. A market driven system. He knows that a market driven system works because…uh…it left 40,000,000 Americans (real people this time, not embryos) without health insurance. He is rather vague on details. But a Dr. Rand Paul presidency would put the patient first, by eliminating the ACA.

Taxes. President Dr Paul hates taxes. He will institute a 17% tax rate for all businesses and people. His plan is called the EZ Plan. It is EZ to understand because he has no other details. It is EZ Vague. Would current tax breaks for corporations remain? Would breaks for agribusiness remain? Personal deductions? Long on vague, short on details. But, the plan does call for the elimination of Social Security taxes for the middle and lower classes (Not sure where the income levels fall on middle class. That part is…uh…vague). So, no more payments would be going into Social Security from younger workers. So, depending on his exemption plan, a Dr Rand Paul presidency would see a significant decrease in taxes for the super rich. Not so much for the poor.

Which leads us to….
Social Security.
Dr President Leader Rand Paul has a plan for Social Security.

He wants to fix Social Security by increasing the retirement age and means testing. OK. I’ll bite the means testing. I agree that millionaires like John McCain should not be dipping into the pot. Postponing retirement? Doesn’t that just prevent younger workers from getting started? This would apply only to younger workers, so us old fogeys would still get our benefits. …But…wait…In Dr President Excellency Paul’s TAXES plan (see above) he called for eliminating billions of dollars in payments to Social Security. How does that work? Billions less coming in but more going out? Does Mr Dr His Holiness Paul know how Social Security even works? Does he know that payments made today go to today’s retirees? By what magic will SS take in billions less and pay out more? THIS is how he “fixes” Social Security? With magic?

Dr Paul’s lack of real solutions comes through loud and clear. He attacks the “Washington Insiders”, of which he is a part, but offers no real alternatives. Lots of “plans” and ideas and slogans.

All in all, Dr Mr Rand seems to have the same “prescription” for America as other GOPers. Not all that different. Gives homage to the religious right. Wants freedom from paying taxes but not freedom for women to control their own bodies. Has magical thinking when it comes to Social Security financing. A man who will keep it vague in hopes of not exposing the shallowness of his thought processes. Or, who has a real agenda he refuses to share.

Once, in order to be “certified” to practice medicine Rand Paul simply created his own certification board. I suspect the only way the doctor will ever be POTUS is if he “creates” his own country. Then his wife could be vice president again.

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Filed under ACA, Congress, economics, Elections, GOP, healthcare, Neoconservative, neoconservatives, Obamacare, Politics, Religion, Republicans, Senate, Taxes, tea party, US

I’m Entitled…A Deal’s A Deal

Some states, New Jersey and Michigan come to mind, have decided that pensions for teachers and other public employees are too costly. So, they have cut back. Changed the rules. Old people have become too expensive. People retired, thinking they had a deal. Then the rules were changed. After the game was over.

First, a true story. A guy who delivers my firewood also takes down trees. I’ll call him Luke. I asked Luke to look at a massive cherry tree in my yard and he said he could take it down for 50 bucks. That was a good deal. A 30 minute job. Luke came back in his coveralls with his chain saw and well, it wasn’t as easy as we thought. The tree got caught up. He had to take down another maple next to it. Then he cut up the trunk into usable pieces for me. Took about 2 hours.

Now, it comes time to pay Luke. I give him the $50 and try to give him more. No. He won’t take it. I said, look, you took down two trees, cut them up, the job was much bigger than we thought. Take some more money. No. Luke would have none of it. His exact words. “A deal’s a deal”. End of discussion.

I taught in NY schools for over 30 years. Put money into the retirement system. Every check. My wages were so low that, as a professional teacher there were years when my family was eligible for welfare. WIC. A college degree, graduate school, a teaching certificate all lead to welfare subsidy. Which is okay. I knew what I wanted. Worked every summer to make ends meet. But I paid into the retirement system. Every check. Social security. Every check. Medicare. Every check. Just like public employees in Michigan and New Jersey and Wisconsin and Kansas and every other state in the union.

Am I ENTITLED to my retirement check? You bethcha. I paid in and took lower wages for a reason. A deal’s a deal.

I started working at 16. Paid Social Security. Paid Medicare. Paid federal taxes. Paid state taxes.
Now I am retired and I get free money from Uncle Sam. Social security every month. Now I am on Medicare. Am I one of Mitt Romney’s 47% ? ENTITLED? You betcha. I deserve it. A deal’s a deal.

I get more than a little irritated at the “young gun” GOP governors who are trying to balance their budgets by stripping pensions and retirement plans. Cutting taxes on the better off citizens and taking dollars out of the pockets of retirees. They have no clue. They have no understanding of what people in the past gave up to get those guaranteed pensions. They have no shame. They have no integrity.

They are deaf to the basic contract. They do not believe that “A deal’s a deal”.

Maybe I should order them some firewood. And have Luke deliver it. Maybe, just maybe, a little bit of Luke would rub off . But I doubt it.

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Filed under Christie, Debt, economics, Economy, Education, GOP, government, neoconservatives, Republicans, Taxes, tea party