Archive for the ‘kim davis’ category

Saying What You Mean

October 1, 2015

There is a familiar expression which goes, “Say what you mean, mean what you say”. Recent Washington events can put some dimensions around this saying. The events were the Pope’s visit, Representative Mike McCarthy’s comments on Benghazi, and the GOP’s perspective on the Russian entry into Syria.

1. The Pope’s visit was a smashing success for Washington, New York, and Philadelphia. The Pope’s use of symbolism to emphasize the importance of humility, tending to the poor, and acceptance of all people was moving. In carefully crafted language the Pope verbally communicated what he tried to symbolize, and, also carefully alluded to catholic dogma which most Americans find less acceptable.

Namely, the Pope gave no room for a greater role for women in the Catholic Church, nor did the Pope offer hope for a more sensible approach to family planning, and the Pope omitted any direct reference for an equal place in life for the GLBT community. The Pope said this by not saying anything to the contrary.

But wait, we now have heard that the Pope met privately with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for contempt for denying marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. In an eerily similar move to transferring a priest accused of child abuse or paying hush money to victims on the basis of them dropping criminal charges, the church once again tried to have it both ways.  The Pope kept speaking about the sanctity of all persons while his conservative handlers orchestrated a private meeting endorsing Davis’ actions.

Clearly child abuse is a human problem and not restricted to the celebrant church officials. Being opposed to birth control or abortion are matters of conscience and these beliefs can be widely held. The Catholic Church stepped out of bounds when it supported the suppression of information on criminal activity (presumably to not tarnish the church’s reputation) and now when it supports illegal actions (Davis refusal to issue licenses) to advance the church’s faith based beliefs.

Meeting openly with Kim Davis is one issue, not meeting with women’s groups or members of GLBT groups sends an equally clear message about the still broken planks in the church’s efforts to represent itself as a modern church.

2. Representative Mike McCarthy has declared his intentions to seek the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Speakers job goes to someone who is a GOP leader and well informed on GOP strategy.  In comments to Fox News, McCarthy committed an unforced error by speaking the truth. When asked to name some accomplishments of the GOP controlled House, McCarthy cited the Benghazi select committee. McCarthy attributed the drop in Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers as a direct consequent of the GOP lead investigation and proof of its accomplishment.

For anyone with a heart beat, the investigation’s purpose has been clear for a long time. For McCarthy to utter this confirmation is amazing (for telling the truth) and completely a political mistake for admitting what was patently obvious. It should be no wonder why public opinion polls of Congress register so low.

3. In the murky Syrian situation, so many Republican politicians and GOP Presidential hopefuls are weighing in on “President Obama’s failed policies”. Each one of these critics decry the President’s policies of limited involvement but also cling to the notion that troops on the ground are not necessary. “The US is not acting, Russia is”, they spout. “Our allies will begin to forsake the US and turn to Russia”, the political rhetoric goes. Hmmm.

There is no question that Syria has become a humanitarian tragedy. But if Iraq has taught anything, it is that American idealism is sorely misplaced as the foundation of a Middle East strategy. There is no Russian idealism and doing what is necessary to keep Assad in power is all that is necessary.  (Like with Afghanistan when Russia invaded and was eventually defeated, Syria is equally a bed Russia will not like to sleep in.)

If the GOP really is interested in ending the Syrian turmoil and defeating ISIS, there must be honesty about what it would take. Nothing less than another Iraq type invasion and occupation with most likely a subsequent redefinition of regional boundaries would be necessary. All of this would need to be supported by a US draft and imposition of war taxes. (I wonder whether Mike McCarthy would admit that too?)

What’s The Point?

September 7, 2015

Kim Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk, has scratched her place into America’s folk lore. Claiming the tenants of her religion, Ms Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.  She claims to be acting under God’s law. She ran for election knowing that same sex marriage was a national possibility.  Today she claims God’s law is above US law.  Hmmm.

The Federal District Court judge who found Ms Davis in contempt and remanded her to jail when she refused, had no other alternative. Davis has said her religious beliefs are firm and accordingly she will not issue licenses to same sex couples. The judge said he would revisit his detention order this week faces an awkward situation.

If he were now to allow Ms Davis to be released, she could resume he job and order all those working in the Clerk’s office to refuse same sex couples marriage licenses. If the judge asks Ms Davis her intent and she confirms that she will not issue licenses and will not allow her subordinates to issue them too, the judge will have again no other option but to return Ms Davis to jail.

Hate in and of itself is not a crime. Nor is the act of feeling superior and “better” than someone else. Problems arise when people act upon these negative and destructive attitudes.

Law involves civil matters and when the Supreme Court found that same sex marriage was a Constitutional right for same sex couples, Davis was free to continue to hold her supremacist views but she was not free to follow them on her job.

All the politicians’ ranting and raving about the need for a religious objection exemption is worrisome. It confirms how fundamentally low quality the thinking of so many prominent political figures really are. It also runs the risk that some States may try to put such laws on the books only to be later struck down.

At the root of the Kim Davis issue is whether someone claiming membership in a “Christian” religion can hold the general views of Christianity while at the same time cherry picking the theology and picking certain specific dogmas and presenting them as the full message of their Christian views. Same sex marriage in no way hurts Ms Davis or denies her the room to celebrate her religion. In her private life, Ms Davis is free to hold her anti gay views. In her public life, she is required to treat all citizens the same.

The unstated problem here is that Davis’ view of God’s Law is unique to her specific born again church.  How can she prove that her interpretation of God’s Law is different from Methodist or Catholic or Jewish or Hindu or Muslim takes on a supreme spirit?  More to the point, how can we be a land of laws when there are so many different religions which could claim a different God interpretation on all sorts of social issues?

The judge will do everyone a favor when he revisits his decision on jail, if Ms Davis continues to refuse to fulfill her country clerk duties, he sends her back indefinitely or until her term expires.  A clear line needs to be drawn.

Political Chuckles

September 4, 2015

Today is a slow news day. It is early September just before the Labor Day Weekend. Here’s vignettes to put a smile on your face.

President Obama has just secured enough Senate votes to ensure the GOP cannot override his veto of a promised Congressional resolution aimed at negating the Iran nuclear deal. Kim Davis, the born again christian and County Clerk in Kentucky who refused to obey court orders to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples is behind bars. Tom Brady has prevailed in a court case against the NFL. And there is maybe some light in the possibility of closing Guantanamo. Each of these stories carries some humor that might light up these slow news times.  Hmmm.

The Iran nuclear deal is a reasonably important matter which holds the potential for another Middle East war up to and including the use of nuclear weapons. One would think Congress would be highly motivated to avoid war.  Clearly, Iran, might cheat on the deal’s terms and proceed secretly to develop nuclear weapons. Such a consequence will likely lead to military action. So, wouldn’t a prudent person object to the deal?

Here’s the humor. Iran is just as free today to develop nuclear weapons, do it secretly, and claim profusely it is not. Once the West were to establish Iran had nuclear weapons, guess what, military action could follow. So, how can 100% of Republican Congress members all vote against the deal. Are they unable to see a difference or are they more interested in a political statement against President Obama?

Kim Davis is sadly in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. She has claimed the “laws of God” have provided her the authority to ignore a Federal Court order. While this is both sad and unfortunate for Ms Davis, her custody is offering a wonderful opportunity for panderers like Mike Huckabee. He has endorse her “good” fight and is now planning to visit Davis while she in jail. Huckabee, who is a Presidential candidate and if elected would need to swear he would defend the Constitution and the laws of the land seems to see this one differently. I wonder whether he is trying “Trump” this issue to get his name out, or whether he does not see the connection with Sharia law advocates?

Tom Brady, the NFL New England Patriots’ quarterback, who got the book thrown at him over allegations that he knew about the activities leading to the use of under inflated footballs in a playoff game. NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodall, chose to play the role of arbitrator in a NFL versus NFL players union dispute over Brady’s four game suspension. The Court ruled, in essence, that Goodall violated the terms of the NFL Players Agreement and vacated the penalties Goodall had levied and then ruled as arbitrator as ok. The humor lies in the big Goodall picture. Until the public began hinting they would not buy advertisers’ products, Goodall paid little attention to off-field player behavior. Since getting “religion”, the morality rudderless Goodall has issued one penalty after another that made no consistent sense. The court’s verdict was not a statement of Brady’s innocence, but instead was a slap down for the Commissioner.

Today’s last piece of humor is a variant of the Iran nuclear deal. The GOP has nearly unanimously opposed Guantanamo Detention Center’s closing. The basis, they claim, is they don’t want the remaining “dangerous” detainees moved onto US soil. These detainees were simply too dangerous, the GOP claimed. Once again humor can be seen in (1) seemingly lack of knowledge that US Federal “supermax” prisons hold and have held far more dangerous prisoners, and (2) the “don’t close Guantanamo” seem to lack the very basic awareness that due process is the backbone of American jurisprudence. These Congress members are our lawmakers. Don’t you see the humor?

Admittedly humor might be a stretch in these cases. Hypocrisy might better apply. I see the humor, however, when the subjects come forward, stand tall, and profess to hold certain opinions which are clearly inappropriate if not outrightly incorrect.

Religious Smoke Screens

September 2, 2015

Kentucky County Clerk, Kim Davis, has drawn public attention to a bogus religious smoke screen. Claiming her deeply held religious beliefs prevent her from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, and also not wanting to discriminate, Ms Davis has stopped issuing marriage licenses to anyone, gay or straight despite Court orders to do so. Davis claims she is acting under God’s orders.   Hmmm.

The next step in this showdown comes tomorrow when a Federal District Court Judge will ask Ms Davis why she should not be held in contempt. Fines and possibly jail time could result if Ms Davis continues to ignore the Court’s order.

The question should not be whether Ms Davis is acting according to sincerely held religious beliefs.  Almost assuredly she is.  And, the question should not be whether any American may be forced to act against their religious beliefs.  Firemen must put out fires in houses of people their religion may condemn.  If the fireman refuses he is fired if he does not quit first.

The Constitution’s 1st Amendment speaks to the separation of church and State and makes clear that Ms Davis is free to hold on to her religious beliefs. The Constitution, however, does not empower Ms Davis to deny legally available services to others simply due to her religious beliefs, especially if Ms Davis is holding an office which is mandated to serve all the people in her community.  Ms Davis could simply resign.

This controversy seems so lacking in substance one wonders why the Courts have taken so long. Unfortunately, a politically popular line of reasoning goes that government cannot force people to act against the tenants of their religion.   Church officials should not have to violate their consciences in providing birth control methods as part of their health insurance plans, and in the case of Hobby Lobby, this notion was expanded to lay persons who hold strongly to a moral reservation. This began a slippery slope and the Courts may have a difficult time enforcing their order against Ms Davis.

It should be clear that no law should require members of the clergy to use birth control or to personally perform any service which violates their religious convictions. What should be just as clear is that members of the clergy should not be permitted to deny insurance coverage to non-religious employees nor morally driven citizens to withhold services for some and yet make those services available to others. This should not be a hard concept to grasp.

Regrettably, the Supreme Court and the political right have mishandled this issue for reasons that are not clear. Ms Davis is throwing the issue right back at them.

The humorous aspect of Ms Davis’ actions arises when one thinks through what she is claiming. She is saying that Allah has commanded her to stone prostitutes and kill homosexuals. Hmmm.

Maybe that does not seem so humorous but when Ms Davis or her supports stammer that she was speaking of “god” not allah, then the laughs can begin.