Posted tagged ‘women’s rights’

Guns Or Gay Marriage

October 7, 2018

With the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice, one might ask, “will Justice Kavanaugh be pro-second Amendment AND anti-gay rights (Fourteenth Amendment, equal treatment under the law)? I wonder whether the Justice will see the irony of these conflicting positions?

Most conservative judges have ruled an expansive Second Amendment interpretation.  According to these learned men, guns are a rock bed right which all Americans possess, even guns in unlimited quantities.  Guaranteed by the Constitution and in line with the Founding Fathers original intent, they say.

If one looks at this perspective closely, the conservative side is saying no one has to own a gun but at the same time no one should deny ownership to others.  Hmmm.

Gay rights, however, seems to be seen differently by conservative judges.  Conservatives seem very much at ease when courts find that discrimination against the LGBT community is ok (if stemming from deeply held religious views). 

In other words, even though no one is being forced to be gay, bi-sexual, or transgender, and being an LGBT member does not infringe on anyone else’s rights, it is permissible to  limit gay rights, if not outrightly banishing the LGBT community existence.

 

(Family planning and women’s reproductive health rights are similar, where the conservative, paternalistic right continually attempts to assert its “father knows best” over issues that do not effect anyone else and are not compulsory issues which the conservative right must follow.)

So, Guns or Gay marriage encapsulate the contradictory position that many conservatives, particularly those under the influence of fundamental or evangelical religious beliefs. 

“I not only know how to live my life best, I know better how to live your life”. 

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Who Are These People?

January 3, 2014

On New Year’s eve, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer granted a stay to the Sisters of the Poor allowing them to escape certain benefits contained in the Affordable Care Act.  The Sisters argued that even though they would not physically have to pay for these women’s health provisions, just having to assign the right to someone else violated their religious beliefs.  In the good Sisters’ collective minds, it was ok for their employees to receive substandard health care (compared to everyone else) just because the Catholic Church does not teach sensible family planning.  This matter will be decided eventually in the Courts but I am not sure how these otherwise holy people can sleep at night.

The Sisters are not the only ones who take exception to the ACA.  The talk shows are constantly declaring that Americans are overwhelmingly against the ACA.  Who are these people and why?

Let’s begin with those over 65.  They are part of Medicare and covered even with pre-existing conditions.  They have no basis to be against ACA.

Next, lets look at those employed by major employers both private and public.  These Americans continue receiving the same benefits as before, and although costs are rising, there is no indication that ACA is driving up costs yet.

How about those who could afford insurance and are under 26?  Why, they are included now on their parents plans if they are still dependents.

How about those with pre-existing conditions?  Guess what, they can now purchase insurance at rates far lower than before.  Its not them.

Well, what about those living in reach of the poverty level?  Here it does get murky.  In States that have expanded Medicaid, the path is clear.  Adding in Government subsidies, these poorer Americans can get insurance at very low rates.  Those living in States which refused to be part of the Medicaid expansion, the story is not so pretty.  These Americans, however, are far short of any majority.  Hmmm.

Arguably ACA is far from perfect.  A straight forward, single payer, universal health care delivery system would have been far superior.  It would also have been a nightmare to implement given the irrational stand many take when the single payer system is suggested.

If we assume the news media has not made up the numbers and that a majority of Americans are indeed against ACA, we must ask why?  Is it they feel they personally have no responsibility for those with pre-existing conditions, or are too poor to purchase health insurance?  Do these Americans subscribe to the notion that all Americans are entitle to as much health insurance as they can afford?

Undoubtably, this is the position of some Americans.  Even the Sisters of the Poor are for everyone being insured.  The Sisters just have this one aspect they do not want anyone to obtain, but otherwise they want health care for those who cannot afford it.  So does this give us insight on “who those people are”?

I think so.  Those opposing ACA are people who cannot see beyond their own personal circumstances.  If they already have insurance and have the ability to purchase the full range of women’s health care procedures, then ACA brings nothing special.  It is those who lie at the margins who might not be able to get preventive care that needs and wants the full ACA package.

Strangely, many of those groups opposing ACA also oppose women’s rights (abortion).  ACA offers one path to minimizing abortion while dignifying a women’s right to choose.  Avoiding unwanted pregnancies is the most straight forward way to satisfy both sides of the abortion debate.  I wonder whether the Sisters in their heart of hearts support the position?

 

Man Of The Year

December 12, 2013

Pope Francis was named Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” yesterday.  This is a marketing game so there is no need to examine the selection relative to the other finalists.  The Pope is certainly not a bad choice and arguably he might be the most worthy for a meaningless prize.  The reasons for his selection, however, are worth commenting upon.

The Pope was sighted as having spoken out and having made sincere gestures towards the poor.  The Pope was also recognized for wondering out loud why the Church hierarchy obsessed so much about family planning and homosexuals.  (The Pope has subsequently clarified his wonderings saying those subjects were part of Church dogma and still valid).

The Catholic Church is much like the Queen Mary.  It does not turn on a dime.  Maybe Pope Francis can only fight one battle at a time, this time for the poor.   This is not a bad choice.  It is just an insufficient one.

The ironic part is that every step he takes in bringing the church clergy round to dealing with the forgotten poor, he will be shining a light on other equally great contradictions like women’s homosexuals’ rights.  The notion that Catholic Charities or Parochial Schools would not employ someone if that person obtained a same sex marriage license is as mean spirited as it comes.  But there’s more.  How is it ok to deny any employee of a church affiliate certain parts of the Affordable Care Act?  These two say it all.

Pope Francis needs to do more to earn the title Man of the Year but if he does, he would deserve at a minimum “Man of the Decade” status.

 

America’s Social Conscience

July 10, 2013

On the east coast, it’s pretty hot.  Other parts of the country experience 90+ degrees routinely and nothing much happens.  When New York or Philadelphia get to enjoy this type of weather, its time for reflection.  What’s hot in the news?

Oh, there are stories about Syria, Afghanistan, and don’t forget Egypt.  But the “hot” new story is that Elliot Spitzer is running for elected office again.  Why would anyone who had resigned as Governor, then decide years after to run for a lesser position like New York City Comptroller?

This is a puzzling question since Spitzer is already wealthy and has been very successful in elected office.  What does he have to prove?

It could be that Spitzer is angling for some future run for Senate or even Mayor of New York, and it is necessary to get elected again to put his scandal behind him.  And what say ye, “scandal”?

As most TV pundits are quick to point out Elliot Spitzer resigned after it was disclosed in an FBI investigation that Spitzer (and his money) were partaking of a high class call girl service.  Oh my!

The first hoot was how much money the FBI wasted on the investigation where Spitzer willingly parted with his money for a woman who willingly offered her services.  The FBI agent in charge must now have a sought after resume.

The second hoot was the damage control Spitzer took.  He resigned and apologized publicly to his wife and family.  The hoot is not about the necessity of apologizing to his wife, but rather about the need to do it in public.  The public part was simply the first step in running for public office again.

The third hoot was the string of TV shows that Spitzer was featured in.  He became an instant pundit and show host.  The viewing public, however, did not like his TV presence and after a while, Spitzer was off the air.

Now the fourth hoot is all the experts who are rendering opinions on whether Spitzer is fit to hold any job.  You know he cheated on his wife, and prostitution is illegal, so he broke a law too.

Surprisingly, a lot of pundits are discounting the prostitution law breaking, in effect saying regulated prostitution is akin to marijuana use.  With respect to his wife, these pundits wisely say that is between the two of them and the public has no say in it.  I wonder what David Vitter would say on this subject?

The hot weather must be especially bad this year in Texas.  The Texas legislature is back debating a bill to restrict a woman’s right and access to abortions.  These pious lawmakers claim they are trying to make things safer for women.  Who’s asking?

The only way I will know Texas (or any other State that tries to restrict abortion access) is serious about trying to help women is when the bill contains rules that make Viagra (and its cousins) available one hour, once a week in one city, and only when the purchasers presents an official photo ID.

Hmmm.

My New Next Door Neighbor

March 18, 2013

Reince Priebus, Chairman of National Republican Party, has news for all of us.  We are going to get some new neighbors.  The GOP is going to send out into the community paid Republican workers who will provide the GOP message directly to Americans.  Why?  Well, Mitt Romney lost the last election because not enough Americans understood the GOP message.

Hmmm.

I’m not sure whether I should laugh at this preposterous notion or scratch my head and wonder how anyone could think the GOP message had not been communicated?  After the carnival which was the Republican primary process, and about $1 billion spent upon the Presidential campaign, one might say I did not like the message, but one cannot say I did not hear the message.

Women, minorities, gays and lesbians, those who respect science, those caught up in voting rules changes, and Hispanics have all heard a clear message.  Rebranding or more intimate messaging does not change the message.

The natural consequences of Priebus’s plan are that the GOP will lose by even greater margins in 2016, and Democrats will not sharpen their game in order to remain competitive.  They won’t need too.

Without two relevant political parties, all Americans are losers.

 

Philadelphia’s Big Decision

December 23, 2012

Thinking back over 2012, do you remember the wild claims that the Obama Administration was against “religious freedom”?  A number of faith based organizations, most notably the Catholic Church cried foul over the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide health care insurance which contain full woman’s reproductive health coverage… read birth control.

These religious groups claimed their deeply held beliefs would be violated if they were forced to pay for birth control means.  These same groups vehemently denounced abortion, but incredulously were against family planning and birth control.  What were they thinking?  Certainly not about the needs of women.

The Philadelphia School District has announced that in January following the year end school break, they will install condom dispensers in 22 of Philadelphia’s public high schools.  OMG…  Is this another assault on religious freedoms?

The school district explained that the 22 high schools selected already had unacceptably high rates of STD (sexually transmitted disease).  Providing condoms was an act of public health, not a statement about birth control.

Time will tell whether this step will impact STD or the number of unwanted pregnancies.  It is, however, a prudent step and a positive sign of common sense.

 

Branding

November 8, 2012

In the aftermath of President Obama’s reelection, there is much discussion about the GOP’s need to “rebrand” itself.  Even though the vote was close, political sages say national demographic shifts are moving voters away from the GOP.  Next time could be even worse.

Rebranding is an interesting notion.  What do they mean?  Do they think the GOP should try a new color and replace the red State image?  Do they mean the GOP should adopt the naked Etch-A-Sketch approach Mitt Romney used?  (You know, just announce one day that you are for everything moderate and in the middle regardless of whether you have any intention of governing that way.)  Or do they mean change nothing and just spend more money to convince voters?

If rebranding means any of these, the GOP is in for more disappointment.  The country has and is continuing to change.  Social media coupled with the visual information age are distributing raw information more rapidly and broadly than ever before.  It is almost impossible for any politician to say something in public and not have those words spread on Facebook or Twitter, or repeated 1000’s of times on 7/24 cable news.  While the general public may not understand the many layers of any issue, they can recognize hypocrisy and they can detect policies that are not in their best interest.

The GOP brand needs, instead, to rethink what it stands for.  Is it the party of the rich?  Is it the party of fundamentalist religious groups?  Is it the “boot straps” party?

You can’t be successful calling for small government when to make it smaller means taking Medicare (health care) and Social Security away from the most vulnerable.  You can’t be successful calling for small government and then telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.  You can’t be successful calling for small government and demanding more defense spending.

There may very well be a place in politics for single issue parties, for example one that represents religious freedom issues.  A number of GOP candidates as well as Mitt Romney called for government to intervene in issues surrounding a woman’s right to choose.  Exit polls, however, indicate that 50% of catholic women voted for President Obama despite the Catholic Church hierarchy’s call for no birth control or abortions, full stop.  If that is the direction the GOP thinks is in its best interest, they may sleep better at night but they will continue to loose national political influence.

A new GOP brand might be possible if the Republican Party developed policies and programs to ensure the successful implementation of a few core issues.  Instead of trying to represent churches, the NRA, Wall Street, and the very wealthy, the GOP should begin to talk about balanced policies which were aimed at growing the economy, enhancing America’s global competitiveness, and enriching the everyday quality of life for ALL Americans.  Let the extreme factions of the current GOP go their own ways.  Cut back if necessary, but come back strong through focus on a few important issues.

That might produce a really interesting new brand.