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The First Gay Legislator to Vote Against Gay Marriage

13 Nov

http://www.honolulumagazine.com/Honolulu-Magazine/November-2013/Exclusive-Why-Rep-Jo-Jordan-voted-against-Marriage-Equality/

Jo Jordan explains her no vote on gay marriage in Hawaii.

Interestingly, it was important to her that people listen to each other on this issue and one side consistently shut down dialogue with her. They had an attitude that they already knew they were right on every aspect of the legislation so she should just vote yes, with no questioning.

The same side that usually says fundamentalist Christians always believe they are right in every situation and won’t listen to anyone else . . .

Maybe they have learned from us, after all.

Nobody but God is always right!

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Asking Questions to Protect our Troops

11 Nov

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-10-04/opinions/42719583_1_bacevich-troops-soldiers

This is strong language about “Breach of Trust,” a new book about the all-volunteer military service in the U.S. However the voice is an important one, helping us to grow a conscience as 1% of our population fights our wars for us (disclaimer: I was part of that 1% for 27 years).

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It is Not Good to Legislate from a Place of Woundedness!

8 Oct

It is Not Good to Legislate from a Place of Woundedness!

I read a blog post once in which a young man was interviewed. He was a child molester who went after pre-pubescent boys. And he told of how he had been molested as a pre-pubescent boy. He didn’t think what he was doing to the other boys was particularly harmful but . . . even if it was, he didn’t care. His empathy mechanism had died in childhood, when someone first molested him.

There is a gasp of indignation when something like this happens. We mourn the loss of innocence of the young child whose empathy was stripped away. Yet we realize we can’t just turn him loose on an unsuspecting world to lash out against others for the rest of his days.

In many ways, we all can lose our empathy mechanism, in whole or in part.

There are many who have spoken of feeling like their childhood was “on the outside looking in” at the families they presumed were happy when theirs was not. That is sad. Perhaps we have all felt a bit of that at times, but some children grow up feeling it constantly.

Problem is, their empathy mechanism can shut off from that, too. Particularly if their feeling of being an outsider transforms into a desire to take revenge on those they felt had things better than they did. They may, in time, feel as though they are divinely appointed avengers to make sure that those who got so much in childhood don’t carry right on being privileged their whole life through.

If they get into a position of power, they may very well try to make rules that are not good rules . . . because those rules come from that wounded place inside, that child who was thwarted so much that his empathy mechanism shut down.

I have been feeling that that is happening this week, as I have watched the executive branch of our government lash out again and again, against many things that are normal and wholesome in our land.

World War II veterans traveling across the nation to visit their memorial on the National Mall.

Senior citizens from the U.S. and many other countries traveling to the Grand Canyon on a bus.

People trying to vacation at an inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway after making reservations months ago.

People trying to have a meal at a historic restaurant in nearby Yorktown, Virginia but finding that the restaurant is leased in a building belonging to the National Park Service.

And now, dead servicemembers coming back from Afghanistan with no funds being given to their families to fly out to Dover Air Force Base to meet the remains of their loved one. If the loved one is still alive and in a hospital in Germany, no funds to fly the family over there to spend time with the injured servicemember, even if he might be critically injured and end up dying . . .

What, in the name of all that is holy and good, are we doing? This stuff could be fixed with a memo from the President, who heads up the executive branch. I am not going to say that he is the one so lacking in empathy as to make all of these cruel choices, but I will say that he could put a stop to them with a stroke of his pen.

Is he possibly grandstanding, using these people as human shields to try to force the side opposing him to grant him, quickly, the concessions he desires? Only God knows his heart, but I will say that he has not come across as warm and empathetic to any of the above groups this week. And his executive branch, particularly the National Park Service, which works for the Department of the Interior, has run amuck.

If you don’t have a dad who served in World War II, can you still empathize with the veterans of that war? Of course.

If you don’t have elderly parents heading for the Grand Canyon, can you still empathize with the seniors whose bus was turned away from that national park this week? Of course. You can empathize even if you were raised in a family so poor that it never took vacations. Or a broken family that had no concept of vacations . . .

Can you empathize with strangers trying to stay in a Blue Ridge Parkway inn or trying to eat in a Yorktown restaurant? Of course. And you can sympathize with the businesses operating the inn and the restaurant, private businesses that now have employees who need to pay bills and are not working . . .

Most of all, you can empathize with the parents and spouses of the slain military members, even if you have never personally had a familymember in the military. Your heart can ache, knowing how much it would hurt to have to go claim the remains of your own child or spouse . . .

In all of these situations, we can have empathy and should have empathy. If our empathy mechanism is broken, that is not normal. We should not expect everyone to join us in a “who cares” vengeful attitude toward these very normal families trying to take a trip, especially a trip that ends with claiming the remains of a loved one.

I don’t know where the orders to disrupt normal American families as vengefully as possible have been originating during this shutdown, but I know who can stop them with the stroke of a pen.

As I have heard more than one person say this week: “Mr. President, tear down those barriers!”

Oh, for Heaven’s Sake, Senator Cruz–If You’re Gonna Filibuster . . .

25 Sep

If you have hours to read on the Senate floor, read the Affordable Care Act.  Out loud.  As much of it as you can before your voice gives out.

Demonstrate to the American people that you can’t even read all of that monster in one filibuster!  This is what you are working to repeal, right?

Show us that it is so long that no one in your Senate, or the House of Representatives, has ever read it all the way through.  Show us that there can be language in it in which unintended consequences are lurking . . . 

Big consequences.  

Unfortunately, the Democrats have won the war of words on this one.  They have done that by framing the debate and grabbing the high moral ground.

They should not have been able to do that.

Lots of solidly middle class families are waking up to the reality that, though they thought they would be the recipients of government aid in buying their health care, due to the kind words that were said about helping middle class people, they actually are now regarded as upper middle class for the purposes of this legislation.  They will be paying more than before, as their plans are regarded as “Cadillac plans.”

Yup, apparently just owning a private plan of your own was regarded as a “Cadillac” kind of thing to do.  If you were struggling to pay for it before, just watch what is going to happen now.  

Read the Affordable Care Act, Senator Cruz!  Read it on the Senate floor.  Go boldly where never a senator has gone before . . .

Gun Violence . . . in Triplicate!

24 Sep

Three major attacks with weapons this week all stand in juxtaposition to one another.  

The attack at the Navy Yard in which an armed man with schizophrenia killed twelve people before he was killed.  Of note:  some of those twelve people and some of their coworkers may have concealed carry permits in the state of Virginia.  Any of them can open carry in the state of Virginia.  Washington, D.C. and our federal military bases have laws and rules prohibiting people from carrying their personal weapons onboard the Washington Navy Yard.  No one initially on the scene was armed except the shooter.     

A gang attack in a park in Chicago in which many innocent bystanders, including children, were injured.  Of note:  Chicago has gun control, so no weapons were in the hands of the innocent bystanders.  Only in the hands of the criminal element on the scene!

The attack in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya in which a mounting number of innocent bystanders, many singled out for their Christian affiliation, were killed.  Probably more than a hundred.  Time will tell, as the four-day siege just ended today and experts are still sorting through the rubble produced by terrorists shooting off their weapons for four days, facing off with authorities when they arrived on the scene.  

All that to say, we have three different reasons for gunfire erupting:  mental illness, gang violence, and terrorism.  

Two of those, criminal gangs and terrorists, will never disarm, no matter how many gun control laws are passed in the U.S. or anywhere else. 

The mentally ill may be disarmed minimally by stricter gun control laws.  

Or not . . . 

I tend to come at this situation from the side of advocacy for the mentally ill.  Who says we do them any favors when we say they cannot be involuntarily committed unless they are proven to be an imminent danger to themselves or to someone else? 

Don’t we realize that that means we can almost never take a dangerous schizophrenic person off the streets until he has gotten off at least one round?

And, in the case of the Navy Yard shooter, he had had gun violations on at least two other occasions that were not taken seriously enough to file an accurate report on them!!!

The status of care for the mentally ill in my state of Virginia is abysmal.  They too are created by God.  I don’t think we should just ignore them as they sleep on park benches and wander around in the daylight, scaring tourists with their wild-eyed rants.  

That is supposed to be kindness to the mentally ill?  Saying we can’t intervene unless they harm someone or invite us to help them?

Mentally ill people quite often don’t realize they have a problem.  I realize it is easy to overstep and violate someone’s rights, especially if he is in a vulnerable position.  But to not try to help him at all due to some exaggerated fear of being paternalistic and patronizing is just cruel.  

I take the side that we will cover more ground with help to the mentally ill than we will ever cover with more gun control laws.  

The President is right–it is time to act.  I just think we need to begin with being our brother’s keeper to the mentally ill, rather than jumping on the gun control bandwagon.  

Striking at McDonald’s

31 Aug

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My husband and I went to our favorite breakfast place, the Broken Egg Bistro in Chesapeake, Virginia, after our Weight Watchers weigh-in today.

As we thought about our lifestyle as Americans in 2013, we remarked on the fact that our breakfasts at Broken Egg, $7.99 for my French toast, hash browns, and bacon, and $8.99 for his skillet, were about the same price as we would pay at McDonalds, except at McD’s you pick up your own food at the counter and don’t leave a tip!!!

Obviously our breakfasts tasted much better at this most popular mom-and-pop’s breakfast spot in Hampton Roads than they would have at McD’s, with its prepared, prepackaged everything.

So where is the incentive to go to McD’s? The food is no faster there. We were in and out of Broken Egg in half an hour.

Why go to McD’s? To avoid paying a tip?

I think that the strikes of fast food workers in New York City this week taught us a valuable lesson. In order to keep the prices where they are at McD’s (and not raise them higher than mom-and-pop places serving fresh food), they have to pay minimum wage. Meaning less than $10 an hour, which is less than $400 for fulltime work.

No one can live on that, but no one was meant to live on that. It was meant to be entry level work.

If McD’s decides to accommodate the strikers, their options appear to be to either raise wages to $15 an hour, in which case their prices will rise much, much higher, or they could convert to traditional restaurants with waiters and waitresses who work for a lower wage plus tips.

No one is pointing out that that could be the unintended outcome of these strikes. They may bring an end to the fast food industry as we have known it since the 1950’s (McD’s is nearly as old as I am).

But the world is full of unintended consequences these days. As businesses are required to provide health care for fulltime employees, many are cutting everyone back to part time status, too.

It is quickly becoming a world where a person can work 25 hours a week at Burger King, go across the street and work 25 hours a week at McD’s, and still not earn a living . . .

God help us! We surely do need jobs on which young families can live, but I am not sure that just demanding them is going to solve any more problems than it creates . . .

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Should the Director of National Intelligence be Fired?

6 Jul

Should the Director of National Intelligence be Fired?

It is interesting to see what James Clapper, our Director of National Intelligence (DNI) now says about the infamous interview earlier this year in which he denied that the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting data on American citizens:

“I thought, though in retrospect, I was asked [a] ‘when are you going to … stop beating your wife’ kind of question, which is … not answerable necessarily by a simple yes or no. So I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying, ‘No.’ ”

Truthiness. It is a problematic thing, no?

Time was when military folks with a security clearance would answer any open question with “I can neither confirm nor deny that, Sir.” And those who pounced on that answer, when given to certain questions, as proof positive that the person had just confirmed something by refusing to answer, were regarded as loose cannons. They could publish whatever they wanted. No one from the Department of Defense was going to play their game nor address their rumors.

Now apparently we have advanced to a more clever stance. At least the DNI has. He is trying to figure out what might be in the minds of his audience after he “neither confirms nor denies” something. He then regards it as his job to spin whatever it is that he projects is residing in the minds of his audience.

Nonsense.

The good old “neither confirm nor deny” phrase still works if everyone uses it. It only stops working when people only use it as shorthand for “there is nothing to see here, folks. Move along . . .”

I do not know whether the DNI should be fired. I will leave that to people at higher paygrades than me .

However, I do know that I do not appreciate being condescended to by a public servant who feels that lying to the American public about data that pertains to us (and, really, belongs to us) is appropriate as “the least untruthful thing” to do.

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