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Archive for the ‘Gender Issues’ Category

I think it is fair to say that all too often, justice is not blind.  At least it isn’t blind in terms of race, sexual orientation, or other factors.  Too often, the color of the people involved in an incident helps determine who is guilty and who is not.  There are exceptions of course, but I think that race plays a big role in determining who is to be arrested and who is not.  Who is allowed to “fear for his life” and who is not.

Wednesday, Matt Zoller Seitz shared a story to illustrate how white privilege kept him from getting arrested or otherwise harmed by the police after he started a fight on the street.  The piece is worth reading.  But, it is really interesting the conversation he had with the police when they arrived.  Matt Seitz admits in his story that he instigated the fight with an Hispanic man outside a deli.

After telling the two white officers that he had confronted the guy and punched him in the face after the stranger jabbed him in the chest with his fingers, the cops asked Zoller Seitz if he wanted to press charges for assault:

“I don’t think he actually meant to touch me, though,” I said, while a voice deep inside me said, Stupid white boy, he’s making it plain and you’re not getting it.

“It doesn’t matter if he meant to touch you, he hit you first,” he said. He was talking to me warmly and patiently, as you might explain things to a child. Wisdom was being imparted.

“You were in fear of your life,” he added.

By now the adrenaline fog seemed to be lifting. I was seeing things in a more clinical way. The violence I had inflicted on this man was disproportionate to the “assault,” and the tone of this exchange with the cop felt conspiratorial.

And then it dawned on me, Mr. Slow-on-the-Uptake, what was really happening: this officer was helping me Get My Story Straight.

Understanding, at long last.

Zoller Seitz even admitted that when the police arrived, he had the stranger on the ground in a chokehold.  Which most reasonable people might conclude that he was the attacker.  But, while Zoller Seitz was speaking with the police, the stranger was being held face down on the sidewalk and handcuffed.  In the end, Zoller Seitz was allowed to go home.  He does not know what happened to the stranger he admittedly attacked.

This is important to remember.  There is a grand jury being seated in the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Wilson.  If this case does go to trial, it would be apparent that at some point the notion that Wilson could have reasonably feared for his life during his confrontation with Brown.  Witnesses at the scene have said that Brown had his hands in their air to surrender.  Others, mostly other police officers, hint that Brown charged Wilson so the resulting shooting was a result of physical confrontation.

I wrote in an earlier piece this year that the called “stand your ground” laws would cause more trouble than they were worth.  Remember the case of George Zimmerman, who is white and Latino, after he killed Trayvon Martin?  His lawyers got him off by using the “afraid for his life” argument.  In the case of Theodore Warfare, the jury came back with a different result.  In that case, Renisha McBride, who had arrived on his porch seeking help after a car accident was shot and killed through a locked screen door.  The defense in that case claimed that the loud knocking so alarmed their client that he felt he had no other choice but to shoot her.  Fortunately, this jury didn’t buy the “afraid for his life” argument.

Then there is the case of Marissa Alexander, a black mother in Florida.  A man with a documented history of physical violence, a man who told Alexander that he was going to kill her, did not present a credible threat. Alexander’s husband, Rico Gray, broke down the door of the bathroom where she was hiding during a domestic violence incident. He grabbed her by the throat, and choked her as he held her against the floor. Alexander then tried to escape through the garage, but found herself trapped when the door wouldn’t open. She returned to the house having retrieved her handgun from her car and fired at a wall near where Gray stood. No one was harmed. But when Alexander tried to invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law in her defense, she was denied. Twice. According to State Attorney Angela Corey, Alexander was “not in fear” but “angry” when she fired the warning shot. She now faces up to 60 years in prison.

It isn’t just color that defines who is allowed the “fear for his life” argument.  Luke O’Donovan, a white queer activist in Georgia, was last week sentenced to two years in prison and eight years of probation after he used his pocket knife to stab five men who had confronted him in an alleged anti-LGTBQ hate crime in 2012. Donovan was stabbed three times.  Apparently if you are gay in Georgia, being stabbed three times is not a sufficient “fear for his life” argument.

These are just a few examples of how our justice system is not as blind as people would have us believe.  Color, sexual orientation, race, even religious beliefs are all factors in determining who is being blamed and who gets off.  Zoller Seitz’s story is very telling.  Especially when compared to these other incidents.  The straight white guy got a break.  The others did not.  It makes us wonder just how the case in Ferguson will turn out.  But, one thing is for certain.  As long as white privilege is a reality, more Fergusons will happen.

Until we, as a society, come to terms with this phenomenon nothing will change.  If we do come to terms with it, then maybe we will have a society where justice was truly blind!

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Maybe we should give half props to FOX News.  For a long time now, they have been crying that there is a war on religion in America.  They are half right.  Of course, they claim it is a war on Christianity.  That is the part they have wrong.  The real war on religion is being waged by the Conservative Christian Cult against everyone else.

The Cult is truly amazing in cherry-picking the parts of religious beliefs that they will accept.  They then denounce everyone else as heretics because their religious beliefs don’t jive with the Cult’s.  There are lots of examples which we will discuss.  The main point is that in their zeal to “convert” the world to their way of thinking, they are willing to shred the right to practice your religious beliefs as guaranteed in the First Amendment.  Some have even gone so far as to say the First Amendment only applies to Christian beliefs.  Even if that were true, which it is not, they are still violating the First Amendment because they continue to persecute other Christians.

This year the Supreme Court ruled that “buffer zones” established by states in front of abortion clinics were not legal.  They believe that if a woman wants to get an abortion, the Cult has the right to attempt to interfere with that process, even going so far as to accost women and employees of the clinic to even get inside in peace.  I suppose that means that if a group of people show up in front of a Cult church and started accosting those attending services, that would also be legal.  I would love to see a group try that angle.

Imagine a group of protesters standing in front of a Cult church screaming to the attendees that they are devil worshipers, or other such nonsense.  Even going so far as to trying to block their entrance into the church “for their own good”.  I don’t think it would be too long before the police were summoned to get rid of the protesters.  The Cult believe they can do whatever they want, but no one else can use their tactics.

The fight over abortion is purely a religious fight.  Whether you believe abortion is “right or wrong” is totally down to religious belief.  The Cult says life begins and therefore the fetus is a person upon fertilization.  Other people with religious beliefs don’t think that way.  That is what the abortion fight is all about.  One narrow view of life against other views of life.

The Cult doesn’t want you to know this.  They try to make it out to be “protecting the unborn person”.  That is what all of these “personhood amendments” they keep trying to get passed is all about.  They are trying to force their religious belief on everyone else.  That in a word is “religious persecution”.

There are a lot of people who consider themselves to be good Christians who favor the right to have an abortion.  But the Cult has labeled them as Christians in Name only.  A favorite catch phrase of theirs.  If a woman’s religious beliefs tells her it is okay to have an abortion, denying her that right is religious persecution.  There is simply no other way to look at it.

There are several states with laws and/or State Constitutional Amendments banning same-sex marriage.  Yet, many churches and religions recognize same-sex marriage.  The Cult says “NO, that is the same as bestiality”.  What nonsense.  The whole premise of the Cult’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriage, is again wrapped up in their narrow view of what is in their beloved bible.  Other Christians and other faiths, don’t subscribe to that narrow view.

Therefore, if two people of the same-sex decide they want to get married, and their religious beliefs say that is okay, denying them the right to be married is religious persecution.  Sorry, but the Cult’s argument that the others are “simply wrong” doesn’t cut it.  They are persecuting other beliefs only because they differ from theirs.  The Cult even tried to get legislation passed that would allow them to discriminate against gay couples in normal business affairs.  Again, religious persecution.

Not only that, the Cult is famous for its hypocrisy.  Take the case of  Tennessee. Rep. Scott DesJarlais who is running for his third term for Congress as a “family values” guy.  He recently won his primary for reelection despite the fact that DesJarlais has a long history showing that while he firmly believes women should have to lose their basic human rights in the name of family values, he, as a man, has never shown any interest in making even the tiniest sacrifice for those same values.

It seems that he believes women who are facing an unwanted pregnancy that could derail their lives should suck it up and be made to suffer in the name of “life.” But when faced with the prospect of an unintended pregnancy that could hurt him, he suddenly became a big fan of abortion. It has been reported that DesJarlais encouraged, some would even say badgered his mistress to get an abortion during his first marriage. He also supported his first wife’s abortions.  Yet, he believes that he can run on a pro-life platform.  Apparently the Cult members in Tennessee agree with him.

The Hobby Lobby case proves this point even further.  The Cult member owners of the company claim to have “deeply held religious” beliefs about certain forms of contraception.  They argued in court that they shouldn’t be required to provide those forms of contraception in their health plans for employees.  SCOTUS said absolutely right.

Yet, there are many women who work at Hobby Lobby who believe all forms of contraception are perfectly fine.  Their religious beliefs do not forbid them from using them.  As a result, these woman are being persecuted for their religious beliefs by a company that claims to have deeply held religious beliefs.  Problem is their religious beliefs trump those of their employees.  What else can you call it but religious persecution?

These are just a few examples of religious persecution that is ongoing in America.  FOX was correct in pointing out that it exists.  They were just wrong in who is actually perpetrating this persecution.  In my view, the fanaticism of the Cult’s persecution of the “non-believers” is very similar to other fanatical groups.  So, the next time you hear the Cult scream about religious persecution, remember it is them waging war against your religious beliefs, not the other way around.

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Balancing work and family is a problem for most Americans.  It is difficult to make so many sacrifices in order to provide for your family because while making those sacrifices we miss way too much family time.  Single mothers have the most difficult time trying to balance work and family.  They often face the daunting challenge of having to work in low-paying jobs with inconsistent schedules.  That means besides not being able to afford childcare, they sometimes can’t get that childcare simply because they don’t know when they will be working from week to week.

This balancing act is not gender based as conservatives would like us to think.  Men face the same challenges as women do.  In today’s world, even in two parent families, both parents work.  That means that childcare is necessary for them as well.  If a child gets sick, one of the parents needs to leave work to care for the child or take that child to a doctor.  That means missed work-time.  Or, one of the parents may be required to travel on the job which means missed time with the family.

I fully understand this balancing act.  When I was in the service, my away time could be months at a time.  When I was in the private business world, my away time could be a week or two.  While I was gone, many things happened with my family that I missed.  During my first four years in the service, I was not at home for any holiday.  I missed every Christmas, every birthday, every anniversary.  That was something I could not avoid.

When I retired and began a second career in the business world, my job meant I needed to travel.  But, it was a little easier to schedule my trips around family events I knew were coming up.  That didn’t mean that I didn’t miss anything.  As I worked, I kept hearing people tell me that their career was their life.  That often confused me as to their motivations.  I always said, even to my bosses, that my career was not my life.  It was what I did to pay for my life.

When I had to work extra hours to finish a project, I would go into the office early rather than stay late.  By going in early, I wasn’t bothered by phone calls, and I didn’t miss any family time, per se.  Yes, I missed my children getting ready for school, but their after-school events that evening were more important to me than watching them get dressed.  They enjoyed seeing me at their activities to support them.  That was why I chose to go to work early rather than stay late.

Millions of people, both men and women, face these challenges every day.  Some are poor working class people who really have difficulty in balancing the two because they need the money so bad.  Others are more well-off, but the prospect of missing family time or family activities is still something they need to be part of.

Max Schireson the 44-year-old CEO of the billion dollar database company MongoDB, explains exactly why he is now leaving “the best job I ever had.” As he notes, his job requires him “to fly 300,000 miles this year, all the normal CEO travel plus commuting between Palo Alto and New York every 2-3 weeks.” And in that time, he’s been missing key moments in the lives of three children, aged 14, 12 and 9. He’s missed the dog being hit by a car. He’s missed his son’s unscheduled surgery. He has a wife with a career of her own, a woman he describes as “infinitely patient” and who keeps the family “despite my crazy travel.” And he says he doesn’t want to “abuse” her patience anymore. To that end, he’s stepping back to become company vice chairman, a career he hopes will be “normal full-time and not crazy full-time.”

Of course the fact that a CEO of a billion dollar company has made such a decision is news worth.  ABC News wasn’t even afraid to trot out the headline that he “quit” (if you consider becoming a vice chairman quitting) “Because He Couldn’t Have It All.” And Vox announced that he was moving on for a “feminist reason” — because apparently caring about one’s work and family is strictly a feminist issue — noting also that he can’t “have it all.”

Now, I applaud Schireson for his decision.  But, he is lucky in that he can remain with his company in a reduced role.  Most of us with similar problems are not so fortunate.  While poor women are being arrested simply because they allow their children to “play in the park” without adult supervision, Schireson is hailed as a hero by some and demonized by others.  I mean really, his is moving on for “feminist reasons”?

I would have preferred if the news media who chose to cover this story would have instead put more emphasis on the fact that balancing work and family is a real problem in today’s world for everyone.  Conservatives are quick to rant about “family values” being so necessary.  Yet, a conservative outlet says he is moving on for “feminist reasons”.

Instead of making a big deal about Mr. Schireson, we should be asking whether or not how our work lives are affecting our family lives.  It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, the vast majority of us would love to be around when family events occur.  Unfortunately, too often that doesn’t happen because of work.

But, why are we forced to make such sacrifices?  It is because we are all chasing the almighty dollar.  Sometimes it isn’t even for ourselves, but rather the company we work for.  I can speak from experience.  There is no such thing as “having it all”.  Either we sacrifice our family time, or we sacrifice our earning potential by the choices we make.  Mr. Schireson is lucky to be able to demote himself to a lower position with the same company.  Most of us can’t do that.  If we make the decision to value family time, we usually are looking for a new job.  To me, that is one of the real tragedies of the so-called “American Dream”.

It would be nice if corporations would look at Mr. Schireson and figure out we all need a better way to truly balance work and family.  They may even see better production from their employees if they aren’t forced to constantly make these balancing decisions and sacrifices.

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I regularly read news papers and watch news television during the day.  I need to keep up with what is going on in the world, and I make sure I have different points of view on each story.  Mostly, you can tell a political lean of a news paper or news station easily.  Each side is quick to make sure their like or dislike for something is based on their political view and what is wrong with America.  But, when it comes to rape, I find that none of the mainstream, or non-mainstream media for that matter, really give a shit about rape or the victims.

When rape does hit the headlines the news media is quick to not only say a woman had been raped, but then conjectures on “why” she was raped.  Many have even gone on to write editorials pointing out what they think causes rape.  Naturally, the perpetrator of the crime is never mentioned.  Only the victim.

USA Today was the latest to wade into the foray.  They wrote an op-ed that basically says that rape on college campuses is due to, now get this, “women drinking too much”.  We hear this stupid nonsense all of the time.  It seems that whenever a woman is raped, it is because they either drink too much around men, dress too provocatively, behave improperly, or just use bad judgment when picking their friends.  It always seems to fall back onto the victim not the perpetrator.

How is this even possible?  Why is it that people have to blame the victim for being a victim of an abusive crime?  Why isn’t it the fault of the man who is committing the crime?  There are various opinions as to the cause of the problem, and some people have made very serious suggestions on helping to fix the problem.

For example, Dana Bolger of Know Your IX wrote a rebuttal in the same newspaper that puts the argument of the editorial board to shame.  She wrote:

Rape is a powerful tool of social control, used to keep us in our place. Like rape itself, the endless chorus of “don’ts” keeps us quiet and submissive. But it neither reduces violence nor comes without cost: It keeps us out of public space, afraid to take risks. It does violence’s work for it.

To reduce rape, we can challenge the conditions of inequality that allow gender violence to flourish. Begin consent education in elementary schools, teach boys not to rape, and hold perpetrators accountable in our colleges, churches and families.

The alternative — to deny women the opportunity to move freely and live full lives — reaffirms the very effects of violence it seeks to mitigate.

We continue to have these problems because it has been inbred into our culture.  We have been taught from an early age that women are not to be treated as equals.  We allow the predatory behavior of men towards women simply because it is really controlling them.  Men are entitled to what they want while women are to submit to the will of men.

This is taught everywhere.  Every time an athlete is accused of rape and gets away with it because of his “entitlement” to be pampered we teach our boys that it is okay to rape a woman.  Every time a minister preaches from the pulpit about how women are to submit to the wishes of her husband, we teach boys that it okay to expect whatever they want from women.  Every time someone in the media blames the woman for being raped because of her drinking or how she dresses, we teach boys that it is okay to rape women.

This a real culture that men perpetrate all too often and apparently want to keep.  It is nothing but entitled control over the opposite sex.  Somehow blaming the victim of rape seems to make these men feel really good about themselves.  After all, she must have had it coming.  Of course all of that is total stupidity.

Like most social problems, this one will not go away until there is more done to prevent rape in the first place.  And prevention does not start with blaming the woman.  It starts with respect for everyone.  It starts with educating our boys that rape is a crime and they are not entitled to have sex with a woman if she does not consent.  I am sick and tired of hearing about that “poor boy” or “poor man” and what the crime will do to his life.  I am more interested in what the crime will do to the woman’s life.  She was the one attacked, not him.

Rape is a vicious horrible crime.  What is even worse, is making the victim the cause of this crime.  If you ask any man who has a daughter or wife what they would do if their daughter or wife were raped, you will probably hear the same response.  “I will kill the SOB that did it.”  But, if it is his son who committed the crime, you will usually hear that “she probably had it coming”.  Until that second response changes, the problem of rape will continue and women will continue to be blamed for being attacked!

Sometimes I wonder if man really evolved, or if we are still in the cave.

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School’s out for the summer!  Our wonderful Congress has taken their usual August recess.  That is a normal thing this time of year.  These politicians will go back to their districts and hold town hall meetings and espouse their wonderful achievements.  Problem is, they don’t have any wonderful achievements to espouse.

The previous two Congresses were the least productive in modern history.  The current Congress is on track to even beat those two in futility.  I know it is hard to believe, but that is the fact.  Congress has left town in a rush to get “reelected” to their meaningless position.  There was a time when holding public office was an honorable endeavor held by people who wanted to make the country better.  The current crop of legislators are anything but honorable.

As the children take their usual recess, huge problems still face this country.  We still have a mess on the border.  There are still thousands of undocumented children waiting for their “cases to be heard” as the 2008 law says they must.  What has Congress done about this humanitarian problem?  Nothing!  Yes, the House passed a bill, but they added so many inhumane elements to it that it will never get through the Senate.  That is once the Senate comes back in September.

Some of these elements do not even include anything to do with the humanitarian problem at the border.  They deal with things that are best covered in a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  But since the House has no intention of even talking about comprehensive immigration reform, they tack on objectionable amendments to laws just so those laws can be killed.

There are still millions of people working 40 hour work weeks for below poverty pay.  There is still an attack on any religious beliefs that to not follow the “white” Christian beliefs.  There is still no immigration reform.  There is still no national marriage equality.  There are still voter suppression laws on the books in several states.  There are still millions of people without health care because Republican states refuse to expand Medicaid.  There are still way too many people out of work.  Our infrastructure is still falling down around our ears.

They did manage to pass a bill that will allow the VA help our veterans better.  But, as usual, they have nothing in it that will address the over 1 million homeless veterans.  Nothing that will address the fact that millions of veterans need food stamps just to survive, which the Republicans want to cut even deeper.  They have basically put a band-aide on a gaping wound our veterans suffer from every day.  They authorized about half of the money the VA really needs.  They say they will address the rest in the “normal budget process”.  Which means the VA won’t get any additional money they need because the Republicans will insist on cutting other safety nets to “pay” for any additional money for the VA.

The one piece of legislation the House is very proud of is the one authorizing the Speaker to sue the President.  That is one bill that every Republican in Congress could get behind.  Wasting millions of tax dollars on suing the President as a political stunt is something they are very proud of doing.

It has been often said that allowing the inmates to run the asylum is a bad idea.  Yet, Mr. Boehner has allowed just that to happen.  The inmates in the GOP are now running the asylum.  Thanks in large part to Mr. Boehner’s inability to actually “lead”.  As a result, a “junior Senator from Texas” has become the de facto Speaker of the House.  Way to stand up to the inmates, Mr. Boehner!

If it was just the inmates in Washington that were running the asylum, I wouldn’t be so worried about it.  But, the inmates are running the asylum in many of the states as well.

The party that says it wants “government out of our lives” are very willing to put government into our lives if it will force everyone to think as they do.  They want “government in of the lives” of the poor by killing social safety nets and making sure they can’t vote because they believe the poor are just not smart enough to trust to vote Republican.  They want “government in the lives” of women and their reproductive choices because they don’t think women are smart enough to make their own decisions.  They want “government in the lives” of LGBT community because they must make sure they don’t have equal rights as the rest of the “normal” world as they see it.  They want “government in science” so they can foster the myth of creationism as the “real” science simply because it doesn’t interfere with profit-making for their big donors.   They want “government in the lives” of the working poor by saying that a Federal Minimum Wage is “hurting” their chances to move ahead.  They want “government in children’s lives” by making sure they don’t learn anything while allowing for profit school companies to make millions in profits without having to actually teach anything viable.

In a time when the country faces many challenges, we are stuck with school children who cannot make decisions.  We are stuck with a group  whose only real concern is hate for anything that doesn’t look or think like they do.  We are stuck with the inmates running the asylum.  I have always been an optimist when it comes to the future of our country.  I must admit, that with the current crop of school children in Congress, my optimism is shaky.

There is one bright side.  With school out for the summer, they can’t pass anymore bills that harm the country.  But, then, they don’t pass bills at all, so maybe that is a good thing too.

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The NFL the other day announced a 2 game suspension for Ray Rice.  Many of you may know that Ray Rice has agreed to “anger management’ treatment and “sensitivity treatment” as part of a plea deal in his case when he punched his then fiancé, now his wife, and dragged her out of an elevator in Las Vegas while she was unconscious.  The part of him dragging her out of the elevator was caught on video and shown to the world.

Hardy, another NFL player in Charlotte, was found guilty by a judge for hitting and throwing his former fiancé and then covering up the crime.  The judge ruled that there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed these crimes.  Yet, he did not hand out any jail time.  Just probation.  Hardy is appealing.  That will result in a “jury” trial, but not before the NFL season is over.  The Charlotte team said they would “defer” punishment to the NFL.

After the NFL announced its punishment of Rice, there was a huge outcry about it being too lenient.  Yesterday, the league said the punishment shows “the league will not tolerate this kind of behavior”.  During one of the arguments about the punishment, Steven A. Smith at ESPN, although acknowledging that domestic abuse cannot be tolerated, went on to say that something needs to be done to determine “provocation” in such cases.  That is right, he believes that domestic cases are “provoked” by the victim.

Let me put it this way, Mr. Smith, approximately 1 in 3 women in this country has been or will be a victim of domestic abuse.  Do you really think that a full one-third of women are provoking their domestic partner to abuse them?  That is an absurd stand!  In my career, I dealt with many women who were abused by their spouses.  Yes, I even dealt with some men who were also abused.  If Mr. Smith wants to know what provokes these attacks it is simple.

The wife burns his supper.  She has a different view on something.  She didn’t dress exactly the way she was expected to.  She wouldn’t have sex with him because he was drunk.  She happened to be home when the drunken husband came in and took out his rage on her.  Often times, it is simply that she is handy.  The vast majority of domestic abuse victims usually fall into one of these “provocations” before being beaten.

It would be easy to speak about this only in terms of the NFL.  But this goes way beyond the NFL.  It goes deep into daily lives of people.  It is tragic.  It is indefensible.  It is pure criminal.  However, too many people look at domestic abuse as Mr. Smith does.  They automatically blame the victim for “provoking” the abuse.  So, instead of these vicious attackers being locked up in jail, they are given suspended sentences or probation like in the two cases above.

I mentioned the two recent NFL cases because they show the unbelievable tolerance society shows to the abuser and the demonization of the victim.  In the case of Mr. Hardy, if the NFL does not act before the appeal, which they usually do not, then he will be able to play the full season.  Oh, by the way, he will make $13 million this season.

More than that, the NFL’s handling of these cases do not show a “no tolerance” policy towards domestic abuse.  It really shows that it will be punished only if you consider a slap on the wrist a punishment.

It is easy to come up with the usual argument about coddling athletes.  We see it in high school, college, and the professional levels.  If someone can play a sport exceedingly well, we tend to look the other way when they commit crimes.  The NFL was quick to point out that Mr. Rice was going to lose two paychecks and that would mean about $230,000.  When you consider his multi-million dollar contract, that is a drop in the bucket.  Can anyone really call that a deterrence?

Sports is not the only place where domestic violence takes place.  It happens all of the time in everyday life.  But, sports is where we can send clear signals that this kind of behavior is not acceptable.  I am not sure that either Mr. Rice or Mr. Hardy lose their right to play football.  But, in order to really deter this kind of violence, a year’s suspension seems a more reasonable punishment.  If players lose a full year of income, that will be a deterrence.  It may also send a clear message to lower players in high school and college that they cannot behave like cavemen and expect to be rewarded on the field.

I have never been one who believes in excessive punishment, except in domestic and/or child abuse cases.  Maybe we should have a punishment where the guilty party is tied to a post and every woman in the community is allowed to give two lashes with a whip.  Men who abuse women are really domestic terrorists who conduct torture.  That is what domestic abuse really is.  These men are animals.  Maybe we should start treating them as such.

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Well, Congress is back at work, or at least they are in town.  What is the number one priority of Mr. Boehner?  Not making sure the humanitarian crisis at the border is funded properly.  Not passing immigration reform.  Not passing  a real jobs bill like the Transportation and Infrastructure Bill.  No, the number one priority for Mr. Boehner is suing the President over his use of Executive Orders.

Last week, Mr. Boehner said he was planning to sue over a wide range of issues.  Everyone waited with bated breath to find out what those wide-ranging issues were.  Well, he came out and said what they were.  He was going to sue the President because he delayed the enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate.  That is right, the President is being sued because he delayed the enforcement of one part of the ACA.  A part that the Republicans are against, by the way.

I am not sure why Mr. Boehner picked this one piece to sue the President over.  Maybe he thinks that will get his base fired up for the mid-term elections.  Maybe he can’t really justify the law suit in the first place.  The Republicans are screaming at the top of their lunges about an “imperial presidency” under President Obama.  They argue that his use of Executive Orders in undermining their powers granted by the Constitution.

Well, President Obama has used the “pen” as he likes to say, less than the Presidents before him.  At this time in his Presidency, George W. Bush used the “pen” over 60 more times than President Obama.  Republican anointed St. Reagan used the “pen” nearly 300 times in his presidency.  President Obama would have to issue the same number of Executive Orders in the remaining part of his Presidency as he has over the previous 6 years just to get close to St. Reagan’s number.

Looking back at history, the whole idea of suing a President over the use of Executive Orders is absurd.  Every President has used Executive Orders in the past.  Some more than others.  Most, not all, Constitutional Scholars and Lawyers say that Congress has no standing to even file a suit like this.  There have been one or two attempts in the past, and the courts ruled they have no standing since they can show no “harm” to them.

As a result, this can only be seen for what it really is.  A political stunt by the Republicans who need to gin up their base for the mid-terms.  Let’s face facts.  The Republican Party is under attack from all aspects of the political spectrum.  They are against the majority of Americans when it comes to important issues.  The latest polls indicate that 55% of all Americans favor same-sex marriage rights, including 30% who call themselves Republican.  Over 70% of Americans favor universal background checks when purchasing a weapon.  Over 70% of Americans favor immigration reform.

On top of all of that, the fringe wing of the Party is still coming out with stupid sayings.  Mr. “Legitimate Rape” Todd Akin is back at it with his book slamming the “establishment” wing of the Party for forcing him to apologize for his comments in 2012.  Then there is  Kentucky State Senator Brandon Smith who cited Mars as the reason that earthlings do not have to worry about the planet’s man-made climate catastrophe.  He said:  “I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There are no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.”  Nobody will dispute that?  Maybe, just maybe, if he had stayed awake during science class, he would know that Mars is at a minimum 100 degrees colder than the earth.

Finally, the Texas GOP goes on trial today, including Gov. Perry in his official capacity, for the redistricting that caused the gutting of the Voting Rights Act section 5.  There appears to be some emails between the two most prominent people who redrew that map that indicate it was done in order to keep the GOP in power.  According to the reports, it seems they plotted to make sure that some districts looked like an Hispanic majority, but was redrawn based on voter turn-out in the district.  Meaning low turn-out of Democrats and high turn-out of Republicans.  If true, that is discriminatory and therefore illegal.

So, in order to deflect coverage of these inconveniences, Mr. Boehner has decided it is time to sue the President because he had the audacity to temporarily delay a mandate Mr. Boehner doesn’t like in the first place, for one year.  What a wonderful use of public funds.  Mr. Boehner keeps crying about the President using his power of Executive Orders.  Yet, Mr. Boehner keeps blocking legislation from coming up for a vote.  He keeps saying the House has passed over “40 jobs bills”.  Yet, he never mentions what any of them are, except those infamous repeal ACA bills.

No, Mr. Boehner is fundamentally a coward bowing to the whims of his radical right.  He is too afraid to stand up to the lunatics and actually govern.  So, in order to attempt to save his bacon and phony job, he is resorting to the gimmick of “suing the President”.  One only needs to look at this stunt to realize how depressingly pathetic the Republican Party has become.  The political vacuum they have created in Washington makes it impossible to get any meaningful thing done.  But, to them that is okay.  Only the average American People are being hurt over all of this.

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If you think that all of the so-called Voter Identification Laws being passed in most Red States are designed to prevent in-person voter fraud, you only need look at the North Carolina law to know differently.  In Winston-Salem, there is a hearing in Federal Court taking place where opponents of this law are seeking an injunction so this law cannot be enforced during the 2014 elections.  The law was challenged by the U.S. Justice Department and other groups, but the full trial won’t take place until 2015.

The Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA) was passed and signed into law by Republican Governor Patrick McCrory.  It is the most restrictive voter law passed in the U.S. to date.  The amazing thing about this law, was that originally, it only covered Voter ID requirements.  It passed the State’s House in April of 2013.  But it languished in the State’s Senate until after the SCOTUS ruling on the Voter Rights Act on June 25 of 2013.

Immediately after the ruling, Sen. Tom Apodaca (R), the chairman of the Senate Rules committee, was quoted as saying, “Now we can go with the full bill.”  On July 23, 2013, House Bill 589 expanded from 16 pages to 57 pages and included a number of other provisions, including reducing the days for early voting. The expanded bill passed both the House and Senate on July 25. McCrory signed the legislation into law on Aug. 12.

This bill expanded from 16 pages to 57 pages and they had a full two days to “debate” the law.  There is no other way to put this, but there was no real debate on the bill.  It was a forgone conclusion that the bill would pass.  This bill was obviously waiting for the SCOTUS ruling.  Once SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights Act, the Republicans dusted off what they really wanted, and passed it.

Some other provisions that were included is the repeal of party block voting.  In other words, you cannot vote straight Democratic or Republican.  You must go down the list of every candidate and vote for each one individually.  That may not sound like a big deal, but a lot of people from parties actually do block vote.

Another deletion from the bill was the “Stand By Your Ad” clause.  This clause originally tried to make sure that ads were factual and truthful.  This new VIVA eliminated that clause from the law.  So, I guess now you can lie all you want in ads and don’t have to “Stand By Your Ad” anymore.

The Voter ID provisions, which do not take effect until 2016, lists certain photo IDs that are acceptable.  One ID that has been removed is College Student ID Cards.  So, if you attend North Carolina University, and do not have a driver’s license, you can no longer use your school’s ID to prove who you are.  I guess that goes hand-in-hand with the fact that the law also closes down all of the on-campus polling places.  Students will have to leave their campus to vote.

That is made tougher by the reduction in “early voting” days.  It also eliminates the Sunday before the election from the early voting period and ends early voting on the Saturday before the election at 1 PM.  Since that Sunday was traditionally the “Souls To The Polls” day, it makes it more difficult for churches to organize mass voting of their members on that day.  That was truly offensive to Republicans because most of these churches who participate in “souls to the polls” are predominantly African-American.

If you don’t have a driver’s license, military ID, Retired military ID, Veterans ID, or passport, you MUST have a state issued ID card in order to vote.  Most people say that is not all that difficult.  Except, North Carolina charges a fee to get a State Issued ID card.  Plus, most people will be required to provide a Birth Certificate to prove they are alive.  If you don’t have a copy of you Birth Certificate, that adds to the cost of the “fee” for getting and ID Card.

Plus, many people in North Carolina live in rural areas.  All small towns in these areas do not have offices who issue driver’s licenses or state IDs.  Many people need to travel anywhere between 30 and 60 miles to get to an office.  Doesn’t sound too bad, except, how is a person without a driver’s license supposed to get to one of these offices?  There isn’t any bus service in these areas.

Additionally, if you are over 70 you can use an expired driver’s license to vote, as long as it expired less than 30 days before the election day.  If it expired more than 30 days before the election, you cannot vote unless you get one of those State ID Cards.  Most people over 70 that I know, don’t even think about getting a State ID Card after they no longer drive.  And, before everyone says their family can take them, a lot of elderly people don’t have family living nearby.

A very disturbing portion of the VIVA to me, is that any registered voter can challenge another person’s right to vote.  For example, if I was at the polling place, and a neighbor I hate came in to vote, I could challenge his right to vote.  Once I made the challenge, he would be allowed to cast a “provisional” ballot.  I see this provision as nothing more than an intimidation factor.  The real scary part is that the law does not say registered voter in that precinct.  That opens the door for “operatives” to go around challenging other people’s right to vote.

Finally, they also eliminated “Same Day Registration”.  In North Carolina, you were able to go and register to vote, during the early voting period, and then immediately cast your ballot.  With the elimination of Same Day Registration, you now have to make two trips.  One to register and one to vote.

All of these provisions have one common goal.  They are intended to make it more difficult for the poor, young, and elderly to cast votes.  Why?  Because those are the groups that predominantly vote Democratic.  North Carolina Republicans are so afraid of losing their grip on power, they are willing to disenfranchise thousands of people who may vote against them.

For example, the reduction in early voting will affect up to 56% of North Carolina voters.  That is how many used early voting in the 2012 elections.   Blacks used early voting at a higher rate than whites, comprising a majority of those who voted absentee or early. According to Public Policy Polling, 78 percent of North Carolinians support the current early voting system and 75 percent have used it in the past.

In addition, over 155,000 voters registered to vote and voted on the same day during the early voting period in 2012.  Voters expressed their satisfaction and gratitude that North Carolina had a process that afforded citizens with more opportunities to register and vote, said a 2009 report from the state board of elections.

The law was passed in the name of “protecting the ballot box from voter fraud”.  I went through the court records since 2012 and I cannot find one single case of “voter fraud” being prosecuted.  In person Voter Fraud is becoming a thing of the past in the state and the country as a whole.  There is far more potential for voter fraud in absentee ballots than in-person voting.  Yet, these laws do not place the same restriction on absentee ballots.  I wonder if maybe that is because most absentee ballots are cast by white people.

It is estimated that it will take at least until the end of the week before the hearing in Winston-Salem wraps up.  No one knows how quickly the judge will rule on the injunction.  Of course, the whole nation is watching.  Especially since it comes on the heals of a Federal Judge striking down Wisconsin’s Voter ID Law as unconstitutional.

Once again, if you think this has to do with protecting the ballot box, all you have to do is listen to  Sen. Tom Apodaca, the chairman of the Senate Rules committee, after the SCOTUS ruling on the Voting Rights Act saying, “Now we can go with the full bill.”  He knew this bill would never pass muster if had to be pre-cleared by Justice.

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The Hobby Lobby case has some potential problems the media seems to be missing.  Yes, the fact that the Supreme Court ruled basically that “closely held” corporations are “people” and can enforce their religious beliefs on their employees is bad enough.  But, it may have even more dire consequences for owners of corporations and small businesses.  It seems that the curtain or veil between owners of “closely held corporations” and stockholders may have been torn.  Rather, shredded by the decision.

There was a short time when I was self-employed.  I had a very small consulting business.  I had no employees, except myself.  I went through all the legal hoops to protect my personal assets from the business.  That was part of owning a business.  You needed to make sure your personal assets were protected and that is exactly what corporate law is supposed to do.  But, as I researched the whole thing, it also meant that if I hired employees, I could not impose any religious beliefs on them.  The veil worked both ways.

Now, the Supreme Court has opened the door to totally shred that veil.  If a “closely held corporation” is allowed to base insurance coverage on “personal” religious beliefs, what is keeping someone from suing the owner or stockholders and go after their personal assets in liability cases?  If I was able, as a business owner, to dictate policies based on religious beliefs, which until now violated basic corporate law, doesn’t that open me up to other law suits?

The Supreme Court has validated this “veil” of corporate law since the founding of the country.  There is not a single ruling the history of the court that gives corporations the rights of an individual person, until now.  In my layman point of view, that means that the corporate “veil” no longer exists.  Individual people, like owners and shareholders, could now be held personally liable in every law suit against the corporation.  This ruling says they may be personally liable for their decisions.

For example, let’s say that Hobby Lobby sells a product that turns out to be harmful to the purchaser.  Maybe it is a product that contains lead paint.  Millions of the product are sold nationwide.  People begin to get sick from handling, or small children get sick because they put it in their mouth and ingest the lead paint.

There have already been lots of law suits about this safety hazard, and those suing usually win the case.  The question is, since the decision to sell this product was approved by the owners of Hobby Lobby, can they be sued personally?  In other cases following basic corporate law, the answer has been no.  But, in light of the ruling stating that this corporation is a “person”, I am not so sure anymore.

Since the Hobby Lobby ruling, there are a lot of corporate lawyers who are very nervous right now.  In my research, I have seen many discussions by corporate lawyers about this very nature of the case that isn’t getting a lot of press.  It is possible that if such a case does happen, the Supreme Court could try to patch the “veil” in corporate law to protect owners and shareholders personal assets.  But, wouldn’t that be a blatant disavowing of their writing in this case?  How can the court rule that corporations are “people” able to withhold coverage in insurance plans, and not “people” in liability cases?

I know that conservatives don’t have a problem with double standards.  But, this involves corporate law!  Corporate law has been in existence for hundreds of years.  It was intended to protect individuals since a “corporation” is not considered a person.  The Hobby Lobby case throws that division out the window.

If I were looking to start a business again, I would think very hard about it.  In light of this case, I would be very distrustful that my personal assets would be protected under corporate law anymore.  That would probably make me NOT want to open a business.  I know a few small business owners who are very nervous right now.  They have had to talk with their lawyers about this very possibility.

In an effort to thrust individual beliefs of owners of companies on employees by naming the company a “person”, the court may have done more damage to small businesses and corporations than they think.  They may have overturned corporate law in this country.

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Tomorrow is the 4th of July.  It is a day we celebrate our nation’s birth.  All across the nation we will hear the national anthem being sung and end with the words “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”  Others will stand and say the pledge of allegiance.  It includes the words, “with liberty and justice for all”.

The right-wing will proudly stand tall and sing, or say these words loudly.  They will utter them with false conviction.  They will go on the podium and give speeches rallying their base to “fight for liberty”.  They will use hallow words like “we want to thank all of our men and women in uniform for their service”.  They will utter all sorts of patriotic slogans.  At the end of the day, all of these words and slogans will ring as hallow as they do today.

In Afghanistan our troops will be on patrol.  Fighting for our country.  In Iraq, newly arrived troops will be helping to train the Iraqi Army to fight the insurgents.  All around the world, our men and women in uniform will be working.  The far right neocons will use tomorrow to pump up their rhetoric about fighting terrorists.  They will use that argument to call for a re-invasion of Iraq.

Yet, tomorrow, there will still be millions of people out of work because our Congress won’t do anything to help them get jobs.  Tomorrow, millions more people will have their extended unemployment insurance run out and have no income and face losing everything they spent a lifetime working for.  Tomorrow, women will still be considered second class citizens, especially by the Conservative Christian Cult.  Tomorrow, minorities will still face voter suppression laws in several states.  Tomorrow, LBGT couples won’t be able to get married in most states.

At the birth of our nation, we had to live with the evil “institution” of slavery.  Even though Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal”.  We continued slavery, because, well the slave owners didn’t consider their slaves as “men” or “people’ just as property.  It took a Civil War before this “institution” ended.

We have made small strides in the true concepts of “with liberty and justice for all”.  But, today in 2014, we still have groups of people who are not “free” and do not gain “justice”.  These groups include minorities, women, immigrants and LGBT.  These groups have had their “rights’ trampled on by the far right forever.  All they want is to have equal protection under the law.  Isn’t that what “liberty” really means?

Under the sway of the Conservative Christian Cult, many states are passing very restrictive anti-abortion laws.  The Cult is even fighting against birth control.  I still find it amazing that “contraception” use by women is considered by the Cult as being only for “recreational use”, yet Viagra, and other ED medicines as well as vasectomies are considered for “pro-creation” purposes.  Therefore, these things are still covered under health insurance while many forms of birth control have just be banned by the Supreme Court.

We still have women making anywhere from 80% to as low as 70% of what men make doing the same job.  We have the Cult fighting against such things as violence against women laws, equal pay laws, and ENDA.  We have women all across the nation facing beatings from their husbands just because they are handy.  Women are still victims of rape and yet they are treated as the cause of the rape, not the victim.

The amazing thing is that the Cult is telling women that if they don’t want to get beat or raped, all they have to do is get married.  They claim that feminism is the root cause of all that is wrong with the world.  It is feminism that has caused the decline of the “traditional family”.  Never mind that men set up the “no-fault” divorce clause so they don’t have to pay as much alimony to their wives.  Never mind that it is men who skip out on child support payments.  Hell, there is a misogynist web site called The Red Pill that even offers tips on how to avoid child support payments.  But, no, according to the Cult, it is all the fault of women.

Approximately 40% of all workers in this country work for minimum wage.  That automatically makes anyone with a small family live in poverty.  The Cult and their Republican friends are fighting any move to raise the minimum wage.  They all seem to think that it is perfectly fine for “those people” to work 40 hours per week and live in poverty.  “Those people” don’t do anything meaningful, and should bow down and kiss their employer’s feet for allowing them the opportunity to work and still live in poverty.

Let’s face facts, the only “entitlements” being offered to people in this country are being offered to the super-rich and/or White Christian Men.  We live in a “Corporate Welfare State”.  They are the only people who can even come close to enjoying “liberty”.  That is not what our country is supposed to be.  That is not what I served to protect.  I served, and many others continue to fight for the country that offers “liberty and justice for all”.

While masses of people continue to struggle to survive.  While our Steel Industry faces bankruptcy because of illegal dumping of steel into the country by South Korea threatening over 580,000 jobs.  While our transportation funds, the ones that repair our transportation systems, runs out of money and threatens another 700,000 jobs.  While our military members continue to serve our country, many of them relying on food stamps to feed their families.  Members of the Cult and the Republican Party will give hallow patriotic speeches.

They will loudly use the words of “religious freedoms”, or “liberty from tyranny” or “take our country back”.  But, what they are really saying is if you are not a white male Christian, you have no right to say anything because they believe this is “their” country.  I have seen many political fights in my life.  But, I have never seen such a push to turn back the clock on minority, women, immigration, and LBGT rights like is going on now.  The Cult has all the answers.  It is in “traditional family” where the man is the head of the household and women stay at home.

This gem from Rafael Cruz, Sr., the father of that patriotic Canadian Senator, Ted Cruz says it all:

As God commands us men to teach your wife, to teach your children—to be the spiritual leader of your family—you’re acting as a priest. Now, unfortunately, unfortunately, in too many Christian homes, the role of the priest is assumed by the wife. Why? Because the man had abdicated his responsibility as priest to his family…So the wife has taken up that banner, but that’s not her responsibility. And if I’m stepping on toes, just say, ‘Ouch.’

He believes this philosophy of the man’s role of the priest so much, he has been divorced twice!  Sounds to me that he has abdicated his role, at least when it comes to his marriage vows of “until death do us part”.

No, as long as we have right-wing pundits calling women “sluts” because they favor birth control or abortion.  As long as these same right-wing pundits are praising right-wing militia groups as “patriots” and not the domestic terrorists they are.  As long as the right-wing opposes immigration reform.  As long as we allow this income inequality and war against the poor and women.  As long as we have powerful groups like the Cult and their financial backers like the Koch Brothers, we will continue to live in a fantasy and hallowly say the words “with liberty and justice for all”.

Until the rights of all people, not just the members of the Cult and their allies, are respected and these terrible laws that continue to harm women, minorities, LBGT, and immigrants are overthrown, we will not live in a country of “liberty and justice for all”.  And that is the true American Tragedy!

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