Sunday, July 27, 2014

On Rockets, Missiles, and a Right to Exist.

On October 2, 2002, a man killed crossing a parking lot in Maryland would be the beginning shot in a 22 day long terror-filled shooting spree for residents of the Beltway. (For those of you who are unaware, the Beltway includes Washington D.C. and sections of Maryland and Virginia.)  Ten people were killed, three more were critically injured, and the only thing they were doing was going about their daily lives.  The rest of the country watched in horror, and the residents of the Beltway lived in fear.  On October 24, the FBI apprehended the two men responsible for all that terror.  If you lived anywhere near the Beltway it was a scary time.  Frankly, just a year after 9/11, it was still a scary time for everyone.  

Now imagine that instead of using a Bushmaster Rifle, Muhammad and Malva had been using bottle rockets, rocket propelled grenade launchers and missiles.  Imagine spending the day waiting for the sirens to go off so you could dash for your local bomb shelter and sit in fear while explosions rained down on your head.  Imagine the fear for your children, in schools, knowing that it was highly possible they were also currently under attack.  You are crying out for your government to do something.... anything.... to stop this.  But the government sits on their hands, because it appears that Muhammad and Malva are storing and using their weapons from buildings containing sick people and children.  (People who happen to be on their side.)  The government doesn't want innocent civilian casualties, so please, just continue huddling in your bomb shelter, and hope one of those rockets doesn't catch you in the street.

Do you think anything like that would ever stand in the United States of America?  What if Mexico started launching missiles into the southern states?  What if they were launching those missiles from schools and hospitals?  If your life was threatened, daily, by a group of people who's own political charter was calling for your complete and utter eradication, would you want our own government to do ... nothing?  

That's where Israel is right now.  The people of Gaza elected Hamas, a known terrorist organization, whose charter calls for nothing less than the complete destruction of Israel.  Hamas has been shooting missiles into Israel for days now.  They used international aid meant to help the people of Gaza out of poverty to build secret tunnels so their suicide bombers could gain access to Israel.  They have suffered under a blockade, because frankly, everything the international community sends them, they use to intensify their war on Israel.  They have missiles stored in United Nations buildings.  And the response of so many people in the U.S. is, so what?  Israel is killing innocent civilians and they have no right.  They have no need to be doing this.  Nothing justifies what they are doing.  Never mind that Hamas uses women and children as human shields, and conducts their wars from schools and hospitals.  Never mind that, the truth, that pesky little thing, is that Hamas is completely responsible for every civilian casualty. 

So do me a favor.  Go look out your window.  Now imagine a roaring rocket propelled grenade slamming through that window and killing your favorite pet.  And would you be willing to sacrifice the life of that pet, because your neighbor thinks your cherry tree is on property that belongs to him?  Even though your cherry tree isn't on his property, you moved it years ago.  Even though you've given him every concession in order to make your neighborly relationship easier? Even though the state gives him a check every week to maintain that property (and you are pretty sure he is using that money to purchase the grenades he is now shooting through your window).   Just tell Fluffy he has to die for the cause, because your neighbor has every right to shoot that rocket, and you really have no right to retaliate.

That's Israel and Hamas.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

When in the Course of Human Events

America is not perfect.  As a country, we have made our fair share of mistakes.  Some of those mistakes were egregious, like slavery.  Some of them were mistakes of necessity, like the Civil War.  (Yes, I realize that many people would argue with me on the point of the Civil War.  Just hear me out.)  Whenever necessary, we seek to correct our most horrendous mistakes.  However, America cannot correct her past mistakes, by throwing out the rule of law in the present or the future. 

Recently, President Obama and other Administration Officials made it very clear that, since Congress was refusing to pass "Comprehensive Immigration Reform", the President himself would enact certain Executive Orders to accomplish that reform on his own.  I do not wish to discuss the legality of the President essentially re-writing laws, or writing his own laws, or refusing to enforce already written laws.  I am not a legal scholar.  However, when the President made it clear that he wanted to allow certain immigrants, who came here outside of the rule of the law, to stay, he was sending a message.  That message was heard loud and clear, and now we have a humanitarian crisis in one of the most prosperous countries in the world.  The reason for the influx of unaccompanied minors has been debated loudly, but I don't think it takes a Rhodes Scholar to understand that when the President promised amnesty to certain subsets of our illegal immigration population, he invited what is currently happening.  Get in quickly, and you won't have to leave.  How many parents, for whatever reason, stuffed their kids in the back of a truck and shipped them off to the United States in the hopes that some type of better life might be in their future?  As a parent, if I was living in a poor, crime-ridden place, and I saw any opportunity to get my child out, I might be tempted to try it.  I can understand that.  However, on the other side of that line, is the rule of law.

It was this same rule of law that kept Austrian, Polish and German Jews from being able to emigrate to the United States at a time when Hitler was calling for their broad extermination.  At the time, popular support was not in favor of loosened immigration for Jews, and also, there was some thought, after our entrance into World War II, that the Germans would be able to turn these former German nationals into spies.  (Someone could attempt to write a blog explaining why we thought people who were fleeing Germany to get away from Hitler would then want to turn spy for him.)  The point is, the rule of law prevailed at a time when it's possible we should have been having a discussion about allowing more Jewish refugees into our country.  It was either here or death, in many cases.  And not just "possible death" because of crime or poverty or drug lords.  It was death mandated by German law.    By 1952, this country had allowed 137,450 Displaced Jews into the United States.  Between 1936 and 1952, in case there was any confusion.

In 2013, we granted visas to 158,667 persons from North America. (For clarification, the INS does not have a Central American breakdown in their report.  It's either North America or South America.)

In one year we let in more immigrants from poverty-stricken, crime ridden countries than we let in persecuted displaced Jews in 16 years.  It doesn't erase the mistakes of the early 20th century, but it does show we have grown.  At some point, we figured out that "to whom much is given much is required".   We learned from our past mistakes, and we are not making that same mistake again.  However, we let in 158,000+ last year, and now there are somewhere around 50,000 unaccompanied minors who did NOT go through the legal requirements, and we are being told that the compassionate thing to do is just let them in.  Who takes care of them?  Who pays for their food, clothing, education, and health care?  Do we bring the parents here too?  And then who takes care of the parents?  These people have no jobs, no money, and no way to support themselves.  Those are things you have to prove you can do before we give you a visa to come here.  The law is, you can't be a drain on our system, which is already drained enough, considering we have somewhere around 10 million illegal immigrants in this country already that, in many cases, are collecting federal and state benefits.  We have laws for a reason.  

If we really feel it's compassionate to take in more people from these countries, then the proper way to do that, is to simply allow more people to obtain visas.  We have the ability to do that.  We, as a country, do not have the ability to federally support thousands upon thousands of people.  We are struggling to pay our own bills and take care of our own citizens (and the already entrenched illegal population).  We still have the lowest workforce participation rate since the Great Depression.  

Our President needs to acknowledge that this is a problem, and it's more than likely his pronouncements from his telephone and pen allowed people to believe that if they could just get in, they'd be allowed to stay.  These children need to be sent back to their parents, and their parents needs to be encouraged to follow the legal methods available for them to come here, and make an attempt to obtain the American Dream.

For those who think that I'm not compassionate, when you are willing to walk down to one of these holding facilities, pick a child, take them in, and take care of them as if they were your own, then you can play the compassion card.  When you are willing to pay for legal advisers to go to those countries and help these people through the red tape that is immigration, then you can play the compassion card.  Or you could simply volunteer to be a sponsor to an immigrant family.  But posting facebook statuses about how it would be compassionate to foist more people on the American Taxpayer?  Not compassionate.  Put your money where your mouth is.

Until then, our President and the rest of our government needs to do what we put them there to do.  Enforce the laws.  We have laws for a reason, and as you all keep reminding me, it's the law, deal with it. (Of course, I'm being reminded of that in reference to Obamacare, but.... )

*For those of you still wondering why I called the Civil War a necessary mistake, well, that's another blog for another time. :)

**The above picture is a group of 100 Displace Jewish Children who were rescued from certain death in Germany.  Let that number sink in... 100

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fiction as Fact

From the Twitterverse:

Cecil Richards: Birth Control is basic health care used by 99% of women - unbelievable that we're fighting for it in 2014. #NotMyBossesBusiness

Lena Dunham: Women's access to birth control should not be denied because of their employer's religious belief.

Nancy Pelosi: Allowing CEO's to limit the medical procedures available to employees is a gross violating of workers religious rights.

Elizabeth Warren: Can't believe we live in a world where we'd even consider letting big corps deny women access to basic care based on vague moral objections.

I could go on, but it's not necessary.  Just those four tweets alone give me enough to write about, and that doesn't include all the facebook comments I had the pleasure *cough cough* of reading today.

I am simply amazed at either the wholesale lying, complete disregard for facts, or just plain low-information idiocy that has been connected to the Supreme Court decision today in the cases of both Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. 

 Legally, this was a very narrowly structured decision, relating to contraception methods that could be considered abortifacients.  The majority opinion went so far as to say other medical procedures or medications were NOT covered by this decision, and by the way, at no point did the Supreme Court give carte blanche for corporations to deny employment or rights to gay people.  Let's just start with that.  The decision was based on closely held corporations, not large broad public corporations.  It is about as narrow of a decision as you can get.  Try finding a few reputable, non-partisan, SCOTUS related sites.  

At no point is anyone denied access to any method of contraception.   If they allowed your only local pharmacy to refuse to carry a product, that could be interpreted as denying access.  However, if you can go to a doctor and get an IUD put in, or you can go to your local pharmacy and get Plan B, you have access.  All that anyone was denied was the right to have someone else pay for it.

This is not a blow to women's rights.  Let me know where you find a right to free contraception in the Constitution.  

Also, for those of you who would like to comment and say "it's not my bosses business", and my favorite "stay out of my vagina", then explain why you are expecting them to pay for something that is none of their business and that they need to stay out of.

Those are the best arguments I've seen.

Here are a few that totally blow me away, to the point of complete insanity.

"Christians should be ashamed that these people are hiding behind the Bible."

"Hobby Lobby are a bunch of hypocrites because they invest in companies that provide the drugs they refuse to pay for and also companies that supply medical equipment necessary for abortions."

"The idea that Corporations are people is scary."

If Christians are ashamed that someone is taking a stand about their Bible-based beliefs, then those Christians ought to spend some time 1) reading the Bible and 2) praying.  You can disagree with them on the basis of Christian liberty, but I'm pretty sure taking a stand is an integral part of the Bible.  And you don't stop taking a stand simply because you happen to have the nerve to own a business.  Somehow, I fail to see God accepting the excuse "well, I didn't think that I should say anything or fight against that because I incorporated my business".  

Hobby Lobby has investments in both pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies through 401K's provided to their employees.  This comes from a recent Mother Jones "expose", and a Forbes editorial calling them hypocrites.  Let me mention, that as far as I know, Hobby Lobby does not have corporate investments in these companies.  The only investments they have in these businesses is through a 401K, that is, most likely, administered by an outside investment company.  I do not know how their 401K is set up.  I know that with my husband's, we were able to choose certain companies to invest our money in.  The choice was ours, and any matching funds from his company were simply distributed to the companies we chose in the amount we chose.  Other investment firms just have a standard plan where they choose the investments.  And yes, Hobby Lobby matches employee donations, but as part of the employees salary, that is their money to do with as they please.  As far as I am aware, the Hobby Lobby Corporation itself is not making money off of investments to these businesses, but even if they were, they are investing in companies that produce a wide variety of drugs and medical equipment.  And some of the same medical equipment used in abortions is also use in heart, brain, lung, and other surgeries.  A suction isn't bad simply because it's used in abortion.  It may also be used in removing blood clots.  If we all stopped buying products from a company because we dislike something else they sell, we'd stop buying pretty much...everything.  Hobby Lobby is no more hypocritical than those people screaming for privacy in the bedroom while demanding someone else pay for their actions in the bedroom.

What is a corporation? A corporation is a group of people, in association, who have certain powers and liabilities as that association distinct from it's members as individuals.  The most common reason for incorporating is so that the individuals are not assessed the liabilities.  The "corporation" is.  Also, as such the individuals assets are not the corporations assets.  But a corporations is made up of individual people, and as far as I'm aware, those people don't cease to have rights simply because they own a business and wanted their personal assets and liabilities separate from that of their business.  Especially in the case of small businesses that are not owned by the broader public, they have more leeway as to how their business is run.  They don't necessarily have to answer to hundreds or even thousands of individual investors.  If you work for a corporation, you are still a person.  Unless you'd like to give up personhood, as you seem to think that those people at the top of the food chain ought to do.  If corporations are forced to give up their first amendment protections, then they should also be forced to give up all the other ones.  And if you think this case was the nail in the coffin to that, you missed a bigger decision on this several years ago.

That case was Citizens United Vs. FEC.  And in that decision, the Supreme Court decided that it was unconstitutional to deny corporations and labor unions, whether for profit or non-profit, the right to political speech.  (It did not change the campaign donation laws, however, if the corporation or union in question wanted to produce their own political advertisement, they were entitled to do so under the First Amendment.)  In this free speech case, the Supreme Court treated corporations as individuals afforded the protections given to individual people in our Constitution.  

So scary, for those who think the whole corporations as people is scary, happened 4 years ago.  

My feeling is that the basis for the outrage is because this case was based in religious beliefs.  More and more, in America, the freedom to practice religion, is under attack, unless you practice it in a closet somewhere, where no one else can see you (and therefore not be offended by you).  At least if you are a Christian.  

You can object to the decision based on it's merits, but the objections made based on fear-mongering statements that contain nothing remotely close to fact?  They are hollow and will not wash with the majority of people who actually know the facts.  Try actually looking them up, please?

*side note:  Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood will both supply 16 forms of contraception.

*side note2: The second set of "facts" is not sourced, as most of those were on my personal facebook, and I have no desire to out people in public who may wish to remain private.