Posts Tagged ‘Political’

I Don’t Want To Vote On Marriage Law

January 15, 2012

I have a problem with the majority voting on the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of the minority. It doesn’t matter which groups we are discussing when we say the “majority” and “minority”; what we have are two sets of people – human beings – that are different in some way.

Legislation can be introduced to help define and clarify, to put in black and white, what we hold to be universal human rights, but even without these laws in place, they are called universal human rights because we know that these are so basic, so beyond reproach or question that laws are almost superfluous. Almost. The majority can become blind to the minority. This can lead to a belief that the differences that define the the minority are somehow a threat to that which defines the majority, or that the differences of the minority are undesirable because they’re not shared by most people. And so laws can act as a safeguard for the rights of the minority for cases in which their voices cannot be heard over the crowd.

I think it is horrific that we allow any human being to have their rights curtailed by the whimsy of popular opinion. That is one of the reasons I am angry about this November’s ballot initiative in Minnesota, which leaves it up to us, the voters, to amend the Minnesota Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Other reasons that I’m angry about the proposal include the traditional objections to polluting our constitution with language that would bar citizens from their rights, because I support human happiness and this amendment would hurt gay human beings, and because I detest the political drama and fear-mongering that is caused by this American Idol-esque “let the people have a say” and “down with activist judges” posturing.

So why are we voting on whether Bob and Steve should be allowed to get married? Well, because bigoted, sex-obsessed, fearful, religious zealot nutjobs…oh, we’ll skip that for now. Let’s just go with this:

Some people (see past sentence) want to amend the constitution to “protect” heterosexual marriage from gay people, and they think the best way to do this is to amend the constitution. Per Article IX of the MN Constitution we, the voters, must approve any changes to the constitution. That’s why we’re voting on Bob and Steve’s rights this November.

But why do the bigoted, sex-obsessed, oops some people want to amend the constitution? Why is the law in the Minnesota Statutes not enough? Judges refer to the Constitution to make decisions and rulings. Right now, judges in Minnesota can point to the constitution and say that nowhere in our Constitution does it explicitly ban the marriage of gay people. This amendment would put language in place that would explicitly ban the marriage of gay people. Several states have already used the lack of this language in their constitutions to overturn statutes that ban gay marriage, thus making gay marriage legal in those states. Some people in Minnesota are trying to prevent that from happening in this state.

This is marriage law that we’re discussing, not theology. Churches can be as restrictive as they want about marriage within the confines of their religion, but every resident of Minnesota should have the right to be treated as equal to every other resident of Minnesota under Minnesota law.

So no, I don’t want to vote on the proposed amendment that would make it very difficult for gay residents to marry in Minnesota. And I don’t want you to be able to either.

But if it is there when I step into the voting booth in Novemeber, I will be voting NO, the Minnesota Constitution SHALL NOT be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.

….

And in light all of that, this is a heartening development from Friday:

From The Colu.mn:

Legislators Propose Repeal of Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

DFL legislators in the Minnesota House introduced a bill during the legislative recess on Friday to repeal a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage from the 2012 ballot. The bill faces high hurdles as the Republicans still control the House.

Here’s text of the bill:

H.F. No. 1885, as introduced – 87th Legislative Session (2011-2012) Posted on Jan 13, 2012

A bill for an act relating to marriage; repealing a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution recognizing marriage as only a union between one man and one woman;repealing Laws 2011, chapter 88.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1. REPEALER.

Laws 2011, chapter 88, is repealed.

Sec. 2. EFFECTIVE DATE.
Section 1 is effective the day following final enactment.

The bill was submitted by Karen Clark of Minneapolis, Leon Lillie of North St. Paul, Kate Knuth of New Brighton, Rena Moran of St. Paul ; Marion Greene of Minneapolis, John Lesch of St. Paul, Mindy Greiling of Roseville, Carolyn Laine of Columbia Heights, Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley, Alice Hausman of St. Paul, Linda Slocum of Minneapolis, Joe Mullery of Minneapolis, Phyllis Kahn of Minneapolis, Dianne Loeffler of Minneapolis, Frank Hornstein of Minneapolis, Bill Hilty of Finlayson and Kathy Brynaert of Mankato

Props for the effort, but as the article points out, this is likely not going to get anywhere since the Republicans control the House, and the seated Republicans are fairly united in their support of the amendment:

Those in red boxes are Republican legislators. Source

 

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The Way Things Used to Be

October 20, 2011

This one is going around teh Facebook today.

I like the reminder that we were not founded on Christian values as I’ve heard people put forth (e.g., “This country was founded on the Ten Commandments!“), and that our government documents used to reflect our shared secular values.

I’m not so much of a fan of the idea that we should adhere to the original values because they are the original values that were agreed upon around 200 years ago. As a progressive I understand that change is necessary as our interactions with and understanding of the world around us evolves. We should adhere to the secular values implied in the image below because only by keeping the divisive religious dogma of hundreds of different religious ideologies out of our government – the one thing that unites most of us in this country – can we live together in something that approaches harmony.

Text Reads:

Did you know?

The original Constitution of the United States that was ratified in 1789 had only one reference to religion: [Article 6] No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

The de facto motto of the United States, adopted as part of the Great Seal of the U.S. by an Act of Congress in 1782 was E. Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One). Congress changed it 174 years later (1956) to “In God We Trust.”

The original ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ was written in 1892 by Baptist Minister Francis Bellamy who DID NOT INCLUDE the words “Under God.” Those were added by Congress 62 years later (1954).

The U.S. didn’t issue Paper Currency until 1861, and ‘In God We Trust’ didn’t appear on it for 96 years (1957).

Just after the Red Scare in the 1950’s, CONGRESS CHANGED the Pledge of Allegiance and our Nation’s Motto over the FEAR of COMMUNISM.

In a time when fear is traded like a commodity, and the word SOCIALISM is being used to create the same fear as the old word COMMUNISM, let’s REMEMBER that our country was NOT founded on fear. NO, OUR NATION was founded out of HOPE for a better world where all people were EQUAL – that we were ONE from MANY.

Let’s not let fear change our nation’s great tradition & direction again.

HPV Vaccine: Making It Personal

September 15, 2011

I watched the CNN Tea Party Republican debate on Monday night. I disagreed with a lot of the issues that the candidates presented, and my blood really boiled when the candidates skirted direct questions to make snarky personal attacks on each other and President Obama. And I really, really mourned for the human race when it became clear that the audience went wild every time a cutthroat comment was made, regardless of the comment’s bearing on the question at hand. But every now and then there was a bit of level-headed debate from some of the candidates on some of the issues.

The HPV vaccine was not one of them.

Four years ago Rick Perry signed an executive order that required Texas girls to be vaccinated against HPV. He was lambasted for that decision on several fronts. Some people believe that vaccination against the STI condones premarital sex (excuse me while I go weep in the corner), some  think that Perry abused the executive order to mandate health care, that he threatened parents’ rights to decide what is best for their children (even though the executive order allowed for parental opt-out), or that he signed the mandate in order to reward political donations from Merck, the producer of the vaccine. Michelle Bachmann, in an amazing show of moral self-righteousness, predatory fear-mongering, and willful ignorance of vaccine safety used all of these arguments to rail against Perry on Monday’s Republican debate.

Dear American voters – lead us not to Michelle Bachmann, but deliver us from her evil. For thine is the will of the people, and…you are our only hope. Or something like that.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a big supporter of vaccines. We have regulatory bodies as well as an informed medical and scientific community that is able to evaluate the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Also, we have science! Science that any layman can access with a little bit of internet searching! If the majority of the medical establishment supports a vaccine, I’m behind it. Because you know what sucks? People suffering and dying from preventable illnesses.

The HPV vaccine offers hope to women because we are susceptible to HPV-caused cervical cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection – 50% of sexually active Americans will become infected sometime in their lives. We need to stop viewing HPV infection as a punishment for having sex and start viewing it as a risk that we can decrease when we do have sex. Sex happens, so does HPV. Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate!

I found the following personal story from Quiche Moraine on the Almost Diamonds blog. This is the kind of heartwrenching stress, agony, physical pain and emotional trauma that the HPV vaccine may help prevent. The vaccine is a medical wonder, and I shame those who pervert it into a political tool.

From Quiche Moraine:

One day your doctor calls. You think to yourself, “Huh. Last clinic, it would have been a nurse. Whatever.” And the news is good: Blood work, even the special stuff they did because you’ve not been feeling well and you have a family history, is perfectly, beautifully normal.

Oh, except the Pap smear came back abnormal and here’s the number for a gynecological clinic and tell them “CIN 2-3″ when you call to make the appointment for a colposcopy.
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Speechless

April 18, 2011

We’ve all seen some pretty fantastic political stunts, but this is one that I can really stand behind.

Seen over at Le Cafe Witteveen.

Quran Burning

April 5, 2011

So, a Christian extremist in Florida burned a Quran after “passing judgement” on it, and in response we have  the violent murder of 12 people by a mob of Muslim extremists in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif,  nine more dead in Kandahar, and violence and protests across Afghanistan.

My first response was, “Seriously? The lone actions of a backwater hick of a pastor from the United States didn’t respect a different religion’s holy book, and that justifies the storming of a UN-held building and the taking of human life in Afghanistan? And people wonder why I reject organized religion!”

But as was pointed out in Psychology Today and Salon.com, just writing this off as a spat between two different religious groups is simplistic; there are geopolitical, social, cultural and economic issues that, along with religious differences, probably contributed to the loss of life.

In fact, when some of these other factors are removed from the picture, that may be why moderate Muslims in the United States were able to have a more moderate response to this tragedy:

The Muslim community in the United States has declined to respond to such an act by Jones and his small group of followers.

“Terry Jones had his 15 minutes of fame and we’re not going to help him get another few minutes,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

In the US we have the idea that you don’t get to tell me what to do with my Quran (if I owned one). This mass-produced item that I can pick up at any number of different bookstores is NOT holy; it is ink on paper which becomes my personal property when I purchase it. It is a replica of a holy item. I can dog ear it, highlight it, copy pages of it and throw those copies in the garbage when I’m done with them. And if my replica Quran gets water damaged or otherwise becomes unusable, I can throw it out or destroy it, run down to Barnes and Noble and pick up a new copy. Perhaps we –  and Terry Jones – see the burning of this Quran as a small symbolic gesture, that the Quran he burned was just one copy of millions out there. 

The angry Afgahni mobs probably didn’t go out and kill people just because Pastor Jones was a dick who destoryed a copy of the Quran – that would be ridiculous, right? We in the United States know that Terry Jones is a lone dinkus who doesn’t speak for the majority of us in Western World, but perhaps the Afghanis responsible for the rioting believe that enough of us in the Western world are complicit, that we as a whole – including our leaders – allowed this to Quran burning to happen because we are contemptuous of the Afghani people as a whole, and that we see their nation only as a resource to be exploited.

I don’t claim to understand what really drove one group of human beings to violently attack and brutally injure and slaughter other human beings in Afghanistan. I think it is right to be outraged and offended by the incitement to violence by Jones and the violence and loss of life by Afghani mobs. However, I don’t think the correct response is to simply write off the whole situation as a Christianity vs. Islam problem.

Regarding free speech aka “should we burn Jones at the stake for inciting this violence?”: The first amendment lets me be an asshole – I can burn an American flag, a Bible, a Quran or my bra and not be legally persecuted in this country for doing so. Don’t give me that “we’re in a war” crap. Go see Glenn Greenwald’s The most uncounted cost of Endless War and  Brendan O’Neill’s article Pastor Terry Jones is no more to blame for the Afghan violence than Martin Scorsese was for the shooting of Ronald Reagan for their thoughts on free speech in relation to this case.

National Influenza Vaccination Week

December 10, 2010

It’s almost over – have you gotten your flu shot yet?

From WhiteHouse.gov:

Everyone can take steps to promote America’s health this flu season.  Though there is no way to accurately predict the course or severity of influenza, we know from experience that it will pose serious health risks for thousands of Americans this season.  We can all take common-sense precautions to prevent infection with influenza, including washing hands frequently, covering coughs or sneezes with sleeves and not hands, and staying home when ill.

However, vaccination is the best protection against contracting and spreading the flu.  The vaccine is available through doctors’ offices, clinics, State and local health departments, pharmacies, college and university health centers, as well as through many employers and some primary and secondary schools.  Seasonal flu activity is usually most intense between January and March, and vaccinating now can help curb the spread of this disease.  Together, we can prepare as individuals and as a Nation for this year’s flu season and help ensure that our fellow Americans remain healthy and safe.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 5 through December 11, 2010, as National Influenza Vaccination Week.  I encourage Americans to get vaccinated this week if they have not yet done so, and to urge their families, friends, and co workers to do the same.

This is a pro-science, health-positive proclamation by our President.  Good work, Sir. 

Now how ’bout that DADT?

Random MN Election Commentary

November 3, 2010

If you want the full, most accurate and complete skinny, you gotta go to the MN Secretary of State General Elections Results page.

I’m kind of nail-biting over how close the governor’s race is:

Because after hearing about ‘ol Crazy Eyes being given another term in the US House by 6th District (WTF, 6th District?) I need some really, really good news.  Clicking on the image below will open a new window to a recent article by the MN Independent and a clip of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews trying doggedly to get an answer from Representative (*erp*) Bachmann.  But all she wants to do is repeatedly repeat her repetitive plan for what passes for “progress” in her ol’ crazy eyes:

  1. Keep Current Tax Laws so no one’s taxes go up
  2. A Full Repeal of ObamaCare.
  3. Secure the US Borders
  4. No Increase in National Energy Tax

Oh, and jobs.  Something about jobs.  Jobs are also her number one priority, I guess.

Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2010

Well, here we go.  All dressed up for Halloween parties, and all I really want to do is lay around the house and read Sourcery, the fifth Discworld book.  What’s up with that, Lack Of Ambition?  Well, at least Sourcery could be tied into the whole creepy Halloween deal.

I’m a hulu girl for Halloween this year.  It’s actually my wedding dress; we had a Hawaiian-themed wedding in our backyard.  We ordered about $300 dollars worth of luau-themed decorations from Oriental Trading Company (inflatable palm trees, dude!) and all the guests wore Hawaiian shirts, grass skirts, etc.  It was a blast.

So yeah, basically I went to my closet and pulled out my dress and thought, “Meh…that’ll work.”

<—That’s the Hubby and me at a party.  It’s an odd crop to give the people around us some privacy.

I’m just tired from running all around town today.  First I went to the Minnesota Rally to Restore Sanity event that was held in the Rotunda of the Saint Paul capitol building today.  It was pretty great, and there were some fun signs.  We watched some of the big DC Rally on a screen, and listened to some speakers, including Tom Horner, the independent candidate for governor here in MN.  Watch a little clip from one of the local news stations about the rally.

After that I went directly to the Central Library in Minneapolis to attend a talk on scams and frauds hosted by the Minneapolis Skeptics.  It was a little late, but I was in time to hear a volunteer “Fraud Fighter” for AARP and a representative from the Better Business bureau give us the skinny on some of the newest frauds going around right now.

So, the Hubby is waiting patiently for me to finish typing so we can get going.  Go! Go! Go! Go!  Oooo….maybe some coffee.

‘Sup, Friday night?

October 29, 2010

It’s Halloween weekend!

I am entirely too jealous of several friends who are on the way to tomorrow’s Rally for Sanity in DC.  I can’t wait to hear all about it, and to see the awesome video footage and photographs that will come out of the event.

I am also very much yearning to go to The Gathering of American Gods at the House on the Rock, but that is this weekend, so that is not happening.

In other news, Greg Laden’s Blog made me happy tonight.  Well, not the video of Michelle Bachmann expounding on science, but everything else was pretty interesting.  And this video made my night:

 

 

 

 

Presidential Rally at U of MN

October 25, 2010

Here’s the write up of my experiences at President Obama’s rally on the University of MN campus this past Saturday.

The Line

Wow, The Line. 

The Hubby and I left the house at 11:15am.  President Obama was rumored to be speaking at about 3pm, and local dignitaries and politicians would start speaking about 1pm.  We figured we’d get in line around noon and have a couple of hours to get seated.  As we were leaving the apartment, we heard an MPR correspondant says that thousands of people had already lined up to hear President Obama speak.  I really had no idea what thousands of people might look like, but we had heard that the Fieldhouse could hold 7,000 people so we decided to try our luck in line.  It turns out that thousands (lower-case “t”) in a stadium is nothing, but when you make all of those people stand in a single/double-file line Thousands (big freaking capital “T”) is a hell of a lot of people.

We rode our bikes from our home in LynLake to the rally on the U of MN’s East Bank.  The Fieldhouse is at 18th St. and University Ave.  We rode up University and parked our bikes when we came to road blocks at 16th Street.  We started to walk east up University toward the Fieldhouse, but were redirected by security.  Crowd control was pretty lousy from where we started – there were no signs or rally volunteers to direct us to the end of the line.  We had no idea where we were going, and so we decided to follow the small group ahead of us who were wearing U of MN sweatshirts and jackets and saying words like Obama, line, and Washington Avenue.

Below is a map of the East Bank campus.  The red line is the path we walked from our bikes to the end of the line.  The yellow circles are the Fieldhouse where President Obama spoke and the overflow seating in the Sports Pavillion where the Hubby and I ended up – more on that later.  The blue line…that was The Line.

These are some pictures from The Line.

This was our first view of The Line as we came around the west side of Northrup Auditorium.   This is the NW corner of the Mall.

After walking down the Mall and around Kolthoff Hall, we finally found the end of The Line outside of the Wiseman art center.  We were actually on the Washington Avenue footbridge for a while.

Ah, chalk art advertising!  I’d forgotten all about this college campus mode of communication.

This was when we turned onto Church Street.  I believe that’s Lind Hall on the right.

Trekking between Lind Hall and the Engineering buildings.  Doesn’t that statue look like it’s saying “Yes We Can!  Only a few more feet!”

After walking a few blocks along Washington Avenue we took a left at Walnut Street and filed up past the McNamara Alumni Center and back down the Aquatic Center. 

The Umbrella Tree – Rally volunteers were announcing that no umbrellas would be allowed inside the Fieldhouse, so this tree was being decorated with pretty ornaments. 

Next we took a jaunt up Scholar’s Walk.  It was here that we started hearing rumors that the Fieldhouse had filled to capacity and that the Fire Marshall was rerouting us to overflow viewing.  A good number of people left the line, but I’d guess about 500 people or so stayed and filed into the Sports Pavillion to see President Obama speak on a big screen.  By this time it was almost 3pm so we had missed all of Mark Dayton’s speech as well as Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar. 

The big screens were actually two screens back-to-back so that each side of the bleachers could be utilized for seating.  The absolute worst infomercials were playing while we waited for President Obama’s speech to begin!

*sigh* This was as close to our President as we got.  But hey – the seating was comfy and we had an excellent view of the screen.

The Demonstrators

One of the things that I really like about big political events like this are the demonstrators.  I like seeing people get out and get excited about their views, projects and groups.  So I was a little bummed out that we saw less than ten groups demonstrating.  I mean – captive audience, people!  I only saw two “anti” signs – one against the current administration and one against democrats.  I saw two anti-war groups, a small contingent from the Minneapolis Urban League advertising an upcoming event, one guy with a sign about ending violence against Coptic Christians in Egypt (?), and there was one Green party group handing out fliers.  The most organized group was from the MN Committee to Stop FBI Repression.  They had people along the entire route handing out fliers  to bring attention to the September FBI raids on seven Chicago and Minneapolis homes of anti-war protesters.

The lady with the yellow sign is not so happy with the way things are going in our country. 

Yay! This is the kind of thing I was hoping to see.  The Radical Roosters had a small group of people dancing and chanting up and down the Mall.

“Democrats Flush Away Prosperity”  Is that why my toilet sometimes gets clogged?

A protester against persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt.

One of the many anti-FBI repression protesters.

The Talk

According to the MNDaily, approximately 11,000 people attended the President’s speech, which lasted about 30 minutes. 

The energy in the Sports Pavillion wasn’t very high.  One lady came in before the speech and gave a half-hearted try at riling up the crowd.  She yelled “Is everyone fired up…”  and a few people chimed in “And ready to go!”  She yelled a few more times and each time a few more people joined in, but it didn’t really get going.  Everyone was pretty quiet and probably subdued from standing in line for 2+ hours and then finding out that we weren’t going to see the President in person. 

I thought that President Obama’s talk was pretty standard fare.  He implored the audience to get out and vote, and to support Mark Dayton in the upcoming November 2nd elections.  He highlighted the government’s successes of health care reform, the federal stimulus, bringing troops home from Iraq and credit card reform, and reminded people that he’s got ambitious plans for improving the deficit and unemployment in his next two years in office.  He attempted to drum up enthusiasm and urged the audience not to forget all of the hard work we did in 2008, and to not lose the enthusiasm that has brought us to where we are today.

A few remarks did get audience-wide applause, but ours usually ended well before the live audience had wrapped it up next door.  For a while we thought we might have a visit from one of the bigwigs because bomb-sniffing dogs were led around the aisles and people sitting by one of the far doors were being individually scanned with metal detector wands.  But alas, as soon as the President’s speech was over people shot up and walked for the doors.  

All in all, it was a good experience.  It was definitely exciting to be surrounded by so many pro-Obama enthusiasts, and it was neat to know that President Obama was visiting my city.  The pain of The Line was tempered by the group think that We Were All In This Together.  I wish that the speech hadn’t been quite so standard; I had watched video from his other stops in Las Vegas and California and a lot of the same material was reused, but what can you do?  The wins are the wins, the challenges are the challenges, we are where we are right now. 

I’d do it again.  But I’d definitely queue up earlier!