Taking Their Ball And Leaving

We all had that friend growing up.  Maybe you were “that” friend” and just don’t want to admit it.  That’s cool.

I’m talking, of course, about that kid who, in the middle of a game where the results were not to their liking, would literally take their ball and leave.  Or maybe they would flip the board over, or try to change the rules.  You get the picture I am trying to paint for you.

In case you don’t remember, nobody really liked playing with that kid too much.

The Republican National Committee is apparently that kid when it comes to politics.

Earlier this month, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus sent letters to both NBC and CNN, threatening them that they would be banned for Republican Presidential debates in 2016 if they continued to go to production and then air a documentary about potential Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.  Today, the RNC announced that they had voted to ban the two networks.

To me, it is nothing short of a childish move for them to pull such an immature stunt.  To think that they had the power to influence what those two networks can and cannot air is the definition of having a delusion of grandeur.  Who are they to tell CNN and NBC what they can and cannot air?  Personally, I don’t care one way or the other if those networks air the documentary or not, just like I really don’t care if they air one about Marco Rubio or Chris Christie.

In barring CNN and NBC from their debates, I guess it never occurred to the geniuses at the RNC that maybe by making such a stink about a potential documentary about Hillary Clinton, they will actually steer more people to back her.  Like any politician, there is plenty to support and attack about Hillary Clinton without the RNC providing her with added sympathy, because that is what she will get from a number of people who will see this as nothing more than an unwarranted personal attack.  It is not like either of these networks is adding “The Hillary Hour” to their programming, which I imagine would be daily programming extolling the virtues of Mrs. Clinton.  If the proposed documentaries (not sure if it is the same and will be aired by both networks or two separate documentaries) are honest and provide coverage of both the good and the bad of Mrs. Clinton’s life and time in the political spotlight, the RNC ban might just blow up in their collective faces.

Of course, what would make the RNC look even more petty and childish would be for Mrs. Clinton to not run for President in 2016, thus making the RNC look like all they did was preemptively put the cart before the horse.

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30 is the new 30

It’s the dawn of a new decade, you know that big milestone birthday you hit every tenth year. Media tells you that 50 is the new 40, 40 is the new 30, and so on. It’s bull. A lie. False. A scam. 30 is still 30 and 40 is still 40. It’s all in the embrace. A birthday is a gift and not a promise, let us not waste them holed up in bed eating rocky road and bawling our eyes out because we are aging.
I’m gearing up to hit that 30 year milestone and I can tell you I’ve had some rollercoaster thoughts on it. One day it’s just part of life and I’m ready to accept the change. Five minutes from that I’m almost at the tattoo parlor trying to live it up before things go downhill. Okay so I’m not that crazy but you get the idea. In light of recent events I’ve witnessed among friends and coworkers I found myself utterly petty and sad for worrying about such a ridiculous thing.
Instead of worrying, fretting, and running towards that tattoo parlor (like that would ever happen) I will embrace something to accomplish before thanking God for the opportunity to hit that milestone. Albeit, small and insignificant, it is something out of my comfort zone along with something I’ve always wanted to learn. So, cheers to a 5k (how far is that anyway?) and hello guitar lessons!
Feel 30 when you’re 30 and 40 when you’re 40 and seize the opportunity for something new. Volunteer, sky dive, dye your hair, take an art class, get a tattoo, or visit the Opry. Life’s a big deal and milestone birthdays are even bigger. Put on your big girl panties and enjoy it.

Protectors Of The Constitution?

“Don’t tread on me.”  “You can have my guns over my dead body.”  “I have the right to bear arms.”  These, and so many more arguments are made anytime someone even floats the idea of maybe tightening gun laws.  Such was the case when the recent bipartisan bill to expand background checks went down in flames, even though it in no way would have infringed on anybody’s right to own a firearm.

But this is not about guns or gun laws.  Nope, this is about another amendment that seems to be meaningless to Congressional Republicans.  That one, of course, is the Fifth Amendment.

In case you were not following, and by this point most people are not, House Republicans are still engaged in their witch-hunt regarding the supposed IRS scandal (the one that supposedly targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status disproportionately, even though the evidence does not support the claim.  Nor does any evidence point to a directive from the White House to do so.) and the testimony of IRS official Lois Lerner.

When Ms. Lerner gave her testimony before a House committee last month, she invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions so as not to incriminate herself.  In case you are a little behind on the language of the amendment, here you go:

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” (emphasis mine) (source)

Now, I don’t know for sure if Ms. Lerner committed a crime or not, but she and her attorneys felt it best that she invoke the Fifth Amendment in her testimony, and that is certainly her right.  South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy does not agree.

“That’s not the way the Fifth Amendment works. You don’t get to tell your side of the story and then avoid the very process that we have in this system for eliciting the truth, which is cross-examination.”  –Trey Gowdy

Unless I am missing something in the wording of the Fifth Amendment above, Mr. Gowdy is wrong.  It seems to me that Ms. Lerner certainly can use the Fifth Amendment exactly the way that she did; I don’t see anything in the text that states that someone cannot be compelled to incriminate themselves unless they have already defended themselves first.  Mr. Gowdy is asserting that Ms. Lerner waived her right to invoke because she chose to defend herself in an opening statement.  How does he fail to understand that someone can invoke their Fifth Amendment right at any time during a proceeding?

Proclaiming that you are a “protector of the Constitution” and the rights it provides is a wonderful thing, but you do not get to pick and choose which amendments apply.  Either they all do, or they all do not.  You cannot defend your Second Amendment right while trying to infringe on someone else’s Fifth Amendment rights.  That is just not how it works.  If Mr. Gowdy wants to try to nail Ms. Lerner for a crime, he will have to do so without her help.  He cannot change the meaning of the Fifth Amendment to suit his needs.

Information for this entry was taken from the article linked here.

It’s A Start

This morning, the Supreme Court released it’s ruling on the recently heard challenge to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and they ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that it was un-Constitutional.  That’s a start in paving the way for marriage equality.

I don’t know that anybody specifically said it or wrote it, but in the lead up to the oral arguments back in March and to today’s ruling, you would think that the end of the world would have quickly followed.  Like the Mayan prophecy from last December, that is not the case.

By striking down DOMA, the Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples who are married should be entitled to the same federal benefits as my wife and I are.  You know, like being able to file a joint tax return or an exemption from the estate tax when one spouse dies (such a case was at the foundation to the challenge to DOMA that the Supreme Court ruled on today).

From the ruling:

“DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others.  The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.”

For anyone to claim that the marriage of a same-sex couple is somehow less worthy than that of a heterosexual couple is asinine and absurd, and I applaud the Supreme Court for ruling as such.  I have written on here numerous times in the past that to define marriage in religious terms, as so many seek to do, is not in line with the fabric of our country.  It bears repeating that no marriage not performed in a church by a pastor/preacher/priest/clergy is invalid by any means; I have been fortunate enough to have been asked by three couples to perform their wedding, and their marriage is as real and legal as mine, even though I performed the ceremony as a notary.

Whether or not today’s ruling will ultimately lead to marriage equality across the country remains to be seen (the ruling affects only the states plus the District of Columbia where same-sex marriage is already legal), but I hope that it does.  I see no sound reason as to why a same-sex couple from Florida should have to go to Massachusetts (or some other state where same-sex marriage is recognized) in order to become legally married.  It makes no sense.  I also reject the argument that marriage is a “religious institution” for a lot of reasons, including what I wrote in the paragraph above about who can perform a ceremony, in addition to the fact that the laws of our country are not based on any one religion (nor should they be).  If you are someone who is that bothered by same-sex marriage, do not marry someone who is the same sex as you.  That is the simplest answer I can come up with.  And also, spare me the argument that same-sex marriage “erodes the foundation of the family,” because if today’s ruling destroys your family unit, you have bigger issues than same-sex marriage.  Same-sex marriage will not affect the foundation of my family; I will go home to my wife and daughter tonight, and we will still love each other the same.

Kudos to the Supreme Court in issuing today’s ruling.  My sincere hope is that the states that remain where same-sex marriage is not recognized will go ahead and join us in the 21st century soon.

Get A Life…

…or at least some perspective.

I just read a follow-up article that stated that Disney has buckled under the pressure from upset parents regarding changes to the princess, Merida, from the movie Brave.  You can read the article here, and it has a picture of the original version and the revamped version, too.

Personally, I don’t see what all the fuss was about in the first place.  So Disney made some cosmetic changes to the appearance of one of their characters.  What is the big deal?  I am the proud dad of a soon to be seven year-old daughter, and she loves the Disney princesses, and all things Disney.  I highly doubt she was going to be too upset about the changes that Disney was making.

The same parents who created all the fuss are probably a lot of the same parents who think nothing of watching programs on TV with their kids in the room that are way more controversial than a change to Merida.

Oh, and some made the argument that their kids look up to Merida because she is outdoorsy, etc.  Are they saying that the new version is somehow less outdoorsy?

They also were against the change because their daughters idolized Merida.  I’m sorry, but if your daughter idolizes a cartoon character, I think you may need to rethink your parenting strategy.  I will happily share with you who my daughter idolizes….her mother, my wife.  That is who she should idolize and look up to, not some Disney princess or some celebrity, just like it is ridiculous to allow your son to look up to an athlete or actor.

Instead of wanting Disney to provide the moral compass for their daughters, maybe these parents should take time out of their oh-so-busy days and spend it with their daughters if they are that concerned about messages they are receiving.  Here’s an idea, instead of parking your kid in front of the TV for hours on end so you can flip through the pages of Shades of Grey or Playboy, take your daughter outside to play.  Go to the park, go get ice cream.

That’s Just Sad

“There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.” (source)

The quote above is from Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania.  He is referring to the real reason why the bill he and Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from neighboring West Virginia submitted failed.  The two worked together in a way that a rational citizen would expect members of Congress to work and put a bill that would have expanded background checks on gun purchases.  It was a rational proposal that, contrary to what many screamed, did nothing to infringe on any rights from the Constitution, especially the Second Amendment.  The bill did not spell out that people could not own guns, just expanded and strengthened the background check process.  My thinking is that if you have nothing to hide, why should you worry?

It is the sad state of the politics of our country that we have a political party that will defeat a common-sense bill purely out of their vile hatred of President Obama.  I won’t even say that it was done out of some sort of racist, birther, or other reason because I doubt that Republicans in Congress have the brain power or capacity to even form those types of idiotic thoughts; it was done out of pure hatred and nothing else.  Since the day he took office for his first term (and I point that part out because it eats at Republicans that he won a second term), the one goal of the Republican Party has been to obstruct everything.  The majority no longer rules in our country, thanks to one party.

Over the last two weeks or so, I have also followed closely the coverage of the search for and then capture of the scumbags that bombed the Boston Marathon.  It was an act of pure  cowardice, and I would not have shed a tear had the piece of garbage in custody had met the same fate as his brother, but he did not.  And because he did not, when coupled with the fact that he is an American citizen, he is afforded his rights under the Constitution.  Yes, he was able to be questioned under the “public safety exception,” which meant it was not required that he be read his rights.  I point that out for one reason, and that is that, ever since he has been in custody, I have seen people commenting on articles and they basically state that he should not have any rights at all.  Wrong.

I get the uproar and anger over what he took part in.  But we cannot let that anger manifest itself in a way that espouses eliminating the rights of an American citizen.  However, the same people who so proudly want to defend their right to bear arms are generally the ones wanting to take away someone else’s right to due process.  You cannot have it both ways, but they do not seem to realize that.  And that is sad as well.

The rights afforded to us in the Constitution are not ones that we get to pick-and-choose based on our whims or emotions.  If you want to tout the Second Amendment, you have to acknowledge the Fifth Amendment.  That is how it goes.  The fact that people do not understand that is scary to me.  The same people who want to defend their Second Amendment rights are quick to take a leak on the Fifth Amendment in this case; other times, they want to circumvent the First Amendment and establish a national religion.  It does not work like that, either, and if you do not understand that, I am sad for you.

 

Put Down Your Pitchforks

On numerous occasions on this very blog, I have admitted that I am no Biblical scholar.  But, just because I am not one, nor am I a pastor, priest, or rabbi, that does not exclude me from finding variations and such from the Bible fascinating.

Take, for example, the widely accepted premise that Judas betrayed Jesus.  This belief was accepted, of course, because it appears in the Bible, and people like to point out that everything in the Bible is true and accurate.  However, it seems that Judas may not have betrayed Jesus after all, so it might be time to put down the pitchforks, people.

According to scientific evidence (those are like swear words to some people), there is a Gospel of Judas that was excluded from the Bible that appears in its present form.  Sort of like the Gospel of Thomas, it was omitted because somebody did not like what it portrayed and because it differed from what “mainstream” Christianity was at the time.

But, how can that be?  I thought the Bible was God’s word, and that it was true and accurate.

It is reported that, “A “Gospel of Judas” was first mentioned around A.D. 180 by Bishop Irenaeus of Lyon, in what is now France. The bishop denounced the manuscript as heresy because it differed from mainstream Christianity.” (source)  But how can one person decide which of God’s words are to be included, and which are to be left out?  Weird.

If, as the science suggests, the Gospel of Judas is legit, wouldn’t Christianity basically be turned upside down?

A lot of people balk at the suggestion that the Bible may actually be incomplete, but I do not understand why.  It is like they are scared to question anything, and would rather stand firm in thinking that the Bible is 100% complete.  I do not fall into that camp.  I believe that the Bible is but a fraction of what it could and should be, and that we are doing ourselves an injustice by not seeking more.  While time has most likely eroded away a vast majority of what was excluded, the stuff that is out there, like Thomas and Judas, should be considered for inclusion going forward.  It does not make me “un-Christian” or a non-believer or “lost” to hold a view that there is more out there and that someone can have a right relationship with God without going to church on Sunday; the folks who see my view as a bad thing do more damage to Christianity than they imagine.

I hope the Gospel of Judas, and that of Thomas are legit, and I hope they are included in future publishings of the Bible; their inclusion will only serve to give people more insight and allow them to open their minds even more.  Of course, there are some who wouldn’t want that.