Do you have standing?

Do you have standing? What does that mean? It is a legal term that asks whether you are personally impacted by what you perceive as a slight.

Before the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was a protected right, it first ruled on California’s Proposition 8. This state law banned gays and lesbians from marrying. What was interesting is a conservative and liberal attorney joined together to fight this injustice. The key part of their argument was do people who marry have any impact on other people? They argued successfully that other folks do not have standing to prevent such marriage.

If what I do with my life does not impact you whatsoever, even though you may not like it, you do not have standing. And, vice versa. I have no standing in what you do, as long as you are not harming me. If you choose to have multiple affairs, marry a lesbian lover, worship as a Muslim, Evangelical or Universalist, or walk around naked inside your house, that is your business. I do not have standing to take legal action about my complaint. It is only when you harm me, that makes it an issue.

I mention this as people who want their freedoms somehow forget this point when they look to deny yours. This is a human shortcoming we must guard against. My rights cannot be more important than another person’s. This is where religious freedom laws often go a bridge too far. They remind me of when African Americans could not eat in a whites only restaurant. They had to go around back and get a to-go order.

When I see the Supreme Court say it is OK to decline service because of religious freedoms, let’s change the equation around and see if it stands up. Could a Muslim bakery refuse to provide a wedding cake to a wedding between a Muslim and a Baptist or interracial couple as these run counter to their religious beliefs. What about a Catholic bakery that refuses to make a wedding cake for a second marriage? What about a gay baker refusing to serve an Evangelical couple who openly advocated against his rights?

Even though the Supreme Court narrowly ruled that the baker could deny service to a gay couple’s wedding, it was a narrow ruling. Yet, did the baker have standing? He was not harmed by the gay couple. Go back to the previous examples to see the slippery slope.

I write this today as a result of the second anniversary of the Charlottesville riots. While groups have a right to peaceful assembly and protest, there is a subtle but important distinction on standing. A white supremacist who advocates against equal rights for non-whites does not have standing. A Black man’s rights do not impact the White man’s. Yet, someone who is protesting that you are advocating against my equal rights does have standing. A white supremacist is infringing on another’s rights.

We all have equal rights. Mine are no more important than yours. And, vice versa.

 

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Former GOP strategist warns of becoming Trumpistan

Steve Schmidt is a former campaign strategist for Senator John McCain’s last run for President, as well as playing similar roles for President George W. Bush and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. On Friday night’s “Real time with Bill Maher,” he forewarned that this fall’s mid-terms are the most important in American history. He said simply “If the Democrats do not retake the House, we may become Trumpistan in ten years.”

I don’t know about you, but I find his words chilling. They have even more gravitas coming from a former Republican strategist. He became an Independent voter this year.  He is very articulate in his concerns over the acquiescence of the Republican party to such an untruthful and fear mongering man named Donald J. Trump.

He spoke openly about the attacks on civil  rights of non-whites, the attacks on the media, the bullying of our allies, the vilification of people who dare criticize him and the outright lying. He referenced the cult-like allegiance to all things Trump.

He also mentioned the tactical strategy of “exhausting people.” He said it is purposeful to wear people out with his constant barrage of all of the above – the lying, bullying, name calling, etc. More than a few very studious and observant bloggers have noted the man just wears them out, as he does me. Per Schmidt, that is part of the plan. Just overwhelm people with BS and then steal from them right before their eyes.

We must say enough is enough. The US President is the most untruthful President in my lifetime, by a long shot. Even Nixon lied less and he turned out to be a crook. The jury is still out on Trump’s fate, but I am 100% convinced he is culpable of more than obstruction of justice, which is a given.

Please recognize what this man is doing to our country. The only thing great about him is his ego. Get out and vote and tell your friends to do the same. For the longest time, but especially since 2012, the GOP has been all about reducing opposition voter turnout. To me, that speaks volumes. They do not want people to vote in large numbers. Trump comvinced more than a few not to vote at all. Vote or do not complain. That is how we elected this untruthful bully in the first place.

 

From the mouths of those who ardently support the US President

I must confess, I do not expect many pearls of wisdom to come from a Donald Trump pep rally. The purpose is to get a supportive crowd riled up. The use of truth is irrelevant and unimportant. I am certain some truths find there way in, but per The Washington Post, at a rally in Montana, the rate of lying was a whopping 76%. That is actually higher than his recurring rate of 69% as measured by Politifacts.

Many of Trump supporters are fine people. To say otherwise is unfair. But, the blind acceptance of anything the man says does give me pause. The blind acceptance that all criticisms of the man are fake is equally troubling. Then, there are the more strident people. The Guardian interviewed several at last week’s Wilkes-Barre pep rally.

Among several interviewed, who felt the President was doing an “A+” job noting his accomplishments without a lot of context, there was one that stood out. One man, who will remain unnamed is very happy with how Trump is treating the rest of the world. I will leave off an extra pair of quotes and refer to him by (the man), but the next three paragraphs are from the article, with the offensive words modified.

“He said ‘grab ’em by the p***y’. And I get exactly what he meant by that. Grab these countries where they’re weak. Take them down if they want to think we’re weak. Grab ’em by the p***y,” (the man) said.

The Guardian pointed out that Trump was talking about women when he was recorded making those remarks, but (the man) was steadfast.

“Well, they thought so. But I took it in other ways. Grab the whole world that’s against us by the p***y bring them all down if they don’t like us, fight us. Grab them by the p***y. Get them in their weak spot.”

I am greatly offended by this man’s remarks. Like the offensive US President, after being pointed out that he was mixing metaphors, he doubled down on the insulting (and off base) language. I recognize fully this is one man. And, while  he is more offensive than others would or might be, the sentiment is probably widely felt in that audience.

Yet, let me focus on the meaning of the man’s words. Bullying and placing tariffs on our allies does not make America great. It makes America alone. We cannot shrink to greatness, which we will continue to see in the many months ahead, if changes are not made. As I have said before, bullying our friends is far worse  than the actual tariffs, so just fixing the tariffs won’t undo the damage of breaching good faith and trust. So, this metaphor is not only offensive, it is misguided. It causes other leaders and businesses to consider non-US options for customers and suppliers.

But, this metaphor goes beyond the bullying. This man is saying it is OK that Trump can speak of doing this to women. Per twenty women, this type of sexual misconduct is an example of what Trump did to them. One or two accusers is one matter, but twenty is more than a trend. And, he is on record (after denying it repeatedly), that he is aware of at least two payoffs for affairs on his current wife. So, using Trump’s highly offensive “locker room talk,” which I have never heard in any locker room, but especially ones which Trump might frequent, is flat out insulting.

These folks may think Trump can do no wrong. I strongly disagree. He is a daily embarrassment to decorum and the office of the President. He chooses to demean anyone who dares to criticize him, including the press. Then, there are his policies and actions, when reviewed in context, do not paint the same picture as these supporters contend, with or without offensive metaphors.

When you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you will know that I love cleverly worded song lyrics. The above title comes from an unexpected source (if you don’t follow the band) – a song called “Free will” by the rock band “Rush.” I find this lyric, penned by drummer Neil Peart, compelling as it speaks to people who choose to do nothing in the face of obvious problems. Martin Luther King saved some of his criticism for the silent people who did not condemn Jim Crow actions.

People choose not to vote because they do not like the choices. But, “none of the above” is not an option and one candidate tends to be worse or represents worse. If you did not vote because you did not think Brexit or Trump would win, you water down your right to protest. And, I would add there are seven white supremacists running for office, empowered by a US President who won’t condemn racist actions and has made racist statements. So, your vote does matter.

If you witness a daily assault on civil rights, women’s rights, truth, media, science, allies and environment and don’t speak up, then you condone the actions as acceptable.

– It is not OK for leaders to lie multiple times a day.

– It is not OK to have governmental websites delete data that run afoul of unsubstantiated opinions by leaders.

– It is not OK to demean people because they dare criticize a leader’s point of view.

– It is not OK to demonize groups of people or exaggerate causes of problems, as it is hard enough to solve real problems with real data.

– It is not OK to ignore real problems or have faux efforts to address them. Gun deaths, poverty, health care access and costs, infrastructure deterioration, increasing debt, environmental degradation, climate change, etc. are real problems.

Please do not remain silent. Speak up. Call or email your representatives. Attend marches and protests. Share diplomatically your opinion, but listen to theirs. Find a way to get your opinion heard and heeded. Calling someone a name is not the way to be heard.

The other day as I was looking for a new battery for my cordless mower, a store clerk and I chatted about the need to move toward renewable energy. While he supported the eventual move, he said renewable energy is “seven times” the cost of fossil fuel energy. I responded and said that is a ten-year old argument. The costs are now more on par. In fact, there is a city in Texas who chose to be 100% renewable energy powered as its CPA mayor said financially it is a better deal. Did he hear me? I don’t know, but he would not have  if I had not listened to his argument and responded.

Do not follow the words of the song lyric. Choose to decide.

Saturday in the park salutations

Happy weekend. Saturday in the park is an idea worth considering. I will need to check with my better half regarding her thoughts for the day. Below are a few rambling thoughts to salute the news of the week.

Pakistan has selected a new leader, a very charismatic former cricket star named Imran Khan. He has promised to end corruption and offer better governance. I wish him well, but a reporter once said on NPR, the corruption is ingrained and corrupts the best of intentions. It should be noted his rivals are crying foul and want a new election.

Speaking of the best of intentions, Theresa May is trying to take Great Britain out of the EU with some semblance of a plan. It is surprising it has gotten this late in the game without more planning achieved. I still hold out hopes that the Brits will realize they screwed up and remain in the EU. Voters were not told of all the facts and I fault people like Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Vladimir Putin for their roles in deceiving folks. Decisions based on pride tend to lack prudence.

The now annual severe wildfires out west continue and are alarming. On the other end of the spectrum, stalled or slow moving weather patterns in the east are flooding various areas. In the middle of the country, severe heat is causing major concerns to drought areas. In 2011, a report put together by the largest pension trust managers in the world noted their financial concerns over not addressing climate change. They noted the increase in wildfires, concerns over severe droughts and stalled weather patterns as huge financial concerns. All of the above are a concern, but the fire and drought issues also shine a spotlight on our global water crisis, where certain areas around the world are in danger of diminishing access to fresh water. Yet, the leaders of our federal government are doing their best to avoid recognition or discussion of climate change action.

Another CEO, Les Moonves of CBS, has been accused of past sexual misconduct. It seems that men who lead (or are stars in) entertainment businesses that hire and promote attractive people cannot keep their hands and other body parts to themselves. Fox, NBC, Weinstein, and CBS have each had bad apples. But, as women know, this is a universal problem where men with power can impose their will on women in less senior roles. This is why the video of the waitress throwing the man, who felt up her fanny,  to the ground is so inspiring. He was held and charged with sexual battery.

Finally, the stand your ground law in Florida has caused yet one more death. A white man, who has taken it upon himself to accost people who park in handicap spaces, was shoved to the ground by a black man who took offense at his remarks. From the ground, the man is seen shooting (and killing) the shover. The man was not charged due to this law, which has caused a split on public opinion. Two questions – would opinion change if the races of the men were reversed?  Would a man be dead if a gun was not present?

Other news abounds, but I wanted to focus away from news that seems to suck all the oxygen out of the room.

 

 

Domestic violence has no place in religions

I listened to a troubling story on NPR about a female Baptist minister being a domestic violence victim. She gained the support of her father, who is the minister of a church, to seek a divorce from her abusive husband. But, the deacons of her church threatened to expel her if she did not recant the divorce.

I have shared before the story of a friend who went to her minister because her husband was beating her. The minister asked to see them both. To her surprise, the minister told her in front of her abusive husband that it was her fault. If she was a better wife, then she would not be beaten.

Both women found new churches. As a Christian, I am appalled that male religious leaders can justify the abuse of another human being from their scriptures. And, other religious leaders can find similar interpretations from wording in their religious texts. So, domestic violence and even honor killings are more acceptable in some cultures.

My response is quite simple. These are crimes. If a religious leader tells you it is OK that a male parent or husband can beat or assault a woman, find another church or religion. A perceived supreme being worth worshipping would not condone such violence, regardless of what the religious texts might be interpreted to say. Women “hold up half the sky” says the ancient Chinese proverb. And, women were very important in promulgating Christianity after Jesus left earth.

My thesis is straight forward. Religious texts were written, edited, interpreted and translated by imperfect men. Even if the words were divinely inspired, they were not dictated. Men wrote them down. Sometimes, they were written many decades after the event occurred. I mention the word “edited” as some chapters got cut from religious text that governs two religions.

Given the two words “imperfect and men,”  it is my view there is no way every word should be held up as true. In fact, gospel is short for “good news.” The news is the writer’s version of the truth, so each gospel or book will include their version of the story based on their male and human biases. If women penned these texts, they would read differently.

So, domestic violence simply should not be tolerated. It is a crime. If my friend had been later killed had she heeded that minister’s advice, he would be culpable in her murder. Again, let me say this boldly. No religious leader should condone domestic violence. He is abetting a criminal act. If yours does, please find another place of worship.

In my worship and charity work, I have met some wonderful religious leaders of many faiths. But, I have also met some whose imperfections are more apparent. Find a religious leader that respects you as a person. They are out there.

 

 

 

Local conservative radio host changes label

Earlier this week, a local conservative radio host penned an editorial in The Charlotte Observer called “It’s time to change my label.” Keith Larson joined the ranks of other conservative voices in denouncing the President.

Before he cites his reasons, Larson paints a picture of what he believes. In short, he says his conservatism is grounded in “prudence and decency.” He goes on to say:

“There have been glaring holes in the gown of conservatism over the years, but the Trump Era has made it unwearable.

He has outspent Obama, continued costly and deadly deployments, threatened federal authority over states and cities, started trade wars with adversaries and allies, and attacked the Justice Department and FBI in ways Nixon never dreamed.

There has been a tax cut, Supreme Court pick, and talking up God. He knows how to pander.

Then there’s Stormy. Not merely the affair but the payoff. Not merely the payoff but the lying. And so many other women and lies.

This President has a habit of lying, and being a misogynistic slime ball and just plain toad. There is nothing prudent or decent about the man.”

These words speak for themselves. I cannot bring myself to disagree with any of his sentiments. He adds his voice to other national pundits with names like Erickson, Gerson, Will, Brooks, Peters, and Douthat.

I hope people heed his advice. America needs them to.