As 2021 begins…

I know a lot of people are suffering right now from Covid and the economic impacts of Covid, so I understand that it is with great privilege that I talk about how much I miss traveling. In 2018, we went to Paris for Gay Games 10. In 2019, we went to Amsterdam and Scotland for two weeks. 2020 was supposed to include a family reunion in the midwest, a 2-3 week road trip around Atlantic Canada, and a weeklong trip to New York City for the marathon, along with several other weekend getaways and events. I also really like planning travel, so as well as having to put off the travel itself, I’ve also not been able to engage in my hobby of booking travel with any certainty. I watch travel shows and videos, and I’ve taken up using Pinterest to save sites of interest, intriguing tours, and appealing hotels, but none of it has given the satisfaction of marking on a calendar that we will be in a certain place on a specific date. I look forward to widespread vaccination restoring the health of our people and the economy, but also reservation confirmation numbers in my inbox.

Futhermore,

I am becoming dissatisfied with Facebook–troll accounts; fake news; idiotic AI censorship; prioritization of ads, sponsored posts, and group content in the news feed over friends’ activity. I’d like to spend less time there, and I think sharing here in addition to building my Pinterest boards could be a good outlet. I just wish it was more interactive and not just me self-importantly vomiting my thoughts out to the world, so consider this your invitation to comment and share.

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What’s government for?

In the simplest terms, our country was founded on an idea that every person has a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  This was derived from John Locke’s similar belief in “life, liberty, and property.”  It is the government’s duty to protect these rights.   Police protect our lives and property domestically, and the armed forces protect us from foreign threats.  But the government is so much more that just police and military.  Forming and living in societies has allowed us to move away from hunting and gathering and subsistence agriculture.  By division of labor, we’re able to specialize in a trade, send our young to schools, and have more leisure time.  Currency developed to make transactions simpler (What you don’t want my chickens?)  Government has grown to regulate agriculture, balance the rights of laborers and corporations, preserve our natural resources, monitor food and drug safety, provide a social safety net, and on and on.

Today, among recession, unemployment, skyrocketing health care and education costs, multiple foreign wars, growing support for LGBT equality, and many other issues, we’ve seen the rise of the Tea Party.  Now, I used to be an objectivist/Libertarian.  I thought “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” were brilliant.  But those books showcase an unrealistic utopia.  No one had a sub par education because they were born in the wrong neighborhood, there wasn’t a stay at home mom left with nothing when her husband decided to abandon his family, mental illness didn’t exist.  The Tea Party wants to cut government spending so they can have lower taxes.  Too bad for you if you don’t have insurance or want to marry your same-sex partner.  The Tea Party supports a strict adherance to the Constitution, nevermind that the preamble specifically says to “promote the general Welfare.”  Our country wasn’t founded to create millionaires or laud people who were lucky enough to be born into healthy, wealthy, intelligent families.  America is for everyone.

If you’ve ever played a sport or were part of any type of team, you’ve probably heard the saying that a group is “only as strong as the weakest link.”  If our country is a team, the homeless, unemployed, ill, etc are our weakest links.  We cannot progress as a whole and leave these less fortunate behind.  Our country supports public education because an educated populace is important for a functioning democracy, our economy needs trained workers, and academically engaged children are less likely to become teen parents or criminals.  I think this rationale extends to other government-run social welfare programs.  We cannot expect people to be good citizens when their basic needs such as housing, food, and health care are not met.  Of course we must find a balance in these programs to make sure we are teaching men to fish, not just handing out fish.  And yes, there are charities that care for these needs but they’re not in every community and not everyone is welcome (for example, some shelters turn away gay or transgender people).

I hate myself for saying this, but I do agree with the Tea Party on one of their points.  We should be auditing government for waste.  Are consultants overpaid?  Do politicians need the lavish offices and expense accounts they have?  Are we sending Social Security checks to dead people?

For me it comes down to this fundamental question: Can government achieve what liberals and progressives want for a price that conservatives can accept?

 

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Current gov’t gridlock

Why can’t they get anything done?  My answer to this puzzle: cable news.  No politician wants to do anything, say anything, make any decision because there are multiple stations devoted to dissecting their every move.  Everything is on record.  Everything is analyzed ad nauseum.  No one has the political will to get anything done because they’re worried about how the constant media coverage will affect their re-election.  Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in freedom of information and government transparency, but the 24-hour news cycle is overwhelming.

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Half of the world’s strongest militaries allow gays, why can’t we?

22 out of 26 NATO member countries allow gays in their militaries.

GlobalFirePower.com ranks military strength.  Their Top 10 are USA, China, Russia, India, UK, France, Germany, Brazil, Japan, and Turkey in that order.

USA – Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

China – gays not allowed

Russia – gays have been able to serve openly since 2003

India – decriminalized gay sex in 2009, can’t find info about military

UK – gays have served openly since 2000, have been allowed to wear their uniforms in Gay Pride events since 2008

France – gays allowed since 2000

Germany – lifted a ban in 2000 that kept gays from becoming officers

Brazil – hard to tell

Japan – no official policy

Turkey – compulsory service for men 18-41, information was difficult to find but seems that they have policy similar to DADT

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So many people don’t get it.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

-Ben Franklin

Story of the day: Most travelers don’t seem to care that low-level government agents are seeing them naked or sticking fingers into their crotches.

I’ve been hearing and reading this constant refrain of “as long as we’re safe…”

Advanced Imaging Technology is likely medically harmful and may not detect the very threats it’s intended to find. According to this site, which takes information from Columbia University scientist Dr. David Brenner, 85 percent of skin cancer first develops in the scalp and the majority of radiation emitted by AIT machines goes to the scalp.  Why even scan the head and neck?  What are the chances that a weapon or explosive is concealed on the head?

I don’t have exact statistics but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that more people in the United States are killed by unregistered guns than by airborne terrorists.  What if the government said they were going to send agents into every house in America to search every nook and cranny of your home to see if you had an unregistered weapon?  Would people just roll over and say “it’s keeping us safe”?

An unreasonable search without probable cause is the same unconstitutional act whether it’s your home or your body at an airport.

 


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What’s a conservative anyway?

So mostly this post is just me paraphrasing a Huffington Post article and Gallup poll results.

A May 2010 Gallup poll asked respondents to identify themselves as conservative, moderate, or liberal.  The results:

42% Conservative

35% Moderate

20% Liberal

With all the attention Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party have been getting, you might think that sounds about right, but if you look at a breakdown of the issues in the very same poll, most Americans take moderate or liberal positions.

47% referred to themselves as “pro-life” but only 19% oppose abortion in all circumstances.

65% believe civil liberties should not be violated in efforts to prevent terrorism.

Half believe protecting the environment should have priority over economic development.

70% say gays should be allowed to be to be out in the military and 67% support giving same-sex domestic partners the same employee benefits as spouses.

Only 12% want less strict firearms laws.

59% believe research on stem cells from human embryos is “morally acceptable.”

In separate Gallup polls this year:

Even 32% of those identifying as Republicans think the Bush tax cuts should expire for people making over $250K/yr.

67% think it’s a “good idea” to tax ALL income for Social Security rather than setting a cap.

So maybe the Republicans have succeeded in making “liberal” a dirty word, but liberal ideals are alive and well in the American people.

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Justice system needs to do more to protect cops

Back in December I wrote that Maurice Clemmons’ ambush, which left four Lakewood police officers dead, could have been prevented.  Clemmons had multiple felony convictions and parole violations, and his latest crime of punching a sheriff’s deputy in the face showed he had no respect for the law or the people tasked with enforcing the law.  Despite these facts, a Pierce County judge set his bail at $15,000.  It is Washington law to set bail in all cases except capital cases, but it was the judge’s prerogative to set it so low for a violent, repeat offender.  Clemmons did come up with that $15,000 and less than a week later took the lives of Sergeant Mark Renninger, Officer Ronald Owens, Officer Tina Griswold, and Officer Greg Richards.

Currently in the news spotlight is the story about Seattle Officer Ian Walsh punching a 17-year-old girl in the face.  This girl was trying to intervene in the arrest of 19-year-old Marilyn Levias, and when she shoved and grabbed at Officer Walsh, he punched her in the face to get the situation under control.  Levias had a prior charge of assault on an officer from when she knocked down a King County Sheriff’s Deputy.  She was able to get a deferred disposition, meaning she would get the assault charge dropped if she stayed out of trouble for a set period of time.  I don’t know if it was a judge or a prosecutor who made this decision, but the arrangement sounds like something even less severe than “a slap on the wrist.”  I got deferred disposition on a speeding ticket–a bit different than assaulting a deputy.  Even though Levias isn’t the one who shoved the officer, I think her history sets an example to her and her friends than you can get rough with a cop and get away with it.

I see both of these cases illustrating the poor decisions of the justice system to be soft on people who have acted violently against law enforcement officers.  If we want to have cops around to protect us, we need to do a better job of protecting them.

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Seattle cop punched 17-year-old girl in the face

I’ve seen the video, and I think he was right to.

I’m glad that the majority of comments I’ve seen have been in support of Officer Ian Walsh.

Say what you want about citing jaywalkers, the girls in this incident reacted inappropriately and got what they deserved.

You don’t touch an officer while the person he’s trying to ticket is cussing him out.

Here’s my comment on YouTube:

What if the officer hadn’t gotten the situation under control? What if he said, “I’ve got this one girl cussing and refusing to listen to me, I’ve got this other girl shoving me and a bunch of people gathering around, I think I’ll let this one go”? I say good job for this officer standing his ground and not setting an example that if you protest and harass a cop enough, that you can get away with illegal activities.

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Headlines I’m looking at today

Scott Roeder given life sentence with no chance of parole until he is 102 years old for stalking and murdering Dr. George Tiller and assaulting 2 other members of Tiller’s Wichita, Kansas church.

Gonorrhea could become drug resistant

RNC fundraising letter, not only looks like a census form but also mistakenly directs donors to a phone sex number

HPV vaccine may start being recommended for boys as the virus is linked to head and neck cancers

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Tonight’s way too late political thoughts

A Tea Partier spit on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and called him the n word; another called Rep. Barney Frank a “faggot.” A number of Americans believe Obama is a Muslim and a foreigner. Chris Matthews guest Dana Loesch insisted racism and sexism have nothing to do with their objections to healthcare reform and the rest of the Obama agenda. If that’s the truth, they better come up with better arguments than ugly ad hominem attacks. She also denied that Tea Partiers ever suggested secession. Even Fox News reported talk of secession at an anti-tax rally with Texas governor Rick Perry. While trying to defend Tea Party views, she shouted and talked over the host and other guest. Sorry, Ms. Loesch, I’m not buying it.

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