Beyond the Cusp

October 29, 2014

Are Civil Rights for Sexual Preferences Tantamount to Civil Rights for Minority Races

Looking back to the first plaintive cries petitioning for acceptance and protection from being segregated against in life; many of their complaints revolved around workplace, refusal of housing or rental properties, refusal of service in restaurants or stores, and other generalities which today are granted without even a second thought. No longer is it acceptable or even forgivable to physically assault same-sex partners simply because they disturb your preference for a normalcy where such a situation either never exists because no one desires relations other than the norm or such relations are barred from the public realm.

The initial indications that the demands from the more adamant, some might even say militant, alternate life partners and sexual preferences began to compare their struggle to the Civil Rights Movement of a half century ago. These statements also brought to the fore the first warning protestations that the gender identity lobby was going to aim to overturn every last vestige of normal sexuality forcing their way into mainstream and eventually making their lifestyle and sexual proclivities the norm and traditional relationships the exception, or at least the perception of such. Those making these warnings were mostly ignored as paranoid extremists. Their main claim was that the alternate gender lobby would eventually demand a change in the definition of marriage and even force religious institutions to perform alternate gender weddings regardless of their religious convictions against such relations. Obviously these people were insane and had a very loose grip on reality. Nobody was thinking of challenging the definition of marriage as being a bond between one man and one woman. Such claims had to be absurd and dismissed out of hand, until when in more recent times this exact demand came to fruition. Recent court rulings have gone even further making objections enacted into laws, even those which have passed as citizen initiatives receiving solid majority backing when placed on ballots, have been overturned using Civil Rights Laws and equal access laws as the basis for striking down enacted laws which ban same sex marriages.

As I wrote back in March of 2013 in the article titled The Sane Solution to Same Sex Marriage, the easiest solution is to separate marriage and civil unions making one the purview of the state and the other reserved for religious institutions. With the individual states and other legally approved jurisdictions issuing a license for a civil union which qualifies those so joined all the benefits currently described as marriage benefits such as tax breaks, visitation in public hospitals and other similar rights while marriages will be issued through a religious ceremony and would have no actual civil benefits under the law. With such a difference established the state would still receive their revenue from issuing licenses for marriages and gain additional revenue for same sex unions without all of the aggravations and protestations from the religious and conservatives who have protested allowing marriage to be redefined by statutes or court decisions. The individual states and even more local jurisdictions such as counties, parishes, cities, towns and whatnot can make whatever allowances and combinations to qualify for a civil union without having any effect on the definitions of marriage which would remain with religious institutions. If an union other than traditional marriage of one man and one woman is permitted by any particular church, synagogue, temple, mosque, cathedral, monasteries or other religious institution desires to issue a marriage license to non-traditional couples, then that would be their right as well and they could attract such couples into their fold.

The coming disaster will be the eventuality when men of the cloth will no longer be permitted to even read scripture wherever the original scripture excludes nontraditional civil unions. Such an atmosphere has already cast a pale over the pulpits of Houston, Texas; yes, Texas of all places but such is Houston where they reelected Mayor Annise D. Parker who lives an open lesbian lifestyle. Her sexuality would have little to do with her position as mayor except that her administration recently was embroiled in a tempest over an apparent attempt to force the religious leaders to turn over any sermons or other material which they may have given, written or otherwise distributed which may have had any relevance to be subpoenaed. This action caught a great amount of indignation, challenges and even some outright refusals all basing their hesitance or resistance on religious freedoms under the First Amendment. This did force the Mayor to redefine the subpoena narrowing its coverage but the argument has been started and is not going to end soon in Houston. This was but the initial shot over the bow, given time this type of action will be repeated and slowly but surely it will become accepted and soon clergy will no longer be permitted free range of subject material and will begin to restrict their public positions to politically correct and approved subjects. This is the first step to thought crimes where people can be arrested for holding certain opinions and is the beginning of a dangerous slippery slope to slide down to a dark and hurtful place.

Meanwhile, the gender identity movement has one glaring difference from the Civil Rights Movement. While a minority individual cannot choose their minority status and in everything they do and everywhere they go they continue to obviously be that minority, they literally wear their minority status wherever they go, whether they are alone or in a group, they remain a minority. There is absolutely no choice or manner in which one can disguise or act in some manner and not be perceived as a minority. The same is not true for people with gender identity issues. A same sex couple when walking down the street would only be identified as potentially a same sex couple if they were walking hand-in-hand or with their arms around each other, though such would not necessarily always be accurate as such acts could have other motivations. Still, should a same sex couple simply be walking down the street or walk into a restaurant to have a meal they would not be depicted as such and could pass as two friends walking or taking a meal together. A minority is a minority walking down the street, having a meal with a friend and that is a simple fact which cannot be altered. That is the difference, a choice is made to announce or otherwise make known when a person has gender identity or sexual preferences which may be considered non-traditional otherwise they could just as easily pass as being no different than the next person or group, a minority individual cannot hide their being a minority, period. That is a large difference but the reasoning made by the gender issues advocates is that they should be able to announce and make their difference from the traditional majority without any reactions.

What does one believe would be the reaction if my wife and I entered an establishment which was known to favor people who live alternate lifestyles and we announced we were a traditional couple. Hopefully we would be accepted and not made to feel out of place and uncomfortable. I would hope in most public institutions that the same acceptance is shown people of non-traditional relationships or gender identities. Where the problem arises is solely when religion gets into the mix. This may be the single place where those who live nontraditional lifestyles or have other than traditional gender identities may have to found their own religious institutions or seek those which would accept them as they are. Should they instead choose a traditional religious institution they should expect to need to conceal, or at the least minimize, their nontraditional lifestyle or preferences. The same would apply to traditional individuals should they decide to become members of a religious institution which accommodates solely to people with nontraditional relations or gender identities.

Beyond the Cusp

January 23, 2014

Politics Teaches All About Language and Statistics

Many commentators decry the state of political debate complaining about the polarization and the ever increasing gap between the right and the left. They tend to see nothing to be gained as gridlock and harsh discourse is all they are able to see but there are lessons if not in the actual debates, then in the way the arguments and validations are fashioned. Language is probably most defined by the position of the user’s politics more than any dictionary could ever intimate. There are key words whose meaning is in doubt until one realizes whether the user is arguing from the right or the left of the political spectrum. One such word which is brutalized by both sides is equality, especially when applied to the economy and the consequences of the different degrees of wealth as well as opportunity. Where one side using equality it means that the result after everything has been said and done and the government has acted will result in near equality in levels of wealth while the other side defines equality as everybody working in the same system under the same rules on a level playing field thus having the same opportunity and any difference is determined by many factors of which they will stress the extent of effort and natural abilities. One side believes that equality means leveling out the inequities resultant from the disparate outcomes while the other believes that at birth we all start with the same potentials for the most part and any differences result mostly from efforts and being able to grasp opportunities and that government should not be there to take from the successful to give to the less successful.

 

Another word which has unique definitions is charity. One position is that charity should be left to the individuals or to religious and private organizations and should never be a consideration of government as government enforcing charitable giving through taxes and redistribution is simply a form of theft. The other definition claims that the inequities are too great and that many are too greedy and selfish resulting in the necessity for government to enforce some degree of charity otherwise the needy would end up neglected. The definition of a fair tax is another area of disagreement where one side would claim that a fair tax would levy the same percentage in taxation on every citizen while the other side holds that a fair tax would levy the percentage in such a way that those with more wealth and income would pay at a higher rate while those below a predetermined level of income would be left untaxed. Experiencing the uses of words in the political domain constantly provides examples of how varied and opposing words can be used in supporting opposing ideas and ideals. Probably the most mangled words are those used as the names of the sides in the political arguments. Somebody who is called a liberal no longer means that they are a libertine who believes in individual independence with minimal interference by the governing bodies. A conservative does not necessarily hold views which demand that things remain exactly as they are or desires a return to how they were in the recent past. Those claiming to be independent voters often have a voting record which would rival the most ardent party member of any of the parties and simply claim to be independent in order to avoid having to explain or defend the party which they actually support almost without exception. Another term which has been completely coopted to mean, in many cases, whatever position you desire to support is choice. Those who support the Second Amendment adamantly claim that people should be free to have the choice of whether or not they wish to own a firearm and that as long as the individual accepts all the responsibilities and consequences of carrying a concealed weapon, they should be free to exercise that choice. There is the pro-choice position which most are familiar with where it allows for women to have the option available to terminate a pregnancy. Many libertarians claim that people should be allowed to have the choice to use drugs and claim that the War on Drugs interferes with personal choice and freedoms. Libertarians actually are very liberal when it comes to choice as they support personal independence almost to a fault. The one place where choice is often restricted to the point of absurdity is within the walls of government where they seem determined to pass laws which restrict people’s lives to the point where there will be no opportunity for choice as they will all have been legislated out of existence.

 

The one place where words are most often twisted and manipulated in order to produce a predetermined and defined desired result is in polls. Many polls which are commissioned by PACs, organizations, political parties and virtually any other source one can determine what the end expected result is simply by inspecting the phrasing of the questions. Politics is a place where words are tortured and polls are where they are executed. Even the time of day chosen to take the samples or the location where the polling is taken also will determine the results. Often polls will use emotional phrases which engender a certain reaction early in the poll in order to skew the rest of the answers to the poll questions. This is not to say that there are no polls which are crafted fairly with great attention paid to using unbiased wording and phrasing and avoiding hot topic words which might skew results, but these types are usually commissioned by businesses and not political entities. Polls can be slanted by having qualifying questions which limit those who are questioned and included in the tabulations, often this is done by age though whether one is employed or regularly votes are other qualifiers often implemented.

 

The other thing which is often related to polling that is mutilated and twisted in order to portray a particular political position is statistics. As the old saying goes, “There are lies, damn lies and statistics.” Statistics when utilized in politics is the precise science of massaging numbers to produce a predetermined result. One easy to understand example is the wealth gap. If one takes the statistics of those who are in the top ten percent of income earners and those in the bottom ten percent of income earners over a period of years the result will currently show that the income gap is growing significantly. But if instead one takes the people in the initial year who were in the top ten percent and those in the bottom ten percent and followed these individuals over the same time period the income gap will be shown to have shrunk. The reason for the disparity is simple, the people in the top and bottom ten percent change from year to year and those initially in either extreme will both slide towards the median income over time while other people take their place at the extremes. Thus, if one wished to exaggerate the income inequality they would use the first set of statistics while if instead one desires an accurate description of the fluctuations in income and the constant flux with people changing their income potentials as they move through life and their opportunities and conditions change, then the second set of statistics will serve you better. Another way of misrepresenting numbers but not necessarily statistics is by comparing apples to oranges, as the adage states. An example was the claim that Warren Buffet’s secretary paid greater amount in taxes than her boss. There is a very logical reason but the emotional response to this truth is being played for all it is worth when this unequal and unfair comparison was used. The taxes they were referring to were payroll taxes which are levied on one’s salary, not one’s wealth. Where Warren Buffet has great wealth and most of his wealth comes from investments, he thus has little salary per se but has wealth which would be taxed under capital gains while the secretary does have a salary and pays income based taxes but she likely pays negligible if any capital gains taxes compared to her boss. Language, statistics, numbers, emotions and truth all take a back seat in the political arena if not a total vacation. The real lesson is we need to take care and carefully inspect anything we are presented with which has political implications as when politics is in play the truth takes a well-deserved holiday.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

January 1, 2014

Happy New Year?

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Welcome to 2014 and almost all the same old problems from 2013 are still with us. In the United States the politicians will only put in six months of making life worse for many just to satisfy their big money donors and largest constituencies and then spend the rest of the Year until election day spending those funds gathered from their big donors to convince everybody that everything going on is not their fault and how they have worked tirelessly to address all the problems that any particular audience cares about most. They will defy the laws of nature and manage to become, or at least appear to become, all things to all people. The real magic is how they can talk to a group at Planned Parenthood in the morning and sound like their best backer and then talk at a Catholic Women’s Auxiliary and sound just as solidly their best backer and do both with equal appearance of honesty. I have concluded that the reason for this phenomenon is simply, most of the politicians have compromised so much that they no longer have any personal opinions and simply read the prepared speech and do not even bother to really read what it is they are saying. Perhaps that is why so many politicians get so befuddled when somebody actually bothers to ask them why they voted one way or the other; they do not even know themselves why they vote as they do. The one thing politicians are competent at is feigned sincerity. Perhaps it is the requirement to vote for legislation you know any honest and truthful person would never consider, but because you need others to back your legislative agenda to assist and help your constituents, you have to swallow your pride, reputation and every last vestige of self-respect and vote for items such as a bridge to nowhere Alaska in order to get the highway funds to repair a bridge in need of replacement that threatens to collapse into the river. Exactly how many of such compromises, and many far worse, does it take to corrupt even the most honest individual? That is probably the best argument for term limits as that might save the people’s souls we send into government before the government way corrupts them completely.

 

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, could also earn a new nickname, the Destroyer of Your Health Insurance Plan which President Obama will try to convince you that you did not really like it and the one he has for you is so much more. And we have to give the President his due as the insurance he will foist on you is more, expensive that is and covers so many items you did not realize you needed to insure. I am sure that most people need to cover maternity care, birth control, newborn care, mental health, substance use disorder services, ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices and so much more. I look at the coverage guaranteed to be on every individual’s plan and other than the obvious lack of almost half the population, meaning males, have little need for maternity care and nobody will be in need of birth control and maternity and newborn care running concurrently. I am sure with some deeper research there would be numerous other conflicting coverage situations. Obamacare will even make the cost of taking your pet to the veterinarian due to the new tax on medical devices which will also be applied to the devices used by your veterinarian if they can be construed as also having applicable use on humans. There will be other taxes on other items which have but the slightest connection to healthcare such as a tax on tanning salons. On top of all these little disasters is the really important duo, you will not necessarily get to keep your doctor and the government is doing everything in their power to make sure you cannot keep your current health insurance plan going forward. Obamacare was never meant to provide healthcare to the American public, it was designed to destroy healthcare to such a point that even totally government run socialized healthcare would appeal to even the most ardent capitalist.

 

The United States does not get all the problems and disasters going into the New Year so now we take a look at some other problems which will continue to be with us from almost half way around the globe. In Syria they continue to destroy the entire country while decimating the population either by forcing them into squalid refugee camps or simply murdering them in numbers beyond sane thought. The Syrian refugees are left living in tents or whatever cover they can find. Iraq is well on their way to being almost as dangerous as Syria as sectarian violence continues to spread and mount daily. About the only agreement between the Sunni and Shiite in Iraq is they both victimize and murder Christians. Egypt is still fighting a low level civil war and also persecuting their Coptic Christian population. Things are slightly different in Libya where they are having multi-tribal conflicts where the individual tribes are fighting one another vying for preeminence. Yemen has its own version of a civil war with tribes from the north fighting the government who are also at war with al-Qaeda which is occupying areas in the south of that war torn country. In Turkey the government is crumbling under the ramifications of corruption from graft, bribery, favors and other criminal acts. It is even possible that Prime Minister Erdogan might end up having to resign which might deliver a silver lining to this whole sordid affair, the slowing or even reversing of the Islamization of Turkey and the undoing of all the safeguards which Ataturk had put in place to preserve the secular nature of his beloved homeland. Then there is the Arab-Israeli war by the name of peace process. The Arabs, represented by their agents the Palestinians, are still attempting to make a peace with Israel which does not require the recognition of Israel as the homeland for the Jews and that will guarantee that Israel will simply become another Arab Muslim state.

 

The New Year will also be bringing us a former problem which we had all hoped we had seen the last of years ago. President Putin has been quietly squeezing through trade and even military intervention the former central Asian and easternmost European nations which had split from the Soviet Union upon its collapse back into a close and closed orbit of the new hegemonic Russia. The last major event had been the intimidation of Georgia by Russian tanks a few years back. The current target of Russian President Putin is the Ukraine. The leadership of the Ukraine, with the full support of the people, had been attempting to reach a trade agreement with the European Union. After threats and intimidations from President Putin where he threatened to cut off all Russian trade with the Ukraine as well as preventing the flow of oil between the two nations, the President Viktor Yanukovych of the Ukraine backed away from the agreement with the European Union and signed a long contract exclusive trade agreement with Russia. The people of the Ukraine are protesting en masse taking control at times of the center city of the capital, Kiev. Popular protests exist in other Ukrainian cities but as they are dependent upon receiving assistance from the European Union or from the United States, their position does not appear favorable. The Europeans, especially those in the European Union, have no stomach to take on a trade war with Russia and especially President Putin. As for the United States, the Ukrainian protesters had best take a serious and long look at the Green Revolution of 2009 in Iran and see what happens to people who try to bring democratic change to their nation and remove oppressive leadership and include assistance from the United States and President Obama and then seriously consider going home unless they believe they can win on their own.

 

We could continue on and cover Iran and nuclear weapons, China and their encroachment and their finally coming out as a new Pacific naval power, the gender and religious apartheid in Saudi Arabia and much of the surrounding world, the still total anarchy in Somalia and so much more, but its New Year’s Eve and I would rather go to a party, any party. Just the same, may everyone have a healthy and memorable New Years and may none of the world’s cares or worries interfere with your lives. Take care of your friends and family and try to commit to one kind effort each day as eventually the little changes we each make will eventually add up and bless us in return. May your lives have meaning and your cares have solutions which are within your grasp. And most of all, may G0d bless you and your loved ones with health, peace and contentment. May your life be full of health, smiles and precious joys. Happy New Year to all.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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