Jul 2, 2014

Another Case Where Religion Poisons Everything. Plus, Supreme Calculatons are in Order

So, let's be clear: The conservatives, guided by religion, do not like birth control, at least not through a medical plan for women. Men, oh sure, they can have their pills for erections and whatever. The SCOTUS just decided (5-4 conservative majority) that a "close-held" company (most Americans work for those) can discriminate on the bass of their religious idiocy. In other words, imposing their religious views [primitive, non-scientific or reality-based] on the rest of us. 

Hobby Lobby's owners are part of the conservatives who want to chip away at the ACA ("Obamacare") and claim that birth control for women violates their religious belief. This may be the case, but there are all sorts of protections and laws regarding employment, workers' rights, public health, etc. Once a business owner decides to hire a worker, the latter has (should have) unalienable rights. Oh, by the way, Hobby Lobby does business in China, abiding by Chinese law. Hey, profits may take precedent in an officially godless-atheist country.

There are lots of crazy beliefs in religion. Customs, edicts, and made-up stories that govern people's lives, but this should be in the private domain. There's that separation clause in the US constitution about church-state relationship. The Bible has bans on pork, working on Sabbath, "unnatural" fibers for clothes, crustaceans, and what have you. The Mormons ban coffee and alcohol and I hear regular underwear. Scientologists believe the only way to be purified is to be hooked up to a machine and go through church cleansing, because, heck, all your problems are from the evil spirits occupying your body. Others don't accept modern medicine, etc. Obviously, we can't have public health policy and health care based on these religious beliefs. 

Yes, it matters that we have a science-based approach to public health! Oh, those pesky ascertainable facts that shoot holes into religious doctrine. An advanced, dare say, an enlightened society should allow for individual choice, including practicing willful ignorance, but there should be a religious grounds for public policy. You don't believe in vaccinations, blood transfusions, or that homosexuals shouldn't have any rights? Go back to your cave and practice those beliefs on yourself.

Let me repeat something else for the millionth time: Elections have consequences. Presidents choose all the federal judges, including the Supremes, and the Senate confirms them. Global warming? Half of the Republican governors--the state executives--are climate change deniers! The Republican party in Congress is mainly anti-science. You think this has nothing to do with public policy?

Supreme Calculations

Right to the point: Justices Ginsberg and Breyer should retire as soon as possible. We progressives really appreciate their tenure at the Supreme Court. But, they're old and we cannot afford to have them replaced by a Republican president. Ginsberg is 81 and Breyer 75. Most Supremes hate the label "judicial activists" but they all are! Both sides have advanced particular ideologies and priorities via the bench. The constitution, the laws, actions by government and individuals are up to interpretation. It's not black & white. They all read the same texts, hear the same arguments in court, yet they often reach different conclusions, because of their different judicial philosophies. 

The Senate has become crazier, more conservative (usually it's the same thing). The Republicans have managed to put the most road blocks to presidential initiative in modern times.  GOP Senate leader M. McConnell once declared that his utmost priority was to make Obama one-term president, to make him fail at everything he tried to get through Congress. There are many scenarios that show the GOP winning the US Senate in this mid-term election. Do you think, McConnell will be more or less likely to accept a liberal nominee to the SCOTUS?

The Republicans are more disciplined and will be more arrogant if they fare well in this election. In 2010, before the GOP won the House, Elena Kagan who enjoyed "bipartisan support" (we kept hearing), got only 5 Republican votes! Three of those senators (Lugar, Snowe, Gregg) are gone now. The establishment (old wing) of the party is under attack from the tea party and even arch-conservatives, including McConnell, have been challenged from the right! Who in the Senate, or the House would commit treason by dealing with the Dems or a Muslim black socialist in the White House?

Perhaps we could reverse the conservative majority in the SCOTUS. After we strengthen the liberal side by getting the replacements for Ginsburg and Breyer, we could await the retirement of Scalia and Kennedy, both at 78.

Many of the good changes we've seen in our country have come from the legislative and the judicial routes. We have to keep this in mind, thus we should never forget to vote or be political activists. Elections have consequences! (I think I've said this before).   And, yes, there are calculations.

Speaking of calculations, I want to see a Democrat win the next presidential election even if she's a centrist corporatist, because at least there will be improvement at the margins. Otherwise, it'll be steam ahead.... er, back to the dark ages.  Look, I agree with what Bill Maher said recently, that "Hillary should go away." The fact is that she won't. There was no doubt that she'd run. I don't know of anyone who'd be told that polls show a great chance of becoming president of the US and they don't run. I hope Mrs. Clinton has a primary challenger, like Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) or Bernie Sanders (I-VT). 

I also don't think that Hillary wants to promote a particular agenda. She wants to appear presidential, win favors from all over the political spectrum. Since she was the NY Senator, Mrs. Clinton has not been ahead of any important issue, like gays in the military, same-sex marriage, legalization of marijuana, and many other issues progressives like. She has led from the rear! Hopefully, she won't appoint conservatives to the supreme court.

In my state of NY, I'm excited to see that Gov. Cuomo will most likely be challenged for the Democratic nomination in September. He's been a corporatist centrist. One of his recent choices was to pick a very conservative as his running mate. So, yeah, let's support Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu--who were robbed of the nomination of the Working Families party recently.

PS>Some polls show that men are split on whether there should be a religious exception on birth control, but among women, there's a clear majority against restrictions. This can be a mobilizing factor in the midterm elections--which are decided by who shows up to vote.