Monday, June 30, 2014

A new type of running mate

As I've mentioned several times in the past I tend to let stories accumulate in my browser tabs until I get time to write about them. And even though some stories soon get a brief mention others just accumulate. If I'm going to migrate to a new computer I need to clean out all those tabs. With this bunch (and other pruning) I've gone from about 50 tabs to under 30.

John Burnett reported on Morning Edition of NPR that there seems to be a new running mate in GOP (and occasional Dem) advertisements this primary season, especially in the South. Lots of candidates are being shown with a rifle. Some are even shown using it. Political scientist Robert Sptizer says it is mostly symbolic:
Having a gun in an advertisement is a way to summarize your opposition to the Democrats, to Barack Obama, your suspicion of big government, your valuing of individualism, and it also expresses a kind of sense of power that is very appealing to base voters in the Republican Party.
It also has a high intimidation factor.

Deborah Vagins of the ACLU wrote a piece for Huffington Post listing many of the quotes through the years in which conservatives describe the right to vote as a top conservative value. This includes conservative guiding light President Reagan:
[T]he right to vote is the crown jewel of American liberties, and we will not see its luster diminished.
Vagins also lists strong long-term bipartisan support for the Voting Rights Act.

So why, after a key part of the VRA was ruled unconstitutional more than a year ago, have conservatives not acted to replace that key part?

There was a mass wedding during World Pride in Toronto for 115 couples from around the globe. A big reason for the festivities was because many of these couples would not be allowed to get married in their home country – and perhaps a few would suffer imprisonment or death if they tried.

Last week the site Shakesville posted a map made my MSNBC showing 20 states that allow same-sex marriage, 22 where the ban is being challenged, and 8 where the ban has been ruled unconstitutional and appealed. Won, challenged, or appealed covers every state.

That map is already out of date. Things move fast on this issue. Indiana has shifted from permitting same-sex marriage to stayed pending appeal. The stay was issued by the 7th Circuit.

There has been lots of talk that Obama will finally issue an Executive Order preventing federal contractors from anti-gay discrimination. I haven't mentioned it yet, wanting to wait until he actually signed it. Obama is working towards that because the House refuses to take up the issue. It is worth a mention now because 140 religious leaders have asked for the super religious exemptions that are in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed by the Senate. This is the version that gay rights groups are now disavowing because those exemptions are so generous. One might think religious groups would not be affected by this EO, but faith-based groups are contracted by the gov't for overseas relief and development projects.

The Vatican has issued a new document on how member churches are to treat sexual minorities. The doctrine issues remain the same. However, the tone is much less judgmental.

The NPR program On Point did an episode on hospice care. The use of hospice care has grown significantly over the last few years, with more people choosing to spend their last days in that kind of care rather than in a hospital. With the growth in use there has also been a huge growth of for-profit hospice providers. And these companies are out to make a buck off their patients with no concern whether final days are comfortable or not. Agents for these companies routinely prowl hospital corridors waiting for patients to get the bad news. Then they pounce when a family is most vulnerable. Companies that provide home care frequently leave most of the care to the family – including injecting the lower cost pain medications.

So, Dad, now might be a really good time to check out and choose a hospice provider for Mom and yourself for the time you might need it. Please be sure it is a not-for-profit organization.

In honor of Pride Month (ending today), Betty Crocker has posted few rainbow colored desserts.

I don't care much for the music of the band OK GO, but their videos are always amazing. Here's one that explores optical illusions. The behind-the-scenes video is pretty cool too. It looks like there are a few of their videos I haven't seen yet.

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