Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Archive for May 2012

What comprises health care shouldn’t be decided by religious dogma

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“Why are we being forced to pay for things that we don’t believe are health care?”

So now we can’t even agree that birth control and abortion are health care?

You may not believe our society should support birth control and abortion, and you have the right to that perspective. but you should understand that these are a part of health care.

The opening line from a priest is from a propaganda-laden video courtesy of one of my Facebook friends.

This “being forced to pay for something” line is sooooo late to the party. The hippies and war protesters took to the street in the 1960s and 1970s because they didn’t want their tax dollars going to the Vietnam war. Same goes for the Iraq War protesters of the 2000s.

Conservative Catholics are the force behind this latest installment of not wanting to pay for something. What makes their outrage so amusing is that they have been successful in not getting us “to pay for something we don’t like.” The war protesters had little impact on the length of the Vietnam War and no impact on the length of the Iraq War. Now that they might lose a single battle, they are suddenly so upset. Their falling into “religious freedom” is more of a smokescreen than a principled stand.

— If conservative Catholics believe religious freedom is at stake, then why don’t they point out that Christian Scientists don’t want us to pay for any health care. This isn’t a Catholic position, but if this is about religious freedom, is that for all religions or just Catholics?
— If this is about Catholicism, tax dollars goes to pay for the death penalty, something the Catholic Chruch is against. Do conservative Catholics not want to pay for the death penalty? If so, will they speak up?
— The Catholic Church is also against war. True, some wars are more justifiable than others, but where was the principled stand during the Iraq War? In the 2004 race, U.S. bishops were obsessed about John Kerry’s more liberal positions on issues, yet not concerned about an unjustified war.
— Since U.S. taxpayers support the Catholic Church, taxpayers pay for the pedophilia scandals and also to protect those accused multiple times of molesting children. Where do we go to get our refund?

These groups are confusing “religious freedom” with “religious dominance.” And women’s health care has suffered as a result.

For too long in this country, we have had to officially pretend that birth control and abortion are not health care. We have watched federal funding for abortions change on several January 20 occurrences over the years.

The other priest in the video weighs in on abortion funding as part of the health care mandate.

“That’s not something that was voted on by Congress. It’s something that was left to the Department of Health and Human Services to define.”

So is he saying that his religious freedom can be “violated” by a vote in Congress? That would be news to those who would normally agree with him. This push to the HHS “bureaucrats” is rather mean-spirited. The folks at HHS, BTW real human beings (some of whom are probably Catholic), are defining birth control and abortion as part of health care because it is.

Women aren’t allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia — these are the kind of laws you get when religion dominates a government. The vast majority of Americans find that repulsive because they know a religion shouldn’t dominate government policy.

We don’t live in a theocracy, we live in a democracy. Treating women as equals in health care, treating women’s health issues as human issues — these are steps toward democracy and away from theocracy.

The idea that the Catholic Church or any other church has to strong-arm citizens to follow their religious doctrine doesn’t say a whole lot for their doctrine.


Canada’s Michael Ignatieff on sovereignty and what government must do

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Sovereignty is not something to dissect in the sound bites that make up our presidential campaigns. But sovereignty is a great 21st century topic for a lecture, and you couldn’t ask for a better person to talk about sovereignty in 2012 than Michael Ignatieff.

Hearing Ignatieff speak for 5-10 minutes, he demonstrates why is a professor. But Ignatieff also was a politician, head of the Liberal Party in Canada and candidate for prime minister in 2011. Ignatieff lost his seat in the election, and retired from politics.

His political/academic perspective, especially on the heels of the G8/NATO summits here in the United States, and Igantieff’s background in Canada, England, and the United States made him well-suited for the talk.

For more on the lecture and conversation, check out this column from our sister blog,

NATO 2012 protest photo gallery

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People are often afraid of checking out protests, even if they believe passionately in what the protesters believe. So when you hear of crowd counts, remember that many others agree with them, but have their reasons why they aren’t down there in person.

So we thought we would show you some of what you missed, especially since this Sunday protest didn’t end well for some of the protesters. The protesters were in very good spirits with passionate messages.

Covering protests involves a bit of risk. So even if you are interested in checking out a protest or two, you might not be willing to personally get involved. Below we have a sample of people and their signs, along with some commentary when necessary. This protest eventually ran into problems, but that was when they were close to the site, the police were involved, and the protesters had a hard time being able to leave, even if they wanted to do so. At the beginning, people were in very good spirits, just wanting to get their message out.

In the first picture, this was the youngest protester that I saw. Protesters came in all different kind of ages, but mostly white. This was the primary message — a direct connection with what NATO is dealing with — the war in Afghanistan. Other signs focused on all wars, current (Syria) and potential (Iran). The media referred to this as an anti-war protest, and that certainly was an issue. But the primary issue is that money spent on wars is better spent on education, jobs, etc….

The masks might have seemed scary, but I even talked to a young woman with a mask who couldn’t be any nicer to me. Others had serious messages with lighter presentations.

There were a lot of young people, many of whom were concerned about student debt. One woman with a masters degree told me her debt reached over $100K. Some of them were aware of what was going on with the student protesters in Quebec.

The one that looks like Richard Nixon is based on a woman clutching a picture of her family from NATO bombings in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s,

Enjoy the protests in pictures and words.

Read the rest of this entry »

G8/NATO preview: Hiding at Camp David before coming to Chicago

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The G8/NATO summit was supposed to be all inclusive in Barack Obama’s hometown … in an election year. Well, we can’t seem to handle that so the awkwardness of breaking the summit into two locations appeared to be the “better” of the two options.

Protesters have a hard time getting their message out to the people who need to hear how they feel. In Chicago, as we’ve seen in Toronto and Pittsburgh, the goal is to keep the protesters and their messages as far away from people in power as humanly possible.

Of course, the violence estimates are high. Perhaps if people knew that those in power were listening to them, the reaction wouldn’t be as extreme. Some bad eggs will always come around to destroy things, but that can be true just about anywhere.

How much of a perspective we’ll get at Democracy Soup depends on how close I can get to the action. Even in the hometown of the NATO summit, getting close to the story may not be that easy. We’ll report back on what we see.

As for a look at what’s coming, and some Canadian perspective, check out this update from our sister blog,

Barack Obama finally comes out in favor of same-sex marriage — again

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Bill Clinton inhaled. And Barack Obama says he’s cool with same-sex marriage.

We all knew Bill Clinton inhaled, but he couldn’t admit it. We all knew Barack Obama was in favor of same-sex marriage, but he couldn’t admit it. Obama was in favor of same-sex marriage in 1995 — the first time.

The idea that Joe Biden saying he was in favor of gays getting married was a gaffe is part of why the Washington MSM media mentality is so destructive. When hatemongers spew hatred, they get the tip of the cap from the MSM elite. When a sitting vice president speaks about love, it’s an embarrassment.

Never mind that Dick Cheney said it before it was cool in some circles. Biden said it, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and then the first President of the United States to say it said it: gays and lesbians should be able to get married.

The Dems are the ones that set up Irony Fest ’12 in placing its national convention in North Carolina, the state that just passed Amendment One that bans gay marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships. What a fun time that will be in Charlotte. On the other hand, the Democratic National Convention will be the closest that natives may get to gay and lesbian visitors. Seriously, if you are gay or lesbian, would you go to North Carolina if you didn’t have to go?

Mitt Romney said for his part that marriage should be between a man and a woman. Will the MSM have the guts to ask Romney about the fact that his grandfather was part of a polygamy commune in Mexico? For those who argue for the traditional definition of marriage, as Romney does, Mormons would argue that their tradition is polygamy and Romney is a Mormon.

Part of that traditional definition of marriage would have nullified the marriage of the president’s parents. In fact, Virginia wouldn’t have recognized Obama’s parents marriage at the time Obama was born. For this reason alone, Obama should have been in favor of gay marriage from at least since the 2008 convention.

But Democratic politicians have felt the need to hide their true self and beliefs because the MSM and others pressure them to do so. George W. Bush proposed a Constitutional amendment that took away rights from Americans. No eyes were batted on that news. Then again, the Dem politicians look foolish when they do fall in the MSM trap.

We know where Romney stands on the marriage front, but his take on gays has come under question in two separate instances. Romney’s refusal to stand up for Richard Grenell, his foreign policy spokesman, who was likely hounded out of his job because he was gay, was disgraceful. And Romney went out of his way to dispel the notion that a prank he had played on someone when he was in high school had nothing to do with whether the victim was gay. “That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s.”

Then again, the boy was picked on because he stood out. Regardless of sexual orientation, the “prank” — pinning the boy and cutting off his ponytail — was rather cruel.

Romney did come up and said gay people should be able to adopt, leading to the idea of a family, but not have the parents get married. Huh?

The one person who has the proper perspective who we have not heard from on this issue is Newt Gingrich. After all, we had a major presidential candidate on the GOP side with a blood relative who is a lesbian. Candace Gingrich is the half-sister of the former Speaker of the House. Though political junkies knew of Candace’s existence, the MSM left her out of the equation when gay marriage issues came up. We’ve heard this “well, the public already knows about this” mentality. Guess what? A whole new generation of young people didn’t know. And not every reader, listener, and viewer remembers every little nuance of candidates, past and present.

“No to all incumbents and no to Amendment One.”

The best line was from one of my Facebook friends from North Carolina. While I can’t agree over the incumbents stance (oversimplification of what is happening politically), I love how he acknowledged what conservatives have traditionally stood for: getting government out of people’s business. This includes the bedroom.

Trust me, he is plenty conservative. But he also knows that government shouldn’t be deciding who can get married.

Will Indiana teabaggers decide Dick Lugar isn’t conservative enough?

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Dick Lugar has always been a Republican, but if he was once dark red, his pigment might be more pinkish than red. These days, Lugar isn’t Republican enough for a lot of Republicans.

We are about to find out how Republican Dick Lugar is in the eyes of Hoosiers as Indiana has its primary on Tuesday.

The Indiana primary is a soft spot for me, not just because I went there in 2008 to cover the Clinton and Obama campaigns. But Indiana is also a state that I have bordered my entire life (and that’s having lived in 3 different states).

And not just because Lugar has been a senator since 1976 and would likely be Senate president pro tem if the GOP gains control of the Senate (there is a dispute with Orrin Hatch over this, seriously). In a world where Congress has a 9% approval rating, Lugar is one of the good ones, even if you don’t agree with his policies.

Lugar is a senator that Jon Stewart would really like: someone who stands for principles over party, a person who is really concerned with the future of this country. By teabagger logic, this makes Lugar “not Republican enough.”

John McCain, part of the old guard, is endorsing Lugar over state treasurer Richard Mourdock. Sarah Palin, who considers herself part of the new guard, is endorsing Mourdock.

In a world that is guaranteed to have at least 40 Democratic senators and 40 Republican senators, Dick Lugar should be one of those people.

If Lugar wins the primary on Tuesday, you can be certain that the Senate seat will remain in the GOP column. After all, Lugar had NO Dem opponent in 2006. If Mourdock wins, the Dems have a much better shot to win the seat. Even though Obama took Indiana in 2008 (first Dems presidential win there since 1964), the Dems are longshots in the presidential and Senate races.

Indiana Rep. Joe Donnelly will face either Lugar or Mourdock in November.

If the GOP takes the Senate in 2012, Dick Lugar will be a powerful political force in Washington (either #1 or #2). And if Lugar wins the primary, the GOP chances skyrocket to keep the seat.

In the teabagger world, none of those prizes are good enough. All that matters to them is someone who is blindly conservative, regardless of what that means to our country.

Quebec students stand up for education access

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Back when Rick Santorum was a candidate for president, he said President Barack Obama was a snob because he wanted everybody to go to college. Okay, President Obama didn’t say that. Obama understands that higher education can take on several branches of possibilities — trade schools as well as college and universities. What we missed was the chance to have a dialogue over access to education.

Students in Quebec are protesting tuition hikes. In North America, Quebec students pay at or among the lowest tuition on the continent. And the tuition hikes aren’t that bad. But the students are fighting a bigger battle: access to education.

Protests have been going on for about two months, and are starting to get noticed outside of La Belle Province.

The job market is changing for both Canada and the United States, and a lot of math and science related jobs are being filled by people from outside these countries. Access to education would seem paramount, yet Americans are asking the young people to take on ridiculous financial burdens long after college. And Quebecers are the ones protesting in the streets?

For more on this story, check out the latest from our sister blog,