Saturday, March 27, 2021

A Rogue Supreme Court: Why H.R.1 Must Be Passed By The Senate


There was a time when the Supreme Court would have hesitated to enhance state latitude by enacting policies from new voter ID requirements to ensure they did not harm Blacks and other minority voters.

Those days are gone under Chief Justice Roberts. The Supreme Court today is busy hollowing out federal voting rights protection.

Since the Republicans losses in 2020, and lies about fraud from Trump, there's been a rash of states attempting to change voting laws to disenfranchise minority voters.

Georgia went all in and passed a spate of laws ensuring it's going to be hard for minorities to vote in the next election. They even went to ridiculous and draconian measures to outlaw people bringing food or drink to voting lines.

The problem is the now conservative court is giving states leeway over how they run elections, thus allowing partisans to weaken voting rights for minorities. 

Led by Roberts, the court has also dismissed concerns about the consequences for minority voters as it curtailed the reach of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The signal the conservatives on the court have sent is they are willing to tolerate a lot of partisanship in how elections are run.

However, the Biden administration is not going to stand by and watch voting rights get diluted by extremist conservatives and a rogue Supreme Court.

Earlier this month the House passed the For The People Act, (H.R.1)which provides sweeping election reforms to protect voter's rights. The next step is the senate, where opposition from McConnell and his minions has already solidified.

Senate Republicans are warning they're going to filibuster H.R.1.

It's up to Biden to stand up and either shut down the filibuster, or change it to conform to past standards. 

In my opinion, the Democrats are not going to pass any meaningful legislation unless they kill the filibuster.

I just don't want to see the same mistake the Obama administration made thinking the Republicans would compromise on legislations for the good of all Americans.

With the Supreme Court enabling conservatives to change voting laws to their advantage, H.R. 1 is the last chance to ensure future elections won't be rigged by the Republican Party.

Friday, March 26, 2021

The Enemy Within: Far-Right Republicans

Since Trump destroyed whatever credibility the Republican party had, it's politicians have become the enemy of the people.

Just look at the rank and file Republicans who wanted Biden's American Relief benefits. GOP Republicans in Congress voted against it despite their constituents desire for help.

The most recent assault by GOP obstructionists in Georgia shows how high the stakes are.

Republican lawmakers passed a bill that will seriously restrict voting rights after losing the state to Democrats in 2020.

The bill is a blast from the past featuring Jim Crow laws that would have made racist George Wallace proud.

But it doesn't end there.

The attack against voting rights is being duplicated in 38 states with Republican legislatures as I write this.

Exactly when did it become okay to blatantly subvert voting rights out in the open?

Traditionally Republicans have tried to suppress the vote because they fear more people will vote for Democrats if given the opportunity.

That attitude went viral when Trump took office. After he lost the election, he rallied his MAGA supporters to declare all-out war on voting accessibility.

The sad part of this dismantling of American voices is that it wasn't always like this. I remember when ALL AMERICANS were urged to vote.

Under Trump, the Republican party has become "the enemy within."

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Enlightening Things About Lightning Strikes

May lightning strike you down if you don’t tell the truth!

That old phrase/threat went through my mind when I read about lightning strikes in the Midwest today. 

The key to not getting hit by lightning is to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Before you hand me a cookie and tell me to go away with that seemingly stupid observation, let me explain:

It doesn’t matter where you stand, what you wear or what you carry — the best thing to do is to avoid the locations where lightning can strike. Does that sound better? For example, anywhere outdoors or in unprotected structures.

Let’s say you’re somewhere outside where there are no buildings to hide in. A car (with a hard top, of course) will protect you. A direct strike to your car will flow through the frame of the vehicle and usually jump over or through the tires to reach ground.

Note I said usually. If you happen to be unlucky enough to touch the metal frame with your arm (or other body part) it could ruin your day. Especially if you don’t get out of the vehicle and check it out. Fuel can be ignited by a strike and cause a fire or explosion

I’ve got a couple of medical terms dealing with lightning I bet you never heard of: Keraunomedicine (study of lightning casualties and associated treatments), and keraunopathy (the study of effects of lightning on the human body)

Illuminating as all of this information may be, being struck by lightning is not something most people worry about. 

That is, unless you’re a statistic and this information comes too late for you.

Forgive me for being so flippant about a subject that strikes terror into some people. Sometimes I can’t help myself. 

I’ve never been struck by lightning (knock on wood!) nor have I ever met anyone who was. Like most of you, however, I’ve heard and read a lot of lightning strike stories.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Where Our Society Went Wrong: Specialization is for Insects

My wife went to a dentist the other day to get a tooth pulled. 

To her surprise the dentist said he couldn't do it. 

He said she would have to go to a specialist - an oral surgeon.

What happened to the days when you went to a dentist and he/she was a one-stop event? 

The days of a doctor meeting your medical needs are gone as general practice doctors are now more of a referral step to a specialist.

Full service gas stations are only memories in a time when you could bring your car in to get gas, replace your breaks, or get a tune-up. 

It's clear to me where our society went wrong. The idea of a person being able to utilize more than one skill at a time has degenerated into a work force of drones only capable of one skill at a time.

Specialization is for insects. 

Humans should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. The idea of a Renaissance Man with numerous skills is long gone, replaced by a specialist with only one skill.

In the ant world specialization is a genetic disposition that divides workers, fighters, and a queen into segments.

Humans should take advantage of the multiple skills they're capable of and lead a fuller life with multiple options to expand their experiences.

After all, we only get one lifetime to make our mark on society.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

When Love Calls: a Longing Look at a Four-letter Word

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(Editor's note: Today I'm sharing a blast from the past when I was a columnist - 18 years ago - with a daily newspaper in Northern California (The Times-Standard), because the topic still holds true. In this post Trump America we need LOVE more than ever.)

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The Beatles had it right when they sang, “All you need is love.

The most positive emotion in humans is love. It moves mountains. It saves lives. No amount of money will ever buy it. Your body and mind need it like oxygen.

It has spawned poems since ancient times when rhymes were written for kings and queens.

C.S. Lewis describes four kinds of love in his book “The Four Loves.” They are based upon the Greek words for love; Storge (affection), Phileo (friendship,) Eros (romance), and Agape (unconditional love).

Love is the best anti-depressant, but many of our ideas about it are wrong. Most of us get our ideas about love from the popular culture. We expect to be swept off our feet when in love. We tend to have unrealistic images that don’t fit with the real world.

The myth in our culture is love just happens. It appears out of nowhere and suddenly you are intoxicated. It doesn’t work that way. You have to actively pursue love by learning a variety of skills. You can’t just sit down and wait for love to come to you. That’s a mistake a lot of us make.

"Hate controls everything it touches, but love sets everything it touches free,” said Bryant McGill, in “Voice of Reason.” It’s true. Love can give us a new lease on life. It has no boundaries, other than the ones we set upon it.

An extremist when it came to love, Kurt Vonnegut also had a healthy irreverence about it. In “The Sirens of Titan” he wrote, “A purpose in human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”

In “The Brothers Karamazov Fydor Dostoyevsky forcefully describes love. “What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love."

Paulo Coelho in “The Zahir: A Novel of Obsession” wrote, “Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.”

HonorĂ© de Balzac, who knew a thing or two about all-consuming love, wrote “Physiologie Du Mariage.” In it he states, “The more one judges, the less one loves.” The wisdom of this quote really resonates when you think about it. I think we’re all guilty, at one time or another, of harshly judging others.

One of my favorite quotes about love comes from Agatha Christie who wrote in her autobiography: “It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.”

It was Albert Einstein who asked, “How are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?” When I try to describe my first love (who I married) the words seem sappy and silly. I found that love grew, and was not a static thing.

The longer you love, the deeper it goes. I know this from experience. Poets and authors worldwide have talked about love since the days of yore, but the subject never seems to be exhausted. People have always written about it, big and small. Love is always a fresh subject.

Love is hard to define. How do you avoid mistaking it for infatuation or lust? Not even an experienced person can give a definite answer to that question. Psychologists talk about “that initial glow” (for the first six months) when a couple fall in love. It’s almost a fairy tale come true, but always ends in reality. If love survives the rigors of the world, it’s true love.

”Love is your mother watching basketball games with me, even though she doesn’t care about the game,” I explained to my sons early on. Love is selfless. It bends under stress, but always rebounds when given a chance.”

Contrary to what some people may think, love has no price, yet still has to be earned. A mother’s love for her child is the exception, because it has no bounds or requirements. I’ve seen love in my wife’s eyes for 39 years, despite all the dumb things I’ve done during that time.

Yes, I believe in the power of love. During my hippie days in the late ’60s, I eagerly embraced the message of “Peace and Love” even though I was a stranger to it. Love does make the world go around, of that I’m sure.

As It Stands, to have truly lived, we must have love in our lives.

Dave Stancliff is a former newspaper editor and publisher who writes this column for The Times-Standard. Comments can be sent to richarddavestancliff@gmail.com or to www.davesblogcentral.com

Monday, March 22, 2021

Support Animals: How COVID-19 Produced New Pets During The Pandemic

It's all about social distancing.

For a year we've been told to stay six-feet apart for safety reasons.

Needless to say it hasn't been easy. But thanks to support pets we're meeting the challenge. We've always used dogs as support pets, but the coronavirus has exposed a need for MORE SUPPORT.

Popular Pets in the Pandemic

Perhaps the most efficient support pet has been - surprisingly - skunks. You can put one on a leash and go out in public assured no one wants to get too close to you.

Some pet owners argue that their porcupines are just as effective.

Others claim that honey badgers are better because their generally violent attitude is a fit for these troubling times.

Advocates for racoons suggest their masks are more appropriate and that they're a match for a honey badger.

More extreme pet owners - generally from Florida - favor alligators and anacondas to keep a space between them and anyone else.

Hyenas have also been recommended as a support animal because of their laughter -which puts people off - and their general vicious demeanor.

You've probably noticed these aren't traditional support animals, but hard times call for drastic changes.

If you have come up with a non-traditional support animal that I don't have listed here please contact me so I can share for everyone's sake.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Sad Truth: Evangelical Christians Have Sacrificed Credibility and Moral Ground

In 2016 Evangelical Christians lined up behind Trump and supported him as the "lesser of two evils."

The cost-benefit analysis that led them to follow Trump didn't factor in the long-term damage he, in fact, is still doing.

The consequences of undermining Christian witness have turned people who might have otherwise been receptive to a salvation message-to look else where for a path to redemption.

By cleaving to Trump the last four years, Evangelicals are finding themselves isolated in America's religious communities.

The only message that came from the four-year exodus from Jesus Christ's teachings is that Evangelicals are Republicans. Hardly a message of salvation for all.

We've all seen the negative repercussions that came with embracing the MAGA ethos.

Christian principles have been muffled, giving away moral authority to the Republican Party's white-working class rural fears about immigration, gun control, and culture change.

Simply put, Trumpism has destroyed the Evangelical brand. It replaced their message with toxic politics. The risk they took in 2016 has not paid off. 

With Trump as the de facto leader of Evangelical Christians, their future is in question.

Good Bee! Roll Over! Find the COVID-19!

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