Equal Protection Under The Law (CCR)

Defining equal and defining protection are exercises for another blog. For the purposes of this blog accepting some measure of belief in the concept strains credulity when looking at the current situation in the Catholic Church. Bishop Finn and Msgr. Robert Murphy of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are embroiled in yet another cover-up of child abuse by ordained men of the church. Both men appeared before a Grand Jury investigating this latest local incident of sanctioned institutional use of children.

For years, the Catholic Church has defiled children both by actions of ordained men of the church and by concerted and ongoing efforts to keep the problem hidden and out of the legal system.

The Mantra, the song of enforced silence has many verses. We hear them over and over: “God’s Law governs these Holy Men. God’s law comes first. The Church, Our Shepard, know best. The Church offers the protection of these good and holy men. The Church has a process of protection. God protects His people through the men of the church. Civil protections have no place in the abuse situations.” A current favorite is the new/old standard of blaming the victims, labeling Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests as trouble makers looking for a chance to make noise. Somewhat reminiscent of inquisitions of torture for failing to adopt the party line.

Granted, a diocese bankrupted under the strain of legal costs defending the Church, the priests, the bishops, the cardinal involved in one situation. As punishment, the Cardinal left United States jurisdiction to a position as head of Mary Major Church in Rome complete with all the comforts and trappings of his position in the hierarchy.

Granted, victims received money for silence.
Granted, psychological treatment was offered to some victims.
Granted, the abuse of children and the institutional cover-up has cost the Catholic Church in both membership and in revenue.

However, we are looking at equal protection under the Civil Law for victims rather than the cost of abusing, denying, ignoring, hiding, covering up. The Catholic Church has used their arsenal to keep the protection of children out of Civil Court, to avoid the open and honest investigation of the corruption. Lawyers protect the Church while the church works to deny protection of the abused.

We are searching for equal and for protection under Civil Law as we look at photos of Bishop Finn and his lawyers entering the building for the Grand Jury investigation. We see Finn and Murphy enjoying their absolute right–the protection of legal counsel, the hearing before Civil Law, the constant advice of those expert in Civil Law, their day in a Civil Law setting. We see these men of the church availing themselves of the very rights and protections that the church has worked so hard to deny victims of abuse by ordained men of the church.

God’s law protects the children? Civil Law protests the priests? Equal protection?

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The End of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

A rerun of a previous blog, written prior to the legal end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

The United States Military is the most powerful in the world, operated and led by people of experience, intelligence and savvy. Many, maybe the largest percentage, never see front line combat assignments in modern warfare. Retirement steadily removes the oldest members of the highest officers ranks, moving younger people up the career ladder.

Prejudices of my generation, and generations who came before, diminish as younger people see with different understanding. Clearly, there are military people who, with their understanding and conscience, continue to distrust the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Perhaps those well-meaning men and women should trust the power of their organization to handle the death of the DADT dinosaur. Time and honesty will show that good and dedicated men and women have served with courage and respect while being caged in that dark ‘closet’.

The editorial page of the daily paper could consider moving Doonesbury from the comic section giving the military strips full editorial presence when Trudeau writes about DADT.

Admittedly, many church groups supported DADT and cannot let go of their stand on Gay and Lesbian people, the stand that uses God as condemnation, focusing on a few lines in The Book rather than focusing on the Jesus nature of love. Weren’t we taught that The Jesus of The New Testament overshadowed the ‘smite’ part of the Old Testament?

Not being a Biblical scholar, I cannot quote passages to back up a God that is all about acceptance, forgiveness, love, creation mirroring God’s image. Admittedly, I have problems understanding churches that condemn the private nature of homosexual couples while protecting pedophiles and abusers with cover-ups, money, promotions and denial. Whited sepulcher comes to mind— and a subject for another day.

Serendipity Lives

Just as I hit the publish prompt for this morning’s blog, an email from my friend, Pat C. hit the in-box.  Pat’s message was quickly followed by duplicates from others supporting the main points in the original.  Pat C.’s email is the perfect addition to my Dull, Duller, Dullest blog referencing changes that Congress needs prior to asking the public to feel any deep pinch.  The forward spells out some very specific changes, concepts that would go a long way towards making believers out of many of us.
Congressional Reform Act of 2011

1. Term Limits.

A. Two Six-year Senate terms
B. Six Two-year House terms
C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

2.  No Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

3.  Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately.  All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.  Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.

The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen.  Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message.  Maybe it is time.

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, pass it on.   If not, just delete
You are one of my 20+.  Please keep it going.
This has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat …. it has everything to do with your kids and mine!


Dull, Duller, Dullest

NPR reports that a scientist ran the numbers, discovering that April 11 was the dullest day of the century. Waiting, I hoped the tag line would not be that a government grant funded that scientific bit of whatever.  However, the report was quickly interrupted by spring pledge break and a non-commercial advertising a law firm doing intellectual property work.  Surely, there is irony here.

Do we keep the tradition alive, subduing any urge to pursue interesting and even relevant thoughts on this April 11, 2011?  In another 100 years, will this day be a follower or perhaps find a way to lead?  Or, in another 100 years, will anyone even care?

Let’s care.

Let’s insist that government leaders find a way to address the budget crises while refraining from over reliance on hot-button emotional stuff.   Priorities require measures that affect everyone.   Some interviewer of soft voice and concerned cadence questioning a Senator about his stand on the funding of international aid programs should find a another line of work.  Unbiased news slips farther and farther from reality, but spinning with an eye to discrediting honest attempts to sort priorities in dishonest and counter productive.

If entitlement programs need cuts in order to sustain the economy we are again faced with the truth that everyone will feel the sting.  However,  those makers of our laws, Congress, would do well to start in their House, to cut their entitlements first.  Again, surely there is irony here.

What Price Violence?

Before the ramble begins, the disclaimer:  I am not a ‘dove’.  The hot snowball impossibility of that position never made it up the flag pole.  We are a people of sex and violence.   Neither am I a hawk defending the position that power and anger win the toss.

I am taking a position of respect for those who sincerely believe in and work for peaceful means of change.  I am taking a position of gratitude to our military men and women who defend against that power and anger sucking the soul of  the world.

I am not a proponent of stricter gun laws. Cain and David used rocks.  In some countries, rocks are the weapon of choice for certain crimes.

An NPR sports commentator recently  spoke of the glory of violence on the playing field.   He was against any rule changes to diminish the worship of that glory.  I leave that discussion to the fans.

“The themes of democracy, justice and empowerment are being displayed on the streets in several countries.”

“John Covington’s newest recipe for controlling Southwest Early College Campus (violence) calls for a total of 18 security guards and police officers mixed with a dozen additional hallway monitors.”

Both quotes are from the front page of The Kansas City Star, Tuesday, February 15, 2011.

Fires burn in the halls of an early college campus.  Fires burn in the streets of Cairo, Iran, Yemen, Bahrain.  Military personnel and police presence continue to increase in efforts to control the violence, put out the fires of protest.

In an educational setting designed to prepare  for college some students are mirroring the behaviors of Arab demonstrators demanding democracy, justice and empowerment.

Sucking the soul from the world…..

Why? Arizona Shock Waves

A rant, a heartbreaking, soul wrenching rant…

Twenty wounded, six fatally.

Why?  Over and over and over.  Why?

Jared Lee Loughner, in custody and accused of being the shooter, will be investigated to the minutia of his life in the search of the Why.

Investigated as were all others accused and/or convicted of horror.  Finding those answers to past Why did not prevent the Saturday massacre.

Gun control groups will have new ammunition, blaming the gun laws before blaming the shooter.   Criminals/shooters will have guns no matter what the law.  They are criminals.  They break the law.

House Speaker, John Boehner, said:  “When one of us is attacked, all of us (are) attacked.”   Physically harmed by gun, or any means of inflicting bodily harm, is the implied definition of  ‘attacked’.

Elected officials receive threats in greater and greater numbers.

Consider the climate.  Consider political rhetoric.  Consider playing cross-hair symbols as indications of disagreement.  Consider the mindset that flaunts anger, vitriol, hate.  Consider the elevation of Them v. Us and the subsequent loss of civil disagreement.  Consider issues taking a back seat to personalities.   Consider the place of violence in our culture.

Washington, D.C. security ramped again while the dead stay dead and the wounded continue to suffer.  Partisan voices quiet.  Anger checked while flags fly half mast.

People died.  Lives ended.

People shot and wounded.  Lives never to be the same again.

Who owns this?  Who owns this Why?

Immigration/Integration

Currently reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book, Infidel. Though not writing about the immigrant experience in coming to the United States, her thoughts on Muslim immigration to Holland brought out my note pad.  At this moment, the swirl of  Hirsi Ali’s observations needs much more sorting, but definitely worth running up the flag pole.

The author, fleeing an arranged marriage,  settled in the Netherlands.  She briefly mentions the Dutch behavior in Indonesia and the fact that during World War II a greater percentage of Jewish people suffered deportation from Holland than from any other Western European country.  Hirsi Ali believes that, with the best of intentions, the Dutch wanted to make up for past behaviors and in the 1980’s made the decision to not only welcome the Muslim immigrants but to ‘politely’ leave them alone to form their own community values.

In her scenario, Holland’s encouragement of Muslim immigrants forming their own communities was to insure  the self-respect believed to come with being a member of a known and shared community system.  Rather than expecting the Muslim people to integrate into the Dutch system, to the values of the welcoming country, that Dutch permitted the wholesale establishment of a country within a country.  The government provided subsidies for this purpose

Hirsi Ali further observed that many of the Muslim immigrants were on welfare, poor and often violent.  Her life experience taught that in Somalia an important  value is Hit First/Attack/Don’t Wait To Be Hit.  This cultural value of establishing physical dominance was  tacitly accepted by the Dutch in the hand-off policy towards the new Muslim community.

Her new life in Holland taught that the people of Holland believed in curbing violence, in channelling aggression and settling disagreements verbally.  Controlling and even preventing violence became institutionalized in the Dutch way of life, part of citizenship.

The author of Infidel brings the reader to conclusions that might speak to the current disagreements over immigration policies.  She notes that the immigrants “…lived apart, studied apart, socialized apart…schools in the inner city, which other families fled.”    This definitely reads like community-within-a-community rather than integration of parts into the whole.

As with any cultural group, the immigrants spoke the language of origin not needing the new countries language for conducting daily life.  Living apart encouraged perpetuating ingrained values rather than accepting host country values.  Gender roles tended to be fixed rather than opened to more enlightened experience.

“…compassion for immigrants and their struggles in a new country resulted in attitudes and policies that perpetuated…”   These words, taken from context, are apropos not only to the cruelty discussed by the author of Infidel, but to the current situation in the United States.

We are a compassionate people providing welfare assistance in a multitude of forms.  Agencies reach deep into communities with food, shelter, and all the  taken for granted pieces of daily life.  The current outreach is a very far cry from what was given to Ellis Island Immigrants, the Irish, the Italian, the Eastern European people, the Greeks, the Germans,  the African people coming up from slavery.  Most did not have a safety net, except to learn the language, the culture, the values–to work for food, shelter and the taken for granted pieces of daily life.

Of course, this is not to say that welfare assistance is unnecessary or wrong, nor that life without a safety net is the more honorable choice.  Perhaps, though, we need to rethink the value of separate immigrant communities, of our systematic discouragement of the need to learn the host country language, of revisiting the overwhelming mistakes of ‘separate but equal’ in all ramifications.  Perhaps the older way, the way of honoring home culture in the home and honoring the host culture in the greater community needs a second look.

Respectful multiculturalism does not have to thrive to the exclusion of the welcoming host culture, the culture providing funds to help perpetuate multiculturalism.

Immigrants come to the United States because of who and what we are, of what we can provide, of how we can protect.  Is it not absurdly disrespectful to discard the values that created us once we provide the sought after American dream?