Whose Religious Rights Are More Important, Employer or Patient or Employee

You hear that phrase a lot, everyone should be entitled to their religious freedom, their religious beliefs. But, is that what is really happening?  The recent debate about birth control and the case the Catholic Church is bringing against the Obama administration raises some serious questions. To me religious freedom means being able to choose whatever religion you like and have the ability to follow their doctrine.  That brings up a few issues, number one being, if you aren’t religious at all and don’t believe in it you should have the same rights and respects others have; freedom of religion also means freedom to not be religious.  I can understand churches and synagogues having their religion they believe in practiced at their place of worship.  The fact that they are on tax deductible land is something that should be looked into, why are they able to have that status?  But having a place of worship where people have the same beliefs makes sense; I mean I know there are heated discussions within these communities but their underlying belief is the same.  But argument and venting ideas is healthy, positive and will make people understand things better or differently.

When you get into employment the earth shifts. If you work at a Catholic institution your freedom of religion should be respected more than the institutions freedom of religion.  When you are an employer you need bow to your employees freedom of religion, not the freedom of the employing institution.  In this economy, and actually in any economy at all, people need jobs, they need a source of income. If they choose to work in a religious affiliated hospital or other venue, their personal freedom of religion should be respected. Theirs, not the institutions.  So if you are an employer, a hospital lets say, the benefits you over need to be in line with what your competition offers, not what you believe in religiously.  It’s the individual worker who uses their religious freedom to decide what path they want to take.  If contraceptives are against their faith and beliefs they don’t have to get them. Its the big guy against the little guy all over again.  The place of work should offer benefits that are in line with their competition, its the individual to express their religious freedom by utilizing or not utilizing the benefits.

In 1993 my 86 year old grandmother had a stroke; she had been in perfect health every day of her life before that.  My father being a medical Dr. knew that the stroke she suffered from had irreversible damage, she would never be the same.  My grandmother had a living will, she did not want to be on life support if her life was gone.  My father on the way to the hospital gave instructions of her wishes and told the Dr.’s not to feed or try to revive her; following her wishes.  It was a Catholic hospital so they ignored her wishes and my fathers orders and fed her.  When my father got there he changed the situation and in forced my grandmothers desires and freedom of religion.  A Catholic hospital should abide by its patients wishes, not by their own wishes.  Freedom of religion is a personal thing not a business thing.

People need to look a lot closer at this kind of thing, do you want your wishes followed through on;or do you want them ignored because an ambulance brings you to a hospital thats closest to you but doesn’t respect your religious freedom.

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The Weakness of Mitt Romney

Two recent incidents have happened that show Mitt Romney’s lack of backbone in being able to stand up to people. If he doesn’t have the balls to stand up to Donald Trump how would he be able to stand up to any world leaders.  Lets start with the events that showed Romney’s cowardice, 1. When Romney was asked to comment on Rush Limbaugh calling the college student a ‘slut’ Romney answered ‘I would have used different language’ 2. When Donald Trump recently brought up, yet again, the birther issue, Romney stood quietly next to him smiling.

These are not the actions of a strong leader; who could have immediately made a statement about his disapproval of these statements.  Instead he stood by quietly like a wimp.  To me this is made even more powerful by his flip flopping over the years; telling a liberal state like Massachusetts that he would be friendlier to gays than Ted Kennedy, to switching to an ultra conservative message to the far right of the party. This is not a leader.  This is not someone we should have confidence in. This is not someone we can expect to represent us on the worlds stage. This isn’t even someone who can stand up to his own party to let them know ‘compromise’ is not a dirty word. Adding weak leadership skills to, wanting to appease everyone and not having any core principals does not paint a pretty picture.  Its time to realize he would be a disaster for our country.

While campaigning in 2008 a woman stood up and said to John McCain that Barack Obama was a Muslim and not a citizen of the U.S.  John McCain took that moment to tell the entire audience (in person and televised) ‘no ma’am, Barack Obama is a citizen and a patriot.’ Romney is not the man John McCain is.

I want more from Barack Obama too; what will you do in your second term? What are your plans for the country?  Can you and your team ask some of the questions in my last post? What would have happened without TAARP, Stimulus, Auto bailout. Articulate your successes, you are doing a horrible job at it.  Incidentally, the AIG loan from TAARP was completely paid back and the government made a $13B profit on it.

Some Random Thoughts On The Present And Future

These aren’t in any particular order, just a few things that I have been thinking about:

1.  Everyone says they love the military, they have undying respect for them. When they get home from the war they can’t get jobs, health insurance, have high levels of suicide, have trouble assimilating back in to the ‘real’ world.  This is the way we treat out finest? Disgraceful.

2. The filibuster rule in the Senate needs to be changed; the Republicans have blocked so many initiatives that could have helped the economy. The constitution says you need 50 votes, now its 60 so there won’t be a filibuster. This needs to be changed urgently.

3. Our country is in a Depression now; what happened in 08 and 09 was not a typical Recession; GDP was falling at 9% when Obama took office. This should be explained to people, this is why the recovery is taking so long and is so painful. What happened to cause this mess needs to be analyzed and explained. This situation is not just the fault of W.; it was decades in the making. Getting over a Depression is a completely different story than getting over a Recession.

4. Obama: What would have happened to those companies if Bain didn’t step in? Weren’t most of them on the verge of bankruptcy anyway?

5. Romney’s job as a Venture Capitalist was to get as much profit out of companies as possible; creating jobs was not part of his resume. When Romney was the Governor of Massachusetts his record of job creation was 47th out of 50th – when the economy was booming.  This is not a good record.

6. For all of those people who think the Government spends too much, what do you think would have happened without TAARP or the stimulus in 2009? Things could have been worse than the Great Depression in the 30’s. A run on the banks, the major banks declaring bankruptcy; unemployment rates of over 25%. The money had to be spent, there is no way around it.

7. The reason the Obama stimulus didn’t do more was because it was too small; Paul Krugman predicted this at the time. That the effects of the stimulus of $800B would last only 18 months, and thats exactly the amount of time it took for the economy to start sputtering out. Think about it, adding $800B to a 15T economy is very little. Also, 1/3 of the stimulus went to tax cuts so that shouldn’t be counted as part of the stimulus.

8. The problem in the economy now is no one is buying anything; there is very little demand for goods and services. This is why companies aren’t hiring because there is no demand. When consumers aren’t spending the Government needs to spend to stimulate the economy. What finally got us out of the Great Depression was the tremendous spending involved in WWII; 75% of the economy I believe.

9. Longterm unemployment for people over 40 is at crisis level and isn’t even spoken about. A recent Pew study showed that people between 45-54 were getting hired at the slowest rate since the Great Depression; and that people 55+ just weren’t getting hired period.

I know I am forgetting somethings; so we should all enjoy this day and do something for anyone who has worn the uniform, even if its just tweeting ‘thanks for your service.’

How The 1970’s and 1980’s Changed The World and How 2012 Is Just The Beginning Of Things To Come

I am not sure why the 70s and 80s have been on my mind recently, maybe its because of Donna Summer dying.  She was the 1970s. Maybe its because we are having a party with a theme of 1980 – which I consider part of the 70s.  Maybe its the piece I wrote on Jackie yesterday. I think its all of these reasons.  I was growing up in the 70s so I was too young to really understand what was going on, I didn’t learn about Studio 54 until many years later.  The free loving 1970s can go over a kids head, the 80s was more my decade, I went from a boy in high school to a college graduate living and working in Manhattan.  Its funny how as a kid you don’t know whats normal and whats not.  I remember seeing wide neckties and lots of plaid, but thats just the way things were.  I remember watching the Mary Tyler Moore show and thinking nothing of it, just enjoying it. I didn’t realize it was one of the first TV series to star a woman and be about a single woman’s life. Seeing it just seemed natural.  All of Sue Anne’s lines went over my head but I still thought they were funny.  When I was a kid no ones mother worked, I can’t think of anyone who had a mother with a job.  That just wasn’t the way it was. I was brought up to think that men provided for their families and women ran the household.  My mother did a lot of volunteer work at museums but was always home before we got home from school.  Years later I look back on the 70s and think that Jackie had a huge influence on women working.  I remember seeing on the news that she got a job and worked like everyone else. It was almost shocking at the time since she was so wealthy she didn’t need the money and she was earning so little it couldn’t possibly affect her lifestyle. But I think that was a turning point for women even if we didn’t realize it at the time.  She said is was OK for women to work.  My mother went on to have 2 successful businesses, both as being an art dealer.  She recently told me that when she started one of the businesses that she thought to herself, only poor women work.  But she followed her passion for art and had a very successful career working on her own, with a business partner.  My mother was a pioneer in her own way, she got bored very quickly of being a Dr.’s wife and taking tennis lessons and the like – for 20 years she had her offices on one of the nicest streets in Boston. Her business was very successful both with who their clients were and financially.  She stopped working when my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which is another story altogether.

Its so ironic looking back at that period, where first it was ‘ok’ for a woman to work, and now families can’t exist without 2 incomes.  Except for a very few both parents have to work, women working isn’t a statement or an anomaly, its a fact of life.  I don’t think its a bad thing that women and men have to share the responsibility of finances.  When children are involved thats a whole different ballgame.  I guess I do believe in the traditional family values of having 2 parents, and one at home.  Being gay I see no difference between a same sex or different sex couple.  But thats not reality now.  I do have full confidence that the economy will return to normal, the unemployment rate will be lowered.  I wonder what other changes we have coming in the future. I am an optimist though and I think everything will get better; people will have more choices, there won’t be such a difference with the 1%.  Things will be changing, they will have to be. The workforce getting older, people living longer, it will work itself out.  I know I won’t be able to retire at 65, I think thats a thing of the past.  They chose that age for social security back when the life expectancy was 63!

So, a new season has started its now summer. Our recent history is both interesting and informative. We do live in the greatest nation on earth and I believe the best is yet to come.  Lets roll.

America Hasn’t Been The Same Without Jackie O and Her Son John

Does anyone miss real celebrities, ones who were as mysterious as they were glamourous?  I do. Todays culture is filled with trashy people with cameras following them around, giving us way too much info, putting out sex tapes, arranging fake marriages.  I remember a day, not that long ago, where the celebrity was the one who was sought after, per sued and wouldn’t give any information out at all.  Of course Jackie O comes to mind, she was the epitome of a legend.  She never spoke to the media, granted interviews, wrote her memoirs.  She was true American royalty.  I miss that, people you want to know more about.  John Kennedy, Jr. was the same kind of royalty that his mother was.  He was humble, gracious and never over exposed his life – his body yes, he was an exhibitionist!  Caroline Kennedy is also American royalty, she lives a life out of the public eye, she comes out when there is some sort of charity event or something to do with her father’s legacy. But she is a true celebrity too; we don’t have pics of her house, or apartment; she’s not being interviewed and exposing her life.  I miss the class and dignity that once was.  The other example I am thinking of is Leona Helmsley, she was the queen of New York.  She and her husband, real estate magnate Harry Helmsley, were the talk of the town, invitations to their parties were highly sought after.  I think she had a yearly celebration for him called ‘I’m just wild about Harry.’  She and Harry redefined Manhattan, the skyline, the views, putting their names on buildings.  Her ad campaign was brilliant and legendary: ‘The only palace where the queen stands guard’ We all know about her downfall, her being charged with tax evasion and went to prison.  But still, like Jackie, you wanted to know more about Leona, her life wasn’t shoved in your face.  Diana Ross is another legend celebrity who you wanted to know more about.  In the 70s and 80s it was the celebrity who people were attracted too, being on the cover of a magazine was a big deal, the public wanted more. Now we have no true celebrities, no legends.  We have Snookie who we can see way too many intimate details of her life. We have the Kardashian’s who luckily I know nothing about. We have Paris Hilton, who really started this idea of being a celeb for no reason at all.  Just a sex tape and a dumb persona and she was a ready made celeb.  Of course she is probably having the last laugh with making a fortune, but I am talking about true legends who have class.  I can think of very few, only older ones who didn’t do the over exposed thing to get noticed. They got noticed for their talent. Now I am thinking of Tyne Daily, Sharon Gless, Meryl Streep, Stockard Channing, Clint Eastwood.  Today there are no legends. The end of the 1990’s marketed a time when 2 of the worlds biggest legends both tragically died.  Diana, Princess of Wales and JFK Jr.  I hope in the future we have more people to want to know about, want to be inspired by.  But I do miss Jackie, I was in the same room with her one time in my life. I also talked to JFK JR. once, both times were exciting. Lets bring up the caliber of celebs so we can have more legends.

Let’s Talk About Mitt

Lets see, I don’t even know where to begin with him. The flip/flopper, the robotic presence, the awkwardness you can feel thru the tv, the healthcare plan that he created and now disowns.  Bain, car elevators, ‘couple’ of Cadillacs. Ok I will start with Bain, was is a venture capital firm that’s goal is to restructure a company so it will be more profitable.  The fact he did this so successfully should be cheered and viewed as an American success story.  He was brought up with money but nothing compared to what he was able to accomplish and earn at Bain.  His work at Bain does not qualify him to be considered a ‘job creator.’ In fact it makes him the exact opposite, most of the companies he worked with cut jobs to save revenue.  Why Bain is part of the political conversation is dumbfounding, it has nothing to do with anything.  He was obviously excellent at his job, you don’t have a net worth of $200m from doing a lousy job; but that doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States as a job creator.  I’d say Bain is a wash from job killing to job creating.  Obama, stop talking about it.  Whats more important in my eyes is how he did as CEO, Governor of Massachusetts (my home state btw).  Thats the record that should be examined and dealt with.  We keep hearing Mass was 47 out of 50 in job creation; thats a problem.  I say that his record as Governor should be thoroughly investigated and poured over.  We should be able to know more than ’47th out of 50th’ What else went on, how was he as a leader, how did the state do when he was in charge, I don’t know this information, do you?  The ads with the plants closing are of course sad, but they don’t speak to the issue of how Mitt Romney would act as CEO of the US.  His wealth, car elevators, you know what?  If you got it and you want it you should get it.  Period. I haven’t seen an ounce of evidence of his ability to create jobs, fix the economy or lead the country.

President Obama on the other hand seems to have a long list of accomplishments that he can’t seem to articulate.  The economy still does suck, for those of us who are unemployed we know it well.  Why Obama doesn’t come out and talk about taking the country from the precepts of disaster and slowly turning it around is beyond me.   Why he doesn’t talk about just how bad it was in 2009, and no it wasn’t all W’s fault, but to tell the American people how bad it was.  The 3rd quarter of 2008 GDP was -9%.  That is depression territory.  Obama has had many other accomplishments, but his lack of ability to articulate them could make him lose the election.  No one even talks about the crippling sanctions on Iran that are forcing them to allow nuclear inspectors in the country.  Mitt says, bomb them.  That won’t help.

So on the one hand you have a president who can’t articulate his accomplishments, and on the other hand you have a candidate who has proven no evidence of being able to create jobs or handle the economy and country.  Again, the news media fails us, they don’t ask the right questions, they don’t point to what would have happened with no stimulus, what would have happened with double the stimulus?  With Mitt, forget about Bain, thats his personal success story, its not validation for being president.  Oh and btw, all of Romney’s flip flops are a problem they show he makes decisions as the wind blows.  So, lets find out Romney’s record as Governor of Mass, lets find out more about exactly what Obama did to save the economy, exactly what it is that people say are anti growth.  Lets talk about facts.