Posts Tagged ‘congress’

Here’s something that could make you hate and despise your benevolent democratic overlords to the very core of your bitter soul, if you’re not careful.

At least some of the members of Congress currently not doing their jobs have been expressing how important it is that they continue to get paid.

I need my paycheck. That’s the bottom line.

Rep. Renee Ellmers there, before this story presumably took off and motivated a change of heart.

On one level, it’s not hard to sympathise with her plight. And that’s always a level worth paying attention to. She’s used to doing a job for which she gets paid a salary, and abruptly not receiving that salary could be a serious snag in her financial situation. I have no idea how many regular payments to things like mortgages and insurance premiums this Congresswoman is currently obliged to make, but it’s not unreasonable if she works her salary into her assumptions for being able to meet those obligations.

Really, her discomfort with the idea of giving up her income is understandable. I know it’d put a serious, frightening crimp in my own financial situation if I suddenly wasn’t getting paid.

…And here we approach the point. Ms Ellmers’s salary is quoted at $174,000 per annum. To put that in terms we can all understand, that’s more than I get. It’s a lot more than a lot of people get.

Which is perhaps why the delineation of her own monetary neediness as “the bottom line” rankles so deeply, and in what ought to be an entirely predictable way. That might be your bottom line, Ms Ellmers. Other people’s bottom lines go down way, way further.

I know nothing about this person’s situation and the debts and responsibilities she has to manage. She may even be right. It may be entirely true that she would become suddenly quite vulnerable and find it difficult to continue supporting her lifestyle if her primary income dried up. What’s infuriating isn’t the idea that she’s lying, it’s the lack of imagination.

Surely if you know how tough it can be on $174,000 + whatever your general surgeon husband brings in from his own practice, it doesn’t require much imagination to briefly consider how things might be for someone supporting a family alone on one tenth of your salary. Surely it’s kinda sorta a really important part of your job to spend time thinking about the people in such a situation who you supposedly represent. People already pushing the limits of personal deprivation to make ends meet. People who know that a problem at the bank that delays a bill payment could mean a spell without electricity or food for them or their children. People for whom downscaling some of their plans to accommodate a drop in household income, as you’ve had to do, is likely to mean ending up homeless, because there’s simply no further down for them to go.

It’s seems like it should be really hard not to take more of an interest in other people, is all. And yet some folk seem determined to try.

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– The abhorrence of Mike Adams’s approach to just about everything notwithstanding, NaturalNews is on the side of right once again.

– Radley Balko has a new rule. And he’s right. Because of the authority the police have to curtail other people’s freedom, they should be watched very carefully, and recording their actions is in their own interests’ as much as anybody else’s if they’re on the level.

– It doesn’t seem like news at all that those who are elected to office, specifically to be “representative” of the people, aren’t.

– I can feel the power of Jesus flowing through me… it’s getting stronger, praise God… and BAM, UTERUS.

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s ongoing legal battle, which challenges the US government’s recognition of an official “National Day Of Prayer”, has had a positive ruling overturned and the case thrown out by a Court of Appeals.

They still have recourse, and are already moving on with plans to have the case reheard. The law they’re challenging has been in place since 1952, and designates the first Thursday in May as a time for Americans “to turn to God in prayer and meditation”.

You might remember that the US also has this thing called the Constitution, and that one of the first things they decided to add to it when they realised it wasn’t quite finished was the idea that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”.

So you can see why this law which respects an establishment of religion might rub a few people up the wrong way.

The technicality on which the challenge has been thrown out this time is that the Foundation apparently lack “standing”. This means that it’s not their place to challenge the law, because they’re not personally being harmed by it or directly losing out in any way.

You can see why there ought to be some limitations along these lines on what lawsuits you can bring. Otherwise, you can imagine all sorts of frivolous and time-wasting cases being brought to court, by people who really have no stake in what they’re complaining about except their own personal indignation. But should the FFRF really stay out of this because it doesn’t affect them negatively in any way, as the court effectively ruled?

Daylight Atheism said it best:

In this case, the Seventh Circuit found that the FFRF had suffered no injury from the National Day of Prayer. Apparently, this is true even if public money is used to sponsor and organize the day’s events, even if participation is restricted to certain religious sects that work hand-in-glove with elected officials, even if NDP events specifically endorse one version of religious scripture over others, even if said events include official statements questioning the patriotism, morality or citizenship of those who refuse to participate. Never mind all that – when the President tells you to pray, you can say no, and that’s all it takes for your civil rights not to be violated!

According the Foundation’s report, Judge Barbara Crabb, who’d initially ruled in favour of their challenge last year, pointed out that enacting a National Day of Prayer, sponsored by public money and using elected representatives’ time and authority to instruct people to get praying, is “no more within the purview of government” than it would be if they passed a law and instituted another National Day which encouraged everyone to “fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic”.

And you can just imagine how badly, if they did that, the Christian right would lose their shit.

There’s no un-tortured legal reasoning I can see behind this decision. The decision-makers are just doing what they want, because they’re Christians, and they pray, and they think praying and being a Christian is all just fine, and anyone who doesn’t want to join in isn’t really suffering and should just buck up already. You don’t have to pray if you don’t want to. And if you’ve got some other gods of your own, you can do your chin-wagging with them instead. Everyone’s happy, right?

Well, clearly not. This law seems to be straight-forwardly unconstitutional and unconscionable. Government’s place in matters of people’s religion should be to stay the hell out of it.

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