Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Day: January 25, 2013”

Murray’s contrast

trahant MARK


It’s hard to see the U.S. Senate as a democratic institution in the 21st century. A voter from Wyoming has nearly seventy times the representation as a citizen from California. And that understates the case significantly because on top of that lop-sided balance, the Senate also has rules that call for super-majorities, giving those small states even more power.

Alan Durning from the Sightline Institute made this point a couple of years ago when he wrote: “The Senate doesn’t just magnify small-states’ influence a little. It magnifies their power massively. Consider the Cascadia region, which covers all of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, plus parts of Alaska, California, Montana, and Wyoming (along with the Canadian province of British Columbia). Each of these states, of course, has equal representation in the US Senate. This chart shows the number of people per US Senator in these states. There are 18 million Californians for each of the state’s two Senators. In Wyoming, the equivalent number is 272,000. If every US Senator represented the same number of people as do Wyoming’s two Senators, Oregon would have 14 Senators.That’s right, Oregon would have 14 Senators! Washington, for its part, would have 24, far outnumbering its current 9 Representatives in the House.California? California would have 136.”

Now calculate those numbers for Indian Country. The Census says there are 5.1 million American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S. So, using the same formula of 272,00, there would be at least 18 Native American representatives in the Senate.

Don’t like that formula? Well, the collective land mass of tribal nations, villages, and communities, tops 87,000 square miles. That’s a larger land base than most states (the average for the 50 states is only 75,881.66 square miles).

Later today we’ll find out if the Senate is going to take even baby steps to limit filibuster (now at the point where a Senator only has to threaten a filibuster to stop legislation unless there are 60 votes).

But on the issue of austerity, the irony is that the Senate represents the best hope going forward for a balanced approach to how budgets are cut.

Congressional budgets are a relatively modern enterprise. Before the 1970s, the federal budget was presented by the President and then Congress passed appropriation bills for each agency. (more…)

Whose God?

rainey BARRETT


Politics and religion. I can think of no better definition of eternal incompatibility. Dive into our history at any point – world history, for that matter – and you’ll find the friction of one against the other. So, for your contemporary reading, let’s dive into the shallow end of the history pool – current events – to find more examples. Ah, and classic they are.

The first is a recent sampling of Americans and their feelings about religion in today’s culture – findings which resulted in a complete contradiction. Especially in the evangelical community.
The study was conducted by the Barna Group, a respected California think tank known for studies of American religion and culture.

When 1,008 people in the general population were asked if our religious liberties are threatened, 29% of said “yes.” But – faced with the same question – 71% of evangelicals said “yes.” Asked what they see as the threat, 97% of that group said others are trying to move society away from “traditional Christian values.” 97%! Groups they identified most? Gays and lesbians were named by more than 72%.for trying to remove “traditional Christian values” from the country.

“Where’s the conflict,” you ask? Well, the same responders said their Judeo-Christian beliefs should dominate our culture. They live in a multi-faith nation but want their beliefs supreme to all others. And the others are the ones they blame for attacks on their values. “The belief system is under attack.” “Our belief system should be the standard.” Harder to find a more direct conflict in a single group espousing religion than that.

For the second political-religious conundrum, we turn to our Catholic brothers and sisters. Specifically Lori and Jeremy Stodghill of Canon City, Colorado. This one’s a doozy!

Lori, pregnant with seven-month-old twins, was rushed to a Catholic hospital on New Year’s Day, 2006. Massive heart attack. Ironically, her obstetrician was on-call that night but didn’t answer his page. Hospital staff wanted him to save the fetuses by caesarian even as Lori was dying. He didn’t come. All died. In a Catholic hospital. Jeremy sued for wrongful death of all three. The born and the unborn, so to speak.

Responding, hospital lawyers literally turned Catholic church directives upside down in defense – directives for all Catholics but especially Catholic hospitals – that claim the unborn are “persons.” They argued Colorado law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds those fetuses are NOT persons with legal rights. Attorney Jason Langley argued Colorado courts define “person” under its Wrongful Death Act to include “only those born alive.” Therefore, Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses. “Not alive,” the Catholic defenders claimed. (more…)