Sunday, February 26, 2012

Santorum's View On Separation Of Church And State

Ah... if there's one thing we can say about Rick Santorum, it's that we can trust him to consistently say things that smack of radical right-wing extremism.

Here is an article on Yahoo! entitled Santorum says he doesn't believe in separation of church and state. That's quite interesting. Because separation of church and state is the only way to guarantee the religious freedoms afforded by the First Amendment. As soon as matters of the church become mixed with those of the federal government, we lose that part of the First Amendment. Whether it's because government is taking a special interest in and promoting a certain religion, or singling one out for criticism, it doesn't really matter; to me, any mixing of the two is a clear violation of the First.

Santorum is quoted as saying "The First Amendment means the free exercise of religion and that means bringing people and their faith into the public square."

Wait... what?? Actually, I'm pretty certain the First Amendment means the exact opposite: we let people practice their own religion on their own time, and the government neither espouses it nor interferes with it. I would also argue that the First Amendment equally protects those who choose to follow no religion at all. If we start bringing faith into government matters, aren't the rights of atheists being violated? Not to mention the rights of everyone who follows a religion different from whatever religion government is promoting.

And, as I expect at this point, he has taken Democratic words and twisted them into a convenient talking point. In 1960, President Kennedy gave a speech outlining the idea of separation; the idea that, in order to guarantee religious freedom, government should be totally divorced from any religion.

Commenting on this, Santorum said "To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? What makes me throw up is someone who is now trying to tell people that you will do what the government says. That now we're going to turn around and impose our values from the government on people of faith."

I'm pretty sure the idea isn't to say that "people of faith have no role in the public square". Otherwise, the government would be comprised completely of atheists at this point. I'm honestly not even sure what he's trying to say in the latter two sentences. How does separation of church and state translate into "the government imposing its values on people of faith"?

Because, if you love the First Amendment as much as Santorum claims to, surely you must see that separation is the ONLY viable option. I hardly think turning America into a theocracy is the way to guarantee religious freedom for all. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gay Marriage Should Be Legal, And It's The Government's Fault

To me it's very clear that gay marriage should be allowed. But maybe not for the reasons many people think.

If it were just a question of a "celebration of love" or "a holy contract between a man, a woman, and God", I honestly wouldn't care either way.

But that's not what marriage is. At least, not anymore. Government decided to get involved. In the present day world, marriage is a contract between two people and the government. There are tons of benefits of being married; actual, tangible benefits. This website has an enormous list of the benefits of marriage. Especially amusing is the quote "if you are in a domestic partnership or civil union... none of the benefits of marriage under federal law will apply to you, because the federal government does not recognize these same-sex relationships". Also, " may not file joint federal income tax returns with your partner... and other federal benefits, such as Social Security death benefits and COBRA continuation insurance coverage, may not apply".

This isn't a question about religion anymore. It stopped being about religion the moment government benefits came into the equation. It's about the fact that government has decided to endow couples certain special privileges, and as everyone is created equal, everyone should be entitled to these same privileges.

Either that, or eliminate every single privilege enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. Whatever floats your boat.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Smaller Government Is Better... For Those We Agree With, Anyway

This is one big contradiction that I just can't seem to wrap my mind around. For the most part, republicans preach less government, less government, less government.

Until, of course, it comes to an issue that they don't agree with. Take gay marriage, for example. All of the sudden, we want to pass laws or even make amendments to the Constitution telling homosexuals that they cannot do something? (I'll save why I believe they should be able to marry for a later post.)

A quote in this article on the Huffington Post says "Even though [Santorum] would not personally vote for a ban on sodomy, he said, he thinks states should legally be able to pass them, because sodomy is not a constitutionally protected right." (He holds a similar position on contraception in this article.) So while he says he would not personally ban sodomy (which I wouldn't hesitate to guess is solely for political purposes), he thinks states can ban it because it "is not a constitutionally protected right". So... the states have the power to ban anything that isn't specifically spelled out word for word in the Constitution? Whether or not this is legally true doesn't really interest me (as far as this particular train of thought goes, anyway); but it sure doesn't sound like "smaller government" to me. 

I guess I just find it amusing that the party of less regulation and the party of "you have to act this way because the Bible says so" are one and the same. 

American Idol -- Counterintuitive?

Ever since the winner of the inaugural season, Kelly Clarkson, went on to make a very successful career for herself, the winners of the competition have largely fallen flat on their faces as soon as the competition ended. Sure, there have been a few successes, like Carrie Underwood in the country scene. But for the most part, we never hear from these people again.

Why is that? In theory, American Idol showcases the best and brightest talents in the country. They are whittled  down week by week until, finally, we have the best (according to popular vote anyway...) singer in the competition. So what's the problem?

The answer lies in the question: American Idol produces singers. Increasingly, however, it seems that vocal talent is not what Americans look for in their music choices. A quick check of the steady success of Britney Spears should attest to that fact. Artists nowadays are forgoing actual vocal talent in favor of Auto-Tune, sensual dance moves, and over the top production value. And Americans can't get enough of it. (I'm not saying that there are no talented popular artists; for example Adele certainly has loads of talent, and despite her antics, Lady Gaga is actually a very gifted vocalist.)

So maybe it's counterintuitive to hold singing competitions anymore... we should probably be voting on who can don the most outrageous costume and gyrate like a spinning top.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Only Famous People Matter, and the "War" on Drugs

It's very interesting how, even though someone in America dies of a drug overdose every 19 minutes, no one really pays attention until it happens to someone famous.

Please, I don't want anyone taking this as some sort of insult to Whitney Houston. But I wonder, why do the other 27,359 people that die EVERY DAY receive no attention whatsoever? We have this "war on drugs" in this country which is nothing but a shiny toy to distract Americans from the actual problem. We throw dealers and users in jail seemingly at random, or by whoever is unfortunate enough to have a cop pass by at the wrong time. The strategy clearly is doing nothing to address the issue; however, it seems that as long as we keep filling the prisons, both the government and the public are satisfied.

We need better education about drugs in this country (well, we need better education in general, but that's for a later post...). We need to criminalize them less, if for no other reason than to make people feel comfortable about coming forward when they need help. And we need to get rid of the stigma of drug use for the same reason. So many more people would seek the help they need if they knew that society wanted them to get better, as opposed to throwing a party every time the incarceration counter gets another tick. I suppose that's wishful thinking; these people need a reason to feel superior to others, and if they have been fortunate enough to not be struck by addiction, then that's what they cling to. Unless of course it does strike them at some point down the road; these people can do a 180 so fast that it makes MY head spin.

Unfortunately, like so many things in this country, the plight of the masses is swept under the rug until one of those that we worship brings it into the spotlight.

(P.S. May you find peace Miss Houston; rest in peace. You and everyone else who has been stricken with the terrible disease of drug addiction.)

The Short Memory of the Republican Candidates

Of many things, this is probably the one that I find most amusing about the Republican presidential candidates, and really, the Party as a whole.

For example, one of Mitt Romney's quotes on this website supporting him reads "...President Obama instituted the most anti-growth, anti-investment, anti-jobs measures that we have seen in our lifetime." I find that interesting. In January 2009, the last month that President George W. Bush was in office, the U.S lost 598,000 jobs, the worst single month loss in 34 years. Sure, the trend continued for a time after President Obama took office. There's no way it couldn't; problems created over the span of eight years cannot possibly be fixed in a couple of months. Fast forward 3 years; in January 2012, we gained 243,000 jobs. By now, we all know the chart showing the monthly job growth (or loss, as the case may be...) numbers, dating to 2008 (obtained here from the Joint Economic Committee's website):

If Obama's policies are the "most... anti-jobs measures that we have seen in our lifetime", what does that say about the previous administration? To the rational mind, if we are hemorrhaging 598,000 jobs per month, and we then institute even worse policies, we should continue to lose more and more jobs every month. At least, that is the definition of the word "worse" as I understand it. Perhaps Mr. Romney said "Obama" when he meant "Bush". He has been known to make more than his fair share of gaffes. 

The only other rational explanation is that Mr. Romney suffers from a deficiency of skills in either English or mathematics. Or maybe he has some sort of up/down vision inversion issue which causes the above chart to appear upside down to him. Whatever the case, it is clear that something just doesn't add up. This talk may work on the unfortunate masses who get more and more sucked in every time an anti-Obama slur is thrown out, but anybody with the ability to think rationally (even just a little bit) can see what's really going on.

Welcome to The Rational Reaction

Welcome readers!

I am a socially liberal American with a very rational and cynical mind. Considering the fact that there is so much that is irrational about human behavior, I often feel the need to comment on what is happening in the world. I will tend to focus on political issues (for where else are you going to find more inexplicable behavior?), though really anything may grab my attention.

I quite enjoy picking through the thought processes (or lack thereof) of people in the world today, and I hope you'll enjoy the journey through my own thoughts!