Maybe Buddha was Right

It’s been 28 years of life and I think I am closer to what I have been looking for than ever. That constant search for whatever more was outside my window has died down.  I find myself looking more within, being more content with what I have rather than what I want. And it is quite peaceful.

This year has been filled with so many blessings that I don’t really know where to start. My friends and family have been wonderful and supportive. I love my job that was graciously bestowed upon me. It’s been great to finally reconnect with those who had to suffer me while in law school.

But most of all, I’ve come to terms with a lot of what I held inside. And I just let it go. Life is too short and too awesome to spend it thinking about things that don’t really matter in the greater scheme of things.

So, I’ll continue not wanting so much and being gracious for what I have. And be gracious of myself — giving more than taking. I turned out okay and I will be alright — for this, I am confident.

Happy birthday, me.

One Nation under Canada

I’ll be the first to admit, I did not watch the U.S. Open.  I’m still of the mind that golfers should run after the ball after hitting it, but I digress.  What I took away from the 2011 U.S. Open is the same as most people who heard about it second-hand: NBC omitted “Under God” in their video montage of patriotism and golf, then “apologized” for offending anyone.  This has sparked another national discussion about religion and government and how that all comes to a head in elementary school classrooms all over these United States.

I understand that NBC is a private company and it can choose to omit anything it wants.  The First Amendment allows NBC to go against the U.S. Code for this limited purpose.  However, I do not fault anyone for saying something about that omission, as I would be wholly offended if NBC decided to picture the Star Spangled Banner upside-down or fallen to the ground.  This is not about religion so much as respect and actual love of country.

Whether one likes it or not, religion – more specifically Christianity – was a keystone in the building of the United States.*  We learn from American History, Day 1, that the Puritans and pilgrims came to the New World to escape religious persecution and to practice their religion in peace.  By the American Revolution, the government of the colonies supported the Church and “official” state religions were still around until the mid-1800s. The religious overtones and under-currents of the United States are part of our history.  Not to be ignored or forgotten, but praised and revered.  If it were not for the courageous men and women who fought for their right to believe and practice as they pleased, we would not be having this discussion at all.  Think about it – if we lost the American Revolution, we would be essentially dealing with the Church of England, like, you know, Canada.   We are doing a disservice by not acknowledging that (1) this country was founded with religion in mind, and (2) most people here are still religious!

I am not saying anything that hasn’t been said before.  But riddle me this…

Nearly 23 million Americans watched the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on 11 networks, including NBC.  The ceremony included hymns, prayers, sermons, Bible readings, and (oh, look) more prayers.  I, certainly, felt like I was watching a church service – because it was.  Broadcasting this, obviously, was not a worry for NBC.

“But that’s different” says some hypothetical other person that is not merely a voice in my head to further this post, “That is another country; we’re not concerned about their religion.  Here in the U.S. of A, we have separation of church and state.”  To which, inevitably, I reply: “So, what you’re saying is context matters.”  It’s okay if religion happens in the context of happening somewhere else, just not here.  So NBC can muster enough tolerance to air a religious ceremony of a future monarch (whose power, as they say, stems from God!) of a country we broke away from on this very issue, but not enough to tolerate two words of codified U.S. law and purposefully editing it out.

My first reaction upon hearing about NBC’s omission wasn’t offense, more just an eye-roll.  What bothers me, in a there’s-something-stuck-between-my-teeth way, is the distancing away from our history and national identity, all because someone does not want to hear the word “God.”  Well, tough.  I rather hear all words of all religions in tongues in a cacophony of worship than to hear none at all, because it means that my inalienable rights are still in effect.  And so are yours.

* There are many, many, many, many books and analyses regarding the religious beliefs of the individual Founding Fathers.  Though influential, the beliefs of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison did not enact the Constitution – the legislatures of the States were in charge of that.

“Free Speech” – You Keep Using that Phrase

Dana Loesch brought Andrew Sullivan’s take on the Wonkette situation to my attention.   In his post, Sullivan said:

I feel as queasy about this flexing of Palinite muscle as I do about the original, disgusting, asinine story. In some ways, I see a legitimate come-uppance for a tacky site that published a simply inexcusable piece of mean-spirited dreck using a child who cannot defend himself, treating him as if he were subhuman, which he most definitely isn’t. But I also recoil from mob action like this, for the impact it has on fearless free speech and the chilling effect it will have on an already cowed and defensive MSM when covering the truly tough stuff about Palin. (emphasis added)

Sullivan uses “free speech” and “chilling effect” — like it applies in this situation.

Everyone is aware that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects free speech from government intervention.  That’s all it does.  It tells the government to keep its nose out of our speech, except for limited contexts.   When the government says, “We don’t like this kind of speech,” it causes a chilling effect; essentially, people are less likely to engage in the government-disapproved speech because they don’t want the government breathing down their necks.  Again, this is where the First Amendment comes in to prevent the government preferences from effecting our speech.

When it comes to non-government “chilling effects” — that’s another story.  Private individuals/entities can shut down speech without much question.  If you violate the Terms & Conditions of Twitter, Twitter has every right to ban you.  If you lodge a protest inside a McDonalds, the manager can kick you out without violating any laws since you’re the one trespassing.

And when people speak out against a disgusting blog post which characterizes a child with Downs syndrome as subhuman, the blogger is lucky that his backside wasn’t thoroughly kicked to China.  Damn right the reaction was a chilling effect, because we should not tolerate that kind of speech in our society.  It lacks human decency and dignity; we can be better than THAT. **

Case law on free speech champion the “marketplace of ideas” — the government is not to stop speech, it is to allow undesirable speech to be drowned out by more speech.  Let the market decide.  When a business fails to provide a good service, it goes out of business.  When someone says something completely moronic and meritless, they are stymied by the reaction.

Yes, Andrew Sullivan — speech by private individuals can be chilled by other private individuals and it’s OK!

** This Wonkette blog post has been deleted by the editor of the site.  What it spurred, however, has led to great conversations with and writings by those who I am honored to call friends.  Check out Kellie Jane’s Open Letter to the blog’s author (with the author’s reply) and Kurt Schlichter’s “what-we-are-all-thinking” post.

Do As I Say, Not as I Do

It is always easier to give advice or mandates for others than to actually do it.  I am guilty of such and I am sure that many of us are.  But, when I do it, it does not hit as hard as, say, when the President does it.

President Obama’s energy plan includes encouraging Americans to buy more fuel-efficient (e.g. hybrid) vehicles.  That’s great and all, disregarding the price of such cars and replacement parts.  But it’s the way the President presents this plan that gets to me.  For example, how he reacts to an audience member at this town meeting (  He laughs it off and replies with how this guy with 10 kids should get a hybrid SUV (again, disregarding the price tag).

But that’s not what really bothers me.

It was the President’s recent Los Angeles trip that got me to actually write this post.  President Obama was in town to go to three fundraising events. (Anyone else find it annoying that our taxes are going to fundraising events?  But I digress.)

How is this for fuel-efficiency:  President Obama flew to Los Angeles from San Francisco. Okay, not bad — we all fly.  But then you factor in the planes used to transport the President’s motorcade, the press plane, and any other plane that the advance team uses, and well, it’s a bit more complicated than your everyday Southwest flight from San Francisco to LAX.

Next, you have the helicopter that flew the President from LAX to West Los Angeles – about 12 miles, give or take.  But then you also have the other helicopters that fly with Marine One in its shell-game operation.  Plus, the news helicopters, the police helicopters, and the helicopters that scouted the President’s routes about a week before.  So, more fuel (and tax dollars).

From West Los Angeles, the President double-backed south to Culver City, this time in his motorcade … of 45 vehicles.  For security, I am also going to factor in all the local police vehicles for extra patrols and the closing of roads, etc.  And I tell you, most of those vehicles, totally  not hybrid anything.

Finally, we come to the gas that just burned in all those cars of people stuck in traffic on the West Side.  Granted, this trip wasn’t as horrible as the President’s last trip in terms of gridlock.  With gas at an average of $4.20/gallon in Los Angeles, I doubt people were happy about the extra commute time (or maybe they didn’t commute at all to avoid it completely; for those not on salary, well that’s just money lost instead of carbon emissions).

As a conservative, yes I am annoyed.  Because all of that above was for fundraising.

Yes, all of that was necessary for the President to do (keep) his job (for the DNC).  But it’s also necessary for a lot of people to keep their fuel “inefficient” cars to do their jobs and take care of their families.  So, my response to the President (and all those in his defense), get a hybrid plane.  Or a teleporter, it’s more fuel-efficient.