on Contraception

Last week, in the run up to the celebration of our nation’s birthday and fight for independence, the Supreme Court ruled against the Obama administration (again) and supported religious liberty. In the highly watched Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled that closely held for-profit corporations should be allowed to be exempt from a law they religiously object to if there are other viable, less restrictive means of furthering the law’s interests. At the heart of the case was Hobby Lobby’s refusal to pay for 4 of the 20 available contraceptives mandated by regulations made under Obamacare due to their abortifacient properties (like Plan B). The owners of Hobby Lobby were devout Christians, and did not want to pay for something that would lead to the killing of an unborn child. However, by choosing to violate a regulation made by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (not a law made by Congress), they were subject to millions of dollars in fines a day, so they decided to take the Obama Administration to court.

While I find it disappointing that the court used a statutory reason to protect religious liberty (The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993) instead of a constitutional one (the First Amendment), the ruling should still be considered an encouraging win for those that want to live their personal and business lives according to their faith. The Obama administration failed, and rightly so, to convince the court how a regulation such as this one could only be accomplished by silencing the faith expression of certain for-profit groups, especially since it had already given exemptions to private and non-profit groups for this as well as other things.  Religious freedom – or any kind of freedom for that matter – should not be limited by a company’s tax status.

While the SCOTUS decision was narrowly tailored to apply to closely held for-profit groups, that didn’t stop the hysterical horde of the liberal left from cranking up the lie machine. Almost immediately the shrieking started (which curiously did not exist before the Obamacare mandate), about how this decision was allowing corporations to deny women access to contraceptives, about how it was allowing bosses to interfere in a woman’s healthcare decisions, and about how corporations were forcing their religious beliefs on their employees. I find the sheer ignorance of these claims downright insulting to women; do liberals really think we are that stupid? Claiming that this decision is a denial of access to contraceptives is like claiming a company’s refusal to pay for chocolate is a denial of access to candy. No access to birth control was ever denied here; this employer merely refused to pay for the kinds that would abort a baby. Women are still perfectly able to get these, only now they have to pay for it themselves. Oh the horror! Because you know, nothing says ‘strong, independent woman’ like demanding that others pay for your birth control or abortion.

Folks, let’s get a couple things straight. Contraceptives and abortion are not healthcare. They are sexual-consequence care. Except for extremely rare cases, contraceptives are used to either prevent a pregnancy or end a pregnancy, a happenstance which occurs as the direct result of having sex. Only when a pregnancy goes wrong, either intentionally (as in the case of a botched abortion) or sadly unintentionally, or conversely, is happily carried to term, does any actual healthcare then come into play. Frankly, I find this focus on my lady parts quite demeaning, as if my sole reason for being (and voting) is to have consequence-free sexual escapades. It’s so nice to know that our elected and bureaucratic leaders think so little of women that they believe that we need Sugar Daddy Government to run to our sexual rescue, even if it means trampling all over the liberty (religious or otherwise) of other citizens to do so. Can someone please explain to me how something supposedly 0% my employer’s business is still 100% their financial responsibility? Apparently these folks believe that the only part of their boss women have a right to have in their bedroom is his checkbook.

As an independent, self-reliant woman, I do not need or expect others to be forced to pay for my stuff. That is because I choose to act like an adult rather than a spoiled, stompy-foot child. So, you don’t like the coverage of your employer’s healthcare plan, the premiums of which they subsidize for you? Then grow up, take your freedom, and either pay for your own additional healthcare or work for a different company. You do not have a right to demand that someone else subsidize your “liberty” at the expense of their own. That isn’t demanding liberty; it’s accepting dependency and enabling tyranny. What kind of strong woman wants that?

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves.”  ~ William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806), British Prime Minister

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on Unity

u·ni·ty: noun  1) oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a number of persons; concord, harmony, or agreement. 2) absence of diversity; unvaried or uniformed character

The last few weeks I took part in two conventions: the GOP state convention and most recently, the 3rd district special convention to choose a U.S. Congressional candidate since Rep. Tom Latham was retiring. Throughout the process, I kept hearing our political leaders preach “unity”; that we must come together as a party, cast aside our divisions, and focus on defeating our Democrat opponents in the fall. While the words are noble, unfortunately the actions I have seen our leadership take in the last few weeks makes me wonder if they are using the Democrat leadership definition of unity instead of what used to be the Republican one.

Each of the parties in question has their own unique view of diversity as well as unity. For the Democrats, while they claim to excel at welcoming the diversity of people, they are not so good at diversity of thought. I find that my more social conservative Democrat friends (yes they do exist) are not always welcome if they don’t tow the current liberal line. Republicans, on the other hand, used to focus not so much on the diversity of people, but welcomed the diversity of thought, seeing it as being in line with our Founder’s principles. Unity came by welcoming all viewpoints into the party, and freely coalescing around core principles. Unfortunately, for the last few decades, we have seen that start to change, as conservatives and libertarians in the GOP are marginalized in search of a more homogenized, a.k.a. “unified”, view.

Enter the Tea Party, which upended the whole carefully structured apple cart of the establishment leaders of both parties, and the Ron Paulites, who not only almost won a majority on the Iowa Republican State Central Committee, but took that liberty banner and ran with it all the way to Tampa. All of sudden, for the existing establishment, unity of party no longer seemed so appealing when the line of power started to point back to the people instead of the existing status quo. It was then these newbies quickly discovered that diversity of thought in the GOP party (& to be fair, in the Democrat party too) is only welcome when you don’t have the power to actually change anything.

The Republican establishment then sought to undo the “damage” these liberty “kids” did – or what they thought they did – to the party. Even though these new liberty folks did not even have a majority on the SCC, the establishment complained about every green mistake they did, instead of coming alongside them, helping them in expertise they lacked, and harnessing the new energy they brought to the party in order to make it better for everyone. Instead of seeing the future of our party in these new political recruits, they saw only a challenge to their hold on power. You see, these young upstarts dared to keep long established officials accountable, holding all of them (including the Governor) to the party platform, the party constitution, and the state and U.S. Constitution. Therefore I guess they had to be stopped… you know… in the name of party unity.

Last week I shared how our party gutted our platform. What I didn’t share was what I saw at convention this time: the gutting of our youth. I saw far more young people engaged in 2012, when I witnessed them breathe new life and a new vigor into our Grand Old Party. However, in 2014, there were far fewer of them and many more over the age of 50. Did the youth not show up this time, because our party does not have the same appeal it did when Ron Paul ran? Or were they just shut out of the delegate process because the results were pre-stacked with establishment candidates? In either case, we need to start asking ourselves how we plan on surviving as a party past this generation (mine) if we keep focusing more on those we see as threats to the party, instead of those who are threats to the country.

The young Republicans today are not the same as those of previous generations. They have access to instant, infinite information, can fact check the media, know our Founding documents, aren’t afraid to call out their leaders in public, and doing it all with some much needed wit. They not only don’t tow the stodgy old company line, but actually welcome debate. They also have little patience for hypocrisy, and will not remain loyal to a GOP who has a leadership which continues to define unity as an absence of diversity of thought, or which conveniently ignores the Constitution, or which continues to purge those who don’t bow to the status quo (like our current RPI chair who is now facing an ouster). For these young Republicans – and a lot of older Republicans like me for that matter – liberty is the great unifier, with our Constitution acting as the foundation. They will vote on their principles. So, isn’t it time to stop defining unity as a circular firing squad?

Unity. GOP party leaders, you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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on Squishes

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth”. ~ Revelation 3: 15-16, The Bible

Last year, as Democrats tried to ram gun control legislation down our throats, Senator Ted Cruz stood strong and threatened a filibuster, which then caused citizens to start calling their own Republican Senators to ask why they were not joining his effort. Ted Cruz related how these Senators came to him complaining, saying: “Listen, before you did this, the politics of it were great. The [Democrats] were the bad guys, the Republicans were the good guys. Now we all look like a bunch of squishes.” After which Senator Cruz responded: “Well, there is an alternative. You could just not be a bunch of squishes.”

On Saturday, as a delegate at the GOP state convention, I witnessed the Iowa GOP join the Squish Club. Somehow, from caucus to convention, our elite establishment decided to gut the entire platform, throw out a majority of our planks (over 120) which were approved by our caucus, county & district delegates, and rewrite it into the image they thought best. While it started out noble, it quickly descended into the squishy. No longer do we have a platform of clear, actionable principles; we now have a platform of mostly high sounding platitudes, invoking the greatness of the Constitution without the teeth of accountability. Our party platform was specifically designed to be the voice of the people, to give clear direction to our elected officials, to be used to hold bad officials accountable and to give good officials cover. So, without mandate or permission from their delegates, the state platform committee decided to silence us. And for what? Because some in leadership felt the platform was too long to read and caused the convention to go too long? Oh, please; grow up. If people don’t have the time to read it, or stay through the convention until the end, then they should do the honorable thing and not stand to be delegates.

I don’t have the space to list all of what was stripped from our district and state platform, but I will give you the biggies:

  • Gone is the support for a Human Life at Conception Constitutional Amendment
  • Gone is the support for the repeal/overturning of Roe v. Wade
  • Gone is the opposition to gun registration
  • Gone is the opposition to changing current immigration law in order to support amnesty
  • Gone is the support of Israel’s right to exist, protect its borders, or self-govern – all that is left is support for their right to maintain an undivided Jerusalem
  • Gone is the opposition to internet taxes
  • Gone is the opposition to an increase in the gax tax
  • Gone is the opposition to earmarks
  • Gone is the opposition to taxpayer funded light rail
  • Gone is the support of Iowa’s Right to Work law
  • Gone is the support for the repeal of the unconstitutional Patriot Act
  • Gone is the support for the repeal of indefinite detention of Americans under the NDAA
  • Gone is the support for the abolishment of the EPA, the Dept. of Education, the Dept. of Energy, and the IRS
  • Gone is the inclusion of homeschooling in the parental rights plank for school choice and tax credits

Curiously, they justified the removal of these things because they feel it would be covered by their preamble of support for the Constitution, yet they still included a specific plank that addressed the repeal of the unconstitutional Obamacare (I don’t care what the Supreme Court says – remember, they once ruled slavery as Constitutional). Oh and then there were these plank pearls: support for the legalization of the growing of hemp, support for the legalization of cannabis oil for medical use, and support for the legal recognition of manure as a natural fertilizer. So, there you have it folks. Instead of standing strong on all the clear principles we hold dear, our state platform now stands strong on pot and poop. Pardon the pun, but what a bunch of bull crap.

As a state, we need to be more careful regarding whom we send as delegates to convention, as well as whom we choose to serve on the convention committees. Clearly this cadre had a mandate from somewhere else other than the district delegates, who elected them with the expectation that they would honor the approved district platform. If you are as outraged at this as I am, please contact your local and state party leaders, as well as your elected state officials, beginning at the Governor’s office. And then, please get involved. We will need you to help fix this in 2016.

Down with the squishes!

For a copy of the 2014 GOP platform go to:  http://www.iowagop.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/PDF-State-Tabloid.pdf. Please note that this does not yet include any plank amendments approved at the 2014 Convention.

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on Fathers

“When I was a boy of fourteen my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”  ~ Mark Twain (1835-1910), American author and humorist

When my two brothers and I were much younger, we used to have an annual summer “tradition”: the painting our back fence. Well, that is what my father called it anyway – we kids just called it one of our “chores”.  We lived on a corner lot that was about a 1/3 an acre, with a brown wooden fence that went almost around the whole yard which was painted on both sides. For us kids this was never fun, especially with school being out and our friends wanting us to come over and play.

As you can imagine, three kids under the age of 9 somehow managed to make a chore fun and entertaining, if not for themselves, at least for those adults in charge of supervising. There always seemed to be more paint that ended up on us than on the fence, and intermixed with the arguing and nitpicking at the quality of each other’s work, there were also giggles as we worked together to finish the job. Every year we got better, and every year Dad’s inspection required less re-dos. It never occurred to us that paint should last more than a year on a wooden fence.

A discovery several years later ended the annual chore of summer fence painting – I caught Dad in the shed thinning the paint. Well no wonder the fence had to be painted every year! The three of us got mad and immediately engaged in a small mutiny: we told Mom. After some family arguing, the fence was eventually painted, but this time the three of us personally opened up our own brand new cans, and thereafter the fence only had to be painted every few years.

Now that we kids are all adults, this is one of those shared memories which we tease Dad about the most often. While Dad insists that he did it to build character and memories of sibling togetherness, we say that he was just trying to be cheap and take advantage of the free child labor. Nevertheless, we all remember it the same way and we all laugh about it. And it ended up being a good memory just like Dad said it would be: despite it being a chore, it did represent a time when we three older siblings banded together and got a job done, despite the circumstances. Dad had modeled a good work ethic to us in his own life, expecting a good one from us as well. And it paid off: all four of his children grew up believing that there is dignity, honor and integrity in hard work, and that if something needed to be done, to just get it done; don’t expect others to cover your butt or stop to whine about whether it is fair or not. There would be plenty of time later to deal with that.

Dad, if it were not for you, I would not understand that it is okay to keep plugging along despite life not being fair. I would not understand that there is joy in hard work if I just look for it. I would not understand that true success comes from making my own way, instead of getting things just handed to me. And I would not understand that good things come to those who participate in life rather than being spectators of it. You taught me to never expect handouts but always be ready to give a hand up; you taught me that having a good career also means having a good reputation, and most of all, you taught me that when it comes to doing the right thing, to never take no for an answer. Dad, I know that you have regrets, and that you wish you had done some things differently in your children’s lives, but know this: the strength that your eldest daughter has to stand and face down her giants comes from watching her father stand and face down his own.

I love you, Dad. Thanks for believing in me. Happy Father’s Day.

Love, your daughter

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it”. ~ Proverbs 22:6, New King James Bible

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on Songs

“Every fragment of song holds a mirror to a past moment for someone” ~ Unknown

Have you ever heard a song that instantly transported you back in time? Not literally of course, but mentally? Something that triggered a memory, and called forth a longing in your heart for what you remembered to be happier days? That happens to me sometimes when a song from the 80s comes on the radio. That was the decade of transition for me, encompassing part of my high school and college years. Each song I hear seems to have its own individual memory attached to it; it’s interesting that I don’t get the same effect with songs from the 90s or later decades. Perhaps that is because the 80s were good years for me, and our nation has a break from war, and a break from the reality about how imperfect mankind really is.

Of course now that I am an adult and no longer a student I know the reality was that I was pretty sheltered from the fact that evil doesn’t ever really take a break, it merely shifts priorities.  I have learned that merely looking away from evil doesn’t mean that it goes away – it just means that you are in denial that it exists.  We all want to be happy, to hold onto the good for as long as we can, and many think that by living in denial or avoiding the truth or keeping out of the fray we can do that. Fighting evil is for others to do, right? It is a far off thing, that won’t affect us or our little corner of the universe, right? Let’s just play the music a little louder, reflect on those memories of brighter days, and it will all go away, right?

I think the problem here is that too many of us believe that it is an “either/or” thing: that we cannot be happy and fight the wrongs of this world at the same time. Fighting evil is just too time consuming, too hurtful, too draining, too costly. And I cannot deny that premise, as in looking at the lone warriors I too must come to the same conclusion.  But folks fail to realize that the reason why they see such consequences in those that fight is that far too few are fighting against the wrongs of this life, and that if others would only join them, the burdens could be felt far more lightly by all.  There is an old Amish saying that “many hands make light work”, and I believe that this is true in far more than just physical labor. Perhaps it shouldn’t be just evil that shifts priorities – maybe we should too.

By the time you read this the Iowa primaries will be over. These are the first volley that we have as citizens to impact the direction of our state and our nation. As of this writing I have no idea how the voter turnout will be, but can you imagine if every single Iowan decided to find their voice? If every single Iowan decided to replace the broken record in order to ensure that future memories tied to today were positive? Can you imagine if every single one of us, instead of focusing on the past, instead of focusing on ourselves, instead of focusing on failures decided that from this time onward, we will have a say in the type of song to be played? No longer will people avoid the fray because no longer would it be a lonely, fearful thing to stand for what is right, for what is good, for what is pure, for we will all be standing as one in support of our Republic. It is easy to be discouraged when everything seems so heavy, so hopeless. But we are stronger that we think; we have the power to control the music of our future and those notes which will forever ring in our children’s ears. I encourage every Iowan going forward to find something to be passionate about, something outside of work, outside of home, outside of church, to which you can affect positive change. I have seen what happens when a small group of people petition our government to do what is right – imagine what could happen if every human voice in our nation did the same. The heavy burden would no longer be carried by a few; the load would be that much lighter because of the many hands lifting it. And you know what else?

We would be unstoppable.

“Then, in that hour of deliverance, my heart spoke. Does not such a country, and such defenders of their country, deserve a song?” ~ Francis Scott Key (1779-1843), author of our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner

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