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Pleasantly Eccentric
by Aimee Patton


HEY, DOES
ANYBODY REMEMBER
THE DIXIE CHICKS?

by Aimee Patton

In case you didn't know, Phil Robertson is against homosexuality. No shock here. The reality television star of the mega-hit, Duck Dynasty found himself in a world of controversy this week after he gave an interview to GQ magazine entitled “What the Duck”. In the article Phil Robertson provides us with a very anatomical reason behind why heterosexuality is better than homosexuality. He then goes on to recite the Bible verses that are against homosexuality.

A&E, the network that shows Duck Dynasty, was quick to respond and suspend Phil Robertson indefinitely.

“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson's comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series 'Duck Dynasty'," the network said in a statement.

“His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.

Facebook and twitter blew up after A&E suspended the wildly popular star in support of Phil Robertson. The controversy has it all….

1. It's polarizing – Ding, Ding! 45% of Americans do not support gay marriage.

2. It's religious – Ding, Ding! Phil Robertson is a devout Christian.

3. It's a violation of the 1st amendment right to freedom of speech! – BUZZ Wrong, it is not a violation of free speech.

But…but Phil was suspended! Phil should be able to say whatever he wants in a country that values freedom of speech.

Has Phil Robertson been arrested for what he said? No. Has Phil Robertson been fined by the government for what he said? No again. Even though I disagree with everything Phil Robertson said and I'm glad he's been benched, Phil Robertson's freedom of speech has not been violated.

Phil Robertson gave the interview and can continue living his life in Monroe, Louisiana making millions off of duck calls. What Phil Robertson can't do is continue starring on his A&E hit show.

Let's compare and contrast freedoms shall we with our upcoming hosts of the Winter Olympics, Russia. In Russia there is a popular punk rock group named Pussy Riot. Pussy Riot staged protests against the Russian Government and is outspoken about Russia's human rights violations. Where is Pussy Riot now? One member is currently in Siberia at a work camp and the other members are in jail in Russia. Their crime is hooliganism. Hooliganism is a crime in Russia and punishable by jail. How is that for a reality check?

Conservatives who are coming out in support of Phil Robertson, I question why they don't support A&E and their need to protect their brand. Let's think of this another way, what if employees at Hobby Lobby decided all wear pro-choice t-shirts to work? Does Hobby Lobby have a right to fire them? Most conservatives would say yes even though you could claim it's a violation of their Freedom of Speech. Conservatives would say that Hobby Lobby has an image to protect and is run as a Christian business. Wearing the t-shirts would violate Hobby Lobby's image. What's the difference? Boy..I'm really starting to sound like a Republican.

This is the perfect storm where religion and private business collide.

What if we find out that Phil Robertson's contract with A&E had an iron clad media clause in it regulating what he can and can't say? Would that change people's minds about A&E's decision? Contracts have social media and interview clauses in them all the time. I wouldn't be surprised if Phil's did.

Benching Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty is like firing Kim Kardashian from the Kardashians - the show just doesn't work the same. A&E is a network that has made millions off this show and now stands to take a huge hit. They must have good reason for doing what they did.

Let's take a walk down memory lane…does the name Dixie Chicks ring a bell? The Dixie Chicks spoke out against George Bush and their careers were virtually derailed from angry fans. Retailers refused to carry their music and it all but forced them into retirement. Where was all the outrage and support their freedom of speech?

Consequences for speech straddle both sides of the political aisle. An example is Alec Baldwin who was set to host his own MSNBC show. Baldwin was caught on the street using homophobic slurs. The network fired him as well. Conservative outrage in support of Baldwin… I hear nothing, but crickets.

You may not like A&E's stance, but it is in their legal right to so.

Now Robertson's family has declared that the show won't go on without Phil. Again with rights…Phil's family has a right to do that. It's not slave labor we are talking about here, but a reality television show. They have a right to work or not work for the network.

It has come to light that there is new video with more radical, anti-homosexual language in it from Phil back from 2010. It looks like this controversy is a little more than just him reciting Bible verses.
Phil, it looks to me like your goose….I mean, duck, is cooked.

(Aimee Patton is a KC blogger. Find her work at pleasantlyeccentric.wordpress.com and find her on Twitter @AimeePatton11)


FINDING ACCOMPLISHMENT IN COMPROMISE
by Aimee Patton

I read the headline this past week, but it didn't make any sense. . .

“Budget Compromise Passes the House.” A budget deal by Rep. Paul Ryan and Senate budget chairperson Patty Murray passed Congress by a vote of 332-94. The budget would avert another government shutdown for two years.

The new budget has the government spending $1.012 trillion – yes that's with a “t”--and a budget reduction of $20 billion.

Anyone else remember a time when a billion with a “b” was a lot of money?

As I begin to break this whole thing down and try to understand it, I started with the word “budget.” I know what a budget is. I also know what it means when something passes in the House. What's that other word? It begins with a “c”. It seems vaguely familiar. I believe I remember that word from the politics of the 90's – the 1990's not the 1890's.

So, I dictionary.com that “c” word immediately: “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.”

A reciprocal modification of demands…Surely somebody is pulling my leg. Our House passed a budget compromise and by a wide margin? Didn't we just have a government shutdown for 16 days, because the two sides couldn't agree? In a time of polarizing politics, this just doesn't sound right.
Cue Tea Party outrage in 5…4…3…2…1

“Time and again, Congress has claimed that cost-saving measures were permanent, only to later renege on these promises,” Jenny Bath Martin, Tea Party Patriots.

She went on to say the bill “also exposes the true colors of several in the GOP establishment when it comes to protecting conservative principles.”

“Snap” from Jenny Bath Martin. I believe she is referring to Speaker Boehner and Paul Ryan, who sponsored the bill.

Ah yes, those conservative principles like making sure our government never actually gets anything done with the “it's my way or the highway” way of Tea Party politics. It can be pretty lonely with just principles and no action.

I took to Twitter to find out more. I typed in hashtag #killthebill and exhaled with familiarity. There was evidence that this compromise seemed strange. One tweet after the other was directed at all the Republicans who voted to support the bill from Tea Party groups. Tweets like “you USED to have our support” kept popping up.

To be fair, the budget doesn't appeal to extreme, liberal Democrats either – the budget doesn't extend unemployment benefits that are set to expire shortly.

You mean everyone doesn't get what they want from this budget? How is that even possible? (insert sarcasm)

The mere fact that we have a two-party system with different political philosophies means that everyone doesn't get what they want every time. We have to inch toward the middle for anything to get done. This “all taxes are bad” mentality from the Republicans and “tax like crazy to pay for necessary social programs” with no accountability from the left are just not going to work if we ever want to take steps forward.

I'm a liberal Dem, but I get it when it comes to why Republicans don't want new taxes and want to curb spending. See…it wasn't hard for me to write that. It doesn't mean I don't support my side or that I have compromised my principles.

I think the problem is that both sides can already hear the campaign commercials being filmed. “Rep. (insert name) is soft on taxes.” Dum..dum…dum!

The next step is for this budget to be voted on by the Senate. Before I could even finish typing the word compromise, Sen. Ted Cruz came out against the bill.

"The new budget deal moves in the wrong direction: it spends more, taxes more, and allows continued funding for Obamacare," Cruz said. "I cannot support it."

I knew this “c” word wasn't actually going to last long.

How about it, America? Let's just remember that just because a representative or senator votes for a budget agreement that doesn't mean they have “compromised their principles.” It may just mean that we can't all get our way all the time. Compromise is a necessary part of politics. The best politicians were the best negotiators. We teach our children they should compromise and that they will be rewarded for doing so. Why can't we applaud our politicians when they also decide to compromise?

How about if we all make a pledge to become familiar again with the word “compromise”? Read the dictionary definition and make the word a little less foreign. Let's all stand up and applaud our politicians who can find it in themselves to compromise. Remember, that there will always be taxes and there will always be ways to cut taxes.

I hope that the Senate can overcome Sen. Ted Cruz's objection and also find it in themselves to compromise. Heck..the budget is the first step – think of what we can accomplish as a nation if we all just learn to compromise more.

(Aimee Patton is a local KC blogger and former Midwest Voices columnist. Find her work at pleasantlyeccentric.wordpress.com and find her on Twitter@Aimee11)


SANTORUM’S COMMENT
SHOWS HOW OUT
OF TOUCH GOP IS

Posted 12/12/13

Nelson Mandela passed away and the world continues to mourn his death. Activist, political prisoner and former President of South Africa, Mandela brought about change in a segregated country and finally helped a nation heal from a tragic time in their country's past.

World leaders and politicians have been expressing their condolences in the media. President Obama will travel to South Africa to pay his respects to the most beloved leader.

I believe Rick Santorum, Republican darling and previous Republican presidential candidate, said it best when he said on the Bill O'Reilly Show:

“Nelson Mandela stood up against a great injustice and was willing to pay a huge price for that. That's the reason he's mourned today, because of that struggle that he performed,” Santorum said. "But you're right, I mean, what he was advocating for was not necessarily the right answer, but he was fighting against some great injustice, and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people's lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that.”

Wait…apartheid and the fight to repeal Obamacare similar? Let me think about it for a second….

Mr. Santorum, let me be the first to say you NAILED IT.

I mean ending apartheid and repealing Obamacare are so blindingly similar. How did I not see it before?

The list on how these two things are similar is endless. Here are some of the highlights on how Mandela and the Republicans quest to defund and repeal Obamacare are similar:

The intent is the same….

·Apartheid means “the state of being apart.”

·Republicans want to do anything possible to keep apart Americans from affordable health care.

It's about prisoners…

·Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison.

·The Republicans held America prisoner with a 16 day shutdown in 2013.

It's about race…

·Apartheid was directed toward black Africans.

·President Barak Obama is black.

It's about voting…

·Our nation's politicians voted for and pass the Affordable Care Act making it law.

·A huge segment of South African's population couldn't vote just because of the color of their skin.
It's about hospitals…

·Black Africans were forced to use separate hospitals under apartheid.

·Obamacare gives access to hospitals and medical care for people who need it who may have been denied before because of lack of insurance coverage.

It's about rich, white men..

·Apartheid was supported by rich, white men.

·The Republican Party is mostly rich, white men.

A huge thank you Mr. Santorum for pointing out something that was so obvious I almost missed it. One thing in all seriousness that I will say the two have in common is dedication…dedication by Nelson Mandela to end apartheid and dedication by the Republican Party to end Obamacare.

That is about all the two things have in common. Nelson Mandela sacrificed much for the greater good of the African people. He sacrificed his freedom for what he believed in. The Republican party can't seem to see past their own interests for the greater good of the American people. They can't see that Obamacare is now law and stop bickering for the greater good of the country.

The two things couldn't be any more different.

And to think that some people think the Republican party has an image problem. Just when I think the Republican Party is starting to get in touch with the American people, quotes like Mr. Santorum's happen to remind us just how out of touch this party is.

I will say that as a Democrat…I hope that Mr. Santorum runs for president again and that his party nominates him. The defeat of this ignorance will be so sweet.

(Aimee Patton is a local Kansas City blogger and former Midwest Voices columnist. Find her work at pleasantlyeccentric.wordpress.com and find her on Twitter @AimeePatton11)


CRAFTING AN ARGUMENT AGAINST
HOBBY LOBBY’S STANCE

Posted 12/6/13

Holy craft supplies, Batman!

Hobby Lobby is headed to the Supreme Court with an objection over Obamacare. Hobby Lobby has objected to the mandate from Obamacare saying that businesses with over 50 employees must cover contraception with no co-pay.

Hobby Lobby claims that the mandate to cover contraception infringes on their First Amendment rights and they are refusing to comply. David Green, CEO of Hobby Lobby, has a problem with morning-after pill and the intrauterine device, because Mr. Green claims that these two types of contraception cause abortions.

“A new government health care mandate says that our family business must provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don't pay for drugs that might cause abortions.”-- David Green, CEO, Hobby Lobby.

Mr. Green may not agree with paying for drugs that cause abortion, but he doesn't seem to have a problem profiting from women who use this type of contraception. I've looked for a statement from Mr. Green saying that Hobby Lobby won't accept money from women using these types of contraceptives, but so far I haven't found anything. There is no big sign when you walk into a Hobby Lobby that says, “No shirt, No shoes, IUD, NO SERVICE.”

I have no doubt…NO doubt that Mr. Green and Hobby Lobby made millions in profits from women who use these types of contraceptives. Why? Because numerous women use IUDs for contraception.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, “In 2009, 8.5% of women using contraceptives relied on long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods (the implant and the IUD), rising from 5.5% in 2007 and 2.4% in 2002.”

For Hobby Lobby to make a profit off of women who use these objectionable contraceptives, but then declare that they can't cover the contraception for religious reasons, is hypocritical to say the least.

To be fair to religious institutions, like churches, Obamacare offers exemptions for the contraceptive mandate provided that they meet four criteria. A business or organization can claim an exemption if it:

1. Has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose
2. Primarily employs persons who share its religious tenents
3. Primarily serves person who share its religious tenents
4. Is a non-profit organization

Hobby Lobby clearly doesn't qualify for an exemption based on these criteria. Hobby Lobby isn't a church, in fact Hobby Lobby is a multi-million dollar business with over 500 locations.

Let's look at the argument another way, say something a little less polarizing than contraception and abortion–what if an employer decided not to cover anti-depressants because of a belief that people can just pray their blues away? What if an employer decided that covering anti-depressants violated their First Amendment rights?

I think that we would all be shaking our heads and saying, “really?” That is just crazy talk to think that a person could just pray their blues away. When we remove the hot button word “abortion” from the argument and replace it with something less controversial, the argument falls flat. If the Supreme Court finds in favor of Hobby Lobby, what's to stop a company from not covering maternity benefits to unmarried employees? How about if a company decided not to cover Type 2 diabetes medications because of the belief that the Bible holds the key to weight loss? I mean there is a diet plan called the Genesis Diet.

Where does it stop? Corporations are forced to follow federal regulations every day that they may not agree with - just ask major manufacturers about their feelings about the Environmental Protection Agency regulations. I'm sure that they would love to stop abiding by these EPA regulations if they could.

I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will find in favor of the Department of Health and Human Services and make Hobby Lobby comply with the law. Just to be sure, I may take a moment to pray about it.

(Aimee Patton is a local Kansas City blogger and former Midwest Voices columnist. Find her work at pleasantlyeccentric.wordpress.com and find her on Twitter @AimeePatton11)