​Some Thoughts for the 4th of July

By Mark Rozema

Let me start with the most important part of this note, in case you read no further:

Jeff Flake (Arizona): 202-224-4521

Ben Sasse (Nebraska): 202-224-4224

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska): 202-224-6665

Cory Gardner (Colorado): 202-224-5941

Mike Lee (Utah): 202-224-5444

Susan Collins (Maine): 202-224-2523

Probably every extended family I know has someone in it—perhaps multiple people—with cancer. 

Do you have a relative or friend with multiple sclerosis? Cerebral palsy? Alzheimers? 

Most families I know have someone in them who is entering the final stage of life.  It’s likely this person takes numerous insanely expensive medications—daily. 

In most every family I know, there is a child (maybe your child, or niece, or nephew, or grandchild) who has a learning disability, or a physical disability. 

Diabetes, anyone? Mental illness? 

I can’t even begin to list all the people I know who have struggled with depression and/or anxiety and at some point needed medication or counseling. 

Do you know a family in which everyone is free of pre-existing conditions? What kind of family would that be? 

(What does it even mean to be free of pre-existing conditions? How is that possible?) 

Look! A family that doesn’t need any help.  An All-American family! Put them on a poster. 

A family of personal responsibility (and mighty good luck)—in which everyone is employed in jobs with benefits. A fully independent family—just like Independence Day.  

I don’t know any families like that. 

(Damn those pre-existing conditions! Couldn’t your parents have been more responsible in their gene-mixing?)

The families of senators must be different. Or maybe just their coverage is different.

The people I know? Well, some live in places like rural Alaska. They work hard, but not in the kind of jobs that come with health care benefits. 

When rural clinics close, they will have to fly to Anchorage every time. Gotta pay the airfare as well as the hospital bill. Or—just suck it up when they are sick. 

Some have kids with cancer or other life-long health challenges. Those kids will have a pre-existing condition for the rest of their lives. Might as well tattoo inescapable debt on their foreheads.  

Some live in the city, but cobble together an income from several part-time jobs that don’t offer insurance.  Many won’t buy insurance. 

Well, it’s their choice not to buy it, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan will say. That’s what America is all about. Choice. Personal responsibility. 

It will be their choice. Just as it is a choice I make, daily, not to buy a yacht. Guess enjoying the ocean is not my priority. 

What is my priority? I know what I hope for my children—and all children–as they inherit this mess we are, unfortunately, giving them. I hope they are lucky enough to sink roots in a community of family, friends, and neighbors. 

I hope they live in a community and a country where they matter, where everybody matters, and where taking care of other people and other creatures is understood not only as a responsibility, but as a blessing and a grace. 

Independence Day is great. I’m all for independence. I’m also in favor of inter-dependence. Do we have a holiday for that? 

So far, I’m not saying anything new, and this frustrates me a little bit. I feel like a new thing needs to be said. I’m searching for it. Then again, maybe we don’t need a new thing; maybe we just need to pay heed to words that have already been said. 

Like these, from the farmer Wendell Berry: Use cannot be exempt from care. And these, from some guy who lived in Palestine 2000 years ago: A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

So…Happy 4th of July, a few days early. On the 4th, my choice will be to go up into the mountains to escape all the explosions. We each choose our own way to celebrate, I suppose. 

Just as we all find our own ways to celebrate, we may all choose a different notion of patriotism. Here’s mine: Taking care of each other, and of the land that sustains us. 

Secrets and Healthcare

I’m opposed to nearly everything the current administration is doing, so that I’m having trouble deciding which atrocity to focus on.

The US Senate currently is writing a new healthcare bill to supplant the current system. The entire Senate isn’t actually writing this proposal, not even all the Senate Republicans are writing this proposal. It is being written, in secret, among about ten or twelve senators. 

It seems they will write this bill, and then rush to pass it without giving anyone much of a chance to read it. 

If made into law, this bill will effect a huge number of americans, as well as the economy of the entire United States.

Worried? You should be.

Listen to “(2017/05/30) A conservative solution to solving climate change” on Stitcher

If you have Stitcher, click here.

For web version, click here.
I frequently listen to this podcast, which comes out about three times a week. This episode contains an explanation of how to solve climate change from a conservative’s perspective. It’s frightening that we have this current idea that climate change was invented by liberals and that conservatives have to be opposed solving it. Why would anyone oppose saving the earth we live on? If you ever wondered about this, please listen.

On Vice President’s Speech Regarding Persecuted Christians May 11, 2017

Today Vice President Pence gave a speech at the “World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians” in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington DC 

The following are opinions on various parts of the speech. 

He says that Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world. While I can believe this, I am somewhat skeptical of where he got this information and think it would have been better that he made this clearer. I would believe Christians are the most persecuted because they are the largest religious group, so there are more of them to persecute than any of the others. The CIA World Factbook says that 31.4% of the people in the world are Christians, followed by Muslims with 23.2%, Hindus 15%, and Buddhists with 7.1%. 

He says that “ISIS” is committing genocide against Christians. I can agree with this, although he did not mention any other groups until later on. They seem to pretty much be against everyone who is not themselves. 

Pence said “I often say when people have asked me over the years what my philosophy is, I tell them I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” He said this in his campaign for vice president as well, and I have heard it criticized because he does not even list “American.” 

He mentions some countries in which Christians are persecuted, Iran, Nigeria, North Korea, and Eritrea. While I am not an expert, I believe that all religions in North Korea are illegal. Fortunately he went on to note that many other religions were also persecuted around the world and that they needed to work together. Likely he referred to Boko Haram in Nigeria. 

Some of his speech appeared extremely political, such as his repeatedly making a point of he and Trump saying the words “radical Islamic terrorism,” something many politicians demanded that Obama said and said themselves in order to contrast themselves with Obama. 

He had an anecdote about a meeting he had with Christian and Muslim religious officials in al-Basrah, a city in Iraq where he appeared surprised to find there had been a Christian church for 1,500 years. Interestingly, although he did not mention it, a 1,500 year old church would predate Islam itself. I did think the anecdote was good though as it promoted cooperation and peace rather than fear. 


Vice President Pence’s Speech, from the White House Website: 

CIA World Factbook Website: 


Not All Democrats Welcome Bernie Sanders

Though I register as independent I am more allied with the Democrats. It’s more a statement that I’m tired of the two two party only system we have. The parties have the power, and the money. They hold the conventions, and the debates, and if you vote for a candidate who isn’t a democrat or republican, you are often throwing your vote away. This system is causing stagnation. And there is almost no way for a third party to get a foothold.

To win, a candidate must be sponsored by one of the two parties and fit their cookie cutter shape. It’s all about money and talking points and looking good to the donors. But people are tired of this; I am tired of this. This is why the most popular democrat in this election was a self proclaimed social democrat who resisters as an independent and the most popular republican isn’t really a republican.

If the Democrats can’t embrace their progressive side and make a few changes to their platform, they will continue to lose votes. Stop worrying about the labels, think about the issues that are important to you. Vote your conscience.

Article that inspired me to write this post.

We the People Petitions

Written April 16, 2017 by Winston Crockett Fredrickson

We the People Petitions were created in 2011 by the Obama Administration as a way for people to express their concerns to the president. Although the Trump administration did keep this part of the White House website going, they have yet to respond to a single petition. As of this writing, they have a total on nine petitions that have crossed the threshold of 100,000 “signatures” needed to receive some sort of official response. The top petition, called Immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance received a total of 1,090,439 electronic signatures, more that ten times the threshold required within the time limit between its creation on January 20th and the deadline of February 19th. Several others have received numbers far higher than this threshold also, such as the second most popular with more than 300,000 supporters demanding that the president divest his financial assets or put them in a blind trust, which he has not done of yet. Three more have over twice the required number: Repeal the NFA, Preserve the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and #ChineseLivesMatters Calling a federal investigation into the United Airlines incident on 10th April 2017 which was started and received all of its votes within just the last week. The NFA is the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the petition says it is to remove regulations on 2ndamendment rights, among other things. Others that have exceeded the threshold also request that the president not defund the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, resign from office, release tax returns, lift a ban on growing hemp as a material for use in products such as cloth and rope, and officially name the sea between Japan and Korea both the “East Sea” as it is known in Korea, and the “Sea of Japan” as it is known in Japan.

It should be noted that the Obama administration also sometimes took quite a while to come out with a response to petitions from the website. According to Wikipedia, who cited the White House website (which has been reset), as of October 16, 2016 the Obama administration had answered 321 petitions with an average response time of 117 days. Currently, according to the White House website, the waiting time on average is 39 days.

We the People Petitions site: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov Accessed 16th of April, 2017
Information on petitions past the threshold: http://whpetitions.info Accessed 16th of April, 2017
Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_the_People_%28petitioning_system%29 Accessed 16th of April, 2017

photo credit: Geoff Livingston <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/9397412@N06/32567287266″>A Fence Divides Us</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;