Thoughts on Thursday

The Anniversary of Roe v Wade

The landmark abortion and privacy case, Roe v Wade, celebrated its fortieth anniversary this past Tuesday. What is sad is how slowly women’s rights have progressed since then. Abortions are still highly stigmatized in the general population, while smaller populaces look to exert their own control over another person’s body. Things such as transvaginal ultrasounds and mandatory waiting periods only serve to make a pariah out of the woman who seeks to have an abortion. Ultimately, that choice is the woman’s, and hers alone. What hasn’t been talked about as much is why abortions are necessary. Things like condoms and birth control should be more readily available so that people can have sex safely, without passing on antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea or creating an unwanted fetus. A child should not be brought into the world when the parents are not ready to care for it. It is a far greater crime to force someone to have a child from an unwanted pregnancy and, therefore, force that child to be neglected by his or her premature parents than to give guys some condoms.

Manti Te’o and LGBTQ Rights

Speaking of social issues that haven’t progressed far enough, Manti Te’o, the Notre Dame linebacker whose girlfriend wasn’t quite as, uh, real, as he might have thought, has made some headlines for his interview with Katie Couric. In response to a question on Te’o's sexuality, the linebacker said, “[I'm not gay]. No, far from it. Far from it.” This brings up an interesting question about the intersection of sexuality and sports. Odds are, there are LGBTQ professional athletes, yet we still haven’t seen one currently playing athlete announce, indicating some sort of intimidation or fear of alienation. After it was revealed that the “Lennay Kekua” that Te’o thought he was talking to was really Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, speculation began about his sexuality, leading to the question by Couric. It is far from my place to comment on Te’o's sexuality. But it does say a lot about the relationship between sexuality and sports that, if Te’o is gay, he felt it necessary to lie to Couric in the interview. If Te’o isn’t gay, and simply misspoke, then he certainly put his foot in his mouth. Exactly how far away from gay is he? I calculate that I’m about 10 miles from gay, but it really is hard to know for sure. To return to the first case though, a denial of his sexuality means he’d prefer the sports world to see him as naive and stupid instead of gay; if he truly feels that that is necessary, then change needs to come to professional football, and sports in general, mighty fast.

Congress is being, well, Congress

The Senate nearly passed something. It was structural reform that, in all honesty, did not go as far as it needed to go for significant change in the slower chamber. The Senate couldn’t even bring itself to pass that. While I normally abhor the “both sides” mentality, both sides were genuinely at fault. The Democrats have more seats open than the Republicans do this midterm election; if the Senate swings, then they fear a Senate in which they can no longer filibuster, meaning they will have to gasp compromise with the other side! Meanwhile, the Republicans don’t want to give up their filibuster power now, and give the Democrats easy control over two-thirds of the lawmaking process. Essentially, neither party wants to let the majority rule, which is what should happen; both sides are afraid of the other using their simple majority to pass laws. This is a problem. This is why nothing gets done. This is why we can’t have nice things.

The Role of the President

The past four years have seen simultaneously substantial reforms and unprecedented gridlock, which is really difficult to grasp. The President was able to pass a large part of his policy agenda (albeit, not in the way he would have liked), yet he faced aggravating slowness and moronic halts most of the way, such as the Commerce Department lacking a chair since last June, and the Senate never really getting around to replacing George W. Bush’s head of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The standard call of the Republicans has been to deride President Obama for his lack of leadership and his unwillingness to go down to Congress and barter. The Founding Fathers would be ashamed. They created what they thought was a weak executive so that the legislature could legislate without interference from the executive, because they feared that too strong of an executive would take us straight back to the days of dictatorship. The whole point of famous sayings like, “no taxation without representation,” was to strengthen the people’s representation, and thus, a strong Congress. I’d like to see Congress start working on change from within their own ranks, rather than asking the executive to take control of the legislature.

The President’s Future

So now that the President is, once again, the President, what’s he going to do? The Inaugural Address did a great job of presenting a progressive view for what the next four years should look like, but now that has to happen. The most notable parts of the address dealt with LGBTQ rights and climate change, but as it currently stands, the President has little political leverage to deal with it. The fate of Obama’s second term is not, unfortunately, up to Obama. The sooner he works within his power – instead of trying to leave things up to Congress and getting less-than-satisfactory results – is the sooner his agenda gets passed on his own terms.

People Being Stupid On The Internet

And now, a great representation of People Being Stupid On The Internet. This was brought to my attention by a friend of mine who’s a Duke freshman. While the Duke Chronicle does some great work, this one opinion piece is certainly not worthy of the paper’s prestige. It manages to call equal pay for equal work “anti-feminist” while using loaded, sexist language in the analysis, and that’s just the beginning of his faulty reasoning. Enjoy.

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