Who am I to know?

I’m so sick of reading all of these “Obama is a liar about the healthcare tax” things. Since when has a president who used different wording been a surprise? I tend to recall a president who lied about weapons of mass destruction, and that got us into a war where people DIED, not used a different word for tax. But the war president got us into a big debt, so surprise, surprise. But that’s not even Watergate lies or anything else of that nature. I think we can come to terms with the fact that we are told lies. But what this tax will be like is similar to medicare and social security. We complain about our money going to those two things, and we’d complain if we lost it. In the long run, this tax will save us money because we aren’t going to be spending tens of thousands on ridiculous hospital bills, and you won’t have to worry about being denied help. Like my mom who has to pay tens of thousands of dollars for all her trips to a bunch of different doctors who still can’t tell her what is wrong with her so she still has more appointments and more tests. Or having an epileptic seizure because you can’t afford your medicine because you were laid off from your job so your epilepsy takes over your life. Or having to pay $25,000 for a hospital stay after your stomach hurt so bad and the doctors can’t tell you what is wrong. Or after fainting, you have a seizure which prompts a $15,000 MRI scan to find out if you have internal bleeding and can die. Or having to pay $50,000 because you had a stroke and now you can’t speak and are paralyzed and have to pay debts for the rest of your life. But I’m just a naive nineteen year old college student who doesn’t know anything and hasn't experienced life yet, right? 

Today is such a huge day. And it’s making me so anxious. Like a giant sitting on my chest. Even though its just the beginning and we won’t know anything for a while, but this could either be so good or so shattering. I don’t want to be at work today. I so won’t be able to focus.
Mitch McConnell: Proud Moment When I Told Obama 'You Will Not Fill This Supreme Court Vacancy'

On Saturday, McConnell spoke at the annual Fancy Farm picnic, one of Kentucky’s premier political events of the summer. He had this to say as “one of his proudest moments” of his political career, a moment of complete intransigence and thumbing his nose at America’s democratic traditions by denying a sitting U.S. President’s nominee to the Supreme Court even a hearing. A stark reminder of the realpolitik as practiced by Mitch McConnell that he should cite this as one of proudest moments. Certainly a defining one.

McConnell: “one of my proudest moments” was when I told Obama “you will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy”

— Greg Giroux (@greggiroux) August 6, 2016

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Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore to appear in court Monday
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) – Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s career is in the hands of the Court of Judiciary.

The state’s top judge is expected in court Monday in Montgomery. Moore is the target of a request from the Judicial Inquiry Commission that he  be removed from office. Both sides are expected to provide summary judgements to the panel. Judge Moore has repeatedly said that he…

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Judge who won't marry same-sex couples faces Wyoming Supreme Court
The commission started an investigation of Neely after she told a reporter in 2014 she would not perform same-sex marriages because of her religious beliefs.

HEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Supreme Court is set to hear arguments next week on whether a Pinedale judge who has said she wouldn’t perform same-sex marriages because of her religious beliefs should be removed from office.

Ruth Neely in April filed a petition asking the court to reject a recommendation from the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics that she lose her posts as a municipal judge and circuit court magistrate.

The commission started an investigation of Neely after she told a reporter in 2014 she would not perform same-sex marriages because of her religious beliefs. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that same-sex couples nationwide may marry.

Attempts to reach Neely and her attorneys, including the Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona religious advocacy law firm, were not successful on Friday. Neely is not a lawyer.

In fighting removal, Neely argues that she has a constitutional right to voice her opinion. Her lawyers have said no same-sex couples have asked her to preside over their weddings. She’s currently suspended from the circuit court post.

“In a chilling forecast, the commission leaves no doubt that if it has its way, no judge who holds Judge Neely’s religious beliefs about marriage can remain on the bench once the public learns of those beliefs,” Neely’s lawyers wrote.

Neely’s case has similarities to the legal action in Kentucky against clerk Kim Davis. A conservative Christian, Davis was jailed briefly last year after she refused to allow her office to issue marriage licenses. Although her case sparked a national debate over the religious freedom of civil servants versus the civil rights of same-sex couples, she ultimately agreed to alter the licenses to remove her name and title.

Casper lawyers Patrick Dixon and Britney F. Turner represent the Wyoming commission. Attempts to reach them for comment were unsuccessful. Commission Executive Director Wendy Soto declined comment Friday.

“The Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics has no interest in interfering with Judge Neely’s or anyone else’s free exercise of religion,” Dixon and Turner wrote in a brief to the Wyoming Supreme Court, which is set to hear arguments Wednesday in Cheyenne. “Neither is it concerned with suppressing her First Amendment right to permissible speech. However, it is tasked with enforcing the Code of Judicial Conduct. What Judge Neely did and said is a violation of that Code. Given her unwillingness to even acknowledge the ethical implications, she cannot remain in office.”

The Wyoming Supreme Court has denied requests from a number of religious organizations and current and former state lawmakers file legal briefs in support of Neely’s position. The court is allowing a joint brief from the town of Pinedale and the Sutherland Institute, a Utah-based conservative public policy organization.

Is God Transgender? NYTimes

By Rabbi Mark Sameth

August 12 2016

In the 1970s a cousin of mine, Paula Grossman, became one of the first people in America to undergo sex-reassignment surgery. As Paul Monroe Grossman, Cousin Paula had been a beloved music teacher in New Jersey. She was fired after her surgery, and she subsequently lost her lawsuit for wrongful termination based on sex discrimination (though a court did rule that she could receive a disability pension). The story was all over the news back then; I’d like to think it would have ended differently today.

Forty years after the Supreme Court refused to hear Paula’s appeal in 1976, the transgender story is still unfolding. This month, a transgender high school student in Virginia lost the right to use the restroom of his choice when the Supreme Court temporarily blocked a lower court’s order. Still, for the first time it is possible to imagine a ruling from a fully seated Supreme Court to comprehensively outlaw discrimination against transgender people. There is real reason to be hopeful, even if social prejudices don’t disappear overnight.

I’m a rabbi, and so I’m particularly saddened whenever religious arguments are brought in to defend social prejudices — as they often are in the discussion about transgender rights. In fact, the Hebrew Bible, when read in its original language, offers a highly elastic view of gender. And I do mean highly elastic: In Genesis 3:12, Eve is referred to as “he.” In Genesis 9:21, after the flood, Noah repairs to “her” tent. Genesis 24:16 refers to Rebecca as a “young man.” And Genesis 1:27 refers to Adam as “them.”

Surprising, I know. And there are many other, even more vivid examples: In Esther 2:7, Mordecai is pictured as nursing his niece Esther. In a similar way, in Isaiah 49:23, the future kings of Israel are prophesied to be “nursing kings.”

Why would the Bible do this? These aren’t typos. In the ancient world, well-expressed gender fluidity was the mark of a civilized person. Such a person was considered more “godlike.” In Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, the gods were thought of as gender-fluid, and human beings were considered reflections of the gods. The Israelite ideal of the “nursing king” seems to have been based on a real person: a woman by the name of Hatshepsut who, after the death of her husband, Thutmose II, donned a false beard and ascended the throne to become one of Egypt’s greatest pharaohs.

The Israelites took the transgender trope from their surrounding cultures and wove it into their own sacred scripture. The four-Hebrew-letter name of God, which scholars refer to as the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, was probably not pronounced “Jehovah” or “Yahweh,” as some have guessed. The Israelite priests would have read the letters in reverse as Hu/Hi — in other words, the hidden name of God was Hebrew for “He/She.” Counter to everything we grew up believing, the God of Israel — the God of the three monotheistic, Abrahamic religions to which fully half the people on the planet today belong — was understood by its earliest worshipers to be a dual-gendered deity.

Scientists now tell us that gender identity, like sexual orientation, exists on a spectrum. Some of us are in greater or lesser alignment with the gender assigned to us at birth. Some of us are in alignment with both, or with neither. For others of us, alignment requires more of a process.

It may come as a surprise that scientists view gender as anything other than a simple binary. But thousands of years ago, as a review of ancient literature makes clear, that truth was known. In court challenges, administrative directives and popular culture, the issue is playing out in real time, before our eyes. But behind the unfolding legal drama lies the reality of human nature: the fact that gender is not, nor has it ever been, a matter of “either/or.”

Gender, as Cousin Paula might have put it, is more like music: Each of us has a key and a range with which we are most comfortable. Attuned to ourselves and to one another, we can find happiness and harmony.

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Mark Sameth, a rabbi in New York, is writing a history of the Tetragrammaton.

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Actress Kerry Washington is hitting her prime. With two Emmy nominations under her belt, the Scandal star not only has graced countless magazine covers but also uses her social media clout to inspire political and social change. Lately, she has taken on a bigger role behind the camera, serving as executive producer of the HBO filmConfirmation, in which she plays Anita Hill, the woman who testified against Clarence Thomas in his Supreme Court hearing in 1991.

Although Kerry brings a fierceness to Olivia Pope’s character in Scandal, she reveals that she didn’t always feel as confident offscreen. “I think for most of the beginning of my life,” Kerry says, “I was fighting the idea that I was not enough, or that I had to be fixed.”

In this intimate SuperSoul Session Q&A, Kerry opens up to Oprah about becoming television’s most powerful leading lady.

Before Scandal, Kerry says, she was already carving a niche for herself on the big screen. She played important parts in movies like RayThe Last King of Scotland and Save the Last Dance. Then, Shonda Rhimes came calling. Of course, the trajectory of Kerry’s life changed. “It just opened the doors for me,” she says.

When Kerry set out to play that “powerful, fully embodied, confident woman,” as Oprah puts it, she never could have predicted that Olivia Pope would become a cultural icon. “How it was received was unimaginable,” she says.

People fell in love with Kerry’s Olivia Pope—a groundbreaking, strong African-American female lead. Nevertheless, Kerry says, she struggled to get roles early in her career because she fell short of the Hollywood ideal. “In the beginning of my career, I was often told that I had to fix things to be successful,” she says. “You know, fix your teeth or wear your hair differently or dress differently, or, well, ‘She’s too ethnic,’ or, ‘She’s not.’ ‘She doesn’t speak black enough.’ … There were a million reasons why I wasn’t making it in the beginning of my career.”

Through it all, Kerry remained authentic to herself and refused to give in to other people’s expectations of what she should be or look like. “I’ve always been me, and I didn’t really conform. I didn’t really change those things that people told me I had to change, so when my career has been able to unfold, I felt like it was because I was being myself.”

Here, Kerry candidly shares the lessons she has learned throughout her rise to fame.