Proud to be an American: a blow to Voter ID Laws

spanish-voter-stickerToday, the Supreme Court found unconstitutional Arizona’s law requiring extra ID when registering to vote, saying that States can’t regulate federal elections to that degree, because that is under the authority of Congress, not the States.

Admittedly, I wish the legal reasoning was more specifically on the principal of extra voting requirements rather than just a Federal vs. State’s rights issue. Technically, the basis of this decision would still allow for federal election committees to create a national Voter ID requirement for registration, the prospect of which I’m not excited about.

And, it also need to be pointed out that this case was not about the state laws requiring people to present Voter ID on election day, but rather just when they register to vote. But either way, this is a small win for America today.
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Housing = Dignity. And this is how your politicians are robbing people of it.

A client quote I heard yesterday:

“When I was homeless, I felt like an animal, stuck in a concrete jungle. I only came out to eat and survive. Now that I have housing, though, I feel like a human again. It feels good to be human.”

And here’s the client quote I posted last week:

“I haven’t been homeless my whole life, but I’ve always been a human being.”

Below is a letter sent to our Governor from Shaun Donovan, the Secretary of HUD, about how the sequestration cuts will affect most of the programs that our clients depend on for housing (and, of far lesser importance, what I depend on for my job). Ladies and gentlemen, your representatives!

(You can read the original letter at the Housing Alliance of PA.) Continue reading

Christianity: paradox & Paradise, fall & Fall

I had the privilege of spending a long weekend these past few days in western Pennsylvania under the kindness and hospitality of my girlfriend and her family. It’s a place that is hard to describe without falling into cliches of big sky, clear air, and bright stars. It’s near the area that Johann Jacob Burkhardt, my first ancestor in America, settled in 1754 after sailing from Germany and landing in Philadelphia exactly a week ago today. I made almost the exact same trek as Johann and his family, from the rivers of Philly to the rural countryside of unsettled Pennsylvania.

Strangely, in the rest of Pennsylvania that I have seen, the trees are still mostly green and just starting to turn for the Fall. But here, this weekend marked the peak of that beautiful transition. The pictures above and below should testify to this (click them for larger versions). They were taken only a couple of days ago–with my phone (fun fact: the picture directly above this text was taken from Mt. David, the highest point in Pennsylvania).

I can’t express to you the beauty my eyes and soul were able to behold.
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ACLU of Pennsylvania Files Suit Against Voter ID Law

I’ve not hidden my opposition to the recent wave of Voter ID laws being passed and pursued across the nation. I have written about this on this site, posted articles on the topic, and argued extensively on Facebook about this.

I have offered a simple mathematical challenge that no supporter of these laws has been able to meet: if it can be shown that more fraud would be prevented than voters being disenfranchised, I’ll change my mind and support these issues.

As I said, no supporter of these laws has been able to demonstrate this. They have given anecdotal evidence of random voter fraud, they have appealed to philosophical reasons behind this policy, and to try and show how the voters that would be disenfranchised wouldn’t deserve to to vote anyway because they would not be “enthusiastic”, “eager”, or “self-motivated” (because apparently every person without an ID  only ever votes because liberal social activist organizations manipulate and pay them to vote Democrat).

Yesterday, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, among other organizations, officially filed suit against the Commonwealth, claiming that the Voter ID law passed by Governor Tom Corbett violates the Commonwealth’s Constitution. They seem to have a pretty good case.
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a word on the effect of Corbett’s budget on Philly social services…

The Philadelphia Inquirer had this front page article today on Governor Tom Corbett’s drastic proposed Pennsylvania budget cuts and their particular effect on social services.

I work for one of the main social service agencies in Philadelphia. I can tell you that these effects will be real, not exaggerated, and felt by everyone (and perhaps even illegal). Is there really no more balanced, thoughtful, or nuanced approach to this?

In a notable quote from the article, executive director of NHS Human Services, Paul Sachs, told the Council committee about how the changes would eventually cost us more, not less:


We will see an increase in medical hospitalizations for the types of problems that frequently coexist with behavioral-health problems, such as diabetes, pulmonary, and cardiac conditions, not to mention sensitivity to extremes of cold or hot weather. And, I am sorry to say, we will see more people die whose deaths could have been avoided…. The governor’s budget cuts will not save money. Rather, it is an elaborate cost shift to emergency medical care and criminal justice systems, neither of which is designed to address the core problems facing these vulnerable individuals.

Please contact your local representative and let them know that you want this Commonwealth known for fighting for the vulnerable, and to at least show a little restraint, creativity, and nuance in how it maintains fiscal responsibility.

Posted from WordPress for Android on my Droid X

A Shout-Out to My Mennonite Pacifists Out There…

Being in Pennsylvania, I meet lots of people that either consider themselves Mennonite, or at least were raised that way. One of the most well-known aspects of Mennonite belief is their unwavering commitment to pacifism (or, as a commenter corrected me below, the Mennonite “doctrine of nonresistance”). Hanging out with one of my new raised-Mennonite friends the other evening, she showed me (with pride) the above picture that has hung in one of their family’s houses for a long time. It struck me as beautiful as well, especially the second quote. Here it is, nicely typed out for optimal readability and convenience:

“It is our fixed principle rather than take up Arms to defend our King, our Country, or our Selves, to suffer all that is dear to be rent from us, even Life itself, and this we think not out of Contempt to Authority, but that herein we act agreeable to what we think is the Mind and Will of our Lord Jesus.”

–Thirteen Mennonite Ministers of Pennsylvania, May 15, 1755

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For those wondering how my job is going . . .

unemployment. . . well, it’s not.

In May, I wrote about my journey in looking for a job.A month and half later(ish) I wrote of having found a job.My start date was July 1st.

But July 1st was the appointed day for another reason: it was the official first day of a new fiscal year for many companies, churches, and governments (federal, state, and local), therefore, of course, it was the day that new 2009 budgets went into effect all across the country.

Well, at least, when those budgets were supposed to go into effect.

The State of Pennsylvania is embroiled in an ever-increasingly heated battle over its State Budget that was supposed to be done and go in effect July 1st.The company I got my job with gets most of its money from the State Health Department, so this poses a problem for them, seeing as the State Health Department has no 2009 money allocated to them by an effective budget to give to my company any money to hire me – so they’re under a hiring freeze.Did that all make sense?

So, in short, I’ve been waiting for over a month for Pennsylvania to pass its own budget, after which I can start my job.Assuming of course that my usual luck doesn’t come into play and my job decides to drop me for some reason.I don’t know.Pray this doesn’t happen.It seems the budget problem is this: there’s a huge gap in the budget between income and expenses.So they either need to get more money or make more cuts.The Governor has suggested a very small increase to the income tax to cover this, but Republicans have cried foul.Democrats have said they’re not “wedded” to the idea of a tax increase and are open to any ideas, but Republicans have been both unable to suggest any new ideas and unwilling to make any cuts in their various localities, insisting further cuts happen at the State level.So, tax increases are being forbidden, no new ideas being brought forth, no new cuts being suggested, and no one willing to budge.Therefore, I have a job, but don’t – all at the same time.

It’s an excellent object lesson in the angst and tension in the Biblical idea of things “already being accomplished, but not yet fully realized”. By the way, last Friday was the last day State employees were actually getting they’re getting I.O.U.’s. Ugh.

I am trying to find odd jobs to hold me over, but may be looking for a more stable job here shortly, and eventually if I need to, I may look somewhere else entirely for a “real” job (any ideas or possible work is more than appreciated).I hope I don’t have to move on, for as I have said, this job is my dream position, but if I need to, I need to.

God certainly deals with us strangely, confusingly, and mercifully. So much opportunity in this time of “unemployment” to draw near to my God and serve are currently being wasted day to day due to my inherent lack of discipline. He really desires more of me in this time, and I fear I haven’t taken advantage of these moments to learn my neediness and His presence.Pray I learn these lessons well in the “already but not yet”.

And pray that Pennsylvania passes a flippin’ budget already (and that I still have a job waiting for me when they do)!