Monday, March 30, 2015

My view of losing religion and gaining life.

As a public service, I present this article and pod cast for your listening and thoughts. It reflects a lot about how I feel about religion.

Listen. Enjoy. Think.

He makes a lot of sense and is not a raving maniac like many "believers" would paint us. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

America is heading in the wrong direction.

A friend of mine asked me the other day why I write the blog and why I comment so vigorously on social media about current events.

My answer was simple. I see America heading in a dangerous direction.

We are losing our spirit of community. Equality and fair play are notions that are being buried in the name of religious freedom. We are losing our collectiveness – our desire to be One People. We are more bigoted… Warmongering … and most of all – shallow minded. If I don’t agree with you, I am unpatriotic.

And on top of all that, we profess to be this holier than thou Christian nation based on biblical principles, which are down right bullshit. Excuse my French, but someone has to call a spade a spade. Today’s political active right wing evangelical churches are about as Christ-centered as an investment bank.

WWJD?  He would spit on the Christian churches today for their hypocrisy and hatred. He would drive them out of the temple for the excesses and their lack of compassion. (Not to mention their building of huge edifices in his name, which he never asked for.) He would admonish us to feed the hungry, clothes the naked, and house the homeless. But he would be voted down by the extreme right of the Republican party and be branded Anti-American. He would be called a traitor. A liberal. A menace to our society. (He has heard all of this before, so I doubt it would bother him any.)

The neo-conservative attitudes toward minorities, toward the LGBT community, toward veterans, towards Muslims, towards people of color, towards women, towards anyone who doesn’t fit some small-minded mold of what some right-wing, Jesus-fearing think thank says we should be. And the vilest of these attacks comes from America’s pulpits. Well, there and FOX News.

There was even an Arizona Senator who put forth the idea of making it a law for required church attendance on Sundays. Has she not heard of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights?  It drives me crazy. Idiots trying to glue and tape their theology onto the fabric of American Law.

You see, I grew up with a vision of America that said we were the land of the free.  We had liberty. All of us. Not just the Sunday School, Baptized a dozen times, voted republican, country club crowd.  No. Every one living here has those rights and privileges. It was granted to us in our constitution. We didn’t have to be a part of the 1% to lay claim to the American Dream. And we certainly didn't have to join first or second or even third Baptist church to do likewise.

But slowly those rights are eroding under the disguise of 'religious freedom and fairness to all' laws that are nothing more than camouflaged bigotry.

I see a group of people who would divide us and separate us and classify us by our gender or sexual preference and our political views…and in so doing, label us Anti-American.  (I have heard federal law enforcement offices call their President a Traitor.  That is sedition. And they are proud of it. Wear their hatred for a black president like a badge of honor.) That, too is Anti-American.

Let me tell you who is Anti-American. The bigot is Anti-America. The CEO who moves his business off shore to make more “profits” and cost American jobs — he or she is Anti-American. People who vilify the President of the United States for helping deliver health insurance to an entire nation —they are Anti-American. Grown men, wealthy grown men, who vote to cut food stamps from the poor. They are Anti-America, as are their warmongering buddies who inflate the Pentagon budget, even with weapon system the generals and admirals do not want…they are Anti-American. Politicians who promote lies of voter fraud just to pass laws to suppress minorities voting rights…well, they are the lowest from of Anti-Americans.

The state of Indiana and its religious freedom act — it is Anti-American. Arkansas may not be far behind. The TV Evangelist who rails about right-wing politics being sent from Jesus and then asks for donations to a tax-exempt entity…that is Anti-American. (I would have said left wing, too, but I haven’t heard any of those.)

What else is Anti-American?  The Hobby Lobby decision.  The Citizen United decision. The stripping of power from the Voter Rights Act by a slanted Supreme Court. That is Anti-American. (Send your sons and daughter overseas to protect our freedoms, but at home we want to remove those privileges from people who do not look like us— is the sacrifice of lives worth that hypocrisy?) The entire tax code which benefits the ultra wealthy while standing on the shoulders of America’s middle class — that truly is Anti-American.

Fighting wars all over the world, while ignoring our poor and needy at home. That is Anti-American. And when those veterans return home, shunning them and not providing for them — well that may be the most Anti-American thing I’ve seen.

Polarizing of our people through lies and innuendo by manipulated media and by loud-mouth radio bullies who refuse to listen to the other side — that is Anti-American.  And believing that your political view is the ONLY way we can go — that, too is Anti-American.

It used to be you and I could disagree about issues.  And we’d find a common ground. We could debate them openly and with conviction. Now everything and everyone is vilified if they don’t agree with your point of view.

So you see, I have a lot of fuel to fire my fight. A lot of issues yet to tackle. I am but one small voice in a den of noise and confusion, but I am trying to point out the hypocrisies, the lies and the fallacies of the direction I see America headed.

I do it because I love this country.  More than anything in the world, I love our freedoms. And I don’t want anyone – from without or from within – to do anything to destroy those freedoms.

To be sure it is hard at times. Some of the people I have to defend make my skin crawl. It is like an ACLU attorney I know told me, “I have to defend garbage everyday, because that garbage might be me tomorrow to someone else.”

And that may be the most American thing I’ve heard anyone say in a long time.

An open letter to Indiana and Paula

I have made it a point over the years not to respond to letters sent to my blog.  Many are flattering and more than a few call me names that I probably deserve.  Some even spell those names correctly.

But yesterday I received a letter from a person (Paula) in Indiana who complained at my blog about her state. Let me quote from her note:

            “It is not right to pick on us here in Indiana. We are god people. Christians. We believe in America and in liberty. That is why our legislature and governor created the law that protects Christians like me from having to service those we do not agree with.”

Let me stop there and say, I understand you do not want to make a cake for a gay wedding or take pictures at their weddings. But you placed a shingle out front that said open for business. Now it reads open for business except for gays. (I use the word gay here to be inclusive of the entire LGBT community. Sorry if this is a violation of some weird rule.)  If you are a clinic, you are open for ALL sick people. If you are a gas station, you are open for all cars and drivers needed to refuel. If you are a pharmacist, you are in business to dispense medications prescribed by doctors to All people.

You do not get to decide who is acceptable to serve or not.

Let’s continue with her letter:

            “You people want to take over. (She assumes I am a member of the LGBT      community, which I am not.) Your acts disgust me and I want no part of them         in my business. I should have the right to refuse your business. I should have           the right to decide who I will work for and who I will refuse to work for.”

She makes a powerful argument.  If a band of ball-headed Nazis came in wanting a swastika on an all white cake, she or anyone else, could refuse them and none of us would think her wrong for her decision. But her decision would not be based on her religious beliefs, but rather on the hatred and bigotry of the Nazis, the very thing she is sharing to the world about the LGBT community.

But here is the rub. She based it on hiding behind her religion. Bigotry from the bible.

And that means that the next step could well be ‘I don’t want to serve Blacks. Or Hispanics. Or Texans. Or Democrats. Or Women. Or people with funny eyebrows. Or Muslims. Or people who are left-handed. Or anyone I goddamn well please to discriminate against, because I can claim religious persecution if you do not let me persecute those I hate with vile and vengeance.

Do you see the slippery slope we are on here? It is 1919 all over again. The lynchings have returned in the name of god-fearing white folk. Jim Crow laws have returned.  Hotels can place signs in their windows, No gays. No Negros. No basketball teams from Kentucky. All it takes is the belief that your little black book of Jewish Myths says it is okay. All it takes is your narrow mind to say my religion disagrees with you, therefore I am shutting you off from the commerce of this community.

Should we all drape ourselves in white hoods and march around singing “What a friend I have in Jesus?” Should we burn a few crosses in yards around the state to show these sickos we mean business with our anti-gay/anti-anybody we don’t like religion?

And here is the real dangerous part of all of this. The Official State Government of Indiana has just made all of this legal.

It would be one thing to say, “Hay, Mr. Gay Person, I would prefer not to bake cupcakes for your wedding, but I know another baker who will do you a super job, let me give you her name.” That would be a personal choice. But two problems arise from that. First, is that your state has made it law. And that changes everything. And second, there are those who can’t call another baker and get cupcakes somewhere else. The MD in and ER ward who has to treat HIV patients even thought he detests the gay lifestyle. The pharmacists filling an emergency contraceptive prescription when he doesn’t believe in birth control. The public school teacher with a gay student in her class. This list goes on and on. Who gets to say yes and who gets to say no?

Your state just made it legal to turn your backs on people just because your tiny little notion of your wrathful, angry god is disturbed by a lifestyle, a color or a creed.

That, by definition is discrimination.

So don’t write me letters crying over Christian spilled milk. I know what Christ taught. And it is nothing like you are practicing. And because of that, you can go to hell.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Indiana just enacted the beginning of Sharia law in the name of Jesus.

I spent the afternoon in an on-line debate with a “minister’ who was defending Indiana’s right to allow state-sponsored discrimination in a commercial setting.  At one point I asked him a philosophical questions and his only reply was if I knew Jesus Christ as my personal savoir and did I know where my soul was going to spend eternity. I explained to him that he, like most in his profession, sidestepped the issue we were talking about. And it struck me, that that is always the case.  You back these folks into a philosophical corner and they come back and say it is all about Jesus. Do you know Jesus as well as I do?  Are you going to heaven or hell when you die?

I have decided that if the folks like him (and he seemed nice enough to be concerned about my soul, whatever that is) and the good folk in Indiana who profess their Christian virtue by applauding their state’s action are all going to heaven, I might as well go to hell.  I don’t want to spend eternity with these nitwits.

The argument in Indiana is not about whether or not a person can have a faith in a given religion or not. Never has been.  It is about those who believe a certain way can now run roughshod over those who do not hold to their beliefs. In other countries this is called Sharia Law. The Taliban practices this extensively in Afghanistan.  ISIS proclaims it wherever they invade.  And now it is practiced in its most Christian form in Indiana.

Your religious beliefs do not get to trump my civil liberties. Not here. Not in Indiana and not while we still have the U.S. Constitution covering us. Equality is for all.  If you run a public business, you do not get to decide what minority you will or will not serve.  Today it is the LGBT. Yesterday it was the blacks. Tomorrow it will be another diverse group — perhaps Muslims or even, for God’s sake, Methodists.

This law is a very slippery slope. When you can claim religious persecution if you don’t get to persecute a minority you hate with vile and vigor. It is a strange logic. It was started by the United State Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.  The precedent was set for religion to trump law. Forgive the pun…but God help us.

Friday, March 20, 2015

God is speaking. Are you listening?

I was invited to sit in on a panel of writers the other day and discuss the future of publishing. I thought that was a rather presumptive topic, since none of us can truly predict the future. (Except that the Cowboys aren’t going to win a super bowl as long as JJ is the GM…that one’s got money on it.)

            After introductions, I spoke up and suggested that the topic should be about trends. Things happening today that could influence the near future and therefore shape publishing. Of the six panelists, four agreed with me and one did not. She insisted that the future was easy to ascertain. One of the other participants asked her how she could predict the future. She said, “It’s easy. I just ask God.”


            “Yes. I kneel and pray and ask him to show me the future and he does.”

            Eyes darted about the room. It was a bit uncomfortable. Nobody wanted to slam her as a religious fool, but it was tempting. “What does he say about the future?” Asked one of the other writers.

            “He told me you were going to have trouble finding a publisher.” She said it right to the woman’s face with no qualms about the words, which came out of her mouth. Straight forward — God says you are going to fail.

            “Really?” the woman who was the object of God’s information about not being able to ink a deal with a publisher just laughed. “It seems that God got his notes all confused.  I just signed a three-book deal last week with a major national house. My first book for them comes out in May.”

            There was a pause in the room as the fortuneteller squirmed. “Well, maybe the deal will fall through. God works in mysterious ways.”

            At this point I couldn’t resist jumping into the fray. It was way too good to let it pass. “Did you happen to seek God’s wisdom on the last presidential election?”

            “I did.” Said the woman with complete confidence and affirmation.

            “And what did he tell you then?”

            “That Mr. Romney was by far the best candidate for America. He would lead us away from the darkness Obama had brought to America.”

            “God said those exact words?” I asked, keeping a straight face.

            “What went wrong?” asked another writer, now enjoying the discussion.

            “I guess God changed his mind.” She never batted an eye about the thought that her theology just fell apart right in her lap.

            “So God tells you that Romney was the choice of his and he would win and then he changes his mind?” That doesn’t say a lot for the omni-power of the deity, now does it?” Not sure if I asked this or someone else did, but I was certainly thinking it.

            “God is free to change his mind. It is called free will.”

            It was at that moment I realized there was no talking to a born-again Republican Tea Bagger about anything. Their religion was so coated with Teflon that no matter what argument is placed before them, it slides right off. Logic included.

            But I had to press the point. “But you said Sally would not get a contract with a publisher. That is what God told you; and yet, she has. And from the sound of it, quite a nice one at that.  Did God just give you some bad intel?  After all, it sounds as if the event happened before God spoke to you?”

            The woman shrugged. “You don’t understand. Because you don’t have faith. Only those with faith can understand the mind of God. He speaks to us and his will is revealed.”

            And like that the argument was closed. God was saved for one more day.

            The rest of the conference went off as scheduled, although I noticed the moderator kept many tough questions away from our resident fortune teller.

            Last night I got on my knees and begged for information about Apple and Chevron and should I buy or sell.  Nothing.

            I guess God doesn’t play the markets.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

There is no logic to the hatred of Obamacare (except for racism.)

I have tried to make sense out of the GOP’s crusade against The Affordable Healthcare Act. I have tried to understand what they so dislike about making affordable health insurance available to all citizens.

I do not understand.

I do understand they do not like President Obama. I understand most of it is fueled by the fact that he is smarter than they are and he is black and that just makes them hate him to no end.  That racist reaction is easy to trace, especially in lower level GOP members who often speak without thinking when cameras and microphones are around. It can be traced to their sponsors and the right-wing lobbyists who fuel the fires.

But for an entire party to engage in a single-mind attack on a policy that is approved by the majority of Americans and is performing better than even the most strident supporters had hoped for; to try and repeal it dozens and dozens of times, to try every maneuver they can to strip its key portions away, I do not get it. Not when it is helping so many.

And now there are parties suing in the Supreme Court (after numerous lower courts have held in the government’s favor) claiming that they are being disenfranchised by its law and will suffer from its enforcement. They have stated they stand to lose a lot of money due to Obamacare. 

It just isn’t true.  The two sets of parties have no evidence of loss at all.


And without that loss or chance of loss, there is no standing for their argument before the court. (A lower court already threw this out once due to the same argument and finding.) That’s like arguing the immigration statues with the citing that aliens are going to eat my sheep.  The fact that I do not own sheep, eliminates me from moving that argument forward in a court of law. It would have no standing.

It is something Justice Ginsburg argued back at the plaintiff’s lawyers yesterday and they had no recourse or response. They kind of stood there with their legal thumbs stuck of their puckered asses.

But even if the court continues to address the arguments being made in this case, I want to know why the vitriolic response from the right towards this law.  (It was, after all, a creation of the Heritage Foundation to begin with and they are a right-wing Republican think tank. It was designed to keep us away from a single-payer system, which they feared then first lady, Hillary Clinton, was going to try and push her husband to enact. At least with their system {and that of Obamacare} the free-enterprise system and insurance companies stay in the game. Government is not actually providing healthcare in the Affordable Healthcare Act.  It is only providing the rules by which people can get insurance from markets and the rules by which insurance must be made available.)

            But the cries of socialized medicine can be heard from every right wing nut job on radio all the ways to the halls of Congress. And it just is not so.

            So why the hatred for this legislation?  Why the great desire to take medical insurance protection away from so many?  What is the gain?  What is the end game?

            The GOP wants to embarrass the president and his party and bully them around a bit.  “Look, we defeated your key legislation and stuff that in your left-wing pipe and smoke it.”

            They act like petulant little children. They didn’t get to enact the legislation themselves, so they don’t want anyone to have it now. That is something people with small minds and mean hearts do.

            But then again, that is the definition of today’s GOP. Sad.  It used to be a grand ole party.  Today it is a reactionary bunch of windbags.