Monday, June 29, 2015

Let's keep religion out of the arguments of the court.

SCOTUS just said clean air costs too much.

It ruled against the EPA restrictions on coal and gas-fired electrical plants. (The conservative justices’ actual argument wasn’t that we don’t need clean air, but that the EPA did not take into consideration the cost of their regulation. The EPA has only been working on the economic model of their regulations for about a half a decade. With that in mind, I am not sure how the right-wing justices pulled that one out of their collective asses.  But I’ll give them this one, for the sake of the argument.)

But because they did, and we are now stuck with a non-regulated dirty air environment, I am going to use some right-wing, evangelical rhetoric  on you that has been bantered about the past weekend about the same court’s ruling on gay marriage.

Here goes.

God left man in charge of the Earth. We were ordained to be “good stewards” of the planet. That means its environments, its people, its animals and everything that grows, breathes and lives on this rock — we are burdened with the responsibility of caring for it.   God said it was our duty. That’s in the Bible. So it has got to be true.  Right?  Come on my Baptist friends…speak up here. What would Robert Jeffress say about this? It came from God so it must be true… right?

Now, the EPA was just doing what God had told us to do. It was trying to take care of the Earth.  Trying to be good stewards of our resources. Air and water being resources we use a bit every day, the EPA was trying to preserve their qualities. You know, being good stewards and all. But now this evil court, using money as its foundation, has decided that it knows, once again, better than God what is good for mankind.

Today the court thumbed their nose at God’s edict.  It said, we don’t care what the Creator commanded, we think money (…the love of which is the root of all evil…also Biblical…) usurps clean air and drinkable water. We think money supersedes the will of God.

Now…let’s see how many pulpits in America get exercised over this breech of old and new testament hypocrisy.  Let’s see FOX News loose its cool over this ruling. Let’s see and hear from all the candidates running for election on the GOP ticket take a stand for God in this argument. 

They won’t ladies and gentlemen.

Because actually following God is not important to any of them. If the gospel doesn’t fit their politics, they turn their face away from it.   What they want to do is raise your ire and collect money in their coffers from you. Because…even to the church…money is more important than God.

So every time the court makes a ruling for or against your political point of view, quit running to the Bible to try and attack it or defend it. Because if you don’t, someday the court my just quote Leviticus and tell you that you must stone to death your wayward children.  And I know a lot of preacher’s kids that could use some very hard stoning.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Law and Order Versus the Pulpit Bullies.

Words are needed to heal wounds. In the aftermath of the glow of victory from the gay community and liberals across America, a lot of Christians feel that their faith and beliefs were trampled by the Supreme Court in yesterday’s ruling in favor of universal and equal marriage in America. (Some will even claim they are being persecuted, but that is an argument for another time.)

You have every right to feel however you want.  But allow me to give you some rationale and logic to help dissuade your fits of anger and fear.

First: this case was never about religion.

Never was. Never has been. The pundits and noise makers on the right-wing of the Republican party made that pitch to work you up…to get your pastors in the pulpit to work you up…to get under your skin.

This case and its trials have always been about the rule of law. From day one.

The law in this case, is the United States Constitution and specifically its 14th Amendment. Let me quote you the applicable passage here:
            “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the
            privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor
            shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property,
            without due process of law; nor deny to any person within
            its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

This is referred to as the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.  It means if you make a law favoring and protecting a class of people — let’s say, Catholics, then the Baptist get the same protection. And so do the Methodists and the Presbyterians and even the Mormons and the atheists — for that matter, so too would the Islamic members of our society. Every member of society is protected equally under the law. Every member.

It a nutshell, the 14th Amendment says what is good under the law for the goose is also good for the gander. Equal. Protection by the law. By the constitution.

Why is it part of our law of the land? Too keep one group of people from bullying or overpowering another group because they can either, by vote or by abusive power, place their will over a subjugated class. It is YOUR protection that the law is as much for you as for your neighbor. It is there for white people. For black people. For Asians. For Hispanics. For Jews and Gentiles and even for Dallas Cowboys…(we think).

And it is there for gay and lesbian members of our country, too.

The parties fighting the lawsuit on behalf of gay and lesbian couples believed that their liberty had been usurped by states that refused to recognize their right to get married.

Now whether you believe in gay marriage or not, that is not the issue here. It may boil your blood and turn your stomach, but in America, those people have the same rights as you and me. It is in black and white. It is guaranteed in our Constitution.  And in this case, in this matter, that usurps scripture.

Sorry. That’s how it works.

Second:  This in no way diminishes your marriage.

It does not affect your family values.  It does not degrade either the act of or the institution of marriage. No one is going to force you to marry a gay person. No one is coming to take your religious beliefs away. No one is challenging your faith. And if you fear that it does challenge your faith, you need to reexamine your belief system.

However, in this case, marriage was and is being looked at as a legal tool of the state.  Truly nothing more.

People get married for love, true; but also, there are huge financial, tax and legal ramifications to being wed. Trusts. Wills. End of life directives.  Powers of Attorney. Tax issues. Home purchasing. The list goes on and on.

And the plaintiffs in this case said their ability to be rewarded and benefit from those things that are endowed to married couples were kept from them by the state(s) who refused to offer, condone or accept their marriages or opportunity to marry.

All they were asking for was the right to have a piece of paper just like you that tells the world, “Look we are a legal entity — a couple.” That does not take away from your union one iota no matter what First Baptist or Rome say.

No matter what your preacher or priest will rant about on Sunday, no matter what the governors of the very conservative states will say on TV or the one hundred thousand Republican candidates for President will shout out, the truth is, your marriage is your business.  Its sanctity is in your hands. No one else’s.

But as of today, so is the sanctity of the gay couples. It is in their hands. Not the government’s. Not the states’. They have to fight the fight and endure the battles and ups and downs of married life now like the rest of us. And they’ll do fine. Some will divorce. But many, many more will not. And they will love each other not unlike how you love your spouse. In fact, their victory actually strengthens your own liberty. As President Obama said, “(the ruling) affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts: When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”

But through it all, it will not affect your marriage or your vows in any way. And believe me, that is exactly how the gay community wants it. What is your business is yours. What is their business is theirs.

Some of the gay and lesbians couples have suffered far more and for far longer than you have ever suffered for your marriage. And that builds unique and special bonds. So don’t try and tell me it is not true love they have. They may understand love and devotion far more than straight couples ever will.

Which leads me to point number three. There is a theological side to the issue of getting married. It runs deep and has all kinds of historical caveats. And right now it is yelling at the top of its lungs that this is all wrong — not God’s will.  Forbidden in the Word of the Lord.

In the past the scriptures allowed polygamy. Man stopped that.  Marrying a child wasn’t frowned on until mankind stopped it. The bible sure didn’t say anything about stopping it. Taking a slave for a bride was fine, too. Again man brought that to an end. In fact, scripture turned a blind eye to slavery all together. It took struggle and strife to end that dark practice.  And many clergy led the fight to stop slavery, even if their scriptures didn’t.

Sometimes you have to look past the scriptures to find inspiration for life. Sometimes ‘the way’ is not printed in the old or new testaments.  Sometimes it comes from other sources — sources deep within our hearts.

The Bible never said slavery was wrong. But we knew it was. Even though many claimed biblical rights to own slaves. The point here is that theology is not law. Law is law. And the ultimate law in our land is the Constitution. It is not a theological idea or notion or edict found on a page from the Bible or a Koran — it is not preached from some pulpit nor does it come handed down in a Papal decree. It exists in the Constitution.

And because of the Constitution, now gay people can wed. As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: “The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”

Now that may well go against your religion and church doctrine. I’m oaky with that. So long as you do not use that as a hindrance within and under state law to disallow people, not like yourself, to get married. Then you have violated the 14th Amendment of Federal Law. You will have broken the law of the land.

What you believe in your faith is your business.  Keep it that way. I will respect you for that. That way we will all get along a lot better.

You see, this was never about religion. It was always about equality… equal justice…always about the law.

Friday, June 26, 2015

One for freedom and liberty

I have to make a confession right up front.  For years, I was against the notion of gay marriage.  Not the union of gay couples. I have always supported that. But the use of the word marriage bothered me.

Then I had a friend who was denied access to his partner at Baylor Hospital because the hospital did not recognize the couples "marriage." Leave it to a Baptist institution to change my mind.

Marriage, beside the bond in love two people share, is also a major legal document within our society. It affects wills, trusts, bank accounts, insurance policies, taxes, home purchases and yes, even visits to a hospital.

Marriage is about a union — a legal union recognized by the state.

Today the Supreme Court got it right.

Today they said that if you could issue licenses to couples of different sex, then you could not discriminate against couples of the same sex. It is based on the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — called the equal protection clause.  Allow me to quote it here for you in case you went to a Texas school and studying the constitution was denied to you in your education.

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

It is black and white. Everybody gets treated the same in America. Baptist, Methodists, atheists and even gay and lesbians. Can't discriminate against them. Any of them.

I believe our governor and state attorney general will try. God knows they are just crazy enough to fight this. But the rest of the world knows the truth. What is good for the goose is also now legally good for the gander.

That is how the constitution works.  So don't quote me your bible passages.  Don’t kneel in front of me in pious prayer. Don’t paste pictures of Billy Graham bemoaning the fact that America has just gone to the Devil.

No we haven’t.

We have just corrected a wrong in our society.  And the same type of people opposing this are also the ones whose kinfolk opposed the freeing of slaves.

If you want freedoms — freedom of religion and freedom of speech and whatever else you hold dear, you have to make sure the other guy gets those freedoms as well. 

For a final and personal note to Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton: "...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property..."  any state, gentlemen. That means Texas, too.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bye-bye Mr. Mike.

I know Mayor Rawlings is going to hate this because will place copious amounts of egg on his face, but the Dallas School Superintendent, Mike Miles is leaving, even though the mayor has given him his unending support.  (Some people like lost causes.)

And it is about time. It is time for Miles to go. Period.

I have said it in this column before and i will say it again. He was never in tune with the Dallas schools and never understood the scope of the problem facing an urban school district.  He was overmatched from day one.

But he could raise political capital when he needed it.  And lots of it.  Unfortunately his administration mis- appropriated real capital and that was his undoing. That, and he screwed with very popular schools and their principals who were doing good jobs.  Why?  To be vindictive.

Mike Miles was a little man with a huge ego.

Dallas needs just the opposite to run our schools.  We need a giant with an ego that is sensitive enough to listen.

Good-bye Mike. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

On another note, but one that has to do with leadership, Kudos to President Obama for speaking out so openly about racism in America.

And here is a strange kudo coming from Ted Cruz for not returning his money from the Concerned Conservative Citizens (the extreme right wing racist organization) but instead donating that money to the families of victims on south Carolina. Good play, Ted. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Fool's Gold.

I have been following articles about Governor Gregg Abbott of Texas wanting over a billion dollars in gold returned to the State of Texas, so that he and his demented minions can start their own treasury.

Has someone put something in the water in Austin?  Are the members of the state GOP taking LSD nighty to see how crazy they can get? Or is absolute power corrupting absolutely, as Machiavelli suggested?

I think the answer is the latter. The power party in Austin has become intoxicated with its Tea Party fundamentals and the success it has had in passing most of them into law in the Lone Star State. They have become high on their victories and no longer display common sense.  After all, if you can put guns on college campuses, close down women's health centers, pass laws to protect pastors who are not endangered, and thumb your nose at federal law, what's keeping you from creating your own monetary system?

Abbott is just crazy enough of a zealot to try.  He thinks his knowledge of the law places him above it. The whole GOP does.  (Example:  our Attorney General is a FELON; a self-admitted felon at that.  But he would have to stand trial for his actions in his home country— Colin County — and the local prosecutor {also a Tea Partier} is a friend and will not follow up on the charges, even though the AG himself said, "Yeah I did it.") Talk about a disregard for law and order. Now that same AG is telling the University of Texas that they must allow a rouge board member access to all admissions paperwork because he said so...The felon says do it, so you better...he is above the law.

See the state of dysfunction the state of Texas has become.

And now, the GOP wants "its" gold back from the United States Treasury so that it can start its own, gold back treasury. Forbidden in the constitution.

But hey, why should these dimwits let a law stand in their way. And where did they get a claim that the gold in reserve in the Federal Treasury belongs to Texas in the first place? I know the GOP is trying to totally re-write the history books in Texas, but come on — this is ridiculous. Gold from the original Republic of Texas and from the Confederate State of Texas that was placed into the Federal Reserve after the Civil War does not belong to the state of Texas. It belongs to the United States of America. Call it the down payment for getting to sit at the big table of fifty states.

And no, you can't have it back.

And no, you can't print your own money or establish your own banking credit system.

And no your logic does not hold up.

What is the next damn crazy idea that is going to come out of right-wing talk radio and filter its way to the state capitol and to the governor's mansion?  Remuneration for lost slaves? I probably shouldn't have written that, for somewhere, some Tea Party idiot is reading those words and saying. "Yeah. That’s it. We want to be paid for our slaves or give them back to us."

God help Texas. And if you can't...just wash away the rift raff you've got trying to govern us.  Thanks.