Wrapping up the Year – Phil Robertson and A&E

I thought I would take a moment and walk back thru the various topics and events I took time to blog about over the last year.  To be honest, in re-reading some of my posts I was, if nothing else, rather wordy but if I keep in mind that my original intent of this blog was to look for some means of catharsis, I’m not surprised at the brain dumps I’ve shared.  In looking back I managed to hit a broad set of subjects from gun control (coming into 2013 on the heels of Newtown, CT) to the Presidential primaries and the election to a good amount of time on the current state of the country as it relates to where we are in the LGBT discussion.  Overall, I’d say the year was more good than bad as we managed to keep the Republicans out of the White House and the country actually moved ahead in a positive manner when it came to rights of members of the LGBT community.  Not only are the majority of Americans supportive of gay rights, we now have I believe 18 states where gays can legally marry – quite an increase from where we started the year.  Top this with the defeat of DOMA and overall not bad although the journey ahead is still long and will be painful.

Sadly though, we have actually taken steps backwards when it comes to gun control and the violence and death that inevitably links itself to owning a gun.  One does have to wonder why is is so easy to quickly forget the people innocently massacred this past year by people who are obviously able to legally obtain weapons when in most cases they probably shouldn’t be walking the streets among the rest of us.  No doubt this will be a topic of future posts as I expect there will be numerous incidents in the coming year where the idiocy of our fascination with guns and the right to kill will result in more death and mayhem.

credit to: StickerGiant.com Inc.

credit to: StickerGiant.com Inc.

But as my last post of 2013, I thought I’d stay with a topic I’ve commented on numerous times this past year.  And in this case I get to wrap up a number of my rants into one situation – that of Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty and the recent attention he has received given his ongoing display of bigotry and ignorance.  I won’t spend too much time on his comments about how happy black citizens were in 50’s and 60’s in his home state of Louisiana but just that professed opinion (which I have no doubt he actually believes) pretty much defines Robertson for what he is.  When we look at his homophobic view of gays and his justification thru religion and the bible, I again froth at the mouth at the obvious schizophrenic nature of many who profess to be followers of Jesus and his ways but yet preach hate and intolerance.  In the case of Robertson, like many “born again” Christians, we have people who were pretty much shits and lowlifes who all of a sudden become good people and all is forgotten because they found God.  Pretty convenient and quite the means for Phil to become a patriarch who can stand up and profess more knowledge and wisdom on how others should lead their lives.  Lest we not forget that Phil had quite the struggle with alcohol, ran into issues with the law based on his inability to control himself and managed to actually abandon his wife and 3 kids early in their marriage.  Even his shallow-thinking wife, Kay, admitted that he was running around on her during that time – but, nice excuse, it wasn’t really Phil, it was the devil.  Where is Flip Wilson when you need him.  For those who feel that Robertson has it figured out I do point them to reasonably recent comments he made on marriage and the benefits of marrying when the girl is still around 16 or 17 because once they hit their twenties, all they want is to pick your pockets.  Wow, pretty enlightened.  But again, I forget we are talking about Louisiana whose primary contribution to society has been muskrat stew and levees.

Phil_Robertson_football_throwing

Pre-Jesus Phil

I’ll admit, I’ve watched Duck Dynasty quite regularly and despite the religious overtones, the right-wing attitudes and the crap coming out of Phil’s mouth,  I did stay tuned given the entertainment value – nothing I haven’t had to tolerate in just normal day-to-day living.  To be honest, most of us know this was mostly schtick made up for the camera.  It wasn’t that long ago that none of the Robertsons had beards.  When the comments Robertson made in GQ came out and A&E initially suspended Robertson, I did take the time to let A&E know I supported their decision.  I guess I was in the minority as A&E has since managed to retreat from their position and reinstate Phil just in time for the filming of the next season.  In hindsight how stupid was I to think that A&E wouldn’t whore themselves out as soon as the dollars became the focus – in actuality that is what almost every decision in today’s world is really about.

DuckDynasty_not

So to follow a theme I’ve set in previous blogs, those of us who are somewhat educated and actually believe in human rights can speak equally loud on the reversal of A&E’s stance on Robertson by making it clear where we are spending our time and money.  If we don’t watch Duck Dynasty, that potentially drops advertising revenue.  I will not watch it again.  This is again an opportunity where we need to speak up and make it clear that there are some beliefs we can’t support.  And it’s not about Free Speech and First Amendment rights – nice try – you can all say anything you want – it’s just that the rest of the world has equal right to say what they won’t accept or support.  To stay on a theme – Most importantly we can speak thru our wallets.

A&E_not

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ENDA – Another National Disgrace for Nation – Boehner and the House

Today, the US Senate passed a bill banning workplace discrimination against LGBT individuals.  What you say?  It has not been illegal to fire people based on the fact they are gay or they are trans-gender?  No, in the United States while no one can can lose their job simply because of their race, gender, religion or a disability, they can because of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Of course, most all of the Fortune 500 companies (88%) have policies that cover this but there is no federal law that does.  The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is legislation that was proposed for the first time in 1994 in the United States Congress.  It prohibits discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees.  When I first read about this law I, like many, was surprised that we don’t have this law on the books already.  In fact, there are 29 states where it is perfectly legal to terminate the employment of an individual who may be gay or transgender. The reality is that it is legal to fire or refuse to hire someone based on his or her sexual orientation in 29 states. For those who are transgender they can be fired or denied employment solely based on their gender identity in 33 states.  Take a look at the map – won’t be real surprising which states but that is a whole other topic.   Pretty astounding when you think about it that in 2013, more than five decades after passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act and then subsequent passage of the American Disabilities Act, we still have a country where this can happen.  To be honest, this is one of those “duh” moments where you wouldn’t think there should be even a question – not like I’m forcing you to take healthcare.  But we have a couple of key problems we need to cover as we look at why this has been taking so long and why, given the stance taken by those broad and deep thinkers in the US House – John Boehner in particular.

capenda

Credit: HRC.org

The arguments justifying this continued discrimination are several:

First, of course is the idea that it is okay to discriminate if something goes against the tenets of your so-called religion.  One of the core objections against ENDA bases itself in the religious right and flails around with the oft-cited “religious freedom” banner.  That too has been the rallying call behind the forces that have tried to stop many other causes that have come about to right the wrongs many of our citizens have endured over the years.  I read it as “I should be able to discriminate against anyone and anything that doesn’t fit into my set of beliefs” – which of course makes sense because they are right and there are no other belief systems with any merit.  But try to challenge their rights in any manner and listen to the cries of discrimination.  They feel that this legislation affords special protection to a group that is not disadvantaged so it isn’t really an issue of discrimination.  I don’t know but when I look around and see the second class citizen status these people have been pushed into, seems a bit disadvantaged to me.  For anyone reading my blogs with any consistency, you will know I have little regard or time for those who profess religious base and demand special rights but don’t see the same rights for others and have no issue refusing to acknowledge that their view of the world, which might work for them, might not work for anyone else.   See how far I would get if I, as an atheist, decided not to hire anyone who believed in a God because it somehow appalls me.  Not sure that would fly.  Of course, the immediate response would be that I couldn’t do that because you can’t discriminate against an individual based on their belief in a God.  But believing in a God doesn’t fit into my belief framework around religion.  Where’s my religious freedom?  Again. ridiculous argument on one level but not sure where it is that different – mostly because reality and what is “real” as far as beliefs and what fits and doesn’t fit is in the eye of the beholder.  And in the case of these religious zealots, the eyes seem pretty well closed.  And, oh by the way, while I strongly disagree it since we are still allowing discrimination, religious organizations are provided an exception from this protection, similar to that found in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  So you already have your cake – you don’t need to eat it too.  We don’t have to live as you do (well, not that most of you really live what you speak – again, a whole other topic).

credit: http://www.believeoutloud.com

The Hypocrisy of it all
credit: http://www.believeoutloud.com

Now, onto John Boehner, the majority leader of the US House who has consistently demonstrated he doesn’t get that he is there at the will of the people in this country.  He, single-handedly, will keep ENDA from hitting the House floor and therefore will try to ensure we continue to allow states to discriminate.  Now, I happen to think that Johnny B. is somewhat of an asshole.  Okay maybe not somewhat but entirely.  Anyone who can effectively allow our government to shut down and bring us to the brink of default seems to have some flaws in leadership capability and really doesn’t get any points for style.  But I digress.  In the case of ENDA we see his opposition is really about jobs and the economy.  His spokesman, Michael Steel said the bill “will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs.”   Anyone seeing a pattern here.  I think he has one page of talking points and it is “one size fits all”.  Aside from helping continue the Republican death march they started with the shutdown last month, this stance continues to play politics with our citizens and their rights.  Not sure I understand the frivolous litigation other than the reality that we won’t allow businesses to discriminate in this area and we are protecting the rights of real people – doesn’t sound frivolous.  Also easy to fix – don’t discriminate.  I don’t know what you can do about Johnny boy here other than hope that the cigarettes and tanning booths actually take an early toll.  In the meantime, I do have to wonder what skeletons he has in his closet – he doth protest too much.

Maybe John has a small secret?

Maybe John has a small secret?

So why did this particular item lead me to a blog?  Despite the rant and the throwing of my usual rocks, I hope this one is a little educational.  I pride myself on being up on most things but was taken entirely by surprise on the issue behind ENDA.  This is a national embarrassment that needs to be rectified as soon as we can.  If it be by election (hopefully it won’t take that long) then we need to inform.

Okay, last surprise – Fox News didn’t see ENDA as a news-worthy item as it advanced toward the Senate vote today – and of the 4 minutes of coverage it got, two minutes was spent discussing how ENDA was a planned distraction to take attention away from coverage of Obamacare.

credit: mediamatters.org

credit: mediamatters.org

You mean Racism is still a problem?

Talk of the news stations last night and all the Sunday morning new shows this morning was unsurprisingly the “Not Guilty” verdict from the Zimmerman trial.  Like any trial with this much attention, the final verdict elicits a variety of responses that cover every gamut of the situation – whether legal, social, racial, etc.  To be honest, while I believe the situation to be a travesty – when a young life is lost it can’t be anything but that.  However, my biggest surprise was that it appeared the jury actually maintained a purely legal perspective and decision, not that Zimmerman was found Not Guilty.  Given the law in Florida and the points of consideration that should have been the focus, the outcome was not a surprise.  Sorry, the trial and it’s outcome isn’t really about the problem that a black child can’t get a bag of Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea without being concerned about being shot – despite the number of predominantly black panelists that made that the point of order this morning.  That argument isn’t going to bring anybody in this country closer to being open-minded and accepting.    Yes, a travesty and tragedy that speaks volumes of how we treat each other but it will not be fixed in the courtroom other than from a legal perspective.

That being said, there are obviously many more issues and factors in play here.  I was astonished with the number of panelists on news shows this morning that raise the specter that racism exists in this country.  Really?  I didn’t even think that was the elephant in the room.  I must have missed the announcement that we as a country have overcome bigotry.  I say bigotry because this problem challenging us is bigger than racism as the problem is bigger than the color of one’s skin.  In any case I would submit the first step, if we are to make any progress on the issues of how blacks are viewed and treated (a reality), we need to move from one case like this.  Turning the results and reactions to a specific trial into the rallying call or headline of actions is a risky and often “one step forward and two steps back” approach.  I remind everyone of the OJ Simpson trial and the reactions that followed.

It would seem to me it is more important to look at some of the broader questions and challenges here.

Haven’t heard much about gun control in this case – seems to me to be another poster child for why we shouldn’t just let any one walk around with a firearm.  Sure make the case that if Zimmerman hadn’t left his car, Martin would be alive.  Imagine if Zimmerman didn’t have a gun – he probably wouldn’t have even been out there on his neighborhood watch as this wasn’t a man who appeared to have a lot of extra testosterone – except when buoyed by a weapon.  Sounds familiar to many of our gun loving citizens.

More importantly, I’m going to position a view that will piss off many as it will be received as a statement that somehow attributes responsibility for the death of this young man and the bigotry as a whole back to the black community (or any minority community for that matter) which it does not because my point is really about us as a country and a society and the responsibility we owe to the society we live in.  And my position stands for any segment of our population, no matter the minority we speak to.  If you as a minority want to be treated differently and not be pre-judged, profiled, whatever, then practice what you preach.  Don’t expect that behavior in others if you can’t live it yourself.  In this case I will pick on the black community for one particular reason – the view of the majority of blacks towards the LGBT community is one of almost total intolerance.  I won’t start throwing the data out there but if we look at gay marriage, equal rights under the law, just a view of gays in general, the black community has a rather dismal history of anything approaching acceptance.  On the scale of bigotry, in this area it doesn’t look too good.  Yes, I know all about the religious basis of it all and I’m sure you can rationalize a great deal of it but at the end of it all, it is still bullshit.  I’m met many a racist who has easily found a rationalization for their view.

But until the minority segments of our society can show equal openness and acceptance to the LGBT community that matches what they want, expect and demand for themselves, my words to you are pretty much get ready for more of the same – it is unfair, it is unacceptable and it is horrific but if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.  Ye Reap what Ye Sow.  Karma’s a bitch.

Yep, we’ve got quite a journey ahead.

Consistency with Integrity – MIA

Just recently we had Jason Collins, NBA player reveal to the world he is gay.  The struggle this man had with life up to this point in time was obvious if you pay any attention at all.  In a testosterone driven business – sports in general – this is a brave man.  Not surprising, with little time to spare, we have one Chris Broussard,  sports analyst for ESPN and also a columnist for ESPN Magazine and ESPN.com, takes to the airways and during a segment on “Outside the Lines” a show discussing Mr. Collin’s and his decision to come out, decides it is the perfect time to express his personal beliefs.  He goes on to say “Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly … like premarital sex between heterosexuals.  If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says ‘you know them by their fruits.’ It says that, you know, that’s a sin.” He goes on to say “I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is…. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be… that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.”  He follows up in a later interview with an equally open-minded statement – one where he still sees hope for anyone who is gay – and he even admits he has a friend that is gay – “And if you stumble and fall, then you get back up, you repent and ask God for forgiveness, and you move on,” he said. “I think that applies to homosexuals as well.”  Okay, the man is entitled to believe whatever he wants – no matter how stunted and bigoted it is.   Using a national Cable TV show to express it seems a bit irrelevant and inappropriate given the topic at hand.   And of course, when confronted by irate viewers, ESPN wasn’t able to really man up and address the level of the issue here – maybe only my read of their released statement being pretty much non-committal and cowardly but I find it an action-less and unacceptable response – “We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement.”  Basically, sorry it disrupted the show.  And we have gay friends also.

But this isn’t really the problem here.  We have all encountered this prejudice and bible-thumping rhetoric at every stage of the game.  I think the bigger problem is really in the rest of the statement made by Broussard – let’s pay some attention to the “If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be” being a sin, then I don’t understand why Broussard hasn’t made it a focus to call out the rest of the NBA players who have obviously dabbled in those other areas of sin.  I have to wonder if he took on Kobe Bryant when he decided adultery was ok – I think not.  Not that I would know (or even really care) but do we really believe that Broussard never fornicated or had sex outside of marriage?  Maybe Broussard was able to maintain his celibacy not only thru college but for another 5 years after college until he got married but really?  Bottom line is I’m tired of all these people standing behind the façade of religion the teachings of the bible and then living life as they wish, basically screwing whoever – literally and figuratively – when the occasion or opportunity arises.   It is really time that people stop being sheep and start calling these people out – repercussions are a bitch and it is time we, as a society, make it clear you can’t say one thing and do another.

CHRIS-BROUSSARD

Again, maybe Mr. Broussard has lived an exemplary life and lives what he preaches – I still remind him that without the progress around diversity and inclusiveness this country has realized over the past decades, maybe he wouldn’t be able to share the same public bathroom with me or drink from the same water fountain.

And to ESPN  – get some balls.

Time to get off the Religious Bandwagon

Source and owner of picture = dingo.care2.com

Source and owner of picture = dingo.care2.com

With all eyes on the Supreme Court today with what will eventually be an historic ruling and leap forward, I still find it amazing the people who stand against what is an obvious (to some of us) civil right for our LGBT citizens.  It remains tiring and disheartening that I needed to have the conversation with my son today to not let this ongoing crap and the ignorant comments get to him as it is really just a matter of time as law catches up with where the majority in our country are going with gay rights and gay marriage.    Yes, it might not be this time around where we get it right but it is inevitable.  What is just and what is right will prevail.  We have time on our side as many of the naysayer’s are of that “Greatest Generation” and they will not die off soon enough.  Giving them that honor (Tom Brokow – you are undoubtedly an asshole) just because they served in WWII managed to dismiss the fact that they have been one of the most bigoted, most selfish and most self-entitled generation this nation has ever seen.  But I digress – we still have all the other bible thumpers – most of whom are religious in name only and then only when it serves their personal need.  These are also people who hide their prejudice behind some crap out of the bible – a novel from the hands of pure mortals at best.  I might have a little more respect if these same people actually lived their life based on the purported beliefs but these are the same people who make up the 41% of people in marriages that admit to infidelity or the 57% of men and 51% of women who admit the same (and these are just the ones who admit it).  If the bible is your only course of pushback to gay marriage, your platform is rapidly shrinking and will likely catch up to your brain shortly.

Source and owner of picture = i.imgur.com

Source and owner of picture = i.imgur.com

But again I digress.  I’m thinking that maybe it is time to take this same approach these anti-gay people are taking and start to apply it to other human traits/characteristics/whatever you want to call it but basically aspects of being a person that you really have no control over and were likely pretty much born with – yes, pretty much like those people who are gay ( and it you still believe it’s a choice, it is time to take that gun you are so afraid is going to be taken from you and do us a big favor and move ahead with an unassisted suicide event.)

Let’s look at a few of the options.

Intelligence – Maybe we need to start looking at people’s IQ as a means of differentiation and begin to allocate access to things based on level of intelligence.  Maybe if your IQ is under 120, you should be limited in access to certain societal institutions – like access to college or maybe even high school if you’re too far down that IQ scale.  Maybe we should limit the jobs available to these dumbbells as our economy as an institution is one we should be protecting from those who contribute little.  You can still get married but only to other people of lower IQ but I think we might want to limit your ability to have a baby as if you aren’t able to really add to the family as an institution in a positive sense, maybe a limit is in order.   Not sure you should be able to drive a car – I don’t think I need to elaborate on the benefit of that direction – have you been out there on the road recently?

Attractiveness – We could look at how attractive people are and limit certain access based on where they are on the ugly scale.  We could actually memorialize height and weight as a differentiator.  As I understand it there are many clubs that ugly people already can’t get into.   There are other aspects of this that exist already so this one is already underway.

Statistic Verification
Source: American Psychological Association, Smart Money, Princeton University
Research Date: 11.27.2012
Attractive People Success Statistics Data
Percent chance an attractive person will receive a callback after an interview 72.32 %
Percent chance an unattractive person will receive a callback after an interview 62.02 %
Percent more that attractive workers earn than unattractive 10 %
Average lifetime earning difference $230,000
Average salary for people with low self-esteem $50,323
Average salary for people with high self-esteem $78,927
Average salary for someone who was 6’0″ at age 18 $51,880
Average salary for someone who was 5’1″ at age 18 $40,000
Percent of salary increase with each standard deviation increase in facial symmetry 8%

I won’t belabor the points here but at some level this is all wrong.  And it seems stupid when you put it on paper but yet it is not all that different.  Discrimination is wrong no matter the justification or rationalization.  It is not up to any one individual or group to limit the access a person has to that society has to offer or to impede their ability to live a life equal to the rest of us based on their own personal beliefs.  I’ve said it before and I don’t know how people don’t see it (maybe it’s the intelligence factor cited above) but just because you believe something and choose to live your life a certain way doesn’t give you the right to force that on everyone else. I do wonder what you are really scared of because that is the only thing that explains this unthinking and unfeeling behavior.   Your justification, usually based on some religious doctrine or belief, doesn’t hold water into society today.  We don’t all want to follow your God (and most of you really don’t anyhow) and we don’t want your rules to be our rules.  I don’t force my ways or beliefs on you – I might think you are stupid or an asshole – but I’m not asking you to do it my way.  And don’t limit my son’s ability to live and enjoy life to its fullest.  When you do I don’t just think you are stupid or an asshole – you have removed all doubt.

It’s not the demeanor, stupid!

Wonder how Ryan’s mom feels being one of the 47%?

It has been a while since my last post and to be perfectly honest I have pretty much tired of this presidential campaign as I can hardly bear to listen to Romney and Ryan as they manipulate and lie their way forward. I can only hear so much garbage and can only tolerate those who continue to not see anything problematic with the shifting sands in which their campaign run sits. However, after the last debate with Biden and Ryan, to hear the differing perspectives of who won, who was more professional and/or stately, whatever, it become entirely clear that the details really don’t matter to most. We have reached the point where it is less about what really is impactful and critical to our future and more about whether the candidate presented themself in a way that meets our expectations. To be honest, I would rather have someone who I feel is honest about who they are and how they feel. I find Biden’s dismissal of Ryan as basically a liar and a lightweight actually refreshing – not only because I agree but mostly because I know that is really how he feels. This positioning and guidance that Obama got for the first debate not to get angry and not to show his true feelings I believe did more harm than good. And in typical Republican style, Mitt took quite the advantage of it and has continued to pound his chest and throw off all that recently found testosterone – which was usually more reserved for Ann Romney.

It is time to really get angry and more aggressive in light of what lies ahead as potential consequences. To be at this point in the election and still be undecided speaks more to someone not really paying attention or someone who really has no stated values or philosophical stand on life. This is symptomatic of our arrival at being a society where People Magazine is the literary choice of most, the Kardashian family a focal point of many and how we look is less important than who we really are. Pretty sad but also something that explains the lack of real attention to detail.

I don’t think that everyone else needs to believe what I believe or feel strongly about those issues I find important. But you have to stand for something. You have to know what is important to you and what will make a difference.  To be undecided and to have your decision on who you vote for based on whether Joe Biden interrupted too much (was it only me who thought Romney did a bit more butting in) or snickered more than you thought was right, I find that mind-boggling. What really set me off was an item I saw right after the debate this past week. I actually read a twitter comment from someone who was part of a group our local paper (a bastion on inadequacy in its own right) that after watching how Biden comported (my word) himself in that debate, she was changing her vote.   Amazing – but not really a surprise given the “undecideds” still on the fence. If you are still undecided at this point I would submit you did not pass the litmus test of having enough intelligence to actually vote – or you have been in a cave for the past 11 years and didn’t see what had brought this country to its knees. But that is my concern – to think that Romney might win and it not be because people agree with his policies (what ever they are today) or what he will likely change is disheartening – it is because of some shallow, really unimportant factor like whether you like someone’s demeanor.  Look, I think Romney is a flaming asshole and is so far away from what it most people’s life experience that his ability to understand or relate is non-existent. But if I believed in his policies and his direction for America, his persona is of less importance. Sure we want likeable. But that won’t cut it. As I recall, the Bush the 2nd polls showed him as someone with whom you would want to have a beer – unfortunately that “likeability” can now be enjoyed by almost 7000 less American military people given the execution of his policies and his view of what was good for the US.

This time around, I see there are several key areas where you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to recognize a difference between the candidates. You don’t need to agree but recognize what you will get on each side. My list of what is important:
1. Equal Rights for our gay citizens – whether you want to recognize it as the same as the rights won by minorities over the past decades, gay rights and equal right to marriage and the perks that go with it will not move ahead in a Romney win.
2. Women’s reproductive rights and their ability to control their own destiny – I still remain in awe of the women that support Romney. His abortion and birth control agenda will move our country back 50 years.
3. Abortion – related to above but important enough to put as its own headliner. Still trying to overturn Roe v Wade 40 years later – persistent but not based on what the American people want.
4. Religious Freedom – or what is in reality the installation of religious intolerance of anyone who doesn’t believe as I do or doesn’t hold the same view of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I could give two shits about what you do and how you do it in your personal space – but don’t limit mine. I won’t tell you what to do beyond stay out of my life and how I live it.
5. The poor and the needy – as if they haven’t had it tough enough already. Sure there are those who suck off of the rest of us but let’s not ignore our responsibility to those who are really in need – not going to happen with Romney – once politics are aside, it is back to Republican tactics and focus on the rich getting richer.
6. Behind most everything – who sits on the Supreme Court – do we want another Scalia? Do we want more political leaning and furthering of a right leaning agenda? It is likely the next 4 years will bring us at least one appointment of a new justice – and the current tenuous balance will disappear with a Romney administration.

Sure the economy is important but it is and will continue to improve. Not my hot button since I will likely be okay no matter who is in the Whitehouse and probably better with the Republicans but that really doesn’t sit well – we aren’t great as a country because we only care about our own self-interest. Bringing back the policies of yesteryear and depending on trickle down economics flies in the face of reality. There is quite a bit of money sitting in corporate coffers (keep in mind that corporations are people too) and they are doing nothing to take care of the workers – middle class or not.  They are the rich and well-off – and they have been at the core of much of the pain of the middle-class.  Do we really think corporate behavior will change?  It will only to the extent that their profits are larger – and profits at the expense of everything else.

An uncanny resemblance – has anyone checked Ryan’s birth certificate? (A “Saved by the Bell” moment – who could forget Screech – no doubt one of the more annoying characters from kid’s TV)

 

Now, quick comment on the debate this week – townhall-style, questions I believe from the audience. If I could have my wish, I’d love to see a “Michael Dukakis” moment where Romney can’t hide behind his corporate and political persona. I’d ask him “what are you going to do and what is your first action when one of your sons announces he is gay?”.

Let’s really see what kind of person we have here.

Best of the Best and Worst of the Worst

There are very few people I really see as really good people.  I was lucky enough to find one of them who actually agreed to marry me 31 years ago – definitely a crap shoot on her part but no doubt great for me.  I don’t think I’m one of those good people – I’m not a bad person but I come no where close to membership in that group of those who are truly good from the heart.  So when I see one of them (and I think in these times it is relatively rare), I notice and appreciate.  There is one person of whom I consistently see as an appropriate role model as one of those rare people.  I’m never sure what brings someone to be truly good but I have to believe that a part of that is overcoming some adversity (beyond the norm) at some point in their life that opened them to an awareness, empathy and caring most of us will never realize.  Could only be me but just watching what these people do and the ease with which they do it somehow makes me feel better in general and gives me hope in times where I often wonder what happened to us as people.

 

Credit: “Just be Nice” Facebook page

 

So, in following a recent theme of also trying to recognize people in a positive way instead of only focusing on the jerks and low-lifes (no that won’t go away – that’s one of the benefits of not being in the group of good people), I want to add someone to that list of day-to-day heroes.  This person has been someone I have often seen and commented on how nice she is.  I was again reminded this morning as I did my time on the treadmill and wandered around the TV channels and found myself settled on watching the Ellen DeGeneres Show.  This is after watching CNN and MSNBC for awhile amidst the current rising tensions and anger against America on the other side of the world.  Ellen has got to be one of the nicest (and bravest) people out there.  I don’t watch her show often but given the number of times she reaches out to help others in the shows that I see, I can only imagine it happens all the time.  I get no sense of self-aggrandizement (which I see in many other celebrities – I’m always suspect of Oprah ) – more a sense of probably how good it makes her feel that she makes others feel.  Ellen has no doubt gone thru some tough times in her career and the treatment she has often received has been shameful but here she is looking outward and past those who would put her somewhere out of sight, and trying to add positive to the world, one step at a time.

So today, the Hero of the Day award goes to Ellen – thanks for being one of those people who can make us all feel good and set an example the rest of us should strive to match.

Ellen DeGeneres – One of the “Good” ones

 

I would like take a moment and mention the tragic events in Libya yesterday.  I am sure all our thoughts and sympathies go out to the friends and families of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya and the others (at least one who is American) whose lives were so needlessly taken yesterday.  These are brave people (in each embassy we maintain around the world) who are all too often at risk.  While most of Ambassadors face a good deal of risk, Chris Stevens put himself unselfishly at risk taking on this role in Libya.  He is a hero in his own right.

Given the murder of our citizens in Libya, I have been moved to create a new award I’m putting out there that will sit alongside the current “Head in the Butt” award.  (See, I said I wasn’t going to be going entirely positive.)   The risks our ambassadors and their staffs face just as a normal course of business should not be further increased as a result of actions of people who stay safe back in the US.  To look at this in the broadest sense, any US citizen that leaves the relative safety of our shores is actually put at increased risk as a result of these people who are more focused on personal attention and influence than demonstrating broader concern for others.

While I hate to give this person any more attention than needed (which is really none), in reading thru the news this morning, I picked up on a name I haven’t seen in a few months who has again stepped into the limelight to further his own intentions, again without concern for how others are affected.  Pastor Terry Jones originally gained both national and international attention when he notified the world he would be burning the Quran (or Koran – multiple spellings are out there) on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  He initially agreed to not complete that act and managed to wrangle a new car or two out of the deal but then apparently could not do without the attention and went ahead a completed the burning around six months later.  This resulted in the first blood on his hands as there were 12 people killed in the ensuring violence that predictably followed his actions.   This lowlife, who has announced his candidacy for President in the 2012 election, made a very public endorsement of this anti-Muslim film that has led to the increased violence we are now seeing in Libya, Egypt and Yemen.  While maybe not directly attributable to his support and advocacy of this film, I would offer he carries more blood on his hands for these latest killings as it is at a minimum felt that the increased violence was possibly a cover for the attacks on the US Embassy.

I would suggest the actions taken by Jones borders on historical limits to free speech, the classic being you can’t yell fire in a movie theater and maybe it is time we, as a country, look a little more at our assumed freedoms and take these people to task.  As it is, Pastor Jones (there’s that religious connection again), you are lower than whale shit – only matched by the Westboro Baptist Church who I expect will slink from whatever holes in the ground they inhabit to share views similar to Jones at some point.  For today, though, Pastor Jones, you get the honor of being the first recipient of the “Shitbag” award.  This is the only area where I hope my views as an atheist are wrong and you actually get to spend eternity burning in hell.

 

Pastor Terry Jones – Shitbag of the day

Why is it always these religious assholes?

I strongly doubt that I am on the front edge of putting out there the recent news about a Maryland politician and local pastor, Emmett C. Burns Jr. and his letter to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens regarding statements made by one of the Raven players on support of gay rights but the news and particularly the supporting letter back to Burns from a teammate were so impactful I thought I’d re-post it in case anyone reading this blog missed it.  I apparently did (sometimes too busy to keep up with the news and not a strong sports news person) but as soon as my wife pointed this news item out to me, my immediate response was “need to get it out in my blog”.

Quick facts –  Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has spoken out in favor of a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize gay marriage.  Burns shot off a letter on Maryland House of Delegate letterhead to Ravens owner Steven Bisciotti seeking action against Ayanbadejo.  That letter follows.  An NFL teammate of Brendon,  Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s, then shot off a response to Burns – and it has to be one of the best letters/responses to an asshole of Burns caliber that I have ever read – I can only dream of writing so clearly and thoughtfully.  Not a whole lot more comment necessary on Chris Kluwe’s note – pretty much sure most thinking people would pretty much read it and go “f”ing A” – nice response.

So, first, Pastor Dimwit’s letter:

Credit: Yahoo Sports

This is even better given Burns is black and should be a bit more understanding of prejudice and equal rights – but then again, many of these small thinkers don’t take it that far – pretty much a view of “I’ve got mine – time to shit on others”.

Now the best part.  The reply from Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe:

Dear Emmett C. Burns Jr.,

I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland’s state government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail (you may want to hire an intern to help you with the longer words):

1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should “inhibit such expressions from your employees,” more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person’s right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.

2. “Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment, and excitement.” Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who’s “deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland”? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you’re going to say that political views have “no place in a sport”? I can’t even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for “beautiful oppressionism”).

3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life? If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you’ll start thinking about penis? “Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!” Will all of your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely, since gay people enjoy watching football too.)

I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?

In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter, in some small way, causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot in mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I’m fairly certain you might need it.

Sincerely, Chris Kluwe

P.S. I’ve also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you can take your “I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing” and shove it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy piehole and choke on it. Asshole.

So today, I’m going to begin a new award.  In the spirit of trying to be more positive than my usual negative intent, I want to actually recognize these two NFL players who have taken that step forward and taken us a little bit forward to progressive thinking on one hand (Brendon) and calling an asshole an asshole when deserved on the other (Chris).  In both cases a role model that is critical in moving this country forward.

Brendon – congrats on being the first recipient of the “Hero of the Day” award –

Brendon Ayanbadejo – Baltimore Ravens

We have a “twofer” today as I would also like to recognize Chris for his elegant and impactful response –

Chris Kluwe – Minnesota Vikings

Of course, given this attention and what would seem to be extra outrage back at the man, Pastor Burns has now done a quick turnaround and has made statements supporting Brendon Ayanbadejo’s right to state his opinion.  Of course that goes without saying (or should).  However, no apologies for recognition of his obvious step over the line.  In any case, here is an person whom deserves some extra attention.  And of course, it wouldn’t be me without doling out a “Head in the Butt” award when so obviously deserved.

So here you go Pastor Burns – no doubt Jesus would be proud –

Maryland politician and minister Emmett C. Burns Jr.

And thank you for re-affirming my decision to embrace atheism and for also showing that the Republican party doesn’t have all the miscreants.

Pat Robertson – Where are you now? And Congratulations.

Where is Pat Robertson, that man so much in touch with God, with a proclamation as to why the RNC is being interrupted by Isaac?  He has often shared his view of how God has punished people, cities, countries, etc. due to their beliefs, decisions or lifestyles.  What does the track of this potentially devastating storm (at least to the US mainland – not so potential to Haiti and Cuba so far) show as far as God’s view of the Republican Party in 2012?

Pat ever so gently showing his true feelings to everyone who doesn’t share his beliefs.

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Katrina killed 1,836 people, Robertson implied on the September 12th broadcast of The 700 Club that the storm was God’s punishment in response to America’s abortion policy.

After a series of horrendous tornadoes in the Midwest earlier this year, Pat shared on The 700 Club – “If enough people were praying [God] would’ve intervened, you could pray, Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms.”

In 2010, Robinson weighed in on the deadly Haitian earthquake that killed thousands of people.  His view – the earthquake is God’s vengeance for a “pact” Haitians swore to the Devil. Robertson said Haitians have been cursed because they made a “deal” with the Devil to free themselves from the French. He said even after the French were gone, the Island of Haiti has been cursed by “one thing after the other.”

Robertson declared last August the earthquake that struck the Washington DC region “means that we’re closer to the coming of the Lord.” “It seems to me the Washington Monument is a symbol of America’s power. It has been the symbol of our great nation. We look at the symbol and we say ‘this is one nation under God.’ Now there’s a crack in it… Is that sign from the Lord? … You judge. It seems to me symbolic.”

In the wake of 9/11, Robertson, in discussion with Jerry Falwell, suggested that the United States “deserved” the attacks for its “tolerance of secularism, gays, abortion, feminists and pagans”.  This sort of f’kd up view of how God works and that he is a being that can withdraw his protection from the United States (or any country, people, whatever) based on the country’s morality again provides even more support of my beliefs as an atheist.

While I am usually moved to make this award to people based on what they have said as of recent, today’s “Head in the Butt” award goes to Pat for what he hasn’t said. Way to go, Pat!

Ricky Santorum – boy have we missed him!

I will admit fodder for blogs was much easier when Ricky was still in the hunt for the Republican nomination.  After realizing that most of Republican America still saw him as the jerk and reprobate that Pennsylvania voters realized several years ago, he quickly put his tail between his legs and took refuge somewhere no doubt where 21st century thinking was still decades away.

Freedom – as long as your believe what I do!

But, hallelujah, glory be, HE IS BACK! (that is the closest to a religious fervor I can get).  Yesterday, Ricky shared his opinion that President Barack Obama is “directly assaulting” religious freedom and that his administration has implemented policies that force Catholics to abandon their faith.  Now, while I understand this is politics and that Santorum plays to a select few (none of whom I can personally admit to being an acquaintance), I think Ricky really needs to understand that most Catholics, if we use their support and aherence to the beliefs of the Catholic faith, have long abandoned the rules set by the Catholic Church without help from the present administration.  I also have to wonder where Ricky’s wife, who managed to cohabit, un-married, with a renowned abortion doctor, the founder of Pittsburgh’s first abortion clinic in the 1970′s, for several years pre-Ricky, really feels about all this.  She has no doubt hit the confessional a few times – nothing a couple of Hail Mary’s can’t fix.

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers as far as Americans who are Catholic and their adherence to the faith.  In full disclosure, I am a longstanding atheist so I have issues with most any religious belief – while I’ll defend to the end your right to believe whatever you want, I’ll still never understand how you can believe what you do.  I will admit I just happen to find the Catholic belief structure and the Pope particularly abhorrent.

Hmm…Birth Control – while the more non-catholics find birth control morally acceptable than catholics, it isn’t by much.  More important, 8 in 10 catholics don’t align with their faith.  I guess most of these people won’t be abandoning their faith because of Obama – they left long ago.

This next chart is even more interesting.

Quite a bit to highlight here – but the data in the chart is pretty clear.  The majority of Catholics polled seem to fall on the wrong side of sticking with the mandates of the Catholic faith – even the church going Catholics.  Even more amazing is that more church going Catholics see abortion as morally acceptable than non-Catholics.  Quite a few of them gambling also.

Here’s another surprise (not) – not alot of support of the Catholic Church in general by Catholics – aside from a great number of beliefs remaining in the dark ages, I guess the abuse of little boys hasn’t help the cause much.

So at the end of the day, Ricky, I give to you the latest “Head in the Butt” award.  There was no question among the voters and I expect this will not be the last time you get this honor given there is still a few months to go and you will be out there helping Mitt.

Ricky has also started to weigh in on Paulie R.

“What Paul Ryan stands for in conservative circles and in the media and in this country, for those who know him, is someone who is willing to challenge the status quo and have bold ideas to confront the problems of this country in a truthful fashion,” Santorum said.

Yes, there is no doubt Paulie comes to the table with some bold ideas.

From Thinkprogress.org –

“Ryan embraces the extreme philosophy of Ayn Rand. Ryan heaped praise on Ayn Rand, a 20th-century libertarian novelist best known for her philosophy that centered on the idea that selfishness is “virtue.” Rand described altruism as “evil,” condemned Christianity for advocating compassion for the poor, viewed the feminist movement as “phony,” and called Arabs “almost totally primitive savages.”

Wow – she sounds more like a 2012 Republican than a professed libertarian.