MISSION STATEMENT

If any man is able to convince me and show me that I do not think or act right, I will gladly change; for I seek the truth by which no man was ever injured. But he is injured who abides in his error and ignorance. ~~Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book VI

The Conversation We Need to Have About Gay Rights

gay agenda I have a friend who often wonders why people care about the personal lives of other people. Why does anyone care whether somebody chooses to be single or married, have children or not, wants to sleep with this one or that one? Yet, it is undeniable that some people do care. Perhaps it is nothing more than powerless people attempting to force their lives on others in some vain attempt to feel superior, because their choices are “right” and that makes them feel better about themselves.

Some small few no doubt have deeply seeded religious notions (however wrong I may adjudge them) that urges them to compel others to live as they do, while paying lip service to a “religious freedom” that they conveniently reserve only for themselves. A great many more use religion as a shield to their own perhaps unconscious fears that they have certain stirrings which occur when the subject comes up, stirrings contrary to their definition of fitting into their particular group.

As polling suggests, the country continues to move more and more strongly in the direction of marriage equality. And the small, but adamant religious right, continues to voice its disapproval. But if it were this alone, we could all be content to “let the hater’s hate” with their pretense of “hating the sin, while loving the sinner.” Life always contains such out of the mainstream extremes so it seems.

But it is of course not “this alone.” This vocal and increasingly violent speaking segment continues to come up with innovative ways of making their animus known and felt. In reddish states across the nation (some six at the present with another half-dozen who have recently turned down such legislation), Republicans attempt to legislate bigotry in the face of a growing certainty that marriage equality will soon be the law of the land.

Republicans in general and those who appear to be running for President, reel like drunken sailors attempting to negotiate a rational path that both satisfies the “law or the one anticipated” and their growingly hostile base which insists on purity on this issue as on others. Of course there ends up being nothing rational at all in their stance.

Bush, Rubio, and Cruz are more than vocal in their support of the new mantra, that somehow there must be laws to protect the “religious” rights of people not to engage with gay people in their businesses if they don’t want to. There is no doubt that Huck, and Christie and Paul, and certainly Carson and Jindal agree as well. The fact that the argument is farcical is of no import. It “sounds” good, and that is always enough for the Right to pursue against a populace usually too busy with daily life to seriously disassemble the argument.

It’s all about religious freedom and not discriminating against Christians they intone. But is it?

As Jon Stewart pointed out, the florist who can’t bring themselves to sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding, doesn’t even ask the trice about-to-be married man or woman, whom arguably Jesus would call adulterers. It doesn’t inquire into the criminal background of the pedophile, or the swindler before selling them a bouquet for their home. It doesn’t inquire of the drug dealer, murderer, before selling them the “wedding special.” All these instances are surely as egregious to God as the couple who has the temerity to love without benefit of the “right” plumbing arrangements.

These pieces of legislation are simply ruses to make you and I abide by somebody else’s personal preferences or to guard against their personal fears. Naming it “God’s will” doesn’t change a thing.

People talk about “deeply held religious beliefs” on the part of the florist or photographer. How is one to make that determination? By asking? By church attendance? By tithing amounts?

People talk about “next church’s will be forced to perform marriages against their tenets.” Really? Who has ever asked for that? There is no law in this country that attempts to interfere directly in church operations. Is anyone stopping the Westboro Baptist church from preaching hate every Sunday? Has anyone suggested that we should?

People talk about forcing people to serve others against their religious views. Well, yes, they are being told that. They are serviced, those businesses, by fire and police, they pay taxes, they receive water and electricity, the meet building codes, and sanitation requirements. They are in a fact engaged in a public endeavor, using city and state services. They are in a phrase, engaged in commerce, a public event. As such, this is simply one more general requirement of engaging in a public business–NOT DISCRIMINATING AGAINST PEOPLE BECAUSE THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT THEM YOU DON’T PERSONALLY LIKE. Live with it, or get out of public sector business.

People like Rubio and Bush and Cruz attempt to draw some lines, such as “well we don’t mean they can’t be served in a restaurant.” Why not? How is that different from a florist? Which businesses are magically exempt? Will Hobby Lobby and it’s fakery about being offended by contraceptive care when it buys most of its inventory from abortion friendly China get the exemption?

People say that being gay is a choice. The question always becomes, so when did you “decide” to be straight? But putting aside the “gotcha”, why do religionists insist upon this “choice” thing? The weight of the evidence is that there is a genetic component which probably is in some way triggered by one’s environment. Or perhaps it is all genetic. Whatever it is it is not a choice, for even in today’s liberalizing environment, who would choose gayness with all its inherent problems? Surely more gays today are happy with their gayness, but at the point of decision would they have chosen this fight? Precious few of us desire to be martyrs.

The reason the religionists need gayness to be a choice is that is simply solves a lot of theological problems for them, and thinking makes religionists heads hurt. If it’s not a choice, then God made gays that way and it must be good if you read Genesis literally. So explain why God makes gay people and then demands of them to ignore the most basic of human needs and desires–sex? They can’t of course, so therefore, it must be a choice. It keeps the theology tidy.

And of course, if Gay is not a choice, there goes the argument that “gays are out recruiting your children” argument. It makes as much sense as saying that people who love surfing go out recruiting your children to be surfers.

This is just painful to write. Because as I type away, laying out the arguments, I try to imagine what it must feel like to be the subject of such an essay. People talk about gays and blacks and browns and women, and all minorities fighting for equality as if they were subjects on a chessboard. I say “the gays” or “women believe” as if they were some homogeneous pat of butter to be added or subtracted to the mix of human stew.

This sort of thing needs to stop being discussed because we need to stop putting people in these awful categories of “people like me” and “people not like me.” It’s all artificial, all just a disguise for our own hates and fears, and confusion.

People are people. Love is love. Let people work out for themselves whom they love. Let them live as they choose with whom they love. Let them arrange their love in whatever form works for them, and mind your own freakin’ business. Nobody wants to watch you groping and rolling in your bed with your love.

Don’t get me started on “then somebody will want to marry a horse,” crap. Just don’t.

As my husband says, the doorbell has still not wrung with my government-issued gay husband that I have to marry. Isn’t that enough for you bigots?

 

Where Education is a Crime

BAHA'I If you know me you know that I value education more than just about anything. For most of us, education is available at the tip of a finger. It can be formal or not as the seeker chooses. It is largely free. There is no excuse for being ignorant.

Such is not the case everywhere. The people who don’t value education are ideologues. They are content in their beliefs, and education tends to upset that. They assault education by various guises by trying to label it as “liberal” or fantasy of one sort or another in some attempt to make it go away. So fearful are they that they ridicule it. Equality issues suffer from this onslaught and so do things like climate change.

A Facebook friend of mine alerted me to an instance of education suppression that is both appalling and telling. Telling because it so mimics what is going on in America today in certain conservative pockets in the country. That is, the attempt to rewrite history in some fashion that is deemed acceptable to a particular ideological mindset. In Texas and Kansas and Oklahoma, efforts go on to adjust American history to better suit the vision of the right-wing. This includes artificially creating a “Christian” framework to the foundation of this country, to downplaying America’s very real aggressions and misdeeds over the years.

Similarly Iran has tried to eliminate voices of education of “not the right sort” in its country.

One such voice is Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education (BIHE).  The Bahá’í faith values education and achieved a 100% literacy rate among women in Iran by 1973.

In 1979, the new regime in Iran expelled all Bahá’í professors and students from their universities. There are only four religions accepted in Iran today, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism. In 1987, BIHE was formed, teaching mostly through correspondence. It continues today online, albeit with a lot of care being taken avoid detection.

People who are members of the faith or involved in educational matters are subject to arrest as “spies” and purveyors of propaganda. The public, both professional and lay, has spoken out in dismay at this suppression of the right to be educated.

Today, graduates gain acceptance in graduate programs throughout the world, and in at least 30 universities within the US. This is testimony enough of the seriousness of the educational work being done “underground” in Iran.

This feels eerily like some of the rhetoric coming out of areas of the US today, where it now seems that one must be a Christian to be eligible to run for any government position, and one’s version of Christianity is now picked over and defined as good enough or not by some elements. The proof is in the right-wing belief in this country that our President is not “really a Christian” or not a good enough one to suit their evangelical proclivities.

The young people of Iran are in, as we all know, a repressive religion based regime, similar to the theocratic state that some want to erect in this country. In fact there have been articles in just the past day of the similarities in philosophy of the writers of a certain “open” letter to the Iranian regime, and the philosophy of that regime itself. Such is always the case when religion turns to its most extreme and “purifying” forms.

Those caught in the middle of course are all the sincere believers wherever they may be who are judged as blasphemers or apostates because they don’t align with the created principles of the dominant interpretation. Such are the Bahá’í faith adherents in general, and students who merely want an education, in particular.

If you want to help Bahá’í students, I urge you most sincerely to go to Education is not a crime. There you can find easy and effect ways to register your dismay and urge increasing pressure on the Iranian government to stop this absurd and ugly repression of education.

Join the Facebook Page.

Buy a t-shirt.

My deepest thanks to Darcy Lewis for bringing this to my attention. I had previously read a small bit about the faith and found it elegant, peaceful, and intellectually challenging. This is a good cause folks, and I hope you will take a few moments to offer assistance to the people of Iran in their struggle for what for you and I  consider easy–to simply learn the truth.

 

How I Learned to Love the Criminal Life

Vector-ThiefThis is a snoozer. Let me say that up front. I try in almost all cases to keep these posts fresh and snappy as well as informative. This is pretty much just the latter. If it helps you in some way, that’s extra good. But mostly it’s just to establish a public record and illustrate just how insane bureaucracy gets.

Once upon a time the ACA was passed. Let’s make this clear. I adore the President. I totally get why he pursued the formation of what we fondly call Obamacare. Facing Congress and its known excesses of idiots, he figured that a health care plan that they had originally put forth as the alternative to Bill/Hillary care would garner a fair number of Republican adherents and grease the skids for an easy passage.

We know that that did not happen. What follows is somewhat critical of the Act, but I am very grateful at the same time. I believe health care is the right of all human beings.

That said, here’s what happened to me.

I applied, ran into the usual snafu’s at the beginning and was left with not being “verified”. I waited several weeks and tried again only to find that the validating company no longer had my “ticket” and I could not proceed with my application. By phone I was able to do so and I don’t fault the workers who manned those lines to assist people through the process. Mine came up “may be eligible for Medicaid”. Even though common sense told me I was not eligible, I was forced to go through that process.

I went to a “facilitator” here locally in Las Cruces. She insisted that the Medicaid New Mexico laundry list of financial questions were “inappropriate” and that all that was required was how much my income was, meaning our combined social security checks. Even though I protested, she insisted and filed an application on my behalf.

Weeks later I and my husband received Medicaid cards and a stilted letter than required a phone call to confirm that we both were given Medicaid coverage. My husband bailed on that, since he is covered by the VA. I went about life, an ensured person, seeing my doctor and filling prescriptions amazed at the wonders of health care.

Until about three months went by. We received another letter from Medicaid NM, just as cryptic, requiring yet another phone call, all to confirm that my coverage had been cancelled. No explanation was ever forthcoming other than “somebody had approved your application by mistake”. They saw no reason to explain further.

I placed a call immediately to the Federal exchanges where after numerous apologies for the bonehead play by New Mexico they assured me that the for me, the exchanges were still open (even though it was July) since my original application would be marked as “still open”. They graciously completed my application, told me of my subsidy, and went through the various plans until I decided on one.

I contacted my new insurer, paid the premium and happily my doctor accepted them and life again returned to normal.

Starting in about October I started receiving solicitations from a dozen or more insurance companies for supplemental insurance to Medicare. I was advised that I needed one for sure. Before I could even contact Medicare to see about the process of applying (I would turn 65 in April of 2015), I got official stuff from Medicare.

What a delight I thought. I was “automatically” enrolled in Part A and Part B. It was up to me to decide whether I wanted any supplemental coverage. There was reference to a Part D Medicare for prescriptions I could buy but no mention of cost, other than it would cost something more.

I soon received more official stuff from Social Security, as it related to Medicare. I was told I “might be eligible for extra help in paying for prescriptions”. It had to do with being “low-income” and receiving other “supplemental assistance” of various kinds.

I immediately smelled a rat.

Sure enough an application was forthcoming wherein there was a the laundry list of financial questions that I knew would kick me out. How much do you have in savings and checking? List your investments. What is your mortgage? At the bottom of the form was something to the effect of “I don’t want to apply for Federal “extra help” but send my application to the state for consideration”.

There were no other choices. I sent the form back without filling out ANY of the financial information to conform to the requirement. I assumed that New Mexico would look me up, see that my Medicaid had been cancelled for “ineligibility” and then I could get on to the business of choosing a Part D provider.

Not so.

I received some weeks later, a letter FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT (DEPT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, from Maryland) advising me that I had been granted extra help and that I could choose from eight or so carriers. If I chose none, one would be assigned to me.

My frustration started to really grow at that point. I did nothing. A carrier was assigned to me, and I received a lovely packet of information from my new insurance provider and a shiny plastic card to show my pharmacist.

I put off the phone calls that I knew were necessary, and finally steeled myself to that event yesterday. I gathered all the various pieces of information, made sure I had all the identifying documents at hand, and called Medicare.

I explained that I had been given “extra help” for Part D coverage, and that I was, in my opinion not entitled to. I was even over the cut off based on my social security alone, without adding in our savings and investment portfolio. I was advised that New Mexico had granted the “extra help” and that Medicare couldn’t remove it. I was given the number to NM Medicare, which is not really Medicare at all, but Medicaid.

That call resulted in being told that “they had nothing to do with it at all, and I must deal with Medicare.

I called back Medicare.

Same result.

I called back Medicaid NM. Same answer.

I called back Medicare. Same answer

I called back Medicaid NM. This time they told me I needed to call NM Health and Human Services.

I did. Their menu had nothing about Medicare at all as far as I could see.

I called Social Security, “extra help” division. They gave me a history lesson in Medicare/Medicaid, and after assuring me they would help, told me that the document I had entitled Health and Human Services, from Maryland (denoting the US govt) was from New Mexico. I was advised to call NM HHS.

I called NM HHS. They actually looked up my old file, which is still current because at the age of 64, I still am able to receive family planning care at the state’s expense. If I’m ever declared as having a post-menopausal pregnancy, I’ll be the first to tell them and the world. She informed me that NOBODY there deals with anything like “extra help” nor Medicare. We didn’t do it she insisted.

I got in the car, drove to the Social Security Office. I explained my situation. “They are trying to give me extra help based on a mistaken belief that I am too poor to be required to pay,” I explained. They will come to correct that in a few months, and that might leave me without coverage, and my prescriptions are expensive. I am trying to clear up the problem now.”

He looked at me like I had landed from Mars. “So, he said, “you are getting Part D coverage but you don’t want it?”

“NO! It’s not that I don’t want it. I would love to have it. It’s just that I don’t think I qualify for it, and I don’t want to be stuck with no coverage when they inevitably figure that out. NOBODY will acknowledge that they gave it to me, so I can’t even discuss the qualifications with anybody. If by some miracle I am entitled, I’m happy to have it. But I can’t find that out until somebody admits they granted it. Somebody put an “approved” stamp on this. I’m trying to find that person/entity.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

He made a phone call. He called the new insurance carrier and said, “she is covered by you, but doesn’t want it.”

I demanded the phone.

I gave her the information, “my insurance number”.

She looked up the file. She said, “there was a cross over from your Medicaid coverage directly here.”

“But my Medicaid coverage was cancelled.”

“I understand what you are saying, but they did it anyway.”

“Who is they?”

“It does not say. It appears that your status as having Medicaid caused a cross over.”

“But everybody denies they did it.”

“Ma’am I do understand. I can cancel it if you wish, but that may open a can of worms for you in trying to replace it. There is on its face no justification for refusing it, and so they might not give you other discounts. I really can’t say. I’d just advise you to leave it be.”

I looked at the Social Security guy across the table from me.

“I give up.”

“I’ve called everyone, talked to everyone. No one will admit they approved my being placed on this plan, so I can’t even ask the question of on what basis I’m entitled. I was here. Note that in my file. I’m done.” He smirked as if he had won the battle on that one.

Here I stand, beaten.  I thought I was being an honorable and honest person. The system does not reward honesty, it laughs at it. This stands as a testament should I ever be called to answer for my crime of trying to do the right thing.

Please tell me you have run into equally stupid bureaucratic bullshit?

 

The Conversation We Need to Have on Race

Luther King Marches Like the post on war, this is a post I don’t write with joy. I write because sadly, it still needs to be said. But here I do not write in the anguish that I might hurt people I care about. I frankly don’t give a damn. For if you are hurt by what I say, then you damn well need to hurt because this shit has gone on quite long enough.

I don’t speak from some high mountain of arrogance, for I was raised in a racist environment where such things were taken for granted. I cast racial slurs as a child, mimicking the adults around me. No black face walked the halls of my high school or walked my neighborhoods let alone lived within it.

I was a child of the Civil Rights Movement, but surely not old enough to realize its importance at the time. Common sense, much touted as of late by a number of uneducated and thus defensive people I know, was not enough to show me or my friends and family that separating people by something so silly as skin color was stupid. It was not until I moved into the world and interacted with people of color that I realized the insanity of discrimination.

Later, I spent better than twenty years, living among, working with, loving, and befriending hundreds of people of color and  I saw all the more clearly how warped we become when we use such elements as divisions rather than celebrations of diversity.

We, in our days of college, when we sipped of the vine of how the world ought to be, and would be under our tutelage,  sincerely believed that all this would be behind us in the next generation, long gone by the 80’s, or at least by the 90’s.

There are a variety of reasons why this did not happen. Those who remained unexposed to integration through much of their adulthood did not move on to that better place. Much of it can be put at the feet of a misunderstanding of the role of truth and how it plays across the spectrum of the human psyche.

Those of us who are rational beings, driven by facts and rational conclusions think evidence, facts, and reasoned argument will carry the day. Truth changes mind we surmise.

But alas, it truly does not for a great portion of individuals. Study after study today shows that people in general, but most especially the conservative mind refuses to accept “facts” once their minds are made up. In fact, they become even more set in their error the more you present them with facts. They come up with all sorts of irrational reasons why they need not accept your data.  It is flawed (without explaining how), usually by being the product of “the liberal press”, a thing that in reality is hard to define, and harder to actually find.

When attacked for their intransigence, the bigot gets predictably defensive. Liberals are accused of “always playing the race card”. Worse, they attempt to adopt MLK as one of their own (he was a Republican they shout), but the ONLY phrase they know of all the things he said was the hope that someday little children would be “judged by the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin.” This they fervently insist is what they do. It’s not their fault that most of “those black people” whether they be young black men in low-hanging jeans, or incarcerated young black men, or poor women paying with food-stamps just “happen” to have no good character.

They are blind to the racism they exhibit even honestly, to the degree that they now accuse liberals of being the racists. This comes from the usual cesspool of right-wing media efforts used to gin up their fear while at the same time sanctifying their hate. Suddenly the Democratic Party “uses” blacks for votes while keeping them enslaved. Presumably Democrats and liberals in general aren’t versed in the “tough love” that conservatives know needs be employed to force “these people” to stand up for themselves and take charge of their lives in the white American” way. There are always the black Toms willing to dance to the conservative tune in return for a pretence of acceptance and a moment in the spotlight.

Nobody, it is true, wishes to face their own irrational hatred. Conservatives can be forgiven in some sense for their failures, but that does not mean that we can stop pushing back against the insidious evil of their defenses.

America is still racist. And it may be that it will remain so for a good long time to come, until at least every vestige of “that’s the way those people are” is eradicated from the family conversation. When aunt Carole and grandpa George have finally died and their anecdotes have finally vanished from family memory, maybe we can get beyond this ugly impasse.

The nativism which strangles us today in the guise of a vocal and ugly minority who can’t stop railing against “illegals” will, with the turn of time and the grace of God, be stamped down once again and relegated to the dust bin as it should be. Immigrants, ALL illegals at one time, built this country into what it is today. We cannot escape ourselves no matter how much we run. Meanwhile, millions suffer from the ubiquitous “other” leveled at them in the guise of “illegal” and cantaloupe calves”.

Ferguson shows us white folks what black folks have always known. We are deeply racist, unconsciously and consciously so. We make jokes at the expense of people based solely on their color, though we quickly give excuses as to why it’s about something else. That in itself should alert us that we still are diseased.

The abuses of Ferguson are appalling. They “shock the conscience” as the Supreme Court once announced. Yet they are not news to African-Americans ANYWHERE in America. It is not shocking to many of us whites either, at least those of us who have close ties to minority groups and have experienced first hands the uneven-handedness of law enforcement vis-a-vis black and brown communities.

This racism which is still so rampant has lain dormant in the public mind for decades. In some real sense Obama’s presidency has brought these things to the forefront. The incessant clamor by some members of the hardest of Right wing apologists that Obama is not a “real” American, not like us, not American at all, but Kenyan, not a Christian, thereby raising a religious test the opposite of that which faced John F. Kennedy regarding concerns about his Catholicism, has ironically brought forth exactly what they did not want. People are talking about the elephant in the room again.

So in some sense, the ugly racism expressed by the Tea Party at their rallies with their placards, and the “jokes” discovered in emails of elected Republicans, has served to bring the issue back to the fore. People who from some insane sick place in their minds refer to the President of the United States as the “anti-Christ” and a “monkey” have reaped their own whirlwind.

They have done the fine job of reminding us who have become complacent, that indeed this is not a post-racial world at all.

When I hear people become indignant that this official or that one fails to tout American exceptionalism, I cringe. With a history such as ours, starting with the near genocide of our Native Peoples, where do we get this notion of being exceptional? America started out an amazing dream, yet we had already begun our destruction of Native Peoples before we  began. And we continued it and racism long after, flouting in some real sense the flowery language of Jefferson’s Declaration.  We may forgive Jefferson as a man of his time, for the “all men are created equal” not meaning either women or men of color, but we cannot forgive that that failure proceeded to this very day.

People who have to “blame” some “others” for their own failures in life, must get up the courage to face themselves and their racism. They must admit that they have and do judge people based on a physical reaction to the color of their skin. Judgements are made immediately about their value, their likely occupation, and a whole host of attributes which are then barriers that must be overcome before they consider them in any way, “equal.” And in most cases this equality doesn’t extend to welcoming “them” into their families as relatives, or close friends.

There is no scientific evidence that color has anything to do with intelligence. Racial distinctions are not scientific by any standard, but are political constructions made for reasons of discrimination. 

As much as it may pain you to alter your thinking, you must do it. Justice demands it. And decency demands it. God demands it. Stop the madness. HONOR SELMA!

DC Teaparty rally

DC Teaparty rally

racist-hang-in-there-obama

 

Chit I Learnt on the Facebook

facebook-for-learning I am all for learnin’ as much as possible. I figgure it all works for better job placement in heaven. I aim for something big like Minister of Silly Walks. Or maybe Heavenly Math. I am purdy sure it’s a damn sight easier than Earthly Math.

Anyways, I’ve taken to the Facebook for extrE-curricular learnin’ and boy I ain’t a been let down a smidGeon.

I am gonna share some with ye all, so you ain’t quite so dis- un- (one of those) informed.

Firsty, go to the “Wall” of the people you are seekin’ in enlightenment from. The Wall is where they post personals about theyselves, like height, weight, eye color (no that’s the drivin’ card shit).  Anyways, they share stuff.

Like, relationships: some say “none yer bizniss”. This means it ain’t but that just makes ya try all the harder to find out if they are gay. If’n that matters to ye, well, they got “pages” where you can be against that sorta thing or for it as the case may be,  and argue with people who just like to argue about everything.

Beware of relationships that say: complicated.  They ain’t actually no complicated about it. They wife kicked them to the curb and says they are dirty dogs, but they are hoping to stop drinkin’ long enough to win ‘er back, sumday in the near future, if the price of beer goes up too high and TVLand stops showin’ reruns of Andy Griffin.

Then look at they EduKashun: Some just tell ya flat out, “hell I gave it all up after the state stop makin’ me go.” Others write a laundry list of letters and high-falootin’ universe-ities. You can look ‘em up I guess, but most don’t bother I don’t think.

If it says, “studied at” then ya know they took a couple courses at the local community college that they needed for their job. Like “hey Fred, can you try to do the books too? I hear that the col-lage here has a bookkeepin’ class.”

I mentioned “pages”. There be thousands of those I think. They are usually about specific things, like stamp collecting (always a good subject to know when you can’t find a stamp. Collect ‘em and you’ll never have to be late on that ‘lectric bill agin. (I like to give ya tips along the way folks. Just an added pleasure of mine and a bonus for readin’.)

Anyway, you can find pages on most anything. Like how to cook better brats and how to make a better mouse trap (sit real quiet by a piece of cheese with a hammer works darned good) TIP #2.

I been to some that invites Godly people with UnGodly people. Those are a hoot. The Ungodly people call the Godly people names like “insane believer in pretend imaginary friend” and the Godly people pray for ‘em and warn ‘em they is headin’ for HELL. These folks never tire of the back and forth.

I had one on one of them pages tell me that according to his Atheist Starter Kit, it was dang impossible for a believer in the Sky God to also believe in evo-looo-shun and the old universe. He said that was insane. If that there Bible ain’t true in one little part, it ain’t true in any part. So says Atheist fil-loss-ofe. That must have come as a shock to that there Monsenior Georges LeMaître, a Catholic priest who sorta discovered the big bang theory. The Atheist,  he dint believe me, cuz that fundamentalist mind wouldn’t let him.  Can’t be shatterin’ illusions no way.

Oh, I forgets. Back at that Wall thing. Peoples sometimes write a little short ditty about themselves, like “mom to two frolicky kiddos and  wife to a super handsome husband, and maker of ceramic angels, for sale on my Etsy shop.” Stuff like that. If you see the word “conservative” or “liberal” don’t get into no conversation with them. They is gonna talk you ear off.

But beware of the conservative more than the other one. The liberal loves them some of that ed-U-Ka-shun and will just load you up with sites you never knew existed! They loves them some FACTS. So you cans act-tuly learn ya somethin’ from them if you can get ‘em to shut up long enough to go look. The conservative likes to conserve they brain cells (being mighty short of them in the first place), so they just tell ya shit and hope ya will buy it. They make it sound purdy, which is a tip-off they is lyin. (Tip #3)

Most Conservatives tell ya stuff they remember hearin’ on Fox. Even though everybody smart knows that Fox just lies, Conservatives don’t know that or don’t care and it’s not important which, cuz it all leads to the same end. They hates them people and things that don’t fit their world. See, long ago, each and every one of them Conservers looked about at the big old world and got scart as hell. And they created a safe place with people who looked like them, talked like them, acted like them, and thought pretty much like them. That made them feel safe, even though it didn’t make them that way.

So anyway, if anything is different it scares the bejesus out of ‘em and they start shootin’ at anything they see. Natcha-ly they are sure to make guns easy to git! You can unnerstan that now can’t ya? Why one of them Conservers told me, he’d a damn sight rather have common sense then a “librul arts edgy-kashun”.

Now you may wonder what this common sense is. Well common sense is to us folks, that which as I like to say, keeps a body from peeing on the potted plant in the front parlor as ‘pposed to the rightful place, the privy. But to a Conserver of the past and the way things never were but coulda been without all them others, common sense is the  magical ability to run most anything without knowing hardly anything about anything.

See, to us, common sense is given to most everyone, cept the really really stupid that would pee in the potted plant, but the Conservers it’s sumpin God gives to thems that don’t have no edgy-ka-shun in place of actual smarts that makes ‘em “feel” better about their lack of knowin’ about stuff. They gets them some in-2-ishun about how to do stuff and figures it works just fine. So they can spend their extrE time fishin’ and bowlin’ and making ceramic angels rather than readin’ them a book about say, astro-fizics.

They do ‘ppreciate them some smarts in a few things like doctors and such though. And they are might happy for ‘lectricity and planes that fly them fast from one place to ‘nother and so on. Practical science they calls it. Cuz their God said that was okay, practically speakin’.

I guess we could do okay even with these funny Conservers, if’n they didn’t vote. That’s the kicker. They vote and some of theirs run which is way worse than votin’ I tell ya. This years crop is full of the usual stuff that makes them happy conservin’ away. It’s just hard, cuz the smart people just wanna help fix ‘em and they won’t allow nobody to, cuz it’s safe where they are and they ain’t a gonna let nobody upset that shinin’ lamp they got stuck on they imaginary hill.

Oh beware most of all anybody who posts a lot of “if you love God” post this stuff. They are always thankin’ God for everything. I mean not that God shouldn’t be thanked of course, but I thinks that Jesus suggested  one do that in the privy of one’s own “closet” though why I gotta go in my closet I never been quite clear on.

I noticed that a whole bunch of those people who are all Godly now, well, I never heard ‘em once when we were kids ever talk about that stuff. Never mentioned, “oh gosh we had such a good sermon yesterday”. Never saw the hint of a prayer before lunch neither. But they got some Godly now. Which means God mostly must be talkin’ to old people cuz the older ya get on Facebook, the more Godly ya get it seems. God is prolly dying for some good hip-hop conversin’.

Anyway, I say beware of ‘em because I think they post that stuff as a way of trickin’ God. Cuz they sure are against things that would seem to be God’s ways, like feedin’ the hungry, and tendin’ to the sick. They don’t like the gov-mint to do it that’s for sure. And since the church ain’t be able to do it for better’n 2,000 years, well there’s a lot of hungry and homeless and sick folks that aren’t bein’ tended to.

That’s all I’m sayin. They talk real God-like, but they sure don’t act very much like God. Least as how I figure a good God would act if He wasn’t ‘spectin’ us to act for him. that is.

Anyway, that’s some of what I been learnin’ on the Facebook. What have you been learnin’?

The Conversation We Need on War

Refugees Fleeing ISIS Offensive Pour Into Kurdistan This is not a post I wish to write for a lot of reasons. Mostly it has to do with the fact that I recognize that my opinions here are not in line with the average American and that I have loved ones and friends who will and have disagreed with me in part or in whole. I don’t wish to insult, cause pain, or infuriate those I care about, but important issues do not benefit from pretending they don’t exist.

This all started, or should I say restarted for me with an editorial I read in the NYTimes yesterday which I urge you to read carefully here. It refers to the fact that some veterans really don’t appreciate being thanked for their service and that opens a whole can of worms for me.

Because this promises to be long, and you deserve to understand from whence my opinions germinated, let me go back to the beginning.

War is not something new of course but is as old as human relationships. As we gathered into groups, we inevitably? found war as the way to solve issues between groups. I question the word inevitable since the jury is still out as to whether we are innately prone to solve our problems this way or not. Suffice it to say, we’ve taken the easy way out, the simplistic approach since we began to record our lives as “civilized”.

I am of that generation whose grandfathers were eligible to fight in the “war to end all wars” and our fathers fought in the conflagration known as WWII. Those were both “righteous” wars by all accounts, fought from a necessity we all accepted. My father was a WWII vet and so was my closest uncle. I assumed, without actual knowledge that all of my friends fathers were veterans too. I to this day don’t know which were and which weren’t.

The generation of my father did not talk much of war, it was indeed their overarching psyche not to. My father did not belong to veterans groups for the most part. But the country did take its responsibility to take care of its vets very seriously. The GI Bill followed quickly at the end of the war, and that was accompanied by a social security law that ensured a decent old age. Unions rose dramatically in the years following and with them came salaries that paid a living wage, and pensions to bolster that social security. Veterans once in positions of power made sure their health care needs were met with Medicare in the sixties.

These efforts, directed at least in large part to show our thanks to veterans was shared by most people and embraced. Republicans lagged behind in these efforts, but even they soon were loath to not support them as well. Such happens as the result of righteous wars.

This is what it meant to “support our troops” back then.

I grew up watching war movies, at least until about the age of 15 or so. I had no particular feelings about war other than that they were sometimes necessary and that that men did some scary stuff that I was glad not to do.

Vietnam was “my” war in that I came to adulthood during it. Quickly we came to realize that it had none of the clean lines of demarcation. From the beginning it was mired in questions. It would take years if not decades before we saw it clearly. America had been on the wrong side. Ho Chi Minh was in fact the hero, and America had been propping up a corrupt puppet government that as usual was supported for “doing our bidding.”

We would go on to do similar if less costly (to us) interventions in South America.

I ended up by the time I was nineteen or so supporting draft dodgers and draft card burners and marching on an occasion or two to stop this war. I read books about war, Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead, and Aristophanes Lysistrata. Later I read Colonel David Hackworth’s About Face: The Odyssey of An American Warrior.

I was forever changed in my opinions regarding war. I see them today as but temporary fixes that contain the seeds of new wars, and that this posture is endless. I see them as the easy solution when we are not brave enough nor thoughtful enough to do better.

I don’t pretend to be a total pacifist for I recognize that unbridled naked aggression must be met with more than words. But at the same time I’m not sure what the standards should be for determining “just” war. I do believe it should be the last resort rather than the first. I recognize as well that no soldier can hide behind “orders” to justify his/her behavior in a war theatre and thus don’t buy the “war is hell, never question what they did.”

We live in a polarized time where some try to reserve patriotism to themselves. They do this by defining some rather strange things as patriotic. It ends up being words more than behavior in my opinion. Sarah Palin explained to us that people who don’t wear flag pins aren’t patriotic. That is surely an opinion I suppose, but hardly one I want to identify with.

Politicians all wear flag pins, and often spout the words “support our troops”. Plenty of people fly flags as if this is patriotism. If you know me you know I do not relate to any of this.

Borders seem artificial constructs of humans designed to preserve resources mostly. In my view, the future can only result in a remove of such artifices and the institution of policies that favor use of shrinking resources for the benefit of all humanity. World government must inevitably replace nation states.

Thus to me, reliance on archaic terms such as national pride and homeland and so forth serve only to point out our differences rather than seek our commonality. Supporting our troops, more the banner of the politician, ends up being nothing more than a call for a larger army with more armaments. I find it all decidedly unhelpful in a world that shrinks daily and becomes more intricate.

During my war crisis (Vietnam) we knew that most of the boys sent to fight the designated enemy were not there by choice. The draft is no more, at least not now, and so perforce I must admit that all soldiers are soldiers by choice today.  But they are far from being all the same.

Some are there through a genuine desire to “fight for our way of life and to avenge those who kill Americans.” I can appreciate their actual belief, however short-lived it may be, as heartfelt. One can, I suppose, thank them for their belief, however wrong it may be to some of us.

Some are there because life circumstances offers them little in terms of a future. Poor boys and girls find themselves with few options to a better life, and the service has always held out that carrot of education and training as a way out of poverty.

Some were raised in the tradition or not, but feel that all things being equal, this is a good career choice. And that of course is their right.

Others are there because the other option was jail.

I am told, but do not know, that in the midst of battle, soldiers fight not for country or “so that you don’t have to” but solely for each other, as the series Band of Brothers pointed out so well. Such emotions are no doubt noble and right to those who face death.

But since I am not of the persuasion that most wars are necessary, and certainly not these wars of late, I find myself in some quandary about what this thanks is for. Why should I thank the one who deliberately chose to do this thing that I do not agree with? For in the end, wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq arguably have made life here in the US more dangerous rather than less so. Simply the number who hate us has grown exponentially.

There is a movie I believe called What if They Gave a War and Nobody Came? It became a popular slogan during Vietnam. One must ask, what if? It might be that the government would re-institute the draft, but Vietnam proved how powerful a populace can be when it sets its mind against the will of a warmongering government. So is it not legitimate for me to argue that you have no right  to expect my thanks for doing what I deem ultimately doing more harm than good, both to my country and to untold other human beings?

Why should I thank you for doing what you chose to do for your own interests (which I may or may not sympathise with) and which harms what I perceive as legitimate goals of this country?

And who are you to complain of me? The ones who will most vociferously are those who wave flags, wear pins, and speak of supporting our troops. You are also the same ones who support your local congressperson in voting no for food stamps, improvements in the VA and veterans benefits and unemployment benefits. Yet, significant percentages of veterans need food stamps, and they comprise something like twenty-five percent of our homeless. The VA is unable to adequately care for the tens of thousands who return wounded or who like my husband retain injuries not obvious to the casual observer. Yet you do not “support” them in these tangible ways.

So please save your criticism and look in the mirror at your own failings. As the writer of the NYTimes editorial said, you can’t get off the hook for you utter lack of being involved in war by such a simple trite means. Face the fact that unless you or yours was an actual soldier, you haven’t suffered one second for all this killing, and you haven’t thought about it either, other than to issue forth your platitudes.

Some of us bewail this killing, and the victims are not only Americans but Afghanis and Iraqis just for starters. The list gets longer as we have to also bear some responsibility for the killing done by Middle Eastern peoples to each other because of our meddling throughout the region. And we sit in our homes and schools and places of work and dine on steak and watch football, and all the other niceties of life in America while millions suffer for what is being done in our name and in the name of those we support.

We have reaped the whirlwind and now face a group of men and women who have no fear of dying to bring about an ideology they believe in no matter how insane it actually is. And if we don’t come to some equally compelling ideology to counteract it, we will find ourselves ill-equipped to save humanity from itself.

It is clear what the war hawks are selling. It’s what they have sold since the days of Thermopylae.  The question is will we ever see beyond the spear, the catapult, the tank, the bomb and the sniper?

I’m not asking you to agree with me. I’m asking you to dialogue. This is the human conversation that needs to be  held. I am offering no solutions because I don’t have them. But I do believe that we owe it to our children and their children to make the attempt.

All I can do is promise a veteran this: I will honor every dead man and woman killed by war. I will vote for every improvement in VA services and benefits. I will do my best to find real solutions to hunger and housing, and will vote AND PAY TAXES to support public assistance to all in need. I will vote in elections to support peaceful solutions over war. And I honestly truly am deeply sad for your suffering whether it is apparent to all or hidden in the recesses of your mind. I will be a voice for the voiceless. I will seek to help make all boats rise.

We are better than this. We have to be.

 

 

 

 

Metaphors and Analogies Galore

love_my_country_500 My friend Mimi asked an important question that inevitably got me to thinkin’.

Rudy 9/11 Giuliani opens his gums and spouts off as to how this President, really doesn’t love America as we do. Rude then goes on to explain that Obama was raised “diff-rent” from you and me, and none of that stuff is racist cuz ya know he had a white mama.

Rather than pick apart the blatherings of a has-been irrelevant hack, let’s look at the whole concept of what it means to “love one’s country.”

I’m not sure exactly what it means myself. I have no idea what it means to love a thing like that. I mean the concept is quite foreign to me, and I suspect it is to most people of they were pushed to tell exactly what they meant by it. Most people work from metaphor, taking it to mean that they support what the country was framed to stand for, and they think voting is a requirement of good citizenship.

I am not a boundary person you see. I look at maps and say, “oh dear, that makes no sense. Why is that line there?” Most of that stuff arose from long ago times and most dealt with wars. A bit of it is due to natural features of the land. Most of the lines throughout the Middle East are arbitrary and stem from meddling from the West, and truth be told, it’s why things are in such turmoil there today.

I do love humanity, which I think is quite natural being a part of it. I figure I’m one of the lucky ones, and I figure I’m no more entitled than anybody else. The accident of birth landed me in a land that allows me to pretty much do as I wish and do it fairly pleasantly. Someone’s being born in Bangladesh should entitle them to no less. So I’m all for making things a lot more equal. I’ll happily give up some if I can improve the lives of people who have almost nothing.

I recognize everyone doesn’t believe like I do, because they have been raised by parents, governments, businesses, and media to “want it all” with fine phrases like “work ethic” and “bootstraps” and “survival of the fittest”, to name but a few. They deserve more because they work harder and they judge their value and others by what’s in the garage of life.

If ever a metaphor was made for the GOP it’s the black hole. The GOP is on the event horizon. That’s the spot on the edge of a black hole from which there is no return. Destruction is inevitable since the gravitational pull is stronger than any known counter force to pull out. Yet to the observer, the person or thing poised on the event horizon seems to remain there forever. It’s basic astrophysics.

Or one can use the analogy of catch 22. Either works fine.

You see the GOP is always damned either way at this point. It is all of their own making, so there is no desire to rescue them. They are caught in the black hole of the tea imbibing community of dunces. They must feed the tiger lest the tiger eat them alive which of course it inevitably will since one must go mad under that sort of pressure eventually, and thus falter and succumb to the fangs.

The GOP cannot get away from the tea crazies. So they invariably make remarks such as Rudy did. And the Walkers of the party will continue to be non-committal in rejecting such tripe. One cannot poke the tiger, after all. Meanwhile, they remain mired in place at the event horizon while in reality, bit by bit they are eaten alive.

There is no meaning to “loving my country” any more than there is to “supporting our troops”, wearing flag pins or saying loudly that America is Exceptional! Similarly, the idea that one must confess one’s Christianity in order to be viable is without merit. The latter particularly is egregious, since there is a no religious test clause in the very constitution that these flag wavers so profess to be willing to die for.

In reality, constitution protectors don’t really mean it at all. They mean the constitution as they interpret it, and with the parts left out that they don’t like.

Do you love your country or only the ideal of it? Do you love it in spite of its true history or do you doctor that up to meet some standard you have erected to satisfy your personal needs and wants? I read where one woman in talking to her right-wing relatives learned that they opposed the current state of teaching American history because it “just wasn’t necessary to rehash all that old stuff. Sure slavery was bad, but we ended it. We should concentrate on what makes America great.”

Does anybody have a clue where that sort of nonsense leads? Well, not to  go into that of course, but it does, you have to admit, lead to all sorts of entitlements based on “we’re just so damned superior” and “you can’t manage without our guidance.” Anyone smell the odor of Arian purity and world domination in there?

President Obama has less than two years left to serve, and the Republican day care school replacement brigade still can’t talk of much else. Meanwhile it would appear that Jebbie  hasn’t read a newspaper in six-plus years, since a big chunk of his foreign policy team is made up of his brother’s fine collection of idiots that led us into the morasses of both Afghanistan and Iraq.  He doesn’t know that Wolfowitz was one of the architects of the Iraq policy with his pre-emptive strike crap? He doesn’t know that along with Cheney and others, the Iraq foray was something these fools had wanted to do for a decade or so and found 9/11 a good excuse for? They are liars and arguably war criminals if we collectively had the stomach to clean up our own shit behind us.

Yet this is where we live today. In a world steeped it seems in a party which is caught between the tiger which is devouring it, and reality which it can only spit niceties  at as it throws yet another bone in the other direction.  Stop being the party of stupid, Bobby Jindal said, while being stupid. We welcome everyone, except not Log Cabin Republicans to CPAC. I’ll take a pass on that evolution question if you don’t mind, I’m not a scientist.

We live in a world where David and Charles Koch, family owners of Koch Industries, owners of subsidiary ALEC, writes the legislation word for word of the bill their CEO Scott Walker of their other subsidiary Wisconsin, signs into law regarding “right to work” (which is really nothing but right to work for next to nothing), causing  even old timer Republicans who still have some shred of decency left in them, to say, “this is just fucking wrong.”

Is this love of country? They would surely say yes, the country they want to have, wherein all decisions are filtered through the prism of “is this good for the bottom line?”

Love my country?

Only an insane person would love this. Place that constitution, the preamble will do, against the fabric of stupid today and see how well that fits. A person could stand on a stump and recite non-stop this bundle of crazy for weeks without end. Today, we will pass a law that says sex education must never allude to the possibility of enjoyment but only procreative elements that are of course abstained from by good little girls, and winked at by bad little boys. Today we will ban yoga pants, cuz damn I wanna do what’s right for Merika. Today I’ll suggest that good education money is wasted on them blacks who just collect welfare anyway. Today, I’ll work hard to make sure only “our sort of folk” can vote. Today, I’ll cash that check from Exxon-Mobile and vote to let them drill baby drill in your fucking front yard.

Love my country?

Are you serious?