And Justice For All – Marijuana…

2015-03-10_10-32-14Sen. Rand Paul slammed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for hypocrisy on marijuana in an interview Wednesday with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric. Responding to recent revelations that Gov. Bush smoked pot during his teen years at Phillips Academy, Paul pointed out the flaws in Bush’s opposition to medical marijuana in his home state.

Sen. Paul, who has hinted about his own wild college days, was quick to clarify that he did not fault Bush for having “made mistakes growing up.” Instead, he took issue with Bush’s inconsistent views on the drug. “If you’ve got MS in Florida, Jeb Bush voted to put you in jail if you go down to a local store or a local drugstore and get medical marijuana … and yet he was doing it for recreational purposes.”

To Paul, it was Bush’s privileged upbringing that spared him the harsh penalties many Floridians still face when they entangle with marijuana. “It was a different standard for him,” the presidential hopeful explained, “because he was from a wealthy family, going to a very wealthy school, and he got off scot-free.”

SOURCE: Rand Paul calls out Jeb Bush on marijuana – Yahoo News.

I must admit that this is one of those times where Rand Paul’s words ring true to me.  But I must always remember that his underlying priority is to basically shut down government and to remove the nation’s safety net and move us to  laissez-faire capitalism or “Everyone for Themselves”.

Now that I have my libertarian rant over lets look at the particulars above. Almost all of our opinions are at least a partial result of our experiences in life.  I guess I, unlike Mr. Ryan and Mr. Bush, wasn’t “hip” in my youth as I never tried marijuana during those years or since.

What I want to concentrate on in this post is the words I bolded in the quote above. It is becoming more and more obvious that it is a very different standard of justice for wealthy families than it is for the rest of us and particularly those of us of color. All these recent reports of police shooting of unarmed black young men and the hugely disproportionate number of minorities in our prison system have brought that fact to light. Now if we can just manage to accept that fact and to do what we are famous for as a country and that is to address these inequalities head on.  Given that money is power in our society there will never be true equality of justice but we should at least try to level the playing field as much as possible.

I will finish this post with a change of heart I have had over the last couple of years. We need to do a lot less jailing of people who primarily only harm themselves with their actions and a big part of that group is marijuana users. If they are not threat to society then we need to seek other means of enforcing our version of morality on them.  Enough said….

Child Sex Abuse in the Church, Again….

Banner God Religion PoliticsAs the years go by I am convinced that the most abused thing in this world is the name of God. Everyday it seems that there is another person, group, religious sect that take God’s name in vain. The story below is about Jehovah’s Witnesses sect hiding, even from their own congregations, the child abusers among them.  Here are some of the words from the PBS Newshour report on this subject.  If you want to see the entire interview click on the source below:

2015-02-17_10-53-21Believers are taught to renounce secular society because it’s controlled by Satan, and not to socialize too much with outsiders. But charges of sexual abuse have brought this insular community under greater scrutiny. And now, in this San Francisco courtroom, the first child abuse case against the Jehovah’s Witnesses to go to trial is under way….

The case hinges on letters from Jehovah’s Witness leaders to the heads of local congregations. For almost 20 years, they have ordered them to send reports like this one for every known child abuser, to hide these cases from their congregations, and not to cooperate with law enforcement or the courts, unless instructed to….

They have refused judges’ orders to turn over these abuse reports, so no one knows how many cases like Conti’s are out there….

SOURCE:  Did leaders of Jehovah’s Witnesses cover up child sex abuse?.

I must admit that I know very little about the Jehovah’s Witnesses other than the fact they often do door-to-door solicitation to get new members. I was not aware that they think the world outside their organization is controlled by Satan and that they alone are the only true followers of God.  For that reason they keep pretty much to themselves. They are for the most part probably told what to believe and what to do in almost every life circumstances. They simply do what their leaders tell them to do. But then again this same thing to one degree or another can be said for many other organizations who espouse to have all the answers about God.

There are so many today that mourn the shrinking number of those who claim to be religious. But who can blame the young person, both outside and even within these religious sects for having doubts. Just look around the world today and it is easy to see that most of the wars and killings are done in the name of God, all thousand versions of him!  How can that not be a turn-off for people beginning their life’s spiritual journey?

One of the best things about our country’s constitution and one of the worst things is the right to believe spiritually what you want to believe. It is definitely a double-edged blade. Yes, it does keep us from persecuting others who have different beliefs from us but it also allows the very groups that are being protected to strike out against everyone else. It protects us from the abusers but also protects the abusers.

There are so many different versions of God around today it would seem almost impossible for a young person not to be turned off by the totally different views of God. I have my own personal beliefs about God but I am not going to try to force those beliefs on you.  If only all religious institutions would agree to coexist with each other the world would be a much better place…

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Flatiron Building

The Flatiron Building in NYC is one of the most unique buildings around and is very much part of the heart of America. This picture was taken last year while I was sitting on the upper level of a Greylines tour bus on a tour of NYC architecture. It is a nice way to see much without all the walking. 🙂

From Wikipedia:

2015-03-18_08-26-39The Flatiron Building, originally the Fuller Building, is located at 175 Fifth Avenue in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, and is considered to be a groundbreaking skyscraper. Upon completion in 1902, it was one of the tallest buildings in the city and one of only two skyscrapers north of 14th Street – the other being the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, one block east. The building sits on a triangular island-block formed by Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 22nd Street, with 23rd Street grazing the triangle’s northern (uptown) peak. As with numerous other wedge-shaped buildings, the name “Flatiron” derives from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron.

The building, which has been called “[o]ne of the world’s most iconic skyscrapers, and a quintessential symbol of New York City”

Walking The Plank…

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I dread to think about how our totally politicized Supreme Court is going to rule on the latest attack on affordable healthcare for almost ten million of us.  Will they essentially make those folks walk the plank as Steve Sack shows in this editorial cartoon. It is widely known that most of the yahoos on the court vote primarily on their political alignment. The law and original intent just doesn’t seem to mean much to them.

 

Military SpendingI also see where the Republicans have recently come out with their budget proposals for the coming year. Take a look at that very little orange slice of the current budget pie to the right. That shows our current food stamp allocations. It seems that tiny slice is where they want to do the severest cuts. Part of their budget is to increase the dark blue area even more! They don’t think it is big enough yet.  Please tell me how anyone can actually believe that they are serious about their budget proposal when they take the elephant in the room off the table for cuts???

Why does it seem that we are living in an upside-down world right now???

 

Antiquity…

img179_edited-1I love taking sixty year old black and white thumb print size photos and restoring to a  much larger larger size.  That is what I did with this one of my wife (right) and her two siblings in the early 1950s.  She was quite a looker even at this young age.

Water Wheels..

Water wheels such as this one found in Waterford Maryland were very much a part of America. They were the power that ignited the industrial revolution and are still around in the form of electrical generation such as the Hoover Dam and Niagara Falls. Of course the water wheel in this picture is no longer functional but I image it was very active in its day…

Paul or Plato – Part II…

This is a continuation of the post about two distinctive worldveiws so prevalent in our society today. Let me say up front that even with violating my self imposed 500 word limit on posts this will only very lightly touch on the matter of good or evil. Lets pull a couple of quotes from yesterday’s post to concentrate on here.

Still, the distinction is real and important — and its implications touch on areas of our cultural life far beyond criminal justice. It helps to explain, for example, the very different ways that Platonic liberals and Pauline conservatives approach sex — with the former willing to trust in the power of rational sex education to help shape behavior, and the latter much more concerned about their children succumbing to sinful temptation no matter how many rational arguments they’re exposed to. 

SOURCE:  The real fault line in the culture war isn’t race or sex. It’s sin..

Different world views depending on whether you are a Platonic liberal or a Pauline conservative is an interesting concept.  I don’t necessarily agree with the liberal/conservative tags added but be that as it may. I will acknowledge that most people can probably be classified as one or the other of these groups. And then there are people like me, and I hope many others, who might look at it from a different angle.

As I always like to point out this issue is not black/white, Plato/Paul but instead shades of both. As the quote from yesterday said it is too simplistic that one view holds people as good and the other as people are evil because they are always sinful.  Let’s look at Paul and his teaching first.

In order to understand the words of Paul so dominant in the Christian bible you must look at his life’s experiences to see how his philosophy was shaped. Paul was first and foremost a Jewish scholar. He was all about rules. Rules on how to live, what to eat, how to pray, rules about everything. These rules are to keep you from sinning. Paul’s education and everything about him was jewish. When he saw his vision on the road to Damascus it made him realize that he had part of  it wrong. But only part. Since he was a very educated man he wrote much about his new-found faith but intertwined it with his jewish beliefs of rules and sin. I am one of those who align with Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts that Paul took the simple messages of Jesus and made them complicated.

Plato on the other hand generally believed in the goodness of man. He believed that this innate goodness came from our creator and was deeply embedded in us. He was more about shedding off faulty traditions than about rules. Plato was a very complicated guy but for this discussion his idea of innatism is at the center.  Innatism is a philosophical doctrine that holds that the mind is born with ideas/knowledge, and that therefore the mind is not a ‘blank slate’ at birth and that knowledge is generally about wanting to become one with your creator. Therefore he, unlike Paul,concluded that man is at his foundation good as it comes from God who is good.

Plato or Paul?  To me these are two different interpretations of how to live our lives. I personally gather some insight from both but probably align more with Plato. As my Quaker friends say I believe that “there is the light of God in all of us” and that light was given to us by our creator. But I also recognize that temptations are always there. So am I a Platonic liberal or a Pauline conservative?  I am a shade of grey somewhere in between.

Paul or Plato??

This is going to be one of those very philosophical posts so fasten your seatbelt.

It is this idea of a fundamentally sinful humanity that inspires the harsh, punitive sentences of our criminal justice system — including capital punishment. It also provokes visions of merciless suffering in hell after death. We deserve severe punishment because we are free agents who knowingly choose to do what we ourselves know to be wrong. On the far side of a chasm stands a very different idea of humanity — one elaborated by Socrates and other characters in several Platonic dialogues. It holds that virtue is knowledge and vice is ignorance. Plato’s dialogues may have presented the fullest and most radical exploration of this view, but versions of it animated various strands of Enlightenment thought, and to this day it continues to influence the way many liberals and progressives approach questions of criminal justice and related areas of public policy.  When someone commits a crime, do your instincts tell you to blame the perpetrator’s upbringing, background, education? Do you think that the best form of punishment would involve rehabilitation? Then you are, at bottom, a Platonist who rejects the idea of sinful depravity. On the other hand, do you tend to blame the perpetrator’s actions on a malicious will and presume that, however worthwhile an education might be, it will never eliminate the possibility of evil, because evil is chosen despite knowing what is good and right? And do you therefore think that the best form of punishment is one that imposes suffering for the sake of retribution and deterrence, hopefully to help scare this and other potential criminals away from making similarly bad choices? Then you are, at bottom, a Pauline believer in the reality of sin. This either/or way of presenting the two views is overly simplistic. Plato was well aware that teaching virtue can be a challenge (and may often be impossible), just as believers in sin typically think that moral education is extremely important in shaping and strengthening a person’s conscience.  Still, the distinction is real and important — and its implications touch on areas of our cultural life far beyond criminal justice. It helps to explain, for example, the very different ways that Platonic liberals and Pauline conservatives approach sex — with the former willing to trust in the power of rational sex education to help shape behavior, and the latter much more concerned about their children succumbing to sinful temptation no matter how many rational arguments they’re exposed to.  What’s clear is that, if you’re interested in exploring our cultural conflicts at the highest levels, you could do worse than pondering Plato and Paul.

SOURCE:  The real fault line in the culture war isn’t race or sex. It’s sin..

The quote in red is just what I am going to attempt to do in tomorrow’s post.

I Recognize It But…

Twain Historic SiteNot all things creative are visual. Some are simple unsaid words and thoughts. Like most kids I read Huckleberry Finn at an early age. It was not one of my favorite books, I was more into Steinbeck and London at the time. But when we visited Mark Twain’s home in Hannibal Missouri I discovered that his legacy goes way beyond his most popular books.  I have come to very much appreciate his words above…

I Read The Bible And Everything Became….

I am bringing over a series of posts for my Sunday entries from my now inactive blog over at RedLetterLiving. This is the second of a six-part series from a year ago about the importance of the Bible in my spiritual life. After a ten-year study I finally understand what millions of other have discovered before me…. It’s all about Jesus, not the Bible…

Red Letter Living

FuzzyWhat About The Bible… ? (Chapter 2)

I know that from all the rhetoric about this topic you are expecting the next word in the title to be “Clear” but actually for me it is “Fuzzy”. I don’t know how many times in my life I have heard the phrase “just study the bible for the answer to your problems. When a child dies from a fall in the bathtub the Christian answer to our total devastation is to “read the Bible”. It is as if we can just randomly open a page and then the tragedy in our life becomes clear.

Lets face it the Bible is simply not the homogeneous document that many want you to believe. When we realize that it is a collection of documents by for the most part unknown authors, who were recording events as they saw them or a story told to them. …

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Going Out Of Business Sale….

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I must admit that I do quite a bit of my shopping now on Amazon. I go to the mall on maybe a monthly basis but that is more for the exercise than for shopping.  But then again most of the shops in our college town mall are clothing stores and since my total repertoire in that area can be fitted in a two foot space in my closet there is really not much there for me.

Things are changing for all us consumers. Netflix is causing a big shift in the video market, Apple tunes and such have taken over their area and Amazon is attacking the brick-and-morter approach to sales. Things are changing lately. Even the stalwart McDonald’s seems to be going out of favor, or maybe the better word is flavor. Yeah, things are changing but isn’t that the norm?

I know that distresses many of us especially those of the conservative bent who don’t see progress as well, progress.  But looking at it from a social-economic standpoint with all this chance it is getting harder to find employment when all you have is a high school education or less.  We need to do something to get our future generations prepared for these changes…. and we need to do it soon…

A herd of Turkeys…

Living in a rural area of Indiana and surrounded by forests the sight of a turkey is a fairly common event. But recently a young herd (or whatever you call a group of turkeys) wandered across our back property. There were at least fifty of them.  Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the turkey the national bird. In hindsight it would have been much more appropriate than the one we ended up this. Turkeys are very much part of America…

What's Old Is New….

Cleaning up Politics - Wilson

I see in the headlines that a New Jersey Senator is in trouble for passing out favors to his rich friends. The photo above was taken at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library a few years ago. President Wilson started out his political career as governor of NJ. It is obvious from this shot that they had similar problems one-hundred years ago.

Tough Love… The Consequences Of Your Actions…

In order to assure his victory Netanyahu flatly said there would be no Palestinian State while he was prime minister. Those words just might result in some tough love for US/Israeli relations. Bibi might finally realize that his actions have consequences.

The current day Israel was at least partially created by a United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 back in 1947 which mandated a two state solution for the Palestinian territory. There have been several attempts in recent years for the UN to once again declare a two state solution to the problem but the U.S. has threatened a veto each time to prevent it from happening.  The good news is that the we might finally back away from that resistance and allow the UN to try to enforce a two State solution.  So, Maybe some good news will result from the recent Israeli re-election. We can only pray that Bibi’s gun is finally taken away from him….

2015-03-20_09-07-51The White House, unmoved by Netanyahu’s effort to backtrack, delivered a fresh rebuke against him on Thursday and signaled that Washington may reconsider its decades-old policy of shielding close ally Israel from international pressure at the United Nations…. Among the most serious risks for Israel would be a shift in Washington’s posture at the United Nations. The United States has long stood in the way of Palestinian efforts to get a U.N. resolution recognizing its statehood, including threatening to use its veto, and has protected Israel from efforts to isolate it internationally.

SOURCE: Obama tells Netanyahu U.S. to ‘reassess’ policy on Israel, Mideast diplomacy – Yahoo News.