Well Then Don’t…

canstockphoto999839.jpgThe GOP and particularly the Evangelical segment seems to be against so many things. Anything to do with below the belt issues or invented since the Victorian age they are against. You name it and they seem to be against it.  There is a simple solution to this. If you are against it then just don’t do it.

  • If you believe it is wrong to eat meat then don’t do it, but don’t expect everyone to follow suit.
  • If you think it is wrong to date and especially marry a person from another race then don’t do it, but don’t expect everyone to follow suit..
  • If you think people should not choose their gender identity then don’t do it, but don’t expect everyone to follow suit..

This list could go on and on but I suspect you get the idea. For the most part each of us, at least in a recent version of our country, has a basic freedom to choose what we want to believe and what we want to do.  No one can demand that everyone believe as they do.  In Iran then the supreme leader tells the people what to do but that doesn’t happen here. You can be against all you want as long as long as you don’t try to force others to think likewise.

Of course there are exceptions to this. The old saying that you are not allowed to yell “Fire” in a crowded theatre applies here.  Some other things we are not allowed to do are for public safety and other common corporate issues.  No one likes to stop at a STOP sign but we must do it in order to keep from killing each other.  Our Constitution demands that the “rule of law”, at least until recently, must be applied equally across all segments of our society.

Constitutional freedoms form the bedrock of our society. Quit messing around with them to fit your theological beliefs… Iran is a theocracy, we are not and hopefully never will be.

How Studying Religion Made Me a Liberal

2016-03-02_18-09-28.pngWhat happened, however, wasn’t an abandonment of my faith, but a shift in my understanding of Scripture. While I had always read the Bible and knew large portions of it by memory, I had relied on the expertise of my religious mentors (some of whom were simply laypeople teaching Sunday School or Christian education classes) to help guide me through its interpretation.

The more I read the text through unfiltered eyes and the more I learned about scholarly investigation, the less sense their point of view made. Their old Jesus looked nothing like my new Jesus.

I could no longer reconcile Jesus’s calls for non-judgment, loving your enemies, and taking up your cross with many of the Religious Right’s positions on social services, women’s rights and the LGBT community. Even though I felt alone in my theological shift, I was not…

Having my worldview fall apart like a house of cards was unnerving, but it only increased my desire for knowledge about the theology of my youth. I continued to study religion, and I received my PhD in Religious Studies two years ago. Now I no longer identify as an evangelical, but I study them for a living.  Only after my doctrinal evolution did I realize I no longer aligned with the political conservatism for which I once literally campaigned. Jesus was a champion of the poor, the weak, the meek, and downtrodden. He encouraged his followers to “sell their possessions” and give them to the poor. He hung out with hookers and crooks.

My transition to the left didn’t happen overnight, and sometimes I felt like a deserter. The man whom I worked to get elected no longer represented my politics or my piety. As I continue to observe the curious twists and turns of evangelicals, particularly during this election year, I remain fascinated by the ways they reconcile their theology with their policy

My journey from Young Republican to less young Democrat did not come from a crisis of faith, it came from finding inspiration in the life of Jesus. Once I removed the dogmatic lens that had informed my biblical interpretations, I found a figure that defended a prostitute and ate with the poor. The life of Jesus simply didn’t reflect the agenda of the political right, so now neither could I.

SOURCE:  Why I Left the Right: How Studying Religion Made Me a Liberal.

Reading this article was almost like reading my biography. I experienced so many of the things that the author did.  While I didn’t go on to obtain a PhD in religious studies I did spend several years  reading through religious text with unfiltered eyes and came to pretty much the same conclusions.  The current evangelical community just doesn’t look anything like the face of Jesus.

I did a lot of cutting in the quote above so I would encourage you to read the entire text if this topic is of interest to you.  It’s nice to realize that I am not the only one to sit down and read religious documents with an unbiased perspective. It was an epiphany to discover the conservatism of my youth was never what I thought it was…

The Lack Of Integrity…..

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I try to follow my hero’s advice and like everyone but this is one of those times that proves difficult to do that.  Balancing the budget on the backs of the poor is a very spiteful way to even try to accomplish that task.

 

Broke Republicans???

Broke“You keep a Republican broke and out of office and pretty near anybody can get along with them.” – Will Rogers, 11 November 1923

I don’t know Will, maybe some things were different during your days. But I just don’t see too many broke Republicans around now days.  They all seem to have a fair amount of money and will do almost anything to keep it for themselves. But you are right that if you can get them off the topics of their money and below the belt issues  they are pretty likable folks.

Budget Minded Republicans……

Banner -Off The Top

budgetI know the current version of the Republican party is supposed to be all about fiscal austerity but I have trouble actually seeing them live out that concept. When it comes to the safety net and so-called “entitlement” issues they scream about needing to cut back or at least for total accountability. But when it comes to the bloated military expenses, homeland security and tax breaks for the rich they appear to throw that concept out the window. Of course that means that their austerity programs, if they are implemented as they suggest, will end up being done on the backs of the poor as almost everything else is “off the table”.

We spend more than the other 96% of the world combines on our supposed security. Our military budgets eat up so much of our prosperity as to force future looking programs off the stove.  Education, our R&D forces, and our colleges suffer as a result of our insistence that to be safe we must spend so much on our war machine. In fact we throw so much money into the military that they don’t even bother to try to determine if it is going to the best place. For that matter they really don’t even try to categorize where it is even spent.  But that doesn’t seem to phase the Republican senators and congressmen in Washington. They continue to demand more and more of our precious resource for this bloated machine.

For that reason I have little confidence that my budgeted minded friends are really serious about budgets but are really more concerned in reducing or even eliminating the very function of government or at least making sure that 47% don’t get things they supposedly haven’t earned.  If they were really serious about our current deficits they would be looking at  our war machine first not last.  When you throw trillions of dollars into a black hole you dictate that much of it will be spent unwisely or even fraudulently.  They demand total accountability for agencies supporting our safety net and nothing for our industrial/ military complex. How strange is that???

Schizophrenia and the Republican Party….

Schizophrenia—an impairment in social cognition which is associated with paranoia and  social isolation.

Paranoia, which is a major symptom of schizophrenia, is a mental condition in which the person often loses touch with reality.  Here is some of what Wikipedia says about this condition:

Paranoia is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself. (e.g. “Everyone is out to get me.”) Making false accusations and the general distrust of others also frequently accompany paranoia. For example, an incident most people would view as an accident or coincidence, a paranoid person might believe was intentional.

I don’t know about you but if someone were to give me this description without a name I would say this clearly describes the people who are currently attempting to hi-jack the Republican party. Before I go any further I want to make it clear that I am not saying that everyone who wears the Republican mantel are paranoid schizophrenics.  In fact I am sure the vast majority who wear that label are not. But I am also sure that many of those who are attempting a hostile take-over that party are indeed paranoid about many things.

I just finished watch a town hall meeting that John McCain had recently in Arizona and some of the questions and speeches made there were down right disturbing! People were calling him all kinds of nasty names. They were wagging their fingers at him (that seems to be a signature of the tea party folks) and telling him he was dead wrong about immigration. Their solution it seems was to basically gun down anyone who is an “illegal alien” on the Arizona streets if they refused to self-deport.  Many of their words started with “Those people” and ended with some paranoid action.  I was surprised how Mr. McCain maintained his composure. When one person in the group stated that “all we have to do is take away their welfare checks and all those illegals will go back to where they came from!”, Mr. McCain correctly pointed out that the vast majority of undocumented are not on welfare. Then he made the statement, “you are entitled to your own opinions but you are not entitled to your own facts”. Nice comeback John.

I’m sure that many in the GOP are as frightened of these new players in their party as are the rest of us. But those now lamenting moderate Republicans must remember that they are the ones who created this Frankenstein. They unleashed him in order to try to win some seats in the 2011 house.  I wish they had thought it through before cuddling up to the Tea Party radicals.

So, what are the options for the majority who make up the GOP? There are really only two; 1) Abandon it, 2) Reform it. Obviously the easiest is just to abandon it and call yourself and independent. That is what so many of the 18 – 29 year olds did in the 2012 election. They left in droves. Reforming it will take a lot more effort. It is just very hard to put the genie back in the bottle.

I will finish of with saying that yes the Democrats also have a radical fringe in their party. The difference is that the Democratics generally keep their crazies locked away in a rubber room somewhere in the far back of the house where as the Republicans gave their radicals the key to the front door….

Republicans and Innate Goodness….

Source: https://rjscorner.net/2012/02/27/where-are-you-john-sherman-when-we-need-you/

PrintIt seems literally impossible for another Republican to take charge of these types of matters (controlling fraud and abuse). Most of those folks are just too beholding to big business to ever try to reign them in. So, currently that leaves the Democratic party to take up the mantel. I don’t see that as much of a possibility either. Where all this “too big to fail” will end I just don’t know.

I don’t find myself quoting myself very often but when I re-read this post from almost a year ago about how Republicans have been the party of big business in Will Rogers day and are even more so today it got me to thinking.  Republicans seem to believe in the innate goodness of our corporations. I don’t know how else you can explain their deregulation fever of the last three decades.

When Ronald Reagan came into office the first thing he did besides firing everyone who belonged to the Air Traffic Controllers Union was to finish up removing almost all regulations from the savings and loan industry. Here is what Wikipedia says about that:

The deregulation of S&Ls in 1980 gave them many of the capabilities of banks, without the same regulations as banks. Savings and loan associations could choose to be under either a state or a federal charter. Immediately after deregulation of the federally chartered thrifts, state-chartered thrifts rushed to become federally chartered, because of the advantages associated with a federal charter. In response, states such as California and Texas changed their regulations to be similar to federal regulations.

Of course we also know that within ten years the S&L industry almost disintegrated with fraud and abuse and it cost us taxpayers billions to bail them out. But that would not be the last time our friends in government showed their belief in the innate goodness of business. Soon after we recovered from the S&L fiasco they went about  you guessed it, de-regulating the entire banking sector. Again within a short period of time the banks “too big to fail” cost us about a trillion dollars to clean up their abuse of the mortgage business. After these two meltdowns the Democrats put back a few of the necessary regulation via Dodd/Frank bill  but the Republicans fought it tooth and nail. That I just don’t understand. Why do that seem to be totally ignore history, even recent history?

How can these guys in Washington continue to put their total faith in the innate goodness of an unbridled business sector. Profits are approaching all time highs while wages have remained stagnant for the last three decades! Given that fact, how else can you explain how they never seem to see a regulation that they don’t want to eliminate. It seems like they would eventually learn that capitalism depends on brisk and stringent regulations to contain the innate greed, not goodness,  that is built into the system.

Before my conservative friends attack me here I want to declare that I believe capitalism is the best system in the world but it only works when it is adequately regulated.  To my friends that think I am too critical at times I am really questioning the idea of almost total de-regulation mantra of Republicans. Do they really believe that regulations have no place in our business world? I would really like to know? Their two failed attempts at de-regulating our financial sector seem to say something. Or is that just me?

Some Advice From A Liberal Friend…

 

I sympathize with my conservative friends. 2012 was just not a very good year for you in the political realm. So, in the spirit of cooperation I want to give you a very serious (well sort of serious) New Years Resolution.

Quit Being The Party Of The Rich

RichThat one thing alone probably cost you the presidency and several other of your recent political defeats. Let’s face it Paul Ryan’s drastic budget cuts to the nation’s safety net in order to give millionaires bigger tax breaks was the death knell of your hopes for the White House.  Mr. Romney’s 47% remark certainly didn’t help any either. You have got to realize that as the disparity between the rich and the poor widens as it surely will you are in a no-win situation.

I know distancing yourselves from your rich donors will be difficult to do. After all you have depended on them for at least a century now. Let’s just look at a few of the quotes that my hero Will Rogers said about that about some eighty years ago:

“Republicans take care of big money, for big money takes care of them.”

“The whole trouble with the Republicans is their fear of an increase in income tax. They speak of it almost like a national calamity. I really believe if it come to a vote whether to go to war with England, France, and Germany combined, or raise the rate on incomes of over $100,000, they would vote war.”

I know you guys have a long history with siding with the rich but you are going to have to change your ways if you hope to win another presidency anytime in the near future.  For you unfortunately it doesn’t cost anything to vote. There are a lot more poor folks than rich so surely you can understand that you are fighting a battle of diminishing returns. It is just too hard to win an election when your base is primarily made up of 1% of the electorate.

Now that us poor folks realize that our votes do count you guys are in trouble if you don’t change. We will be going to the polls like you couldn’t imagine in future elections and regrettably you found out this time that all your money won’t buy our votes.

So, if you hope to survive you just have to quit being almost exclusively the party of the rich. You are going to have to show that you care for the rest of us. I know in your heart that you do care, at least on some level, so try to nurture those feelings.  You might be surprised just how far that will carry you.

I adamantly believe in a split government. That is no party should have control of both houses of congress and the White House at the same time. When that happens greed and power are too easily manifested.  So, I am hoping that you can get your act together and continue to fight another day. But you just gotta get over being the party of the rich. In the spirit of my hero Will Rogers this post is partly in jest but it is also partly serious. I will leave it up to you to figure out which is which.

The Pro-Scrooge Christmas Story….

Source:  Conservatives urge GOP leaders to be bold, prepare to go over cliff – The Hill’s On The Money.

Scrooge“I think Obama is very mindful of his legacy and is horrified of going over the cliff,” said Andy Roth of the Club for Growth. “Going over the cliff might be a signal that needs to be sent to the president, that he needs to play ball.”

He argued that President Clinton was forced to become a less liberal president after Speaker Newt Gingrich shut down the government in 1995. “Clinton would not play ball with Newt until Newt shut the government down,” Roth said.

We all know the story “The Christmas Carol” about Scrooge who was a greedy money-mindful person who after being visited by the ghosts of Christmas past and Christmas to come turned around his life and started treating people, not his money, with love.

Well the story being given out by the “Scrooge-based foundations” of today want to give you the pro-Scrooge story about how he wins today. They say when Scrooge tried to shut down our government in Christmas past he caused Bob Marley to turn from his loving ways to be money-hungry like himself.  They are saying that in Christmas present when Scrooge causes Tiny Tim’s family to have to live on even less that will enhance the image of Scrooge as Bob Cratchit will get the blame.  They say this story will turn out great if only Scrooge sticks to his guns and makes sure his rich friends continue to be pampered.

canstockphoto8047905The real story the Christmas Carol was written by Charles Dickens in Britain around 1840. This was a time of great disparity between the rich and the poor. The book was credited for being partially responsible for social change in that country.

The Pro-Scrooge story above is from the Club For Growth which is a super-pac founded in 1999 to insure that the wealthy stay wealthy.  I am here to tell you “the Club..” is no Charles Dickens!!

I’m sure they can convince their donors, who this story is mainly directed to, that their fairy tale is in reality a true one but I don’t think we lovers of the original story will buy into their wishful thinking.  We just don’t want the Scrooges of today to be the winners in our version of the Christmas Carol.

Let’s all pray that Bob Marley can get his message through to the current day Scrooges this Christmas Eve so that all the Tiny Tim’s in the country will get the surgery (healthcare) they need. Let’s pray that Bob Cratchit gets the raise he needs from Scrooge in order to not have to work sixteen hours a day to earn enough to support his family.

Let’s pray that the Scrooges of this world don’t end up the winners in this current version of the Christmas Carol.

Merry Christmas everyone, especially to all you Scrooges out there. I hope you have some wonderful dreams in the coming days. 🙂

Those Words….

Source: Sojourner Mail November 16, 2012

The day after the election, Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler said, “I think this was an evangelical disaster.”  Not really. But it was a disaster for the religious right, which had again tied its faith to the partisan political agenda of the Republican Party — which did lose the election. But Nov. 6 was an even deeper disaster for the religious right’s leaders, because they will no longer be able to control or easily co-opt the meaning of the term “evangelical.” 

During this election, much of the media continued to use the word as a political term — as a key constituency of the Republican conservative base. But what the media really means when they use term “evangelical” is “conservative white evangelical.” All other kinds of evangelicals are just never counted. Just as the 2012 electoral results finally revealed the demographic transformation of America — which has been occurring for quite some time — it also dramatically demonstrated how the meaning of the word “evangelical” is being transformed. 

It is sad how some words can drastically change their meaning over time. One word like that is the word “gay”. I looked it up in the dictionary just now and the first definition relates to homosexuality. “Bright and pleasant; promoting the feeling of cheer” is much further down the list. Please don’t get me wrong here I am not lamenting homosexuality, everyone has a right to be who they are. What I am mourning is the transference of the word gay. I think of myself as a gay person but would never use that description now.

Another word in this category is “liberal”. The Republicans have defamed that word for so long that it is not used much anymore.  I now have to describe myself as “progressive” at least in the social sphere area. That is a good descriptive word in itself but I am still consider myself, at least in my heart, a “bleeding heart liberal”.

As cited above the word “evangelical” has come to mean a religious person who holds radically conservative political views. The word also has a Christian meaning but that is again being lost due to the overwhelming political connotation. As Jim Wallis says above maybe it is not too late to take back this word and put it back totally in the spiritual realm. It would be nice to take this word back from the politics of today. It would be nice to win one once in a while. But I kind of think the word has probably been tainted too much now.

For those who follow my RedLetterLiving blog you know that I have the same feeling about the word “Christian”. To me being a Christian means that you are a follower of Jesus Christ. You live your life as he taught you. You do your part to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. Today being a Christian most often means that you cite a litany of “beliefs” about Jesus (and often time country) instead of trying to “be” what he taught. Someday I hope we can rejuvenate that word also.

Bumper Sticker Says It All…..

I know I promised to move away from politics but when I saw this bumper sticker last week I couldn’t resist showing it to you. Especially because it was in Indiana which is a very red State. It kind of surprised me like when I come across another deaf person. 🙂  If anyone has something similar for Democrats I would love to see it. But then again an elephant has to hurt worse than a donkey…

The Light at the End of the Tunnel…. Finally…..

Here we are twelve days away from the election! I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. It seems that each election, especially when a president is on the ballot, gets uglier and uglier. There just seems to be so much hate in our country now and that is truly scares me at times.

Twelve days and we will finally be finished with all these negative ads costing billions of dollars telling us why we should be against someone but little about why we should vote for the other guy on the ballot. I just saw some yard signs like the picture here in several yards in my neighborhood.  The Republican party’s mascot is the elephant and of course we all know that an elephant never forgets (all of us believe in all those clichés don’t we).  As I am getting older in years I definitely am forgetting things but I don’t forget who caused so much of our current problems. Read more

The “A” Word….

I want to warn you up front that this will be one of those serious posts by me. I try to keep this blog light-hearted at least on some level but the topic I am going to discuss has no possibility of that. In the 1950s the “a” word was the atomic bomb. As a school kid during that time I was taught to get under my desk if the teacher told us an atomic bomb had been dropped. I never understood how my desk was going to protect me but that is another story.

In the 1970s and beyond the “a” word has become abortion. Abortion was not a new thing even back then as there were many thousands performed before that time. But when the Supreme Court made being able to easily get an abortion the law of the land via the Roe vs Wade ruling it came to the forefront. Unfortunately abortions accelerated quickly after that ruling.

Of course with our two-party system of government in the U.S. one party tends to take one side of an issue and the other takes the other side. The Republicans took up the “anti-abortion” mantel and the Democrats took up the “pro-choice” position. I recently got into some discussions with one of my regular commentors on this blog about this topic.  The post around the comments didn’t really have anything to do with abortion but as usual when ideologies are discussed it often comes into the conversation.

Many who take the anti-abortion stand seem to think that all of us who support the Democratic party  in any regard are somehow pro-abortion. They therefore expect all of us to give argument supporting abortion. I usually try to avoid these discussions as they are seldom fruitful but I had to finally declare that I am “pro-life” all the way. That statement probably surprises some but on looking up the facts of this issue it seems that 57% of Democrats do not want abortion on demand. But another statistic that may have even surprising to many is that even 29% of Republicans want abortion to be widely available.  Here are the figures behind this statement.

So, it seems that the abortion issue does not fall strictly along party lines as most people seem to see it. I wish people would realize that there are people in both parties that are on both sides of this and many other issues.

Before leaving this post I am going to  proclaim one more time.

 I am “pro-life” all the way.

That is I am against abortion but I am also against capital-punishment, I am against war, and I am against guns.  I am also firmly for universal healthcare and a strong safety net for all our citizens. Of all of these issues I generally only see most Republicans aligned with the first one. Are my Republican friends only pro-life when it comes to the unborn?  To me a life is a life and should be treated as sacred in all instances. What point would it be to have a baby born and to then see that life extinguished due to a random shooting, an unnecessary war (and almost all our wars are unnecessary), an innocent person being found guilty of a crime, or even worse having someone die because of the lack of  nourishment or adequate healthcare.

I am “pro-life” in all aspects of life. Not just those who are yet to be born. When I look at the overall picture I see the Democrats as being more aligned to the vast majority of these issues. All of them, not just abortion, often result in lives lost and I mourn each death no matter the cause. I wish my Republican friends could understand that.

Ok, enough of these serious issues. Let’s move on to something more light-hearted. How about politics. 🙂

Why???….

I have always been a person who is constantly saying “Why?” Here are some whys that have been spewing off the top of my head lately.  🙂 They are too small for an entire post so I am just going to throw it out here and in no particular order:

  • Why do fifteen percent of the population think they are in the top 1%  ?— So there are fifty times more people worried that their taxes will go up if President Obama is re-elected.  We all want to believe that we are somehow special but 1/6 of the population just won’t fit in the one percent tub. No way, no how…..
  • Why don’t people understand that if you want to live like a Republican you must vote like a Democrat? —  It is a known fact that if you had invested $10,000 in only Republican administrations for the last eighty years it would now be worth $11,733.  If you had invested in only Democratic administrations it would be worth $300,671!  (source  Wolfram Blog : Stock Market Returns by Presidential Party.)  So why do all the money hungry  folks continue to align with the Republican party?
  • Why do so many women seem to want to be six inches taller than the height God gave them? –This trend toward wearing six-inch heels really confuses me. I believe that women have come a long ways in the past few decades. They have asserted themselves in the business world. They are now the primary earner in many families. There are now many shows on TV where they are in charge now. You certainly didn’t see that even a decade ago.  So why do so many women continue to fall in line with the latest fads no matter how absurd they seem to be? I want to predict a huge increase in demand for podiatrists in the future to treat all those future bunions out there. 🙂
  • The major focus of the country is currently on unemployment. It seems to be driving much of this political season. If you believe the hype everyone is either unemployed or underemployed in this country. But what happened this week seems to directly counter that belief.  Across the country were millions of people standing hours in lines to pluck down up to $600 for a new iPhone5?  It is obvious that not everyone has been affected by the economic downturn. Many if not most of the people in these long lines already have an iPhone 4 that is still very functional yet they have enough disposable income to update to the latest thing. I just don’t understand it?? But then again in reality only one out of every twelve of us can’t find a job….

Rice – Just Too Moderate….

source: Rice: World is ‘chaotic and dangerous’ with a weak USA – USATODAY.com.

Although Rice, who served under President George W. Bush, praised the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, she offered the delegates no political red meat. Unlike virtually every other speaker of the night, she did not mention President Obama or his office….

However, she was regarded by most observers as too moderate. She’s called herself “mildly pro-choice” — anathema to many in the Republican Party’s conservative base who still suspect the sincerity of Romney’s stated opposition to abortion.

Rice also is out of step with many Republicans on immigration; she has called the failure of President George W. Bush’s plan for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants one of her biggest regrets.

I know I am a little late with this post given the current political landscape and the fact that the GOP convention seems like eons ago but I wanted to mention something about a Republican that I somewhat admire.

Given all the ranting and bashing (they call it red meat) that is standard operating procedure for the GOP convention I wonder why they put Condi Rice as a prime time speaker. Of course the answer to that is that she was on during the “minorities outreach night”.  The GOP desperately need more women and people of color in their party. Without them they will surely like the Whig party of the past fade into history.

Condi certainly did not live up to the form of all other speakers. When she mentioned education and immigration I imagine there were some winches from the crowd. She seemed to be on the other side of the fence from almost everyone on the floor of the convention.  The thing I remember most about her was her extreme work ethic (she typically spent 15 hours days in the White House working for her president. When she was later promoted to Secretary of State she did an admiral but not outstanding job.

I wonder if the GOP will ever return to making moderates like her the heroes of their party. They certainly should but I kind of doubt it. There current practices of exclusion seem to deny that possibility.

But what do I know…