Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

Guess what is on the ballot in Alabama?  There is an initiative to create a state constitutional amendment that would outlaw Sharia Law.  Pat Robertson was the driving force behind this movement.  Oklahoma has already passed such an amendment, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional.  Other states have passed similar laws, but they called them “foreign laws”, instead of Sharia.

Now, no one that I know has ever called Pat Robertson one of the great thinkers of our time.  But, maybe, just maybe he is onto something.  Now before you start calling me Islamaphobic, please hear me out on this.  The problem for conservatives on this issue is that they haven’t thought this out completely.  That is not surprising since they don’t think out anything beyond knee-jerk reactions.

See, according to the conservatives behind this initiative, Sharia Law only refers to Islamic Laws.  They are wrong.  It basically refers to  the moral code and religious law of a prophetic religion.  It is clear that Christianity is also a prophetic religion.  Therefore, Sharia Law can be Christian as well as Islamic or Judean.

So, let’s look at just a couple of broad interpretations of Sharia Law.  First, under Sharia Law, women are considered second class citizens.  They are openly discriminated against.  It is even legal for a husband to beat his wife for insubordination.  It is illegal for a female heir to inherit the same amount as a male heir.  Women are not allowed to earn the same pay as men doing the same work.  Therefore, if Alabama passes this initiative, it is right to assume that unequal pay for the same work would be illegal in Alabama.  Therefore, every woman who is currently not being paid the same salary for the same work as their male counterparts must be given an immediate raise.

Sharia Law prohibits all forms of homosexuality, including same-sex marriage.  It allows private citizens to discriminate against homosexuals.  If the initiative in Alabama is passed, it will instantly become illegal for Alabama not to recognize same-sex marriages or to allow any discrimination against homosexuals.  That includes being able to fire someone simply because they are homosexual.

These are just two issues that would have to be overturned or recognized if Sharia Law is banned in Alabama.  If the state refuses to recognize same-sex marriage or allow women to continue to receive less pay than a man doing the same work, they would be allowing Sharia Law to be practiced in their state.  That would be against their own laws.

Furthermore, all prayers in all government activities, like opening of the state assembly or in public schools would also be immediately banned.  Sharia Law clearly allows for prayers at such places.  Therefore, the state would have to immediately outlaw all forms of prayer in public areas.  Plus, the Ten Commandments would have to be taken down from all of the Alabama court houses and other government buildings.

Religious scenes like the Nativity Scene would be immediately outlawed on all government property regardless of who pays for it.  By allowing such religious scenes to continue to be displayed would be a violation of the ban on Sharia Law which clearly endorses such activities.

The list goes on and on.  What the conservatives in Alabama with their initiative of banning Sharia Law actually is doing is taking religion completely out of government.  So, it could be argued that they are merely endorsing the First Amendment that already enforces a separation of church and state.

Since American Law is known for its broad interpretations, all of these items are real possibilities if Alabama is successful in outlawing Sharia Law.  Maybe that would be a good thing.  I am quite sure that imaginative lawyers could find arguments using the anti-Sharia Law to poke holes in other social issues like birth control, abortion, voter suppression, and others.

If this initiative does pass, instead of immediately challenging the constitutionality of it, lawyers should start using the ban to stop the discrimination that is the norm in many parts of the country, including Alabama.  I would love to see a good lawyer use these idiotic laws against the conservatives to finally smash their conservative social agenda.  That would be a fight worth watching.  Besides the conservative fight against using this law to outlaw their agenda would show the country once and for all their hypocrisy in just about everything.

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Every two years we hold national elections on the first Tuesday in November.  I always wondered why that day was picked.  In recent years, I thought that we should move election day to October 31 regardless of what day it falls on.  Yes, we should hold our national elections on Halloween.

Let’s just think about this for a minute.  What better day to hold an election?  We are constantly shown our elected officials with their $300 haircuts, $1,000 suits, and $400 wing tip shoes.  They carefully, or at least have an aide carefully put on their American Flag pin on the lapel.  Before going on camera they probably visit the dentist for a cleaning so when they open their mouths their pearly whites gleam in the lights.  Yes, the ladies have their costumes as well, but in honesty I don’t know what those costs are.  This crosses party lines too.  There have been many times I look at the TV and see these politicians and the first thought that comes to mind is a used car salesman.  I know that is really cruel to used car salesmen.

So, they dress up in their costumes and pretend to really care about us.  They want us to vote for them based on vague promises and even vaguer slogans.  Problem is, they are usually funded by dark money where the donors are kept secret so we don’t know what the actual agenda is.  But, if we listen very carefully to them, and not just the 20 second sound bites the media is famous for, we can hear the really scary things they are saying.

On election day, we go to the polls and cast our ballots.  We vote for the candidate that we believe will actually represent the people and not special interest groups.  Though deep inside we usually know better.  Which means that every election day we are rolling the dice that the right people, those with a real intent to represent their constituents, will actually get elected.

But, keeping in line with Halloween, we don’t know if we are electing someone with integrity or if we are actually voting for the political version of a chain saw homicidal maniac.  So, sometimes we look like those people in a TV ad that shows how people in horror movies make dumb decisions.  Sometimes our choices become the one between getting in the running car and driving the hell out of there or hiding behind the chain saws.

The ultra-conservatives running in this years election make me feel like we may very well choose hiding behind the chain saws.  They are trying to make this election something less than actually governing.  They are trying to take the country back to 1890.  That is why in the last few elections you have heard things like “Legitimate rape”, “I’m proud of my outsourcing”, “Men are more often the victims in rape cases”, “Birth control is really abortion”,  Climate change is a hoax perpetrated by commie scientists”,  and other such stupid things.

Conservatives claim to be for “protecting the ballot box” with their Voter ID laws, which are really voter suppression laws.  But, they don’t seem to have the same fear for the “absentee ballot”.  Where are the protections to ensure that the person actually sending in the ballot filled it out themselves and it wasn’t filled out for them?  Or, maybe someone else entirely filled it out without the person knowing about it.  There is a far better chance of Voter Fraud being committed using absentee ballots than in person voting.  Heck, for all we know people like Governor Walker’s staff, who is in a very tight race and may lose, may be filling out a bunch of absentee ballots as we speak.

Every election cycle, the ultra-conservatives have something to bring up to really scare people.  Their usual standard is the “open borders” that will allow terrorists to come and kill you in your sleep.  This time around they now have Ebola.  Which of course, terrorists will infect themselves with,  cross the open border with Mexico just to spread the disease and wipe us all out.

See, these aren’t things that necessarily fall into the crazy category.  They are things that fall into the scary Halloween theme.  The object is to scare everyone to death and then hope they vote for you on election day.  That is why I think we should move our election day to Halloween.  Why waste such a good holiday just on children having fun?  We can actually scare ourselves to death with our choices on who should run the country.

Of course, those Voter ID laws will not allow us to dress up before voting, and that would take a lot of the fun out of it.


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I haven’t decided yet if our friends over at Fox News is just having a much too slow news cycle, or if they are really only interested in speaking up about all of their perceived “attacks” on white Christians.  We are just 83 shopping days away from their annual attack on Christmas meme.  So, to fill the void, they are now arguing that there is a new attack.  This time we are attacking Columbus Day.

It has started because a Seattle school board has voted to redub the Columbus Day holiday as Indigenous People’s Day.  What the hell will they think of next.  As Fox News has put it:  “It’s a social and political statement that says Christopher Columbus was a violator of indigenous people. It’s a slap. It’s an attack on Columbus. Day.” (sic)

Ever since I was a child first learning about Christopher Columbus, I wondered why he was credited with “discovering America” when he never even saw the continent.  Remember, he never set foot on either North or South America.  He merely sailed around the Caribbean Sea landing on a few small islands.

Why don’t we celebrate Leaf Erikson Day?  It has been proven that the Vikings were on the North American continent 500 years before Columbus.  Not only were they here, at least in what is now Canada, they actually had a settlement there.  As a matter of fact, everyone in Europe knew that there was land to the west of Europe.  They didn’t think the world was flat as the myth of Columbus want us to believe, they already knew it was round.  So why all of the myth around Columbus?   Could it be that Fox News believes that only Christians can be credited with “discoveries” and not Pagans?

In recent years, there have been other “discoveries” about who was on the continent first.  There is some evidence and new theories about the Polynesians being in South America and even as far north as California.  There is evidence that the Chinese were on the west coast as well.  There are even theories about European people arriving as well.  All of these people arrived over a 1000 years before Columbus.

Since the first colonization of North America, our history is rife with the slaughter of indigenous people.  Manifest Destiny could not have happened without this onslaught.  Indian Tribes on the North American continent were systematically slaughtered in order to “make room” for white settlers.  Those who did survive were herded onto “reservations” where most of them still live, in poverty.

Besides the battles between indigenous people and the settlers on the East Coast, the first real egregious action came from Andrew Jackson.  He ordered the complete evacuation of all Indians from the East Coast.  The tribes were rounded up and sent to Oklahoma Territory.  Hence, the “trail of tears” when thousands of Indians died on the trek from starvation and disease.

The Indian Wars basically finished off the Indian Tribes of the Great Plains and Southwest.  They were herded onto reservations and forced to become “Americanized” by their conquerors.  Even as late as the early part of the 20th century, Indians were forced to attend boarding schools.  During their time there they were forbidden to speak their own language and their hair was cut short to be better Americanized.  Everything was done to wipe out their culture.

The elimination of the indigenous people’s cultures began with Columbus.  So yes Fox News, Columbus did violate the indigenous people.  As time went by, it became more and more barbaric.  It became policy that if they refused to change their ways, they would face total destruction.  The Indian Wars were extremely bloody.  Atrocities happened on both sides, as usually do in wars for survival.  But once the Indians were beaten, the peace that was forced on them was just as bad as the wars themselves.

This is a part of our history that is not always taught in History Class.  We avoid teaching that from the day Columbus put foot on a small island in the Caribbean, the survival of the indigenous people in the Americas was in jeopardy.  It all turned into a war of cultures.  When that happens, there is usually only one winner.   The modern-day equivalent is called genocide.

Columbus Day is one holiday that we can do without.  It is time for it to die off quickly.  Don’t you think we can find better ways to celebrate our country without honoring someone who started the culture wars in America?  I once had a T-Shirt I bought on the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina that read:  “Homeland Security.  Fighting Terrorism Since 1492.”  If you really look at it from the Native American perspective, that is an accurate statement.  Isn’t it time we stop honoring it?



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Today is Memorial Day.  I hesitate to say we are celebrating Memorial Day because I consider the word “celebrating” an oxymoron description of what today means.  During my time growing up, I was taught by my father that Memorial Day was a day to remember those who have died in the service of our country.  As a WWII veteran, he took Memorial Day very seriously.

Over time, Memorial Day seems to have been lost on most Americans.  I don’t say that to be mean, but rather, since only about 1% of the population now serve in the military, the meaning of the day is lost on most of us.  During past wars like WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam almost everyone knew someone who served.  As a result days like Memorial Day became more personal for everyone.  Especially since almost everyone knew someone who had served, been wounded, or killed in one of these wars.

Today things are different.  Since 9/11, we have been engaged in two very long wars.  The war in Iraq has come to and end, and the war in Afghanistan is coming to an end.  However, the veterans have become a back-burner issue.  Thousands of our men and women have been killed or wounded during these two wars.  Thousands more suffer from damage not of a physical nature.  But, what are we doing for them?  What are we doing to remember those who have fallen, and those who need our help?

The VA is currently in a lot of trouble.  There are some very serious allegations about people dying waiting to be seen by a doctor.  Some allege that paperwork has been forged to show that waiting times are down.  These are very serious allegations.  But, to most of us who are veterans, it is nothing new.  We have had a history of waiting long periods of time to see a doctor for many years.  The VA hospitals are simply overrun with patients.  Especially since the onset of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

It was simply a matter of time for this kind of scandal to surface.  Although the VA does shoulder most of the blame, we cannot forget that Congress sets the budget for the VA.  Ever since I put on the uniform, I have watched year after year as Congress systematically reduced requested budget numbers from the VA.  This wasn’t done along party lines either.  Both sides are just as guilty.

How is it that the VA has come to this?  It is mainly because veterans, as a matter of fact, are usually forgotten once they are out of the service.  That is a cultural issue, not just a political one.  Without proper funding, the VA cannot hire enough people to fill all of the positions at their hospitals and clinics.  There are hundreds of open positions at VA facilities all across the country.  They have been forced to cut back services to many veterans who are not “rated with a disability”.

It goes even beyond that.  Millions of veterans are homeless and living on the streets.  Millions of veterans have literally been tossed onto the trash heap of humanity.  They suffer from things like PTSD.  But instead of receiving the help they need, they are shunned.  When they return from war, they cannot find a job.  The cannot get all of the benefits and help they deserve.  They are simply forgotten or ignored.

There are private organizations that try to help the veterans.  But, even they are limited in what they can do and who they can help.  Groups like the Wounded Warriors Project offer all kinds of assistance to veterans who were wounded in the wars.  But their outreach is limited.  They try their best, but they cannot help everyone.

Of course, the real question is why are these private charitable organizations even necessary?  Why isn’t our government doing everything they can?  Why aren’t veteran’s needs being met by the very government that sent them in harm’s way?  The first answer that springs to mind is that it isn’t politically feasible.  But why not?  Because the average citizen doesn’t know what the veteran is going through, and is not really interested.

Veterans are not looking for handouts.  Veterans are proud people who just want a fair shake.  They earned medical help.  They earned a chance at a good job.  They earned respect.  A veteran wants nothing more than anyone else.  A fair chance to heal and work hard at obtaining the American Dream they fought to defend.  Why is that too much to ask?

So, on days like today, there is a lot of ceremony showing respect for the fallen.  There is a lot of political speeches about how these men and women made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  There is a lot of people patting themselves on the back for showing they “care” about veterans today.  People will utter “thank you for serving” to veterans.  People will wave flags and watch parades, and then go home and have a backyard bar-b-q.  But, tomorrow, it will be business as usual.

Tomorrow veterans will still be waiting to see a doctor.  Tomorrow veterans will still be living on the streets.  Tomorrow veterans will still be looking for that elusive job.  Tomorrow veterans will only have other veterans to lean on.  It would be nice if tomorrow, instead of just looking for someone to blame for the mess at the VA, Congress would spend a little time to try to determine what veterans really need.  Trying to find out what was the real cause of this scandal.  How can they fix the system they helped create?   Maybe then, tomorrow can be a little brighter for veterans.  Don’t we owe them that much?


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Hello everyone.  My little hiatus is over and I am back at the keyboard.  We had a great time on our vacation.  Seeing our son for the first time in a few years was great.  I thought I might share a few things about Europe that I noticed while there.  We spent three days in Paris and three days in Rome.

Now, I apologize upfront to anyone who loves Paris, but three days in Paris was two days too many for me.  The city is dirty and grimy and very noisy.  It reminded me of New York City without all the neon lights.  Actually, the last time I was in New York it was cleaner than Paris was.  But, besides that, the food was good.  We did not go to any of the five-star restaurants.  We kept to local cafes and little restaurants.  My wife dragged me up to the top of the Eifel Tower.  That was feat since I am afraid of heights.  The view was exceptional though.  If you go to Paris and take a taxi anywhere, don’t watch in front of the driver.  You will probably have a heart attack.  I don’t think I will complain about drivers here for a while.  Driving in Paris is the worst I have seen anywhere.

We found Rome to be much nicer than Paris.  Plus, there was a whole lot more to see in Rome than in Paris.  If anyone is planning to go to Rome, I have one piece of advice.  Make sure you do some serious walking before you go.  You will walk miles in Rome.  That isn’t the bad part.  The bad part is that it seems that you walk uphill more than downhill.  And I am not talking about gradual slopes either!  By the end of the first day, I felt like I had done some mountain climbing.

We talked about going down to Pompeii, but the added cost was just a bit more than we wanted to pay.  That would have been awesome.  But, there is plenty of history and ruins to see in Rome to satisfy the ardent history nut.  Most of the sights are reasonably priced.  Again, we didn’t go to the fancy restaurants.  We wandered around until we say someplace that looked good.  We were not disappointed either.  We were fortunate that we didn’t go into any bad restaurants or cafes.

We did run into a lot of lines in Rome.  Especially at the Vatican and the Colosseum.  The Vatican lines were outrageous.  If you stand in line you need to wait for about three hours just to get into St. Peters Basilica.  Then you need to wait another two to three hours to get into the Sistine Chapel.  There are vendors offering guided tours that they claim will get you past the lines.  But, being old and wanting to take our time we decided to pass them up.  We never did get into the Vatican, but we were able to walk around St. Peter’s Square.  Just seeing everything from the outside was enough for us.

The Colosseum also had a line, but it went much quicker.  We were only in line for about 45 minutes before we got in.  It was really amazing to look at the ruins and just imaging how it must have looked when it was new.  There are more ruins next to the Colosseum and the ticket you get covers entrance to both.  That is where you really do some mountain climbing.  But, it is worth it.  There are a couple of emperor’s palaces and the Forum is there too.  History just seems to ooze around every corner.

There are also a lot of digs going on all around Rome.  Seems whenever they try to put up something new, they come across more ruins and everything stops for archeological work.  That makes it even more interesting.

All in all we had a great time.  I would recommend Rome to anyone thinking about a trip to Europe.  I would recommend more than three days though.  There is so much to see and do that three days is really cramming things in.  Oh, by the way, seeing American television shows in Italian or French is quite unique.  Not that I understood a word they were saying.

I hope everyone had a great Mothers Day.  I will get back to some more writing tomorrow.  I almost need a vacation to get over my vacation.


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Normally I don’t announce vacations.  But, since I try to write something everyday during the work week, I though it only fair to let my readers know that there will be a short break.

We will be on vacation until May 19.  I will start writing again then.  If you must know, we are meeting our youngest son who has been working as a contractor in Afghanistan, for a week in Europe.  He is taking us for his mother’s birthday/Mother’s Day present.  We haven’t seen him for a few years and are really looking forward to that.

I want to take a moment to wish every mother out there a very Happy Mother’s Day.  I hope you all have a tremendously happy day with family and friends.  Guys, you take care of your ladies not just Sunday but everyday.


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Today we simply want to wish everyone a very joyous and happy holiday season.  Regardless of which holiday you celebrate at this time of year, we hope you spend it in the warmth and comfort of family and friends.

Like everything else, traditions are honored during the holiday season, even though those traditions are fleeting at best.  Please add a tradition to your celebrations of saluting our military, police, EMTs, firefighters, and other public servants who will be working on Christmas.  They deserve our thanks and gratitude for everything they do to protect us.

Whatever your traditions are, whatever your beliefs are, may you find the day full of happiness and love!




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