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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Tomorrow September begins.  During September, my older brother will celebrate his birthday, my son will celebrate his birthday, and my oldest grandson will also celebrate his birthday.  Should be a nice month for family happiness, and it will be.

However, in today’s world, it also means that the Iowa Caucus’ are just a few months away, and the New Hampshire primary is right behind.  That means while we are attempting to celebrate birthdays, we will be inundated with political advertisements.  It seems that every election cycle begins earlier, and earlier.  This one is no exception.

Unfortunately, this election cycle appears to be heading in a very ugly direction.  Since I am considered “old” that is bad enough.  But for my children and grandchildren, that puts a chill down my spine.  And, if you were to look at what is being said and look at history, you will find frightening parallels as well.

I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s.  World War II was still a fresh memory in our parents minds.  Our father served in the Navy during the war and was recalled during the Korean War.  Additionally, the “red scare” was really ramping up.  There were real fears that there could be another world war.  In 1962, that nearly came to be with the Cuban Missile Crisis.  I remember seeing the fear in my parents faces.  I remember the somber mood of the country.  We were sure that a full-out nuclear exchange was just around the corner.

This was also a time when “white America” still ruled with an iron fist in many parts of the country.  The Jim Crow laws were in full force.  I remember, while vacationing in Florida and other southern states seeing the signs that read “colored restroom” and “colored drinking fountain.”  I really didn’t understand at the time what that was about, but I do recall wondering why they were there.

Women were expected to “stay home” and take care of the kids.  Men were the “bread winners.”  And, it must be said that wages were sufficient that one-income households were actually viable in those days.

Today, we face different circumstances.  Things have gotten better, or so we are expected to believe.  The Civil Rights Law and the Voter’s Rights Law took care of Jim Crow once and for all.  Civil rights were the law of the land.  No more “blaming” others for our problems.

But, have things really gotten better?  Today, the “stay at home” mom is almost non-existent.  One-income families have a much harder time making ends meet because wages are so much lower when compared to spending power back when I was a kid.

More and more states have passed Voter ID laws that mimic the Jim Crow laws of the past.  Meaning their true intention is to prevent people from voting.  At least “certain” people.

Our police have become more militarized.  I actually remember the “beat cop,” though it was being phased out at the time.  Police did not seem as “trigger happy” as they are today.  Even we “white delinquents” could have a “conversation” with the police.  That wasn’t the case in black neighborhoods, though.  I remember seeing blacks being hounded by police in my neighborhood.  Neighborhoods were more segregated then.

One of my friends, who was black, dropped me off at the house and was pulled over by a cop just two blocks away who just “wanted to know what you are doing in this neighborhood.”  Sound familiar?

As I listen to our Republican candidates, I cannot help but remember those days.  I listen to people like Donald Trump talk about “deporting” all of the “illegal” immigrants, along with their children who were born here and thus citizens, and I remember a small lesson in history.  Back in the 1930s when the depression was high, many states, counties, and cities in the Southwest and Midwest, deported millions of Mexican immigrants, even if they were here legally or citizens.

The excuse was to make sure they didn’t take “whites” jobs away from them.  In places like Houston, whole neighborhoods were vacated.  And, I wonder if that is where Donald Trump got his idea.

I listen to both candidates and conservative talking  heads talk about the so-called “war on Christians” and wonder what the hell are they talking about?  Then I remember seeing on TV the KKK rallies of the past talking about how they were of sound “White Christian” stock and better understand the “War on Christian” meme.

I hear Chris Christie talking about “tracking immigrants” like FedEx packages, and I remember watching movies of Nazi German police saying to someone “papers please.”

I hear Ben Carson comparing slaves being brought into the country “in the bottom of slave ships” to other immigrants and saying those slaves had the same immigrant dreams, and I wonder who is he trying to impress with such stupidity.

He then goes on to say there is “no war on women.  There may be a war on what is inside a woman.”  Say What?????  With which part inside of women are we supposed to be at war?

But, the reality of all of this is the same thing.  Talking heads say the Republican Party is becoming more racist.  They are claiming that Trump is a “flash in the pan.”  That is a very dangerous narrative.  It is obvious to see that Trump is setting the Republican Agenda.  That is why everyone else is trying to “out-Trump Trump.”

It also conjures other bad memories.  It brings us back to the Jim Crow days.  It brings up how Mussolini and Hitler rose to power by blaming those lousy “others” for all of Italy’s and Germany’s problems.  It brings back memories of lynchings of black people.  It brings back memories of the Japanese-American internment during World War II in this country.  It brings back the “great repatriation” of Mexicans in the 1930s.

I have been saying for some time that the current Republican Party wants to take us back in time.  At first I thought they wanted to take us back to the “Robber Baron” days.  But, now I am not so sure.  Now, I am beginning to believe their intention is much more sinister than that.

It is possible that Trump represents the last battle of the “old white men” who are afraid “their” country is gone.  Where they had it good, and everyone else were simply “moochers.” Or, it could be the beginning of new era in American Politics.  One that is a rehash of past, similar politics of hate.

In either case, don’t expect the rhetoric to be toned down anytime soon.  It may not tone down at all.  That is why we all better keep close tabs on what is being said.  And, don’t lose sight of history.  Too many things sound all too familiar from a not so friendly past.

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Kim Davis, the County Clerk of Rowan County in Kentucky stopped issuing marriage licenses to everyone.  Since the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal, she has refused to issue any licenses.  She says her “religious beliefs” forbid her from issuing licenses to same-sex couples.  Knowing that is blatant discrimination, she has decided not to issue any licenses.  Two gay and two straight couples have filed suit against her.

They claim they should not have to drive to another county in order to get a marriage license.  They want to get their license in the county where they live, work, and pay taxes.  But, Ms. Davis doesn’t care about her oath to serve the people who elected her.  She only cares about her personal beliefs.

As a result of the law suits, she has been ordered by two different courts to begin issuing marriage licenses to everyone.  She still refuses.  She can’t be fired from her job since it is an elected position.  She refuses to resign even though she is breaking the laws she is sworn to enforce.  Now, she is asking the Supreme Court to delay the previous orders.

The unfortunate side of this mess is that Ms. Davis is not alone.  There are other County Clerks who are following along with her unlawfulness.  As usual, they are trying to use the “religious beliefs” aspect to justify their unlawfulness and bigotry.  This could get very ugly for everyone, especially Ms. Davis if she is found in contempt of court and either heavily fined or jailed.

So, I believe there is only one answer to this mess.  One that is fair for everyone, and could even help the government raise more revenue.  Thus, helping to balance the budget.  The answer is to stop marriages altogether.  That may sound very crazy to many people, but it has some reasoning behind it that makes sense.

First off, if religions desire to “marry” people, let them.  Just don’t give any civil recognition to them.  By not giving any civil recognition to them, I don’t mean their children are illegitimate or anything like that.  I simply mean there will be no civil benefits for being “religiously married.”

Here is how this works.  Whether two people get a “religious marriage” or not, they have the right to cohabitate.  We will call it “domestic partnerships.”  Under this plan, there will be no tax filing status of “married filing jointly,” “married filing separately,” or “married head of household.”  Each person in the partnership will have to file their taxes separately as single people.

Since civil marriage will be eliminated, children of domestic partners will maintain the name of the mother, not the father.  The children can be given the father’s name only if the father formally adopts them, and the mother agrees in writing to forego all tax advantages she may have gotten by declaring them as dependents.

Furthermore, if the domestic partners separate, only the “legal” parent will be entitled to custody of any children.  If that partner does not fulfill those responsibilities they shall be charged with abandonment and punished with a jail sentence.  There will be no child support awarded to the legal parent from the non-legal parent.

When filing tax returns, only the parent who is the legal parent of the children can claim them as dependents.  Further, upon the death of one of the partners, there will be no “estate tax exemption” for the spouse.  Only children who are the legal dependent of the partner will receive those estate tax exemptions.

Spouses of domestic partners will not be eligible for Social Security checks based on their partners income.  If their spouse dies, they will not be entitled to any income from Social Security as the surviving spouse as they are in many cases today.

If children are eligible for those Social Security Payments, a court appointed trustee will manage the money to ensure the surviving partner does not financially benefit from those payments to the children.  The same will be true for any inheritance a child may receive from the legal parent.

If the will of the deceased partner leaves everything to his partner, that partner will be forced to pay the full inheritance tax just like anyone else.

Corporations will no longer be required to provide health insurance to partners of their employees.  They will continue to provide health insurance to employees and any legal dependent children.  Partners will have to get their own insurance unless that corporation decides to continue to offer the plans as they do now.

All of these rules will be enforced upon everyone.  If two people enter into a religious marriage, they will still be considered domestic partners under the law.  No marriage licenses will be issued by any government entity to anyone.  Basically, marriage will disappear as a state sponsored entity.

Under this plan, divorce will be eliminated.  In order to prevent total chaos in these separations, the couple will need to file with a court a separation plan that includes property division and joint loan/mortgage plans.  That is more to protect the lenders than anything else.

We will basically be able to eliminate “divorce court” thus saving the states and cities lots of money.  The federal revenues will grow because there won’t be anymore tax exemptions simply because someone is married.  The estate tax revenue will grow because partners won’t get the tax breaks currently offered.

We won’t hear anymore hypocrisy from multi-married candidates about “family values” because there won’t be anymore families.  We won’t hear anymore about “single mothers” because every legal parent will be technically a “single parent.”  And finally, we won’t have any County Clerks or other government office holders breaking the law by refusing to issue marriage licenses to people they hate.

Let’s face facts.  Aside from any religious beliefs you may have, the only real advantage to getting married is for tax purposes.  Eliminating those tax loopholes makes the civil endorsement of marriage mute.  And, bigots cannot claim “religious beliefs” to practice their bigotry and denying civil rights to those they hate.

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We are in the midst of a terrible rampant disease in our country today.  That became evident to thousands of people who were simply watching the morning news broadcast in Roanoke VA yesterday morning.  WDBJ reporter Alison Parker and her cameraman, Adam Ward, were doing a “live” interview with Vicki Gardner, an official of the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Suddenly shots rang out.  Both Alison Parker and Adam Ward were killed, and Vicki Gardner was seriously wounded on camera by a disgruntled, former employee of the station named Vester Flanagan.  It turns out that when Flanagan arrived at the scene, he saw that the camera was pointed away from Parker.  He patiently waited until it was on her again before opening fire.

This tragic case is going to be talked about for quite a while.  Both gun control advocates and the NRA are going to have a huge fight again.  But, you can expect that nothing will be done about gun control, again.  The news media has already blown this up.  Fox News asked why this isn’t a “hate crime” since the shooter was black and the victims were white.

Donald Trump said that this wasn’t a “gun problem” it was a “mental health” problem.  He is all in favor of keeping guns out of the hands of mentally ill people, but doesn’t say how that is to happen.  The President is calling, again, for gun control legislation.

I have already made my view clear about how much I want to see meaningful gun control legislation that helps keep guns out of the hands of people like this.  This writing is not about that.  It is more about the disease of violence that has gripped our nation.

Did you know that this country averages at least one “mass killing” per day?  The definition of “mass killing” usually means that more than two people are killed in one crime.  Think about that for just one minute.  We average at least one “mass killing” every single day!

There has been a lot of talk about crime, especially over at Fox News.  We hear about black-on-black crime.  We hear about hate crimes and mass killings like the one in Charleston, SC.  We hear about police abuse, mostly against black citizens, but not always.  We hear about police officers being killed.  We hear about serial killers.  The list goes on and on.

Everywhere you look, you can read or hear about violent crime taking place somewhere.  This has definitely become a disease.  But, what has provoked Americans to react in such violent ways?  What could possibly be the root cause of all of this violence?

The answers to those questions vary depending upon whom you talk to.  Liberals usually say it is because we have too loose gun laws.  Conservatives say we don’t have enough people with guns to protect themselves.  Some blame race.  Some blame religion.  Some blame sexual-orientation.  Some blame poverty.

The national debate about violence is being drowned out by the loud mouths on all sides of the issue.  I believe the primary root cause of all of this mass violence is simply hate.  I don’t make that accusation lightly.  But, I believe that hate has become so rampant in our society that mass violence cannot help but follow.

You don’t have to look far to see all of the signs of hate today.  The birthright citizenship issue is based on hate.  The deportation of undocumented immigrants, especially since it is intended to target one group of people, is based on hate.  The idea being spread by too many people that all Muslims are terrorists is based on hate.

County Clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses to anyone because they don’t want to issue them to gay couples is based on hate.  The idea that you can justify discrimination against any group of people using “religious belief” is based on hate.

Unfortunately, hate is all around us.  Unfortunately, it is being flamed by politicians and news outlets.  Any time a politician targets any group of people as being those “others” that is whipping up the flames of hate.  Every time a news outlet or talk radio host puts labels on groups of people to show how they are causing all of your problems, that is whipping up the flames of hate.

We are living in a society where so-called conservative politicians keep talking about “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps” all the while blaming certain groups for all of America’s ills.  That is not “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps” that is playing a blame game.

D’Souza, who I consider to be mentally ill, said after the shooting “I hope the President shows pity for the victims, and not the gay black guy who killed them.”  That is stirring the flames of hate.  We always hear about liberals trying to raise the “race card.”  Yet, it is the so-called conservative media that keeps bringing it up whenever something like this happens.

It is very clear that we have a real hate issue in our country.  I lived through the civil rights era.  I witnessed the pure hate against anyone who wasn’t white.  I also understand that hatred wasn’t just against people of color.  It was against anyone not classified at the time as a “White Anglo-Saxon Protestant” or WASP.

The hatred was mostly against Blacks but included Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and any other group that wasn’t a WASP.  Religion was used as justification for that hatred.  Religion was justification to keep those “others” down.  Violence against those “others” was justified in the Bible.

Today, we are hearing the same rhetoric.  Today we are seeing the same hatred for those “others.”  Those “others” may have different names, but it is the same rhetoric and the same hate.  So-called conservatives say we should follow the Constitution.  Yet, they claim you can ignore the Constitution if you have a “religious belief” against it.  That isn’t patriotism, that is treason.

In the meantime, thousands of our fellow citizens are dying by violence.  Thousands of our fellow citizens are murdered, raped, brutalized, beaten, or abused simply they are different.  And what do our politicians do?  They blame the victims.  What do their talking heads do?  They blame the victims.  What do we as a society do?  We turn away and pretend it didn’t happen.

Hate has permeated our society so much, that we simply believe that there is nothing we can do about it.  Hate has been with mankind since we first stood upright and walked.  So, how can we stop it?  In other words, we seek excuses and not solutions.

Sorry, but it is our fault as a people that we are surrounded by so much hate and violence.  If we as a people do not stand up and say STOP IT, it will continue.  The problem is, if you look at history, dictatorships begin with hate.  Fascism begins with hate.

It may seem amusing to many people that certain politicians want to use the “blame game” to gain votes.  But, every time they use that game, it stirs the flames of hate.  It becomes justification for violence against any group of people who are “different.”  If you want proof, simply look at what Trump said when asked if he condemned some of his “followers” attacking a homeless person in New York.  He simply said, I am paraphrasing here, “well some of my followers are passionate.”

Trump is not alone in the field either.  I have used the term “so-called conservatives” earlier because these politicians and talking heads are NOT conservatives.  To call them such is an insult to the real conservatives in our country.  I don’t agree with conservatives and their policies, but we have had conservatives who were not filled with hate, and we still do.

No, these people are simply hate mongers.  They want control.  As a result, they are willing to allow street violence as long as it gets them votes.  We suffer a tragic disease called “violence.”  One of its biggest root causes is hate.  If we don’t stop listening to, and silence the hate mongers, we are all doomed to more violence.  That is how you destroy a society and establish a dictatorship.

We as a people can still stop this disease if you are willing to step up and do something positive.  Otherwise, we lose and our society will become a footnote in history.

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Sometimes, I struggle with what to write about.  I look at the campaign going on and wonder how people can swallow many things being said by our candidates.  Then, I remembered about all of those conspiracy theories that are rampant in our society.  I came to the conclusion that today’s campaign is more about selling snake oil or using conspiracy theories to get votes than actually coming up with policies.

So, today I decided I would make an attempt to wrap them all together.  As everyone knows, there are hundreds of conspiracy theories around.  But, the one I find most interesting is the ones about ET.

There are theories about how the government is hiding ETs in some underground military base, or how ET is helping the U.S. discover new technologies, or even how ancient man was too stupid to build the pyramids and that ET actually built them for us.

To show what I mean, let’s look at the last one and see how it works.  The Ancient Alien theory is somewhat intriguing.  The basis for this theory is that we believe that our ancestors were basically stupid people.  They were unable to comprehend mathematics or science or figure out how to create new tools.  According to the Ancient Alien, also called Ancient Astronaut theory, ET had to come to earth and help our ancestors raise themselves from their stupidity.

The reason for this “help” isn’t quite clear.  Did ET help us because they wanted to see mankind grow into something much better?  Did they help us because they wanted to be treated as gods?  Which is one of the biggest theories from the Ancient Alien people.  See, we only invented gods because our ancestors couldn’t understand that they were really seeing humanoids coming to us from space.  As a result our ancestors created a whole litany of deists to explain what they were witnessing.

If it weren’t for those ETs, we would never have been able to build the pyramids.  The Easter Island statues would never have been built.  We would have no religion in the world.  It is all because ET came to our rescue that everything we have today exists.

One theory even claims that aliens came to earth and they caused the extinction of the dinosaurs so mammals could evolve.  According to the theory, ET killed all of the dinosaurs with their space ships.

Yes, I find all of this as nonsense.  I find the Ancient Alien theory simply snake oil that people are selling to make a buck.  More power to them.  I came to my conclusion after listening to these people talk about their theories as being fact.  Nothing sells better than making a fantasy sound like it has been proven.

It really doesn’t matter what you are trying to sell.  The real goal is to make it sound as if it is all real, proven fact.  Even though there isn’t any evidence nor any fact to build your theory on.  This is true today in other areas as well.  I have written before that I believe that people have gotten lazy when deciding their vote.  I don’t believe that people do enough research to find the true facts on issues.

This isn’t really anything new.  It has been going on for years.  However, with the mass media outlets we have today, along with the internet, it is much easier for snake oil panderers to ply their trade.  This goes across the spectrum of issues.

Televangelists have been bilking the public for billions of dollars with their TV shows offering “divine guidance” to the public.  I believe you know you are dealing with a snake oil salesman when they constantly ask for “your donations so we can keep up the good work.”

We have the idiots at Infowars stirring up problems with their conspiracy theory that Operation Jade Helm is really a rehearsal for a government takeover of “conservative” states.  There are the 9/11 theorists that believe our government was the real power behind the terrorist attacks.

Of course there are, as mentioned above, the UFO theories.  Then there is the Bigfoot theories.  Everyone seems to love a good conspiracy theory.

Politicians use conspiracy theory tactics all of the time, too.  The “makers” and the “takers” are part of conspiracy theories.  So are the “teachers unions are to blame for everything wrong with our public schools.”  There are so many conspiracy theories floating around it is hard to keep track.

I don’t even have a problem with conspiracy theories per se.  However, when politicians use these conspiracy theories to support their platforms, then they have gone beyond politics and into snake oil salesmen.

Look, every theory isn’t necessarily all that far-fetched.  Is there life on other planets in the universe?  I would say probably.  Is there intelligent life on other planets?  I would say probably.  But, the idea of them actually visiting us I find difficult to believe.

The sheer distances they would have to travel makes it very unlikely.  Especially knowing what we do about physics.  I realize we don’t know everything, but until some new breakthrough comes along that proves you can break the universal speed limit of the speed of light, I will hold to my beliefs.

That is true for most things in life.  We each have our own beliefs.  Whether it is about ET, Bigfoot, religion, or any other topic, we will believe what we want.  Only proof and real statistics can show us we are wrong.  That is if we are willing to admit the proof is real.

But, when it comes to governing our country, we must be willing to listen to both sides of the argument and then decide what we believe.  Governing is more about the good of everyone versus the good of me.  It is about understanding that every person has their own beliefs.  It is about finding a common ground for the betterment of everyone.  That is possible if we keep open minds and be willing to compromise.

Which is why it is so very important that people stop listening to politicians 20 second sound bites as their proof.  Without paying attention to what people who wish to lead our country say, and following it up with your own research, the snake oil salesmen will win.  When the snake oil salesmen win, we all lose.

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All of the talking heads are going on and on about Donald Trump.  Some hate Donald Trump, and others are in love with Donald Trump.  Trump is still leading the polls and the regular Republican field is falling further and further behind.  Only Carson and Fiorina seem to be able to keep up with him, but just barely.

We are hearing all sorts of people telling us that Trump is the “strong leader” this country needs.  We are being told conversely that Trump is bad for America and simply a buffoon.  However, his backers are not listening to the converse arguments.  They are listening to the first argument.

As everyone waits for Trump’s star to fizzle out, he seems to be getting stronger with every interview.  At least stronger with the base of the Republican Party.  He even appears to be overcoming the one thing most thought would drag him down.  His support for exceptions in abortion cases.  Trump believes in exceptions for rape, incest, and the woman’s life.

That puts him at odds with the vast majority of the Republican field.  However, his “strong leadership” seems to be pardon the pun, trumping his exception stance.  This has caused the rest of the field to shift ever more right in order to gain the nomination.  Something that every candidate did in 2012 and cost the Republicans the election, according to some.

More and more of the Republican field are starting to sound more like Trump than  Trump.  Unfortunately for them, they sound more like parrots seconding everything Trump says first.  That doesn’t go well with the fringe of the Republican Party who usually selects their candidate.

Trump wants to deport 11 million people.  He doesn’t care if any of them were born in the U.S. making them citizens.  As far as Trump goes, the 14th Amendment granting birthright citizenship doesn’t count towards these people.

As a result, at least 13 of the current 17 candidates are in favor of changing the 14th Amendment to take away birthright citizenship.  They are pounding away at “building that wall” on the border with Mexico.

But, what is really going on here?  Are these candidates really bringing up things of real importance?  Or, are they using their infamous “dog whistles” to make people angry in order to get their vote.

I am of the opinion that they are simply using “dog whistles” to get your vote.  If you talk loud enough about how “someone else is the root cause of all of our problems,” then you don’t need to speak in coherent sentences and provide real solutions to our problems.

What is happening on the Republican side of the election is really quite scary.  Latinos, mainly Mexicans, are being used as the scape-goats for all of our ills.  See, it isn’t that the corporations are shipping our jobs overseas which is causing employment problems, it is those damn Latinos who are taking our jobs.

It isn’t the rich who want their tax cuts that is breaking the budget, it is tose damn illegals who are bilking the system for everything they can get.  It isn’t college men who are raping all those coeds, it is those damn illegal landscapers.

Everything is the fault of those lousy illegals.  And, when you cannot blame them, then it is obviously those murderous Muslims who are the real danger.  What they are asking is how can we have a prosperous and safe America with all those Latinos and Muslims running around killing us and raping our women?

The fringe right-wing fanatics are lapping all of this up.  They are screaming at the top of their lungs that Trump is right!  They are claiming that both parties have abandoned the American People in favor of all of these “others.”  That is what their definition of “political correctness” is all about.

Throughout history we have heard the same “dog whistles” being blown.  There is always a scape-goat to explain what is wrong with a country.  We have heard it right here in our country before.  The “welfare queen” scenario made famous by Ronald Reagan.

We also heard it loud and clear in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s when the Nazi party blamed the Jews for all of the ills afflicting Germany. Hitler and the Nazis talked about the Germans being the “master race.”  It is becoming more evident that all of the talk about “American exceptionalism” is basically the same thing.

Dog whistles are nothing new and all by themselves are not really a danger.  The danger starts to become real when more and more people start reacting to those dog whistles.

The real danger about dog whistles is they don’t stop once the enemy is vanquished.  Once the primary enemy is defeated, another enemy is picked out for the dog whistles.  And that beat goes on until only a select few are allowed to exist.

It has been said many times that history repeats itself.  The reason history repeats itself is not because of history, but because we fail to learn from it.  I have always believed in the mantra that if we fail to learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

I am beginning to see history repeating itself, again.  There are way too many people who want to become our leader by using dog whistles instead of real policies.  These people are playing to fear rather than reason.

The leader of the pack is Donald Trump.  Unfortunately, too many of his rivals are picking up the hammer and swinging away as well.  This can best be shown when Rick Santorum claims that no other developed country has “birthright citizenship” like we do.  He also claims that is reason enough to change the 14th Amendment.

But, using his own logic, we are also the only developed nation that does not have universal health care.  Yet, he says we “don’t need” universal healthcare.  That part of the “developed country” comparison doesn’t fit the dog whistle tactic.

Even if Donald Trump’s star fizzles out, we will be left with many candidates who will carry on with the dog whistle tactic.  There is no shortage on the right of enemies.  There are the Latinos, the Muslims, the gays, the socialists, the poor, minorities, women, the elderly, etc.

At some point you will discover that you are part of the problem, if you already aren’t.  Remember, if you are working, Jeb Bush says you are lazy and need to work more to help America prosper.  You don’t have to be paid more, just work more.

It would be easy to blame Fox News and right-wing radio for all of this hate being thrown about.  But, be honest, if the American People would reject this hate speech from the beginning, it could never gain ground.

Some claim that the fringe has taken over the Republican Party.  I am inclined to believe that as well.  However, the only reason the fringe has taken over is because reasonable Republicans have let them take over.  They have not fought for their party.

The Democrats faced a similar problem in the early 70s.  But, instead of bowing to the fringe, the mainstream Democrats fought back.  As a result, the Democratic Party was able to recover and become viable again.  It took a few years, but it succeeded.

There are some on the far left that say that was a bad thing for the party.  But, whether you like it or not, this country is more centric than extreme.  But only when reasonable people say enough is enough to the extremists.

As it is shaping up, the upcoming elections are going to have some very real ramifications for this country.  The only question that really remains is will the extremes prevail, or will reasonable people say enough is enough.

Although I am confident that reason will ultimately win out, there are no guaranties in life.  Time will tell.

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Back in the late 60s when we heard someone say something really stupid, we would ask “what are you on man?”  Today, I sit here wondering the same thing.  Only, I am not talking or thinking about any of my friends.  I am talking about our politicians.

I have been following and participating in politics for over 50 years.  In all of that time, I have never heard such idiotic things coming out of politicians mouths as we are hearing today.  I have never seen a party shy away from a very positive record before either.

We are looking at two political parties with totally differing views of the world.  One party wants to be progressive and move the country forward, and the other is conservative and wants to go back to the good ole days of the 1890s.  One party claims that our best times in the 20th century was in the 1980s.  The other party has a better record of job growth and economic growth than that time period, but won’t talk about that record.

The Republicans are always talking about how wonderful the Reagan years were.  They tout his accomplishment of job growth.  Today they are saying we basically live in an economic wasteland.  But, the statistics prove differently.  Under Reagan, in his sixth year as President, unemployment was still over 7%.  In Obama’s sixth year it is at 5.3%.

Republicans will claim that workforce participation is lower under Obama.  And, in a sense they are correct.  The difference is in the 80s we baby boomers were a strong part of the workforce.  Today, more and more of us are retiring.  Since we still make up the largest portion of the population, that means there are less people who are participating in the workforce.

Under this administration, the stock market has reached record numbers.  If you have a 401K plan you doing great.  If you have an IRA you are doing even better.  If you own stock in the company you work for, you are doing far better than under Reagan.

Since the Great Recession of 2008, we have seen a record 72 months of steady private sector job growth.  Reagan never came close to those numbers.  Additionally, under Reagan, we saw our biggest export of jobs overseas.  We actually became a country that didn’t make anything.  However, under this administration, we have seen a steady 32 months of manufacturing growth.

Finally, under Reagan, the budget deficit ballooned.    Though he promised to “cut government” it actually grew under Reagan.  More people were hired to work for the Federal government than at any time in our history.  That caused the budget deficit to double, and the debt to triple.

Under this administration, the budget deficit has been reduced by over a Trillion Dollars.  When Obama took office, the annual budget deficit was 1.4 Trillion Dollars.  Today it is about 300 Billion Dollars.

It is true that the overall debt is at record levels.  But there are three factors that drove the debt up to these levels.  The first was fighting two wars on a credit card.  The Bush war machine did not pay for their wars.  In fact, they introduced tax cuts while spending huge sums of money on the wars which was the second factor.

The third factor was the economic collapse.  The money to big banks and other financial institutions to keep our economy somewhat afloat really ballooned the debt.

So, as the political season heats up, the Republicans are ignoring the simple facts that the economy is better than it was under Reagan.  The Democrats, for some unexplained reason, seem loathe to harp on the improving economy as ammunition to prove they are the better choice.

In the past, politicians were very happy to point out all of the wonderful things they have done while they were in office.  For reasons I cannot explain, they don’t seem to want to do that anymore.  As a result, we get bickering, sound bites, and headlines that are lies.

It has become so bad that telling lies is what gets votes, and telling people how much better things really are is unspeakable.  You would think that with all of the tools we now have at our hands to find the truth, it would be easy to call out the liars and ask the others why they don’t talk about the good things they achieved.  But it seems far to easy to listen to stupid sound bites and believe what we are told.

Have we become so embroiled in our own little lives that we don’t care anymore?  Have we become so lazy that we won’t take the time to find the truth anymore?  Have we become so “plugged-into” our devices that we fail to see the world anymore?

Everywhere you go you see hundreds of people with their noses stuck into some kind of device.  They are either on a smart phone, or on a tablet.  You see it everywhere.  I love baseball, and when I watch a game, there are all kinds of people at the game texting or tweeting.  They aren’t even watching the game.

We see all kinds of pictures and other “stuff” on Facebook and other media.  I get all of that stuff too.  And, I wonder, who cares?  Whatever happens during this election cycle, I am afraid that we as a people deserve what we get.

If that means we continue to lose our freedoms to radicals and fascists, we will deserve to lose those freedoms.  Remember, the only politician who has threatened to “call out the troops” is Mike Huckabee.  He wants to use the military to stop abortions.

If we don’t “unplug” from stupid media and start paying attention to what is being said in this election cycle, we will find ourselves in more wars, more civil rights will be taken away in the name of “security,” and our democracy will vanish from the earth.

Although that may sound like a doomsday prediction, it isn’t.  I am merely trying to wake up the country and asking them to “pay attention” to what is really being said and what the facts really are.

What it really boils down to, in my humble opinion, Republicans are lying about the facts.  Democrats are being silent about the facts.  And we, the American People, are ignorant of the facts.  That combination does not add up to a very good election cycle.

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The right-wing just won’t let go of the Planned Parenthood issue.  There are people, like the Canadian Senator who say we should shut down the government if we don’t “defund” Planned Parenthood.  The videos that have been released seem terrible.  However, I have seen nothing in the videos that shows that Planned Parenthood did anything illegal.

That brings us back to our Canadian Senator who says that if he is President he plans to “prosecute” Planned Parenthood for donating fetal tissue for medical research.  So, our Canadian friend wants to prosecute an organization for doing something legal.  Remember, this is the same Senator who claims that our current President is making up the law as he wishes.  Yet, he openly plans to do exactly the thing he accuses President Obama of doing.

The issue of using fetal tissue for medical research does present “moral” issues.  Even people who conduct this research struggle with the whole concept.  But, they continue their research because the end results can, and already have been tremendous.

Fetal tissue is used because it contains “stem-cells” that help open the doors to how our body works, and possible cures.  Even the Canadian understands the necessity of medical research.  In mid-July, Cruz held a Senate Hearing with a panel of medical experts to discuss ways to better use government resources when it comes to researching cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and a bevy of other incurable diseases.  During the hearing he said:

 “We pay billions or trillions on the back-end, dealing with the consequences of horrific diseases rather than investing and creating the incentives on the front end to cure these diseases once and for all.,”

Today, in order to make his point about Planned Parenthood, Cruz is running an ad that appears to be black-and-white videos of young polio patients in wheelchairs and leg braces. The narrator is saying:

“For a century, Americans have helped heal and care for millions in need.”

That line is very true.  But what the narrator doesn’t tell you is the fact that the researchers who developed a cure for polio used fetal tissue in their research.  They even won a Nobel Prize for medicine for their work.  Since then, we have seen very real possibilities of cures for diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease and spinal injury cures.  Stem-cell based treatments for Lou Gehrig’s disease show great promise.  All because researchers use fetal tissue for their research.

The point here is that if we remove fetal tissue from scientists tool-box, they will be extremely hampered.  This is not to say the practice isn’t a gut wrenching decision.  A lot of this tissue comes from abortions.  Many people hate the very idea of abortions.

On the other hand, abortion is legal in this country.  It is also legal to donate fetal tissue for medical research.  Yes, you are not allowed to “profit” from those donations, but so far, nothing in the videos proves that Planned Parenthood is profiting from their donations of fetal tissue.

All of this means that conservatives, in their desire to defund every agency that provides abortions along with other medical care, calls the practice of donating fetal tissue as “harvesting baby’s organs.”  That phrase makes for great headlines, but it doesn’t make the practice of donating fetal tissue illegal.

It is also true that no federal money may be used by any agency in the performance of abortions.  That is the law of the land.  Meaning, none of the abortions that are performed at Planned Parenthood is paid for by federal tax money.  Additionally, the tissues being donated are being done so with the full consent of the person having the abortion.

So, what all of this grandstanding by Cruz and the rest of the conservative world comes down to is politics.  On one hand they want the “magical cures” that medical research provides.  On the other hand they want to remove a tool that has given us many cures in the past.

I am not going to try to argue the moral issues of using or not using fetal tissue here.  Each person needs to make up their own minds on that dilemma.  Nor, am I going to try to persuade you to change your mind on this issue.  Again, what you believe is up to you.

It has been said that for every good thing there is a bad thing.  Many believe this research is coming from a bad thing.  Others believe it is not.  It is for those who are conducting the research and those who wish to donate the tissue to come to terms on which side they stand.

If you are so-called “pro-life” you hate the idea.  If you are so-called “pro-choice” you probably love the idea.  And that is how it should be.  We must each make up our own mind on this.  And the party of “small government” who wants “government out of our lives” should stay out of our lives themselves.

This isn’t just about what is legal and illegal.  It is about personal moral choices that we all must make.  When I say moral, I don’t just mean religious morality.  Non-religious people have morals just like everyone else.  Since their beliefs are based on reason and not some religious text many believe that makes them more “moral” than those with “religious morality.”

Sorry, but just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t make them wrong and you right.  It is their right to think differently and act according to their decisions so long as their actions are legal.  Isn’t that what the Constitution is all about?

In any case, threatening to prosecute someone who is doing nothing illegal is one of the most un-Constitutional things you can ever suggest much less carry out.  Maybe our Canadian Senator should reread his law books before opening his mouth again.

Or, maybe he is trying to usurp the Constitution and form a Theocracy instead.  That is even more un-Constitutional and un-American as making up your own laws.  In either case, he is proving just how much he really hates our Constitution!

 

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