Saturday, January 31, 2015

WHERE ARE THE BIRTHERS?

So, one month into 2015 with about twenty two months to go until the next election here we go with some of the possible potential candidates. 

As if we needed the proof that the whole “birther” schtick over the past nearly six years was nothing but racism and sink the democrats any way possible pure and simple consider three right wing presidential wannabes.

First up? Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal. Only his name isn’t Bobby, that’s a nickname. His East Indian immigrant parents named him Piyush. Granted that doesn’t roll off the tongue the way Bobby does. So we have a hopeful whose parents, while naturalized citizens, were not born in this country. Isn’t that what was giving the likes of Orly Taitz and Joe Arpaio fits over the last few years.?

Next up Ted Cruz.  His father was born in Cuba, was naturalized, married an American and moved to Canada. Ted was born in Canada and carried dual citizenship until recently. /So again we have a situation similar to what lit up the birthers over president Obama. Only one parent is a citizen and we know for sure in this case that Ted Cruz was not born in this country although his mother’s American citizenship automatically makes him an American citizen. Any comments Orly and Joe?

Third up. Marco Rubio, who may actually be the sanest of the three. Both parents were born in Cuba and actually immigrated to the US before the Castro revolution but they didn’t take out citizenship until the mid seventies. Their son was born in the US so that makes him a citizen by birth even though his parents weren’t born here.


Again, hello Orly and Joe according to your definition none of the three fits their definition of a natural born American citizenship and therefore not eligible to run for president. So where are all the birthers and the Tea Partiers that have been having hysterics for nearly six years. You like their politics so they get a pass. You don’t like the president’s politics so you keep snapping at his heels like a bunch of rabid, undersized Yorkshire terriers over and over and over? 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

TRY TO THINK IT THROUGH

Shaking my head over the comments on stories about the big now storm on the east coast. Some folks didn't get as much as they feared. Some other folks are still getting hammered.

The government actions that seem to bring the most negative comments. Travel bans. It's all a liberal plot. It's a Commie plot. The weather guys don't know what they're talking about. Can't find the back of their laps with both hands. Please try to think it through. It isn't going to kill you to stay home for a day or so as long as the power stays on.

Be thankful that if your house catches fire the crews can get through because the roads aren't blocked by abandoned cars. Be thankful that an ambulance can get through if you have a sick kid or God/dess forbid a heart attack and need to get to the hospital and the medic can get through. Be thankful that if you do lose power the repair crews can get where they need to go because the roads are clear. Be thankful the plows can get through to do their jobs so that regular travel can resume as soon as possible.

One of the Weather Channel guys was filmed last night in Massachusetts. The snow on the ground wasn't that bad but the wind was really blowing and the drifts were really impressive. And that was the big problem there, The plows go through, the wind blows, the snow drifts back onto the street. The plows go through, the wind blows, the snow drifts back...

And I hadn't stopped to think about it but airports get closed, not just because there's snow on the run ways but because the workers needed to run La Guardia or Logan can't get to work either.

There was a multi truck/car pile up on I84 east of Baker last week. Closed the freeway for hours because of chemical spills and all they were dealing with was black ice.

So stop and think about it. If you go out in this kind of weather, get stuck and yell for help some poor schmucks will do their jobs and risk their necks to save your sorry ass. Personally, I'd really rather play it safe. For me and for the emergency crews.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

SWEEPINGS FROM THE RIGHT

Courtesy of Right Wing Watch. And these are just some of the choicer selections from the jar of mixed nuts. I know, it's tempting to laugh, but never turn your back on these folks. You'll find a knife in it.

Ben Carson is a retired neurosurgeon. And by all accounts he was a good one. Now he wants to be president. Frankly the only thing he has going for him is the fact that he's an African American because some of his ideas are way out there. Ben Carson: Congress should oust judges who rule for marriage equality. Because after all, so many states held referendums which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. OK sir, which of your civil rights do you want to leave the tender mercies of a majority of your fellow citizens?

Haven't heard from Glenn Beck for awhile. Our founding principals require that Christianity receive preferential treatment.  This particular outburst was brought on when atheist and satanist groups on Orange County Florida sought equal time with right wing religious groups who were handing out free Bibles in public schools on National Freedom of Religion Day. This has been going on for three years. Note. The groups were not trying to end the Bible distribution they just wanted equal time. The school district ended the program. Geez, what part of separation of church and state are you not getting? And which version? The several flavors of Orthodox? Roman Catholics? The heaven knows how many varieties of Protestants? Half of whom can't stand the other half?

An anti gay marriage activist, Randy Thomasson founder of Save California, believes that Republican governors can call out the National Guard to stop clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. I have absolutely no idea how this is supposed to work. And frankly, I'm not sure he does either. Block the doors to the clerk's office? Make sure that only hetero couples go into the clerk's office. Should he go sit in the corner with his fingers in his ears humming loudly while the guardsmen laugh their asses off? Although that would probably beat being deployed to the Middle East. Again.

And last but not least. This is from a Sandy Rios who is one of the talking heads for the American Family Association. I know I've never heard of her either. She claims that Obama used subliminal Islamic messages during the State of the Union address.  She also believes that the president, who attended a Church of Christ congregation for twenty years while living in Chicago, is a secret Muslim. Well, I guess there's a quick way to check that out. Check the White House menus. Has the first family been eating pork products lately. But, I guess in the Pluto orbiting world of conspiracy theories if bacon has been on the menu it would be because of a special dispensation to throw the true believers off track. (sarcasm button turned off).

Anyway, apparently when the president referred to the pillars that uphold American power he was referring to the Five Pillars of Islam and not our military. I suppose if he says something favorable about kale or broccoli he's a secret Vegan.

Oh, those activist judges. Funny, these guys and gals aren't lining up to overturn that over reach on the right, Citizens United. My activist judges good. Your activist judges? Just this side of the Antichrist.



TERMINAL STUPIDITY?

This story was in the local paper this morning. I am really sorry this man got hurt. I am really, really sorry that he may never be able to work full time or at all again. Time was when stupidity/carelessness at this level would have pruned the gene pool. Let's hear it for modern medicine. 

HOWEVER!!!!!!!!

We had a burn barrel when I was a kid in Oakridge. We used it a lot. And one of the things that dad and mom drilled into our little brains was that gasoline and/or diesel or any combination thereof and open fires did not mix. Or that if the did the results could be unpleasant to say the least. I seem to remember a little gas and a lot of newspapers to get the trash fire going. 

This guy probably got the fire going, didn't react fast enough and it traveled right up the fuel stream, into the can and whoosh, you've got a Molotov cocktail on steroids. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

THOUGHTS INSPIRED BY AMERICAN SNIPER

With a nod or six to Lisa.  This entry is kind of stream of consciousness and isn't exactly complete.

I believe American Sniper fits in with many of Clint Eastwoods’s earlier films. Whether he acted in them or directed them. The Lone Heroic Individual. Which fits perfectly with the dominant mythos in this country right now. The hyper individualist who “makes it on their own” “doesn’t need the help of anyone else.” Yadda, yadda, yadda.

I had the unmitigated gall to point out a few years ago on a story about the hoo ha over, was it the president or another politician I don’t remember off hand, the statement “you didn’t do it on your own.” Silly me, I pointed out that unless you single handedly reinvented western technology from agriculture on up you were standing on some pretty broad shoulders. You’d have thought I was advocating the sacrifice of all first born children from some of the reactions I got.

WWII was supposedly the last “good war” so let’s take a look at the heroic individual from that perspective. My dad didn’t serve. Not from lack of trying. The doctor at the induction center got one look at his legs and said no way. So he ended up working in the woods. Ironically, if the army had decided down the road that being seriously bow legged wasn’t a bar to working behind a desk, logging was a reserved occupation. Somebody had to get out the cut to make those packing crates, build the army bases, deck the ships.

And speaking of ships. Out side of the series Victory at Sea screened in the early fifties the Battle of the Atlantic is one of the great untold stories of the war. East to west. West to east the convoys sailed. Month in month out, oddly enough praying for bad weather because it cut the danger from the German U boats. It wasn’t until mid 1943 that the tide was turned and more ships made it through than were lost. And the allies couldn’t start the great build up for the invasion of Europe until the troops and supplies could make the voyage with some guarantee of success.

And D Day couldn’t have happened without North Africa, Sicily, Italy, the eastern front where the Russians kept whole divisions tied down and then destroyed them. Again, when the stories get told you’d think sometimes that we went from Pearl Harbor to the invasion  of /Europe. North Africa wasn’t glamorous. In fact we got our asses kicked but good. Talk about your learning curve. What worked and what didn’t. Who could get the job done and who needed to be shipped back to the US to occupy a desk instead of a command post. Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, Cassino. It was a muddy, bloody, meat grinder.

We had a neighbor who was in the Oklahoma National Guard when the US entered the war. The 45th AKA the Thunderbird Division started their service in Sicily and ended it in Germany. With all the battles including Cassino in between. George never really talked about his time overseas. He did borrow a copy of Ernie Pyle’s dispatches, Brave Men, and returned it almost immediately. Nearly forty years later and it still hit him too hard. He was a sergeant by the end of the war. By the time he got back home to Oklahoma he was a private. Seems he and his buddies were told they’d have to wait their turn to be officially demobilized. They demobilized themselves and went AWOL. I don’t think he ever regretted the loss of those stripes.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while there’s a place for the heroic individual, that isn’t what helped win that war. The loggers, the farmers, the men and women in the factories forged the tools and grew the food. The convoys and their escorts ran the gauntlet to get the men, the weapons, the fuel, the food to Europe. The people that loaded and unloaded the ships and made sure those supplies ended up where they were supposed to, armed with no more than paper, pencils and if they were lucky a clip board didn’t make headlines but that army couldn’t have succeeded without them. Take out one of those links and the whole pyramid was in danger of collapse.


This seems like an odd place to end but this is getting kind of long, perhaps more later. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

TAP DANCING ON THE EDGE OF THE ABYSS

Lisa’s latest started this off. And because I am congenitally unable to LEAVE IT ALONE I’m off again in search of the puzzle pieces of possible realities. I don’t know, maybe it’s why I’ve never been able to just sit back and watch reality TV or read the latest mindless “best seller” being touted on Amazon.  Maybe it’s those named and nameless Puritan and Quaker ancestors. God/dess knows THEY weren’t able to leave anything alone. And what they’d make of their hybrid grand daughter as she tap dances back and forth across the line.

So, here we go. This is an expansion of the comment I left on her Face Book entry. And oh, Lisa where that comment went after it took the bit in its teeth and headed for the edge of the cliff.

Ah, but Americans aren't supposed to contemplate passing through the veil between this world and whatever comes after. Where’s the profit in that? That won’t keep the cash registers chinging, unless you’re loading up in the New Age/self help guru aisle in search of the NEXT BIG THING. That glimmer around the corner that you think is your soul but is really just a mirage.

We're supposed to keep working and spending and doing whatever it takes to "keep it up." Remember when Viagra first came out? Bob Dole was the spokesman. Now the faces in the ads are younger and the latest isn’t even somebody who would be taking the drug. It’s a sexy young thing with flowing hair and a come hither air. Is that really all there is? Sex and shopping and Twitter and running faster and faster like the White Rabbit? I’m late! I’m late! But, what am I late for?

Because to be honest, it we ever stopped the treadmill, too many of us would be looking into the abyss wondering 'what the hell was it all for?" How many state of the art entertainment centers, cars with all the bells and whistles, cosmetics, bowl games, Cialis prescriptions, mountain top removal coal mines, Alberta tar sands pit mines, fracked gas mines, herbicides. pesticides and Big Gulps does it take to keep the howling wolf at bay. The wolf we’ve got by the ears. The wolf with the dripping fangs who lives where our souls ought to be.

Look into the eyes of Mitt Romney. Look into the eyes of the Bush Brothers. Look in the eyes of the likes of Dick Cheney. If you dare. Because if you do you’ll find the wolf or the abyss staring right back at you.

And that was where I bailed. I don’t know about other folks but I’m not going to bare my soul on Face Book. That’s what this blog is for. Up to a point. Anyway, at that point I found myself standing at the edge of my own abyss. There’s hope, but damn, my fingers are getting tired on hanging onto the edges of it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

WHAT ARE THE REAL PROBLEMS?

“Though I would just as soon get along without it, an humbling awareness of the complexity of moral issues is said to be a good thing. If such an awareness is, in fact good---and if I in fact have it—I have tobacco to thank for it. To many people nowadays, there is nothing complex about the moral issue of tobacco. They are simply against it. They will sit in their large automobiles, spewing a miasma of toxic gas into the atmosphere, and they will thank you for not smoking a cigarette. They will sit in a smoke-free bar, drinking stingers and other toxic beverages, and wonder how smokers can have so little respect for their bodies. They will complacently stand in the presence of a coal-fired power plant or nuclear power plant or a bomb factory or a leaking chemical plant, and they will wonder how a tobacco farmer can have so little regard for public health. Well, as always, it matters whose ox is being gored.”

Wendell Berry in the essay The Problem of Tobacco.

Berry also used the coal fired power plant in another context. Say a company wants to build a plant in Indiana that happens to be near the Kentucky border. The folks in Indiana get to weigh in on the plant. Even though they live on the other side of the state and given prevailing winds may never see much of the pollution from the plant. However, the folks who live just across the border, who do get hit with the pollution don’t have a say in whether the plant gets built or not.


Back to tobacco. All of Berry’s examples can damage the environment. However dealing with his other examples mean that society as a whole has to deal with the problems, even change how they live their lives. Smoking however can be portrayed as individual weakness. Everything would be cool if those weak, addicted people would just get their act together. In the meantime all the other threats to health and the environment keep ticking like time bombs and any suggestion that structural changes need to be made are met with the “you are trampling on my personal freedoms’ mantra. Usually very loudly and with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

LIBERTY TO DO WHAT?

Again, this entry is a little disjointed but I think/hope some threads are beginning to look more like a ball of yarn and less like the Gordian knot. A little bit of Berry (Tomas and Wendell), a bit of Callenbach, a touch of Fox and Starhawk. I may need to make up a graphic that reads "Caution, blogger thinking in public."

We’ve allowed the far right/radical libertarian definition of liberty as unfettered hyper individualism. While the corporatacracy hopes that we won't notice that the flip side is their right to do what they damn well please no matter what the cost to the lives and health of the rest of us.

How can we be “free” when our whole economy is based on a finite resource? And the bringing of new sources on line involves contaminating fresh water resources and dumping even more pollution into the earth and atmosphere. How much stronger would our economy be if we weren’t dependent on foreign energy sources. The corporations will defend your “right” to purchase a big ass SUV or pickup that gets the wonderful MPG of 32 MPG whether you really need it or not. Or if it’s just a way to prove how big a “man” or “woman” you are.

And in actions that seem from my point of view part of the reason that oil prices have been dropping like a rock is that OPEC is trying to drive US production out of the market. Please explain to me how pumping your finite supply of petroleum faster is going to be good for YOUR bottom line in the long run. I'm obviously missing something here. But, I can count my business classes on one hand. They didn't make any sense almost thirty years ago and still don't now.

How can we be free when our food supply is dependent on a finite source of energy to transport the product, is used to make chemical fertilizers and powers the machinery needed even begin to bring in a crop. Big Ag will fight to the death your right to buy a Big Gulp at a 7-11 but fight like hell to block efforts to add non GMO to the food labels.

And last fall the WTO ruled against at least some US country of origin labeling for meat products. Seems they might lead to discrimination by US customers against meat from Canada and Mexico. Hell yes, I’m going to discriminate. Why should I buy beef or chicken that’s traveled half way across the continent when we can get better results from critters raised on the other side of the state. Or better yet, just north of town.

How can you even hope to raise healthy children if you live in a “food desert” where you can buy nachos at the corner bodega but it’s almost impossible to find a head of lettuce or fresh fruit? And the closest decent produce is two or three bus transfers away.

A few years ago we had a bit of a bruhaha when a local sand and gravel company wanted to expand out the River Road area west of town. This area between Eugene and Junction City is home to a couple of nurseries, fruit stands, orchards and berry fields. Thistledown and Lone Pine Farms led the opposition. Lacking a plan B Eugene Sand and Gravel tried to dismiss the opposition as “hobby farms.” Whatever that means. Actually I believe what it meant was "we're not getting what we want and we don't have a plan B."

Well, we hit both of them several times last summer, during the week, and they were doing land office business. The parking lot was full, people were coming and going constantly and a lot of the customers looked like working class type families so the market is there.

We had a measure on the ballot in Oregon last year that would have required products that contain GMO’s to be labeled. It almost passed in spite of the millions of dollars spent by the opposition. The biggest argument was that it would be too “expensive” to label the products. Give me a freakin’ break. I’m willing to bet that with the technology we have now labels are printed as needed and slapped on that just packed chicken as it heads out the door to the loading dock.

Right, you’ll defend to the death my right to guzzle Big Gulps and natter on about the Nanny state but God help anyone who really wants to know what’s in those Chicken Nuggets from McDonalds.

And in a tip of the hat to Orwellian doublespeak the likes of Dow and Monsanto are trying to pass off tradition hybridization practices as GMO’s. Trying to breed a flock of sheep that can prosper on hillside pastures by carefully breeding back within the same species is a far cry from breeding plants that can make their own pesticides.

Actually some of the most chilling sections of Ecotopia Emerging were pseudo memos discussing the acceptable levels of death and illness caused by pollution, uninspected meat and poultry, barely inspected nuclear power plants, over use of herbicides/ pesticides and unsafe working conditions. How many of us have to die or suffer from preventable illnesses to protect the corporate bottom line?

Guess I’d better bring this rant to a close. For now.

Friday, January 16, 2015

SLIGHTLY DISORIENTED POST

Too many threads coming together here. Callenbach and Starhawk, The two Berrys, Thomas and Wendell (unrelated as far as I know). Matthew Fox and Hildegard. Tom Cowan and Meister Ekhart. Maybe I'll get it all to make sense. One of these days.

Has anyone out there ever read Ernest Callenbachs’s Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging. Depending on your point of view they are either visions of utopia or a dystopia.

Ectopia is set in the near future. Washington, Oregon, and Northern California have seceded from the US. It’s a vision sustainable living. A truly cooperative democracy, a lot of wood, a little pot, no cars in the cities, Find a copy it makes more sense to me now than when I read it in the seventies.

Ecotopia Emerging is the prequel but written after the first book. Which the author had to self publish. Then the college crowd discovered it and real publishers put it out. Anyway, the US, much like now, is a mess. What’s scary are the passages in italics that catalog the elected hired help basically deciding how many of us to write off in order to keep certain industries going. The nuclear power plants, the fence row to fence row big Ag dependent on herbicides, pesticides, and petro based fertilizers.

And how much of our hard earned money was going overseas to keep our oil addicted society from going into withdrawal.

Anyway, this is one of the one star reviews of Ecotopia. I’m not even sure if the twit actually read the book. Or at least no the book I read.

If you believe in Marxist ideas, than maybe this book can be seen as a nice approach to environmentalism. But if you love this country and the capitalistic and democratic ideals that have made it great, then you will see this book for the sham it is.

And, tah dah. This is my comment on his/her comment. Which will probably never be read by anyone. Some additions in bold face. Oh, and Marx isn't mentioned except to note that the USSR isn't doing any better than the US and gee I hope they don't nuke us on top of the God Awful mess we've already made. There is a great deal of messy participatory democracy in Ecotopia. One house of the legislature is picked by lot, work groups and families discuss things a lot before anyone makes a move. It's a rather messy, organized/disorganized world.

I  love this country too. But, it's not working for too many of us. Our democratic ideals are being subverted by gerrymandering and a lamestream media that can't find the back of it's a$$ with both hands. Our supposedly "cheap" food is built on a pyramid of herbicides, pesticides, petro based fertilizers and a big ag that sacrifices as much topsoil as we get bushels of grain. We're stuck in a foreign policy nightmare in part because we didn't have the guts to wean ourselves from the gas guzzlers back when it would have made a difference.

Maybe the Saudis would have fewer petro dollars to invest in Wahabi madrassas if we’d stuck with building the cars we needed instead of the ones we wanted. Or more accurately bought the cars and pickups the industry wanted to sell us.

We don’t have a health care system, we have a disease management system. A very profitable one for the insurance and drug companies. And a total nightmare failure for the rest of us. I have to tell you watching the commercial breaks these days is educational to say the least. Last year’s medical breakthrough is this year’s lawsuit factory.

Reading mom’s AARP magazine. I don’t know what the blood disease is except that it’s eventually fatal. There’s a drug for it. If you can convince your insurance company to fork over four hundred thousand dollars a year. That’s right boys and girls That, a 4 followed by five 0’s and a comma. Didn’t say it would cure it. Only that it would treat it. And profiled on gal witth I believe MS. First they jacked her copays. Then they sent her to a different pharmacy. Then the drug company raised to price to the point where it’s totally out of reach because her share of the cost is out of reach.

I guess we have reached that point that Wendell Berry wondered about. What do you do when there are too many people period. I guess we just let them die. Preferably after they’ve been milked for every last cent and then some.

We don't live in a democracy now, if we ever did. We live in a corporatacracy. Maybe, just maybe, we need fewer MBA's and financial advisors and more carpenters. Fewer pundits and more dirt farmers. Fewer video games and more dancing on a sand dune or under some herkin' great old growth Doug firs. More homely home made cookies and fewer ones wrapped in plastic.

Were we made for the this train wreck of an economic order or was it supposedly made for us. Because if it was it sure as heck isn't working.

Oh, and BTW if anyone ever reads this, my family has been here since the mid 1600's so I guess we helped make the messes and the dreams. Bless me if I know how to clean up the one or make the others  come true.

Monday, January 12, 2015

NO WAY


Years ago we had a little peekapoo named Candy. She was a sweet little dog. But she didn't much care for baths. She could put on quite a show. Looking sad, shivering a little. A real pathetic little doggie. Now our cockapoo Sam. I finally had to use the leash to get him into the bathroom. He KNEW what was coming and at every possible choice of direction he wanted to go the other direction. So I can totally understand where this cat is coimng from LOL

Saturday, January 10, 2015

NO PLANET B


From the website An Inconvenient Truth. No matter what we do, the planet will survive. In time it will heal itself. Of course if we manage to fuck things up badly enough, neither we or any of our descendants will be around to see it. Part of me is almost glad that Carl Sagan isn't around to see that too many of us not only didn't listen, we're even more of a train wreck waiting to happen than we were in the nineties. On the other hand...he was beginning to sound pretty cranky by the time he wrote this book. 

“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it 
everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, 
every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate 
of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, 
and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and 
coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and 
peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful 
child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt 
politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint 
and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust 
suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”
― Carl SaganPale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space



Friday, January 9, 2015

PLAYING THE PERSECUTION CARD

From Benjamin Corey’s blog about so called persecution of Christians in this country. Ken Ham referenced an Atlanta Fire Chief who wrote a book condemning homosexuality etc. Up front  he has the right to write the book. He has the right to use it in his Bible study class. He didn’t have the right to bring copies of his self published tome to the fire house and try to distribute them to his subordinates. He didn’t lose his job because he was a Christian. He lost it, in part, because he was using his position to in effect intimidate those under him. This is the comment that set off my post.

"That firefighter has a duty to preach the Gospel of Christ. What he did was not wrong in any sense, him being fired is just another example of what a godless, pagan culture we live in .

Christians have been persecuted since Christ ascended to heaven. We will not stop being laughed at and mocked at until Christ returns."

Guess what. If you insist that the earth is only 6,000 years old; that the earth is the center of the universe and that the Bible is a science text book don’t be surprised if the most polite reactions are snickers behind the hands followed by quick exits and hysterical laughter from the other side of the door.  That’s not persecution. It’s pity. Especially for any kids you may be “home schooling.”

Now on to the subject at hand. He did not have duty to preach the gospel on the taxpayers dime in a public building supported with the taxes of every citizen of the city to his subordinates. He can preach all he wants, hire a hall, stand on a street corner, build his own church. Nobody is going to stop him. Probably won't even throw ripe tomatoes at him.

To those who cry persecution when what is really happening is that you are faced with equal treatment under the law.

I assume your pastor is still walking free. Still holding Bible study classes. Still prepping that sermon for next Sunday. He or she hasn't been arrested. Hasn't suddenly disappeared. Hasn't been gunned down in a local cane field. Didn't get run over by a tank after being gunned down. Hasn't been accused of being a "subversive" recently.

Anybody try to stop you from going to church last Sunday?  Any troops or cops blocking the entrance to the parking lot on that morning?  If you hold a Bible study at home are there any unmarked cars parked across the street watching who is coming and going and taking notes and pictures?  Any soldiers show up and turn your church into a barracks? Is the Bible in a translation of your choice still available at the local book store or on Amazon?  Can a Catholic lay church worker make a delivery of consecrated Hosts to a small rural church without fear of being searched and murdered by the local death squads? Ever see any graffiti on the walls near where you live that reads along the lines of “be a patriot, kill a priest?

 Has any congregation in this country ever been told at the end of funeral as mourners in Latin America attending a mass for murdered student activists were told,  “stay inside the cathedral because the troops are outside and there's nowhere to run?”

Forgive me, I don't remember off hand where this happened. I THINK it was Argentina but I’m not going to bet the farm on it. The priests and other celebrants proceeded to go outside and begin walking towards the soldiers. Miraculously (I guess miracles do happen sometimes) the soldiers fell back and kept falling back until enough space in front of the cathedral had been cleared so that those inside had a fighting chance of getting down an alley or a side street. All of these events happened in Central and South America during the Reagan and Bush I years. And worse.

Oh, and BTW can your church have a cross outside or on the roof without the government (China) telling you to take it down? Or worse bulldoze the whole building. Or arrest you for belonging to a congregation that isn’t sanctioned by the state? Give me a freakin' break.

Here’s some icing for that cake. Has the Christian population of this country fallen by seventy five percent since say, 2003? This is happening in Iraq right now. In part, thanks to our “Crusade” and experiment in regime change. There were nearly a million Christians in Iraq when the war started. The number is closer to a quarter million and some of them are still there just because they haven’t had a chance to leave yet. There have been Christians in that part of the world since the beginning. Some of them still speak Aramaic. You know, the language Jesus is supposed to have spoken.

Frankly your claims are embarrassing. There are many places in many countries where Christians face real persecution ranging from being blocked from using the village well in India to being accused of apostasy from Islam even though you were raised a Christian by a Christian mother in Sudan. Please save the crocodile tears for the Hams and Corchorans and try to find a way to really help those who truly are in danger.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

NEVER IN MY WILDEST DREAMS

Never in a million years did I think I'd ever be writing an entry like this. And I'd much rather be leafing through Wendell Berry's Sabbath poems, the book on Native American herbs and rituals, Thomas Merton, anything but this.

This is my comment and a response.

  • Me: It might just be a jobs bill. After all we can't have women who can afford it going outside the country for abortions. It'll be China in reverse. Checking every woman every month to see if she's pregnant or not. And then making sure she stays pregnant. Join the pregnancy police and keep those women in their place. Think I'm exaggerating? I sure as hell hope so.
    Like · Reply · 2 · 2 hrs
    • Stevie King Women are already being imprisoned for miscarriage. In America. Seriously. So maybe you aren't exaggerating as much as you'd like to be.
      Like · 2 hrs
    • Jackie Heaton I've seen the news stories. And nitwits, all men, who want to have every miscarriage investigated as a possible murder. Including a woman who fell down the stairs. She was actually arrested, I believe. Yeah, right I'm going to risk a broken neck on the off chance...I'm 65. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be living in THIS America when I was in high school. This crap was what happened in those dystopian science fiction novels I still love.
I ran across another story recently. Woman was depressed, tried self medicating BEFORE she got pregnant. Went to the hospital to be checked out. Found out she was preggers and didn't know until the cops showed up that workers at the hospital had called them accusing her of child abuse. And she was arrested. If convicted (if the DA is dumb enough to run with this) she could be on a watch list for life. This is totally insane. 

I grew up in a logging town in Oregon. I got a good education in math and science and never looked back. I love science. The wonder of it. The, dare I say it, magic of it. I want to shout "your God is too small from the rooftops" when I run across the anti science nut jobs. And I'd be a hell of lot more impressed with their claims of being "pro life" if they really acted like it. Fracking, hill top removal mining, not knowing what's in the food we're eating, eagerness to go to war no matter what, still enough nukes to poison the earth for generations. I refuse to give up, but damn it how many times to we have to keep fighting the same battles?

My folks weren't Quakers by the time they hit the west coast; I was raised Methodist. But they still carried the idea of I'll mind my business and you mind yours. 

And how many cops would it take in this country to investigate every miscarriage, just to be sure along with ensuring that every pregnancy comes to term. Talk about an invasion of rights and privacy. But, it is the logical outcome of this scenario. As I said in my comment, when I was a lot younger I never dreamed I'd be living in THIS America. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN

In 1854 a leader of the Suwamish known as Seattle made a speech asking the Americans to respect the environment and the native peoples. At least several versions of the speech have been attributed to him. He spoke in his native language, which was translated into the trade language known as Chinook Jargon and then into English. Years later a version was released based on notes taken at the time.

This is a poetic version of the speech he is supposed to have given. It still reads very well.

Teach your children
what we have taught our children--
that the earth is our mother. 
Whatever befalls the earth
befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
If men spit upon the ground
they spit upon themselves.

This we know.
The earth does not belong to us;
we belong to the earth.
This we know.
All things are connected
like the blood that which unites one family.
All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the earth
befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
We did not weave the web of life;
We are merely a strand in it.
Whatever we do to the web
We do to ourselves.

Chief Seattle from American Indian Healing Arts


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

MOTHER EARTH, FATHER SKY

O our Mother the Earth,
O our Father the Sky,
You children are we, and with our tired backs
We bring you the gifts you love.
Then weave for us a garment of brightness;
May the warp be the bright light of morning,
May the weft be the red light of evening,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow.
Then weave for us a garment of brightness
That we may walk fittingly where the grass is green,
O our Mother the Earth,
O our Father the Sky.

Tewa Pueblo prayer.

In desert country rain, rainbows and green grass would be very rare most of the year. But, the desert farmers were masters at using the available water to bring in their crops. They bred plants that could mature quickly with a minimum of water. They knew their land in a way that the modern world doesn't know. Probably should know if we want to survive. Too bad so many of their seeds have been lost while the snowbirds from the north still try to pretend they can have green lawns and water hungry shrubs. Just like they had in say, Minnesota.

Monday, January 5, 2015

HUMMINGBIRDS

What a picture in the mind.

I saw a hummingbird stand
in midair and scratch his cheek
vigorously with his left foot,
as he might have done perched
at ease upon a tree. "Wonderful!"
I said to myself. "I never dreamed
of such a thing before, and now
after seventy seven years
of watching, I have seen it!"

Wendell Berry 2011.

I watched a hummingbird dive bomb the sparrows next door as a crow would chase a hawk. That little bird, no bigger than the palm of my hand, was taking on birds bigger than he was . Way to go, little one. And then it came and dive bombed me and flew off. Chpp, chpp.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

WHOOPIE!!!!!


I'm old enough to remember when the Ducks were a national joke and couldn't half fill Autzen Stadium so this is sweet.

And it's when you lose that you show whether you're a class act. Even the sportscasters were amazed when at least half of the Florida team headed straight for the locker room without doing the midfield fingers crossed behind your back "nice game" routine. there's something to be said for losing a game now and then at least you get some practice at knowing how to act.

Two of my nephews were minor players on the team but they both emphasized that the coaches taught them that you focused on the next play. When that play was done you worried about the next one. Tonight they played as if each play was the only play in the game. And by the beginning of the fourth quarter? Florida literally gave up. To be honest I've never seen anything like it. Even when the they were losing years ago and the defense was being outplayed six ways from Sunday they kept trying. They may have been out scored and outplayed but they never just...folded.