Consistency with Integrity – MIA

Just recently we had Jason Collins, NBA player reveal to the world he is gay.  The struggle this man had with life up to this point in time was obvious if you pay any attention at all.  In a testosterone driven business – sports in general – this is a brave man.  Not surprising, with little time to spare, we have one Chris Broussard,  sports analyst for ESPN and also a columnist for ESPN Magazine and ESPN.com, takes to the airways and during a segment on “Outside the Lines” a show discussing Mr. Collin’s and his decision to come out, decides it is the perfect time to express his personal beliefs.  He goes on to say “Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly … like premarital sex between heterosexuals.  If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says ‘you know them by their fruits.’ It says that, you know, that’s a sin.” He goes on to say “I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is…. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be… that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.”  He follows up in a later interview with an equally open-minded statement – one where he still sees hope for anyone who is gay – and he even admits he has a friend that is gay – “And if you stumble and fall, then you get back up, you repent and ask God for forgiveness, and you move on,” he said. “I think that applies to homosexuals as well.”  Okay, the man is entitled to believe whatever he wants – no matter how stunted and bigoted it is.   Using a national Cable TV show to express it seems a bit irrelevant and inappropriate given the topic at hand.   And of course, when confronted by irate viewers, ESPN wasn’t able to really man up and address the level of the issue here – maybe only my read of their released statement being pretty much non-committal and cowardly but I find it an action-less and unacceptable response – “We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement.”  Basically, sorry it disrupted the show.  And we have gay friends also.

But this isn’t really the problem here.  We have all encountered this prejudice and bible-thumping rhetoric at every stage of the game.  I think the bigger problem is really in the rest of the statement made by Broussard – let’s pay some attention to the “If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be” being a sin, then I don’t understand why Broussard hasn’t made it a focus to call out the rest of the NBA players who have obviously dabbled in those other areas of sin.  I have to wonder if he took on Kobe Bryant when he decided adultery was ok – I think not.  Not that I would know (or even really care) but do we really believe that Broussard never fornicated or had sex outside of marriage?  Maybe Broussard was able to maintain his celibacy not only thru college but for another 5 years after college until he got married but really?  Bottom line is I’m tired of all these people standing behind the façade of religion the teachings of the bible and then living life as they wish, basically screwing whoever – literally and figuratively – when the occasion or opportunity arises.   It is really time that people stop being sheep and start calling these people out – repercussions are a bitch and it is time we, as a society, make it clear you can’t say one thing and do another.

CHRIS-BROUSSARD

Again, maybe Mr. Broussard has lived an exemplary life and lives what he preaches – I still remind him that without the progress around diversity and inclusiveness this country has realized over the past decades, maybe he wouldn’t be able to share the same public bathroom with me or drink from the same water fountain.

And to ESPN  – get some balls.

William Shockley…in another Flavor?

Maybe it is Brain surgery...

Maybe it is Brain surgery…

Interesting paths that some individuals take to relative notoriety.  Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital, has made the rounds as of recent from addressing President and Mrs. Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C to wowing the crowds at CPAC.  Hard not to make a splash at CPAC when you take an obviously successful black man who is Republican and have him attack Obama policies…but again, he was preaching to the choir, so to speak.  Apparently quite the Christian also.  But just when you have an new face in the Republican camp who is all of a sudden being talked about as the next best thing next to sliced bread who will be a leading contender for the 2016 Republican amazing race, it becomes obvious they left the bread in the toaster a little too long.  The good Dr. choose poorly and joined Sean Hannity on Fox News and again, quickly provided evidence of why the Republicans are where they are and why many even within the party are shaking their heads in wonderment.  If you missed it, the exchange basically was as follows:

HANNITY: All right, last question, we have the issue of the Supreme Court dealing with two issues involving gay marriage. I’ve asked you a lot of questions. I’ve never asked you that, what are your thoughts?

CARSON: Well, my thoughts are that marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s a well-established, fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality. It doesn’t matter what they are. They don’t get to change the definition. So he, it’s not something that is against gays, it’s against anybody who wants to come along and change the fundamental definitions of pillars of society. It has significant ramifications.

Huh?  You’ve got to be kidding – say what?  Brain surgeon?

So here we have someone who is apparently an esteemed surgeon (questionable) who equates gays with pedophiles and people into bestiality.  Excuse me?  I wouldn’t let this guy near my brain if it was leaking out all over the floor.  I guess the good news is we can really see what this guy is made of and where his values lie.  Reach a little further back into his views and you get that which is the hallmark of these conservatives and right-wing nut jobs – “I can tell you what to do and how to live but don’t try to do that to me.”

In his book America the Beautiful, he shares the following view:
“I have no problem whatsoever with allowing gay people to live as they please, as long as they don’t try to impose their lifestyle on everyone else. Marriage is a very sacred institution and should not be degraded by allowing every other type of relationship to be made equivalent to it.”

Interesting point I must have missed – I didn’t realize the gays were trying to “impose” their lifestyle on everyone else.  I might be a little slow but I still don’t get how gay marriage somehow changes marriage between a man and a women.  Is this anything like gay teachers trying to convert children to their lifestyle?  In all honesty, in looking around at the state of most heterosexual marriages, one might be able to easily make the case that it needs a little help or change.
2320497_95890_146e0a4416_p
So again we have someone who gets a great deal of attention as a conservative who manages to step wholeheartedly into the pit of ignorance by demonstrating not only an opinion that most in this country would obviously abhor (at least if they are younger than 40 years old if we go by polls) but also the stupidity to say it aloud so there is no room for error when someone looking and listening to him tries to figure out if this is someone to whom they can relate as a person.  I guess the net result of the comments made in this last election cycle by the likes of Todd Akin and Richard Murdoch (and even the 47% speech by Romney) hasn’t made much of an impression on some in the party.
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What I might suggest to the good Dr. here is a quick review of the position taken not all that long ago by another Republican. William Shockley.  William Shockley won the Nobel Prize for inventing the transistor, founded Silicon Valley, was a virulent racist, and donated sperm to a sperm bank for the super intelligent.  So on one hand a rather accomplished physicist and inventor.  On another hand, he managed to pretty much put it all out there with his views of blacks.  While teaching at Stanford he became intrigued by racial questions and population control, and began publicly claiming that blacks are less intelligent than whites, by genetics and heredity.  Shockley believed that the higher rate of reproduction among the less intelligent was having a dysgenic effect, and that a drop in average intelligence would ultimately lead to a decline in civilization.  When asked if his views amounted to racism, he famously answered “If you found a breed of dog that was unreliable and temperamental, why shouldn’t you regard it in a less favorable light?”
William Shockley showing off his latest invention - Siamese Tea Cups

William Shockley showing off his latest invention – Siamese Tea Cups

So, I ask Dr. Ben how different his views of gays as equals to the rest of us are from how Shockley viewed blacks a few decades ago.  Looks like some haven’t learned much about how it feels to be looked as inferior.   And these are supposedly the “smart’ ones.  I might suggest that Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus consider reprinting the latest Republican Manifesto so maybe a wider population can “get it”.
                                                                                                                                            RNC Growth                                                 growthRNC

Time to get off the Religious Bandwagon

Source and owner of picture = dingo.care2.com

Source and owner of picture = dingo.care2.com

With all eyes on the Supreme Court today with what will eventually be an historic ruling and leap forward, I still find it amazing the people who stand against what is an obvious (to some of us) civil right for our LGBT citizens.  It remains tiring and disheartening that I needed to have the conversation with my son today to not let this ongoing crap and the ignorant comments get to him as it is really just a matter of time as law catches up with where the majority in our country are going with gay rights and gay marriage.    Yes, it might not be this time around where we get it right but it is inevitable.  What is just and what is right will prevail.  We have time on our side as many of the naysayer’s are of that “Greatest Generation” and they will not die off soon enough.  Giving them that honor (Tom Brokow – you are undoubtedly an asshole) just because they served in WWII managed to dismiss the fact that they have been one of the most bigoted, most selfish and most self-entitled generation this nation has ever seen.  But I digress – we still have all the other bible thumpers – most of whom are religious in name only and then only when it serves their personal need.  These are also people who hide their prejudice behind some crap out of the bible – a novel from the hands of pure mortals at best.  I might have a little more respect if these same people actually lived their life based on the purported beliefs but these are the same people who make up the 41% of people in marriages that admit to infidelity or the 57% of men and 51% of women who admit the same (and these are just the ones who admit it).  If the bible is your only course of pushback to gay marriage, your platform is rapidly shrinking and will likely catch up to your brain shortly.

Source and owner of picture = i.imgur.com

Source and owner of picture = i.imgur.com

But again I digress.  I’m thinking that maybe it is time to take this same approach these anti-gay people are taking and start to apply it to other human traits/characteristics/whatever you want to call it but basically aspects of being a person that you really have no control over and were likely pretty much born with – yes, pretty much like those people who are gay ( and it you still believe it’s a choice, it is time to take that gun you are so afraid is going to be taken from you and do us a big favor and move ahead with an unassisted suicide event.)

Let’s look at a few of the options.

Intelligence – Maybe we need to start looking at people’s IQ as a means of differentiation and begin to allocate access to things based on level of intelligence.  Maybe if your IQ is under 120, you should be limited in access to certain societal institutions – like access to college or maybe even high school if you’re too far down that IQ scale.  Maybe we should limit the jobs available to these dumbbells as our economy as an institution is one we should be protecting from those who contribute little.  You can still get married but only to other people of lower IQ but I think we might want to limit your ability to have a baby as if you aren’t able to really add to the family as an institution in a positive sense, maybe a limit is in order.   Not sure you should be able to drive a car – I don’t think I need to elaborate on the benefit of that direction – have you been out there on the road recently?

Attractiveness – We could look at how attractive people are and limit certain access based on where they are on the ugly scale.  We could actually memorialize height and weight as a differentiator.  As I understand it there are many clubs that ugly people already can’t get into.   There are other aspects of this that exist already so this one is already underway.

Statistic Verification
Source: American Psychological Association, Smart Money, Princeton University
Research Date: 11.27.2012
Attractive People Success Statistics Data
Percent chance an attractive person will receive a callback after an interview 72.32 %
Percent chance an unattractive person will receive a callback after an interview 62.02 %
Percent more that attractive workers earn than unattractive 10 %
Average lifetime earning difference $230,000
Average salary for people with low self-esteem $50,323
Average salary for people with high self-esteem $78,927
Average salary for someone who was 6’0″ at age 18 $51,880
Average salary for someone who was 5’1″ at age 18 $40,000
Percent of salary increase with each standard deviation increase in facial symmetry 8%

I won’t belabor the points here but at some level this is all wrong.  And it seems stupid when you put it on paper but yet it is not all that different.  Discrimination is wrong no matter the justification or rationalization.  It is not up to any one individual or group to limit the access a person has to that society has to offer or to impede their ability to live a life equal to the rest of us based on their own personal beliefs.  I’ve said it before and I don’t know how people don’t see it (maybe it’s the intelligence factor cited above) but just because you believe something and choose to live your life a certain way doesn’t give you the right to force that on everyone else. I do wonder what you are really scared of because that is the only thing that explains this unthinking and unfeeling behavior.   Your justification, usually based on some religious doctrine or belief, doesn’t hold water into society today.  We don’t all want to follow your God (and most of you really don’t anyhow) and we don’t want your rules to be our rules.  I don’t force my ways or beliefs on you – I might think you are stupid or an asshole – but I’m not asking you to do it my way.  And don’t limit my son’s ability to live and enjoy life to its fullest.  When you do I don’t just think you are stupid or an asshole – you have removed all doubt.

Life Isn’t a Smorgasbord…

Not sure if fits...just love the picture!

Not sure if fits…just love the picture!

Gun Control, Abortion Rights, LBGT Civil Rights (someone please tell me how this is not a Civil Rights issue) – quite a bit going on this week and next.  As our Congress spends the majority of time playing pocket pool and continues to demonstrate ineptitude beyond belief, they systematically ignore where this country has been and is heading in these areas.  Recent legislative efforts by Kansas and North Dakota (again, both states that never make the top 10 list for admirable points for which most strive) to outlaw abortion, again demonstrates a vendetta against Women’s rights and a direction counter where most people in this country are.  The Supreme Court this week will hear two cases crucial to the pace of progress in giving LGBT citizens their civil rights and equality under the law.  Gun Control – little progress in even what a thinking and feeling person might think would be an easy step forward – Universal background checks.

Are you sure you want to go back to Kansas?

Are you sure you want to go back to Kansas?

In every case the American public who, as a whole, is well ahead of the political musings and stances, makes it clear they support abortion rights (a woman’s right to choice, let’s be clear), LGBT equality and the right to marry, and better gun control (in particular Universal background checks).  The problem is in the details as we look at the state and local level and the way political divisions have been drawn. We end up with a clear division of view of where the Federal should have rule and set law and where it should fall to the State and Local.  While I don’t always believe the Federal Government is right and should be making choices for States, I would be more inclined to move decision-making for these specific issues I’ve cited to the State and Local levels if I actually believed they had the intellectual and social where-with-all to make smart decisions.  Again, my judgment to sure but making decisions based on bible teachings, views that harken back to how we used to treat both women and Blacks in our country and lastly, some misguided view that the government is trying to take everyone’s weapons seems to fall short of the yardstick of a civilized and informed society.

“Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.” – Mark Twain

That being said, I am willing to take a shot at letting the states have their way.  We can move these sorts of decisions out there and let the states decide for their people.  However, I suggest we should also begin to play approach out to the full extent of the concept.  If you really want the Federal government out of your shorts, sounds good to me but then let’s make it incumbent on the States to then provide everything the Federal Government provides today – try that for health care costs.  We can let the States deal with the repercussions of making abortions illegal.  We can watch as States continue to outlaw LGBT Civil Rights.  We can let more idiots own guns in those States that want it and watch more people die from the results.  End of the day, the costs, both financial and social, can sit with the State.

What happens is that we get more pockets of the same type of people living in different states as people with a social conscience and intellect migrate either to those more progressive states.  We can watch the distribution of income and educated people move around at the same time – sorry but I would expect that the median income and level of education isn’t going to rise in the South or places like North Dakota and Kansas.  And these states will lose most everyone there who have kept their state within arm’s-length of civility and humanity (maybe even Texas has a few).   At some point it will become obvious that the longer-term impact of attitudes and mindsets from the 50’s isn’t a step forward.  Sad commentary but maybe we let them have what they want.  I for one might actually see my Federal tax bill drop a bit when I’m no longer having my tax dollars going to states that are the “Takers” and depend on Federal support to run their states – interesting that as of 2011, we now have 30 of the 50 states having 1/3rd of their state budget dependent on Federal funding (my state is one of them) and two states (Oklahoma and Louisiana) with more than 50% of their state budget Federally funded.

Fed Taxes/Benefit Balance

Fed Taxes/Benefit Balance

 

Sometimes you just can’t protect people from themselves.  However, we can only hope that people at some point realize that life isn’t a smorgasbord – it’s basically “Eat what’s on  your plate” – some you want and some you don’t but in the end it’s all there for a reason.  And if you’re good, you might get some .

“All government — indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act — is founded on compromise and barter.” – Edmund Burke 

Stupidity – the new normal?

I’ve read several articles that raise the question whether people in general are less intelligent today than in the past. I actually like the phrase “more stupid” as it gets more to the core of the issue but the question raised is one that should not be taken lightly. On an individual basis there is no doubt that there are many more smart people today than in the past. One need only look around at the conveniences of daily living we enjoy to see there are obvious signs that there are many out there who have put their education and native intelligence to work. But the bigger issue is society in the US as a whole. There is thought that with the proliferation of many modern technologies, there is less to stress and exercise the brains of most people. Just look at the result of the use of calculators. Watch a lot of cashiers work out change when you provide the challenge of giving them extra coin so you get back a whole bill. Something is missing. People have gotten lazy as there is less to work at. That too adds to stupidity as a brain unexercised doesn’t grow. Now I don’t need to see large scientific studies to prove this – just look around. Lazy and stupid aren’t too far apart on the continuum of human conditions.

First example – the blizzard that just hit the Northeast. Seems that despite the rather advanced warnings, there were many in Long Island who figured they knew better that everyone else and took their cars out for some reason that only they can probably make sense of. Now, I know that New Yorkers are smarter than most of the rest of us and are much more experienced and worldly (they always seem quick to make it clear that they know more than those of us that don’t live or haven’t lived in New York) but in looking at the number of vehicles that figured they could traverse the blizzard based no doubt on their superior intelligence, let alone vastly better driving skills, I offer up the following picture.

What do you mean I can't get my car thru here?  It has FWD.

What do you mean I can’t get my car thru here? It has FWD.

So bad enough that they are that stupid to go out and get quickly stuck, most of them ended up abandoning their cars causing other issues with getting roads cleared or put emergency workers at personal risk when they had to go out to rescue them from their own stupidity. My suggestion would be that any vehicle that was abandoned be picked up and immediately brought to a junk yard to get crushed and recycled. My guess is that those individuals would be a little less stupid next time around.

I do believe that stupidity is our biggest problem at the moment. It invades most every other issue and it is the common denominator across most every situation where anyone who can actually think looks up and scratched their head and says “WTF”. Stupidity hides itself in many ways and is core to many other shortcomings people consistently demonstrate. I have to believe that if you are a Tea Party member, stupidity is at the core. And admitting it is just one more piece of evidence. If you can today still take the stance there is no reason for further control of guns in our country, your proclamation of patriotism and 2nd amendment rights is a cover for stupidity.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” – Albert Einstein

Just look at the current political landscape. A lot of stupid people in politics – the likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz demonstrate that quite nicely. But we also can’t ignore those who actually felt the urge to vote them into office. So without stupidity, many of our politicians would not get elected, let alone be able to take the political stance they do. While I think the Republicans have it down pat (one of our current favorite phrases is from Bobby Jindal where he called on the Republican Party to “stop being the stupid party” – and they still don’t get it), the Democrats aren’t without their share.

To a great extent I think organized religion and most “devout” religious belief is steeped in stupidity – not in whether one believes or even what they believe but that most of these assholes feel they have to have the rest of us live in the same aura of stupidity and bow to the same inane beliefs. Hey – you don’t want to take birth control, fine, but keep it in your own family – and by the way, the likelihood is your son or daughter is out there screwing around anyhow. And by the way, at least 1 in 5 of you have a gay son, daughter, aunt, uncle, cousin, mother, father…pay attention – but then again, you are stupid.

Most prejudice is about stupidity. And there is a lot of that going around. I think the Boy Scouts of America are clearly a beacon of demonstrated stupidity. To think that they are upholding a more “moral” standard by discriminating against gays is monumental stupidity. They have enough moral challenge when it comes to patrolling their own ranks of child molesters. Another level of moral question when one looks at the effort to cover it up – more stupidity to think they could actually get away with it. Only to be outdone by the Catholic Church – but that is a another whole story.

Future Leaders of our country?credit: http://m3foto.tumblr.com

Future Leaders of our country?
credit: http://m3foto.tumblr.com

And speaking of Boy Scouts, that shitbag of a human being, Ricky Santorum managed to squeeze into the public eye again as he felt it important to identify another area where he could help report the demise of old and prejudice opinions as he continued his assault on gays – concerned the BSA was abandoning the “founding moral principles that nurture boys into men”. BSA and morals in one sentence is a problem to begin with – having Santorum in your corner doesn’t speak to mainstream longevity.

Ricky with what he thought was a new Ipad 4.

Ricky with what he thought was a new Ipad 4.

“The wise understand by themselves; fools follow the reports of others” – Tibetan Proverb

Lastly, I did want to share a few experiences that I had recently that brought it home very clearly to me the level of stupidity we are dealing with out there. The first occasion was when I stopped by our local township office to make a “Right to Know” request. I had asked for an organization chart of all our public employees indicating all reporting relationships. As the woman at the desk reviewed my form, she very seriously asked “Why do you need to know who is related to who in the organization”? I will say I managed to keep a relatively straight face as I explained the concept behind the term reporting relationships – maybe I’m expecting too much but really?

Lastly, while getting an order from the deli counter in our local supermarket, I asked for 1/3 of a pound of turkey breast – yes, 1/4 was too little and 1/2 was too much but I digress. As I watched the deli guy get my order, I overheard him ask another deli guy how much 1/3 of a pound was. I was even more amazed at that point that he was actually allowed to operate the deli slicer and that he had all his fingers intact.

End of it all, stupid takes a lot of forms – I recognize that some people are doing their best but the vast majority of stupid is there because of laziness and an unwillingness to think. Unfortunately, I don’t see it getting much better.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. – Martin Luther King Jr.

Take Action: Petition to remove Westboro Baptist Church from Tax-Exempt Status

Credit: cheezburger.com

Credit: cheezburger.com

While it is the right of any organization to stand up and show the world how degenerate and despicable they are, as the group Anonymous takes their action against the Westboro Baptist Church, we ordinary citizens can also step up and make our voices heard.  There is now an open petition to have the Westboro Baptist Church recognized as a hate group and to have them removed from their designation as a tax-exempt organization.  I, for one, would prefer that my tax dollars (indirectly or not) are not somehow supporting an organization so heinous the people running it should be sub-human.

An action which you could consider is to not only sign the petition yourself but to also spread the word on the petition that has been started to attempt to get the religious designation the Westboro Baptist Church has that keeps it from paying any taxes.  The current petition of the White House has more than 175,000 signatures, and asks the government to “legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.”  Whether this will ultimately result in a decision to remove the church from its tax-exempt status is far from a given, this is one small step we can take to make it clear we really see what this organization is about.

The petition is located at:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/legally-recognize-westboro-baptist-church-hate-group/DYf3pH2d

The White House petition reads:

“[Westboro’s] actions have been directed at many groups, including homosexuals, military, Jewish people and even other Christians. They pose a threat to the welfare and treatment of others and will not improve without some form of imposed regulation.”

The Lowest of the Lowest

While I’m sure the extra attention is something on which they thrive, maybe this is a great step forward in starting to take apart the legion of assholes we all are forced to tolerate.  Can’t say I can find anything more abhorrent given the events this past couple of days.

Kudos to the hacktivist group Anonymous who have targeted the Westboro Baptist Church after this group of hate-mongering quasi-religious half-breeds announced their plans to protest a Sunday night vigil in remembrance of the Sandy Hook shooting victims.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/17/westboro-baptist-church-hacked-anonymous-protest-newtown-shooting-victims-funerals_n_2315070.html

Direct link to Vimeo – http://vimeo.com/55671721

While I watched the video and my “thinking” side told me this wasn’t probably “right”, the rest of me was jumping around inside me yelling and cheering “way to go – take down the bastards”.  Talk about pure evil and in the name of religion – these people are poor excuses for human beings and deserve no less.

Thanks to my ever vigilant daughter for spotting the news….

Come on Women – what does it take?

Maybe I stay incredulous given the two most important women in my life, my wife and daughter, are fiercely independent, capable and outspoken but I just don’t understand how there are still women that don’t really care they are being treated as second class citizens.  One has to wonder what it takes to have the women of this country that remain supporting Mitt Romney to realize that the Republican Party doesn’t really care about women at all and at the core of their stance about where women should be looks more like 1950 than the 21st century.  This latest salvo of anti-abortion and pro-god spewing crap by Richard Mourdock, which by itself should have women trembling in anger and disgust, joins a longer line of similar sentiment we have heard for throughout the presidential campaign by a variety of Republican office seekers.  This one is even better given a new Mitt ad that began running this week showing his strong support of this halfwit.  Now we hear Mourdock’s defense that what he said was just misinterpreted – really – another incidence of more of the perspective that we all just mis-interpreted what his said.  Seems to be a run on that in the Republican circles.  Yes, Mitt will distance himself in some form or another but will he show the leadership and integrity to make this an issue where he actually takes a stand – I wouldn’t bet on it.

It’s not the demeanor, stupid!

Wonder how Ryan’s mom feels being one of the 47%?

It has been a while since my last post and to be perfectly honest I have pretty much tired of this presidential campaign as I can hardly bear to listen to Romney and Ryan as they manipulate and lie their way forward. I can only hear so much garbage and can only tolerate those who continue to not see anything problematic with the shifting sands in which their campaign run sits. However, after the last debate with Biden and Ryan, to hear the differing perspectives of who won, who was more professional and/or stately, whatever, it become entirely clear that the details really don’t matter to most. We have reached the point where it is less about what really is impactful and critical to our future and more about whether the candidate presented themself in a way that meets our expectations. To be honest, I would rather have someone who I feel is honest about who they are and how they feel. I find Biden’s dismissal of Ryan as basically a liar and a lightweight actually refreshing – not only because I agree but mostly because I know that is really how he feels. This positioning and guidance that Obama got for the first debate not to get angry and not to show his true feelings I believe did more harm than good. And in typical Republican style, Mitt took quite the advantage of it and has continued to pound his chest and throw off all that recently found testosterone – which was usually more reserved for Ann Romney.

It is time to really get angry and more aggressive in light of what lies ahead as potential consequences. To be at this point in the election and still be undecided speaks more to someone not really paying attention or someone who really has no stated values or philosophical stand on life. This is symptomatic of our arrival at being a society where People Magazine is the literary choice of most, the Kardashian family a focal point of many and how we look is less important than who we really are. Pretty sad but also something that explains the lack of real attention to detail.

I don’t think that everyone else needs to believe what I believe or feel strongly about those issues I find important. But you have to stand for something. You have to know what is important to you and what will make a difference.  To be undecided and to have your decision on who you vote for based on whether Joe Biden interrupted too much (was it only me who thought Romney did a bit more butting in) or snickered more than you thought was right, I find that mind-boggling. What really set me off was an item I saw right after the debate this past week. I actually read a twitter comment from someone who was part of a group our local paper (a bastion on inadequacy in its own right) that after watching how Biden comported (my word) himself in that debate, she was changing her vote.   Amazing – but not really a surprise given the “undecideds” still on the fence. If you are still undecided at this point I would submit you did not pass the litmus test of having enough intelligence to actually vote – or you have been in a cave for the past 11 years and didn’t see what had brought this country to its knees. But that is my concern – to think that Romney might win and it not be because people agree with his policies (what ever they are today) or what he will likely change is disheartening – it is because of some shallow, really unimportant factor like whether you like someone’s demeanor.  Look, I think Romney is a flaming asshole and is so far away from what it most people’s life experience that his ability to understand or relate is non-existent. But if I believed in his policies and his direction for America, his persona is of less importance. Sure we want likeable. But that won’t cut it. As I recall, the Bush the 2nd polls showed him as someone with whom you would want to have a beer – unfortunately that “likeability” can now be enjoyed by almost 7000 less American military people given the execution of his policies and his view of what was good for the US.

This time around, I see there are several key areas where you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to recognize a difference between the candidates. You don’t need to agree but recognize what you will get on each side. My list of what is important:
1. Equal Rights for our gay citizens – whether you want to recognize it as the same as the rights won by minorities over the past decades, gay rights and equal right to marriage and the perks that go with it will not move ahead in a Romney win.
2. Women’s reproductive rights and their ability to control their own destiny – I still remain in awe of the women that support Romney. His abortion and birth control agenda will move our country back 50 years.
3. Abortion – related to above but important enough to put as its own headliner. Still trying to overturn Roe v Wade 40 years later – persistent but not based on what the American people want.
4. Religious Freedom – or what is in reality the installation of religious intolerance of anyone who doesn’t believe as I do or doesn’t hold the same view of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I could give two shits about what you do and how you do it in your personal space – but don’t limit mine. I won’t tell you what to do beyond stay out of my life and how I live it.
5. The poor and the needy – as if they haven’t had it tough enough already. Sure there are those who suck off of the rest of us but let’s not ignore our responsibility to those who are really in need – not going to happen with Romney – once politics are aside, it is back to Republican tactics and focus on the rich getting richer.
6. Behind most everything – who sits on the Supreme Court – do we want another Scalia? Do we want more political leaning and furthering of a right leaning agenda? It is likely the next 4 years will bring us at least one appointment of a new justice – and the current tenuous balance will disappear with a Romney administration.

Sure the economy is important but it is and will continue to improve. Not my hot button since I will likely be okay no matter who is in the Whitehouse and probably better with the Republicans but that really doesn’t sit well – we aren’t great as a country because we only care about our own self-interest. Bringing back the policies of yesteryear and depending on trickle down economics flies in the face of reality. There is quite a bit of money sitting in corporate coffers (keep in mind that corporations are people too) and they are doing nothing to take care of the workers – middle class or not.  They are the rich and well-off – and they have been at the core of much of the pain of the middle-class.  Do we really think corporate behavior will change?  It will only to the extent that their profits are larger – and profits at the expense of everything else.

An uncanny resemblance – has anyone checked Ryan’s birth certificate? (A “Saved by the Bell” moment – who could forget Screech – no doubt one of the more annoying characters from kid’s TV)

 

Now, quick comment on the debate this week – townhall-style, questions I believe from the audience. If I could have my wish, I’d love to see a “Michael Dukakis” moment where Romney can’t hide behind his corporate and political persona. I’d ask him “what are you going to do and what is your first action when one of your sons announces he is gay?”.

Let’s really see what kind of person we have here.

Best of the Best and Worst of the Worst

There are very few people I really see as really good people.  I was lucky enough to find one of them who actually agreed to marry me 31 years ago – definitely a crap shoot on her part but no doubt great for me.  I don’t think I’m one of those good people – I’m not a bad person but I come no where close to membership in that group of those who are truly good from the heart.  So when I see one of them (and I think in these times it is relatively rare), I notice and appreciate.  There is one person of whom I consistently see as an appropriate role model as one of those rare people.  I’m never sure what brings someone to be truly good but I have to believe that a part of that is overcoming some adversity (beyond the norm) at some point in their life that opened them to an awareness, empathy and caring most of us will never realize.  Could only be me but just watching what these people do and the ease with which they do it somehow makes me feel better in general and gives me hope in times where I often wonder what happened to us as people.

 

Credit: “Just be Nice” Facebook page

 

So, in following a recent theme of also trying to recognize people in a positive way instead of only focusing on the jerks and low-lifes (no that won’t go away – that’s one of the benefits of not being in the group of good people), I want to add someone to that list of day-to-day heroes.  This person has been someone I have often seen and commented on how nice she is.  I was again reminded this morning as I did my time on the treadmill and wandered around the TV channels and found myself settled on watching the Ellen DeGeneres Show.  This is after watching CNN and MSNBC for awhile amidst the current rising tensions and anger against America on the other side of the world.  Ellen has got to be one of the nicest (and bravest) people out there.  I don’t watch her show often but given the number of times she reaches out to help others in the shows that I see, I can only imagine it happens all the time.  I get no sense of self-aggrandizement (which I see in many other celebrities – I’m always suspect of Oprah ) – more a sense of probably how good it makes her feel that she makes others feel.  Ellen has no doubt gone thru some tough times in her career and the treatment she has often received has been shameful but here she is looking outward and past those who would put her somewhere out of sight, and trying to add positive to the world, one step at a time.

So today, the Hero of the Day award goes to Ellen – thanks for being one of those people who can make us all feel good and set an example the rest of us should strive to match.

Ellen DeGeneres – One of the “Good” ones

 

I would like take a moment and mention the tragic events in Libya yesterday.  I am sure all our thoughts and sympathies go out to the friends and families of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya and the others (at least one who is American) whose lives were so needlessly taken yesterday.  These are brave people (in each embassy we maintain around the world) who are all too often at risk.  While most of Ambassadors face a good deal of risk, Chris Stevens put himself unselfishly at risk taking on this role in Libya.  He is a hero in his own right.

Given the murder of our citizens in Libya, I have been moved to create a new award I’m putting out there that will sit alongside the current “Head in the Butt” award.  (See, I said I wasn’t going to be going entirely positive.)   The risks our ambassadors and their staffs face just as a normal course of business should not be further increased as a result of actions of people who stay safe back in the US.  To look at this in the broadest sense, any US citizen that leaves the relative safety of our shores is actually put at increased risk as a result of these people who are more focused on personal attention and influence than demonstrating broader concern for others.

While I hate to give this person any more attention than needed (which is really none), in reading thru the news this morning, I picked up on a name I haven’t seen in a few months who has again stepped into the limelight to further his own intentions, again without concern for how others are affected.  Pastor Terry Jones originally gained both national and international attention when he notified the world he would be burning the Quran (or Koran – multiple spellings are out there) on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  He initially agreed to not complete that act and managed to wrangle a new car or two out of the deal but then apparently could not do without the attention and went ahead a completed the burning around six months later.  This resulted in the first blood on his hands as there were 12 people killed in the ensuring violence that predictably followed his actions.   This lowlife, who has announced his candidacy for President in the 2012 election, made a very public endorsement of this anti-Muslim film that has led to the increased violence we are now seeing in Libya, Egypt and Yemen.  While maybe not directly attributable to his support and advocacy of this film, I would offer he carries more blood on his hands for these latest killings as it is at a minimum felt that the increased violence was possibly a cover for the attacks on the US Embassy.

I would suggest the actions taken by Jones borders on historical limits to free speech, the classic being you can’t yell fire in a movie theater and maybe it is time we, as a country, look a little more at our assumed freedoms and take these people to task.  As it is, Pastor Jones (there’s that religious connection again), you are lower than whale shit – only matched by the Westboro Baptist Church who I expect will slink from whatever holes in the ground they inhabit to share views similar to Jones at some point.  For today, though, Pastor Jones, you get the honor of being the first recipient of the “Shitbag” award.  This is the only area where I hope my views as an atheist are wrong and you actually get to spend eternity burning in hell.

 

Pastor Terry Jones – Shitbag of the day