There is Hope….

Supreme Court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act

 

While I expect the bigoted rhetoric and draconian attitudes of the ever-shrinking minority will continue (and even get more intense as they realize they are losing), we have hope that times are changing and that equal protection under the law is a reality that cannot be put down.  This is about human dignity and equality for all – a concept still foreign to many in this country.  A simple concept that even the dumbest among us should be able to understand – if we can discriminate against one group, we can discriminate against all.

With this one decision, the future, at least for my son and our family, is a bit rosier and more welcoming.

Last comment – is it at all surprising that Scalia and Thomas were against it – both individuals who if they look back into relatively recent history and given their race and ethnicity, should realize how discrimination works and how it feels.  Perfect example of how that side of our society works – the rules are there for everyone but me.

California Prop 8 – the next monstrosity to come down.

The march continues…..

 

 

Paula Deen – another “Lipstick on a Pig”

Credit: veggieboard.com

Credit: veggieboard.com

 

In light of all the issues we have staring us in the face in this country at the moment, one would think that the current Paula Deen scandal would not be all that important.  On one hand, are any of us surprised that a 66-year-old woman from the South holds a level of bigotry as she has admitted?  I know it isn’t all the people in the South and that there are many educated and open-minded people that reside in the region as well we in the Northeast have our share of bigots and racists who believe it’s still the 1950’s when it comes to white superiority.  One the other hand, the views and opinions held by this silver-haired asshole quite clearly represent much of the divide we see in the country today – one based on intolerance and narrow-mindedness.  Whether it is Blacks, Latinos, gays, atheists, whoever, when we as a society don’t immediately denounce and show consequences of actions such as this, we are all essentially enablers of it.  I think her fate with the Food Network and what would appear to be quickly disappearing sponsors and endorsements is well deserved as any tolerance of that opinion and attitude of others is unacceptable and, more over, reprehensible in today’s world of hate and intolerance.  While attitudes are slowly changing and our younger generation are obviously more tolerant, in the meantime, it’s hammer time for those who are that stupid and shallow.  I have already sent my support to Food Network to ensure they don’t just hear from the haters out there – it is critical we all make our voices heard.

I would also suggest that if you don’t really care that Deen dumped on Blacks, you might want to read a bit more about some of her other comments – she is apparently a non-discriminatory bigot.  While she admitted she occasionally used the N-word — but not in a “mean” way, she apparently also felt that racist and bigoted jokes weren’t harmful – apparently during the court deposition when asked if she told racist jokes, she reportedly answered, “It’s just what they are — they’re jokes … most jokes are about Jewish people, rednecks, black folks … I can’t determine what offends another person.”  We undoubtedly have a brain trust here who, if she can’t figure out what is offensive to others in this day and age, needs to be placed well out of the public eye.  Being stupid doesn’t get you a free pass nor does it work as an excuse.

On a related note, my wife pointed out one of the pictures attached to a Paula Deen story on MSN – not sure I need to provide much explanation but I ask you – is there anything obvious about the people in the photo whom have taken to the street (so to speak) to protest the treatment of this southern diva?  It would look like flocking to a restaurant is a protest that pretty much falls in their sweet spot.  They were likely also not bothered by Deen’s little diabetes scandal, although I would suggest that a good many of them are well acquainted with diabetes.

 

Patrons waiting in line outside The Lady and Sons, Paula Deen's restaurant in Savannah, Ga. this weekend (credit: MSN.com)

Patrons waiting in line outside The Lady and Sons, Paula Deen’s restaurant in Savannah, Ga. this weekend (credit: MSN.com)

Gun Control – Gone but hopefully not Forgotten

Over the recent weeks I’ve been somewhat distracted from this blog – quite a change from the time where it seemed I put something new out there almost every day.  Part of me has been distracted with the loss of our pet, Gunther, 5-6 weeks ago.  It is still hard to pretty much do anything without realizing how integral he was to our house, our family and the rhythm we came to expect and enjoy.  Boy, the pain and the tears stay pretty close to the surface – more a testament to how great a little guy he was.  I’ve also had another shoulder surgery a couple of weeks back – due to a great extent of me maybe not taking the first one as seriously as I should – I’ve been a lot less active this time around including doing a bit less typing.  So I have some excuses but when I look around there seems to be somewhat of a diminished intensity on areas or issues which were pretty important not that long ago.  We are definitely a society with ADHD – how quickly we let things pass and become non-issues when something new shows up.  Pretty sad overall.  But not enough reason to give up.  I stay stubbornly positive in hoping that knowledge and commonsense will ultimately prevail – maybe not because I necessarily believe it deep down but I’m not sure I can make my head get around the fact that ignorance and emotion will rule the day.

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So with that, let’s talk gun control again.  I read an interesting and relevant article in the May 2013 Scientific American – not a magazine I usually read as most of it typically flies over my head but my son frequents it and this recent one ended up on our kitchen table as one of the key articles was on 3-D printing – a new world (well relatively new to consumers) our household recently entered into.  In any case, I came across a great article by Michael Shermer, who is the publisher of Skeptic magazine where he attempts to add some facts to the current discussion and takes on the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre and the view that essentially more guns are the only way to make things better.  He sites a couple of studies on guns that paint an interesting picture – one that many of us I think already know (that more guns mean more problems) but the stats are interesting so I thought I’d share some of them as well as the link to the article (which I would strongly you read and take way what you may) – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gun-science-proves-arming-untrained-citizens-bad-idea

 

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credit: factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com

 

Some highlights for those of you who don’t want to read it all (credit again to Mr. Shermer in Scientific American – May 2013 issue as I’ve shared this verbatim) –

 

A 1998 study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery that found that “every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.” Pistol owners’ fantasy of blowing away home-invading bad guys or street toughs holding up liquor stores is a myth debunked by the data showing that a gun is 22 times more likely to be used in a criminal assault, an accidental death or injury, a suicide attempt or a homicide than it is for self-defense.

From a 2013 book from Johns Hopkins University Press entitled Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis, edited by Daniel W. Webster and Jon S. Vernick, both professors in health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In addition to the 31,672 people killed by guns in 2010, another 73,505 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for nonfatal bullet wounds, and 337,960 nonfatal violent crimes were committed with guns. Of those 31,672 dead, 61 percent were suicides, and the vast majority of the rest were homicides by people who knew one another.  For example, of the 1,082 women and 267 men killed in 2010 by their intimate partners, 54 percent were shot by guns. Over the past quarter of a century, guns were involved in greater number of intimate partner homicides than all other causes combined. When a woman is murdered, it is most likely by her intimate partner with a gun.

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For gun nuts who really don’t care, numbers and statistics are, well, just numbers and statistics.  But for the rest of us who could easily be one of the statistics above, I’d actually want to make sure we don’t lose sight of how important an issue this is.  Newtown shouldn’t just be a distant memory.  Pretty disappointing how quickly we all forget.  Equally scary that the likes of Wayne LaPierre gets his way and sees validation of his views in the inaction and antipathy of the American public.

 

 

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.

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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.

The more it stays the same…

credit: worldnewscurator.com

credit: worldnewscurator.com

“All in all, today was a pretty shameful day for Washington.” – President Obama

While this statement was pretty much focused on the unsuccessful gun control efforts driven by the massacre in Newtown, the ramifications and considerations are obviously more widespread than just that incident.  Yes, the NRA is a big part of the issues of the level of violence we are seeing – not all but a strong contributor.  However, we are a nation of ADHD.  The outrage and attention this past week on the events that began on Monday at the Boston Marathon will all but disappear to most by the end of the month.  The shock and sadness from the recent tragedy at the Texas fertilizer plant will begin to fade for most within two weeks.  Most in this country have all but forgotten about the 21 children brutally murdered less than 4 months ago.  The inability of our people to sustain any real focused intensity for any extended period coupled with the obvious apathy and unwillingness to take action of any sort leaves most decisions to the small few in Washington DC who, to any person who actually pays attention and can think, have little interest in reflecting the wishes of our people.  We have become accustomed to violence to the extent that I would suggest that no other civilized country is at.  And much of it sits with our love affair with guns.  Ignoring over 11,000 gun-related deaths a year should be no easy matter but yet it is.

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Can we just blame the politicians?  Not entirely but we the people are who should shoulder the real blame.  We put them there and we let then stay there.  These politicians really voted against increased gun control because of the 10% of the American public against the increased control vs. the 90% who supported it.  Figure that math out.  Many of the politicians knew the bill was the right thing to do but voted against it because those 10% are the ones they know will come out to vote.  So the problem is with the 90% who voice that they care but are too lazy to extend the effort to execute their civic duty.  How sad is that.  I will guess that those 10% also were the ones that took the time and energy to write or call their politicians and made their voice heard.  I actually wrote to mine this time around – and I’d like to think that it had some impact on Senator Pat Toomey’s (my senator in PA) decision to join Senator Joe Manchin in legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to obtain guns while preserving the rights of law-abiding people to do so.  Both Senators are from gun happy states and they figured it out and potentially put their next election at risk – and maybe they heard more from the people they represent.  But obviously in many other states, the senators either didn’t hear from their constituents and/or lacked the conscience or fortitude to do what it right and what is needed to better protect our people.    People, time to pick up a pen, a phone or your keyboard – is it really that hard to take that small step?

On the other hand, we still have organizations like the NRA who actually exist primarily to ensure that business, in this case gun manufacturers (and related industries) make as large a profit as possible.  I, for one, have quite a problem with the power that has been handed off to an organization like the NRA.  No matter their stated intent or objectives as an organization, there is something wrong where an entity that only really represents the interest of 10% of our country can influence so much.  So to all you NRA supporters – do you really think they are looking out for your best interest?  And it extends well beyond this recent stance against universal background checks. We can also see it in another perspective that is directly tied to the Boston Marathon bombings.  Luckily, given the events of the week we have a conclusion (of a sort) in less than 5 days – we know who, which is really the core of any other actions.  But let’s say that events didn’t unfold as they did and the perpetrators were a little smarter and we didn’t know who they were.  We would still be looking at evidence left behind and a good deal of effort would be on the homemade bomb remnants, looking for traces of where things came from as a way to track back to individuals.  If we were dependent on this evidence at this point, we can thank the NRA for the difficulty that would be encountered in tracing back where the devices were made based on the explosives used.  And as a result, we are all a bit more at risk.

Almost 40 years ago the government developed a way to mark explosives to help trace terrorist bombs. But Congress blocked the research, even after a test of the device helped catch a bomber in Baltimore.  Who was behind Congress in voting it down? – the explosives industry and the National Rifle Association, citing safety concerns.  More likely driven by lost profit resulting from increased costs and oversight of the process.  Then the Oklahoma City bombing put it back on the table and President Clinton proposed legislation to resume the Treasury Department study of the feasibility of mixing tracers, called “taggants,” into dynamite and other explosives. There was discussion to include the fertilizer used to make the Oklahoma City bomb, or other materials that detonate such bombs.  A blast would scatter these tiny plastic tracers, which survive as a clue to help find the bomber.   Opponents said the government had not proved the devices were safe. Tampering with explosives could put miners and others who work with them at risk, the Institute of Makers of Explosives said. Opponents also argued that the taggant program would be too expensive.  The NRA again raised similar safety complaints about taggants in gunpowder, and also likened it to federal registration of firearms. The government wanted to mark the black powder used by owners of old-style muzzle loading guns because it is often used in pipe bombs.  Oh-oh – another possibility of federal government in their house. Again, Congress took direction from the NRA and cut off all funding of the taggant program.  Interesting, one of the phrases thrown around a the time was “The problem’s not fertilizer, the problem’s people.”  Boy, does that sound familiar to the rhetoric of the pro-gun lobby today.  Different day, same shit.

Credit: LA Times

Credit: LA Times

Will increasing the gun laws fix every problem and keep incidents like Newtown from ever happening?  Not at all and that argument by the NRA should be soundly called as bullshit.  To not realize as a country that we need to take steps to begin to reduce the likelihood is where the focus and conversation should be.  I have reached a point in my life where absolutes never matter – it’s really about the journey to get there and what we can accomplish on that path forward.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step” – Old Chinese Proverb

Day 3 and Counting

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It’s now been a couple of days since we let Gunther go.  The weight of the loss on my heart isn’t as constant or always so obvious but it remains there waiting for the next moment to raise something that brings back into focus the degree to which our little guy was ingrained in most everything we do.  I still find myself all of a sudden in the midst of a sob or two as I again get hit with “something is missing” and it’s Gunther.  We, as a family, haven’t stopped doing all the things that need to be done since none of us have ever worked that way but I for one feel it is as much of going thru the motions as anything else as I wait for time to help balance the fantastic memories with the pain of a loss that will never ever really go away.  We are doing a lot of talking about Gunther, what he meant to us and how much we loved him.  We are looking at a lot of pictures and I’ve been working on an ever-evolving slide show presentation with music as a means to get every ounce of him in my head possible.  I think it is good that we never really took him for granted and we recognized and knew how lucky we were to have him be part of our family – I just don’t think any of us wanted to acknowledge how much given we knew this day would come.  We have never been a family that is always looking for more as we know what we have is good and that we have been blessed with much more than many get.  That doesn’t change the pain and the heartache we are feeling but it makes it easier to look at the time Gunther gave us and it allows us to begin to heal – however slowly.

GuntherCollage2

Where it is probably most evident of Gunther’s place in our lives is the number of instances or situations where one of us will do something, usually pretty simple and an everyday activity, where you look for that little face or you hear those doggy footsteps working their way to you.  The mornings and evenings are the toughest since I would say that over the past year or so it is those times where we have adjusted the most to Gunther’s needs as his health changed.  I spent a lot of mornings, especially after late nights, grousing at Gunther at the 7am or early rise from sleep but that quickly dissipated as soon as he jumped down off the bed and the tail started that wagging and he gave you that big grin that it was time to start the day.  At night, he let us know he was tired and wanted to go to bed – but not by himself as he needed to be snuggled up tight against one of us.  Annoying on one hand that he “made” us go upstairs to watch TV in our bed but that feeling quickly disappeared when he planted himself against your leg.   This was a dog that needed people touch – and we now realize how much that took us to needing Gunther-touch.

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Today there was something else that became very evident to me of the change in our house without Gunther.  Yes it is quieter and he wasn’t a noisy dog but he was always where you were and that meant he was always on the move and you could always anticipate that when you moved from one room to another, he would soon follow.  For the first time this morning when my wife was out with a friend, I realized that I was really alone in the house.  Yes, I’ve been by myself with no wife or kids in the house with me but I always knew Gunther was somewhere around, waiting to hear me move or call him, always ready to stop what he was doing to join me in anything and everything.  It was very clear as I ate my cereal today and I managed to somehow have one of the Cheerios pop out of the bowl – nothing surprising to anyone in my family.  The difference was today I didn’t need to see if I could be faster than Gunther to grab it off the floor …and I never really fought that hard to get it before him anyhow.

In the beginning...

A short 13 years ago…

I Lost a Good Friend Today…

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We had our ray of sunshine and spark leave our family today.  Gunther, who has been a full-fledged member of our family for the last 13 years finally reached that point where we had to say goodbye.  No good way to do, no easy way to deal with it.  It sucks, it hurts, we’re all lost – you can’t spin it to make it feel better.  We feel good he is no longer in pain or discomfort and we know we did the right thing…but it still sucks.  I can’t say enough about what he added to our lives other than he was a key part of it from that day my son and I drove 3-4 hours to get him to the very long morning we had today knowing it where the day was going to end up.  I’ve become a weeping idiot, not knowing when in the middle of a sentence I’m going to get hit with it and the waterworks start. I don’t think that is going away any time soon – good thing I work from home.

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Gunther was special to us – I can’t recall anyone who met him that didn’t love him immediately – and he was equally ecstatic to make your acquaintance.  He protected our house from everything you could imagine – from other dogs to deer to snakes and even those evil bunnies (which made us all cringe a bit) but he was doing his job.  He was fearless – 100lbs of dog in an 18lb body (at least for most of his life).  He was a role model of “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog” – but he was gentle with people and he was truly a people dog.  In some ways he was the core of our family – he watched my kids go thru school and college, as they left (and returned) as adults.  He was there with my wife for all those years I worked on the road and he was the first one to always greet me when I got home.  He loved the kennel when we went on vacation – we called it his “trip to the spa” – he would walk into through the door and immediately forget who we were and run to get in the door to the back.  Inevitably, when we picked him up he was hoarse for a couple of days as he was quite the barker with all the other dogs vacationing with him.

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I’m going to miss him quite a bit. While he slowed down quite a bit as a result of several bouts of pancreatitis and age, his spirit never dimmed.  It was in his eyes and in his stance.  I no longer will be greeted with that short Jack Russell tail going 100mph.  We won’t see him frantically and unsuccessfully going from one deck planter to the other trying to get those pesky chipmunks. He’ll never take on another snake, grab it with a quickness that you had to see to believe and then complete a shake or two or three of his head snap it in two and then walk away after again protecting his family.  I’ve lost my driving buddy – I’ll have to go get my afternoon Dunkin Donuts by myself.  I have a feeling my reaction when the Dunkin Donuts people ask where my friend is not going to be a good one.

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But I’m better for Gunther being in my life.  I know this pain and hurt will fade and the memories and stories of the last 13 years of Gunther will slowly begin to help ease the hurt.  He was my friend.

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.
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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