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It doesn’t really matter what you call it, label it or in a scientific report classify it as; racism is pure and simple, raw evil. It is a senseless and purposeless emotion, born from pure ignorance, that more often then not manifests itself into wasteful acts of violence on innocent people.

Last week, a disturbed and troubled young man, seduced by the lure of white supremacists and their doctrine of hatred, walked into a church and not long afterword, opened fire with a semi-automatic hand gun that he received as a birthday gift from his father. Nine black parishioners were murdered in cold blood. Racial insults were screamed at one of the survivors by the shooter.

In spite of the obvious, ignoring the facts, oblivious to the realities of what had happened, Fox News referred to the killing as an attack on (the Christian) faith. Their demented logic was based on the out of context fact that the shooting occurred in a church; therefore, it had to be related to a newly proclaimed war on the Christian faith.

Except for Ben Carson and Rick Santorum, all of the other GOP presidential candidates have danced around the issue; none of them showing the courage to acknowledge the obvious and stand up and challenge their party’s core demographic of race haters.

Republican candidates must get their head out of the Fox News Sandbox. The world is changing.

It is time for the men and women who want to lead this country to show courage and conviction and stand up for what is right and stop crawling in the gutter to please just a few who refuse to let go of the past.

Courage. It is fast becoming a lost but much needed commodity in today’s political environment.

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Did you know that June 14th was Flag Day? You didn’t? Well don’t feel so bad. You were not alone in your historical ignorance. 

I would assume that 99% of Americans did not know of this celebratory designation and an even larger number did not care as well. Flag Day is one of those small print footnotes in history that fall in the who-gives-a-shit category.

To enlighten you all (thanks to Wikipedia): On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the flag, similar in structure and color as the one we worship toda, as the official flag of the United States. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson, with nothing else better to do on that day, issued a proclamation officially establishing June 14th as Flag Day. Thirty-three years later, Congress affirmed the designation.

Even back then, Congress was regulation happy. They created a whole section of Federal law devoted to flag etiquette. It even has a name: the Flag Code.

I, as a product of the sixties anti-establishment, anti-war culture, attended many protests and demonstrations where an American flag was burned and desecrated. Short-hair, white-shirted, tie wearing, bible toting Americans hated such acts of defiance and to this day, the burning of our flag or any other act desecrating its noble ideas is a hot button item for these half-assed patriots. . If you want to see a conservative’s blood boil or hear an angry, vulgar diatribe of patriotic bravado, just burn a flag in front of them.

So I compelled to ask this question. Where are these defenders of the flag? Today, in Charleston, South Carolina, the American flag and even the official State flag were flown at half mast in honor of the nine Americans murdered by a mad-man in a local church. However, near-by, a Confederate battle flag waved proudly at full mast.

One of the protocols mandated by the Flag Code is that the American flag cannot be flown lower than any other flag. So if the American flag is being flown at half mast and the Confederate battle flag is not; is this not a disrespectful display of our national flag? Is this not the same as burning the flag?

After all, disrespect is disrespect.

So where is the outrage? Where are the patriotic pillars of our society who should call out the State of South Carolina for its disrespect and desecration of the American flag? Where in the fuck are these defenders of symbolism who think the responsibilities of patriotism is served by simply wearing a flag-shaped lapel pin?

I guess the flag is not that grand after all. It is just a weave of cloth barfed out of some machine in China. It is, after all, a hollow symbol of a set of values long ago abandoned and forgotten. It is, after all, a relic long ago desecrated by the burying of the principle that all men are created equal.

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Over and over again, I keep hearing the pundits, politicians and preachers declare that America is ( or at least should be) a Christian nation. Over and over again, I listen in amusement as this cabal of self-defining righteousness takes to the airways demanding that this country follow their God’s path to salvation.   

Today I realized that this path of theirs, this march towards their version of a Christian nation, is a march towards the degradation of a society that has survived and thrived for generations because of its religious plurality and social diversity.   

This congregation of zealots, this Christian version of ISIS, complains that their religious freedoms are being taken away from them by an ever expending secular population which seems intent on breaking free from the oppressive inhibitions and prohibitions that the religious right has used for centuries to control and restrict individual growth and thought.   

Today, the religious zealots warn that they are first bound by the laws of their god or gods and then and only then are they obligated to follow the doctrines of constitutional law. They make no effort to hide their belief that when the laws of their god conflict with the laws of the state; gods law must prevail.   

(But when their right to own guns are threatened, these extremists are the first to hide behind the Second Amendment of the Constitution.) 

I, for a long time, took this push towards Christianizing America with a grain of salt and a suppressed chuckle in my throat. After all, I reasoned, this is the good old U.S. of A. and its 1st Amendment rights. I believed that the whole move towards a Christian theocracy was more of novelty than a reality and would soon lose much of its power and influence as time passed. 

Then, several weeks ago, I woke up and realized how stupid I had been. I am sure that in the early 1930’s, German Jews had the same reaction to Hitler and his brand of anti-semitism. This Christian crusade is nothing to dismiss with a wave of the hand. It is for real and it threatens the very fabric of our pluralistic society. We are slowly, in the name of some god or gods, becoming a very evil, hateful and spiteful society.

Case in point: I heard on the news several weeks ago that four people on the east coast had been arrested for assaulting a fourteen year old girl. The assault, police investigators later learned, was intended to trigger a miscarriage of a fetus being carried by that teenage girl.

It seems that this young lady – actually, she is still a child – was attacked, raped and impregnated by a family member. With no realistic option available to her because her freedom to choose the course of her own life had been subjugated by the Christian religious right, her family chose an alternate option; an option that was draconian, devastating and to most, distasteful and appalling.

But what option was available to this young victim? Society had taken from this young girl, this child, the option of abortion. She had no other choice and fced going through the pain and a host of financial, mental and social consequences that I am sure she was ill-equipped to handle.

The young girl was being forced to become an ‘unwed mother’ by a society that seeks to condemn and ostracize women who bear children out of wedlock. Jeb Bush recently said that unwed mothers should be subjected to public shaming. For what?

So I must ask: In the context of today’s religious movement that seeks to condemn and penalize women who seek abortion; , what did this young girl do to warrant being ostracized from society? She was a victim. She did not seek out nor initiate sexual contact. She was RAPED! This ‘mess’ was physically and violently forced upon her. Why did the moralists demand that the future of this fourteen year old girl be compromised? Is this really the intent of this thing they call god?

The young girl was impregnated at no fault of her own. She was raped by a family member. The people who use this fairytale called god as their guiding light defend themselves by stating that the innocence and purity of an unborn child is precious and needs to be protected. Okay, what about the innocence and purity of this fourteen year old girl? Does she not deserve equal protection?

In a quest to demand that this country become a nation of Christian purity, the very ideals that compelled 102 pilgrims to board the Mayflower have been trampled over by the zeal for a resurrection of a specific doctrine of religious piety and observation. Hatred and discrimination is being protected by the veil of the constitutional right of religious freedom.

And we have no where to go for relief, change or mitigation.. Our politicians have been bought and are now controlled by the super rich and large corporations. The Supreme Court has abandoned the concept of equal justice for all and have sold its soul to the the influences of party politics. Education is considered a luxury and available only to the wealthy. Healthcare is viewed as an anathema. Feeding the hungry is seen with disdain and contempt by those that go to Church on Sundays to sing songs of brotherhood and charity.

What has this country become? I don’t think even this fantasy called god knows anymore.

Oh wait….there is hope….Donald Trump is running for President. You know the guy. The man who can stand up and defend the sanctity of marriage despite having been divorced three times. And people buy into this shit. What have we become

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Marco Rubio, sniffing the gutters searching for votes, raised his head and offered another round of attention-grabbing not-so-wise wisdom. He believes that liberals are turning Christianity into a dogma of hate speech.

I can only laugh at the absurdity of his observation. Liberals have nothing to do with this labeling. Christian extremists are doing this to themselves. They need no one’s help in turning a doctrine of love and brotherhood into a cult of hate-driven lunacy.

Rubio also believes that gay marriage is a clear and present danger to Christianity. Again, the absurdity generated laugh starts again. Statistically, the number of same sex relationships in the US is numbered to be around 750,000 or maybe 1,500,000 people. The number of people claiming to be of the Christian faith in the US numbers around 216,000,000. So it is hard for me to see how the behaviors of a little more than one half of one percent of a demographic grouping can constitute a clear and present danger to anything.

If there really is a threat to Christianity then the source of that threat comes from within. Young people are walking away from religion because the belief in a God has become so filled with hypocrisy, so polarizing, so politicalized and so commercialized that it no longer resonates in a world faced with the consequences of realities that the Church chooses to ignore and downplay.

Too many so-called people of God are now seen as both hateful and sinful. Priests abuse children and the Church does nothing about it until it is forced to do so by a tsunami of adverse public opinion. Ministers and preachers stand at the pulpit and call for the death of gays. Religious leaders condemn gay marriage because it, in their view, threatens the institution of marriage yet these same leaders hide in some back room when the issues of divorce, adultery or spousal abuse are being discussed.

Yes, Mr. Rubio, Christianity is under attack but not by non-believers, gays or even aliens from Mars; its most lethal enemy is itself and its most extreme believers. These men and women of god with their deep seeded beliefs reek of their own hypocrisy as they cherry-pick their way through through the bible to support their racial and social hatreds.

You claim the ground of being anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion but you also claim the ground of condoning adultery, child abuse, degradation of women and divorce-gone wild. You march with guns drawn and defame the religious teachings of others with profanity and blasphemy. You quote Leviticus 20:13 to support your opposition to homosexuality but ignore Leviticus 20:10 which provides similar punishment to those who commit adultery. Hell, you elect adulterers to the US Senate and vote for them for President.

You, Mr. Rubio, you and your hypocrisy is the real threat to your religion. One day you will look in the mirror and in a freak moment of truth you, too, will agree.

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Posted: May 25, 2015 in Politics
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Today is the day that our nation officially pays tribute to the men and women who, while in service to their country, sacrificed their lives to defend America from its enemies.  Today is the day that we memorialize and honor the nobility of a soldier’s death.

Yet, more often than not, we as a country seem too busy to truly stop for a moment and pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives so that we can spend extended weekends such as this celebrating a day off from work, drinking beer, eating barbecue and wandering like nomads from one retail store to another enjoying Memorial Day sales.  I mean, what better way to pay tribute to those that died in battle then to roam the aisles of Macy’s seeking price bargains and once-in-a-lifetime, unheard of discounts of the century.

Memorial Day angers me because it serves as a catalyst to examine how we as a nation treat our veterans.

And no, sorry, I can’t wait until Veterans’ Day to vent my anger.

I shudder every time someone talks about “celebrating” Memorial Day.  We are honoring those that died in battle in defense of our ideals.  We do not celebrate death; he honor it.

I shudder when someone in Congress complains that the cost of caring for our veterans is too expensive and fiscally unaffordable.  We as a nation promised those that served that we would provide health care and a host of other benefits.  So how do we just walk away from this commitment?

I shudder when I realize that our commitment to the military ends the day after the shooting stops.

Hug a vet today.  Say thank you.  And make our Congressman live up to the promises that we have made our soldiers.

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I am not catholic. I do not believe in a God that has nothing better to do than to involve itself in the boring and inconsequential details of my daily routine.  Nor do I believe in some omnipotent superpower that every once in a century or two churns out miracles on a whim. And I emphatically and unequivocally do not believe in the illusion of a God, hearing the frantic and desperate prayers of one of its obedient and faithful servants, rushes to starve off the advances of a soul collecting Angel of Death.

I am both a human being and a citizen of the United States of America and being such; I demand all of the unalienable rights guaranteed me as a benefactor of the natural laws of life and the legal doctrine of ‘Declarationism.’  I am guaranteed the right of Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  And if I have the absolute right to life, I should also have the absolute right, whether it is specifically articulated or not, to choose the time, method and conditions of ending that life.

If I have an irrevocable,  not treatable terminal disease and I am within an estimated six months of death, who gives society the right to tell me how I have to die? That decision is mine and mine alone to make (in consultation with friends, family and physicians of my choosing.)  And if I want to take my own life so that I can die with dignity and in peace and in the environment of my choosing, then society must facilitate the circumstances of protecting and providing for this sacred right.

Why do I have to experience prolonged pain and suffering?  What do I have to die in a state of embarrassment as my body and brain functions fail?  Why do I have to be a burden on my family and on society?

There is no God that will come down and save me at the last moment of life.  So what am I waiting for?  And why?

My family and I watched my father die a slow, agonizing, painful, degrading and humiliating death.  I watched as a cancer ate away at his soul and flesh and left him a mere skeleton of a man desperately gasping for air in his last moments of life.  At his side was the hospice nurse giving what aid she could. I knew that in her bag was the morphine that to some extent, to not-enough extent, eased his pain. I also knew that a few extra pills would gently, painlessly and peacefully take him into the welcoming darkness of death.

But men and women who never met my father, who never saw his pain and heard his cries of anguish, denied me and my family the right to bring a brief moment of dignity to his last moments of life. I am forever burdened by the painful and unnecessary memory of his torment and distress.

If people believe in the concept of religious freedom then I must be granted the freedom to believe in my right to die in peace and with dignity.  If death is all but certain (save the theological heroic speech for someone that believes) then grant me and my beliefs the equal standing that they deserve.

The manner of my death, if available to me, is mine to choose.

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In a recent speech, Presidential candidate, Marco Rubio, declared himself able and most capable to assume the role of our military’s commander-in-chief if he is elected President of the United States.

Being of the variety that does not fully agree with Mr. Rubio’s self assessment, I took a moment to sit back and wonder just what qualities someone needs in order to take on a responsibility unlike any other. I mean, just about every decision a commander-in-chief makes influences the fate of the world. It is a type of job where an “oops” moment can be catastrophic for mankind.

Rubio’s senatorial record provides little in defining the substance of his foreign policy philosophy. He is very good at stringing together a long series of talking points and topical sentence-filled diatribes condemning President Obama’s foreign policy efforts.

Mr. Rubio claims that Obama has flinched. Not exactly sure if the Florida Senator is referring to the President’s unwillingness to put American soldiers in harms way or his effort to try to resolve the Iranian nuclear development issue peacefully. Rubio never stops his vomit of criticism long enough to actually provide specifics or alternatives to the Obama doctrine. So it is hard to judge his commander-in-chief credentials.

What he does say is that the President has not promoted American military strength as a means of preventing war. That in and of itself is absurd.

What is their to promote about the strength and scope of the American military? Should we make informercials and broadcast them on the televisions of our adversaries? I mean, is it a secret that we have the second largest military behind China? Is it a secret that in 2013 we were responsible for 39% of the world’s collective military expenditures? Is it a secret that in 2013 we spent over $650 billion dollars or 3.8% of our gross domestic product on guns, bullets, ships, planes and other tools of war?

We have over 1.4million men and women in uniform, 8 thousand tanks, 45 thousand offensive land systems, 14 thousand planes and close to 500 naval vessels plus a pretty awesome mix of nuclear weapons and delivery systems.   

Is this is not, in and of itself, a projection of power; what is?

The key question faced by all Presidents is to determine how and when this military might should be used. The answer to every diplomatic failure is not to automatically send our troops into a conflict zone. The military option is not always the best option. Sometimes it is the worst possible option. So far I have not heard Mr. Rubio propose any option to resolve international conflict other than the use the military – either as a threat or a vehicle of direct intervention.

Yesterday he showed his true foreign policy colors by admitting that even knowing what we know now about Iraq and the phantom weapons of mass destruction; if he were commander-in-chief, he would have still invaded Iraq and committed this country to en expensive, deadly and wasted war.

America does not need a one-dimensional commander-in-chief. There is more to foreign policy than just the waging of war.

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