are they really that stupid, or just clumsily crafty?

For eight years, in spite of the majority  Americans voting for him and as if our votes did not count, we watched the mental and logistical gymnastics that his opposition contorted through in an effort to first prove President Obama wasn’t a citizen, and then to try to use bigotry by claiming that as a citizen he was a Muslim who was inherently anti-American.

In an attempt to connect dots, the anti-Obama crowd ignored dots that got in the way of their expectations and created false ones that made their alleged connections work.

For eight years they kept at it, and when they realized Hillary Clinton MIGHT run for president, they did the same with dots  when it came to her, Benghazi, murders, suicides, emails, lack of stamina, and selling favors to foreign countries as Secretary of State.

When each charge collapsed, they painted another dot, but even they couldn’t connect them no matter how many investigative hearings they had.

But now, not only when it comes to the Russian business and the complicity between insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and medical manufacturers when it comes to why certain senators are pushing their brand of healthcare, they can’t get from one end of a straight line hallway without any corners to the other end, and their complicity is destroying a decent medical system.

Of course they really hope no one else notices that they can’t, or purposely won’t, follow a straight, direct line.

 

 

The Stonewall Rebellion has a true story.

It was getting close to closing, and the night of June 27 and the opening hours of June 28, 1969 had been uneventful. The people inside the Stonewall Inn were having a normal evening while, outside, the people on the street were going to and from one place to another and the homeless kids were getting ready to do what they did on any given night.

There was no indication that this night would be any different than any other, until the break in the routine.

Gay bars were raided for a number of reasons then, and in some places still now, often with the least reason actually being related to the Gay clientele being who they were.

During election season when candidates wanted to appear the more moral of the choices to the voters, one, usually the incumbent, who had a connection with the local police would promote a raid to show he or she was the toughest on immorality. At other times the raid was a signal to the owner of the bar that some prior arrangement had been violated and a lesson needed to be taught. Considering that those scooped up in a raid would have their names and addresses printed in the newspaper, a raid could result in a slump in clientele that affected the bottom line as people would be temporarily reluctant to go where a raid could happen again, and the threat of lost income would have the owner address whatever the offense had been.

In many cases, as with the Stonewall Inn that night, the offense was a violation of a monetary arrangement when the owner was late with a certain protection payment to the local precinct. Supporting a corrupt system was covered by the appearance of protecting a law or defending morality.

There was a certain predictability to raids, almost as if you could have a pretty good idea when one was due, or the assurance, at least that a recent raid ruled out any additional one too close to the last.

What was different here was that this raid was too close to a previous one, and the violation of the unwritten rules made it an extraordinary one.

As abhorrent as the raids were to the community, they were somewhat expected, and part of the way things were. Any closeness in the bar became distance, IDs were taken out, and Drag Queens made sure they had the required minimum of three pieces of male clothing somewhere on their person. When that dance was done, the bartender would hand over the envelope, and that would be that.

In this case that was not so. There was something very wrong.  The Mafioso who was in charge of the Stonewall Inn had resisted the existing arrangement, and a strong example was needed.

The crowd reacted when some of the people from the bar were brought out and put into the police wagon.

As history is being rewritten, more for the self-esteem of various people and groups as opposed preserving facts about the events as they happened, credit for throwing the brick that got the riot started has been reassigned over the years, although people who had been there are ignored when they try to explain there was no such signal brick. There was a unified explosion directed toward the police wagon.

Anything thrown was thrown during the riot, not as a signal to begin it.

It was a spontaneous action of a group of people, unrelated except in their anger.

Sadly, now people are trying to erase that magic moment by attempting to claim they are part of the group to which the “brick thrower” belonged and so they can claim to have inherited that legacy. They are characterizing people at the riot according to recent names and labels while actually ignoring the names and groups from back then. This is done in the name of inclusion and the demand that people accept certain groups were there and had a leadership role, but the irony is that as they do this to emphasize the need to remember an inclusive community, their attempt actually erases the fact that that morning people were a spontaneous all inclusive community.

I recently read that it was Marsha P Johnson’s throwing a shot glass at the mirror behind the bar out of frustration that started it all, ignoring that the people out on the street would not have seen that, and so would not have even known it happened.

An unseen action cannot signal anything to people who do not see it.

I spent some time in the Village one summer, having arrived the day after Marsha’s body was retrieved from the Hudson, and spent time talking to those who knew her best.

The new version of things expunges her actual act of, having been outside when people were taken out of the bar and put in the police wagon, she began pulling them back off.

In remembrance if this memory of witnesses and her friends, she is in the middle of the cartoon above, doing just that.

Throwing a fictional shot glass pales in comparison to what she actually did, but the revisionists want some sudden action to be the catalyst for something they have not truly researched, and to address this, the recent movie had a mid-western White boy throwing the brick, which has been accepted as the truth white-washed because it was actually someone else who threw the non-existent brick.

Meanwhile, Stormé DeLarverie, a 49 year old Lesbian in 1969, who protected her boys who frequented the Stonewall , and who scuffled with the police outside the bar that night which caught the attention of the gathering crowd and is accepted by eyewitnesses as the person who inspired others to act, and even yelled at people to do something, first morphed into a young twenty something Lesbian based on a photo from that night of an angry young Lesbian yelling, and now has completely disappeared from the new version of events.

Storme` died at the age of 93 in 2014. She always insisted,

“It was a rebellion, it was an uprising, it was a civil rights disobedience — it wasn’t no damn riot.”

And oddly, considering her age and her role in events, it is sad that in all the new stories, older GLBT people go unmentioned as if none were present, and those who were young then, but old now, are ignored as sources of information and have to see their own story rewritten and their roles expunged.

So my plea is that those telling the story, please get the facts, stop the incorrect and self-esteem building revisions, talk to the older people, and accept that the magic of that night was that hundreds of people, many total strangers, acted as one without labels and without the desire to gain fame as opposed rights and respect.

There is enough room for all of us in the Alphabet soup that is the Community’s designation, with more letters being added frequently. There is no need to push anyone out to enter. There is no need to remove someone or some group from it to claim you are retelling history.

Those who have made history see ourselves being replaced with fiction and rewrites, and if inclusion and correcting past omissions is the aim, it is not an acceptable practice to accomplish that by the erasure and exclusion of others.

There are many documentaries and books based on witness and first hand interviews, and there are stories, like the newest movie, that are romanticized  versions.

Poetic license is not factual. it is interpretation.

Marsh P Johnson did not run off to another bar to have the handcuff chains broken to separate her from the fictional kid who threw the fictional brick.

Find out who was there.

Read their accounts.

Whoever threw that “brick” will be replaced soon by someone from another group.

What won’t change are the true facts whether ignored or not.

The exclusionary guys aren’t the ones demanding faithfulness to the history, but the ones who adjust the story according to taste.

 

If they are going to demand the money, it’s time they helped foot the bills

Before returning to Massachusetts, I lived in a state where the dominant church, unable to attract adherents to its brand of Christianity by spreading the Gospel and the Teachings of Jesus because their interpretation was rather hateful, endeavored to force-convert everyone in the state by making civil law correspond with its interpretation of the New and Old Testaments.

They were like Charlemagne and his Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae which prescribed death to Saxon pagans who refused to convert to Christianity. Their desire was  Conversionem Leges ab.

I now attend church only on extremely rare occasions, mostly weddings and funerals. This wasn’t always the case, but as time went on, it had changed. I consider myself somewhat spiritual, but organized religion had become too political and judgmental for my taste.

I am familiar with churches both large and small, and I am aware from past experiences that at times improvements have to be made to the structure of a church building and any facilities connected to it. The money came from the congregation of those churches, and not from people who were not members. I was a member of a church that needed its roof fixed, and a loan was obtained with the amount of money that was collected at each mass each Sunday as proof of the ability to repay the debt. But people who belonged to other churches, or no church, were not forced to help pay for the roof. That would have been unthinkable.

So let me see if I got this straight.

I pay income tax and through my rent property tax. Others pay direct property tax if they own a home.

I pay sales taxes.

All this tax money goes to pay for the common good.

I choose not to go to church, so, no church gets my money because I am not there for the collection on Sunday. So if any church wants to do something, I do not pay for it. I have the e afreedom to choose whether or not I will be a member of any given church, and if I choose to give money, I have a choics to which one.

There is a church across the street from my apartment building, and while it is protected by the police and fire department supported through my taxes, and can avail itself of any public infrastructure for which it pays nothing, it can now go to the government when it wants something and get more of my money without me getting anything in return even if it is one of those churches that speaks vitriol and spreads misinformation about me and those like me to engender hate toward us.

Now any church that rejects me as a person and whose belief system is as unacceptable to me as I am to it, can be supported by me through pressure.

Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the government cannot ban a religious organization from receiving taxpayer funds for programs that they claim do not have religious intent.

A tax exempt, public utility using church in Missouri had been denied funds from a state taxpayer funded program that gives funds for schools who resurface playgrounds with materials made from recycled tires.

Why not use other people’s money for their own project?

SCOTUS ruled that because an organization is based in religion, the government cannot discriminate against it by denying it funds for projects or programs that are not religious in nature.

So now, any religious institution is able to use taxpayer dollars for “non-religious” programs even though a playground can be used for religious purposes like teaching a particular church’s version of the Bible in classes held there.

“Listen to this about Jesus, kids, and then I will let you play on the swings.”

“I’ll let you all climb on the monkey bars right after I tell you that the Bible says all Homosexuals should be put to death. Oh, and while you are climbing on them, remember that homosexual tax money paid for them.”

Such a possibility exists since it was an anti-gay hate group, Alliance Defending Freedom, that argued the case, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, on behalf of the church.

Chief Justice John Roberts authored the majority opinion.

“The exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution . . . and cannot stand.”

Apparently, not handing other people’s tax dollars over to a tax exempt, public infrastructure using entity, amounts to hostility toward religion.

Missouri’s former solicitor general said Trinity Lutheran

 “remains free, without any public subsidy, to worship, teach, pray, and practice any other aspect of its faith however it wishes. The state merely declines to offer financial support.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated from the bench,

“To hear the Court tell it, this is a simple case about recycling tires to resurface a playground. The stakes are higher. This case is about nothing less than the relationship between religious institutions and the civil government—that is, between church and state. The Court today profoundly changes that relationship by holding, for the first time, that the Constitution requires the government to provide public funds directly to a church. Its decision slights both our precedents and our history, and its reasoning weakens this country’s longstanding commitment to a separation of church and state beneficial to both.

Properly understood then, this is a case about whether Missouri can decline to fund improvements to the facilities the Church uses to practice and spread its religious views. This Court has repeatedly warned that funding of exactly this kind—payments from the government to a house of worship—would cross the line drawn by the Establishment Clause.

So it is surprising that the Court mentions the Establishment Clause only to note the parties’ agreement that it ‘does not prevent Missouri from including Trinity Lutheran in the Scrap Tire Program.’ … Constitutional questions are decided by this Court, not the parties’ concessions. The Establishment Clause does not allow Missouri to grant the Church’s funding request because the Church uses the Learning Center, including its playground, in conjunction with its religious mission. The Court’s silence on this front signals either its misunderstanding of the facts of this case or a startling departure from our precedents.”

So a religious organization can now get funds from taxpayers by claiming that what they want to spend money on will not be used for religious purposes.

What happens when it IS used for religious purposes after what they got money for is built?

Perhaps things could be better if churches, desiring to use taxpayer money, join the taxpayers and contribute.

A little over the top?

Back when I started teaching, back in the days when paranoia was limited, law suits against any slight committed by a school or a teacher were rare, when parents held their children more responsible for their actions and class effort than they do now, and before there was what should have remained a healthy precaution  about food brought from home, parents and grandparents, especially those who were immigrants, were thrilled to prepare their best dishes for school gatherings and classroom festivities.

But as time went on and school districts became wary of nuisance law suits, home cooked foods were no longer allowed as no one could vouch for the cleanliness of where the food was prepared or the hygiene habits of the preparer.

In many districts any celebratory food had to then come from the cafeteria, and where that was impractical, anything brought to school had to be store-bought and prepackaged.

In an ever widening circle of food fear, municipalities began to worry about such neighborhood staples as lemonade stands as the cleanliness of the preparation area, the hygiene of the preparer, the purity of the water, and the length of time the lemonade and lemons sat out in the scorching sun was an unknown that could cause potential illness.

Broadly looked at, these stands were in violation of health codes, and I know of instances where, in order to avoid law suits against the families of the little entrepreneurs and their parents who might then sue the city to recoup losses, sidewalk lemonade stands were closed down by the boards of health.

The caution may seem a little much, but it was understandable especially when you had no way of guaranteeing something hadn’t gotten into the lemonade either purposely poured or accidently falling in. Crazy people can do crazy things, and foolish people can do foolish things even if it is not malicious, but just a poorly though out joke.

But what happened in Washington DC this week was beyond ridiculous.

U.S. Park Police Officers detained the three teens on the National Mall for illegally selling cold bottled water to tourists on an extremely hot day. Two were 17 and the other 16, and they admitted they did not have a license or permit.

According to the U.S.Park Police spokesperson, they were placed in handcuffs for the safety of the officers and of the individuals.

There was no angry confrontation, so what was the safety issue?

Certainly officers can talk to people like this without handcuffing them.

They were eventually released to their parents and guardians with a verbal warning from Park Police regarding illegal vending. Their belongings were also returned to them.

Ascertaining the purity of the product was as easy as checking to see if the safety seals on the caps were broken, and although publicly selling consumables on the National Mall requires a permit which cannot be required for some, but not for all, this could have been explained to them in regular conversation without cuffs.

The three teenagers had taken it upon themselves to sell cold water on a hot day to tourists most likely seeing that as an honest way to make some money, and a pretty clever way to do it. They weren’t selling drugs, and they were displaying honest initiative.

The visual was a bad one.

To those who were nearby or who may have just purchased a bottle of water it was clear that the kids were innocent and the officers a little over the top in how they treated them, but from a distance three Black teens in handcuffs on the National Mall had a whole different look. They did not appear innocent, but rather, guilty of something calling for cuffs.

I will skip the all too obvious comparisons with how this might have been handled differently if a certain adjective did not come before the word “teens”.

Trump may have to rethink his new plan change

A few years ago I lived in a small town that had an annual open town meeting where any registered voter could attend and vote on how the town’s funds would be spent the following year. It was old time democracy and direct rule of the people.

One year we voted to build a solar panel farm on what used to be the old town dump with the electricity produced to be used in all public facilities and street lights to reduce those costs to the taxpayers.

The old town dump is next to the new reclamation center where you bring your trash and place it in various bins for recycling, another money saving move from a few year before,

During a certain period of time, any time you brought our trash to the reclamation center, you had to drive by the solar farm construction site.

Certain characteristics of the solar farm were, therefore, very obvious, especially after the construction was complete.

For maximum effectiveness, the panels had to face south to get the most exposure to the sun, and they also had to stand at about a 45 degree angle with the lower end to the South and the higher end to the North.

They would be inefficient to the point of useless if they faced North, the slant reversed, or, even worse, were standing vertically regardless which side the actual panels were on, as they would not be getting optimum sun facing South and no sun facing North.

Donald Trump’s latest plan for the wall, as he explained it in Iowa recently, is to have the wall constructed as a giant solar panel.

This would mean the actual panels would have to be on the Mexican side of any wall as that would be toward the South, and to be of any use, the solar panels would have to be at a 45 degree angle with the lower part on the South, and the higher to the North.

His wall, therefore would actually have to be a giant ramp.

Even if the wall were one long single row of solar panels each it would have to have a barrier at the northern end, which would have to be some sort of wall with all the solar panel on the Mexican side.

He may not have realized it yet, but Donald Trump’s wall has morphed into a Southern border ramp.

Think about that.

No poor people allowed in this (White) castle.

The person who claimed he was all for the forgotten average man has filled his cabinet with billionaires, some of whom he chose from the very financial companies he condemned during his campaign.

And why all the rich guys?\

According to Trump, It is because,

“[T]hat’s the kind of thinking we want. They’re representing the country. They don’t want the money. They’re representing the country.”

All the billionaires and millionaires and his family members in the administration

 “had to give up a lot to take these jobs.”

“These are people that are great, brilliant business minds, and that’s what we need. That’s what we have to have so the world doesn’t take advantage [of us]. We can’t have the world taking advantage of us anymore.”

Of course he had to let the little people know he is really thinking of them.

 “And I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that makes sense? Does that make sense? If you insist, I’ll do it, but I like it better this way, right?”

Yep, who knows better what “poor people” need than guys who played people for financial gain.

Certainly not the working class.

The rich guys know that no one needs safety nets or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), subsidized student loan program, Social Security Disability Insurance, and veterans’ benefits.

Thank God these guys are in the position to get rid of those.

The poor would probably be too stupid and want to keep them.

And the crowd cheered.

God pranked them

 

 

We’ve all heard that joke about the guy sitting on his roof as the flood waters rise and first a guy in a boat rows by offers him a ride to higher ground, but he refuses it because he trusts in the Lord will save him. The same thing happens with a helicopter. He drowns when the water rises too high. Facing God he asks why God did not help him in spite of his faith, and God responds, “I sent boat and then a helicopter. What more did you want?”

We are constantly reminded that “God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to behold”, while petition prayers that go seemingly unanswered are explained as fulfilled because we may have prayed for one thing, but God had something different and better in mind.  This sort of breaks down to praying for specifics, but having to accept generalities.

With or without prayer, the results would have been the same.

We pray for the life of a sick loved one, but when they die we explain a)God wanted them home, b) this is how Go tests our love of Him, or c) the reason will become clear later but time passes and we lose interest and forget about it.

We have seen those stories of parents who let their children die by refusing a doctor’s care while insisting that prayer will be the cure without them ever thinking the cure was Go sending a doctor.

I think God just has to occasionally play with the prayerful mind.

He did with Representative Scalise.