Equivalent?

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I guess you would have to call it a Faux Equivalency.

Already Fox News has resorted to calling the influx of the children from Central America an “Invasion”. It sounds threatening, and like something we have to protect ourselves from.

They even have gotten some of the Texas politicians to use that term so they can scare people into seeing an emergency and an attack on them that doesn’t actually exist.

And when you listen to those who oppose temporarily housing the children from Central America at military bases in their areas, they, too, refer to the invasion from which they must protect their community.

So, obviously labeling things with negative terms, no matter how irrelevant, works.

Now Fox has applied this tactic to Michael Sam so they can present one openly Gay football player, and by extension all Gay people, as a threat to a popular sport that macho men will want to protect from this assault, and what will have a negative effect on the team that will upset the fans.

It is called “Gay baiting”.

Even if they never thought about a distraction, the fans will have to now.

The seed has been planted.

On Fox and Friends this past week, the crazies on the couch spread the false connection of the kiss that Michael Sam gave his boyfriend when he got the news he had been drafted to the Rams with Michael Vick who had engaged in promoting dog fighting, and killing the losing dogs by drowning or hanging them.

Moany, Mae, and Jerk were discussing Tony Dungy’s comment that “I wouldn’t have taken him. Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.”

Dungy was the first Black, Super Bowl coach that had had no problem supporting Michael Vick after his time in prison for his dogfighting offenses like electrocuting, shooting, hanging, and beating dogs to death who didn’t fight well.

So apparently he is under the impression that Gay men kissing is more of a distraction than someone known to torture and kill dogs.

But the Fox and Friends group didn’t bother to dispel this rather odd comparison, but ran with it.

Lost in the fog Elisabeth Hasselbeck, making one of her View worthy additions to the discussion offered, “Sure, is the distraction bigger than what will occur on field? But he’s getting slammed. Tony Dungy is getting abused in the media. It’s a fact that this story is a big deal in the media. You know, Michael Sam, did he make it a big deal? Who knows?”

Michael Sam did not make it a big deal. He only came out truthfully as himself so that he would not have to play a character who plays football.

He removed what could have been his biggest distraction and could have negatively affected his performance and his team.

Steve Doocy noted that the former coach had been called a hypocrite for helping Vick get his career going again.

A man who killed dogs in some rather cruel ways because they did not fight viciously enough did nothing to help himself or his team, but whatever distraction would result from his entering a locker room with team mates who owned dogs, or had kids who owned one wasn’t as bad as a man in love with another man

Kilmead supported Doocy’s assessment by stating, “Steve, to your point. Michael Vick, coming out of prison, he was a distraction in the locker room because that’s a major story every time you walk in.”

So, apparently is Michael Sam?

In an ESPN poll 86% of NFL players said there was no issue with Michael Sam

But rest assured, even if there isn’t one, Fox will either pretend there is, or do their damnedest to create one to fire up their dwindling viewership and create a news story, or pretend there is one.

Meanwhile, the NFL decided to bench Ray Rice for just two games after he was charged with felony aggravated assault for allegedly striking his wife unconscious. There was a security video of him dragging her, unconscious, from an elevator they had both entered on a lower floor.

No distraction there. No one in the locker room with a wife or girlfriend will think twice when he comes in.

Right?

But, then again, he wasn’t kissing another guy, his boyfriend, he had only beat his wife unconscious.

 

It is simply theater

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There’s actually doing something, and then there is doing something so you look good.

Governor Rick Perry of Texas wants to look good, oh, and tough to boot.

He wants to put at least 1,000 National Guard troops on the border in response to the flood of incoming children from Central America.

What the reactionary conservatives like to refer to as an “invasion”.

He calls it “Operation Strong Safety”, but it isn’t exactly clear what the National Guard troops will actually do, as they certainly are not going to shoot at the kids.

That’s what the militias seem to want to do.

But Perry says this is necessary because, “I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault”.

It’s all imagery.

He wants to deter any child on his or her way from finishing the trip.

What seems to be overlooked, is that these kids are not sneaking into the country by dark of night, or using the most out of the way routes; they are walking up to border patrol agents and just turning themselves in.

The only thing that the National Guard will do, is supply more people for the kids to walk up to.

H. Steven Blum, who was the Chief of the National Guard Bureau from 2003 to 2009, those would have been the Bush years, has said,

“Until mission requirements are clearly defined, it can’t be determined whether this is an appropriate use of the Guard in this particular case. There may be many other organizations that might more appropriately be called upon. If you’re talking about search and rescue, maintaining the rule of law or restoring conditions back to normal after a natural disaster or a catastrophe, the Guard is superbly suited to that. I’m not so sure that what we’re dealing with in scope and causation right now would make it the ideal choice.”

In other words, using the National Guard at the border makes no sense, as the only thing they can do is say “Hi” to the kids and ask how things are going as they pass by.

Just as a reminder, Perry had come under fire during one of his presidential bids because he signed a 2001 Texas law granting in-state tuition rates at state universities to illegal immigrant students.

As recently as 2012 when answering those who faulted him on this he had stated, “If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart.”

The present situation may be a little different now, but it still calls for having a heart.

Now we have Perry trying to look tough even though the Border Patrol sees this as simply useless posturing.

The Texas Border Patrol agents would rather see the money go toward local law enforcement and necessary charitable aide.

Perry came up with his plan without talking to those who are on site.

Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said, “At this time, a lot of people do things for political reasons. I don’t know that it helps.” .

Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra pointed out that, “The National Guard – they’re trained in warfare; they’re not trained in law enforcement. I need to find out what their actual role is going to be, but I think the money would be better spent giving local law enforcement more funds.”

So, other than looking tough, and spending money on what is arguably unnecessary and a waste of funds, it is all theater.

I do have to mention that many people I have spoken to since it came out that these kids need to be housed somewhere, have the heart I believe most Americans actually have in spite of the mean spirited people who run to the cameras and yell, or people like Perry and one local guy running for a state Senate seat who see the value in misrepresenting the kids

Popeye Kids

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Remember Congressman Steve King of Iowa’s claim last July about Immigrant children?

“There are kids that were brought into this country by their parents unknowing they were breaking the law. And they (supporters of immigration reform)say to me and others who defend the rule of law, ‘We have to do something about the 11 million. Some of them are valedictorians.’ Well, my answer to that is…it’s true in some cases, but they aren’t all valedictorians. They weren’t all brought in by their parents. For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.”

In my experience, for every valedictorian, regardless of country of birth, there are hundreds who are not.

And, I am now having doubts about Popeye, as I may now have an inkling how his calves became shaped as they are. Since he always mumbled, perhaps it wasn’t English he was mumbling.

Maybe that wasn’t actually spinach.

Now, if someone could explain those fore-arms.

So with the present situation of thousands of kids coming from Central American countries to escape the gangs and the murders there that result from gang activity, Mr. King decided he would hold an anti-immigrant child rally this past weekend in his congressional district.

It was going to be a grand event.

About two dozen people showed up.

At a local protest on Cape Cod, there were between 20 and 30 people.

Perhaps this is a sign that Americans are not as mean as some would want us to appear.

First Contact

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Since I switched to my own blog, I have more freedom to deal with topics that interest me just because they do.

I found this story on the “inter-webs”, and it just struck me funny on one level, and a little scary on another as there are people who will buy into it.

We have just commemorated the first landing on the moon, and most of us who were alive then can remember exactly where we were, and with whom we were when we watched it on what was probably the only television in our homes at the time.

My class was in its last full month of a year long novitiate (yes, there was a time I felt I had a vocation to a religious life and pursued it) where we had no television, so we had to come down off the hill where the novitiate was to the college below that had some televisions.

We were sent to the biology classroom that had tiered seating.

I was in the second row, just behind a Salesian priest visiting from Italy, who just happened to be bald, but not completely. I could see the television without any obstruction as he was just short enough for his head to be at the very bottom of the screen.

As the lunar lander was approaching the moon’s surface, the priest reached up to scratch an itch on his bald spot, slowly bringing his hand toward his head in a very slow arc as he leaned forward in rapt attention.

The closer the lander got to the surface of the moon, the more he leaned forward for a good look, and the slower the arc of his arm.

His finger tips finally reached his itch as Walter Cronkite intoned, “The Eagle has landed”.

I saw both the major and minor events happen simultaneously.

To this day, and especially on the anniversary of the landing, that whole scenario comes to my mind clearly.

We all assumed a future that included space exploration had begun at that moment, and beyond discussions of the ramifications of that in science classes, the possibility of meeting life on other planets and what that meant both theologically and philosophically were also discussed in the relevant classes.

As conservative as some of the priests and brothers at the college were, many being old world Italians of a certain age, the attitude was open and accepting of possibility.

One has to realize  that what was by all accounts a conservative religious environment 45 years ago turns out to have been more liberal than what religion has become since.

Kenneth Alfred “Ken” Ham, who is a year younger than I am, and so has seen the same world that I have, is a former science teacher and president of Answers in Genesis, a Christian group that operates the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

He recently debated Bill Nye the Science Guy on whether creation should be considered on a par with science when it comes to dealing with the origins of the universe.

He claims that the universe is 6,000 years old in spite of scientific evidence to the contrary, because of what is said in the Bible.

He has become persona non grata at Creationist conferences because he speaks of other Christians in the most unchristian of terms, but he still manages to raise money for his Creation Museum and his Noah’s Ark themed park.

In reviewing his debate with Bill Nye, his home country’s Australian Broadcasting Corporation said it “drew world attention, once again, on the United States as the home of whacky Christianity”.

Now as people remember the first walk on the moon, he has stated that it is pointless spending money in the search for extra-terrestrial life because it rebukes God and because aliens are damned to hell anyway.

Take that Mr. Spock.

You’re a nice guy Obi Wan, it’s just too bad you won’t be saved.

“I’m shocked at the countless hundreds of millions of dollars that have been spent over the years in the desperate and fruitless search for extraterrestrial life. Of course, secularists are desperate to find life in outer space, as they believe that would provide evidence that life can evolve in different locations and given the supposed right conditions!
And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the “Godman,” to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin — the Savior of mankind.”

For Star Trek fans, and those who enjoyed My Favorite Martian, he had this to say as well:

“Jesus did not become the ‘GodKlingon’ or the ‘GodMartian’! Only descendants of Adam can be saved. God’s Son remains the “Godman” as our Savior. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we see the Father through the Son (and we see the Son through His Word). To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong.”
He condemns scientists because of their desire to explore our universe and potentially discover other intelligent life-forms, which could give clues to the origins of life.
“The answers to life’s questions will not be found in imaginary aliens but in the revelation of the Creator through the Bible and His Son, Jesus Christ, who came to die on a Cross to redeem mankind from sin and death that our ancestor, Adam, introduced”.

Neil deGrasse Tyson may object to the rejection of curiosity when it comes to examining the universe, but as a scientist his reactions to this are to be expected.

If you really want to know how crazy this guy is, Pat Robertson, the resident crazy of the Religious Right responded to Ham by saying,

“Let’s face it, there was a bishop … who added up the dates listed in Genesis and he came up with the world had been around for 6,000 years. There ain’t no way that’s possible. To say that it all came about in 6,000 years is just nonsense and I think it’s time we come off of that stuff and say this isn’t possible.We’ve got to be realistic that the dating of Bishop Ussher just doesn’t comport with anything that’s found in science, and you can’t just totally deny the geological formations that are out there.
Let’s be real. Let’s not make a joke of ourselves”.

And for someone who believes in God and all that He is, Ken Ham seems to be a little blasphemous as he does not seem to want to accept that in our expansive universe, God can do whatever He wants and is capable of doing it.

I have this image in my mind of an alternate ending to the Star Trek movie “First Contact”.

Since people are waiting for the second coming, and no one knows what it will look like, I see the Vulcan ship landing in front of Zefram Cochoran, the door opening, the ramp extending, and, when the person coming out lowers his hood, it’s Jesus.

Bazinga!

The Slippery Slope.

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Most people assume that the slippery slope instigated by the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision will involve attempts by churches to find exemptions to as many laws as they can so that they can discriminate against Gay people, women, African Americans, and any group they they just don’t like.

The reality is that the slippery slope is that by which people will be rejecting religion because by the fundamentalists’ own arguments, since people in many religions chose to belong to it or exchange an earlier religion for a new one,  religion is not genetic or immutable, but is, in fact, a choice, and as a choice it has been afforded special rights as it is protected in the Constitution, and is further favored because, regardless of the amount of money a church and its affiliates, especially those with big television audiences, take in, they are exempt from paying taxes while enjoying the infrastructure paid for by those who do pay taxes, and doing their best to influence the laws through a system they do not support.

They even find ways to receive tax dollars for their own religiously based programs.

And the more obnoxious and pushy they become to demand the “right” to discriminate against taxpaying citizens, the more obvious their special rights will become, and this will have people turning their backs and rejecting the very Jesus they are attempting to force people to love and follow.

The most prominent victim of the Hobby Lobby slippery slope is Jesus.

 

The suddenly concocted concern for “our own kids”

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Unfortunately the situation at the border is not bringing out the best in people.

Putting aside any political discussion or blame games, these are children escaping from horrendous conditions in their home countries, and people just want to send them back.

Some are now using the suddenly discovered compassion toward those they have ignored up until now.

We are suddenly hearing that we need to take care of our own children, our homeless, and our veterans first.

The fact is, though, that while food assistance for children and veterans’ families was being cut by congress, people sat silent.

With an a unacceptable number of our veterans being homeless while training and jobs programs got cut, people sat silent.

When school breakfast and lunch programs were being cut by congress people sat silent.

When unemployment benefits that assist parents in feeding and clothing their kids were threatened, people sat silent.

When Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans because it would have “busted the budget” while the Republican House and Senate members gave additional tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, people at silent.

When the White House proposed an increase to the VA budget, and Congress shot it down, people at silent.

While children in the United States are going to bed hungry, and the troops we support return and could use some help supporting their kids until they get their civilian lives back together, Congress cuts food stamps, and people sit silent.

When thousands of soldiers return home from war in Afghanistan, You know, the troops we like to trumpet that we support, and are searching for jobs and could use some assistance, they end up homeless, and people sit silent.

When congress was proposing cuts to Head Start, Community Health Centers, Community Services Block Grants, Low Income Home Energy Assistance contingency funds, Title I (K-12 education for low-income students), IDEA (special education) grants to states, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, & Children, 21st Century Community Learning Centers (after school programs), Maternal and Child Health Block Grants, and Child Care Development Block Grant, people sat silent.

When Congress threatened funds for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grants, Mentoring Children of Prisoners, Even Start, Striving Readers, High School Graduation Initiative, Student Aid – for higher education, and LEAP program (for low-income college students), people sat silent.

Either they did not pay attention, did not care one way or the other, or actually spoke in support of these cuts to veterans and children because those they listen to without question told them to.

But now, in an attempt to assume some high road position to justify their negative attitude toward the children coming from Central American countries to avoid gang pressure, gang violence, and death, people are suddenly invoking the children already here.

They have been ignoring our own children because they are other people’s children living in conditions they themselves are foreign to.

While they worshiped the fetus, they ignored the child.

Well, the children have been here.

Why have these people not cared up to now?

The answer is simple. They didn’t need the prop.

 

John McCain

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It seems that every time there is a country with it’s own people fighting each other, John McCain demands that the United States supply arms to one side to fight the other.

Recently he wanted the United States to arm the rebels in Syria even though we were not sure who the rebels actually were or what would happen to the arms once they were supplied.

Then there was the Ukraine business where he wanted the United States to arm the Ukrainians against Russia and the separatists.

And now, since the downing of the Malaysia plane he has been running around to every news outlet that will give him time, demanding we get involved, and condemning the Obama administration for not already having gotten involved, when we stil do not know what the actual details of the tragedy are.

He is just running from one incident to another demanding the United States get involved in  other countries’ business as if he will not be happy until we are fighting another war.

It’s like he is suffering from a form of combat ADHD, or is that kid on Christmas morning who, before he has unwrapped any gift all the way, is running off to the next one to tear at its paper.

He really, really wants us in another war.

God’s go some “splainin” to do

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For those not familiar with the story, and even for those who are and just need a memory bump, Abraham was told by God that he would be the father of a nation and his children would be as multiple as the sands upon the seashore.

Because his wife, Sarah, seemed barren, Abraham, at her insistence, exercised his right to have a child with his Number One concubine, Hagar, so that he would have an heir.

Such an arrangement was acceptable.

Now God must have known about this, so when he said in Genesis 12:

2 “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing”
ב וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ, לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל, וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ, וַאֲגַדְּלָה שְׁמֶךָ; וֶהְיֵה, בְּרָכָה.

and, being able to see past, present, and future as one, He certainly would have known that upcoming events would cause a bit of confusion as Sarah eventually bore a child herself according to God’s own plan.

He’s the one who made it happen even as Abraham had some doubts considering he was around 100 and Sarah would be in her late 90s at child birth.

But, hey, God said it was okay.

So Abraham ended up with two sons with neither specified as the beginning of a great nation.

So, again at his wife’s insistence, Abraham throws his first son, Ishmael, along with his mother, out into the desert to die, and the happy family of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac continue on assuming that everything is just fine.

But, before sending Ishmael away, Abraham did have some questions about which son was to be the beginning of a nation, letting God know he didn’t think it was fair to make a promise and then introduce a second son creating a complication because both were technically his first sons by law.

So God eased Abraham’s doubts by assuring him in Genesis 21:

13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.’
יג וְגַם אֶת-בֶּן-הָאָמָה, לְגוֹי אֲשִׂימֶנּוּ: כִּי זַרְעֲךָ, הוּא.

So it’s pretty clear that there were to be two nations.

Ishmael lives and founds his own nation (many assume the Arabs).

Isaac goes on to found the Hebrews.

So which nation is THE nation?

The Hebrews who descended through Isaac, or the Arabs who descended through Ishmael?

Abraham was assured by God that both his kids’ descendents would go on to form nations, and certainly we can’t say one deserves the be preferred because they formed geographic centers and cities while the other remained rather nomadic for most of its history.

After World War II some of the land that had been occupied by the Palestinians was given to the Jews who, after centuries of persecution that culminated in  the Holocaust, wanted a land to call their own.

Just like with the Native Americans after the French and Indian War, heads of states in far off countries reassigned and redivided land among themselves and with others having no regard for the people who were actually there.

Isaac was given his half of the land, and Ishmael got to keep his.

Problem was that Europe instigated a war in the 1960′s that did not turn out the way they had assumed it would, and some of Ishmael’s land became spoils of war, and Isaac got more of the land.

Not content with what they now had, like settlers in the United States, the descendents of Isaac continued to encroach on the land of the descendents of Ishmael, building settlements and displacing  the people who had lived there.

The United States is a bit disingenuous if it now acts surprised that people whose land is stolen might not take too kindly to that.

It was our history, but the weapons weren’t as advanced then as they  are now.

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While the song might say, “This land is mine. God gave this land to me”, the reality is, that according to his own words, He gave it to two nations without ever telling Abraham it was a temporary promise that He might just renege on.

And I assume He didn’t lie.

So perhaps grabbing land claiming it is yours by a really special arrangement while ignoring the whole plan that included at least one other group of people, and then,  when even your allies suggest that you stop just moving into occupied territory and building settlements, you thumb your nose at them, is not the best way to bring about a peaceful co-existence.

Unless your plan is to wipe out a whole group of people, guilt people into supporting you, and then just taking all the land for yourself.

Perhaps those who claim they are the people of God should honor His earlier arrangement and promise to the father of their nation?

Stop grabbing your neighbors’ land.

I believe there is a Commandment to that affect.