Category Archives: economic justice

Compassion, Trump-style

Hello, brothers and sisters. I know you haven’t heard from me in a while, but I’ve been a little busy. And, by “a little busy”, I mean “working my butt off to get some really mediocre grades this semester”.  But, recently, something so big happened that I just had to carve out some time and write about it. 

     What could possibly pull me out of my self-imposed exile and back into the blogosphere? President Trump’s budget proposal (I throw up in my mouth a little, every time I say that), that’s what. And, let me you, it is a doozy. It increases defense spending by 54% and slashes funding for almost every other part of the federal government, including all funding for arts and cultural agencies and the block grants that support Meals on Wheels and Head Start. Naturally, a few folks have their panties in a wad over this turn of events. 

     The real brouhaha started when, at a press conference yesterday, a reporter asked White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney if the budget wasn’t “hard-hearted”. Mulvaney replied, “No, I don’t think so. In fact, I think it’s one of the most compassionate things we can do.” That’s right, beloved; a budget that cuts funding to programs that feed the elderly and underprivileged kids is “compassionate”. 

     Now, before we lose our collective mind over this, let’s look at Mulvaney’s reasoning. He told the press, who didn’t take his pronouncement very charitably, “You’re only focusing on half of the equation, you’re only focusing on recipients of the money. We’re trying to focus both on the recipients of the money and the folks who give us the money in the first place. And I think it’s fairly compassionate to go to them and say, ‘Look, we’re not going to ask you for your hard-earned money any more.’ ‘Single mom of two in Detroit, OK, give us your money.’ We’re not going to do that anymore … unless we can guarantee to you that that money is actually being used in a proper function, and I think that is about as compassionate as you can get.”  And, believe or not, I get where he’s coming from.

     This budget is remarkably compassionate. I mean, sure, Trump’s budget will impose an 82% tax hike on a single parent making $34,000 a year. But, imagine how it will relieve the burden on the long-suffering and over-taxed 1% in this country. Seriously, who deserves a break more than the ultra-wealthy?

     And, yes, this budget will eliminate programs that the single mom he mention probably relies on, like Head Start, PBS, and other silly, socialist fluff. But, come on, folks. Lord Dampnut has to get the money to build The Wall™ from somewhere. Especially, since Mexico can’t stop laughing at his claim that they’ll pay for it. 

     Besides he’s got to come up with that extra $54 billion he needs to beef up the world’s largest military. Yeah, I hear you, “We already spend more on the military than the next 8 countries combined.” Maybe. But, don’t we need to be ready in case shit pops off with the Russians? Okay, not the Russians; Uncle Vlad wouldn’t be happy about that. But, it is necessary. If only because he needs to make sure the military is equipped to protect him when the mob of screwed-over supporters arrives in D.C. with the pitchforks and torches.

     Look, I know a lot of you are still pretty pissed about this budget. I get that. But, maybe you should take Mulvaney’s advice and look at both sides of the equation. There’s the “decent human being who wants to take care the least of these” side…, and, then there’s Trump’s. I’m sure you’ll see the light eventually. 

What About The Taco Trucks???

Will we see one of these on every corner? Probably not. And, that is one of the cruelest blows of this past election.
Will we see one of these on every corner? Probably not. And, that is one of the cruelest blows of this past election.

During the campaign, Latinos for Trump founder Marco Gutierrez warned that his culture was a very strong one and, if we didn’t do something about it, we’d have taco trucks on every corner. So, with the election of Donald Trump, who vowed to fix the immigration system, is that wondrous (possible) reality now just a fantasy? Shit. If there’s one thing we don’t need right now, it’s something else to worry about under the regime of the Tiny-handed Terror.

I don’t get it.  Why would anyone vote against the availability of tacos on every corner? Tacos are crunchy, little folders of awesomeness, filled with all kinds of ambrosia-like substances. There is a taco for everyone, from the most hardcore vegan to the dyed-in-the-wool meat eater hell-bent on destroying the environment through livestock-produced methane. And, Americans actually said “no” to that. What the hell, white people?

Understand that when you voted for Trump, you stomped on a dream that everyone could get behind: readily available tacos no further than one city block in any direction. And, for what? Do you honestly think Donald Trump is going to be the champion of the working people like he promised? Right, the guy with a very long, very well-documented history of stiffing people who worked for him has your back. What were you thinking?

I mean, I get it: you’re still out of work, you’re worried that your kids aren’t going to do better than you did. And, let’s be honest: brown people freak you the fuck out. But, wouldn’t a tasty, warm taco take a little of the sting out of that situation? FYI, those “brown people” you’re so worried about? They’re the ones who came up with those tasty bits of heaven in a tortilla.

Hell, even Trump loves tacos. See, here he is enjoying one from the Trump Tower Grill:

trump-taco-bowl

Okay, so it’s not really a taco. It’s a taco bowl (aka “a taco with a big, beautiful wall around it.”). And, being prepared in the grill at Trump Tower, it’s probably about as authentic as something from Taco Bell. But, it’s the sentiment that counts, right. Besides, he loves Hispanics!

We could’ve had taco trucks all over the place; not to mention affordable college, an real healthcare plan, a minimum wage that you actually live on and more. But, no. You had to throw your little temper tantrum. And, what are we getting instead?  A tangerine nightmare, along with warmed-over Republican bullshit like privatizing essential elements of the social safety net, incompetents appointed to key positions, and the legitimization of white supremacy/nationalism. I would say “Bet those taco trucks aren’t sounding so bad right now”, but I know better.

 

Remembering History: The Greensboro Sit-ins

I wrote the first version of this post three years ago. Since this is the anniversary of the Greensboro Sit-ins, I thought this would a good time to dust it off and give you an updated version. Enjoy.

The Greensboro Sit-ins at their height: 63 of 66 seats taken by African-American students waiting to be served. It only took 6 months for them to get a bite to eat.

57 years ago today, four college students walked in and sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N. C. Now, a group of people sitting down at the lunch counter wasn’t a big deal; it happened every day. But, this? This was different.

You see, these four young men, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair (now Jibreel Khazan) and David Richmond, were African-American and African-Americans were not served at this particular lunch counter. If a black person wanted to eat at Woolworth’s, they went to the counter in the basement. But, under no circumstances did they sit down at the main counter upstairs, a custom that prevailed in Woolworth stores across the south in those days.

But, these four 17-year-old freshmen did just that, politely asking to be served. Eventually, the manager asked them to leave, but they didn’t; they stayed on those stools until closing time. The next morning, the four, later known as the Greensboro Four, were back along with 20 of their peers, including students from Bennett College (a historically black women’s college in Greensboro). On the third day, 60 students showed up. By the fourth day, the crowd had grown to more than 300 people and 63 of the 66 seats at the lunch counter occupied by young African-Americans with final three seats taken by waitresses. That must have been a sight to see.

At first, Woolworth’s stood by their policy, stating they would abide by local custom and keep the counter segregated. But, after 6 months of bad sales and worse publicity, they relented and opened it anyone. The story doesn’t end there, however.

The actions of these four young men started a chain reaction, with sit-ins happening all over the south which led to the desegregation of not just lunch counters, but other places as well. In May of 1960, a group of Nashville students led by John Lewis, the Georgia congressman our president recently accused of all talk and no action, achieved citywide desegregation. The genie was out of the bottle and there was no going back.

The sit-ins also led the SCLC to fund a conference at Shaw University in Raleigh N. C. for delegates from the sit-in centers, 19 northern colleges and groups like CORE, and the SDS . Out of this conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was formed. To say the sit-ins changed the face of the civil rights movement is an understatement. Sometimes, I wonder if it would have nearly as successful if those four young men hadn’t walked into Woolworth’s that day.

I grew up in Greensboro and, for North Carolina, it’s a pretty progressive town. I’m not sure why, Maybe, it’s because this area was originally settled by Quakers, a group known for being progressive. Guilford County was a stop on the Underground Railroad and Levi Coffin, one of the most well-known conductors, grew up here. And, of course, there are the Sit-ins.

But Greensboro has a split personality when it comes to race and civil rights. Yes, it was here that sit-ins brought new attention to the civil rights movement. But, it was also here that, in 1979, a group of Nazis and Klansmen shot and killed 5 protesters in what is known as the Greensboro Massacre. Go figure.

Here in the United States, we’ve come a long way regarding equality. Jim Crow laws are pretty much a thing of the past (the overt ones, at least). Black people are welcome in any establishment in the city and their employment opportunities have increased. Sounds good, huh?

On the surface, maybe. But, according to the latest data, almost 1 in 5 people in this city live below the poverty line and most of them are black. And, in the last few years, North Carolina has enacted new voting laws that purposely make it harder for African-Americans to vote. To top it all off, the President of the United States is a black man and has been subjected to more vitriol than any president in recent memory. The intransigence that seems to be a part of American (especially southern) DNA, can be discouraging. When it is, reading about what happened in 1960 lifts my spirits. If we could make those changes, the ones facing us today aren’t so bad. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.

Christians for Trump 2016!

 

Christians for TrumpI don’t know about anyone else, but I have been so underwhelmed by the choices in the upcoming presidential election. Until recently, I floundered around, looking for the true, evangelical Christian candidate, all to no avail. Ben Carson was looking good for a while, but then I realized he’s a Seventh-Day Adventist, and I just can’t hang with a such weird, semi-magical faith. Jeb Bush is a Catholic and, as we all know, the Pope is the Anti-Christ. So, he’s out. I had all but settled on Ted Cruz as the one, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I thought all was lost until, just a few days ago, the clouds parted, the trumpets sounded and the answer I was looking for was revealed.

You see, that’s when Jerry Falwell, Jr, president of Liberty University and son of Rev. Jerry Falwell, endorsed Donald J. Trump for President of the United States, calling Trump “a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again.” Yes! Coming on the heels of Sister Sarah Palin’s declaration of support , it is clear that God wants Donald Trump to lead this country back to greatness.

We’ve had hints that Brother JJ might come out for the Donald. Since Trump, aka “the last great hope for this hell hole of a country”, stepped onto the pages of history by declaring his intent to run for president, Falwell has put some time into building a rapport with the man. In recent weeks, he has compared Trump to Falwell, Sr and stated, “In my opinion, Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment.”

And, the country is ready for this, beloved. As this sign at an Alabama rally for Trump back in August shows:

trump4

Of course, some wag is going to point to the Donald’s less-than-stellar knowledgee of the Bible or the fact that he can’t remember ever asking God’s forgiveness, questioning his evangelical bonfides. But, honestly, none of that really matters. What does matter? That Trump is the only person who can save us from the dreadful mismanagement that has characterized the Obama administration. I mean, seriously, how much more employment, peace and economic prosperity can this country take?

Mr. Trump is also the strong man we need to lead us against the forces that threaten to destroy the very fabric of our nation. Who else but Trump can go toe-to-toe with ISIS, Vladimir Putin and China? Sure, he backed out of the debate last night rather than face Megyn Kelly. But, after the way she went after him last time, who could blame him? Intelligent women who won’t put up with your crap are scary.

Does it matter that he’s greedy, privileged, willing to use all the resources at his disposal to stroke his own ego while others suffer (often on account of what he’s said), and cares nothing for the consequences of his words and actions so long as they don’t affect him personally? Of course not! All good Christians should aspire to be like Mr. Trump; rich as Croesus and unashamedly politically incorrect. Because, really, isn’t that what the Gospel is all about?

Pope Francis and The GOP: Where Is The Love?

Both the media and the GOP think Francis is a "progressive". At least one of them thinks that's a bad thing.
Both the media and the GOP think Francis is a “progressive”. At least one of them thinks that’s a bad thing.

Unless you live under a rock, you know the Pope is visiting the U. S. this week. What you might not have known is that Frankie is a “progressive”. At least, that’s what the media (and the Republican party) keeps telling us. Only in the America of the 21st century could a man who’s pro-life, anti-LGBT and against the ordination of women be called a “progressive”. While the media is having a field day with Francis’ visit, saying that the GOP isn’t exactly happy about the whole thing is a bit like referring to the Hindenburg disaster as a “fire”: true, but an understatement of massive proportions.

Take Marco Rubio, for instance. This good Catholic boy recently said, “As a Catholic, the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, the successor of Peter and the head of the Church…And in theological matters, as a Catholic, I believe when he pronounces himself from the chair of Peter, which is actually very rare, he is infallible in those decisions, in those issues. That does not extend to political issues like the economy”. He added, “On economic issues, the pope is a person.” Fellow Catholic Chris Christie agrees. He told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I just think the Pope is wrong. The fact is that his infallibility is on religious matters, not on political ones.” Isn’t it funny how the Pope’s infallibility evaporates as soon as he starts contradicting conservatives about money or the environment?

Two other cradle Catholics, Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona and Rick Santorum (who, thanks to Dan Savage, needs no introduction) get a little more specific in their criticism of Pope Francis. Both take issue with Francis’ comments on climate change, with Gosar claiming the Pope is promoting “questionable science” and Santorum declaring, “The pope ought to stay with his job, and we’ll stay with ours.” Rick went on to say, “I think we [Catholics] are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.” Couple of things here: 1) I love how any science that doesn’t allow the GOP’s corporate pals to continue raping the planet in their quest for riches is “questionable” and 2) Francis is scientist, having graduated as a chemical technician and working in that capacity for the Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory before entering the priesthood. Sounds like someone didn’t do their homework.

You would think the GOP’s very own propaganda channel media outlet, FoxNews, would back them up on all this asshattery. But check out this commentary from the network’s own Shepard Smith:

“I think that we are in a weird place in the world when the following things are considered political. Five things, I’m going to tick them off. These are the five things that were on [the pope] and our president’s agenda. Caring for the marginalized and the poor. That’s now political. Advancing economic opportunity for all. Political? Serving as good stewards of the environment. Protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom globally. Welcoming [and] integrating immigrants and refugees globally. And that’s political?

I mean, I don’t know what we expect to hear from an organization’s leader like the pope of the Catholic Church other than protect those who need help, bring in refugees who have no place because of war and violence and terrorism. These seem like universal truths that we should be good to others who have less than we do, that we should give shelter to those who don’t have it. I think these were the teachings in the Bible of Jesus. They’re the words of the pope, they’re the feelings of the president. And people who find themselves on the other side of that message should consult a mirror, it seems like. Because I think that’s what we’re supposed to do as a people, whatever your religion. I mean, it seems to me — and I think to probably, as Bill O’Reilly would put it, most clear-thinking Americans — that that’s how we’re supposed to roll.”

A FoxNews anchor taking Republicans to task on the air? Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more weird.

Taken by itself, Smith’s comments could be written off as a cynical attempt to make Fox look like it’s living up to its tagline, “Fair and Balanced”. But, lately, the network has been giving Trump hell and Chris Wallace called Carly Fiorina out on her Planned Parenthood BS, both of which gives some credence that “change of heart” theory. Holy crap on a cracker. Is there a rip in the space-time continuum that I didn’t know about? Or, maybe, the Apocalypse is upon us; I don’t know. Either way, this is uncharted territory and it’s a little scary.

First Church of Tax Exemption

satire def

After his tour de force as interim host on The Daily Show in 2013, John Oliver moved over to HBO to host his own program, “Last Week Tonight“. There, he takes a more in-depth look at various subjects like Sex Ed, prison sentences, transgender rights, the tobacco industry and nutritional supplements. If you haven’t watched any of those, I highly recommend that you do. Oliver’s satire is bitingly funny and incredibly informative. Sunday night, he turned that satire on this question: Should churches be tax exempt?

Oliver’s latest episode actually concentrated on televangelists who preach prosperity gospel. I thought I knew the depths to which these shysters would sink, but I was oh, so wrong; as bad as I thought it was, it’s worse. Watching these people brag about how God has “blessed” them and then beg for more money from people who can’t afford it made my skin crawl. But, the worst was when Gloria Copeland claimed that watching her god-damned TV show was a better way to be “healed” of cancer than actually seeking treatment. As a cancer survivor (who has been through the hell of chemotherapy not once, but twice), I almost became physically ill. I cannot believe that shit is legal.

What’s even more unbelievable is that these assholes take in tons of money and much of it tax exempt. Mega-mansions, jets that cost millions of dollars, garages full of expensive luxury cars and just about every bit is tax-free. Why? Why are these assholes able to live in a manner that would make Pharoah blush and pay no taxes while the people who fund their lifestyle aren’t much better off than the Israelites enslaved by Pharoah go broke taking up their slack with the IRS? It’s that pesky “separation of church and state” thing, of course. Sounds to me like some changes to the Constitution might be in order.

This is a real problem, people. And, isn’t just televangelists and mega-churches, it’s all churches. I mean, let’s face it, for every big, flashy house of worship pushing prosperity gospel on the public dime, there are thousands more small community-based churches out there getting over on us by feeding people, helping them find housing and clothing, assisting with employment related activities (resumes, applications, internet access, etc.), affordable pre/after-school care for working families and generally providing a support system for their communities. Even worse, some of them have the nerve to complain that removing their tax-exempt status would have a serious negative impact on their ability to continue providing those services. What? Can you believe the chutzpah of these moochers?

Look, it’s high time that churches and other religious organizations paid their fair share when it comes to taxes. Will that mean some small, local organizations that do the good work Oliver mentions in the beginning of his show go out of business? Yes, it does. Will removing churches tax exempt status mean that some people lose their job because their organization can’t afford to keep them or maybe even stay open? Yes, it does. And, if those organizations go out of business, does that mean that the people they help will be left high and dry since many of them fall between the cracks that are inevitable with government programs like TANF and SNAP? Yes, it does. Yeah, I know it sucks and I’m sorry about that, but you know what they say: You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Is my fault that I’m not one of those eggs?

Why Are You Being So Mean To Bernie?

Bernie Sanders and Black Lives Matter activists

So, it seems that a couple of protesters claiming to be part of Black Lives Matter had the nerve to disrupt another Bernie Sanders campaign event. Saturday, in that progressive bastion of Seattle, two women made their way on stage and took the microphone away from Sanders to address the crowd, calling for 4 1/2 minutes of silence in honor of the 4 1/2 hours that Michael Brown’s body lay on a Ferguson street last year and not letting Sanders speak. Liberals are not happy.

So, what has gotten progressive panties in such a bunch? Not Marissa  Johnson’s and Mara Jacqueline Willaford’s attempt to exercise a little agency on behalf of their community, that’s cool. It’s the fact that they were…, impolite. No, really, that’s what people are saying. The response of many progressives hasn’t exactly been polite either and it reveals that we may not be the champions of racial justice we like to think we are.

So, what are those “not good” things that are brought to the surface? Well, lets see, there’s a certain cluelessness that rears its head every time a progressive’s commitment to racial justice is questioned. Then, there’s a plantation mentality undercurrent in the liberal backlash. And, lastly, there’s the fact that our reaction is one we rip conservatives for whenever they do the same thing.

So, let’s tackle these items one at a time:

  1. There’s a certain cluelessness that rears its head every time a progressive’s commitment to racial justice is questioned. I’ve seen several people respond to the protest by pointing out that Bernie “walked with Dr. King.” Yeah, here’s the thing: that was 50 years ago and if anyone has the right to say “Fine, but what have you done for me lately?”, it’s African-Americans. Despite the fact that we have twice elected a black man to the presidency (proof of a post-racial society, right?), African-Americans are incarcerated almost 6 times as much as whites and all too many young black men are dying in police custody. So, yeah, while progressives might have a better record than conservatives when it comes to racial justice, it’s still not good. And, just so you know, getting butthurt when someone points that out isn’t helpful.
  2. There’s an undercurrent of plantation mentality in the liberal backlash. When I say “a plantation mentality“, I’m not talking about the standard version that conservatives use to demonize minorities, I’m talking about the sense of entitlement that makes progressives think that black folks should just be quiet and let the (white) people who know what’s best for all of us handle things. This mindset shows up in several different ways, but perhaps the best example comes from an American News X article where the author says, “BLM (Black Lives Matter) needs to sit down and take the time to read about Bernie’s track record of fighting for civil rights, and addressing institutional economic racism.” Why, that’s not condescending at all.
  3. There’s the fact that our reaction is one we rip conservatives for whenever they do the same thing. This item is, quite possibly, the most damning one of all. From Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown to Freddie Gray, every time a young, black man dies at the hands of white people, evidence of their less-than-savory past is waved around by conservatives to show that, basically, they got what was coming to them. We’re doing something similar to Marissa Johnson. Within hours of the Sanders protest, a thread popped up on a Democratic Underground message forum sharing a Facebook post of Johnson’s in which she admits to having a Sarah Palin button on her backpack in high school and another where she says, “GOP shoulda groomed me right then…now they gotta see me on the other side *shrugs*”. Somehow, this seems to constitute “documentation” of Johnson’s status as a Republican operative. Now, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want people using things I thought 10 years ago to characterize my current beliefs, much less what I thought in high school. And, the second statement says the GOP lost its chance to recruit years ago, not that she’s allied with them now. I can’t help but think that if Johnson had interrupted one of the other candidates (especially a Republican), these two articles would be praised in liberal circles, not used as evidence of her disloyalty to the cause. At it’s heart, this is a smear campaign and we (rightly) give conservatives grief whenever they use this tactic. So, why is okay for us to employ it here?

Look, the bottom line is that African-Americans have been beating their heads against the wall for years when it comes to racial justice. If, in their frustration at not being heard, they’re a little less than polite, that’s understandable. But, maybe we liberals/progressives need to do a little self-examination to figure out why we get so upset us when that frustration comes our way. Don’t expect to like the answer, though.

Planned Parenthood, Abortion and Me

 

Confessions of a Reluctant Pro-Choice Advocate

Just to warn you, this post is going to be a little more weighty than most of what you’ll read on The Progressive Redneck. I figured I’d make that disclaimer since the title implies that it’ll be the sort of light-hearted romp I usually throw up on the internet. But, with all the fuss over those propaganda “creatively edited” videos concerning Planned Parenthood, abortion has once again taken a major place in the public debate. Up until last night, I had pretty much lurked in the background, posting a meme or liking someone else’s post on the subject. Honestly, it’s not a debate I like to get caught up in because it doesn’t really go anywhere. And, there’s the fact that I feel a little dirty when it’s all said and done.

Like some of my friends, I am reluctantly pro-choice. I’m guessing that’s a statement that requires a little explanation. That’s going to be hard, because I’m not sure I fully understand it myself, but I’ll give it a shot. I use the qualifier “reluctant” because, let’s face it, some of the pro-choice arguments are rather callous ( a fetus isn’t alive, it’s just tissue; it’s human, but it isn’t alive, etc). Then, there’s the fact that I am a father of two children and there’s nothing that influences your belief on abortion quite like holding a life that you helped create. I’m also a product of my upbringing, growing up in a time and place (the South of the 1960’s and 70’s) where abortion was accepted as the law of the land grudgingly, if at all. Lastly, I am a Christian and Christians have a long history of opposing abortion.

But, I am pro-choice because there is no scientific consensus on when life begins. Now, you might think that would push me the other way, but it doesn’t and it’s my Baptist faith that’s the reason. As a historical Baptist, I believe in something called “soul freedom” (aka “soul competency” or “soul liberty”). “Soul freedom” is the concept that each person has the right to choose what their soul (or conscience, if overt religious language is a problem for you) decides is right and they are responsible only to God once that decision is made. Personally, I believe abortion is wrong and it’s something to which I could never be a party (except in certain cases). But, in the absence of scientific proof that life does begin at conception, soul freedom means I cannot in good conscience force others to accept my belief. That is a matter to be decided between each individual and God.

There is a second reason that I am pro-choice and that is that criminalizing abortion and closing down facilities won’t stop the practice; if anything, it will only make the situation worse. Right now, we are seeing renewed Republican efforts to defund Title X of the Public Health Service Act because groups like Planned Parenthood provide abortion services. Of course, federal money can’t be used for abortions, but it can and does help organizations provide a myriad of services to women who either can’t afford or can’t get to other facilities, things like birth control, cancer screenings, counseling, etc. The largest of these groups is conservative bugaboo, Planned Parenthood (FYI, abortions comprise about 3% of what they do). Now, Planned Parenthood could possibly find other funding streams and continue to operate, but many smaller organizations couldn’t. That translates to a lot more unwanted pregnancies which, in turn, translates to more abortions. In other words, defunding Title X to stop Planned Parenthood from performing abortions is a self-defeating proposition.

If we truly want to stop abortion, there is another way: a concerted effort to make abortion unnecessary. How would that work? By providing comprehensive sex education in place of the failed abstinence-only model, making sure contraceptives are readily available to anyone who wants/needs them and ensuring that all families in this country have a roof over their head, food to eat, decent healthcare and a good education. It should be our goal that every person in this country (citizen and alien alike) not only survives, but thrives. If we did these things, abortion would eventually become a practice resorted to only when the life of the mother is at stake or in cases of rape or incest. But, then it wouldn’t be a political hot button that could be used to divide the masses. God knows we don’t want that. 

You’re Making The Rest Of Us Look Bad

Between the craziness about the flag and the way conservative Christians have lost their fucking minds over the Court’s ruling on marriage, it’s an interesting time to be a progressive blogger with a snarky, sarcastic side. We’ve all seen the crap coming from Tony Perkins, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and a host of others.  But, the most consistent purveyor of bat-crap crazy has got to be Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. In a field of frothing-at-the-mouth nitwits, Fischer manages to rise head and shoulders above all the others with utterances like this:

Bryan Fischer back of the bus
Image courtesy of Dan Arel’s danothropolgy blog on Patheos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, beloved, you can believe your eyes: a white guy just compared the imagined persecution of a bunch of (mostly) white people to the Civil Rights movement. Funny, I haven’t seen the cops turning fire hoses and attack dogs on conservative Christians because they’re protesting the recognition of someone else’s rights. My god, the irony in that statement is almost as palpable as Fischer’s cluelessness.

Sadly, that’s not the only demented thing he has to say on the subject; it was just another post in a Twitter rant that’s still going on. So far, Fischer has called the Supreme Court “rainbow jihadists”; said that Justice Kennedy “killed” the 1st Amendment; compared people who are LGBT+ to Nazi’s (aka “the Gay Gestapo”); claimed that SCOTUS released the ruling when they did in order to “turbo-charge gay pride parades” and said (this may be favorite) that the “Supreme Court makes it harder to go to heaven”. You know, Fischer’s ranting is almost as imaginative as that of Antonin Scalia. Were these two separated at birth or something?

As I said earlier, Fischer isn’t the only one saying this kind of stuff, he’s just the most…, let’s say, “interesting”. Now, most of these assholes have an agenda to push: Huckabee and Santorum are trying to whip their supporters into a frenzy that they hope will result in votes; Perkins and some others are attempting to scare people into sending them more money; a few, like certain people on Fox (I’m looking at you, Bill O’Reilly), are attention whores who desperately hope their comments translate into higher ratings. Almost none of these people actually believe the crap they’re putting out; it’s just a means to an end. Only a few, like Fischer, are “true believers” and are throughly convinced of the rightness (and, righteousness) of their message. But, that doesn’t make what they say any less stupid or damaging.

If the propagators of this bullshit were just sleazy politicians pandering for votes and attention whores trolling for ratings, it would be one thing. But, it’s not; almost all the ugly things being said about same-sex marriage, affordable health care, racism, income inequality and a host of other important issues are coming from people who claim to be followers of Christ. What…the…actual…fuck? Seriously, almost everything these people say is in direct opposition to what Jesus taught. What, you don’t believe me? Well, let’s a take a quick look:

  • Same-sex marriage _  this is a tough one, because Jesus didn’t say much about marriage in general and nothing at all about same-sex marriage. In fact, the only thing he did say on the subject concerned  divorce. While some folks try to say that passage somehow speaks to what Jesus thought about same-sex marriage or sexual orientation (concepts that didn’t even exist when this was said), that’s a stretch, at best. And, disingenuous at worst.
  • Affordable health care _ Again, we’re faced with a dilemma because, like LGBT+ issues, this wasn’t even a thing is the 1st century. And, again, Jesus never said anything about it. But, considering that most of the miracles he performed were healings, I have a sneaking suspicion that he’d be cool with the idea.
  • Income Inequality _ Finally some solid ground! What’s that you say? Jesus would never condone redistribution of wealth? Au contraire, mon frere. He specifically did so in Mark 10 (aka the story of the rich young man). So, yeah.
  • Racism _ Now, the J-man didn’t specifically speak about racism, but he did tell his followers to love each other. Losing your shit when we just talk about removing a flag that symbolizes racism and oppression to a lot of people in this country isn’t exactly what I’d call loving. Come on y’all, it’s not that god-damned hard to figure out.

Don’t get me wrong, though; I’m not saying you can’t agree with Fischer on these and other subjects. Hell, I’m not even saying that you can’t call yourself a Christian if you do. As proponent of free will, I believe you can do and say anything you want. But, if you decide to keep this up, I really wish you’d find another name for yourselves. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

The Poor Will Always Be With Us

Franks poorThe meme to your left has been making the rounds on the internet, lately. Quite a few progressive people, myself included, were quick to share it. As memes go, it’s not bad. Well, except for one thing: Franks never actually said that. It  comes from the Facebook group Stop The World, The Teabaggers Want Off, whose stock in trade is publishing made-up quotes attributed to conservative politicians. Now, if this fabricated quote from Franks was the only thing on this subject making the progressive rounds, I’d just publish a retraction on Facebook and be done with it. But, it’s not. And, some of those things are real live quotes from real live people.

In the last few months (coinciding with the opening of the 2016 presidential campaign season, oddly enough), Republicans have finally started talking about income inequality. And, as you might expect, they are getting it wrong. Like Rick Perry, who said back in Decemeber that “Biblically, the poor are always going to be with us in some form or fashion.” Now, you may be thinking “But, the Bible does say that!” Yes, it does, but it doesn’t mean what Perry and his pals think it does. These yahoos are using it to justify their own greed by saying that poverty is just the way things are and we should learn to live with it. Personally, I think Jesus was making a dig at greedy-ass religious people when he said, “You always have the poor with you…” and that there was an unspoken trailer that went something like, “because you’re a bunch of selfish assholes.”

As blogger extraordinaire Fred Clark points out, much of what Jesus said references the Torah and needs to be understood in the proper context. This particular passage was based on Deuteronomy 15:11, which says:

Poor persons will never disappear from the earth. That’s why I’m giving you this command: you must open your hand generously to your fellow Israelites, to the needy among you, and to the poor who live with you in your land.”

My, that’s a bit inconvenient, isn’t it?

So, what’s a good conservative Christian to do when they read Jesus’ uncomfortable statements about “the least of these” or “the poor”? How are they supposed to maintain the status quo (which, incidentally, consists of judging, ostracizing and marginalizing certain people while keeping as much of their money as possible) when the man they claim to follow said they shouldn’t do that? Luckily, Denny Burk has come to their rescue.

Burk, professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, recently published an article which uses some very impressive mental gymnastics to say that the “least of these” Jesus referred to aren’t people in poverty, it’s “Christian” bakers, photographers and florists. On what does he base this claim? I’ll let him explain it in his own words: “… contrary to popular belief, “the least of these” in Matthew 25:40 is not talking generically about our obligation to care for the poor and needy. We know this because the terms “least of these” and “my brothers” appear elsewhere in Matthew’s gospel, and in each case the terms specifically refer to Jesus’ disciples who have been sent out into the world to preach the gospel.” Yes, beloved, Burk ignores the previous 9 verses where Jesus specifically refers to the poor, the hungry, the stranger, etc. to back up his contention that the real people we should be helping are Jesus’ “disciples”.  Isn’t it interesting when biblical literalists start interpreting scripture that doesn’t fit their chosen narrative?

Look, if you want to shit on poor people, that’s your business. But, I really don’t think you should use the Bible to justify such a despicable action. And, I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t claim you’re serving Christ while you do it. But, mammon? That’s a different story.