Category Archives: Evil

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. 

Sound and Fury

hail-trump
I’m sure he doesn’t know anything about these guys.

As many of you probably know, I am not a fan of our Dear Leader-to-be, Donald J. Trump. The reasons for my antipathy are many and varied, from his choice of the most anti-LGBTQ governor in America as his vice-president to his relationship with the alt-right, a group of racist trolls whose taint was mostly contained to the internet until the Tangerine Nightmare drew them out from under their bridges. And, of course, there are the temper tantrums he regularly throws on Twitter; all of which would embarrass the brattiest of three year olds.

One of more troubling actions of President-elect Trump’s (I throw up in my mouth a little every time I say that) is his refusal to reject the hateful ideology of the alt-right. Not only has he been silent on the matter, he has appointed their top propagandist, Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, as his chief adviser. And, yes, I realize referring to this as “troubling” is a lot like World War I “a little dust up”.

But, there is a break in these awful black clouds of doom, beloved. Last week, everyone’s favorite “short-fingered vulgarian” finally spoke to the country on this issue. In what only be described as “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” Trump “disavowed” the alt-right.

Last Tuesday, during an interview with New York Times staffers, the  PEOTUS was asked about the group and he said “I disavow and condemn them”. Sounds good, right? Well, I wouldn’t get too excited because he also said “It’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why.” It appears our president-elect is the only person in the country who is unaware of how his candidacy and election has breathed new life into what we all hoped was a dying movement. Great, just frickin’ great.

What’s that? You think I shouldn’t criticize Mr. Trump’s remarks out of hand like that? Oh, don’t worry, Sparky, I have given careful consideration to what President-elect BabyHands said. But, the fact that you feel that way makes me think you haven’t. So, let’s take a look at how his statement last week lines up with with what he’s done so far:

  • During his campaign, David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of Ku Klux Klan, was very vocal about his support of Trump. When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked if he would repudiate the support of an avowed racist, the future leader of the free world said, “I don’t know anything about David Duke. Okay? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.” (He was lying) But wait, there’s more!
  • After going through campaign operatives like a pothead goes through a bag of tacos, Trump hired Steve Bannon. Yes,beloved, the same Steve Bannon who bragged that Breitbart.com, the website of which he was CEO, was “the platform for the alt-right”. After he won the election and began putting together his cabinet, Trump’s first act was to appoint Bannon as his chief adviser.
  • His pick for Attorney-General, the cabinet official charged with enforcing civil and voting rights is Sen, Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama. This is significant because in 1986, a Republican Senate committee denied Sessions a federal judgeship after former colleagues testified that he “used the n-word and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were ‘okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.’”

So, on one hand we have Trump’s statement that he is not allied with the racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, Neo-Nazi internet trolls who, after his election to the highest office in the land, are now slithering out from under the digital rocks to which they had been relegated. On the other, we have specific actions on his part which indicate that he may have actively courted the support of the alt-right; at the very least, he had no problem with them.Sure, Donald, you “disavow and condemn them” in the same way I “disavow and condemn” my mother’s chocolate cake while shoveling another bite into my mouth.

 

What I’ve Learned In 55 Years

Actually, my birthday is tomorrow. But, I didn't like any of those memes, so...
Actually, my birthday is tomorrow. But, I didn’t like any of those memes, so…

In the days surrounding my birthday, I usually write something about questions I might have or make smart-ass comments about aging. This year, I decided to something a little different. In honor of turning 55, I want to share some of my accumulated wisdom with you folks. Don’t worry, it won’t take long.

In my 55 years on this Earth, I have learned that:

  • While you have to age, you don’t have to get old. “Age” is the chronological record of how long you’ve been alive. “Old” is a way of thinking; a mindset, if you will. You can be that old fart standing on his porch, yelling, “Get off my lawn!” or you can be that really cool lady who’s been places and seen things and loves sharing those experiences with other, younger folks who haven’t. It’s your choice.
  • All too many people my age haven’t actually taken the time to get to know any Millenials. If they did, they wouldn’t post so much ignorant shit about them. I’ve raised two children from that generation and count among my friends many others. And, I can say with all sincerity, they are an amazing group of people; they just don’t approach things the way we do. Considering our track record, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.
  • There is a definite limit on my tolerance for political bullshit. And, it was reached sometime around December of last year. Trump is a nightmare come to life, Hillary is terrible campaigner (not to mention a mediocre candidate) and Bernie is not going to pull off an upset in Philadelphia. I’m afraid this going to be a long, long summer.
  • Being a grandfather is the shit It’s all the fun and none of the responsibility! In fact, if I’d known how great it was, I’d have skipped being a dad and gone straight to granddad. Yes, I know it doesn’t work that way. But, it should, damn it. It should.
  • The utter douchery of maledom can still surprise me. After all these years on the planet, you might think I’d be prepared for decision like the one handed down in the Stanford rape case. If you did, you’d be oh so wrong.
  • Joe Biden is a damn good man. In fact, he may be the best man who has ever held elected office in this country. Why do I say that? Read his letter to the Stanford rape victim and see.
  • Embracing something you’ve run from is incredibly freeing. For most of my life, I lived in denial of my inherent (and innate) nerdiness. A few years ago, I finally accepted the truth and took up the mantle of “nerd” with gusto. I’m haven’t looked back and I don’t intend to. Ever.
  • Progressives can be just as shitty and close-minded as conservatives. If you’re wondering what I mean by that, look at  the rhetoric of some Bernie Sanders supporters. Basically, they say “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” That sounds an awful lot like something Bush43 said about his “War on Terror”, which is something that should give you a significant reason for pause.
  • Some people will say anything for a bit of attention. Like Kevin Swanson, who tells his followers that the Girl Scouts are trying to turn their daughters into lesbians. Or, James Dobson, who recently claimed trans-inclusive bathroom laws are te same as prostituting little girls. Or, pretty much anything  comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.
  • “Choosing the lesser of two evils is still evil” sounds nice, but it’s fucking ridiculous. Life is a daily exercise in “choosing the lesser two evils”. Unless you’re 10 years old, it’s something you should be used to it by now. And, when the greater evil is a walking, talking tire fire who could wreak untold havoc not only on our country, but the world, it’s time to quit whining, put on your big person pants and do whatever is necessary keep him out of a position to wreak that havoc.
  • What you believe doesn’t mean shit if it doesn’t influence what you do. In other words, don’t say you believe Jesus is Lord and then shit all over the people he came to save. And, by “people he came to save”, I mean “anyone on the margins of society”. In America, that translates to anyone who’s not straight, white and Christian.

Looking back over this list, I can see that it includes something to offend almost everyone. That brings up something else I’ve learned over the years: As you age,  you care less and less that some people get their panties in a wad over the truth. But, I don’t want to be a dick, so if something here pisses you off, sorry about that. Whether I’m sorry that you decided to get pissed off or I’m sorry that I pissed you off is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Adult Coloring Books = Tool Of Satan

adult coloring books mandala
Evidently, this is the gateway to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks.

As you probably  know, adult coloring books are a thing these days. Not for me, though. I hate coloring. In fact, I have always hated coloring. Why? Mostly because my ADHD makes staying inside the lines a real challenge. Now, you might be thinking, “So what? Color outside the lines. Nobody cares.” Unfortunately, I’m also have a slight case of OCD (part of the wonderful package deal that comes with ADHD), which means coloring outside the lines drives me absolutely crazy. But, it turns out that coloring isn’t just irritating, it’s also spiritually dangerous.

A couple of days ago, l stumbled across Melanie Tubbs’ article “A Southern Pastor: The Evils Of Adult Coloring Books” on Liberal America. Ms. Tubbs, a UMC pastor, writes about the penchant of some conservative Christians to ascribe any pop culture phenomenon they don’t like/understand to Satan, bringing up things like Disney’s “Pocahontas” (worshiping nature) and Harry Potter (witchcraft!). Finally, she got around to the main event and linked to a blog called The Last Hiker and a post titled, “Adult Coloring Books and Mandalas, A Warning For Christians“. And, that’s where I found out these coloring books are how the Devil gets in.

I don’t know the Hiker’s name as it’s not listed anywhere on his site, so I’ll just refer to him as LH. Now, according to LH, The problem is not so much the act of coloring, as it is what you’re coloring. And, if you’re coloring mandalas, which most of these adult coloring books are filled with, well…, you’re probably going to hell. And, not alone either.  You’ll be taking the trip with a full complement of demons leading you by the hand.

A mandala, as LH so helpfully points out, is a “beautiful circle pattern that looks like it would be impossible to draw free hand”. Mandalas are also “spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe.  In common use, mandala has become a generic term for any diagram, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically; a microcosm of the universe.” Nice, huh?

Well, not so much, because LH also informs us that tantric Buddhists also use them as aids in meditation. In his words, “They believe that you can merge with the deity by meditating on the mandala. ‘A mandala is also visualized (dhyana) by the yogin whose aim it is to merge with the deity’….Focusing on mandalas is a spiritual practice where you merge with ‘deities’–this practice opens the door to demons.” I’m just guessing, but if LH gets this bent out of shape over a coloring book, he probably isn’t a big fan of yoga or contemplative prayer, either.

Isn’t it funny how evangelicals and fundamentalists are so frightened by eastern religions like Buddhism or Hinduism since Christianity is, itself, an eastern religion? Oh sure,  western Christianity bears about as much resemblance to faith practiced by those early followers of Jesus as the current American political system does to what was set up by the founding fathers 200 years ago, but that’s where it came from. People like LH just need to take a chill pill and relax. A good yoga session and coloring book should do the trick quite nicely.

Christians For Trump Pt II

This is the man that evangelical Christians are lining up behind. Take a minute to get your head around that thought.
This is the man behind whom more and more evangelical Christians are lining up. Take a minute to get your head around that thought.

On a recent episode of “Last Week Tonight“, John Oliver said, “Donald Trump is America’s back mole. It may have seemed harmless a year ago. But, now that it got frighteningly bigger, it is no longer wise to ignore it.” And, much as I wish he wasn’t, he is absolutely right. Especially since Trump is starting to pick up endorsements. The political ones, like Chris Christie or Jeff Sessions, don’t bother me a whole lot. Christie’s performance in the primaries shows that Americans think he’s a tool and Sessions has only to open his mouth for people to figure that out. No, it’s the religious leaders jumping on the Trump bandwagon that are most disconcerting to me.

Yes, beloved, I said “religious leaders”. Amazingly, The Donald is picking up a good deal of support among evangelical Christians. The list of endorsements from that quarter reads like a Who’s Who of the Religious Right. There’s

  • Jerry Falwell, Jr.
  • Kenneth and Gloria Copeland
  • David Jeremiah
  • Jan Crouch
  • Paula White
  • Robert Jeffress

This list is not exhaustive, it only includes the ones I could verify this morning.

There is one endorsement that I feel deserves more than a mere mention in a list and it comes from James David Manning, “pastor” of ATLAH World Ministries. In the past, Manning has claimed that Starbucks uses semen to make their lattes “even more flavorful” and that gay men would “carry babies in the testicles for nine months and then gestate them out of their assholes” before the City of New York foreclosed on his church for non-payment of water bills. Understand that if you’re backing Trump, you agree with this psycho. Chew on that for a minute.

Of course, Manning isn’t the only “controversial” figure who has come out in support of The Donald; there’s a group with views even more disgusting than Manning’s who are lining up behind Trump: white supremacists. And, he’s cool with that.

Okay, given his comments about Islam and immigration, it’s really no surprise that Ku Klux Klan chiefs like Rachel  Pendergraft (national organizer for the Knights Party, a KKK standard-bearer) and former Grand Wizard David Duke like what they hear. But, it is more than a little shocking that, in 2016, a candidate for the highest office in the land refuses to disavow their support. This is not a joke, people. Trump actually refused, on national television, to condemn an endorsement from the Ku Klux Klan.

Yesterday, on CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper gave The Donald multiple chances to distance himself from these people. Tapper brought up Duke’s message to white people that voting against Trump would be “treason to your heritage” and Trump…, well,  you just have to watch it for yourself:

Well, that’s “problematic” (and yes, I realize that is an understatement of massive proportions). But, even more problematic is the fact that it doesn’t seem to bother the Christians who are flocking to his campaign. You’d think the last thing people who follow Jesus would want is to be allied with representatives of what may be the most odious organization in American history (the GOP is coming on strong). But, I guess not. There’s no outrage, no calls for a boycott of all things Trump. Basically, there’s just silence. So far, all I’ve seen is Robert Jeffress’ answer to The Daily Beast’s request for a comment:  “Thanks but I think I’ll pass on this one!”

Siding with the Klan is right where you want to be as a Christian, isn’t it? You know, it’s one thing to watch Trump bullshit his way through hard questions (which are “hard” because he can’t answer the way he should for fear alienating a large part of his base), but it’s another to see a Christian run from the opportunity to call Trump out for not rejecting the support of such an awful group. It’s called “speaking truth to power” and it used to be a thing in Christianity. But, these days? Not so much, it seems.

#WorstResponders

firefighter helmet
Unless you live under a rock, the phrase “9-11” carries a certain weight. Many of us remember that day with a frightening clarity; one born of watching terrible events play out in real-time on our televisions. Some, like me, were sitting in a fire station and saw our brothers and sisters of the FDNY selflessly run into the Twin Towers to put out the fires and get people to safety; i. e. doing their job. In the aftermath, the survivors of that awful time went back into the hell of Ground Zero, working day and night to rescue survivors and find the bodies of those who didn’t make it. Again, doing their job. And, now, 14 years later, when they are dying because of they did so, Congress refuses to do its job and pass legislation that would address that.

In 2010, 9 years after the firefighters, police officers and paramedics of New York’s emergency services spent all that time in the toxic soup that pervaded Ground Zero, Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. It wasn’t easy, however, as a filibuster delayed an up-or-down vote. Why the filibuster? It seems Republicans were concerned about paying for the bill in “an appropriate way”. The deadlock was broken when Jon Stewart made the public aware of this blatant douchebaggery from his bully pulpit on The Daily Show. Unfortunately, that was not the end of the GOP’s shittiness, because they’re at it again.

You see, when the Zadroga Act was passed, Congress only funded it for five years because, as Stewart pointed out during a return to The Daily Show earlier this week, “…they said wanted to make sure the program wouldn’t have people who tried to cheat it and you could scientifically prove a link between the responders horrible diseases and the toxic air that they were breathing, day in and day out, working at Ground Zero.” Now, there has been no fraud and a link has been established, so you could think that permanent funding for such a noble program is pretty much assured. But if you did, you’d be oh, so wrong.

So, what’s the problem? In a word, politics. Basically, Republicans seem bent on using the reauthorization to humiliate Democrats by forcing concessions they couldn’t get otherwise. House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) proposed paying for the program by making cuts to Medicare that Democrats have long contested. And, according to Stewart, McConnell pulled it from the bi-partisan transportation bill that recently passed in a fit of pique because he couldn’t get concessions about oil export regulations. In other words, business as usual in our nation’s capitol.

Our elected officials are quick to say “Never Forget” while on the campaign trail, but it seems their memory fails when it comes time to do something for the people involved in the events of 9-11. What they don’t seem to understand is that in jobs like firefighter police officer, paramedic, soldier, etc. there exists unwritten, unspoken contract between individual and the government. In that contract, the individual promises to risk life and limb on behalf their city/county/state/nation for ridiculously low pay. In exchange,  the government promises that to take care of them and their families if they get sick, injured or die in the line of duty. What Congress is doing with the Zadroga Act doesn’t just violate that contract, it obliterates it. Maybe that’s something we, the people, shouldn’t forget when it comes time to renew their contract next year.

Don’t You Think This Stuff Is Getting Out Of Hand?

Ted Cruz has one of the more..., let's say, "interesting" takes on the Planned Parenthood attack.
Ted Cruz has one of the more…, let’s say, “interesting” takes on the Planned Parenthood shooting.

By now, everyone knows that Friday afternoon, Robert Lewis Dear attacked the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood office, killing 3 people and injuring 9. Any way you slice it, this was a terrible tragedy and it left the nation in shock. Well, not really.

You see, the shit wasn’t even over before people took to the internet in an attempt to make political hay. Early on, it was mostly people of a more progressive bent, pointing out that Dear’s attack was domestic terrorism and that Americans had much more to fear from white guys with guns than refugees. And, the numbers seem to back that up, showing that homegrown extremists (white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists) have killed twice as many people as jihadists (48 to 26, if you’re keeping score) since 9-11.

It didn’t end there, however, because the dirty rotten scoundrels also resorted to quoting Dear’s own words about his motives for the Planned Parenthood attack. According NBC News, he told police “no more baby parts” when questioned about his motives. That’s a pretty strong indictment of Planned Parenthood videos produced by the Center For Medical Progress and the conservative reaction to them. At this point, it’s safe to say that Dear’s attack is an imminently regrettable, and totally foreseen, result of both. 

It took them a while, but conservatives are coming out of their slumber with some truly novel responses. Perhaps the best come from Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina. In a Sunday press conference, Cruz told the world that Dear was “registered as an independent and a woman and transgendered leftist activist” and Fiorina thinks the whole thing is “so typical of the left to immediately begin demonizing a messenger because they don’t agree with the message”. If your reaction to both those remarks was “What the fuck…?”, you’re not alone. I know this is a nutty idea, but let’s take a look at the “facts” behind these claims.

Cruz’s assertion is based on information gleaned from Dear’s Colorado voter registration file, which lists him as “unaffiliated” and a woman. Wait a minute, aren’t Republicans the ones who have been telling for years just how incompetent governmental agencies can be? And, now, when it suits your purposes, what is either a clerical error on the part of a government employee or a lame attempt at a joke by an anti-government whack-job is actually proof of condition whose existence you don’t even acknowledge? That’s nice.

As for Fiorina’s claim that people on the left are “demonizing a messenger because they don’t agree with the message” due to our acknowledgement of the facts,  I don’t know what to say. It appears, however, to be about as fact-based as anything else she’s said since beginning her run for president. So, at least she’s consistent, if full of shit.

As certain news organizations and politicians continue to feed the outrage machine, it’s only a matter of time before some right-wing loon throws the “false flag” card. They’ll claim the whole thing is an operation by a vast left-wing conspiracy to allow Planned Parenthood to continue its “reign of terror” against the unborn, take away our guns and install Obama as a dictator who will institute Sharia law and turn the U.S.A. into a Muslim caliphate. If you’re thinking that is one bat-shit crazy idea, you’re not wrong. Unfortunately, someone putting it out there is well within the realm of possibility. Both of those statements tell you all you need to know about this country. And, it’s not good. Not good at all.

The National Religious Liberties(?) Conference

So, a virulently anti-gay pastor threw a party last weekend and guess who showed up?
So, a virulently anti-gay pastor threw a party last weekend and guess who showed up?

These days, it seems like bat shit crazy is everywhere you look. Between Ben Carson’s notion that Joseph (you know, from the Bible?) built the pyramids to serve as grain silos, people getting their shorts in a knot over a god damn paper cup and the mere fact that human hair ball Donald Trump is a credible candidate for the Presidency of the United States, you can go all day without encountering a whole lot of sanity. And, while none of these things are good, they aren’t nearly as bad as some of the shit that’s gotten lost in the shuffle. Like the National Religious Liberties Conference.

Now, this wasn’t your average,run of the mill we’re-pissed-because-you-won’t-let-us-shit-on-gays-anymore “religious liberty” conference. Oh no, beloved, it was so much more. Organizer/preacher/radio show host Kevin Swanson used his platform to warn us about some of the terrible dangers facing America today: Harry Potter, “How To Train Your Dragon” and “Frozen”, among others. Seriously, I’m not making this up.

According to Swanson, there are characters in these movies that can cause little ones to “stumble”, because said characters are gay and, as everyone knows, indoctrination is priority number one for the LGBT community. The good Reverend Swanson refers to Dumbledore and one of the characters in “How To Train Your Dragon” (not sure which) as “homosexual mentor(s)” and Elsa from “Frozen” is a lesbian-recruiting bride of Satan (I’m not sure if Swanson himself spoke on Elsa, but she and the song “Let It Go” were a focal point of the conference).

Oh, you know how I ended the list with “among others”? A couple of those “other” things are vampires cannibalism and witchcraft. Yes, you that correctly: “vampires, cannibalism and witchcraft”. Let that sink in for a minute: these three topics were seriously mentioned at gathering of grown ups as actual threats to America. Holy…fucking…shit. I will admit, however, that the last one was kind of a welcome addition. I mean, how are you going to complain about Harry Potter and not mention “witchcraft”?

Up to now, this has all been fun and games. But, all too soon, things took a very ugly turn. In the closing speech of the conference, Swanson said the Bible states that “homosexuals are worthy of death”. Originally, I had planned to use some video from Right Wing Watch which showed Swanson saying those very words, but someone filed a copyright violation claim on that video and YouTube has suspended their account. Never fear, brothers and sisters, through remorseless and diligent research (i. e. clicking the link RWW provided), your intrepid reporter has found that footage on The Rachel Maddow Show. If you’re only interested in Swanson, skip ahead to the 6:00 mark:

Okay, I know it sounds like he’s calling for LGBT folks to be rounded up and executed, but he’s not…, yet. You see, while Swanson may be a virulently anti-gay bigot, he’s not an unfeeling one, because he goes on to say he doesn’t think “gays” should be put to death until they’ve had time to repent. See, he’s really not a virulently anti-gay bigot, he’s a caring and concerned anti-gay bigot.  Isn’t that nice?

Earlier I said I wasn’t making this up and I wish I was. I really, really wish I was. In fact, you have no idea how much I wish I was fabricating the whole sorry mess out of thin air. Or, maybe you do. Maybe a preacher, a self-professed man of God, spouting bullshit to scare the hell out of his followers, and have a few political dumb asses kiss his ring, makes you as sad as it does me. Not trying to wish anything bad on you, but I kind of hope it does.

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?

The Trump Effect

http://www.cleveland.com/darcy/index.ssf/2015/07/huckabees_hair-raising_holocau.html
Jeff Darcy’s cartoon from cleveland.com

For a while now, I’ve thought American politics couldn’t get more divisive, stupid and just generally shitty than they are at whatever point I make that observation. And, every time I think that, I am proven wrong. There are plenty of examples of this phenomenon, pages and pages of examples. But, let’s focus on the latest one: the  stupid pronouncements of equally stupid people seeking the highest office in the land.

It started with Donald Trump saying that Mexico is actively sending its criminals into our country, calling people seeking a better life drug mules and rapists. When I heard this, I thought it was a perfect storm of stupid. I mean, seriously, a country that struggles to keep its criminals in jail has the wherewithal to gather them up and ship them over the border? And, that’s not even accounting for the abject shittiness of painting an entire group of people with one disgusting brush. To be fair, he also said that ” some, I assume, are good people.” But, that doesn’t really help, does it? If anything, it makes the statement worse.

Now, you’d think that, between making such statements and refusing to apologize for them, the Donald’s campaign would’ve been killed before it even got off the ground. Especially since the Republicans have been making a big deal about courting Hispanic voters after their dismal showing with that group in the last election. But, you know what? You’d be oh, so wrong because Trump’s ridiculously offensive comments have actually catapulted him to the top of the Republican field. The rest of that field is watching and taking notes. It was only a matter of time before the Trump Effect finally kicked in.

Unless you’re Luddite like my brother (who has actually considered living in a tent), you know that Mike Huckabee said something a little incendiary Saturday. In his zeal to toe the Republican line and trash the Iranian nuclear deal that President Obama helped broker, the Huckster said:

“(Obama)’s so naive he would trust the Iranians, and he would take the Israelis and basically march them to the door of the oven.

Well, isn’t that special?

Huck has learned the lessons taught by the Donald very well because he’s not backing off this ridiculous metaphor; instead doubling and even tripling down on the stupid. In fact, he’s following Trump’s lead to the point of pilfering the Donald’s lines. Just as Trump claimed that the Mexican people love him, Huckabee told Matt Lauer on The Today Show that, “The response from Jewish people has been overwhelmingly positive.” But, wait; it gets better.

During an interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News, Trump said he was “okay” with the comment and that Huckabee had “hit a nerve and he’s made people think a little bit.” Yeah, you could say that. The Huckster’s shitty remark has definitely hit a nerve, even with those “Jewish people” he claims love what he said.  Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, a vehement critic of the deal, said the language was “inappropriate”. And, New York Representative Eliot Engel, one of Congress’ most vocal supporters of Israel told reporters “I do think his choice of words was less than smart. I don’t think that we should trivialize the Holocaust or compare everything to the Holocaust.” As for making us think, it has definitely done that. But, not the way Trump meant. What we’re thinking is that Huckabee is a massive douche for saying something like this.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Huckabee has trivialized something important to people who are Jewish. While he was still “exploring” his current presidential bid, he compared legalizing same-sex marriage to forcing a Jewish deli to serve bacon-wrapped shrimp. For a member of a party with a long history of pandering to the Jewish community, the man is remarkably tone-deaf.

Now, it’s one thing for a politician to say stupid, offensive things to get noticed when their poll number suck; sadly, we’ve come to expect that. But, Huckabee is more than a politician; he’s a pastor. And, using a horrific event like the Holocaust to score political points is about as unpastoral as it gets. It appears that, in his eagerness to stand out from the crowd, Huckabee has forgotten the one commandment Jesus left for his followers: to love each other. That’s just sad.