Your Rights Or Mine?

When the pandemic hit the shores of the U.S., when non-essential businesses were ordered to close and mask mandates became widespread around the nation, I rebelled a bit against the restrictions. However at the time, I had no idea of the scope of this pandemic, no idea that some 16 months later we would still be in dire circumstances.  As I saw the new cases skyrocketing, saw the death toll rise to more than a thousand people a day, I made a conscious decision to stay out of public venues to the largest extent possible, and to dutifully wear a mask when I couldn’t avoid being in a public place.  I may be stubborn, but I’m not stupid!  Other folk, however, might just qualify as being a special kind of stupid and it annoys the hell out of me that they have so little regard for anyone, even their own children!


The Catholics vs the lives of children

I thought I had heard every excuse in the book for not wearing a mask.  They are all bullshit, for if I can wear a mask when out in public, I with severe breathing problems, then almost anybody can.  But those who choose not to don’t even claim to have health issues, they simply don’t want to and they view civil rights as basically being … whatever they want to do.  They are disgusting and crude, but I’ve gotten used to it and usually just tune them out or flip them a middle finger.  But it turns out that no, I hadn’t heard the worst of it.

Resurrection School, a Catholic school in Lansing, Michigan, and two parents are suing the State of Michigan for a mask mandate that was in effect for schools last year when they first filed the lawsuit.  The mask mandate, of course, was put in place in order to keep children, their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends safe from the coronavirus.  But the Catholic school and parents argue that Catholic doctrine holds that every person is made in God’s image …

“Unfortunately, a mask shields our humanity. And because God created us in His image, we are masking that image.”

OH For Pete’s Sake!!!

The school’s lawsuit argued that in addition to physically blocking God’s image, face coverings make people anti-social and interfere with relationships.  In addition, the school argued, wearing masks “conveys the message that the wearer has surrendered his or her freedom to the government.”

OH FFS!!!

In December, Judge Paul Maloney of the Western District of Michigan denied the school’s motion for a preliminary injunction that would have banned enforcement of the state’s mask ordinance for kindergarten through fifth-grade students at religious schools. Resurrection School notified the court of its intention to appeal two days later, court records show.  That appeal was heard last week, but as of yet no verdict has been handed down.  Surely no court in their right mind would put a church’s vanity over the lives of the children!  Stay tuned …


Re-defining ‘Rights’

Humans.  Bah humbug!  Give ‘em an inch and they’ll take a mile.  Tell them they have the right to free speech and they will tell lie after lie after lie under the protective dome of the 1st Amendment.  Tell them they have the right to ‘bear arms’ so long as it is as a part of a well-organized militia, not some ragtag group of uneducated bozos, and they will demand that they be allowed to carry assault rifles, grenade launchers and any weapon known to mankind.  Tell them they have a right to free choice, and they will thumb their nose at you, will demand the right to kill their own children in the name of ‘freedom from being forced to be vaccinated or wear a mask’.

I treasure my constitutional rights, but I am not so stupid or unconscionable to try to assume they give me the right to do whatever the Sam Hell I want to, no matter who it puts in the path of danger.  See … I have this thing in my head called a brain, and some days it even kicks into gear and produces coherent thought processes!  Sadly, my late-ex-husband hit the nail on the head when he said that some people, when they were giving out brains, thought they said, ‘trains’ and answered, “No thank you”.

This seems to be the case with those who seem to believe they are immune to the ravages of the COVID pandemic.  In France, President Emmanuel Macron has put into place a mandate that people must show a “health pass”, similar to a vaccine passport being discussed here in the U.S.  The health pass would be required to show proof of vaccination against the coronavirus when entering cinemas, theaters, museums, restaurants, long train trips, bars and planes.  The French people are whining that the President is taking on powers with dictatorial overtones that crush basic freedoms.  Bullshit!  Connerie!

Here in the U.S., people are whining over everything everywhere.  They don’t want to have to be vaccinated, don’t want to have to show proof of being vaccinated, don’t want to wear a mask … wah wah wah.  Big bunch ‘o babies!  EVEN people in the healthcare industry!  Wouldn’t you think they would know better???  How the hell are they going to convince the populace to be vaccinated when they themselves are refusing???

Some areas are moving into a region of sanity.  The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) and the State of California (CA) have made the vaccine mandatory for healthcare workers in their areas.  It only makes sense!  Do you really want to visit the doctor, knowing that his nurse and maybe even himself are walking covid breeders?

And at a time you might expect churches to take the high road, for the most part they have lowered the bar.  Churches have argued against forced closing back when all but the most essential services were shuttered.  And now, some are arguing against protecting their congregation by the requirement to limit attendance and wear masks.  One pastor, Greg Locke, says that mask-wearing is forbidden in his church and anyone entering wearing a mask will be ‘thrown out’.  He claims to be standing up for people’s ‘rights’.  Wait a minute … doesn’t forbidding the wearing of masks intrude on the rights of those who wish to protect themselves by wearing a mask?  Think on that one a minute!

Rights, folks.  Many people aren’t understanding them.  With rights come the responsibility of ensuring you use those rights wisely.  Your rights end at the point they step on mine or somebody else’s.  Rights.  They are enumerated in the U.S. Constitution … I would suggest it be on the mandatory reading list for every single person over the age of 12 in the U.S.  Read it, think about it, then tell me that you have a right to come into a restaurant, unvaccinated and sans mask with the pandemic once again skyrocketing in certain areas.


And then there is Basilico’s Pasta e Vino restaurant in Huntington Beach, California …

When restaurants across California halted indoor dining as the pandemic took hold in March 2020, Basilico’s Pasta e Vino in Huntington Beach continued to welcome patrons.

When officials issued an order for establishments to mandate face coverings to stem the spread of the virus, the Orange County eatery declared itself a mask-free zone and required that diners remove them before entering.

This week, the Italian restaurant issued another decree: Proof of being unvaccinated is required for entry.

We have seen a lot of ignorance, a lot of blatant stupidity, a lot of cruelty since the start of the pandemic, but … this one takes the cake.  I would love to see this restaurant shut down by the Department of Public Health and told never to re-open their doors again.


The United States: A SECULAR Nation! Let’s Keep It So

The United States of America is, by definition, a democratic republic.  It is also, by definition, a secular nation.  A secular nation, not one ruled by religious dogma, but by laws that are just and that benefit all citizens.  This nation is not a theocracy!  Please allow me to define these terms for you:

  • Secular – not subject to or bound by religious rule.
  • Democratic Republic – A democratic republic is a form of government operating on principles adopted from a republic and a democracy.
    • Republic – A state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives.
    • Democracy – A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.
  • Theocracy – a form of government in which a deity of some type is recognized as the supreme ruling authority, giving divine guidance to human intermediaries that manage the day-to-day affairs of the government.

For the past several years, certain religions, particularly evangelical Christians, have been attempting to change the structure of this nation in such a way that would force the 330 million inhabitants of the U.S. to live by the narrowly defined rules of a single sect.  Now if, say, the evangelicals constituted a vast majority of the people in this nation – at least 98% — then this might be almost acceptable.  But they do not.  They are a minority.  Evangelicals comprise approximately 25.4% of the people in this nation.  By any standard, any way you choose to cut the pie, 25.4% is NOT a majority!  In addition, nearly as many, some 22.9% ascribe to no religion at all.

I try extremely hard to never criticize a person’s religion or religious beliefs, even though I do not share them.  I believe that we each have a right to believe as we wish, as we see fit, and that it is only right to respect others’ beliefs.  None of us know what is or isn’t, what may or may not be our future. That doesn’t mean that I give anybody the right to attempt to convert me or to shove their beliefs down my throat, and in return, I don’t ask them to listen to me expound on why I don’t believe as they do.  Rather a truce … believe as you will, just don’t expect me to believe as you do.  But today, I am seeing a threat to our secularity, a threat to the very principles on which this nation was founded.

What, you may ask, has lit my fuse?  A ‘man’ named Landon Schott, a ‘pastor’ at a church, ‘Mercy Culture Church’ in Fort Worth, Texas.  This church has become a beacon, as it were, for the new Republican Party, the one that is under some spell by the former guy and hopes to demolish the concept of ‘separation of church and state’.  This ‘man’ had the unmitigated gall, on the day after the attack on Congress and the Capitol in January, to stand in front of the Capitol and say, “Father, we declare America is yours.”  WHO THE HELL gave him the keys to the kingdom, the right to hand over our lives???

But it isn’t only Mr. Schott … he is only one of many who happened to cross my radar at the exact wrong moment.  There is an entire network of evangelical churches in this nation, with followings in the hundreds of thousands, who are on a mission not just to transform individual lives but also to turn civilization itself into their version of “God’s Kingdom”: one with two genders, no abortion, a free-market economy, bible-based education, church-based social programs and laws such as the ones curtailing LGBTQ rights now moving through statehouses around the country.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees religious freedom.  What that means is it guarantees that you can belong to any church you wish, or no church at all.  It means you can believe in any deity you choose to believe in, read any religious tomes you wish, and the United States government will not interfere – unless, of course, you engage in human sacrifices or some other illegal ritual.  What it does not mean is that you can impose your will on others. Period. In this nation there are people of many different religions:  Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Hinduism, Jain, and others.  There are also those of us who do not believe in a deity at all but believe that people control their own destiny.  How, then, can one single religion with very narrow views that would exclude some 75% of us, hope to control the laws of the land?

The simple answer is that they cannot and that the U.S. Constitution prohibits a theocratic government, so that’s that, right?  But is it?  Look at the Supreme Court, the branch of government that is the last best hope for interpreting and applying Constitutional Law.  Look at the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, a blow to LGBTQ rights.  Most people expect the Supreme Court to overturn the previous Roe v Wade decision that was a boost to women’s rights.  How many states have either passed laws or have pending legislation to rob women of the right to make their own decisions regarding their health, their body?

My point is that this nation was founded on principles you will find if you read the Constitution – it’s only just over 8,000 words and easily readable in a couple of hours.  Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution will you find that religion, certainly not a single specific religion, should be the guiding principle for the laws of the land.

Y’know … it’s funny that a few years back the conservatives in this country were all up in arms saying that the Muslims who had migrated to the U.S. were trying to impose Sharia Law on the citizens of the U.S.  Now, not a single one of those people understood what the term even meant, and they had no basis in fact for their claims, but … since when did that ever stop people from making fools of themselves?  But now, they are suggesting essentially the same thing … that we impose ‘Christian Law’ upon the citizens of this nation.  We are NOT all Christians and we don’t all believe the same.  I repeat what I said in the beginning … believe and worship as you will, but this is a SECULAR nation, NOT a Christian nation!!!

If I have offended any with this post, I apologize, for it was not my intention to do so.  I respect your right to believe as you wish, and ask only that you also respect mine.

The Catholic Church vs We The People

Karl Marx said of religion that it is the ‘opiate of the masses.’  In other words, it is the thing that keeps people in line, keeps them obeying rules that they are told by their respective churches are the rules of some higher power.  A disclaimer here:  While I am a non-believer, I fully respect the right of others to believe as they will so long as they do no harm and do not impose their beliefs on others.  But this is where the problem comes in.

I’ve railed long and loud about the evangelical Christians who would impose their will on us all if given half a chance.  They have cherry-picked their own religious tome and loudly proclaim those parts that suit their own conveniences, while ignoring other parts, such as “do unto others …”  But today, I am equally disgusted by the Catholic religion that is trying to do the exact same thing as the evangelicals, only on a grander scale.

From an article in The Washington Post

Catholic bishops on Friday voted to create guidelines on the meaning of Communion, a move that could be an early step toward limiting the serving of the Eucharist to President Biden and other politicians who support abortion rights.

The bishops voted 168 to 55 to punish the President and other politicos who support women’s rights. Let me tell you what this means in basic terms.  President Biden is a dedicated Catholic to whom receiving communion on Sundays is important.  This is a personal choice of his, he was raised in the Catholic church and is dedicated to his faith, as he has every right to be.  However, it IS a personal decision and cannot cross into his professional duties as President of the United States.  But this is exactly what the Catholic church is attempting to do … to threaten and bully our president into changing his stance on a critical human rights issue in order to appease the church.  BULLSHIT!

Make no mistake … the issue here and also with the evangelicals is not … I repeat NOT … about abortion per se.  The Catholic bishops and the evangelical leaders couldn’t care less about a fetus.  It is about women’s rights.  Period.  Back in the Dark Ages that ended only a couple of decades ago, women were considered chattel … they were dominated by males, were basically maids, cooks, and baby-making machines.  We finally got sick and tired of that status, rose up and demanded and fought for equal rights, and while we still aren’t quite to the point of being considered the equal of men, we’ve made one hell of a lot of progress, no thanks to most religions or church leaders.

President Biden is now faced with a decision … to obey the tenets of his church (new tenets, as it were, designed only to coerce him and other politicians who defend women’s rights) or to follow the will of We the People.  I have full confidence that President Biden will do the right thing, but sadly his personal religious life may never be the same.  A man (or someday, hopefully, a woman) should not be forced away from their religion in order to do their job!  They should not have to choose between their faith and their job!

The Catholic church, the various evangelical churches … they cannot be allowed to dictate whether or not women have the right to control their own bodies.  And isn’t it interesting that NONE of the churches seem to object to a man having a vasectomy, or conversely, a man asking his doctor for a prescription for Viagra so that he can … er … perform.  Again … women’s rights are on the chopping block if churches have their say.  Ask me again why I eschew religion, why I agree with Karl Marx, that religion is a tool that is used to suppress that which certain elements of society do not wish to allow.

What’s next?  Will the churches next demand that only men be allowed to vote?  Or that Blacks be relegated to the back of the bus once again?  Or that … well, use your imagination.  For every step forward we take, the religious right tries to shove us two steps back.

This nation has people of many different religions:  Muslim, Protestant, Hindu, Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Buddhist, and others, as well as those of us who are agnostics or atheists.  We all pay taxes, we all vote, we all have the same constitutional rights.  The U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, which means that while people have the right to believe as they wish, no religion should define the laws that bind us all.  However, that is exactly what is happening when the U.S. Supreme Court rules discrimination is legal as has happened numerous times recently, the most notable case being the Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission case.

I rarely condemn a certain religion, but today I am condemning the Catholic church for trying to leverage our President to return women to a state of chattel.  Harsh?  Sure, but also true.  As a woman, I’ll be damned if I’ll sit back and let a bunch of old, white men who wear 10th century garb and funny things on their heads tell me what to do with my body, with my life.  Were I to see a priest at the grocery store today, I would likely aim a head of cabbage at his head!

Ask me again why I think religion sucks.

The Justices Have Been Busy!

The Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have been busy little beavers this week.  Their rulings are something of a mixed bag … more to raise my hackles than not, but let’s start with the good news.


ACA survives to save more lives

Once again, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, was on the chopping block, and yet again, for the third time, the Court saved it from the Republican hatchet in the case of California v Texas.  The most interesting vote in my book was that of Justice Clarence Thomas.  Thomas, who voted against ACA the first two times it came before the Court, voted in favour of it this time, saying …

“Whatever the act’s dubious history in this court, we must assess the current suit on its own terms. And, here, there is a fundamental problem with the arguments advanced by the plaintiffs in attacking the act — they have not identified any unlawful action that has injured them. Today’s result is thus not the consequence of the court once again rescuing the act, but rather of us adjudicating the particular claims the plaintiffs chose to bring.”

He’s not exactly the head cheerleader for the Act that has allowed so many to have access to healthcare when they otherwise would not have, but a statement of fairness, at least.  I was also surprised that Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett voted in favour of ACA this time ‘round.  It is estimated that if the Court had struck down ACA, some 21 million people would have lost their access to healthcare.  There are still larger issues related to ACA that the Court has not yet addressed, but for now, it lives to see another day, to help people be able to take their sick children to a doctor.


The Court upholds bigotry

This one, Fulton v City of Philadelphia, involved the city of Philadelphia and a Catholic adoption agency who refused to work with same-sex couples.  Philadelphia had stopped placements with the agency, Catholic Social Services, after a 2018 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer described its policy against placing children with same-sex couples. The agency and several foster parents sued the city, saying the decision violated their First Amendment rights to religious freedom and free speech.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for six members of the court, said that the Catholic agency …

“… seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else.”

I understand his view, but I still think it is wrong to allow any public agency to discriminate on any basis.  It’s a slippery slope … what comes next?  Will they confine their selection of potentially adoptive parents to only those with white skin?  Or perhaps only those who identify as Catholics?  The ‘right’ to freedom of religion is sacrosanct, however it should never infringe on other people’s rights, especially the rights of children to be placed in a loving home.


Human Rights … depends on who’s asking

The third case, Nestlé USA v. Doe, was brought by six citizens of Mali who said they were trafficked into slavery as children. They sued Nestlé USA and Cargill, saying the firms had aided and profited from the practice of forced child labor.  Note that the claim itself was not in dispute … it happened.  What was in dispute was whether the U.S. corporations involved in human rights violations outside the U.S. could be held accountable.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority, said the companies’ activities in the United States were not sufficiently tied to the asserted abuses.  And that was the end of that.  So, corporations can operate facilities to manufacture their product outside the U.S. using child labour, paying next to nothing, and the laws of the U.S. will support their activities.  Seems rather odd to me for a nation whose very foundation is built on human rights.  A nation who screams bloody murder when a [white] person is denied any right.  A nation that is a member of the United Nations, an organization dedicated to human rights around the globe.  Hypocrisy?  Oh yeah.  But then, what would you expect from a nation that is attempting to deny the poor, the elderly, Blacks and other minorities the right to vote?


June is the busiest month for the Supreme Court, the last in its annual term and quite often the most controversial cases are saved for June.  One that is on the docket is Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, a case concerning voting rights.  The Court will decide whether to uphold Arizona’s racist and restrictive voting laws that allow the state to a) discard ballots cast at the wrong precinct, and b) make ‘ballot harvesting’ a crime.

Next year will be especially confusing for some voters, as newly drawn district maps may change the location of their polling place.  So, if John Doe casts his ballot at the same place he did in 2020, not realizing there had been a change in the boundaries of his district, his ballot will be thrown out under the new Arizona law.  And if someone collects the ballots from residents of a senior care facility and takes 20 or 30 ballots to the drop box, that person would be in violation of the law and those ballots not counted.  Discriminatory as hell!

However, the larger question is whether the ruling will be so broad that it will also effectively endorse new voting laws that states have passed this year.  The Court, under Chief Justice John Roberts, has generally sided with Republican state officials when they have restricted voting access.  Keep your eye on this one, folks, for it may be the seed that determines whether We the People will continue to have a voice in our government, or whether our civil rights will be jerked out from under us.

American Evangelical Support for Israel, Explained

Our friends Jeff ‘n Jerry over at On the Fence Voters have been having a conversation about the evangelical’s blindfaith support for Israel despite the hostilities between Israel and Palestine, and they have invited us to listen in. As you all know, I am not religious, am a non-believer, but I do try to understand those of various religions, why they believe as they do, etc. This conversation between Jeff and Jerry is well worth listening in … I learned some things! Thanks Jeff and Jerry!

On The Fence Voters


Amid a fragile ceasefire in the Middle East, still holding at present time, I found myself wondering about the unwavering support the American evangelical community continues to show towards Israel. I’ve heard about the reasons, but I’ve never spoken directly to someone in that community until now.

Jerry Gramckow has considered himself a part of the evangelical community for over 40 years now. A graduate of Multnomah University with a dual major in biblical education and journalism, he’s written for several newspapers, magazines, book publishers, websites, and more. He wrote and edited for various religious publications as well. As most of you who follow our blog know, Jerry is Grumpy1180 here, and has been a valued contributor. Thanks Jerry!

So when things started to go awry again in the Middle East, as it seemingly always does, I thought immediately of Jerry, who I met through a publication that we both…

View original post 1,897 more words

Religious Freedom Or Persecution?

Religious freedom … now there’s a term that has almost unlimited definitions.  My own, and one that I believe is in synch with that of the Founding Fathers back in 1787, is that each person has the freedom to believe in and practice his/her religion without interference from the government.  But today, there are those who define it as having the freedom to declare that their beliefs are the only correct ones and that every person should be forced to follow their religion and believe as they do.  Well, that ain’t how it works, and if you study history, you will see that this line of thinking has led to many of the wars that have been fought throughout past centuries. 

The United States is a secular nation.  This means that government and laws are not based on any religion and do not favour any one religion over others.  Many today seem to want to call this a “Christian nation”, but that is so wrong it makes my teeth hurt.  This is not a Christian nation, for we have a most diverse population that includes Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Jains, atheists, agnostics, and more.  Each person, regardless of religious beliefs, has the exact same rights and responsibilities under the U.S. Constitution.

Religious freedom means the right to practice and believe any or no religion.  It does NOT mean one religion has the right to impose their views on others.  Period.  Every religion on earth has its biases, and in the U.S. those biases have led to discrimination against others such as the LGBT community and women.  Today, there is a bill working its way through Congress called the Do No Harm Act.  Our friend Nan has written an excellent post about this bill, so rather than re-invent the wheel, I will let her tell you about it … thank you, Nan!

Nan’s Notebook: Religious Freedom

This bill, if passed, would not take away anyone’s rights to observe their religion as they wish, but rather it would restore the civil rights of all, would make it illegal to discriminate based on religious beliefs.  It’s really so simple.

Filosofa Is Grrrrrrrrowling

Some days, you look at the news and you just want to punch something.  The ‘grrrrrrrrrr’ started this morning when I read that we the taxpayers are paying $3,000 per month for the Secret Service people protecting Ivanka and Jared to rent a bathroom in the house next door, because Jared & Ivanka don’t want them dirtying their house!  My first thought was that then they don’t deserve the protection of the Secret Service … and they don’t, for they are a couple of entitled snobs.  And then, the ‘grrrrrrrrrrr’ got louder as the day progressed.


Has he learned nothing?

rittenhouse-3You remember Kyle Rittenhouse, right?  He’s the young white supremacist punk who killed two and wounded a third with a gun at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  As I wrote a while back, some influential people with more money than sense posted Rittenhouse’s $2 million bail last November.  Rittenhouse was arraigned January 5th on two felony charges of homicide in the deaths of two men and a felony attempted homicide charge in the wounding of another man.  Pretty serious stuff, yes?  You’d think a 17-year-old kid would be on his best behaviour, quaking in his boots at the thought of what could happen to him.  But not Kyle!

rittenhouse-2

Just 90 minutes after leaving the arraignment, Kyle and his mother were seen in a bar where he was drinking beer (the legal age limit in his home state of Illinois is 21) and flashing white supremacist hand signals to other people in the bar. What kind of mother takes her underage kid who has murdered two people to a damn bar???  Prosecutors have asked the Kenosha County Circuit Court to modify Rittenhouse’s bond conditions. 

rittenhouse-1The office is requesting that Rittenhouse be prohibited from possessing or consuming alcohol or being in any establishment that serves it; be prohibited from making any public display of any “white power” or “white supremacy” signs, symbols, or hand gestures; and not have any contact with any known militia members or members of any violent white power/white supremacist groups including the group identified as the “Proud Boys.”

This kid needs to be locked up for life, and his mother along with him!  And yet, to some he is considered a ‘hero’ … oh yeah, folks, don’t tell me racism isn’t alive and well in the United States … you need look no further than this little punk and those who applaud him.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


Franklin Graham once again proves his lunacy

More than a few times, I have criticized (that’s putting it mildly) various evangelical leaders, and Franklin Graham is the one who seems to cross my radar most often.  Now, let me state in advance that I am not a Christian, not religious at all, however I respect other people’s right to their beliefs as long as they don’t try to inflict them on others.  Franklin Graham is an idiot extraordinaire, and once again he seems intent on proving my point.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Graham wrote, in part …

graham“Shame, shame on the ten Republicans who joined with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in impeaching President Trump yesterday. After all that he has done for our country, you would turn your back and betray him so quickly? We have never had a president like him in my lifetime. He gave us lower taxes, a strong economy, and low unemployment. He made NATO take notice and pay their own way. He had the guts to take on North Korea and meet with their leader personally. He didn’t let China walk all over us. Just his Mideast peace initiatives in the last couple of months deserve a Nobel Peace Prize. He has defended religious liberty like no president before him, and that matters to all people of faith. He has worked to bring prison reform and secured our southern border. He defeated the ISIS caliphate in Syria, and he strengthened our military. He was also the most pro-life president we have ever had. But the House Democrats impeached him because they hate him and want to do as much damage as they can. And these ten, from his own party, joined in the feeding frenzy. It makes you wonder what the thirty pieces of silver were that Speaker Pelosi promised for this betrayal.”

Well, I wonder if Mr. Franklin has been living in some alternative universe?  The hell of it is, though, that with over 9.5 million followers on Facebook, some will undoubtedly buy into his trash talk and some will no doubt join the planned insurrection next week, fully believing that they are doing ‘god’s work’.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


And speaking of religious freaks …

brandon-burdonBrandon Burdon, pastor of Kingdom Life church in Frisco, Texas is less well-known that Franklin Graham, but no less a lunatic.

During a long rambling sermon just days after the Capitol coup, he told his (maskless) congregation to stock up on weapons, celebrated a God-ordained siege of Washington, spoke in tongues to give his statements added oomph, claimed Apple would create a national blackout, railed against FOX News and Mitch McConnell for not being conservative enough, urged everyone to stock up on generators and food, and said with absolutely certainty that Donald Trump would be president for eight straight years.

“We are locked and loaded at the Burden house.  We have an executive order — not from Congress or D.C., but from the desk of the CEO of heaven, the boss of the planet. He said from his desk in heaven, this is my will; Trump will be in for eight years.”

Is it any wonder that I often say religion is the cause of most wars and most hatred in the world?  I wonder how many people from Frisco, Texas will be among the gun-toting nuts planning to converge on D.C. next week?

The Big Hack … and Other News

We are all so wrapped up in the election, in Donald Trump’s utterly ridiculous behaviour, his inane ramblings and threats, the surging number of daily new cases and deaths from the pandemic, and the upcoming runoff elections in Georgia, that few seem to be paying attention to what would ordinarily be the biggest story of the day:  The Big Hack.

Thus far, hackers working for a Russian intelligence agency have breached the following:

  • Department of Energy (including Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
  • Department of Treasury
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of State
  • National Institute of Health (NIH)
  • Commerce Department’s telecommunications policy agency

Officials have spent days scouring federal networks for more information about the breaches but are still unsure of what the hackers took.  Federal agencies were not the only victims, as at least three states were also breached.  The true scale of the breach is still unknown but looks to have extended beyond the US government. On Thursday, Reuters reported that Microsoft was also hacked as part of the suspected Russian campaign.

The hack began as early as March, when malicious code was snuck into updates to Orion, a network safety tool used extensively by government agencies.  So far, the hackers are known to have at least monitored email or other data within the US departments of defense, state, treasury, homeland security and commerce.

Now, I don’t pretend to understand the mechanics here, but I know that anytime such agencies as Homeland Security, the Nuclear Security Administration, and Department of Energy are compromised, there is a very real threat to our nation, to our safety, to our very lives.  This is too important to ignore … yes, folks, it’s even more important than Trump’s babbling rants.

There are far more questions than answers:

  • What are they seeking?
  • What have they already obtained?
  • Why?
  • How?
  • Why now?

The timing … I’m not given to conspiracy theories, and frankly don’t have a theory about it, but I have to be suspicious of the timing.  We are very vulnerable right now in many ways, given that we essentially have no coherent leadership, and given that we are largely distracted by the surging pandemic and the post-election chaos.  There is some reason for these hackings, and some reason for the timing … but what?  Former homeland security advisor Tom Bossert chillingly predicts …

“It will take years to know for certain which networks the Russians control and which ones they just occupy.”

The FBI and other agencies have scheduled briefings for members of Congress today, and we may learn more after that, though I’m not holding my breath.  Not surprisingly, Trump has been too busy making threats and accusations to be bothered commenting on the situation.  This must not turn into a political game … our members of Congress must all pull together to give the agencies involved the tools they need to figure out the what, why, when, where and how of the breaches, and to minimize the damage.  My hope is that once Joe Biden takes office in 33 days, our security will once again be considered a top priority.

For now, however, it is important that we keep our eye on this ball.  People refusing to wear masks because they say it violates their civil rights, a lame duck president acting like a toddler, political arguments and name-calling should fade into the background until we understand just what the threat here is and how dangerous it is.


In other news …

  • In Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear issued an order requiring all K-12 institutions to temporarily cease in-person classes because of rising coronavirus cases. A religious school, Danville Christian Academy, joined by Kentucky’s attorney general, said it should not be subject to the order, and they took their case to the Supreme Court.  The Court, in an unsigned order noted that schools are about to begin their holiday breaks, and Governor Beshear’s mandate expires before schools reopen Jan. 4. If Beshear reissues the restriction, the court said, the plaintiffs could return to court.  My thoughts?  A school is a school is a school.  Why should a religious school be exempt from a mandate that is intended to protect teachers, students, and their families.  Good grief, people … do we have to tie you to a tree to make you understand that these mandates are for your own protection?

  • This morning at 8:00 a.m., Mike Pence and his wife Karen are scheduled to receive the coronavirus vaccine … live on television.  Ho hum.  First of all, who really wants to see somebody’s bare arm have a 4-foot long needle plunged into it?  Seriously?  Secondly, to what purpose?  Allegedly, it is to assure the people that the vaccine is perfectly safe, so that more people will be willing to take it.  But … since 90% of us will not even be able to receive it until next autumn, it really doesn’t matter, does it? And anyway, the after-effects that worry me most, given the haste with which the vaccine was developed, may well be long-range, such as people developing cancer 3-4 years from now.  And what if Mike or Karen have an anaphylactic reaction like the nurse up in Alaska … on television?  Then how assured are we going to feel?  Nice try, Mikey, but keep your arms to yourself and stop the voyeurism, please.

Someone Please Invent a Cure for Crazy

Our friend Jerry over at On the Fence Voters shares his story of a recent encounter with some people and it explains, in part, why this nation is so divided today … it is almost as if the human species has split into two sub-species, neither of which can possibly understand the other. Thank you, Jerry, for sharing this story with us!

On The Fence Voters

Despair. Despondency. Gloom. I see dark days ahead. Yes, Donald Trump will be out of office soon—or should be. But the crazies who put him in the White House aren’t going away.

Even if Trump were to concede graciously—any bets on that?—the insanity he brought to our nation’s political system will be with us for the foreseeable future. And my former people—white evangelicals—will be the primary perpetuators of the madness.

My despondency is tied to a series of recent emails with an evangelical pastor and his wife I’ve never met or conversed with until a few days ago. Here’s how it went down:

I watched a YouTube clip of this pastor on a program hosted by another white evangelical. The first question the host asked the pastor was about services at the pastor’s church. The pastor replied that his church had experienced no disruptions to their weekly services. Then he…

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Grim SCOTUS

Most religious groups are no doubt applauding the latest Supreme Court ruling, but when you dissect it, the ruling is actually one of the biggest blows to religious freedom in the history of this nation. Clay Jones of Claytoonz has an excellent cartoon and accompanying commentary on the SCOTUS ruling …

claytoonz

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The biggest takeaway from the Supreme Court’s ruling that churches in New York can remain open, because placing restrictions on them is infringing upon their Constitutionally-protected religious freedom, is where the court will be years from now.

The court ruled on similar cases just a few months ago, and ruled 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberals, that the government can place restrictions on churches. On Wednesday night, it was another 5-4 ruling, this time in favor of the churches and again, with Roberts joining the liberals.

The big takeaway here is that Amy Coney Barrett was the vote putting it over the top. The last time the court voted on this, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was on the court and actually understood the case.

The argument here is that New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, was being harder on churches than places like retail businesses. But the thing is…

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