A Prominent Theologian’s Risky Rationale

Our friend Jerry over at On the Fence Voters offers an enlightening view of how the evangelicals have been able to set aside their own values and morals to support a ‘man’ who has none. Thank you, Jerry, for this excellent viewpoint!

On The Fence Voters

Anyone who attended any conservative Bible college or seminary during the last few decades—as I did—is almost certain to recognize the name Wayne Grudem. Grudem’s 1,264-page digest on systematic theology—given the apt but boring titleSystematic Theology—is required reading on many if not most conservative Christian campuses.

Policies Over Principles

Though unfamiliar to most rank-and-file evangelicals, among evangelical scholars Grudem is one of the most-respected evangelical leaders in the country today. He also happens to be an unapologetic Trump supporter. Last month, the website Townhall publisheda letter Grudem wroteto a Trump-opposing evangelical friend (yes, there are a few of us).

Grudem’s letter is far too long to reproduce here. The main point—not surprisingly—is that while Trump is a less-than-admirable person, his policies are largely in line with evangelical Christian doctrine—as Grudem defines such doctrine. So, as most evangelicals now concede, favorable policies trump character issues.Character mattered…

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A Sorry Tale Of Two Men …

With Donald Trump’s purge of many immigrants from this country, and what amounts to essentially closing our southern border, there are many low-paid, menial jobs in the agricultural industry that are left unfilled, and farmers large and small are crying for people to harvest crops and pick fruit.  Perhaps it is fortuitous, then, that so many people in the current administration will find themselves out of work come January.  I delight at the vision of Mike Pompeo, Betsy DeVos, Kellyanne Conway and others on a ladder under a tree picking oranges!  Yes, yes, I know these arseholes are all independently wealthy and don’t need to find other jobs, but still … give me my moment of pleasure here.

Now that I’ve had my moment of joy, there are two people on the snark radar today … Sebastian Gorka and Mike Pompeo.


gorkaIn January 2017, Sebastian Gorka was appointed Deputy Assistant to the “President” and Strategist in the Trump White House. He was a member of a White House team known as the Strategic Initiatives Group, which was set up by White House advisors Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. The Strategic Initiatives Group never got off the ground, and Gorka failed to obtain the security clearance necessary for work on national security issues.

Gorka is a radical whose background and education are questionable, and who has ties to a Nazi-allied group in Hungary known as Vitézi Rend.  Congress, as well as the Council on American-Islamic Relations called for Gorka’s firing, along with a number of Jewish groups.

On August 25, 2017, Gorka left the administration, one week after Steve Bannon’s departure.  Gorka claimed that he had resigned because White House officials were “undermining” the Make America Great Again (MAGA) platform. The White House disputed his claim that he resigned and confirmed he was no longer employed there and did not have further access to the White House grounds.

Okay, gone, good riddance, right?  Let him show up on Fox every month or so to rant and opine, and on his own radio show, as long as he isn’t in our government, yes?  But wait … on Tuesday, it was announced that Donald Trump plans to appoint Gorka to be a member of the National Security Education Board!  Like a bad penny, he keeps coming back!

If you’re like me, right about now you’re scratching your head and wondering just what the Sam Heck the “National Security Education Board” does.  The 14-member board oversees a government program that awards scholarships and fellowships to students and offers grants to colleges and universities to address “the national need for experts in critical languages and regions.” In its mission statement, NSEP says one of its goals is to “produce an increased pool of applicants for work in the departments and agencies of the United States Government with national security responsibilities.”

Sorry, folks, but I don’t want Gorka within our government in any capacity, let alone one that pertains in any way, shape or form to education!  Thankfully, he can join the others in January looking for jobs picking fruit!


Mike-PompeoA year ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched the “Commission on Unalienable Rights”, a panel tasked with reviewing “the role of human rights in American public policy”.  At the time, I questioned the need and intent of such a panel, for knowing Pompeo’s evangelical religious views, I did not trust that it wouldn’t be more exclusionary than not.  I wasn’t alone, as advocates warned it could imperil LGBTQ and women’s reproductive freedoms.

Said Pompeo at that time …

“As human rights claims have proliferated, some claims have come into tension with one another provoking questions and clashes about which rights are entitled to gain respect. Nation states and international institutions remain confused about the respective responsibilities concerning human rights. We must, therefore, be vigilant that human rights discourse not be corrupted or hijacked or used for dubious or malignant purposes.”

Odd that, for I never felt any confusion as to what ‘human rights’ are.  I promptly forgot about it, in light of other more immediate concerns, until this weekend.  On Thursday, Pompeo and the panel released a draft version of their past year’s work, and it concludes that the two highest human rights are property ownership and religious freedom.  Property ownership???  Quite frankly, people who cannot afford sufficient food to feed their families, who cannot pay their rent, and who cannot afford to take their sick child to the doctor don’t give a tinker’s damn about owning property!  And just how consoling does Pompeo think it is to tell a starving person that, “Oh well, at least you have religious freedom”?  This reminds me of the “thoughts and prayers” they send when somebody’s child is the victim of a school shooting!

This nation and its government have many massive problems that need to be addressed … defining human rights might be a start if the people doing the defining weren’t wealthy bigots who have never missed a meal in their lives, or had to decide between paying the rent and buying food.  It might have had seriousness of purpose if they considered such things as equality for all, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.  But rather, the entire purpose seems to have been to continue to oppress the oppressed and give legitimacy to the wealthy and the evangelicals.

Pompeo acknowledged historical US failings, including slavery and the dispossession of Native Americans, but he argued that those wrongs had been remedied and was scornful of those who argued that they represented enduring flaws.  Pompeo, and apparently the rest of his panel, are so out of touch with the 99% of us who live in the real world that it’s pathetic.  This panel is naught but an attempt to deny women’s rights, to deny the rights of blacks and Native Americans, and to deny the rights of the LGBT community.  If you’ve got the stomach for it, you can read his draft here.

In his draft, he condemns the New York Times’ 1619 project … an excellent project I have mentioned on two separate occasions and that I strongly recommend.  According to the Times

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

Links:

The First Amendment …

The First Amendment covers a lot of ground and has been interpreted and re-interpreted ever since its writing.  In the news this week are three things pertaining to the 1st Amendment that worry me in one form or fashion.


Freedom of the Press …

I had heard the name ‘Samantha Bee’, but had no idea who or what she was, nor did I much care … until this morning.  According to Wikipedia, Ms. Bee is …

“… a Canadian-American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actress, and television host. Bee rose to fame as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where she became the longest-serving regular correspondent.”

You guys probably already knew that, though, didn’t you?  So why, you ask, did Ms. Bee buzz across my radar?  On her show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, on Wednesday, she made some very astute statements about freedom of the press …

“Look, I know, it’s not exactly a revelation that the president is always trying to undermine the media, but that’s the problem: We’re all so used to it that we act like it’s normal. And the more that we ignore anti-press sentiment in America, the more it will spread.  When Trump became president, he was crushed to find that the job comes with criticism and that the glowing PR he got from the business media isn’t typical of the political press. Since the media refused to love him back, Trump has chosen to do the mature thing and use his presidential power to destroy them.  The scariest part about Trump’s war on the press is that he’s winning. No one’s been able to stop his attacks, so we just go about our lives while they run constantly in the background like white noise — which is, of course, Trump’s preferred color of noise. … When Trump undermines the free press, he’s not just attacking journalists’ rights to do their jobs, he’s attacking your right to know what’s going on in the world.”

She’s right.  If not for the free press, we would know only what Trump wanted us to know.  We would not know that Russia was paying the Taliban to kill U.S. soldiers and that Trump knew about this yet failed to act.  We would not have known that he attempted to blackmail the president of the Ukraine to ‘dig up dirt’ on his political rival, Joe Biden.  We would not have known any of the acts that Trump has committed against the people of this nation.  At all costs, we must … must support our free press!  We cannot become complacent and accept the denigration of the press as ‘normal’, for it is anything but normal … at least in this country.


Freedom of Speech …

The 1st Amendment includes many freedoms, including the aforementioned freedom of the press.  It also includes freedom of and from religion, and the one most-oft quoted, freedom of speech.  Over the past two centuries, that ‘freedom of speech has been interpreted by the courts to mean a wide variety of things.  Signs and symbols by hate groups such as white supremacists and neo-Nazis have been ruled acceptable because … freedom of speech.  KKK rallies have been deemed allowable under freedom of speech.  But, in my opinion, there simply must be limits.

This …nazi-flag-shooting… is highly offensive to all but the most ardent anti-Semitic white supremacists.  A woman was shot four times in the back in Garfield County, Oklahoma, for trying to remove one of the flags.

Now, I can tell you for a fact that if anybody in my neighborhood were to sport such a flag, I would not only remove it, but would douse it with lighter fluid then set fire to it.  The Nazi flag is a symbol of anti-Semitism, of hatred, around the globe.

The owner of the house and flags, one Alexander Feaster, was arrested and has been charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon, and shooting with intent to kill, and is due to appear in court later this month.  A neighbor said that he had been flying the flags for around a year, and they had been snatched from his home a few times in the past. They added that he would occasionally dress up in black uniform with a red swastika armband – an outfit reminiscent of Nazi SS uniforms.  No less than 15 guns were recovered from Feaster’s home upon his arrest.  Who the hell needs that much firepower?

The district attorney says he is considering possible charges against the woman, who is expected to recover from her gunshot wounds.  Why?  Trespassing?  Destruction of private property?  In this case, I don’t see it … it was justified.  However, I know at least two of my readers who will disagree with me, so it is only my opinion.


Freedom of/from Religion …

The 1st Amendment says this about the freedom of religion …

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

That’s all … just 16 words.  However, lengthy tomes have been written in order to interpret how this clause should be applied.  There are those who argue this is a Christian nation … it is not!  It is a secular nation, the foundation of which calls for a distinct separation between church and state.  This includes education.

A portion of our tax dollars is used to fund public schools.  PUBLIC schools, not parochial or religious schools.  If you want to send your children to a religious school, you do have that right … just not at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.

This week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state of Montana could not use a provision in its Constitution to exclude religious schools from its private school scholarship program.  Although the ruling was narrow, applying only to the case before them, it is likely that religious groups in other states will be heartened by the decision and file their own cases against states.  By the end of next year, we could easily see a broader ruling stating that any state that issues vouchers or similar programs to help with tuition at private schools must also include religious schools in the process.

In fact, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos suggested just that …

“I’m calling on all states to now seize the extraordinary opportunity to expand all education options at all schools to every single student in America.”

I’m betting that those who championed and cheered this decision will be horrified when some day a family uses their vouchers to send their child to an Islamic school, won’t they?  Meanwhile, though, I am offended and angered by this decision.  As a citizen, as a taxpayer, and as a non-religionist, I absolutely do NOT want my tax dollars supporting a religious school where children are taught every form of bigotry imaginable.  It is a gross miscarriage of justice that people of differing religions and of no religion must pay to send another person’s child to a school that teaches only one religion and teaches that it is the one and only right religion and the rest of us are wrong in our beliefs or non-beliefs.  This is, in part, why there is so much hatred in this country today.

You want to send your child to a religious school, fine, but not on my dime!

Keep The Bloomin’ Churches Closed!

Libraries aren’t open, schools aren’t open, and for good reason.  We are still in the midst of a raging pandemic that is taking more than one thousand lives each day, there is more that is not known about the ways in which the coronavirus is transmitted than is known, there has been no slowdown of new cases, there is no cure as yet … so why should we rush to re-open non-essential services?  However, in light of the fact that polls show Trump is losing favourability among religious groups, he has decided to appease them by demanding that all churches open immediately … today!

Now, a wise man might have looked inward to determine just why his support is waning and try to make some adjustments in his actions, but nobody ever accused Trump of being a wise man, and his ego is such that he can never admit anything might actually be his own fault.  So, his statement on the churches opening was …

“Today I am identifying houses of worship — churches, synagogue and mosques — as essential places that provide essential services. Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right.  I call upon governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now. If there’s any question, they’re going to have to call me, but they’re not going to be successful in that call. The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now. For this weekend. If they do not do it, I will override the governors.”

Well good luck with that, Donnie.  You cannot force the governors to call for opening the churches, and you cannot force the churches to open, nor can you force people to attend.  The sensible in this nation are not yet ready to get back to “business as usual”, and I think that while some evangelical churches may be packed to the rafters, most more moderate churches will either remain closed or have a small turnout.  Either way … churches are not essential.  If churches are essential, then so are libraries and book stores, music stores and shoe stores.

According to the latest polls, Trump has lost 11% favourability among white evangelicals, 12% among white Catholics, and 18% among white protestants. Let’s be brave and ask the question Trump refuses to ask:  Why?  Could it be because these people have lost loved ones due to Trump’s mishandling and bungling response to the initial cases of the coronavirus?  Could it be that these families have suffered losses of loved ones, as well as financial losses that could have been avoided if we had a president in charge?  Could it be that perhaps they have finally tired of hearing Trump point fingers, lay blame, and concoct crazy conspiracy theories when they are looking to him for leadership, and finding none?

So, Trump thinks to throw the religious factions a bone by loudly “demanding” that all churches open immediately.  It would be laughable, if it didn’t pose such a danger to so many.  And then, there’s his hired mouthpiece, Kayleigh McEnany, by any definition a piece of work.  Low on IQ, but high on the things Trump values, such as an anorexic physique, an empty head, and blind loyalty.  It wasn’t bad enough that Trump is so stupid he ‘demanded’ that all churches open this weekend, declaring them “essential”.  But then, McEnany comes along and accuses the media of having some ‘hidden agenda’ in ‘desperately wanting’ churches to remain closed.

“The president will strongly encourage every governor to allow their churches to reopen, and boy, it is interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to seem to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed.”

McEnany-4No mystery there, Ms. McEnany … those of us who want to see churches remain closed do so because we want to see people remain alive.  No hidden agenda, no attempt to steal people’s right to freedom of religion … just a desire to protect them from themselves.  Churches are a perfect breeding ground for germs to spread like wildfire.  People sitting practically atop one another, singing, clasping hands, giving hugs.  For example, one person in California who, not knowing he had the virus, attended a Mother’s Day church service and exposed 180 other people in that short one-hour service.

I must admit that my jaw dropped to the floor when I read that, coming under fire for her support of Trump in this issue, McEnany said …

“I know the person I am. I know what I stand for. And I stand as a Christian woman, someone who believes in equality and truth and loyalty and honesty. It’s the values I’ve lived by my whole life. It’s the values I’ll continue to live by.”

Seriously???  She’s working for the wrong person if that were the truth, but in my book, she is a bit confused about what constitutes “truth and honesty”.

We are living through a pandemic, a disaster on a large scale where some people don’t even have food to eat, some people are losing their homes for they cannot pay their mortgage, and some people are near suicidal because they are old and no longer recognize the world as the one they once knew.  By the end of this holiday weekend, the total deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus will number over 100,000.  Think about that one … it’s not just a statistic, not just a number … those were real people, mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, spouses … they died alone, and now their families are left with an empty place at the dinner table and an empty hole in their hearts.  We are living in a country where the number of human lives lost each day to the coronavirus number over a thousand.  Every day!  Yet, Donald Trump and Kayleigh McEnany are so worried about Trump’s polls that they are willing to double or even triple the number of people who have died.

Very Snarky Snippets

For starters, yes the stock market gained some 7% yesterday … ho hum.  Don’t get too excited, for it’s going back down … maybe today, maybe tomorrow, but there is no foundation for the gain and it is inevitable that it will plunge again.  As I said … ho hum.


Despite the fact that Trump claims to know more about everything under the sun than all the experts, he actually knows very little about anything.  So, early on when Trump visited the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), he claimed that all the scientists and medicos there were astounded that he knew so much about it all.  Funny, though, that we never actually heard any of those experts say they were astounded … no doubt they were astounded when they met him up close and personal to find that the ‘man’ who filled the seat of the highest office in the land was such an egotistical moron.

But now, he has taken his ‘genius’ to a dangerous level.  You may remember that I have referred to him as a snake oil salesman more than a few times.  Well, he is truly selling snake oil now, and lives are in danger, for he has no idea what he’s doing.  He is telling people to take some drug called “hydroxychloroquine” (please do not ask me to pronounce that!) that used to be a treatment for malaria.  He has no idea what it does, only that some country bumpkin doctor wrote to him and told him it would work, and now he is telling the public, on national television, to take this drug.

If you or I did that, we would be sued.  Doctors and people who really do know something are cautioning against it.  One man has already died as a result of taking the drug.  Trump says, with cameras rolling, “What have you got to lose?”  Um … perhaps our lives?  Apparently on Saturday, Trump and the real expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, got into a rather heated “discussion” about Trump touting a drug for which there is no evidence it will work against the current pandemic.  Trump sycophant Peter Navarro said, in response, that “Doctors disagree about things all the time.”  Um … yeah, maybe, but only one of the two in question is a doctor.  Donald Trump isn’t even a human, let alone a bloody doctor!

In Trump’s ego-trip that some are calling a press conference on Sunday, a reporter asked Dr. Fauci for his thoughts about the effectiveness of the anti-malaria drug in treating coronavirus patients, and Trump interrupted before the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases could answer. “He’s answered that question 15 times,” said Trump, which was an outright lie, but what’s new, right?

So, in essence, We the People are not to be allowed to hear the truth from the experts, but will be fed the passel of lies that Trump in his warped mind has made up.  A word to the wise, do not bother to watch his pressers and for Pete’s Sake do not take his medical advice!  He is not a doctor, but a circus clown!  But wait …

A pastor in Fairland, Oklahoma, Curt Landry, told his congregation to listen to Trump’s advice over that of experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, because Trump has “God’s authority.”  SAY WHAT??? 

curt-landry“I am not a scientist, I am not a doctor, and I do respect [Fauci’s] knowledge, I respect where he comes from, and I respect him in his position that God has put him in. But in the order of spiritual alignment, Donald J. Trump is the Cyrus above him … As believers, we need to agree—I believe that God puts kings and leaders in their place, I believe God has put Donald Trump in his place as a Cyrus—and we need to agree with what he’s saying.”

Fool!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


You’ve all heard of the concept of ‘separation of church and state’, right?  Well, for three years now, Trump has been trying to erase that line of separation, largely to appease his evangelical base who want the laws of this nation to align with their own narrow-minded religious beliefs in such areas as women’s rights and the rights of the LGBT community.  But now … guess what?  Part of that $2.2 trillion bill that was passed last week to help people suffering financially because of the coronavirus pandemic is going to be used to … wait for it … help churches pay the salaries of their pastors!

Yep, folks, even if you don’t attend a church, are not religious, are a non-believer, your tax dollars will be used to help support specific churches!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  One more corner of the U.S. Constitution burned to a crisp.


This country, the U.S., is not the country I grew up in.  It is not the country that gave us such great men as Martin Luther King, John and Bobby Kennedy, and so many others.  I no longer recognize nor respect this country.  It is no longer the country where we were told that ‘all men are created equal’.  This is no longer the country that adheres to the words on the base of the Statue of Liberty …

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This is a country filled with bitterness and hate, with racism, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, and most any other ‘phobia’ you can think of.  It is no longer a nation that I recognize, or that I can respect.  It is a nation burning itself from within.

The Good, The Bad, And … The Fun!

I was writing a somewhat in-depth post that I had planned for this morning, but ‘things’ kept distracting me – a small family crisis, a catfight, and the flotsam & jetsam of news stories that kept floating across my screen.  So, I finally set it aside and decided to write about a bit of that flotsam & jetsam, for my snark-o-meter is quivering somewhere around the high end.


The Good …

maxine-waters-1Let’s start on a positive note:  Maxine Waters.  Ms. Waters has served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Southern California, including much of Los Angeles, since 1991.  She is the most senior of the twelve black women currently serving in Congress, and she chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 1997 to 1999. She is currently the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee.  What I most like about Ms. Waters is that she does not pull any punches … she “calls ‘em like she sees ‘em”.

Donald Trump managed to get on her wrong side early on, and in the early days of his term, she referred to him as “a bully, an egotistical maniac, a liar and someone who did not need to be President”, and “the most deplorable person I’ve ever met in my life”.  On Monday, when Trump was once again congratulating himself for his “perfect” response to the pandemic crisis, Ms. Waters let loose with both barrels on … where else but Twitter …

  • Trump, since you destroyed the WH unit designed to plan for pandemics like #COVID19, you need to stop being duplicitous about the DPA & get more corps to develop masks, respirators, & everything needed to protect hospital workers trying to save lives. Get your act together!
  • Trump, weren’t you taught at an early age that self congratulations are improper? When you’re doing a good job, you will be commended. When you have to congratulate yourself it’s b/c of incompetence & insecurity. No one values hubris. A lesson you should’ve learned long ago.
  • Trump, stop congratulating yourself! You’re a failure & you’ve mishandled this #COVID19 disaster! You’re not knowledgeable & you don’t know more than experts & generals. Your ignorance & incompetence are appalling & you continue to demonstrate that every time you open your mouth!
  • Trump, Gov Whitmer, the governor you called “that woman”, is what you think of ALL women, period! We women are all “that woman”! We are mothers & working professionals; we’re doctors & lawyers; & we’re elected officials, even governors, & you will show us the respect we deserve!
  • Trump, you incompetent idiot! You sent 18 tons of PPE to China early but ignored warnings & called COVID19 concerns a hoax. You’ve endangered doctors, nurses, aids, orderlies, & janitors – all risking their lives to save ours. Pray 4 forgiveness for the harm that you’re causing!

maxine-waters-2A woman after my own heart!  Now THAT is what I call “telling it like it is”!  Every word is true, and every word deserved.


The Bad …

Howard-BrownePastor Rodney Howard-Browne runs Revival Ministries International and serves as resident pastor of Alex Jones’ Infowars, which should tell you something in itself.  Browne is also the pastor at River at Tampa Bay Church in Tampa, Florida.  At this time when all non-essential businesses are shuttered and schools nationwide are closed, most not expected to re-open until the beginning of next school year, most all churches have also shut down.  Florida was, unconscionably, among the last states to issue a statewide “shelter-in-place” order, but Hillsborough Country, where Howard-Browne’s church is located, has had such an order for “social-distancing” guidelines since last Friday.

However, Mr. Howard-Browne knows better than all the experts, and he was not about to close his church!  He insisted that his church was an essential business (say WHAT???), and that such things as ‘social distancing’ was “for pansies”.  So, when he spoke to a packed church last Sunday, he told the crowd that he had purchased a $100,000 ‘air purification system’ …

“The Lord has helped us secure our congregation. We have brought in 13 machines that basically kill every virus in the place. If someone walks through the door, it kills everything on them. If they sneeze it shoots it down at a 100 mph. It’ll neutralize it in split-seconds. So we have the most sterile building, I don’t know, in all of North America.”

I try very hard to be respectful of people’s religions, though I follow none myself, but this guy … seriously???

So, on Sunday, despite a warning from the Sheriff’s Department, he held not one, but two church services, both filled with hundreds of people, some of whom Howard-Browne had bused in.  And, by the end of the day on Sunday, Mr. Howard-Browne had been arrested on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and violating quarantine orders during a public health emergency.

Howard-Browne has rather a history of being a conspiracy theorist (remember, he is the ‘resident pastor’ of Infowars), and as recently as March 22 said that the coronavirus was a “phantom plague” created by the Chinese but also somehow planned at a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation event.

His attorney, the notorious Mat Staver of anti-LGBTQ fame, claims …

“Contrary to Sheriff Chronister’s allegation that Pastor Howard-Browne was ‘reckless,’ the actions of Hillsborough Country and the Hernando County Sheriff are discriminatory against religion and church gatherings.”

And these are the people who try to tell the world that their values are so superior to the rest of us, that they and only they know that such things as same-sex marriage and abortion are so wrong?  Freakin’ nutcases!!!!


And The Fun …

Today is {drumroll 🥁} … National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day!!! PB-JDid you know that the average American will have eaten over 2000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time they graduate from high school?  A bit of trivia …

Peanut butter was considered a delicacy in the early 1900s and was only served in New York City’s finest tea rooms. In a May 1896 article published in the Good Housekeeping magazine, a recipe “urged homemakers to use a meat grinder to make peanut butter and spread the result on bread.”  That same year, in June, the culinary magazine Table Talk, published a “peanut butter sandwich recipe.”

It is thought that Julia Davis Chandler issued the first reference to peanut butter (or paste) paired with jelly on bread in the United States in 1901. Her article is found in the Boston Cooking School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics. In the late 1920s, the price of peanut butter declined, and the sandwich became very popular with children.

According to the Peanut Board, during World War II, both peanut butter and jelly were part of the United States soldiers’ military ration list.

In 1968, The J.M. Smucker Co. introduced Goober, a jarred product that combined alternating vertical stripes of peanut butter and jelly.

What’s your favourite PB&J sandwich?  Mine is, I think, Jif Peanut Butter with Blackberry jam.  However, I wouldn’t turn down one with Strawberry jam or Wimberry either!  Now, you’ve put up with enough of Filosofa’s snark for this morning … get thee to the kitchen and have a PB&J sandwich … go on … you know you want to!

Discord & Dissension — Part VIII — On The Issues

Let’s talk a little bit about voters and issues.  While we could categorize voters in numerous different ways, there are basically two kinds of voters:  those who vote based on issues, and those who vote based on personality.

It was often said that the biggest reason John F. Kennedy won the 1960 election was his charisma.  I was nine years old at the time, and I certainly found him charming … I loved listening to him speak (my family didn’t have television yet in 1960, so I rarely saw him)!  And that’s fine for a nine-year-old child, but by the time one reaches voting age, one really ought to be considering what the candidate stands for rather than what he or she looks like, or how they speak.  I also heard it said in 2016 that part of Trump’s success was a result of his charisma, but I have a hard time with that, for he isn’t nice to look at, and his speech is filled with vitriol, so … where’s the charisma?

At any rate, there’s little to be said about those who would vote based on the candidate’s personality, so let’s instead start talking about issues.  Jeff and I have debated whether it is too soon to start to delve into the issues and the candidates’ views/platforms/ideologies, but after some thought, we’ve decided that with the primaries already in full swing, and Super Tuesday right around the corner, the time seems to be ripe.  Next Tuesday, March 3rd, fourteen states and one U.S. territory will hold nominating contests to award a total of 1,357 delegates, or 34% of all delegates nationwide.  If you are eligible to vote in the primary or caucus for your state, you will soon need to make a choice between the remaining candidates.  So … what issues are most important to you?

The majority of voters are most concerned with the issues that most directly impact them and their everyday lives, such as healthcare, or if they have children, education.  The economy and jobs naturally impact everyone.  In 2016, Donald Trump was able to form a large enough base by creating a fear on an issue that, until then, was largely a non-issue to most people:  immigration.  He made it personal … he told people that immigrants were mostly all bad people – terrorists, murderers and rapists.  And even the good ones, he said, were taking your jobs!  He created a fear, then proposed a solution:  a wall and a travel ban.  It was largely hyperbole, but people bought it.

All of which points up the fact that sometimes people listen to one view or another without fully understanding the issues or their candidates’ stance on them.  The more information you have, the better able you will be to make informed, wise decisions.

For today, I just want to give a bit of information about each of the major issues, and then in two weeks, I will begin to address each of the candidates’ views on the issues, so you can see which nearly match your own viewpoint.  At the end of this post, there is a poll that I hope you’ll take a minute to check which issues matter most to you, as a voter.


The Issues:

Abortion

The abortion issue is among the most polarizing in the nation.  Pro-life vs Pro-Choice.  The question of whether certain groups have the right to force their will on women, or whether women have autonomy over their own bodies.

Civil Rights

This covers a myriad of sub-issues involving equality for all in the areas of housing, education and employment for minorities, religious groups, the LGBTQ community, and women.  It is another highly polarizing issue, as certain groups attempt to claim that the rights of the LGBTQ community are in direct contrast with their own rights.

Economy

The economy is about more than just jobs and the stock market.  It is also about things like wage levels and inflation.  Trump claims bragging rights for the stable economy, but in reality he inherited a growing economy and, as we’ve seen over the past week, it is not built on a very solid foundation.  The federal minimum wage has not been raised in more than ten years, while the cost of living has risen each year.

Education

The quality of education in the U.S. has been declining in recent years, as schools are increasingly focused on preparing students for a career more than teaching them to think for themselves, to use their imaginations, to create.  College has become cost-prohibitive and students leave after four years with a mountain of debt that will take them decades to repay.

Election Reform and Security

A number of Supreme Court decisions over the past years have corrupted our elections.  McCutcheon v FEC, Citizens United v FEC, and a number of others involving campaign finance have opened the door to large corporations and lobbying groups literally buying a candidate.  There is also the issue of election security.  It is a proven fact that the Russians interfered in our 2016 election, and our own intelligence community has given us warning that the same is happening again this year.  The House of Representatives has passed bills to restore the security of our elections, but the Senate has thus far refused to bring them to the floor.

Energy/Environment/Climate Change

This may arguably be the single most important issue nationwide today, though many seem oblivious.  Trump has rolled back so many environmental regulations that this nation remains the single largest emitter of CO2 per capita in the world!  The U.S. is also the only nation on the globe that is not part of the Paris Climate Accords and that is not doing virtually anything, as a nation, to protect the environment, endangered species, etc.

Foreign Policy

While ‘globalization’ has been demonized by some, it is a fact of life.  In today’s world, we must interact with other nations in many areas, not the least of which are trade and shared security.  How we treat our allies and how we react to others is critical to keeping not only our nation, but the world safe.  Understanding of world affairs is imperative at the highest levels of government.

Free Trade

Free trade agreements allow goods to cross borders without tariffs or special taxes, and are a key element in keeping the cost of consumer goods low.  It should be a win-win for all parties involved, but in recent years, the U.S. has made it a competitive game, which hurts everyone in the long run.

Government reform

Unhappy with the way the government is being run?  This largely ties into campaign finance reform, for much of the problem with our government today is that rather than representing all the people, they often seem to represent only the wealthy, leaving the other 99.9% of us out in the cold.  In addition, the leaders of both the House and Senate seem to have entirely too much power, coercing our elected officials to do things their way, rather than to follow their conscience.

Gun Control

This is one of the biggest issues in the U.S.  The vast majority of people, including gun owners, are for sensible gun legislation, such as expanded background checks, waiting periods, and even an assault weapons ban.  But, due to the power and influence the NRA has over our politicians, nothing is being done, and more and more people die from guns every single day in this country.

Health Care

I can’t even begin to summarize this one.  ACA, the Affordable Care Act that was initiated during the Obama administration, ensured that everyone would have access to basic healthcare, regardless of income level or pre-existing conditions.  Much of that has been gutted and there are now some 20 million people in this country with no health care insurance.  Meanwhile, the Pharma industry, doctors, labs, and others are charging exorbitant fees.  A nation that cannot or chooses not to take care of its people … all its people … has a government that is deficient.

Immigration

Immigration reform is one of those things like the weather … everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything.  In the last three years we have seen all the wrong things done:  children separated from their parents and put in cages; billions of dollars wasted building a ridiculous wall that can be sawed through and falls down on a windy day; highly discriminatory travel bans.  Young people who were brought to this country as babies by their immigrant parents are in danger of being deported, even though many are contributing to the economic and social well-being of our nation.

Infrastructure

Roads and highways, water systems, electric grids, bridges, public transportation all fall under the heading of infrastructure.  All need upgrading and continual maintenance, but we have fallen far behind.  Remember Flint, Michigan and their water crisis?  Well, guess what?  It is still not resolved, there is still lead in the drinking water, and the latest is that rather than replace the system, the EPA is proposing rule changes that would change the way testing is done for lead and copper in water supplies.

Tax Reform

The tax structure at present puts more of the burden on the working class than on the wealthy.  Wealthy individuals and corporations pay a far lower percentage in taxes than the average worker, some companies paying not one single dime, and some even getting refunds.  Meanwhile, the national debt is out of control and the government has plans to further cut the very programs that the people of this nation rely on.

Technology

A number of things fall under this broad umbrella, some of which affect us all, such as online privacy, broadband, social media, wireless communication, and more.  Perhaps the most important to most of us is internet security, that took a big hit when net neutrality was repealed in 2018.

Welfare & Poverty

This is one that many people don’t think about … until they themselves are in need.  The official poverty rate in the U.S. is 12.3%.  Think about that one for a minute … one in every eight people in this nation live in poverty, and it is estimated that there are more than a half-million homeless people in the nation.  Yet, Trump proposes cutting the very programs that help these people!


Well, there you have the issues and a brief summation of each.  There are more, but I’ve already exceeded the length Jeff and I agreed on, and taken up too much of your time.  In coming weeks, I will be writing expanding on these issues and giving you the views of the most viable candidates.  So that we can focus on the issues that are most important to you, we ask that you take just a minute to check off the three issues that are most important to you in the short poll below.

Note:  Even though the poll will show only the last answer you ticked, it is recording all three.  I apologize, for I know it is confusing, but I cannot seem to find a way to leave all choices marked.  


Table of Contents (links to past posts in this series)

A View From An Evangelical

Our friend Jeff has a new post that simply must be shared. He has connected with a member of the Christian evangelical community, albeit one who, unlike the rest, sees quite clearly what Donald Trump is, but tries to explain how his fellow evangelicals see him. This is well worth reading and pondering, for if we understand the thought processes of those who would make Trump king, perhaps we can counter them. Thank you, Jeff, and Jerry!

On The Fence Voters

A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to have an article of mine published at The Culture Crush digital and print magazine. It was called Under The Influence. Alongside my piece, another article was published by Jerry Gramckow entitled Against Interpretation. While mine dealt with how snake oil salesman have been wreaking havoc in our society for generations, Jerry’s went deep into the mind of the modern day evangelical. He should know, because he’s been in that community for 47 years. Today, I’m proud to publish a provocative post from Jerry that dives into Trumpworld from his own unique perspective. 

Jerry graduated from Multnomah University, a conservative evangelical institution, and served as an editor at two prominent evangelical Christian ministries. 

Thank You Jerry!

When The Right Thing To Do Is Wrong

By Jerry Gramckow

“There’s nothin’ you can do to turn me away, Nothin’ anyone can say. You’re with…

View original post 1,097 more words

Under The Influence

A few weeks ago, I shared a piece by Jeff about religion from a personal perspective. Today, I would like to share a piece he wrote around that time for an online publication that I think you will find quite interesting! Thank you, Jeff, for this post and your permission to share!

On The Fence Voters

I’d like to share with you an excerpt of a piece I wrote for the online and print publication, The Culture Crush. I’m an occasional contributor to the magazine and the subject matter is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately.

A few weeks back, I wrote a piece called, Religion–A Personal Perspective. In it, I asked you to share some of your own personal experiences as it pertained to religion. I was struck by the wide variety of opinions and life-altering effects of early indoctrination. It was clear to me that religion is, and remains, an important, yet divisive subject in our society.

Around the time I was writing my post for this space, I was also working on a piece for The Culture Crush. But instead of religion in general, this particular piece deals with the history of snake oil salesmen and how we’re…

View original post 656 more words

Pro-Life??? I Think Not.

Let’s make a few things clear from the start.  Those who call themselves “Pro-Life” are actually not in favour of protecting all life.  They are only anti-abortion.  Those who call themselves ‘pro-life’ support the death penalty … a barbaric procedure with the potential for taking an innocent life.  Those who call themselves ‘pro-life’ most often are also ‘pro-gun’ … guns have one purpose and one purpose only:  to take lives, to kill.  Among those who call themselves ‘pro-life’ are many who are climate change deniers, who eschew regulations to protect and repair our environment such that it may continue to support life into the next century.  Those who call themselves ‘pro-life’ are the most likely to argue against government aiding single mothers struggling to feed their children, or to pay their bills in order to keep their children alive.  So no, the pro-life movement is naught but an anti-abortion movement.  Let’s call a spade a spade.

Now, I have a couple of issues with these anti-abortionists.  First of all, nobody is forcing them to have an abortion!  If I choose to have one, that is my business and nobody else’s, for this is my body … not yours.  By the same token, I certainly would not attempt to force a woman to have an abortion, even if she already had 15 children and no way to support them.  It’s her choice, plain and simple.

My second objection is that 99% of the people who oppose a woman’s right to choose, do so based on their own religious convictions.  Since I don’t share those religious convictions, their beliefs do not apply to me.  Since we have a secular government that demands a wall of separation between church and state, it is grossly unconstitutional for the government to trample my right to choose.

My third objection, of course, is that I see the anti-abortion movement, largely funded and founded by men, as a further attempt by men to dominate what they still, after all these years of the women’s movement, see as “the weaker sex”.  “Pro-life” … just one more form of bigotry, as if we needed more.  What if women were allowed to decide when a man should have a vasectomy?  Can you imagine the hue and cry?

So, these ‘pro-life’ folks held a rally over the weekend in Washington, D.C.  And guess who spoke at that rally?  Yep, none other than Donald Trump, the impeached president, the first president to speak at the annual event.  A number of his sycophants in Congress also attended, including: Steve Scalise, Chris Smith, Ralph Abraham, Warren Davidson, Bob Latta, John Joyce, Lloyd Smucker, Mike Lee, James Lankford, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Brad Wenstrup.  And let us not forget to note the presence of Kellyanne Conway, and Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar.

A few of the more ludicrous snippets from Trump’s speech*:

  • “Together we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life.” (This from a ‘man’ who recently ordered the assassination of an Iranian general, that ultimately led to the deaths of 176 innocent civilians)

  • “Sadly, the far left is actively working to erase our God-given rights. Shut down faith-based charities, ban religious believers from the public square, and silence Americans who believe in the sanctity of life. They are coming after me because I am fighting for you and we are fighting for those who have no voice and we will win because we know how to win. We all know how to win. We all know how to win. You’ve been winning for a long time. You’ve been winning for a long time.” (Huh??? Is there an echo?)

  • “Nearly every top Democrat in Congress now supports taxpayer-funded abortion all the way up until the moment of birth. Last year, lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb right up until delivery.” (Um … Donnie?  That’s called ‘birth’, not abortion)

  • “But what is going on in Virginia? What is going on? The Governor stated that he would execute a baby after birth.” (No, Donnie, that is not what Governor Northam said.)

  • “Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House. And as the Bible tells us, each person is wonderfully made. We’ve taken decisive action to protect the religious liberty. So important. Religious liberty has been under attack all over the world and frankly very strongly attacked in our nation.”  (Is “religious liberty” then, only for those who believe in a certain way, and to hell with the rest of us?)

Now, make no mistake – Donald Trump was not there for any reason other than to shore up his base, the right-wing evangelicals who form the largest portion of the anti-abortion movement.  This was, for Trump, nothing more or less than a campaign rally, sans maga hats.  Donald Trump is a misogynist by any definition of the word … he has a long history of abusing women, including his three wives.  He was having an affair under the very nose of his present wife as she gave birth to his youngest son.  It would not surprise me in the least to find that Donald Trump has paid for a few abortions for his many mistresses.

The “religious freedom” that Trump is speaking of is only for those evangelicals who form a large portion of his base.  It actually deprives the rest of us of our religious freedom … and in more ways than just abortion.  If his staunchest supporters had their way, LGBT people would be discriminated against, as would Jews, Muslims, atheists … just about anybody who didn’t share their views.

Separation of church and state is a concept with a purpose … the purpose being equal rights for all, not only one religious group.  When Trump speaks at an event such as the one last week, when he promises to go against the Constitution in order to appease one group to the detriment of all others, he is breaking his oath of office and he is failing in his duty to represent ALL the people of this nation.


*  Full transcript of Trump’s speech at 2020 March for Life rally