Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Christmas Day Hit Job

Once upon a time, I used to pronounce UPS as "Oops!". They would knock on your door, then leave one of those delivery notices almost immediately so you wouldn't have a chance to meet them before they drove off. Or if you were (un)lucky enough, they would toss your package onto your balcony, contents be damned. Oops.

To be fair, UPS has really cleaned up its act over the past few years. You can now sign up for UPS My Choice for free and digitally give them a shipping release to leave your packages at your front door so you no longer have to visit their regional center at 8pm to pick them up. Through that service, they also send you email alerts to let you know a package is on its way. From my experience with UPS My Choice, they have never lied about when a package was going to be delivered. And this holiday season I used them a lot. They even delivered my new work computer in two business days just before Christmas -- as promised.

The same can be said about FedEx. They were a frequent visitor to my lair during the past month, and only once did I have a package delivered late. Even then, it was only one day late and it was attributed to the weather delays both companies experienced about two to three weeks ago. So you can imagine how upset I was when I read this poor excuse for journalism hit piece on both companies on

Both companies are The Grinch? They are to blame for customers not having a Christmas? Bullshit.

Common sense tells (most of) us that buying last minute gifts via the Internet is a tricky proposition. In order to receive those gifts on time, a lot has to go right. The retailer has to pack and ship the order in a timely manner. The carrier has to pick the merchandise up and deliver during said deadline. The weather also has to cooperate, which rarely happens. The buyer also has to input the correct address and payment information into their computer. Any deviation in that chain of events will cause deliveries to be late.

Maybe Tony Dokoupil and MSNBC should put the blame where it really belongs: consumers and the companies that enabled them to buy at the last minute and overstress these carriers beyond their capacities to service customers?

To read comments written by people who put so much value into the consumerism part of Christmas makes me sad. Christmas should be a time to reflect on what you're thankful for, not what you don't have. If you have a warm home, food on the table and reliable transportation, be thankful you have the basic necessities. There's a lot of people out there who rely on food banks, Section 8 housing, WIC and/or public transportation to get by, and that number is not diminishing. Nor do they care if their precious new tablet/laptop is under the tree on Christmas morning.

This was a great Christmas for me, and I'm grateful since there have been others in recent years that didn't go as well. The holiday season when I had to spend my last $120 to euthanize a beloved pet still haunts me. Then there was the one when I wasn't sure where I was going to live after January 1st, and I had to ask my father for a loan to pay rent -- a loan that I wasn't 100% sure I could pay back as promised. There was one Christmas where I was wrongfully terminated from a job three days prior, and then another one where I didn't get to spend Christmas with anyone. And I'll always remember the holiday season when my mother was in the final stages of terminal cancer and was taken by ambulance to a hospice center on New Year's Eve.

These are some of the reasons why I have no sympathy for those individuals who ordered their gifts online at the last minute and then bitch that the CEO of UPS is getting paid $9 million a year to run the company and had the audacity to let his employees have Christmas off. When you put consumerism and your selfish interests over the true meaning of Christmas, you cease being a Christian in my eyes.

Who cares if a package gets delivered a day or two after Christmas? Whatever happened to "It's the thought that counts"? Or forgiveness?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Imagine That: There Is Greed In Major Cities

Perhaps most interesting is the map on greed, which compares average incomes with the number of people living below the poverty line.

If you are in a red area, then you are in an area that submits to this "sin". If you are in blue, well, greed doesn't appear to be in the water.

For the rest of the maps of the 7 deadly sins, here is where you can see them:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela & Americanized Apartheid

We all knew this day was coming, and Heaven (if you believe in one) welcomed another angel today when Nelson Mandela died at his home in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was 95 years old. Tonight I'm going to do something different. Instead of telling you how great he was like everyone else, I'll give you a few thoughts about him that no one else is saying. 

There are people out there who say he was a Marxist. They will also tell you he was a terrorist. While all of this is technically true, I don't hold it against him one bit. 

Mandela protested against white supremacist policies for what seems like his entire adult life. At first he fought apartheid non-violently, and when those protests didn't work (read about the Sharpeville Massacre) he fought back in a way that I can appreciate. MK, an abbreviation for a name that translates to "Spear of the Nation", was formed to be the armed wing of the African National Congress, and they lauched guerilla attacks on government installations one year later. From that point forward, the fight against apartheid was on.

I completely understand if what Mandela did makes him a Communist and a terrorist in some people's eyes. But he fought an injustice that was in some ways nearly as horrible as what the Nazis did to Jews, gays, and anyone else they saw as less than them. Apartheid wasn't just about racism. It was some seriously fucked up shit you should take a few minutes to read about to understand why Nelson Mandela and his fight against it is such a big deal.

I live by the rule, "By any means necessary". Even if you don't agree with my methods, at least appreciate the end result. That is why I do not blame Mandela one bit for what he did or how he did it. Get the job done. That is all that matters.

If someone stripped me of my citizenship, attempted to move me from my homeland, and force me to carry ID to venture into white-owned land, I'd be fighting mad. Whoops! I forgot that has already happend to me and my family members.

Consider the following:

  • I have to carry my birth certificate with me if I ever visit Arizona.
  • Some of my ancestors live on the Mexican side of the border due to Mexican Repatriation that occurred in Texas just before World War II. Legally, they could be American citizens and have every right to be here just like noted anchor babies Michelle Malkin and Mitt Romney.

So when I see people on the right calling Nelson Mandela a Communist and a terrorist tonight, I have every right to call them the American version of the Nationalists because deep down they are no different than the white minority that made living in South Africa a living hell for people of color for half a century.

That is why we have to continue that fight here in America. It is the right thing to do.

Where's My Violin So I Can Play You Your Song?

Let me get this bi. You're Generation Y, or as they say, a Millenial. You're saying it's a bad time to enter the work force. Yet if you're a decade younger than me, you make about $15,000 more than I do on average. You're still whining, Adam Weinstein?

I know what it's like to have student debt. I still have some left. Thankfully it will be gone sometime next year.

I know what it's like to be underemployed. I could probably be better off elsewhere, but when you reach a certain age employers don't want to hire you. But to be fair, my current employer does give me certain non-monetary benefits I will not get elsewhere so I'm quite pleased with my current arrangement.

I've never owned a house. I know what it's like to be a lifelong renter. But it's by choice. I wasn't stupid enough a decade ago to take out two mortgages on a $600,000 ranch style home that's only 400 square feet bigger than my apartment. And probably needs extensive renovations due to it's age.

I have news for you, Adam Weinstein. I used to be in line on that graph for Generation X up until George W. Bush took office. I now have to get by with much less. A lot of us out here do. And yet we find a way to live our lives.

You're not a home owner? Go live in a more affordable place. That's not me telling you that. That's the real estate market speaking. Not everyone can live in Manhattan. Or by the coast in Southern California. Find a place that's within your budget and then take out that thirty-year mortgage to pay for it.

Can't go on vacation anywhere? Stay home. Take road trips and discover places nearby you've never been to before. Learn to do more with less.

Can't afford an iAnything? Find something else that does the job -- and possibly does the job better. Apple sells ideas more than they sell great products. That's why companies like Samsung, Sony, LG and others not only exist but still have substantial market share.

Can't pay your debts? A lot of people can't. Read the fine print in those cardmemeber agreements and use that to your advantage. Having bad credit or getting sued by a debt collector isn't the end of the world. It's just another battle to fight, and possibly win.

Can't save for retirement? Not everyone is going to follow the green path depicted in the Fidelity Investments commercials. Not everyone is going to eat cat food in their golden years, either. Most likely, you'll be somewhere in the middle.

Does life suck? Yes it does. Maybe in the future things will change but this is the world we exist in now. There are a lot of crappy things going on in it. New jobs pay less. The cost of living keeps rising. There are fewer job openings than there are qualified people to fill them. There are a lot less people covered by health insurance, have enough money to buy food and clothing, or can afford reliable transportation. Even those who can afford a place to live now rely on food banks because the cost of produce is a lot higher than processed food.

But I don't make the rules. I find a way to survive despite them. You have to take that low-paying job? So what? I had to take a low-paying job with long hours myself when I graduated from college. Then I found a better one once I not only earned experience but proved myself. And I repeated the same cycle when necessary, sometimes leaving a company to join another. Moving up sometimes means moving on. And even if the industry you're in crumbles, you start over elsewhere.

My advice? Be a survivor, not an Adam Weinstein. Whining doesn't solve problems. Learn the difference between a need and a want. Make the most of what you have. If you have to spend money, learn how to shop. It doesn't matter how much money you make. It's smart to do these things regardless of your income level. If life gives you an obstacle, find a way to overcome it.

And if you're still whining about things and you make more than I do? Pull up your big girl panties and deal with it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Shamelessly Stolen From Twitter

I may not stop laughing until Thanksgiving after reading this comic.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

George Carlin - The American Dream

My favorite comedian of all time speaking truth about "The American Dream".

A Rant About Opposition To The Affordable Healthcare Act

Cross-posted at An Angry Dakota Democrat

Over the past 30 years, every politician that has run for the White House, had a platform for reforming healthcare so that all Americans get adequate healthcare. So when President Obama used his political capital of his first term to pass the Affordable Care Act, which could conceivably give health care protection to millions of Americans who did not or could not afford protection before, I thought it was a good idea. After all, I thought, who would balk at the idea of holding people personally responsible for obtaining health insurance so the costs of most medical procedures would not come back on the rest of the population who have insurance but continue to see rates rise. Boy was I wrong. There was stiff resistance from Day 1.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Freedom in the Time of Healthcare

The other day I was standing in a long line at the cable company, and listening to the discussion in front of me. I couldn't be accused of eavesdropping, because there was no way I couldn't listen. The discussion was about Obamacare. I could tell as soon as I got in line behind them, because I heard the phrase "shoved down my throat." I'm so sick of that one. "This is the land of the free, why should I have to be forced to buy healthcare? I don't want that shoved down my throat." I guess he meant the medicine. I waited in line, hearing what else he had to say. "Premiums are going up, I don't even know if I can afford them. Do you know how long we'll have to wait under this new system? I don't want to be forced to buy insurance and would rather pay the penalty. They shouldn't make me." I decided I couldn't hold my tongue and jumped in as politely as I could.

"Premiums are going up, you say?" He looked and nodded. "Good thing that hasn't been happening all along, at several percentage points higher until a few years ago. I used to pay for a family plan about ten years ago. It was a good plan. My wife and I have one now, coverage not as good, but we are covered. It's more than twice what I paid ten years ago."

"Wow, that's a lot to pay a month." he said

 "It is. Income hasn't doubled over the same time period. It sucks. My wife spent five days in the hospital last month. The bill is into five figures, but we pay less than $300.00. If we didn't have insurance, we would have been screwed."

"I'm not sure what doctor you are using, but my wife has been having a lot of medical problems lately. I can count on one hand the times I got a same day appointment. I'm not sure what mythical land you live in where there are no wait times, but I'd like to live there. My wife has quite a rash that we showed to the doctor recently. She has an appointment for the dermatologist in November. When she needed a bunch of tests, the doctor sent us to the emergency room so we could do them right away. Normally it would have taken well over a week to get them, as well as the results."

"I get into my doctor pretty fast." he said. "But I live in a really small town."

The conversation ended with him mumbling about losing his freedom. What I wanted to say, but didn't was this: I understand you don't want to have to be forced to buy health insurance, and that's fine and all, but when you end up in the emergency room with a broken leg and can't afford it, it's not free. I pay for your unpaid medical bills. Me, and everyone else with insurance pays for it. No one asked me if I wanted to pay for it, I don't have a choice. It's factored into the rates. One could say that those of us with insurance are getting the uninsured's unpaid bills.  The uninsured, non-paying people are getting a 'free ride' and this just puts that to a stop. It is the rare snowflake indeed who goes their entire life without needing medical care.

I guess the 'freedom' he is losing is the freedom to go to the emergency room on my dime, as well as yours.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Outrageous Indeed

Three days ago I was very upset about the above tweet, and I still am. Why, do you ask? The above Tweet is all the proof you need to know the NRA doesn’t give a fuck about responsible gun use, even if it’s only a “toy” pellet gun.

The above picture is a Crossman Stinger P311 Airsoft pistol you can buy off Amazon for $14.97, and for a similar price at your local WalMart. It may not be the exact gun these kids were “playing with” near a school bus stop, but it’s very similar and there’s nothing about it that makes it a toy if misused.

The Stinger P311 is a pellet gun that uses air to discharge pellets or other projectiles at up to 325 FPS (feet per second), which is powerful enough to break someone’s skin and/or seriously injure them if shot in the eyes. It is designed for target practice and not for use or purchase by children under the age of sixteen.

The fact is, kids barely old enough to be teenagers, shot other kids with an Airsoft gun without a care for basic firearm safety or local firearm laws… and yet the NRA thinks it’s outrageous these kids are paying the price for their stupidity? The NRA, and their members that agree with them, are wrong.

If these punks were arrested and sent to Juvenile Hall rather than suspended from school, do you think the NRA would still be outraged?

Don’t get me wrong. Target shooting is fun when it’s done right. I love my pistol crossbow. It shoots 6 1/4” field point bolts at 165 FPS, and I only use targets designed for its use or homemade ones that will prevent any type of “pass through” through wear and tear.

Even though I cannot kill someone with my pistol crossbow, I treat it as if I can. I never load it unless it’s pointed at the ground. I never put my finger near the trigger unless the safety’s off and I’m already aimed at my target. And I’ll never aim it at a human or animal unless I’m in mortal danger and I intend to kill them.

The fact these kids were never taught basic firearms safety, local laws, or to respect what damage guns can do is what we should be outraged about.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Would You Like Fries With This Rant?

Sometimes perception is everything. At first, I was supportive of the fast food strike. What seems like a lifetime ago, my first “real” job was working at a McDonald’s in high school. I learned how to work a cash register that computed everything for me. I learned how to count inventory and what FIFO means. I learned how to cook a mean Quarter Pounder with Cheese, but I also had timers that told me when I had to do everything.

I also learned it was no way to make a living long term, especially since minimum wage at the time was only $3.35 an hour. I also hated it, and I did whatever it took to get out of there. I worked hard in school to get good grades. I stayed out of trouble. I worked on skills that would make me marketable in other career fields, and found solace in a pizza restaurant that wasn’t nearly as anal as Mickey D’s.

Once I determined managing a pizza restaurant was not my cup of tea upon college graduation, I got the fuck out of there. I started a new career, and I busted my ass to rise to the top of my profession because I did not want to go back to fast food. Ever.


Fast forward to 2013… today’s fast food workers want to unionize. I’m okay with that. Today’s fast food workers want to work for higher wages. I’m cool with that too.

Today’s fast food workers want to work for $15 an hour? When nearly everything is automated? When a good portion of them don’t have the decency to wash their hands after using the restroom? (I learned about that fact in management training) When these workers don’t have special skills?

What kind of delusional fucks are they?

I’m sorry, but I’m not on board with this. Want to work for $15 an hour? Learn to do something other than flip a burger, deep frying French fries or count change.

Fast food was never meant to be a career. It is and always has been a way for high school and college kids to dip their toes into the job market and nothing more. End of story.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Discussion Over EBT

This is what my life has come to. I am in a discussion on Facebook over Electronic Benefits Transfer for the State of South Dakota. EBT is the way that you receive Supplemental Nutritional Assistance (SNAP) in the Mount Rushmore state. The more I think about the stupidity of this debate, the angrier I get. Why? Because those people that live in what would be called a metropolitan area in the state are snobbish over what the program should entail.

Huron is a town of about 13,000 people. It has a Wal-Mart that stays open 24 hours and 1 grocery store that does the same. One of my friends posted online that she waited in line at a convenience store and the person in front of them purchased approximately $20 in candy with her EBT card and was sarcastic in saying that it was nice seeing her tax dollars at work that way. So she gets a couple other people to comment on the post saying that EBT is abused everyday with things like that and that EBT shouldn't be allowed at convenience stores. So being the putz that I am, I post that sometimes the convenience store is all that is open in the early evenings and nights for some places and that EBT should be allowed.

You know when you post something and see it right in front of you and you just know that you are going to somehow regret it? Well, I had that feeling. And boy was I right. I was told that Huron has a Walmart and Coburn's Grocery Store that are open 24 hours a day and that people should go there. I said that if you lived in a smaller community like a Miller, SD or a Redfield, SD that the closest Walmart is 40 miles away and you need something late at night, wouldn't it be better for people if they could run down to the local convenience store, pay a little bit more for what they need and get back home rather than doing the round trip? That was mistake #2 on my part. I got responses about how EBT should only be used for good food like meats, fruits, and vegetables. And the always popular they should plan better. Really? There has never, ever been a time when your plan has fallen apart? So if the county grocery store is 23 miles away and closes at 6 and your work holds you there until 5:45, so you cannot make it to the grocery store, apparently it is too bad for you. Your plan sucked even though you were supposed to be of at 5PM. We all know that every plan works every time. And the best argument was that convenience stores were overpriced and understocked for a family to do good choices about their nutritional needs. Well, duh! We all know that, but they are allowed to use convenience stores when they want to. I do agree with the argument that it sets a bad example for the children of the family.

And never mind the rules and regulations you have to follow to use your EBT card.

  • Items that carry a supplement facts label,
  • beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco,
  • any nonfood items, such as:
    • pet foods,
    • soaps and paper products,
    • household supplies,
  • vitamins and medicines,
  • grooming items, toothpaste and cosmetics,
  • food that will be eaten in the store, or
  • hot foods prepared to eat immediately.
You also get stigmatized as an EBT card carrier. Hell, I was stigmatized as a WIC user for the first 3 years of my son's life. I got the dirty looks, the snarls, the jokes, the pity of people. These people also get the exact same treatment. And that is why I am angry. Instead of looking at the person using WIC or EBT as a person who has the same wants, needs, and emotions as you, most people look down upon them as less than what they are. People who need public assistance to help them out in their time of need. Instead, they go through what I did. Some even get worse treatment. I have seen people be treated with outright contempt because others thought that they were gaming the system.

I am ashamed for my friend who started this post. She is a God fearing lady who has overcame heart problems to find true love and is a great mom to her, I hope to be soon, stepdaughter. However, she has failed what we are told to believe by those who preach the word of the Christian God. That we are all God's children. That we are all in the likeness of the creator. That we should help the poor and meek. That we should give to the less fortunate. That we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord. I cherish her friendship and hope that over time, she becomes less judgmental. After all, that is the way of Christianity, or so I am told. But in the bigger scheme of things, to become more tolerant of those that do not have the same morals as she does. Because in doing so, she will become a better person and that in turn will make this a better world. Even if it is just in a very small way.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

There Are Good Things Going On Out There

In most of my blog posts, I am usually railing against things that I dislike. The current GOP, racism, stupidity, hypocrisy, and the Minnesota Vikings immediately pop into my mind. And it is easy to blog about those things that you have a distaste for. Take the government for example. The viper's nest that is congress can be described as the place that is a big sucking black hole that rips Americans of their hopes and dreams. And that is a mild description of that place. Pair that with the sports teams in D.C. and you have one big cluster.

But from that place, there are some things that have actually happened that helps Americans. The Affordable Health Care Act or Obamacare, if you prefer. There are reports of Healthcare companies actually giving rebates to their customers because of the over inflated prices that they have been charging. Healthcare companies have to pay 80% of their premiums that they get from people on actual healthcare for their clients. (I know, what a concept!) So people are actually paying less for their healthcare. The insurance companies that have been raising rates at double digit rates for the past years are now actually having to hold their rates to lower increases or in some instances at the same level or even lower them. This is causing calls of Socialism by the GOP. It is socialism to give subsidies to companies like Exxon-Mobil and BP, so until you want those to end, shut the hell up about any sort of socialism.

The American economy continues to limp along. It is expanding, unlike what it did under our last Republican President. The past 3 years, each and every month we have had private sector jobs increasing. That should show an economy that is real strong and growing by leaps and bounds. So why doesn't it? The public sector cutting jobs right and left. If the public sector (government) would have just kept the jobs that it had in 2010 and not eliminated them, the Unemployment rate would be down to around 5 to 5.5%. The economy would be plugging along at a good clip and we would be hearing that the American economy is looking strong and will get stronger. But the sequester and the cutting of public jobs has kept the economy sputtering along. I list this as a good thing because I still have in my mind the economy losing tens of thousands of jobs each and every month. That was a disaster. Right now, the GOP is choking the economy. That cannot last forever.

The evolution of what is acceptable for a "typical" American family. Gay people can now marry in 13 states and Washington D.C.  As we learn more about human physiology and biology, we are understanding that being gay isn't a choice, it is the way that we are born, whether we are hetero or homosexual. That allows more people to be eliminated from second-class status here and gets us closer in America to becoming a true society without prejudices concerning sexual orientation and the display of our affection to one another.

The discussion of how our government operates in regard to surveillance and the privacy of Americans is also a good thing. Since 9/11, we have went overboard about security. We traded some of our rights in order to feel secure. The government has went way over the line where they should have been stopped. Some of that has been from congress. Some of that has been from the Executive Branch of our government. And the people that we expect to stop those excesses the Judicial Branch, have went right along with the other two. Now since people are finding out what the government has been doing, there is push back on what the government has said is constitutional and they are scrambling to ensure that their programs will hold up to constitutional scrutiny. That is good for those of us who want government to operate out in the open as much as it possibly can.

Let's talk American energy independence. Right now, America is the leading country in Solar power. Of course, that means that the GOP is fighting to cut off any investment in it from our government. Electric car technology is advancing each and every year. More people are conserving more and looking at ways to become less dependent on their local energy companies. They are growing more of their own foods and looking at local ways to solve problems. That is a good thing.

There are other things out there. Look at how California has bounced back utilizing some of the principles that Democrats have spouted over the past decade. We finally have a few Republicans that are standing up to the Tea Party who are hypoctrites, through and through. We are pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a major upheaval and exchange of ideas going on internationally. And while that does come with bloodshed and a couple of false starts for democracy being spread, remember, America didn't start out as a Democracy and there was around 90 years of simmering resentment before our Civil War.

Not everything out there is great in America. Racism and profiling is on the rise. You have simmering resentment from each and every racial group. We have screwed up majorly on our foreign policies. What we say are values are in regards to democracy and the capitalist system is not extended to anywhere past our borders. We also will not support people who we say are our friends if we believe that we can get further ahead by backing others. There is way too much stalling and obstruction in Washington. The government doesn't respond to the citizens. It causes problems for individuals and businesses all the time. But until someone can come up with a better way to govern, we need to work within the system and take the positives that we see and try to extend the principles from them into the problems that we have.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Nobody A Winner In The Aftermath Of Zimmerman Verdict

Let me put this out there. I thought that George Zimmerman was guilty of murder. It isn't a popular opinion around my neck of the woods. Why do I think that? Because of his actions, an altercation was inevitable and he killed a minor. There should be no self-defense defense able to get around the fact that his actions led to the altercation. But that wasn't the judgement. The judgement is that he feared for his life after Trayvon Martin proved to be tougher in a fight. But that isn't the major point of this post. The major point of this post is the aftermath of this miscarriage of justice.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Christianity and GOP Rhetoric: An Unholy Union of Hypocrisy About Abortion

I need to rant about this for a minute. This really isn't about the faith of Christians. This is more about the hypocrisy of the Christian sect and the GOP in particular. Over the past couple of weeks, I have seen little blue and pink flags populating yards around town. They are particularly conspicuous on church lawns. Those little flags represent fetuses that have been aborted. GOP leaders here in North Dakota are supportive of this demonstration.

Now I am not going to argue that abortion should be legal or not. And I applaud people and organizations for standing up for what they believe in. However, I will take the Christian church to task for this show of their beliefs. I understand that abortion is not correct in the Christian faith. And they have every right to say that. The one thing that I wonder though, is when they are going to take a stand against the greed that is shown in America. Where is that demonstration going to be shown to the public. When is the stand against the death penalty going to appear on the lawns of churches around the country? Where are the little flags to promote the cause of helping children, for having families adopt those kids in foster care? The banners out in front of the doors asking for fairness and equality for all God's children, not just those that have the right skin or the influence where they live. I am waiting, but I don't think that I will see any of those things. Why? Because the majority of leadership in America's Christian Churches have drank the Republican Kool-Aid and have fallen in line with the ideology.

Besides, it shouldn't matter what the Christian faith says about abortion, just like it shouldn't matter what it says about gay marriage. Here is what the 14th Amendment says about American citizenship:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Here is where the conservative theology runs contrary to their rhetoric. According to their vision of America, we need to follow the constitution. I believe that as well, so the 14th Amendment says that when a baby is born, they become an American citizen when born on American soil. Until that baby, embryo, zygote, or whatever you want to call that thing in a woman's lower torso for 9 months is born, it does not have protection as an American citizen according to the Constitution or current American laws. And for the argument that science has changed and our knowledge of human anatomy and biology has increased dramatically since the 14th Amendment was passed, it does not matter. Just as the 2nd Amendment is ironclad according to conservatives even when science has changed the weapons and kill rates that are inflicted, so it goes towards the embryo that the woman carries. Another GOP do as I want and don't worry about what the law says topic, apparently. Instead of trying to get the constitution changed, they are trying to short-cut the law making process just like gay marriage and not follow what it says in the constitution.

In the end, the GOP is working hard as hell to get abortion outlawed in the states. They are using their allies in Christianity to help them. No matter what the GOP says, they are still using the Culture Wars to try and win elections. They know that is the only thing that they can use to win elections. Because if they try to win on the economy, reason, or jobs, pretty soon they will become an endangered species and then Christian churches will have their influence wane. We can't have that. After all, having Pat Robertson and Ted Haggert out there preaching to us that the conservative way is the right way helps keep the GOP looney and America divided about everything. Nothing like helping our enemies in the world, right GOP?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Guns, America, and Stupidity

In the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, there was an article about Frank Hall, the football assistant that limited a school shooting to 3 dead and three others injured. I became teary-eyed reading about what he did and the difficulties that he had after that day. I also was teary-eyed because of my selfishness. I had forgotten all about Chadron, Ohio. How do you forget a news story about a teenager killing three people in school?  The sad thing is that I am not alone. I would bet that 99% of Americans forgot that fateful day. Why? Because our civilization doesn't care.

This is the ending of the 10 pages devoted to this story by Gary Smith:

Two months after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, Rob Cox - the cofounder of a nonprofit formed in Newtown to help it heal - was leafing through a dozen boxes containing thousands of cards and letters that had poured in from around the world. He came upon one from Chadron, offering encouragement and details of what had happened there, and he was mortified.

He went around Newtown, asking neighbors and friends, but their responses were all exactly what his had been. Chadron? No trace in their memories of that town or school. No trace of a shooting there just 9 1/2 months before their own. No memory of a football coach saving his school from a slaughter far worse than it might have been.

Which meant the clock was already ticking in the land of amnesia. How long before Newtown, too, was gone?

In 2014, Newtown will have been forgotten my most of us. You say that isn't possible. But it is. Columbine doesn't have the same horrific visions as it did just 5 years ago. How about Oikos University? Do you remember that shooting? Did you even hear about it? I know that I didn't. I am sure that you didn't know that there have been 74 school shootings since January 1, 2000.  147 people have died in those shootings.

If you listen to the NRA, the way to lessen those numbers is to allow everybody to have weapons in schools. Never mind that the amount of deaths attributable to shootings in the United States during that same time period is approximately 375,000. The number of shootings during that time is estimated at over 2 Million. And according to our U.S. Congressman, Kevin Cramer in the House from North Dakota, the reason that we have school shootings is legalized abortion. Well, I think that his solution to the problem is just as bad as the NRA's.

The reason that I bring this all up? It is amazing that both Democrats and Republicans cannot come to some agreement to try and prevent the five shootings at school that happen on average each and every year since 2000. We have seen that Washington will not listen to the public. Some sort of gun control is needed. And don't tell me about the 2nd Amendment. The thought that all weapons should be available to anybody didn't come into the consciousness of the American Court system until a court in Georgia back in the 1830's said that the 2nd Amendment meant that a person could own any weapon that they wanted. Seems like that isn't a Founding Father declaration there.

It is time for the adults of both side of the political spectrum to come together and come to some sort of agreement on firearms. Let's see why a person needs a semi-automatic weapon besides in a theater of war. Let's agree that shotguns, pistols, and rifles are needed by people and should not be regulated. But there needs to be a conversation that is rational where the NRA, Kevin Cramer, and the No Weapon Coalition are not invited. Maybe, just maybe a civil discussion and following the public opinion on firearms will cause a small ratcheting down of the partisan rhetoric in American politcs.

Monday, June 10, 2013

If You Thought That The Iraq War Was A Waste Of American Lives

According to the website, there has been 32,021 American combat troops wounded or killed in Iraq since we invaded. Unofficially there has been over 100,000 Americans injured or killed in Iraq since we invaded. And there have been about 1.5 Million Iraqis that have died since we invaded. So let's put the number of people killed since we invaded Iraq at 1.6 Million people. A horrifying statistic.

What if I tell you that the 1.6 Million people dead in a decade because of war was a small number? Would you believe me? Would you believe me that over the past 10 years, that there was something that killed approximately 5.5 Million Americans? While not on the scale of the Black Plague (Bubonic) that wiped out 25 Million Europeans in 5 years, it is still a devastating number. And what if I told you that the cause of these deaths of Americans are making corporations profits and in some cases multimillions of dollars?  Would you be outraged?  Have you guessed what the cause of these deaths are?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Case For Same-Sex Marriage

In 1974, the Supreme Court said in the Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur court case that the "freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause.”  If that is a fact, and it is, then marriage equality for homosexuals should already be recognized.

Arguments of the Crusaders against same-sex marriage do not stand up to scrutiny if you think about it. The tradition of marriage is a farce.  The traditional marriage supporters say that marriage has been between a man and a woman for 2,000 years. Then why did the Catholic Church argue against a white man marrying a non-white woman in the 1967 Supreme Court case of Loving vs. Virginia? In that case, the court said “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men. Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man.”

There is the thought that a marriage is for the procreation and raising of a family. But if that is the reason why marriage is allowed, why do we as a society allow those who are unable to have children to marry? Why do we allow senior citizens to marry? They aren’t going to procreate and be able to raise a family. Also, science has become advanced enough that a woman does not need to have sex with a man to have a child. And if the goal of marriage is to raise a family, why do we allow people to get divorced if they have kids? I believe that a loving same-sex couple that is married is a better situation for children than a divorced couple. Also, how is it that people would say that a heterosexual that has been engaged in crimes against society would make for a better parent than a homosexual person that has never committed those types of atrocities against society.

The argument that angers me the most by anti-same-sex marriage crusaders is the one that the majority of people that molest children are gay people. Their conclusion is that gay people who get married and have children are more likely to molest those children. In a Pediatrics ’94 Journal article, Dr. Carole Jenny and her colleagues reviewed 352 medical charts, representing all of the sexually abused children seen in the emergency room or child abuse clinic of a Denver children's hospital during a one-year period, from July 1, 1991 to June 30, 1992. The molester was a gay or lesbian adult in fewer than 1% in which an adult molester could be identified – only 2 of the 269 cases.

Let’s examine why same-sex marriage should be allowed. Allowing same-sex marriage would stop the discrimination of people’s basic civil rights, strengthen the institution of marriage and society, and allow for what was not seen as an abomination by the Lord.

In 1989, Denmark allowed for domestic partnerships.  72% of the Danish clergy argued that it was a bad idea. A survey of the Danish clergy in 1995 found that 89% of the Danish clergy admitted that the law was a good thing. It included a reduction in suicide, sexually transmitted diseases and promiscuity and infidelity among gay people. This “experiment” shows that same-sex marriage could have the result in strengthening not just the institution of marriage, but to the society as a whole. In 2010, Denmark passed a law saying that gay and heterosexual marriages were the same in the eyes of the law.

An experiment at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm Sweden which is part of the National Academy of Sciences found in brain scans that key structures of the brain governing emotion, mood, anxiety and aggressiveness are alike in gay people of one sex and heterosexual people of the other sex. The fact that it is a physiological difference between being gay or straight means that not allowing the fundamental right to marry is purely discriminatory. It is the 21st century form of racial discrimination.  

The biggest reason for my belief in why Gay Marriage should be legal is the Bible and the relationship that Jonathan and David had. “And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law a second time.” (I Samuel 18:21, English Revised Version)
Saul had three children. Merab the eldest daughter, Jonathan, Saul’s son, and Michal, the youngest daughter. David was never married to Merab. The Bible says that David and Michal did marry. So that leaves a marriage between David and Jonathan that was acknowledged by Saul. That means that David, who is in the bloodline of Jesus Christ, became the King of Israel and did the Lord’s bidding had a relationship that was an abomination in the eyes of the Lord. That doesn’t make any sense in a Biblical sense because according to the Bible, the Lord would have seen David's relationship with Jonathan as an abomination and would have killed David. Israel would have lost the greatest king that it ever had and the promise of the Israelites would not have come to pass. So either God is a hypocrite in the homosexual way of life or man changed the Bible to cause the act of homosexuality to be taboo. We can't determine which one it is because we don't have the original transcripts. I tend to be on the side of human interference in the Bible because according to a Professor of Religious Studies at UNC@Chapel Hill, we have over 700 bibles written in Ancient Greece that scholars can study and no two say the same thing throughout the texts.How does that happen? Human interference.

Since freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause, gay marriage is a human right. The grand experiment of America demands that equal natural rights to be obtained by everyone, not just heterosexual couples. It doesn't matter what Christianity or any other religion says. Same-sex marriage should be the law of the land. And before everybody says that it is a states rights issue, look at the constitution. All states are supposed to recognize the licenses and contracts between people of another state. So even here in Deep Red North Dakota, we are supposed to recognize the gay marriages that are performed in Vermont, Iowa, Washington, Minnesota in August and hopefully soon in Illinois. Following the Constitution is what everybody on the right says they want. Well, let's see if that is true.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Miss Hitch

The whole idea to me that everlasting life was based on belief in and complete subservience to a higher being always felt like slavery to me.  If what it takes to get into heaven is to tell you how great you are, then you can have it...I'd rather rot in hell.  Me

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Dying Vet's Last Letter

Crossposted At An Angry Dakota Democrat.

He is angry and has every right to be. From Truthdig:
A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran
To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young
I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.
I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.
I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion. I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes. The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.
I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.
I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.
My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.
I agree with Tomas Young about the former President and Vice-President. I will mourn Tomas Young when I hear that he has died. I already mourn those brave people who died in Iraq and what I think was the personal vendetta that George W. Bush settled with that invasion of a sovereign nation.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Irony of Ironies in the Gun Control Debate

"American Sniper" author Chris Kyle shot dead in Texas

(STORY: 3 Feb 2013 -- Iraq veteran and ex-US Navy seal Chris Kyle, known as the deadliest sniper in US history, has been shot dead on a Texas shooting range, reports say. His body was found at Rough Creek Lodge range on Saturday with that of another man. Mr. Kyle, 38, wrote the 2012 bestseller "American Sniper," about the psychology of a sniper, in which he said that he had killed more than 250 people.)

I find this story ironic (and apropos) because I'm currently in a fairly intense FB "discussion" on the topic of gun control (not your discussion, Lawrence Ross, another one). My friend's point is--guns, themselves, are not inherently evil (I agree), they have a constructive utility and they shouldn't be demonized as merely tools of destruction (I disagree). One of the ironies of this story is Mr. Kyle, the victim, made a prolific, unashamed living with a gun, justifiably killing people (a LOT of people) in
combat, and while in the act of using his gun, presumably for recreation (on a shooting range), he's murdered by a man using that same recreational "tool."

The opponents of my viewpoint will likely NOW argue that the perpetrator was a criminal--an example that more gun control is superfluous and doesn't prevent any kind of crime...or rage, or suicide, or accidents. Maybe he's right, but I'd give you 10 to 1 odds that before Chris Kyle's killer pulled the trigger and made himself a murderer, he was an otherwise law-abiding, accountable, licensed, and trained gun owner--the model of the kind of responsible owner that we paranoid "gun controlist" shouldn't be concerned about. It's the "other guy"--the criminal, that should worry us.
It's ironic (and perhaps convenient to the "right's" argument) that the people who commit these kinds of gun crimes aren't themselves criminals UNTIL they unlawfully pull the trigger! This guy became the "other guy!"

I was once told that gun control is not about the gun, it's about the "control." (Uh, yeah--isn't that the point?) It's perpetually argued that we (America) need [more] guns to protect us from the kind of people who murdered Mr. Kyle. I find it disconcertingly tragic that Chris, finding himself on a shooting range, presumably armed with his own gun, wasn't able to prove that theory right. I wonder if they'll now hire armed guards to guard shooting ranges! How ironic!

I agree with the NRA: Guns don't kill people; people kill people....with guns!