Monday, July 31, 2006

Profiles In Courage Volume Seven: The Cross and The Sword

There are people in this world that, quite simply, make me proud to be a human being. Yesterday I read an article in the New York Times about such a person and I thought I would share it with all of you. This story is especially sweet for me and most of my readers as it takes place here in Minnesota.

It is about a man....a man of the cloth named Gregory A. Boyd.

Greg Boyd (left) is the minister at Woodland Hills Church in Maplewood, Minnesota. Reverend Boyd founded the church in 1992 with 40 members and over the years its congregation grew to 5000 people. Reverend Boyd has degrees from Yale Divinity School and has taught theology classes at Bethel College in St. Paul.

He is best known, amongst many evangelical Christians, for his book, Letters From A Skeptic. The book shares written conversations with his agnostic father who Boyd eventually converted to Christianity.

A few years back, he attended a megachurch's worship service on the 4th of July. At the end of the service, everyone sang "God Bless America" while a video was shown of fighter jets flying over crosses. He became troubled at the thought of military displays juxtaposed with Christian images and he began to speak out about it.

He gave a series of sermons that proclaimed, among other things, that America is not a Christian nation, theocracies are very dangerous, politics of any kind has no place in a church, and that patriotism should not be confused with Jesus Christ. He spoke of the need for the separation of church and state, that Jesus (not America) was the light of the world, and (this is the one that really pissed people off) good Christians should strive to win people's hearts not force their point of view on them.

Huh. Imagine that.

Well, guess what happened next? Hundreds of "Christians" started firing back at the good Reverend, claiming that any true believer would vote Republican and allow anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage leaflets to be handed out during church services. The outrage was particularity prevalent during the 2004 presidential campaign. Reverend Boyd responded by calling them hypocrites obsessed by sex and the right to fervently display their faith in public...two things Jesus would never have been concerned with at all.

In the end, about a thousand people left his church. Most of them were white, middle to upper class suburbanites who felt that Boyd was a traitor to Christianity. Since that time, Woodland Hills Church has welcomed many other ethnic groups such as African-Americans, Hispanics and Hmong immigrants from Laos. If you ask Reverend Boyd, that's just how it should be. Looking back he says, “I don’t regret any aspect of it at all. It was a defining moment for us. We let go of something we were never called to be. "

I was given much hope after reading this story. Most of you know that I have a real problem with the majority of evangelical Christians. Their unholy alliance with conservatives in this country has created an environment where if you are a "real" American, you HAVE to be a Christian. And if you are true Christian, you have to love America because the United States has the corner market on Jesus and what He wants for the world.

I take heart in the fact that this wonderful man has stood up to this and said no. No. This is not Jesus Christ. This is not him. He does not speak of the sanctity of life while bombing the shit out people half a world away. He does not want to "conquer" people but serve people. He wants to welcome and love everyone not disclude and hate people who are different.

I can now breath a little easier at night knowing that I have an ally in my struggle to educate the uninformed. Reverend Boyd, you are a man of true courage and I thank you very, very much.

Monday, July 24, 2006

With God On Our Side

Last week, President George W. Bush finally exercised one of his most potent weapons. No, I am not talking about his keen intellect. Nor I am talking about his nose for "evil doers." I am talking about his presidential power to veto. For the first time in his presidency (many were quietly wondering if he would ever have the nuts to do it), he vetoed legislation, sent to him by the Republican controlled Congress, that would have continue to allow federally funded stem cell research.

Now, what this means is that private research will still continue. So, if you have loads of extra money laying around (i.e. Bush Co. gulf buddies), then you will get the benefit from the research. If, however, you are an average citizen like myself or a Federal employee, like a member of the Armed Forces for example, chances are you will not see any potential benefits from this research.

I didn't think it was possible for our President to cup the collective balls of the religious right MORE than he already has done in the past but I guess he has proved me wrong again. The fact that he is pandering to these Cro-Magnon simplistics makes me want to horke up my intestinal fluid. I mean, do we really want this country to return to those glorious times of leech bleeding and witch burning? Oh, wait. We are already there, thanks to fuckstick!

To our left we see our President announcing his veto in front of the world with all of those babies that were "saved" because stem cell research was not allowed.

"These boys and girls are not spare parts," the president said in a speech that was interrupted repeatedly by hoots of applause, and twice by standing ovations. "They remind us of what is lost when embryos are destroyed in the name of research."

Huh. That's interesting that he cares so much for the sanctity of a cell that is no larger than a grammatical period but yet.......not really all that concerned about the boys and girls who have lost their lives in Iraq. Or how about the ones that are alive and lost the "parts" they already had? What a dick....

First of all, a cell is not a "boy" or "girl." A cell is an organism that eventually grows into life. We have cells that fall off our body everyday when we shed skin. These stem cells in question are thrown away anyway so what difference does it make?

Two thirds of this country supports the federal funding of stem cell research. There are millions of people who could benefit medically from this research and yet we are allowing a minority of narrow minded people decide whether or not we can cure Alzeimers? Or cancer?

People always talk about democracy working but it has really failed us here thanks to these assholes who have once again moved us back on the evolutionary scale. And they got a double victory this week. Thank the Lord that the House managed to block federal courts from ruling on the Pledge of Allegiance so the "Under God" portion of the pledge will remain in place.

I, for one, will sleep better knowing that my children will have religion forced on them in a public school. It's a good thing because we all know that God is all about forcing people to do things. It's important to note that God is not about all that pussy shit like love, kindness and doing unto others....he is about punishment and smiting all those who are against him.

Alright, well that's enough of the digressive sarcasm. I am sure you are all sick of it by now. But while we are on the subject of God, this whole stem cell thing made me think. The main reason why the religious right is against this is because they feel we are tampering with God's work. I don't get it. If God created us in his image and we are all his children, doesn't God, as the almighty Father, want his kids to grow into something that is greater than He?

I am a parent and would love it if both of my kids became geneticists, doctors, or biologists. It would certainly beat out, by leaps and bounds, what I have done with my pathetic excuse of a career. Wouldn't God be overwhelmed with pride now, as he sees us progressing to the point of being able to manipulate life?

I think SHE would!!

Monday, July 17, 2006

American Tears

One night, a week or two ago, my kids and I were visiting my friend Kate's house. She is a mom, just like me, and has three kids of her own. My kids and her kids started fighting. I know it sounds shocking that five kids, age range of 3-9, would actually have conflicts but they do....and this one was about that age old fear....COOTIES! My son yelled, "You have girl cooties," to which my daughter replied, "You have boy cooties," and the others chimed in with a cootie tag festival. They then tried to touch my friend Kate with their "cooties" and she told them to stop teasing each other. She then muttered something under her breath about "John Smith" germs.

This, of course, was not his real name...for the benefit of this column I have changed it. I figured John Smith is as good an all American name as any and this IS an American story. I asked her who "John Smith" was and she told me. He was a kid in her class at school back in the small town where she grew up.

From day one, John Smith did not fit in at school. He was the weird little kid that everyone picked on. Also from day one, Kate, being the compassionate person that she is, would defend him. She always stepped in between John and the latest bully who was picking on him. As she has always said, "I love the underdog!" Anyway, the term "John Smith" germs became the talk of the school and anything that was unappealing or disgusting in life was dubbed John Smith related.

Kate didn't know much about John's home life but more than likely, she remembers, his parents were not very loving and thought he was weird too. She recalled that he just had that look in his eye that he was abused, ignored and unloved. As John grew older, he was ridiculed more and more. His personality, at this critical stage of his human development, became more and more desperate as he got older.

If he dropped his schoolbooks and a girl helped pick them up, he would say that he loved her and he would follow her around like a beaten puppy. The girl would then usually freak out and run away.....adding to John's extreme sense of isolation. After graduation, John moved to Minneapolis and no one really heard about him until their 10 year high school reunion.

The day of that reunion, someone in Kate's class heard that John just died at the age of 28. He had AIDS.

As Kate was telling me this story, I began to imagine myself being ostracized my entire life...never knowing love, support, or kindness from anyone. I could see how someone like John, never truly understanding emotional relations, would mistake someone's/anyone's sexual advances as love. I imagined a lonely person seeking out and inviting this mistaken compassion from scummy people only to have this perpetual quest end with the ultimate price: his life.

I started to cry at the table as she related the rest of the details to me. Maybe I was tired from my chronic lack of sleep lately but I could really feel what he went through. Kate looked at me and said, "Why are crying? You didn't even know him." I realized in the moment that she asked me why I was crying. I knew him very well because there was and is a part of me, even with all the support and love I have in my life, that is just like him. We are all John Smith. And we are all responsible for his death.

And then the thought that came to me after that made me truly understand why our country is so fucked up, which is, in essence, the point I have been trying to make since I started the blog. Who we are and who we become starts with our family and with our first community. While there are several communities that are filled with decent people, many have ignorant, spiteful people that can't understand the damage that are inflicting on their fellow citizens.

This is why I get upset about things daughter being told, by conservative friends, that she can't play with the neighbor's girl because they are gay (aka evil and dirty). This is why I get upset when I hear Sean Hannity and others like him say that AIDS is God's wrath. This is why I get fucking pissed off to high heaven that our Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, put pressure on PBS to NOT air a children's cartoon which showed a child with two mommies.

Can anyone out there understand that this is completely unacceptable and not something that we can just chalk up to a "difference of opinion?" These attitudes are part of the perpetuation of ignorance and fear that will ultimately lead to more difficulties in life for the children we need to nuture. It is something that has increased, not decreased, in the last five years. Gee, land-a-goshin, I wonder why?

Now, I do not mean to say that my friend Kate's hometown is evil. Certainly time has changed people's attitudes there and they have become more tolerant and giving. They and we still, however, have a long way to go. Our country...our communities are at a critical point in our country's history and we have a choice: we can either continue on the path of intolerance and produce more John Smiths of the world or we can learn to love each other, regardless of our oddities or faults and follow the morality of Jesus Christ.

I know that people roll their eyes when someone says, "It takes a village," due to the person who said it but she was (and still is) 100 percent accurate. More people need to think this way and start helping people out. It takes a village of tolerant people as well. Several of you will remark callously that I should be tolerant of other people's views (i.e. conservative views). People can think however they long as they mind their own business. When they start pushing their intolerance like a junkie pushing rock in the Farmington part of Los Angeles and when they start leading our country with that intolerance...forcing their agenda on us...well, they should not be allowed in the fucking village as far as I am concerned.

More importantly, if your children are teasing someone or if you hear about something like this at a school or anywhere, speak up, put a stop to it, and, if you can, severely discipline those involved. If it is a situation with adults, ask the person who is doing the teasing why they are so unhappy. Maybe it will get them to stop and think and maybe you can help them.

Start with your kids. Or your friend's kids. I will start with mine. Teach them to be tolerant and to educate those that are intolerant. Maybe we can spare ourselves any more timelines in which the John Smith story happens again.

Let's hope.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The FINAL Word

Ok. That's it. I have had it. I have just received the final straw, via yet another dumb ass email from a NCD, that has broken this camel's back. I can't take it anymore and I am putting this subject to rest once and for all. So here it is:

The media is not liberal.

Once again, for the red states, THE MEDIA IS NOT LIBERAL!!!

Between the emails that I receive everyday and posts on this blog, there are some people that need some serious education in regards to their completely ignorant view of the media and so, after devoting a line or quip here and there, it's time I showed these folks what they probably don't know or refuse to see.

How am I going to do this? First, let's define media. Well, most people watch television and listen to the radio. This country has decided, in the last five and a half years, that reading is for fags so I am leaving the New York Times etc. out of this conversation except to say that I laugh my fucking ass off when a NCD spouts off about the evil, liberal New York Times...Especially after Judith Miller went to jail for Dick Cheney, they sat on the NSA wiretaps story for a year, they constantly run "warm, fuzzy stories" about President Bush (like the one last week about his 60th birthday), and they negotiated, along with the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, with Bush Co for weeks on how to "release" the information about the government gaining access to private citizens financial transactions. God, what a bunch of commies!

Really, though, most Americans watch TV so let's take a look at the major news outlets. Fox News is owned by News Corp which is owned by Rupert Murdoch (left). He is a very conservative man who gives millions of dollars to conservative causes. So, I think we can all agree that he is not liberal.

Next we have CNN which is owned by Time Warner, which owns scores of film, music, and publishing companies. Hmm, giant corporate conglomerate....will they support the Democrats, who will not give them any tax breaks and actually take money away from them or the Republicans who will give them tax breaks and look the other way in any.....Questionable business decisions? My guess is the CNN is not a liberal, commie, anti-American pile of hogwash.

NBC/MSNBC is majority owned by General Electric. Here is a picture (left) of their CEO, Jeffrery Immelt. According to files from the Federal Election Commission Mr Immelt has made several large donations to the Republican Party over the years. He has made none to the Democratic Party.

They have a home in Connecticut that is worth several million dollars and host Republican fundraisers there on a regular basis. The CEO before Immelt was Jack Welch, best pal and golf buddy of George H.W. Bush.

ABC is owned by Disney Company. The CEO there is Robert Iger. Here is a picture of him (left). I think that the rule that applied for Time Warner applies here. Disney makes billions of dollars worldwide. Why would they seek to put out information, through ABC News, that would ultimately be harmful to their bottom line?

To me, Disney is the ultimate form of capitalism. They sell you the same movie over and over again...VHS, DVD, DVD-HD.....Because they know that your kids have you by the balls. Are you really going to deny them the latest Pixar DVD?

So, this corporate giant has a vested interest in keeping things status quo.

And now we come to the NCDs favorite whipping boy....CBS. Ah, Dan Rather. The butt of every joke in the conservative locker room. Funny, though, I despise Dan Rather too, not for his supposed liberalness, but because 40 years on the man is still suffering from the delusion, based solely on the conviction of his own vanity, that Oswald was the lone assassin against Kennedy.

It might interest all of you to know that CBS is owned by Viacom, another giant corporate conglomerate, which was run, until recently by this man (left)....Sumner Redstone. Viacom is now run by Tom Freston but Mr. Redstone is still the Chairman of the Board. His estimated net worth is 7.7 billion dollars. He contributed large quantities of cash to the Bush campaign in 2000 and 2004 and is a staunch conservative, attending several Republican events and fundraisers. He has never donated any money to Democratic election campaigns or causes.

So, let's take a look at these men and the companies they run. You tell me, does this group of ridiculously rich, white men look like the liberal kooks that the right makes them out to be? Do you honestly think that these men would do anything to harm their bottom line? Do they look like they are going to be out giving out welfare checks to a mom with 7 kids on crack? Or do they look like President Bush might run into them by on Hole #4?

I think that the NCDs have developed a very clever strategy of putting out large quantities of propaganda and disinformation that would make George Orwell proud It is designed to make people believe that everything on the news is a lie. Then, the people will turn to the government for all of the "correct" information and the zombie idiot making machine rolls merrily along.

And as far as radio is concerned, don't even talk to me about anything even remotely liberal on the radio. Air America's reach, while getting stronger, is nothing compared to the plaque that is infecting most rural areas of our country. The fact is that if you live in a remote area, the only radio, other than the shit kicker FM station, is Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or Laura Ingraham. Those stations are all owned by Clear Channel Communications, another corporate conglomerate, which is just to the right of Adolph Hitler, politically speaking.

Much of this information I have discussed here is detailed in the wonderful film, Orwell Rolls In His Grave. The film details that much of the media is just a subsidiary of Corporate America. Their agenda is not liberal but to make money. Complicated stories of corporate involvement in the run-up to the Iraq War, scandals involving rich white buddies of the ones picture above, serious abuses of power, and stark tragedies never make the news because stories of abducted white women and black men robbing convenient stores are considered popular.

I used to laugh at the absurdity of the Jerry Springer show and now, the same general themes and attitude are on every single newscast and cable news station on a nightly basis. The film also examines, among other things, the shocking revelations that two children of the Supreme Court justices, who voted that George Bush won the election in 2000, later got jobs in the Bush administration.

A review from Amazon. com states that "the film states, in very plain detail, that the U.S. media is an ANTI-democratic force, a weapon of "doublespeak,", a subsidiary of corporate America which shapes and determines the legality, constitutionality, and 'facts' of democratically newsworthy events and issues from official, inside sources, instead of(and quite OPPOSED TO, in fact) true journalism, or even any vague sense of it."

So, the next time same moron comes at you with their "liberal" media garbage, ask them if they know who owns the media. Point out the details I have listed above and urge them to watch the movie, Orwell Rolls In His Grave.

Or you can just chuckle and walk away knowing what is really going on with those lying, liberal bastards on the news!

Monday, July 03, 2006


Sorry about the "no column" last week. I am working on a column about the "liberal" media and it is slow in coming. So rather than throw out a half ass piece, I thought I would work on it some more and, in the meantime, do another Grab Bag.

There seems to be a pattern lately of people coming up to me and telling me how badly they feel about voting for Bush Co in 2004. This is also true of people in the media, including Doug McIntyre the morning man on KABC. He wrote an extremely long apology recently on how deeply sorry he is for supporting Bush. In the letter, he called Bush "the worst two-term President in the history of the country. Worse than Grant. I also believe a case can be made that he is the worst President, period." Huh. Well, that's news to me! I wonder how long I will have to wait for apologies from just-Dave, Crabmaster, and my Uncle Bill? I think when the first ice flow is sighted in hell....

You can read the full apology here. And speaking of our president....

Hey, maybe the systems of checks and balances does work. The Supreme Court ruled, 5-3, this week that the Bush administration could not conduct prosecution of Gitmo prisoners the way they have been. Aw, shucks, I guess torturing the shit out of people is out now. Too bad..because I was hoping we would become even MORE like the animals we are trying to stop.

Oh well, back to the fucking drawing board!

Governor Tim Pawlenty gave a speech at the Republican State Convention when he accepted his party's nomination. He said the following:

I can tell you what your worst nightmare is. It's one of the big-spending, tax raisin, abortion promotin', gay marriage embracin', more welfare without accountability lovin', school reform resistin', illegal immigration-supportin' Democrats for governor who believe that Hillary Clinton should be president of the United States.

Huh. It's a good thing that conservatives aren't into fear mongering at all. And big spending? How can he say that with a straight face after the last six years of drunken frat boy-with daddy's-credit card spending that this administration has done?

Hey, did everyone hear? Guns are cool now at church. Especially when a convicted felon is bringing them along! Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota recently co-sponsored an event along with AM 1280 (The Patriot) to salute our veterans with Oliver North as their speaker. Hmmm...nothing shows more respect to our veterans than having as your guest speaker a man who was convicted on three federal counts....after pleading it down from sixteen. I guess morals and family values are pretty high over there at Grace Church.

And a 21 gun salute at a church? When I think of Jesus Christ, the first image that comes to my mind is a large collection of guns. Yeah, that's what he was all about.

Oh, and if you visit their web site you can sign a petition to help people to know the "truth" about that direct-from-satan book, The Da Vinci Code.

Could it be true? Did the Queen Bitch of the Universe break the law? Apparently, Ann Coulter violated the law when she illegally voted in the wrong district in Florida in a special election in earlier this year. In Florida, that is felony and now she is currently under investigation for what some witnesses have called a "bizarre" incident involving her usage of her real estate agent's address as her own address.

Nothing would please me more to see this sad excuse for a human being serving as Big Bertha's cigarette bitch in Cell Block D. Her delusional support of Bush Co goes way beyond mentally challenged...driving her to say things like the widows of the 9/11 victims, in their criticism of the Bush Administration's piss-poor terror attack preparedness, were just after the limelight and were pawns of liberalism. I don't use this word often but Ann Coulter is a cunt. We need to completely and utterly ignore her until the end of time.

According to the Family Research Council, several Fortune 500 companies have tolerant policies towards gay people. Gasp! In addition to the horrendous transgression of actually hiring gay people, these companies, which include our very own Wells Fargo and Target Corporation, allow domestic "partners" to be included in benefits packages. The Council is calling for boycotts of these companies to show support for employees with "real" families.

I find it interesting that an organization that calls itself The Family Research Council has no understanding at all about what being a family actually means and needs to do some research itself. Tony Perkins, President of the Organization, can start by googling the words "Compassion" and "Jesus Christ." In addition, perhaps they should MIND THEIR OWN FUCKING BUSINESS!!!

In closing, I can't say enough good things about my friend Pete's music blog. It just keeps getting better and better. If you love music as much as I do, make it a regular surfing stop. You can find it here.

Well, that's all for this week, kids. How about you? Anything in your grab bag? Leave a comment below