People Unclear

This is number 72 of a series

The following was posted by a Facebook friend I know to be a strident conservative.

This is supposedly from the Ted Cruz Meme Page, and I cannot verify that Senator Cruz (my senator) had anything to do with it. This Facebook friend misses irony so thick you have to hack your way through it. Somebody obviously has not received the message.

The Loose Cruz

Number 2 of a Series

Wow! It has been three years, almost to the day, since I last addressed the matter of our own Texas Senator Ted Cruz, otherwise known as “Lyin’ Ted.” Full disclosure: that name did not spring from my fevered brain. The sole author was none other than the President of the United States, otherwise known as Donald Trump. So, “Lyin’ Ted,” not my idea. “Loose Cruz.” Mine.

Despite my valiant effort—all right, my lackadaisical effort—Rafael Cruz will continue to be our senator from Texas for another six years. Yippee! But what lies beneath (bad pun)? Let’s look at the stats from last Tuesday.

Ted Cruz 4,244,204 votes (50.9%), Robert O’Rourke 4,024,777 votes (.3%)

Greg Abbott 4,638,582 votes (55.8%), Lupe Valdez 3,528,705 votes (42.5%)

Let’s put this into perspective. Last Tuesday some Texas voters voted the straight party ticket, all votes going to Republicans or all votes going to Democrats. Some crossed over. Some votes for Republicans, some votes for Democrats. What the stats above show is that rust-red Texas voted 4,244,304 for Abbott, but 394,378 of those who voted for Abbott could not stomach voting for Cruz and voted instead for O’Rourke. Je répète, true Republican voters turned thumbs down on Cruz to the tune of 394,378. Flip me over and call me a pancake, but there is something even Texans do not like about Ted Cruz. Do I need to explain?

Let’s consider first that Ted Cruz is a person of his word.

All right, that may be the wrong approach. How about the company he keeps?

Image from Politicususa

Oops!

Allow me to finish this. If you are one of those who voted for Ted Cruz, you may be asking yourself about now, “What did those other 394,378 know that you don’t? Are they some kind of deluded idiots? Or am I?” Think it over.

Houston, we have a problem.

Number 7 of a series

My, how times have changed. That was candidate Cruz two years ago. Now he is up for re-election to the United States Senate, representing the state of Texas. And guess what has happened since Senator Cruz last intoned those immortal words.

Ouch! Who could have imagined such popularity for a government mandate that insurance companies write blanket policies for all citizens, policies that would cover pre-existing conditions at no extra cost? Apparently not candidate Cruz model 2016.

Does Senator Cruz now see the writing on the wall? Does the bear…? Well, you know what the bear does.

Of course Senate candidate Cruz is saying that he still wants to repeal Obamacare, but he wants to retain the feature that guarantees coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Hello! Dude, that is Obamacare. Without mandated coverage for all you are not going to get insurance companies to write policies at an affordable price to cover pre-existing conditions. You are not going to get this kind of coverage without Obamacare.

And you want to continue to represent my state in the United States Senate? How about starting to get your head straight first.

This is your President speaking.

Number 154 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Beto O’Rourke is a total lightweight compared to Ted Cruz, and he comes nowhere near representing the values and desires of the people of the Great State of Texas. He will never be allowed to turn Texas into Venezuela!

To further quote:
In the case of Lyin’ Ted Cruz, Lyin’ Ted…
Lies, oh, he lies.
You know Ted, he brings the Bible, holds it high, puts it down, lies
Texas values.

Your Friend The Handgun

Number 128

Above is a photo of Omar Enrique Santa Perez enjoying his constitutional rights under the Second Amendment during the final minutes of his life. With him is his friend, his handgun, which unfortunately failed him at the moment when he needed it the most:

Cincinnati shooter’s gun jammed during four-minute rampage, police say

CINCINNATI — The shooter who killed three people in the lobby of a downtown Cincinnati office high-rise could have killed many more if his gun hadn’t jammed during the four-minute rampage, city leaders said Friday. Newly released security footage from inside the lobby showed the gunman firing randomly while carrying a briefcase with hundreds of rounds of ammunition over his shoulder.

Remember, the Second Amendment protects you, but routine maintenance is also essential.

Here is Mr. Santa Perez in a photo apparently taken in a happier time, during which he had been charged only with minor crimes in another state.

Here is Mr. Santa Perez’s handgun, a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, which he purchased legally at a local gun supply store. The photo appears to have taken where the weapon was found lying on the floor after Mr. Santa Perez dropped it.

Santa Perez did not break any laws when he purchased the pistol. He did not break any laws when he purchased multiple magazines for his weapon, and he did not break any laws when he purchased 200 rounds of 9mm ammunition for it.

Additionally, he did not break any laws when he drove into downtown Cincinnati with the weapon and the ammunition in his car and parked the car before entering several businesses before choosing this particular bank building. In fact, Santa Perez only broke the law when he pointed his weapon at somebody. That is called assault with a deadly weapon. Then he pulled the trigger, breaking additional laws. At that  point he would have become ineligible to purchase, own, or possess this weapon.

Santa Perez’s rights under the Second Amendment next led him to this point in his life, where security video shows him walking down a corridor, shooting people as he encounters them.

The video also shows building security personnel taking advantage of an opportunity to hustle  victims out of harm’s way.

His rights granted by the Constitution finally led Santa Perez to this point, the final seconds in his life, as police, outside on the sidewalk and firing through the glass, accomplish what politicians paid for by the National Rifle Association, refuse to do. They ended this threat to society. They also ended the existence of this human being.

Almost never will I post an image of the final seconds of somebody’s life, but I am posting this one. Four people died, three besides Santa Perez. Two more shot and survived, one wounded by twelve bullets. There is no way this scene is does not depict a travesty of the American political climate.

And you have to ask, who stood up for the three innocents killed? Additionally, who stood up for Omar Enrique Santa Perez when he needed our help? Who stood up, when he went to purchase the pistol and the ammunition, and told him, “Dude, there is no reason for you to have this weapon. You’re not in the military, not even in the National Guard. You’re not a police officer, not even a security guard. Besides, you have already demonstrated the lack of stability that would make us feel safe for you to be among the public and armed. For your own safety and for the safety of others, we deny you permission to own a firearm of any kind. We recommend you seek help.”

I cannot tell you who did stand up for Santa Perez, because nobody did. I can tell you who did not stand up for him:

And there are many more.

Something is wrong when people in positions of power put personal preference and political power ahead of concern for public safety. These people can conjure up a hundred reasons for not restricting gun ownership and possession as they stumble to come up with a single alternative.

Events such as the one that played out in Cincinnati seem automatically to be followed by a flowing of thoughts and prayers, which outpourings end with the resolution to fix the underlying problem, “mental health.” Mental health! They are, before too many more of their constituents die, going to solve a social problem that has existed for thousands of years before addressing one that has become manifest only in the past 200 years—the availability of cheap, powerful, and deadly weapons.

Much as they may claim otherwise, these people are not your friends. And neither is a handgun. Just ask Omar Enrique Santa Perez. If only you could.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks (number 113).

Y’all keep safe out there. The NRA is on your side when you act positively to protect yourself and your community:

Michigan police still haven’t decided if they are going to charge a 47-year-old woman with a felony after she opened fire at alleged shoplifters at a Home Depot.

According to The Detroit News, the woman happened upon a store security officer who looked like he was trying to stop a shoplifter. When the suspects tried to escape in their vehicle, the woman pulled out her concealed 9mm handgun and opened fire.

That’s some quick thinking, Lady. Let me know the next you and your piece are headed toward my neighborhood.

People Unclear

This is number 41 of a long series

One of the ideas behind creating and maintaining the Skeptical Analysis blog was to provide a hint of clarity in a sometimes confusing world. A topic I treat on a weekly basis is the matter of gun violence in the United States, but despite all my efforts, there remain a number of people unclear. Some of them are elected officials in our highest offices. Take Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, for example:

Texas lieutenant governor blames abortions and violent video games for school shootings, but not guns

Updated 10:24 PM ET, Sun May 20, 2018

(CNN)Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Sunday said school shootings aren’t happening because of an issue with guns. Rather, he blamed the tragedies on a litany of other reasons, including abortions and violent video games.

Patrick praised Gov. Greg Abbott’s plans for a roundtable discussion on how to protect students from gun violence after the nation’s latest school shooting in Santa Fe, where 10 people were killed. “Everything ought to be on the table,” Patrick said.

Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want, but I believe the LG has a point there. Suppose there were not a proliferation of guns about where just about anybody with a trigger finger could get his hands on one, and suppose you just had an abortion or else you spent the last five weeks binging on Street Fighter, then the inevitable would come to pass. You would have the insatiable desire to head back to school for the first time in days and gun down a few jerks who cut in front of you at the cafeteria. It would be no problem for you to dive down into your basement workshop and gin up a rapid-fire handgun with a 20-round magazine, and then those jerks back at school would be quickly short-listed.

Yes, this is the kind of thinking that goes on at levels well above my head. But there’s more.

Speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Patrick repeated earlier arguments about eliminating some school entrances: “We need to get down to one or two entrances into our schools.” He added: “You have the necessary exits for fire, of course, but we have to funnel our students into our schools so we can put eyes on them.”

Wait. Wait! Didn’t we recently enact laws that would make Texas one of the safest places in the country? Didn’t we just make it legal for run of the mill pedestrians to openly carry some serious heat? By now it should be safe enough that schools would not need walls. In fact, shouldn’t that be the case in any circumstance. Shouldn’t society by now be so safe that school shootings are a bad memory? Shouldn’t some of our top elected state officials stop over at the Mayo Clinic to have their brains checked for worms?

The truth is crashing down on us. We were promised that a proliferation in deadly weapons would make us all safer, and the fact is that in places where gun ownership has become a right, sanctified by law, we have:

  • A teenager shot in a scuffle perpetrated by a gun-carrying vigilante
  • A man in a car shot by somebody in another car who objected to loud music
  • A man shot in a movie theater in a confrontation involving popcorn
  • Five Dallas police officers killed by a sniper
  • Twenty-six people shot to death at a Texas church
  • Seventeen people shot to death at a Florida school
  • Ten people shot to death at a Texas school

I’m feeling safer already. Not really. I’m being facetious. Texas has Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Dan Patrick, Senator Ted Cruz, and Senator John Cornyn, all supporting the absurd notion that deadly weapons freely distributed will make us safer. What will make us safer is clearing out some of this dead wood.

Houston, we have a problem.

First of a series

Yes, Texas junior Senator Ted Cruz is up for re-election, and it’s time to start taking an assessment. Let’s begin here:

President Trump is a flash-bang grenade thrown into Washington by the forgotten men and women of America. The fact that his first year as Commander in Chief disoriented and distressed members of the media and political establishment is not a bug but a feature.

The person Donald Trump two years ago was calling “Lying Ted” has since drunk the Kool-Aid—his praise for, and his subservience to, the grandest clown to ever grace the presidency appears unabashed. We would expect no less, or should that be “no more.” I will take a few turns at unpeeling the onion that is Rafael Edward Cruz. I have a feeling it’s going to be fun to watch.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

The Real Thing

The campaign season is now open.

I never said anything about this blog being non-partisan. Read the fine print. My interests are science, religion, politics, and my own opinion, not necessarily in that order. For the next eight months my interest is getting Beto O’Roarke elected to replace the insufferable Ted Cruz as Texas senator.

Last year candidates started campaigning to represent the Democratic Party in Texas. One was Derrick Crowe, hoping to represent Texas District 21, now occupied by Lamar Smith, a major Texas embarrassment. In November Crowe held a rally at The Pod, a modest eatery in north San Antonio, over in District 21. I live in District 20.  I made a video and touted his energy, but he was defeated in the primary by Mary Wilson. Crowe has thrown his support to Wilson, and so will I.

When O’Roarke held a rally at VFW Post 76 in San Antonio I drove down and listened to what he had to say. Again, a candidate of  considerable commitment and energy. He spoke on several topics, taking questions from the attendees. I made several videos, attempting to cover each topic in a separate clip. You can see them on YouTube.

He won the primary and will be running against Ted Cruz. I will vote for him, and I will also contribute to his campaign. You should, too.

I am hearing that O’Roarke has an uphill road against the very conservative Cruz in a conservative Texas, and most think he will not win. However, strong support for O’Roarke will force conservative donors to spend resources in the state, much as happened in Pennsylvania this month. I would truly like to drain those coffers, and it will be doubly satisfying if the money goes wasted. Do your part.

And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

This is your President speaking.

Number 17 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

House Democrats want a SHUTDOWN for the holidays in order to distract from the very popular, just passed, Tax Cuts. House Republicans, don’t let this happen. Pass the C.R. TODAY and keep our Government OPEN!

And that about says it all. Apparently there are limits to rational discourse. I cannot attest to the validity of the featured image, but if anybody wants to challenge it, particularly the bumper swastika, my email is always open.

The Government You Paid For

Number 6

A few days back I sent a note to Texas Senator John Cornyn. I sent another one weeks before that. See the back link above.

Anyhow, here is the text of my most recent to Senator Cornyn:

Senator,
First, thank you for responding to my previous note.
The situation is obvious and has been driven home by events  of the past week. The Republican Party needs to distance itself from President Donald Trump, and more so, you and all of Congress need to  repudiate him and his policies and his actions. If you believe continued loyalty to the President is beneficial to you as a candidate or to your Party as a representative of the American people, then you are ignoring a terrible reality. You and the Republican Party can only stand to lose if you do not distance yourselves from this liability.
Congress, and you as a powerful member, have the ability to take necessary action to ensure the well-being of your constituents. Teaming with members of the Democrats in Congress, Republicans can set policy and enact legislation to prevent further damage. A strong rebuke from Congress can force President Trump to pull back from his school yard face off with the North Korean dictator. You can force the Executive Branch to resume its role as a responsible leader in world affairs. And more, all of which is obvious to you.
All that said, as a liberal and a person who tends to vote for Democratic candidates, I view the election of Donald Trump to  be a gift from Heaven, so to  speak. Nothing in recent decades has done more to expose the true nature of right wing politics as has the promotion of a man like Donald Trump to a position of the highest power. If your goal is to promote sincerely held conservative values, then your best play for these times is to show to all voters that Donald Trump does not represent the Republican Party and that the Party still has the ability and the willingness to look out for the American people first.
Background: I am retired, living in San Antonio. I am originally from Hood County, descended from Texans. My great grandmother was born in Texas about the time it was fighting to gain its independence from Mexico.

Much as people might not want to believe, your representatives in Washington will respond to all reasonable mail, in this case a message posted on the Senator’s Web site. As my note indicates, Senator Cornyn’s office responded to my first message. Here’s the response I received related to the above:

Dear John:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding the Trump Administration. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments as our nation transitions to a new administration.

As you may know, President Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017. President Trump has the authority vested in Article II of the U.S. Constitution as the Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States.

To alleviate the dangers inherent in centralized power, the U.S. Constitution establishes three separate, but equal, branches of government: the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary. Our Founding Fathers developed a system of checks and balances to prevent the accumulation of excessive power in any single branch. Within this system, Congress has the duty to provide critical oversight of the executive branch and determine how taxpayer dollars are spent.

I take this responsibility seriously and am committed to working with the Trump Administration to ensure the will of the American people is heard and the interests of all Texans are represented. I believe open government is an essential requirement of democracy. Transparency allows citizens to view how government operates, permits an honest exchange of information that ensures government accountability, and upholds the American ideal that government never rules without the consent of the governed.

During the 115th Congress, I look forward to addressing the critical issues facing Texans and will continue my efforts to restore America’s fiscal health, help Texas businesses innovate and create jobs, strengthen our national security, support our veterans and military personnel, protect U.S. sovereignty, and tackle our health care challenges.

I appreciate having the opportunity to represent you in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Sincerely,

JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856

You will notice in my message to the Senator, I urged him to work with his Senate counterparts in opposing President Donald Trump. I hinted doing so would be beneficial not only to the Republican Party but also to the nation at large. An implication was that continuing to move lock step with Donald Trump could bring dire consequences. You will also notice the crux of Senator Cornyn’s response:

I take this responsibility seriously and am committed to working with the Trump Administration to ensure the will of the American people is heard and the interests of all Texans are represented.

If I understand that correctly, Senator Cornyn still considers himself to be in President Trump’s camp. He’s following the leader.

As I write, additional Senators are putting distance between themselves and Donald Trump. One such is the junior senator from Arizona, Jeff Flake. The consequences are manifest:

Phoenix crowd last night was amazing – a packed house. I love the Great State of Arizona. Not a fan of Jeff Flake, weak on crime & border!

Yes, there is a price to pay for bucking the Tweeter-in-Chief, and one of two is true:
  • Senator John Cornyn is of like kind with Donald Trump.
  • Senator Cornyn lacks the self assurance to step away.
John Cornyn is up for re-election in 2020, so he is safe from voter retribution for three more years. Senator Ted Cruz is up for re-election next year, and his fate may be a signal to Cornyn. The hope of many Texans, Democrats and Republicans alike, is to see Ted Cruz gone two years from now. If he is replaced by a Democrat, then the signal to John Cornyn may become clear. Whether he will heed my advice will not become known for several more months.
There’s more to come. Keep reading.

Friday Funny

One of a series

Photo from Google Images

Photo from Google Images

What’s funny this week? Actually, something from a few weeks ago:

Rafael Cruz has declared that his son Ted has been anointed by God to be the next president of the United States.

“All of us were worshipping and the words that came out of Ted’s mouth were, ‘Hear my lord, use me,'” Rafael told televangelist Kenneth Copeland. “I believe God has raised him up for a time like this.”

Cut to crowd of ministers gathered around Rafael Cruz praying. Copeland added, “We are seeing a sweep of the move of the spirit of God from coast to coast all over this nation. We receive the outpouring of the holy spirit over Washington DC.”

It would appear God has changed his mind:

Thirteen months after launching his campaign for president on the promise of being the purest conservative in the contest before a large and exuberant crowd, Ted Cruz ended it abruptly Tuesday night in a cavernous room here in front of a small group of downtrodden supporters.

Thirteen months ago I decided that Ted Cruz would not be the next President of the United States. I have not changed my mind.

So, what’s funny about that?

Dead Horse Gulch

TedCruzPray

“Never insure a burning house, and never bet on a dead horse.” I said that. Here’s what Toby Neugebauer said:

(CNN) – Toby Neugebauer made headlines last year by donating $10 million to a pro-Ted Cruz super PAC.

He’s taking $9 million of it back.
The Texas energy investor and son of retiring Rep. Randy Neugebauer ran Keep the Promise II, one of several pro-Cruz super PACs under the Keep the Promise umbrella. But despite pleas from fellow Cruz backers throughout the campaign, he never followed through with big spending to help the Texas senator against Donald Trump, only spending $1 million of his $10 million investment.

All right. It’s not actually what Toby Neugebauer said, but it’s what he did. He went to the parimutuel window and withdrew his bet before the race started. Wise move.

Full disclosure: I voted for Donald Trump in the Texas primary election in March. Why? I figured it might be the last opportunity I would ever have to vote against Ted Cruz. Why somebody like me, who intends to vote for Hillary Clinton in November and again four years from now, would vote for Trump—well, that’s another story.

What makes me think I will never have another opportunity to vote against Ted Cruz? Maybe it’s wishful thinking. Maybe I’m reading something from history 60 years ago:

Deprived of Adams and other potentially headline-making witnesses, McCarthy was reduced to ranting and raving. Special army counsel Joseph N. Welch became something of a folk hero with such comments as “Little did I dream you could be so reckless” and “Have you left no sense of decency?”

The hearings ended, mercifully, on June 17. McCarthy won a technical victory, in that a majority of the seven-man subcommittee largely exonerated him from charges of “improper influence.” But seven weeks later, the Senate established a select committee to consider censure charges against McCarthy. On December 2, with the elections over, the Senate finally voted, 67 to 22, to “condemn” McCarthy for contemptuous conduct toward the Senate. Those Republican senators present and voting split exactly, twenty-two senators for censure, twenty-two against. McCarthy was a broken man, although he hung around for two and a half more years, shunned by most of his fellow senators. When he died, on May 2, 1957, he was a hopeless drunk. Vice-President and Mrs. Nixon, Roy Cohn, and Bill Knowland were the most prominent people in attendance at his funeral.

Ambrose, Stephen E. (2013-02-05). Nixon, Vol. 1: The Education of a Politician, 1913-1962 (Nixon Biography) (Kindle Locations 7030-7039). Premier Digital Publishing. Kindle Edition.

 

Yes, Ted Cruz is no Joe McCarthy, but hardly a senator is more disliked in the Senate today. His chances of obtaining Party support for a re-election bid in 2018, possibly not necessary, are unlikely. While his disruptive activities in the United States Congress never rose to the level of Joe McCarthy, neither has his level of personal popularity. To put it lightly, Republicans don’t like him:

Former House Speaker John Boehner seems to be enjoying his retirement—and wouldn’t you, after what he went through in Washington? One reason for his buoyant mood, besides the chance to cut grass, is the opportunity to stay far, far away from Senator Ted Cruz.

Asked about Cruz during an appearance at Stanford University on Wednesday, Boehner called him “Lucifer in the flesh,” according to the The Stanford Daily.

“I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,” Boehner added. He said he would not vote for Cruz in a general election, though he would vote for his fellow tangerine-tinted Republican Donald Trump.

Sometime in the future we hope to find out what John Boehner really thinks of Ted Cruz.

That said, I will not pile on board with those who dislike Ted Cruz. The fact is, I don’t dislike anybody. I’m 75 years old, and I have had ample opportunity to dislike people. It doesn’t work. Nothing changes by disliking somebody. So I gave it up a long time ago.

I do think Ted Cruz is stupid on stilts. Let me count the ways. From a previous post:

The AP further reports the following from Texas Senator Ted Cruz:

CRUZ, defending his vow to deport 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally: “I would note that in eight years Bill Clinton deported 12 million people. In eight years George Bush deported 10 million people. Enforcing the law. We can do it.”

THE FACTS: Statistics from Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that roughly 1.6 million were deported under Bush, not 11 million. Under Clinton, about 870,000 immigrants were deported, not 12 million, according to the Migration Policy Institute. So far, about 2.4 million have been deported under the Obama administration.

To get the swollen figures, Cruz appears to be combining deportations with arrests made by the Border Patrol in the previous administrations, according to the institute.

Enough said about that. Again, I prefer a liar to a fool.

From another post:

Lest you take Palin lightly, please note some saner sources:

The Trump campaign issued a statement announcing the endorsement and humorously turning the knife in Cruz by quoting the front-runner’s Lone Star State rival:

Palin’s endorsement is amongst the most sought after and influential amongst Republicans[…]She helped launch the careers of several key future leaders of the Republican Party and conservative movement. Senator Ted Cruz notes: “I would not be in the United States Senate were it not for Gov. Sarah Palin…She can pick winners.”

Thanks, Governor. You are the gift that keeps on screwing.

All right! That’s a stack of quotes quoting quotes, but it snags the message. With Senator Ted Cruz of Texas we are apparently dealing with a first rate mind that has long ago gone off the rails. But that doesn’t mean Texans won’t vote for him. Again.

The People

This post quotes extensively from Georgia HB 757, available on the Internet. In the event the source is ever moved or deleted, I have retained a copy on this site.

I am so very sorry

I am so very sorry

A political fantasy has swept the country and is beginning to run head on against reality:

(CNN)Under increasing pressure from major corporations that do business in Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday he will veto a bill that critics say would have curtailed the rights of Georgia’s LGBT community.

House Bill 757 would have given faith-based organizations in Georgia the option to deny services and jobs to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Supporters said the measure was meant to protect religious freedom, while opponents have described it as “anti-LGBT” and “appalling.”

Let me spell that out in case you missed it: “deny services and jobs to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.” In place of “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” read “the people.” The people who pay taxes. The people who vote for you. The people who pay your salary. The people you are supposed to work for. Yes, politicians, your job is not to look out for the interests of only straight, white, Christian fundamentalists with an aversion to all others. Your job is to look out for the rights of all the people.

It is interesting to see the legislation in question. What is it about this bill that was so favored by some? The wording is, in part:

HB 757

Domestic relations; religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right; provide

Official Summary: A BILL to be entitled an Act to protect religious freedoms; to amend Chapter 3 of Title 19 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to marriage generally, so as to provide that religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion; to amend Chapter 1 of Title 10 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to selling and other trade practices, so as to change certain provisions relating to days of rest for employees of business and industry; to protect property owners which are religious institutions against infringement of religious freedom; to define a term; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

This is only a summary. The details are in the full text. A quick read reveals a number of interesting points, including the following:

To protect religious freedoms; to provide for defenses and relief related thereto; to amend Chapter 3 of Title 19 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to marriage generally, so as to provide that religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies, perform rites, or administer sacraments in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion; to provide that no individual shall be required to attend the solemnization of a marriage, performance of rites, or administration of sacraments in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion; to amend Chapter 1 of Title 10 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to selling and other trade practices, so as to change certain provisions relating to days of rest for employees of business and industry; to protect property owners which are faith based organizations against infringement of religious freedom; to protect certain providers of services against infringement of religious freedom…

[HB 757; 1-11, emphasis added]

This part spells out the intent of HB 757, and part of that intent is “to protect property owners which are faith based organizations.” Later the meaning of “faith based organization” is delineated:

‘Faith based organization’ means a church, a religious school, an association or convention of churches, a convention mission agency, or an integrated auxiliary of a church or convention or association of churches, when such entity is qualified as an exempt religious organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

[HB 757; 80-84]

This may be a side point, but it’s worth noting. As defined, “faith based organizations” already have protection under the First Amendment of the Constitution. Specifically, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It is a puzzlement as to why state legislators thought to include this unneeded protection.

As it turns out, the real matter is not faith based organizations, it’s government officials. It’s those who work for the people, all of the people. Significantly, HB 757 provides protection to public officials who do not do their jobs:

(4) Afford any protection or relief to a public officer or employee who fails or refuses to perform his or her official duties; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not prohibit any person from holding any public office or trust on account of religious opinions, in accordance with Paragraph IV of Section I of Article I of the Constitution.

[HB 757; 217-220]

Is even this wording needed? Don’t public officials always do their jobs, the jobs which require an oath of office, which oath typically includes wording to the effect the officials promise to uphold the law as part of their duties? What elected or appointed official would ever take it upon himself (or herself) to set aside the rule of law in favor of some personal preference? I’m glad you asked:

Let me get this straight. Hood County Clerk Katie Lang took it upon herself to defy the law and to expose tax payers of Hood County to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, on a personal whim? How many ways are there to spell breathtaking inanity? And it played out two blocks from where I grew up.

Yes, sorry to say, this little drama touches on the place I called home in my formative years. Where did I go astray?

There were people, people in Georgia, who wanted this bill  passed and signed into law, and their intentions were not pure. The persons proposing this legislation had the motivation to protect those like themselves, those with an aversion to homosexuals. Most seek to conceal this intent. They hide it. They seek refuge in ancient religious texts. They claim to be commanded by a higher power, a power beyond their control:

Leviticus 18:22 King James Version (KJV)

22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

This is but a sample. There are others, more stringent. And people of faith must not contravene these proscriptions. To do so would betray their faith and would incur the wrath of a higher power, a power higher than any law of the land. These words out of Leviticus (and others) are strict and guide the lives of the righteous and the faithful. There are no exceptions:

Deuteronomy 22:11 King James Version (KJV)

11 Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.

No exceptions:

Leviticus 19:28 King James Version (KJV)

28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.

No Exceptions:

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 King James Version (KJV)

18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

No exceptions:

Exodus 21:7 King James Version (KJV)

And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.

No exceptions:

Exodus 21:1-6 King James Version (KJV)

21 Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.

If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.

If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him.

If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.

And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:

Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.

That seems to be straight forward. I can’t find any ambiguity in these instructions. People of faith must adhere strictly to these rules for living, with no exceptions. No exceptions when the rules relate to something the person already had in mind. Something such as disdain for homosexuals. All those others may be forsworn. Dishing dirt on queers requires strict observance. It is the word of the Lord.

So disappointing to mention, there are others who agree:

ALTOONA, Wis. – Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz criticized Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday for vetoing a controversial religious liberties bill that came under heavy criticism from opponents who argued that it would discriminate against gay and transgender individuals.

“I thought that was very disappointing to see Governor Deal in Georgia side with leftist activists,” Cruz told reporters outside a restaurant here where he met with voters ahead of Wisconsin’s April 5 primary.

Of course, I am shocked. Shocked that a Texas senator from Calgary would take such a stand. Not really. We all saw this coming, even before the governor could find his veto stamp:

No question, the contestants for the Republican presidential nomination are a very conservative bunch, but there is something that sets Texas Sen. Ted Cruz apart from the pack: his endorsements from some of the religious right’s kookiest voices. Where the 2008 GOP nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, distanced himself from militants on the evangelical fringe, Cruz proudly embraces them.

Among the most notable — or notorious — of these Cruz endorsers is Mike Bickle, the pastor who runs the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Mo. Bickle has preached that in the “End Times” God will raise up someone to hunt down Jews who fail to accept Christ — someone, he imagines, in the mold of the most famous Jew hunter of them all, Adolf Hitler. Among Bickle’s other end-of-the-world teachings is that Oprah Winfrey is unwittingly part of a “Harlot movement” that is paving the way for the Antichrist. He also predicts that the gay agenda, which he says is “rooted in the depths of hell,” will lead to the elimination of marriage as an institution.

Most recently, Bickle opined that January’s big blizzard on the East Coast was a punishment from God for the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear an appeal of a North Dakota abortion rights ruling that went against the anti-abortion side.

Another Cruz fan is Bob Vander Plaats, leader of an Iowa-based group called the Family Leader. Of Cruz, Vander Plaats says he is “the most consistent and principled conservative” in the nomination race.

One of the principles Vander Plaats espouses is that the fight against same-sex marriage is equivalent to the 19th century struggle against slavery. Same-sex marriage, he has said, is a “Satanic plot” that will lead to parents marrying their own children. Vander Plaats has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his anti-gay policies. He has proposed the Putin-like idea that students should be taught homosexuality is a public threat on par with smoking.

There are either of two ways to spell this: “Guilt by association” or “The company you keep.”

As it turns out, those in Georgia who pushed for HB 757 in the first place are correct. There is a higher power. It’s a power they will ignore at their peril. It’s the power of the pocketbook. HB 757 earned a veto under pressure from the people in Georgia who sign the checks. Business leaders, the base of conservative America, saw HB 757 as bad for business. It’s hard to get business to invest in a place that has “jake leg” stamped all over it.

I have touched on “jake leg” before. It translates into something I mentioned a number of times, often in conjunction with breathtaking inanity. This may be one of those cases.

I Was Wrong!

One of a very long series

Politics-MarcoRubioOut

Of course, I’ve been wrong before. Take, for example, an interchange I had with a Facebook friend last July. Was I ever wrong:

Is it possible The Donald doesn’t really plan to get elected? If that’s the case, then he is going to disappoint a few people. Some of those people will be Facebook “friends” of mine. The following popped up on my feed. I have edited it to eliminate superfluous Facebook formatting:

As everybody observed back then, I was way out of my league:

It will be obvious to readers that I was on the losing end of this conversation. It will also be obvious that out there somewhere is enormous support for Donald Trump. Let’s review the foregoing. Some Skeptical Analysis.

There followed some skeptical analysis. Read on.

The 2016 campaign season has seen candidates come. And go. Did I mention the 2016 campaign season has seen many candidates come? And go? Let’s see if I can remember them all:

  • Jeb Bush
  • Ben Carson
  • Chris Christie
  • Ted Cruz
  • Carly Fiorina
  • Jim Gilmore
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Bobby Jindal
  • John Kasich
  • George Pataki
  • Rand Paul
  • Rick Perry
  • Marco Rubio
  • Rick Santorum
  • Donald Trump
  • Scott Walker

And there were a couple of others. As of last night, all but three have faded away. First time Senator Marco Rubio was unable to win the votes of his home state of Florida, and there was hardly a candidate who deserved this fate more. Since Rubio previously declined to run for re-election, he will be out of government service beginning January. Of course, it’s possible a winning candidate will tap the expired senator as a running mate. Miracles abound.

And I was wrong! Last year I was telling everybody who would listen that billionaire entrepreneur Donald Trump was having a big joke on us, and his campaign was not going anywhere. Does anybody have a crow I can eat?

But wait, I was also telling everybody that Jeb Bush was the best bet for the Republican Party. It turned out that in going down this road I forgot to consult with my Republican friends. My favorite Republican never got out of single digits and faded like the proverbial snowball in Texas.

Also not sorry was I to see go were the idiotic Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson, three otherwise successful people who proceeded to make names for themselves by pretending to be idiots in public. Jindal’s lack of substance eventually became so apparent that voters in his own state of Louisiana pulled the handle on him a few months back. Fiorina became famous for seeing a scandalous video that never existed. Apparently she had also been seeing a political future that never existed. She will not be missed. Ben Carson became famous for making vacuous statements, ending with one about ancient Egyptians storing grain in the Great Pyramids if Giza. Beyond that, observers began to get the idea that Carson’s entire campaign amounted to nothing more than a ploy to promote books he has written. Even Republicans did a little dance when he left.

But I was wrong! I distinctly recall telling people that Texas Senator Ted Cruz was so toxic that even the Republican Party hoped to see him ride off into the sunset. Guess what? With the exit of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Cruz has vaulted into the number two slot in the Republican Party race. Right behind (laugh at me now) Donald Trump.

Readers, the next time I stand at my Internet podium and pronounce on political futures yet to materialize, take the opportunity to put me in my place. You only need to say two words: “Donald Trump.” I will be properly chastised.

[Full disclosure: I voted for Donald Trump in the Texas primary, at the same time contributing money to the campaign of former New York Senator Hillary Clinton. And may Jesus have mercy on my soul.]

Bat Shit Crazy

First of a series

PhilRobertsonTedCruz

Wisdom oft comes unbidden. And from the strangest places:

Gentlemen, young men, marry you a woman. Dude—if she’s clean, and you’re clean, and you marry her, and you keep your sex right there, you’re never going to get a debilitating disease and/or death. It’s safe!”

The prospect of never dying has long had my attention. Not so long Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. Stunned was I to hear such wisdom from the same mouth. The same mouth that has in the passed revealed serious lapses of comprehension:

I am guessing Robertson never heard of Emmett Till. I am guessing Robertson never noticed that black people were being denied the right to vote. I am guessing he never saw the governor of a state stand in the door of a school building to prevent a black student from entering. I am guessing Robertson never ventured over into Neshoba County, Mississippi. I’m guessing he never heard of James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. I’m guessing Robertson missed a lot growing up in rural Louisiana.

Could you possibly imagine it’s the very same mouth that is delivering up the path to freedom from sickness and death. At this point I need to second guess the Oracle of West Monroe and conclude he is not actually promising eternal life free of the flu and cancer of the pancreas. What he likely means is that if you don’t bed down with a chick who has gonorrhea, syphilis, the crabs, and even AIDS, then you are going to avoid these modern maladies. Provided, of course, you don’t already have them, yourself.

Actually, the Duck Dynasty patriarch had more to say in his speech endorsing presidential candidate Ted Cruz, United States Senator from Texas. The video show him waving what appears to be a copy of the King James Bible. He proclaims, in part:

Vet what you say to the word of God. If you do, you know what? There won’t be any vile, filthy language coming out of your mouth. God said don’t do it.

Amazing! The answer is simple. The Bible (if I interpret correctly) is the word of God. We should follow the example of the Bible. Such as this one:

Ezekiel 23:1-8 King James Version (KJV)

23 The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,

Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:

And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity.

And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah.

And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours,

Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.

Thus she committed her whoredoms with them, with all them that were the chosen men of Assyria, and with all on whom she doted: with all their idols she defiled herself.

Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her.

Blessed be the word of the Lord. And blessed be he who brings us the word. Further blessed is he who will promote this wisdom to the highest stations in the land:

“So,” Cruz continued, “I’m seriously thinking about sending Robertson off to the UN, so he could establish some sense of order in Africa. You all heard his speech today. The man knows what he’s talking about, I dare even say he’s got a valid point. So, who better for the job than him? And another thing – because of the hygienic apocalypse that has been going on throughout Africa, we now have AIDS as a consequence. One of the most severe diseases that has plagued the human race in history today exists solely because of how dirty the peoples of Africa are. And the sad part is – they don’t even care about it. The men keep sleeping with infected women and keep spreading the virus as if it was nothing. That’s why we need someone with a firm hand to take control of things, to rule them with an iron fist and to teach them how to pick out the clean females. And I’ve got just the man for it. So, don’t go dismissing him before he’s even started the job.”

I’ve seen bat shit, and I’ve seen crazy, but I have to tell you this is bat shit crazy. Is there more? Does the bear…? Well, you know what the bear does. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

The Face of God

JesusSinsOfStraightWhites

This is going to be interesting:

Speaking with South Carolina radio host Vince Coakley while campaigning for her husband, Heidi Cruz (photo, to Ted Cruz’s left) insisted “this Christian God that we serve is the foundation of our country.”

Explaining why she is supporting and campaigning for her husband, Heidi Cruz said “we are at a cultural crossroads in our country” and that she feels she and her husband “can be in this race to show this country the face of the God that we serve — this Christian God that we serve is the foundation of our country, our country was built on Judeo-Christian values, we are a nation of freedom of religion, but the God of Christianity is the God of freedom, of individual liberty, of choice and of consequence.”

I guess I never realized how inclusive Senator Ted Cruz’s concept of American government could be. Look at all who would fit under his broad tent:

  • Christians
  • Jews
  • Muslims
  • Hindus
  • Buddhists
  • Atheists

All except the Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and the Atheists. The feeling of loving warmth envelopes me even as I begin to contemplate. My fondest wish is that I should live so long as to get the opportunity to kiss the ring upon my president’s hand. This great nation of our is truly set upon the path to glory.

I’m thinking here will be more to come on this matter. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

I Got Mine

TedCruzMailCheck

It arrived in my mail box. Don’t ask me how long I waited, need I say “breathlessly?” Then there it was.

I have not opened it yet. I will savor it for a while. Maybe I will wait until Texas Senator Ted Cruz wins the Republican nomination for President. Maybe I will wait until he is actually elected. Could be longer.

In the mean time, I don’t mind showing my home address. After all, if Senator Cruz of Texas has my address, I am going to guess most others do, as well. Ya’ll keep those cards and letters coming. And be sure to enclose a check.

And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Politicians Unclear

One of a continuing series

BenCarson-01

What is interesting to note is that we elected (some of) these people, and we pay (some of) their salaries. We have only our selves to blame.

Not all those unclear being raked over here are professional politicians. That is, some have never held public office and have not previously been on the public dole. However, if you run for office, ta-da, you’re a politician. Welcome to the club.

So what’s wrong with politicians these days? Same as before. Same as always. If not outright liars, a typical politician is often unclear of that about which he speaks. This includes women politicians, in case I left that unclear. I will start with last night’s political debate in Manchester, New Hampshire. The Associated Press performed some painful fact checking, disclosing a considerable lack of clarity. I will summarize:

DONALD TRUMP: “Right now, we’re the highest taxed country in the world.”

The AP fact checkers(Josh Boak and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar plus Alicia A. Caldwell, Deb Riechmann, Eric Tucker and Vivian Salama) beg to disagree. Here is how some countries stack up with respect to taxes stated as a fraction of the GDP:

  • United States — 26.9%
  • Sweden — 45.8%
  • United Kingdom — 39%
  • Spain — 37.3%
  • Israel — 36.8%
  • Italy — 42.6%
  • Germany — 40.6%
  • France — 44.6%

The list goes on. Maybe Mr. Trump is thinking about only countries on the North American Continent. Like Panama and others:

  • Panama — 10.6%
  • Mexico — 19.7%

But there is:

  • Canada — 32.2%

Does Mr. Trump live in the United States? Does Mr. Trump pay any taxes? The world wonders. The world wonders whether Mr. Trump is stupid or dishonest. The truth be known, I prefer a dishonest person. You can reason with them.

The AP further reports the following from Texas Senator Ted Cruz:

CRUZ, defending his vow to deport 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally: “I would note that in eight years Bill Clinton deported 12 million people. In eight years George Bush deported 10 million people. Enforcing the law. We can do it.”

THE FACTS: Statistics from Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that roughly 1.6 million were deported under Bush, not 11 million. Under Clinton, about 870,000 immigrants were deported, not 12 million, according to the Migration Policy Institute. So far, about 2.4 million have been deported under the Obama administration.

To get the swollen figures, Cruz appears to be combining deportations with arrests made by the Border Patrol in the previous administrations, according to the institute.

Enough said about that. Again, I prefer a liar to a fool.

Trump again. From the AP story:

TRUMP: “The insurance companies are getting rich on Obamacare.”

Not quite, according to the AP fact checkers. A closer read of the facts reveals a different story. In particular, the ACA has not been kind to the insurance industry, and that’s a failing of President Obama’s key piece of legislation. The ACA depends on private insurers, not on the federal government, and if it doesn’t work for the insurers, it’s not going to work in the long run.

The facts are these: United Health is the largest participant and has been losing money with the ACA exchanges. It will now decide whether to continue its participation. Number two, Anthem, made money, but profits are less than hoped for.

Aetna is having the bad experience of people signing up late. They apparently sign up late because:

  • They fail to sign up initially because they are not having any health problems that require insurance coverage.
  • At the onset of an ailment requiring insurance they sign up and suck on the insurance company to cover their expenses.
  • The ones who failed to sign up originally and never suffer any medical expenses never sign up and do not pay into the premium pool.

Full disclosure: Aetna carries my medical insurance under Medicare.

The AP reports that 12 of the 23 nonprofit insurers working under the ACA have gone out of business. The insurance business relies on the following:

  • Everybody pays premiums.
  • People suffering a loss draw on the insurance company’s funds.
  • People who do not suffer a loss pay the same premiums as those who do, subsidizing the others.

The ACA is supposed to cover the expenses of those who do not pay premiums by levying a fine on those who do not. A Supreme Court ruling in 2012 held that this “fine” was actually a tax, which the federal government has the power to assess, in this case by way of the ACA. How the government reimburses insurance providers that are shafted by late subscribers is not clear to me. What is important is to keep the insurance companies participating in the plan, and one way to do that is to ensure they do not lose money. In on respect, Mr. Trump is correct. The insurance companies are supposed to make money under the ACA. A key to getting the legislation passed in the first place was the support of the industry. If the insurance industry does not make money, then support for the ACA will swiftly erode.

Regarding Mr. Trump, I was hoping here for a liar rather than a fool. The nation can tolerate a liar in the White House. A fool is another matter.

The AP reports that Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey made the following declaration:

The president and his former secretary of state are for paying ransoms for hostages. When (you) do that, you endanger even more Americans around the world to be the subject of this type of hostage-taking and illegal detention.

 

There must be something in the drinking water in New Jersey, because neither the AP fact checkers nor I nor anybody else on this planet have found anything to substantiate this assertion. Hopefully the Governor is merely lying out of the other side of his face.

Senator Cruz again:

We will adopt commonsense reforms, No. 1, we’ll allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines that will drive down prices and expand the availability of low-cost catastrophic insurance.

Nah! That’s never going to happen. Insurance companies are regulated on a state-by-state basis, and state regulators are never going to tolerate the government of a rogue state setting the insurance policies for people of their state. It is quite possible that in this matter Senator Cruz has crossed over the line separating the liar and the fool. That does not speak well for the people of Texas who elected him in 2012.

Senator Marco Rubio seemed to be confused about the religiosity of Kurd fighters. He seemed not to realize the Kurds are predominately Sunni. All right! This is a point that was not clear even to me. However, Senator Rubio is a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence. This assignment should require some deep knowledge of foreign affairs. This may be another case of a politician crossing that odious line between the liar and the fool.

Senator Cruz again:

When I say saturation carpet bombing, that is not indiscriminate. That is targeted at oil facilities. It’s targeted at the oil tankers… It’s using overwhelming air power.

Hopefully, should Senator Cruz ever become President Cruz, somebody will sidle up next to him and fill him in on the military definition of carpet bombing. We can dream.

This account was drawn from a debate among Republican candidates. Do I believe Democrats have similar issues? Does Cruz pray on his knees? I will have the lowdown on Clinton and Sanders and more in a future post.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.