Reflecting on that holiday meal

My plea for this Thanksgiving. Please don’t have turkey, or ham, or pot roast, or any other meat. Please have a vegan substitute. Yes, I know that “No matter how good it just isn’t quite the same.”

You can save a turkey from dying and suffering along the way. Or a pig, or a cow. Oh, it won’t be saved this time, but others will be save as more people do what I’m asking you to do and the demand for the suffering of those animals diminishes.

I know, too, that a turkey, or cow, or pig, isn’t as cute and cuddly as your dog or cat, and that for those ‘pet’ animals you would do anything to keep them from suffering.

But you see, that turkey, or pig, or cow, has the same ability to fear, to feel pain, to love its offspring, as a dog or a cat. They bleed and scream and feel the terror just as dogs and cats do.

And here’s the thing. If you say you love animals, but you also say you just have to have your turkey and chicken and cow and ham, then you have to face that fact that when you say you love animals, you are lying. You are lying to me, you are lying to whoever reads this and whoever you talk to. Most of all, you’re lying to yourself, so that you will be able to shrug off the guilt of the pain and suffering and terror that YOU cause.

Please. Don’t be a liar.

Take a moment. Close your eyes. Now imagine as vividly as you can, these animals being caged and beaten and then forced down a narrow inescapable chute, pressed together with those in front of and behind them. Imagine the screaming they do and hear, the terror they feel and sense in the others. Smell the overpowering stench of the blood they are approaching. Terrified, Knowing what’s coming, helpless to escape.

Now imagine that’s your dog or cat. If you wouldn’t let that nightmare of terror and suffering death happen to them, then why do you think it’s all right to sponsor it happening to other? Hmm?

I spent my life living that hypocrisy because I was brought up in a fashion that simply didn’t let me think about it. I had this marvelous fantasy that made it okay. In this fantasy, you see, each animal was loved and treated well until the time of death, which came as a complete surprise and with such suddenness that they didn’t suffer. That made it okay to eat all of those hamburgers and roasts and chickens and turkeys. But it’s not at all like that. And in today’s world, you know that. You just have to face it.

What I wouldn’t give to have come to the awareness I finally found decades earlier. How much clearer would be my conscience and how much cleaner would my heart feel, if i had leaned the reality, and the lesson, forty, or fifty, or sixty or seventy years ago.

You have the opportunity, the marvelous chance, to face your reality much sooner than I did mine. But like the other side of the coin, this means you also have to face up to your own guilt, your own role in this awful, immoral, insane suffering meted out so that you can have your meat. You are responsible. You can’t deny it, you can’t avoid it. You cause these animals to suffer untold terror and agony on the way to an ugly, vicious death.

You cannot say you love animals, and respect animals, and still be a part of this. It’s not possible. No excuse makes it permissible. You had the courage to read all of this. Now it’s time for you to make a decision.

Please. Don’t be a liar.

And please, please, please, pass it on. Share. Help someone else find the truth.

America’s Greatest Evil = Fake Christians

I’m using this post to share a horrible news story and introduce humanity’s—and morality’s—public enemy of the day.
Adam Fannin, a “pastor” of dubious sanity who is given legitimacy by religion, , is openly calling for the murder of Sarah Silverman, from the pulpit. He is just the latest individual hiding behind the trappings of clergy while he spreads hate and, in this case, openly solicits the commission of murder. Deranged individuals like him are exactly the reason intelligent and thoughtful people continue to turn away from churches to seek personal spirituality in place of a sick cultism that has long poisoned Christianity.
This deranged and hateful man should be arrested and charged with soliciting murder. 
If anything happens to Sarah Silverman, or if someone even attempts to harm her, Adam Fannin must be charged as a co-conspirator.
Adam Fannin—and religious zealots like him, of which there are plenty—are a danger to all decent people, and an affront to God and Jesus. They must be held accountable for their hateful rhetoric, which goes well beyond any freedom of speech.
The wild ravings of Adam Fannin and others like him are not inspired by God, any God. They are the sick manifestations of a diseased and hateful mind. They are antithetical to everything Jesus taught and would have us be. They are born from a sick hate of anyone ‘different.’ They are diseased.
If there really is a “rapture,” these fake Christians will be shocked to discover themselves the ones left behind.
The story is here:

Thank you Nancy Pelosi — NOT

Like it or not, the simple fact is that Donald Trump is proving Congress to be as impotent as a eunuch. You’ve probably already read, or heard, that now he has ordered Hope Hicks not to turn over documents to Congressional investigators, even though, as one legal expert said, he has no authority to do so since she no longer works for him.
     So far—and this is only a sampling—Trump has refused to show his tax returns, refused to conform to the emoluments clause, made every possible attempt to obstruct the Mueller investigation, lied to Congress (and the people) time after time after time, refused to obey subpoenas and told everyone in the administration to do the same thing, kidnapped thousands of children, favored foreign dictators over the American people, etc.
     The Senate, of course, is controlled by the Republican party, which has sold any genuine morality it ever possessed in order to genuflect for Trump. But what about the House of Representatives, now under Democrat control?
     It turns out that Nancy Pelosi is the fly in Sam Houston’s buttermilk.  After standing up to Trump about funding for his wall, she has become indecisive and—something we would never see from her—frightful. She is afraid to impeach. Whereas Mitch McConnell runs the Senate like a son of Heinrich Himmler, Pelosi wrings her hands and tries to say meaningful things while not allowing the House to take any concrete action about Trump’s multitudinous dictatorial acts. Day by day she behaves less like the leader of the very body which is supposed to provide oversight on the Executive, and more, much more, like Margaret Mitchell’s Melodie Hamilton.
     I and many others have said before, here and everywhere we can raise our voices, that Donald Trump is leading the United States straight down the road to a full fledged fascistic dictatorship, ala Adolf Hitler. The Republican party is riding his coattails in hopes of achieving what is, in effect, a coup. Look at McConnell’s iron fisted patently immoral manipulation of the entire legislative process in the name of stacking every federal court possible, not just with Republicans, but with conservatives so far to the right, both politically and religiously, that they qualify as cultists.
     Seventy-five percent of America fidgets. We scream and wring our hands while Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic House cower behind procedure and fear of making a misstep.  We the people are left bemoan the loss of liberties and basic rights, one by one, group by group: LGBTQ Americans because they “are different;” progressives and the ‘educated elite,’ because they are the dreaded “socialists,” Christians who don’t believe the same demented way as evangelicals; anyone who would threaten the greedy power mongers.
     But short of armed revolution, that seventy-five percent is helpless, dependent on the separation of powers which the forefathers built into the Constitution but didn’t build well enough. Seventy-five percent of America is steadily slipping under the jackboots of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and the rabid minority made up of religious and social cultists and corporate controlled rapscallion Republicans no longer possessing any moral compass.
     The 25% is winning, and turning America into a fascist regime shaped by theocratic lunatics and greedy oligarchs, one of whom defiles the highest seat in government just as Hitler once did in Germany. The election of 2020 is too far away and too tenuous. If the collapse of our Republic isn’t already complete by then, it surely will be a certainty if Trump cheats his way into re-election.
     And why shouldn’t he? The system of checks and balances intended to prevent what we are seeing has so far proven completely ineffective. He lies, and defies anyone to do anything about it. He breaks the law, and dares anyone to stop him. He kidnaps children and says “So what.” And he gets away with it. Every. Time. Because half of the legislature is in on the takeover, and the other half is afraid.
     The Republic is falling, and it is as much the fault of the cowardly defenders as of the aggressors. If we are waiting for the Nancy Pelosi led Democratic House to save us, we might as well start shopping for white flags.

Abortion, Don Trump, & Me vs. the Right

   I need to clarify something.  I frequently tell right-wingers that they cannot escape responsibility for supporting Donald Trump by saying they voted for him for this reason or that reason, but don’t agree with every awful thing he does. This brings me to abortion, and my views on it.
   Abortion, and to a lesser degree birth control, are two very key reasons a lot of religious conservatives voted against Hillary Clinton and not actually ‘for’ Donald Trump, they say. I tell them “When you vote for a person, you vote to accept all that they are, and all that they represent. You have responsibility for their actions whether you want to accept it or not.” I stand by that. So I feel the need to be clear about my stance on abortion vis-à-vis my vote for progressive candidates..
  I believe that a woman’s body is her own, but that she has certain responsibilities in how she uses it in regard to her amazing facility to create life. I believe the same about men. Clearly, it’s much more complicated for women, because men cannot conceive. They do, however, provide half of the conception formula.  Sadly, a man who doesn’t care about his responsibility can walk away from the consequences of his actions.
   It’s a much heavier responsibility for women because they can’t just walk away. I understand that. Here are my core beliefs.
   1.  I do not believe in abortion for convenience. Abortion is
not acceptable to me as an alternative to exercising responsibility. Don’t tell me you forgot, you were just so overwhelmed by passion you (male & female both) couldn’t control yourself. If you have that little self-control, perhaps you shouldn’t live around other people.
   1a  I understand there is now, or soon will be, an effective ‘morning after’ pill for such situations. By all means, use it.
   2.  I believe in birth control, birth control, birth control. Don’t even try to preach to me against abortion and birth control at the same time. Sexual attraction is one of the most intense connections between people. If you deny both abortion and birth control, you are irresponsible and naïve. And don’t get me started, here, about how important birth control is world-wide, as humans continue to multiply and multiply. Guppies beware.
   3.  I believe in abortion in instances of rape, incest, and when the mother’s live is in danger. In these cases, the final decision MUST rest with the woman.
   3a  I confess I have no clear thoughts of how to proceed re cases in which the child is going to be born severely deformed and/or disabled. I can say this. This decision, again, must be made by the woman, and I hope with much loving, compassionate counseling.
   4.  I believe in Planned Parenthood. Every statistic shows that abortion, and deaths from abortion, are much lower thanks to Planned Parenthood.
   5.  Keep religion out of it. If you can’t make a good moral, responsible, constructive decision on your own, without looking at what some local community “prophet” claimed was “God’s law” two thousand years ago, I’m not sure I trust you to go for pizza. I believe in God (Goddess, Creator, the Force, however we refer to it). But I do not ascribe to neatly packaged ‘religions’ that love, above all, to proclaim that ‘their’ view of God is the only one. I think we are supposed to learn, to be responsible toward each other, the other life with which we share this incredible planet, and the planet itself, without passing the buck to page 71, or chapter 28, or verse 8 in paragraph 16 of section 49, etc. If we can’t practice decent morality and responsible and stewardship and kindness because it is in our heart, we are already lost.
   Summary:  Abortion for convenience, no, I don’t like that.
   Birth control, and Planned Parenthood, yes and yes and yes and yes again. Abortion when the mother’s life is in danger, or the child may be born severely disabled, has to be totally up to the woman. Competent, compassionate (as opposed to brow beating and bullying and religious book thumping) is vital.
   If you disagree, fine. That is your prerogative. But if you think your feeling on this particular issue justifies your support of a criminal, corrupt, authoritarian, anti-Constitution fascist Hitler wanna-be, of neo-Nazism, anti-immigration white supremacy racists, of a sick “nationalism” that spawned both World Wars, of treating women as second class citizens and virtual serfs,  of total disregard for the very air we breathe and water we drink and animal life with which we share this place, I probably wasted my time here, starting with “I need to clarify…”
   I think I can justify my feelings about abortion in the framework of how I vote, and still hold you responsible for your support of a man who is all of the above.

The Diseased Ignorance of Trump’s Base

The fact that Donald Trump’s core supporters—and maybe some mainstream ones as well—actually believe this, is a sickening and alarming statement about the level of intelligence and the prevalence of psychosis across a third of America. It may also be our swan song, the trumpet forlornly playing TAPS to our Republic.
 
Think about it. CNN, NBC, CBS, Reuters, Al Jezeera, the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, MSNBC, the BBC, PBS, the British, Canadian, German, French, and virtually every other news source in the world, are ALL liars.  ONLY TRUMP is honest. ONLY TRUMP knows what he’s talking about.
 
EVERY PERSON who has sued Trump for illegal practices, EVERY WOMAN he has sexually assaulted, EVERY LIE of his that has been recorded on paper, tape and video, ALL FAKE NEWS. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Intelligence Agency, the National Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, British Intelligence, ALL LIARS.
 
97% of the world’s scientists, ALL DUMB, because ONLY TRUMP has an instinct for science and global warming. ONLY TRUMP knows what’s right for the environment. ONLY TRUMP knows what kind of air our grandchildren should breathe, what kind of water they must drink.
 
ONLY TRUMP has any brains, despite the overwhelming evidence to the exact contrary. ONLY TRUMP is telling the truth about Russian interference in our country’s election process. Everyone else is out to get him.
 
POOR TRUMP!   TRUMP THE CHOSEN ONE!   TRUMP THE EMPEROR!  TRUMP THE CHAMPION OF NATIONALISM!  TRUMP THE CHAMPION OF WHITE SUPREMACY!   TRUMP THE MESSIAH! TRUMP ALMIGHTY!  ALL KNEEL TO TRUMP…or his supporters will punch you, knock the hell out of you, shoot you dead, blow you up for daring not to kiss his robes.
 
THIS is the disease which infects a full third of America. THIS will destroy us. THIS ridiculous, unreasoning, unimaginable worship of a documented cheat, double dealer, serial liar and sexual assaulter, this man who wears his ignorance as comfortably and proudly as his bigotry and white supremacist nationalism, this man who knows one, and only one, loyalty. ONLY TRUMP! PRAISE BE TO TRUMP. ALL KNEEL TO TRUMP.
America has always had this undercurrent, this third that thrives on racism and bigotry, this third that denies the very core values written into the Constitution by our forefathers. This is the third that now runs rampant with the approval and encouragement of Donald Trump. This is the third that would as soon kick you in the teeth as listen to criticisms of white supremacy and racism. This is the third that is so fervent in its anger over perceived mistreatment, it is blind to where the enemies of middle America truly lie. This is the third for whom violence is first or second option, not the last resort.  This is the third for whom patriotism is wrapped in a Confederate flag and festooned with swastikas. This is the third for whom reason doesn’t mean to think and analyze, but is an excuse for punching your lights out.
 
This disease has already destroyed what was left of a once honorable Republican party. It has turned them into sniveling courtiers and court buffoons, eager to have their particular desires met at any cost no matter how egregious, frightened to their core of displeasing the Emperor. In unison they throw their hands in the air, deny every obvious truth, and proclaim in chorus ONLY TRUMP. They praise the Emperor’s fine new clothes.
 
America may well not survive the ONLY TRUMP insanity. The epitaph on the gravestone of American Democracy will be aptly phrased in two words. HAIL TRUMP.
 
Pardon me now, while I go pour a stiff drink. If ONLY TRUMP cannot be defeated, it may soon be one of the last free actions left to us.

Come Back Marshall Dillon

America, we have a problem. It’s sad but true. Police are out of control in many places in America. They use flimsy excuses to excuse bigotry while beating, maiming, falsely accusing, and killing. This has to be stopped.

Now understand, these unfit officers represent, hopefully, and we are told, a very small percentage of those who wear the uniform properly and proudly with humanity and distinction. But until that vast majority who truly protect and serve stop protecting the racist, bigoted beasts within their ranks; until that vast majority, and the departments themselves, take a stand for what’s right, they can’t complain about the negative spotlight cast upon all of them. John Q Public can’t waltz into a police department and clean it up. It must be the organizations themselves, purging and cleaning from within.

Make no mistake. I’m far from naive. Our police officers have the most difficult, dangerous moment by moment job in the country. They see and deal with the worst levels of our society. I respect them immensely. They face sights and situations and dangers the rest of us can most avoid, thanks to them. Their bravery is for the most part unquestioned. The simple traffic stop we take granted is, for them, never simple and never safe.

But here’s the deal. As tough as that job is, as dangerous, as discouraging, as scary, as thankless, if they cannot find a way to maintain their humanity and discard their prejudices, they shouldn’t be doing the job. For the vast majority of good cops out there, my heart goes out to you, for your bravery, your dedication, your humanity, and perhaps most of all, your resilience. You are the stellar examples we need. But when you protect those among you who shouldn’t be wearing the badge—and in most departments I’m sure those are well known—you do a disservice not only to those whom you have sworn to protect and serve, but more keenly to yourselves.

And yes, I’m fully aware that many if not most, of the excessive force and shoot first, ask questions later incidents are, more than anything, the result of fear, quiet insidious fear, that police officers live with every minute. It has to eat at even the strongest person in uniform. I can’t truly imagine, no matter how hard I try, what it’s like to feel that with every call, every traffic stop, and maintain one’s humanity and not prejudge and not give in to doing it to them before they can do it to you.  And yet, that’s exactly what we need our police to do.
I have an idea, for what it’s worth. It goes something like this. I recommend that every officer, particularly in the larger departments cities, be assigned to spend time every week, on the clock, in some activity to help counter the negatives they face. Group talk it out sessions, uplifting and positive activities with the community, things that do nothing but depressurize. Maybe that will help. Maybe you have a thought to make it a better idea. Go for it. Please.

But the bad apples have to go. Now. Immediately. Previously good officers who show signs of tending toward excessive violence may not even need to be fired.  There are probably plenty of honorable desk jobs that can to be filled, at full pay and benefits, by officers with severe signs of burnout. That seems to me to be the best way of ‘protecting our own.’

I grew up knowing officers. I grew up admiring and respecting police. I still do. But the incidents of brutality and killing of unarmed people, of policing with violence and brutality first, humanity and reason third or fourth, has to stop. The job itself is incredibly hard. There’s no doubt about that. But I also know this. A person with a badge a club a gun and the cover of authority, but lacking in humanity or possessed by racism and bigotry or just burned out, is far more frightening than reassuring. That isn’t the kind of policing we can live with in America.

We can’t accept policing our citizenry with Negans. Not even Dirty Harrys.  We need Reagans. We need Marshall Dillons, Reed and McCoys, Jon and Ponches  Joe Fridays. And we need officers who see humans rather than colors.