You’re a Christian, You’re a Bigot, Yet You Still Want To Have Thanksgiving Dinner

You are happy that Donald Trump won an election. You’re proudly posting it on social media as you did throughout his horrifying campaign, not quite in patriotic pride but in a sore winner fashion – you know: crying liberals, sore losers, sour grapes, and all that. But you have a little problem…your friends and family – the very folks who said before this rancid election that Donald Trump was a racist, misogynist, xenophobe, bigot, and sexual predator – are now not only saying that he still is all of these horrible things despite victory, but they also say that you support all of this as well. You feel this isn’t fair, I’m sure, because you’ve memorized the ten commandments and sing a great alto line on “Amazing Grace.” Maybe you’re not that bad of a person despite supporting the guy that mocked the disabled reporter.  But there’s the dilemma that you’re going to have to see the people who think your beloved Trump is the devil at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. You still want to have the same relationship with friends and family and have Thanksgiving dinner like everything is okay…so what can you do?

You can’t grab women by the p***y, for starters. You can’t call Mexicans “rapists” and “drug dealers.” You can’t throw Muslims out of the country or force an entire religion to sign a registry. You can’t build a wall to keep folks out. You can’t deport people who have been working toward visas and citizenship for years despite our flawed system. You can’t call women ugly and ask people to “just look at that face” in attempts to supply proof. You can’t say that “you never saw a skinny person drinking a Diet Coke.” You can’t walk into a woman’s dressing room to inspect the ladies as they undress…I mean “inspect your product.” You can’t give unconstitutional religious tests. You can’t kill you enemies’ women and children. You can’t encourage others to “knock the h*** out of” people who don’t like you, even if you’ll pay for the lawyer fees afterward. You can’t mock the disabled. Now, if you have endorsed, encouraged, or excused this kind of behavior over the past two years, is it still possible to have day of thanksgiving and then a bit later wish peace on earth and goodwill toward men? That’s a tough one since you’re a Christian, you’re a bigot, and you still want Thanksgiving dinner. Consider this:

“Salt water and fresh water cannot come from the same spring.”

I know the anger must be welling up inside of you at this point. After all, I just said “you’re a bigot” as if I really know you. I know you feel this simply isn’t true. However, there’s nothing simple about it. You may have simply endorsed a candidate without considering the full scope of what you were representing by supporting him. He said a lot of stuff – A LOT of stuff. The cool, reality-show candor that has always intended to do one thing – generate television ratings – may have lured you alongside his ultra-conservative, alt-right pandering, but the vile hate speech transforms what you may see as “simple” into something way more complex than you are able to casually walk away from. I know it’s tough trying to force fresh water out of the spring that has flooded the world world with salt water for the past two years. You don’t think what has happened is that bad. After all, you probably don’t wear white robes and march with the KKK. You probably don’t use the “n word” or tell racist jokes. You probably do not think that ALL Mexicans are rapists or ALL Muslims are terrorists, that is if you know any Mexicans or Muslims at all. You may not even want to touch random women inappropriately, either, or rape them. You may not want to start a series of seminars and call them a “university” in hopes of scamming people out of money with a fake school. However, you, dear Christian and Donald Trump, pushed hatred, divisiveness, disrespect, intolerance, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, sexism, and rape speech into the public eye as acceptable practices and then said “you should just move on” once your candidate had won the electoral vote. You said these nasty things alongside Donald J. Trump either explicitly or as an innocent bystander who thought they were voting as a “conservative” – meaning you are speaking volumes through your silence on these issues. It was a done deal on Friday after the election and just in time for church on Sunday. We saw that you had changed from the person that sat in a pew beside us and turned into a conduit for all of the qualities that we prayed to God would leave the world so that peace on earth could reign. Your message changed – not the truth, not Christ…but your message. It is in your voice and in your silence, yet it is still probably a mystery to you why some seem so sore that a bigot won the election. Why can’t we all just “move on?”

You, oh Christian bigot, want the victory of a sexual predator to be the end of the process. You don’t rape women, right? So why do I want to keep this going? You want the alt-right (translated: white nationalist bigot) chief strategist appointment to be an issue overplayed by the media. Why do I want to keep talking about racism? You want the conversion therapy-endorsing, talk radio host, ultra-conservative to be the spiritual guide for the man who can’t control his Twitter account. Why do I want to talk about religion and politics? The bigotry continues to compound now that what has proven to be one of the most tumultuous, unpromising, and thoughtless transitions to power in our country’s history is taking place. My family and friends, my children’s classmates, acquaintances of color and different ethnic and religious backgrounds are holding dire and fearful conversations with me and we are met with nonsense-filled soundbytes such as “deal with it,” “move on,” and “build that wall.” There have been an unprecedented amount of hate crimes recorded in the wake of this election, some of which have happened in my city, and you want to know why I cannot just deal with it. Your silence on these issues speaks volumes. Your insensitivity proclaims at least widespread, acute ignorance or at worst, a deep-seeded, seething hatred.  No white robes or swastikas are necessary to make this kind of point. Victory is no salve for the wounds of bigotry and hate speech.

You want the victory in the matter to be where those of faith must concede to the scriptural command of praying for and supporting leaders, as if Trump’s victory has made the practice of excusing sin something that is righteous in the process. You assume prayer wasn’t also made for the loser in the election. You assume prayer hasn’t been made for Trump already. This faithless assumption is the same assumption people make when they say “we took God out of our schools.” Silliness. Utter silliness. That is spoken like a quaking coward, unaware that no man – no group of men, faithful or faithless – could remove the God we serve from anything at our feeble wills. Complete faithlessness! We of faith have been praying every day. No Christian that I know has said they won’t pray for and support the country’s soon-to-be leader. He, in fact, needs fervent and dedicated prayer!

By the same token we that are of faith hold all Scripture to be profitable for reproof. Now that Trump has won the electoral vote, no Scripture says that it is okay to be a bigot, a xenophobe, a sexist, a sexual predator, or a misogynist OR that it is okay to idly support such practices. Even if you saw something that you thought was right or good in the veiled and often absent policies of xenophobe Donald Trump, the means in which he achieved support was heavily dressed in sin, hatred, and mockery. Remember that even the truth, if cloaked in sin, is still sin. To your brother and sister in Christ it looks like you endorse sin yet still wish to be seen as one who models themselves after Christ and is filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s a complex proposition. We’re not disagreeing on economic policy or healthcare plans – we’re disagreeing on it not being okay to mock the disabled or promote rape culture. Presidents change, but truth and sin do not. Speaking against such hatred never ends, as Scripture has it – we pray for His kingdom to come and His will be done on earth. While you endorse it either in full voice or silently, it must be discussed. It is being praised in public forums and those of faith must respond, not with voices of anger (and that is difficult) but voices that reveal the sin, rebuke the sin, and convict the souls of those involved.

That’s where the problem lies now. At first you may have been able to feebly justify support of misogynist Trump because he was not Hillary Clinton (she’s the one called “Crooked Hillary,” remember?). Hillary Clinton is out of the way now. All of the excuses such as “Trump is better than Hillary,” “but Hillary Clinton did this,” “but Bill Clinton did that,” “email servers,” “Benghazi,” etc., now have no role in your conversation. You can no longer say “but Hillary Clinton…” because she’s out of the picture. All that is left is that you, and you alone, endorsed bigotry, racism, hatred, xenophobia, rape culture, and sexism and now have no scapegoat on which to cast these sins. You stand holding this torch high. It’s you who has identified yourself this way. This is probably what your friends and relatives are having such a difficult time stomaching:  you chose sin as your voice and you celebrate it as your side in victory. It would be different had you spoken openly against xenophobia, racism, violence, and rape culture with some intelligent defense of policy or platform, but that never happened (if it did, then this blog isn’t for you, I suppose).

That goes deeper than just a vote. It seems you are capable of excusing sexual harassment for political victory. You are capable of advocating a pro-life platform for unborn girls while advocating for the rape and sexual harassment of “born” girls. You are capable of excusing xenophobia to prove America can be great again (whatever that means, as if America isn’t great now). You will excuse bigotry in order to win an election. You endorse sexism as long as you have a chance at winning an argument. You let bullies mock the disabled at the expense of a reporter and applaud the faux virtue of “telling it like it is.” You let a deceased war hero’s mother and father be mocked in order to properly support a political party and condemn the faux sin of “political correctness.” You allowed an entire nation to be labeled rapists in permission to stir up fear of minority groups and at the expense of creating fear for Mexican Americans.You permitted a man to receive accolades and votes despite saying that he would grab a woman by the p***y at the expense of those who have experienced abuse who walk silently among you – they are everywhere and you spoke against them. You extolled the virtue of the sanctity of marriage while, at the same time, you lauded the three marriages, mistresses, extra-marital affairs, and current pornographic model/escort wife (and add “plagiarist,” if indeed that actually makes a difference at this point) of Donald Trump. You reduced rape culture to “locker room talk” and then pointed fingers to accuse the victim of adultery (Trump’s opponent) for the sins of the adulterer (her husband).

If you are capable of doing this in a political race, where else will you do this and what will be your trigger? At family functions, at schools, around my children, on social media? I’m sure by this point that your blood pressure is high and you want to scream a red-faced “NO I WOULD NEVER DO THAT!” at the top of your keyboard’s lungs. But…what if you wanted to win again? What if you wanted to vote just to spite those who said this kind of behavior is sinful behavior? What if you just don’t care or are prone to turning a blind eye to injustice yet again? That’s why I wonder what you’ve become and how you became blind to the banner that you, through Trump, were waving. That’s why I have a hard time thinking about what side dish I’ll bring to your table at Thanksgiving. It is trite, trivial, and fleeting. I am bringing my sacrifices to an altar and I have a problem with my brother.

You’ve tied yourself to Trump’s identity; his words are your testimony. When Donald Trump was speaking with what I thought was plainly revealed, inexcusable, and sinful hatred, I was certain that it could be seen in light of how Scripture condemns it. Now that he has won, I see that many ignore Scripture, excuse the sin, and stand by such behavior. Many of you excuse yourselves from even discussing this behavior or being questioned by others through reason of victory. Sin, faith, and truth do not work this way.

Please understand that there are and will be those that are hurt because you would support such sin. Injustice and unrighteousness, whether enacted first hand or endorsed from the sidelines as a bystander really, really hurts those to whom it is aimed. And regardless of what position you play on the team of injustice, you’re still on the team. That goes for the players, cheerleaders, and spectators.  You have allowed sin to be a path that’s considered as a just means to achieve what you want. You turned away from truth and justice and opted for sacrifice – the sacrifice of those who are victims and are oppressed by such hatred. You condemned all the groups who were the dumping ground for Donald Trump’s hatred and shockingly turned around and mentioned God with the same voice. Once you endorsed hatred, claimed God, and then won the race, you turned with residual disdain toward those who were shocked at your behavior. Maybe you suggested moving on or dealing with it. Maybe you mocked the fear of those who are afraid. Maybe you mocked small movements like the safety pin or large movements like peaceful protests against such language and hatred. Not only did you endorse Trump’s brand of hatred, but also those who are trying to show solidarity by moving on and dealing with it by speaking about how bigotry is sinful. Maybe you’ve looked at others and said things like, “it’s over now. Get used to it,” “America has spoken,” “oh look, you’re candidate didn’t win so now you’re hurt,” “I had to support a candidate I didn’t like for 8 years, so get over it,” “people are saying worse things about Donald Trump now than he ever said about anyone else,” “oh look, Trump opponents are causing riots,” “oh look at who is intolerant now,” “no matter who is president, Jesus is King.” Maybe you’ve posted it on social media with pictures of Kermit the Frog, Willy Wonka, or Hitler. How far down into the salty waters will you wade? Are you truthfully joyous in this behavior? Does patriotism become stronger in the mockery of its smaller parts? What does your Book say about seasoning speech?

There is no room to say such things. Mockery is provocation for response and doesn’t promote moving on, does it? Avoiding the issues of bigotry that were clearly spoken by the candidate isn’t actually dealing with the issues. Moving on is what you’d like, right? Good! The holidays are coming soon. Make up for lost time and lost ground. Focus on a new voice – one that wasn’t present in supporting the bigot. Speak about how you will not stand for racism. Speak how you will not judge a woman based on looks. Speak about how it is not okay when anyone sexually forces themselves on others. Stand up for victims of rape instead of for their oppressors. Learn the names and stories of the refugees you condemned. Tell others you will not stand for a misogynist calling women pigs and other slurs. Tell your family that you won’t stand for other nations being demonized. Speak up for children’s health care, citizenship, and education if you are truly pro-life. Campaign for peace, not war, if indeed life is precious.  Be honest if you know nothing about the illegal immigrants you were force-fed the fear of. Don’t be cruel if you hear that someone may be losing insurance because your candidate spoke so openly about cancelling the health care options for the uninsurable. Stand up in courage and speak out against fear mongering. Stop excusing sin as a bystander. Strengthen your faith and the faith of others instead of speaking against or mocking those who are desperately trying to “fear not.” Speak so that you may earn the trust and integrity you’ve lost as a credible, genuine person of faith. Speak for what is right instead of for what won this election, so that you may be a peacemaker. Speak so that the city on the hill, the light of the world, may not be hidden.  Don’t speak for the side of division, but for the side of unity. You cannot reveal God through mockery. The Holy Spirit does not convict through actions that ridicule others. Speak for Christ, for Christ’s sake.

You, Christian bigot, bought and sold the slogan “Make America Great Again,” not “Mock America Into Being Great Again.” You can’t do that by saying that others are crying about sour grapes or spilled milk. You can’t do that by telling the losing side to “just deal with it.” You can’t make anything great by gloating in the same way that you can’t make anything great by giving voice to oppression and hatred.  You’ve tied yourselves to the millstone of the racist xenophobe. You have no room to plummet further into those dark, salty waters with that millstone around your neck. Either act like a person of faith or stop wondering why others find what you say to be bigoted.

It was hard for me to find that I have relatives who could say they’d “grab a woman by the p***y.” I was shocked to find I had cousins who have pageant daughters who now supported a man who they support walking into their dressing rooms (months after faux-outrage at the idea that a transgender person might walk into their bathroom). I stared in disbelief as the friend I sang “Tie Us Together, Lord” with at church camp now believed that “they’re sending us their rapists and drug dealers.” It was stunning to watch as former and current WIC and welfare mothers in my family excuse rape culture, despite being self-proclaimed pro-lifers, and would also agree that we should “bomb the sh*t out of ’em,” – “’em” being ISIS’ men, women and children (how’s that for pro-life – let ’em be born then kill ’em). I have watched as marriages in my family were broken and friends and relatives moved in with each other outside of marriage and then proclaimed that marriage was a sacred institution all the while belittling same sex marriages, parading the Clintons’ marriage, or giving silent approval to the Trump brand of marriages and affairs. It was hard to watch those with whom I have worshipped and had, in thanksgiving, prayed in church for freedom to assemble and for the Lord to “please send us those who need you most,” look at an entire religion and judge that it needed “extreme vetting” and a “registry.” It is hard to watch those who have been WIC and welfare mothers or single parents who have lived with their parents because they were unable to afford their own lives speak about how the helpless and homeless refugees should be turned away – all while calling them “Trojan horses” and “terrorists”. It was hard to watch those I love support wholeheartedly a racist who quietly accepted David Duke, Steve Bannon, and the KKK’s endorsement without saying a word, even when Trump was questioned and despite my family’s interracial children and marriages. It was hard for me to see Christian and non-Christian friends and family, some of whom are disabled and have disabled children, support and cheer that the disabled could be mocked on national television – in doing so you mocked your own family…my family…and that is sickening. It is hard to watch pastors and deacons from various chuches I have attended post about “Islams” (which, for the record, should be “Muslims”) and try their hand at racist humor by posting on social media that “A white man evicts a black family from their home” (in reference to the White House). People of faith and good conscience are vacating truth for the side of a political argument in all of these instances. The church, in supporting and endorsing this behavior, not only silences the voice of truth but also speaks with a different voice- a voice dripping with hatred and wink-wink-nudge-nudge bigotry. I feel I have been lied to. I have broken bread and worshipped with those who now excuse this behavior and take the side of the oppressor rather than stand for and with the oppressed. I learned about forgiveness, redemption, and salvation from some of you who wipe off hate speech as a casualty of the election, as if all is fair in love and war, and God’s truth can be put on hold until the election was won. This goes beyond losing an election. We laid our faiths on the table and sold it for corruption and rot.

Those of faith are sickened and hurt because you, Christian bigot, seemed to have renounced faith in this campaign. You used or endorsed speech that hurt us and those we serve. You hid the Word of God. You put the lamp under a basket. You scourged Christ again. Instead of moving on and having meaningful dialogue about why you or America excused sin for victory, you ask why I still want to talk about these things and then mock me for it. You accuse me of being a sore loser. I ask why it is okay to say these things and am told to move on, what’s done is done.  It is indeed a time to move on, but those of faith are moving without you and despite you. We’ll have those conversations whether you check into or out of them. Our Text discusses it whether you are there to read It with us or not. We’ll count it a blessing to be mocked by you for the name of Christ. It’s just the way Scripture has asked that we do it. You’ve lost our trust, broken and weakened our family on these issues. That’s not on Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton – that’s on you. We can’t tell you that bigotry is wrong and it’s a shame that we felt we had to tell you in the first place. It’s wrong whether I say it or not. Now you have to take responsibility for your behavior. That will be tough now that you cannot conveniently blame it on Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. You  must speak what you believe in light of what you have already said through your actions. What you have asked me to do in asking me to move on is accept the hatred you voiced against those we are called to serve, overlook it, and then go peacefully into the holiday season like nothing happened. I will forgive you, but first I must “tell it like it is, no political correctness.”

You have, explicitly in full voice or as a silently-endorsing bystander, voiced bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, racism, sexism, and rape culture with one voice on November 7 and then turned to voice Thanksgiving and Peace On Earth, Goodwill Toward Men on November 9. It’s all mixed with your version of “look at who has sour grapes because Trump won.”

“Salt water and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring.”

“No man can serve to masters because he will love one and hate the other.”

My family has a mixture of folks:  retirees, former and current WIC/welfare single mothers, divorcees, pageant teens, immigrants, missionaries, educators, artists, students, atheists, a Muslim, interracial relationships, happily-marrieds, those who are living together outside biblical marriage’s sanctity, non-profit volunteers, health care professionals, those struggling with addiction, low income, high income, veterans, teachers, men, women, children. Not one of these went untouched by some form of hatred spewed during this last campaign. While 60 million Americans excused and approved sinful behavior, another 60 million said that this was not okay. Victory by one side does not excuse sin. The Bible said this form of bigotry is not okay. Christ said this is not okay. It is not okay. There is no vote to decide what is truthful and what is sinful. That was decided long before we voted. I hated racism before Trump was elected. I still hate it. I hated violence toward women and misogyny before Trump was elected. It’s still sin. I hated labeling immigrants as rapists before Trump was elected. This ploy to scare people into voting was, and always will be, sin. I couldn’t trade truth’s values for political gain. We are commanded to be salt, not salt water. We are to help the sick, thirsty, imprisoned, unclothed, widows, fatherless, and the stranger – it’s directly tied to how a good Man identifies us. Salt water and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring.

Don’t be surprised that you are seen in a different light or that you’re thought less of because you betrayed your faith and family by campaigning as a bigot – even if you had the best intentions in mind. You had to make hard choices in this past election, it seems. You may not be a bigot, racist, or xenophobe, but Trump’s campaign didn’t separate the bigots from the non-bigots. He certainly made no effort to separate bigots from Christians.

You can be a Christian. You can be a bigot. You cannot be both successfully, though, and one will eventually dominate the other. Think about what you’ve said and done to cause this kind of reaction from others. People didn’t call Trump a xenophobe because they lost an election. He said that for himself. You said it for him. Think about what needs to happen now that you have the platform of victory on which to speak before you ask me to join you and celebrate the Baby that was taken in by strangers and was forced to register and who later fled his country as a refugee from mass genocide – I mean, um, the Christmas holidays.

I’m going to engage in serious study and reassess how I now have to engage you, the church, those I’m called to serve, my family, and my friends. My world was radically shaken when hate achieved a high office in my country. I’m truly hoping that in expressing a few thoughts that I, too, haven’t fallen victim to acting out against a group of people in a bigoted and hateful way. I know that my thoughts are harsh and are bound to hurt some of you. I see them as productive discussion, or at least a screen shot of my feelings and faith at this point in time after this horrid election. I’m hoping they aren’t seen as “hate” – at least not the hate that was spewed at Mexicans whose sole crime was being Mexican, or at women who finally put aside their shame and fear of libel charges to come forward and speak against their rapist when their only crime was being sexually assaulted, or the hate that was spewed at Muslims because their crime was choosing Islam as their religion or wearing a hijab. I think all of this can be discussed, no, I think it MUST be discussed. I’m just not sure, with such a level of hatred introduced as normal discourse, how it can be done. At least you’ll know how I feel in the matter before shutting me out with a meme or a plea for me to “deal with it” and “move on.”

I ask myself and you the following question:

Maybe it is time to start making peace with your brother before bringing the turkey to the altar?

 

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Burger Flippers Versus Paramedics and Soldiers

Why should you burger flippers make $15 an hour? I don’t make that and it’s my job to save lives and protect our freedoms.

That’s social media at its finest. It’s easy for folks to get caught up in red herrings that distract from the truth of the matter. For anyone to come to what actually is true, though, there has to be some letting go of this string of false logic. And that is truly what is going on here:  false logic. Look it up. It’s technically called a “false dichotomy” or a “false dilemma.”

The issue of a living wage isn’t waged in the either-or arena of fast food workers versus paramedics. It’s not gas station attendants versus school teachers. It’s not grocery store stock personnel versus American soldiers. If you find that you’ve distilled the plea for the $15 per hour wage down the type of job a person has, then the point of the matter has been sorely missed.

A living wage isn’t a privilege for the type of job a person has. A wise man once said something like, “if a man is not willing to work, neither shall he eat.” However, a man who is willing to work should eat. Unfair wages are unfair no matter what skill is employed in earning them. If paramedics aren’t making more than burger flippers, then that is the problem of the person who pays the paramedic, not the burger flipper. There is no real or fair comparison between the two jobs. This certainly isn’t the problem of the armchair, social-media philosopher who values one skill over another so much as to begrudge one his wages.

Let’s be honest, too, about what’s really being said. There’s a whole league of laborers that are being devalued here. It’s saying that one form of honest labor isn’t worthy of a wage. It demonizes a huge section of America’s labor force (Is there really a job called “burger flipper?” That’s like calling a paramedic a “bandaid salesman.“). It’s a smack in the face to those who spend a day working in order to earn a living. It’s terribly insulting. It separates people according to worth – and not actual worth, but rather your own personal estimation of their worth. Who is worth more to you:  a fast food employee or a paramedic? If you’ve not been in the back of an ambulance recently, then, in all honesty, it’s the guy at McDonald’s who you’re putting down who does the most for you. Why is the internet dumping all over this guy? Is he not your neighbor?

Those of us of faith should stand for a living wage. I encourage everyone to sit down with a calculator and google and figure a living wage. Look up expenses for your corner of the world and calculate a budget that includes home, car, groceries, medical, insurance, utilities, etc. You’ll find that it’s harder to reconcile this information using minimum wage than it is posting a silly, red herring-laced argument about a “burger flipper” versus (emergency-life-threatening-emotionally-heart-tugging-job-here).

A worker is worth his wages, you know. You shouldn’t muzzle an ox while he threshes the grain. And for crying out loud, if a man is willing to work, then he should eat. Stand up for all honest labor. Stand against the discrepancy of earnings between those who withhold wages unfairly at the expense of those who do not earn living wage. Stand against false dichotomy and false dilemma – show that faith runs deeper and stronger than silly internet arguments that are the detriment to its hearers. Pull together rather than pull apart. Love God and love your neighbor.

The Imaginary War Between Obama and Stay-At-Home Moms – Did You Fall For It?

Social media has been on fire this week with “news” sites reporting that President Obama does not want mothers to have the choice to be stay-at-home moms. Each bit of “news” is accompanied by a sound clip of Obama saying this clearly and simply.

Here’s the clip that is circulated by faux journalism sites and extremely partisan “news” stations:

While it is still a stretch that Obama is “against” stay-at-home moms from this clip alone, that is what is being pushed by those who wish to turn stay-at-home mothers and those of us who had stay-at-home mothers against President Obama.

So that some can have a more unbiased view without the pushed filter of ignorance, here is the actual speech with the clip in context. It is a tad longer than the 30 second clip that is selectively circulated by “Obama’s War On Women” sites and blowhard pundits.

Here are the points that led up to the famous misquote that so many appropriated without checking the facts:
1. Millions of Americans don’t feel the effects of the recovering economy in their own lives.

2. We have to reverse the erosion of middle class job income, especially in working families.

3. Obama wants to insure that women are equal participants in the economy, especially because he was raised by a struggling single mother who worked hard.

4. Prior to this speech, he spoke with a group of women to hear their viewpoint.

5. The catch 22 of being working parents can be the balance between parenting well and doing a job well. It is our job to make sure we realize this and make policies that enable women (the crowd he’s addressing) succeed since half the work force is currently female.

6. Laws that govern women in the workplace are outdated and need to be revised to accommodate families, sick children, sick parents. “Paid family leave” is the topic considering the laws in Rhode Island.

7. Women often can have no leave for maternity, sick children, sick family. That’s not the way it should be, it’s not good for the economy.

8. Child care, day care, and childhood education should not cost an arm and a leg. Unfortunately, parents don’t always get the best choice in this matter because of sheer cost and employment arrangements, forcing moms have to have to choose to earn better money to pay for hard-to-afford childcare OR to stay at home so that children have better care but earn less money as a result. As a result of their unpaid leave, they are relegated to the part of the workforce that cannot recognize full income potential. THAT IS NOT THE CHOICE HE WANTS THEM TO HAVE TO MAKE.

9. Better preschools, family leave, better childcare policies, and better pay for women make the economy stronger.

There is no evidence or statement that says Obama does not want stay-at-home mothers to have to make the choice to stay at home – as if that even makes sense as a statement to make in a speech!

If you heard anything other than that stay-at-home mothers should earn better pay, have better choices for child care and education, and be treated fairly and respectfully in the workplace, then you were hoodwinked. Evaluate your biases. Look for the truth and do not accept FaceBook and Twitter links as truth. A 30 second sound bite is a dangerous thing in the hands of the prejudiced and hate-filled. Let’s be better citizens. Let’s no longer perpetuate hate of one man or set of ideas because it seems popular. We should exercise stronger faith. Furthermore, let’s end time-wasting gossip and pursue truth and better policies to honor our neighbor as we would ourselves.

Your Mother Likes Hitler

That’s a crazy statement, isn’t it? Why would I attack perhaps your most dearly loved person, your mother, by saying that she likes perhaps history’s most hated person, Adolph Hitler? It is indeed crazy! Why then, on what seems to be a daily basis, do we see television commentators (start at FOX “news” and go from there, see the link below) as well as social media friends (and you know who they are – it seems we all have at least one) who will almost instantly jump to the name “Hitler” when talking politics, religion, and social justice? When Hitler isn’t the knee-jerk default it usually ramps up to Code Level Hitler with these words:  communism, socialism, SS, Nazi, facist, collectivism, Auschwitz, concentration camp, or anti-American.

Whether your friend or pet “news anchor” moves slowly or jumps in one giant leap straight to the payoff term, it seems too many are too eager to play the Hitler card…again and again (despite the endless yawns and eyerolls of those who know better). Here’s a highlight reel if there are some among us who have been spared the silliness:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIr1xn69sT0

The reductio ad hitlerum argument isn’t new. It’s been used for years. Don’t take my word for it – google it. Nearly every politician and person of social influence may find themselves subject to being labeled as Hitler for un-Hitlerish reasons. Take, for instance:  Barack Obama, George W., Pope Francis, and even Jesus Christ (I suppose in some sort of time-travel Hitler influence).

Why does this bother me? First, it exalts the sins of hatred, racism, murder, war, and partiality to gain ground in a discussion or argument. Secondly, it exalts and displays the suffering of a race, a targeted minority, broken families, and the innocent in order to gain the upper hand of a discussion or argument. Finally, it takes all the above and makes that which should be considered with utmost gravity and respect and makes it all into trite playthings and trinkets in what is usually inconsequential political discussion by comparison.

Americans bind themselves under a code of law that finds its honor in freedoms guaranteed in our pursuit of happiness rooted in the idea that all men are created equal. I find that comforting. However, as a Christian, my faith goes deeper to insure that not only do I see all men as equal in the eyes of the law, but also in the eyes of God who respects no man. I am to love them as I love myself. The Hitler card isn’t something to be played by those of faith in that frame of mind.

Let’s look at it rationally. The only reason Hitler is used by today’s generation is to appeal to emotions of disgust, hatred, and taboo. If so-and-so is Hitler, and Hitler is to be hated and repulsive, then what you support is also to be hated and repulsive. It’s not used in a historically accurate context nor a context that pleads for that discussion. It’s a jump to extremes that is all too often the case in our social discourse. It’s not usually a fair comparison, but rather an attack on the character of those supporting an opposing viewpoint. Those who see it for what it is classify the use of the Hitler argument as a logical fallacy (google that, too). You may even find that those who are all too eager to play the Hitler card won’t be able to tell you much about the man, the years in which he was a political player, the reason he was a powerful man, any of his works, or what he did that was “so bad” as to think that Nancy Pelosi (or Dick Cheney; insert least favorite politician here) is his current incarnation. Despite the holes in the reductio ad hitlerum argument as a debate technique, look at it on a personal level.

We are of the generation where our grandfathers fought the war. Citing Hitler in political or social justice disagreement of such minor and unrelated consequence lessens that sacrifice and the honor of those who put their lives in the balance to insure the comforts of our current existence in America. It demonstrates a working ignorance of the values of a nation that stopped what it was doing to insure that injustice was stopped. It demonstrates a working ignorance of the amount of death and destruction that had to occur because of the level of injustice in the world. It devalues and cheapens this generation and its legacy.

We are the generation where mass genocide is not a threat in our country. We are talking about the actual slaughter of innocent men, women, and children. We are talking of Nazi government suspicion and the imprisonment of millions based on a citizen’s looks, nationality, and relationships. We are talking about atrocities the likes and levels of which have not been experienced in America since Hitler’s time. We are talking about a legacy created for a race of people that is still spoken of with fear, tears, and solemnity as well as those who sympathize with the plight of those of Jewish faith and descent. We are talking about a legacy of equality that has been threatened in such a way that all Americans must safeguard it with utmost respect and strength. We are talking about direct descendants of Jews who were able to escape with little more than their lives and often times without family, children, and dignity. We are talking about a finely distilled racism that has been abolished in our country in pursuit of supposedly a higher moral framework. Why would we dare bring any of this up in order to tear down another person’s political views, candidate support, or religious discussion? How tasteless, barbaric, insulting, and wrong does one have to be in order to assert a viewpoint in a political or spiritual discussion that is by all history and factual analysis not even comparable? We shouldn’t devalue an entire race in order to say we don’t like the current state of affordable healthcare, gun control, or rule of law. We shouldn’t make the death of millions of innocent men, women, and children nothing more than mere trinkets to played with when talking about the state of gun laws. How embarrassing! Who among us has that lack of shame?

Pulling the Hitler card to evoke the emotion of hatred into an argument is in line with the lack of shame in the current plights of pundits and armchair activists in the digital age. Pro-gun activists bray loudest in the news and on social media in the wake of gun violence enacted toward elementary schools. Freedom of speech activists picket funerals of those lost too soon in battle (and in the name of religion, nonetheless). An unarmed child can be shot dead by an armed man and laws can be made to make murder appear to be a fair fight. Shame has been lost. Everything we don’t like is Hitler; we don’t care who gets hurt because we have freedom of speech. There is nothing wrong with the second or first amendments or the law – but our sense of shame has been lost in a false sense of patriotism, or God forbid, Christian honor. Politicians attempt to make careers riding behind these banners. Christians try to reshape and reinterpret the word of God to fit such situations. Some would rather risk hurting victims of such horror and those who suffer from the legacy of racism and genocide in order to gain the upper hand of an argument. Some would rather fire the buckshot of hatred on social media than speak reasonably, honorably, and without extreme, ballyhooed, apocalyptic, and hypothetical comparisons.

You can’t reason with the victims of the Oklahoma bombing by calling them “McVeigh.” You can’t speak to a 9/11 victim and expect reasonable conversation if you were to compare them to “Bin Laden.” You would have no ready ear by calling a Christian “Judas.” Why would you expect to be considered with any credibility by calling any American “Hitler?” It makes no sense.

So let us look at what isn’t Hitler:  healthcare, taxes, a politician who isn’t playing a major role in mass genocide and a world war, a person with an allegiance to the views of one political party or the other, the president (whomever he may be), food stamp administrators or recipients, the elite rich, the elite poor (you know, the ones we like to advertise the most as mooches who have cell phones and buy anything above generic-quality food at the grocery store), atheism, or any religious view that doesn’t advocate hatred, racism, and genocide. There are many things to add to this list. I only list a few things to get the common sense ball rolling.

Things that are Hitler:  Adolph Hitler.

For those of us that are of faith, let us entreat those as a mother would her children. Let us season our language as with salt. Let us love our neighbor as our we love ourselves. For those of us that are not of faith, let us entreat with some sense of honor, dignity, and historical accuracy. Remembering that we’re all looking for happiness because we are equal is a good start, too. These traits can be learned through building character as well as taking a simple middle or high school history course in order to learn who Hitler actually was and why his name shouldn’t be thrown around as a commonplace word in the social discourse vocabulary.

Move past hatred with the lessons learned from history rather than threatening what we, as honorable humans, vow will never happen again. Start with honor rather than hatred. Employ respect rather than shame. Make comparisons accurately with intent to progress rather than divide. Honor and dignity are easily attainable if we will only choose to act with honor and dignity.

If that seems too lofty or unreasonable, then we could begin with an even simpler baby step:  Stop using Hitler comparisons. It’s tasteless, self-degrading, and asinine.

Love God. Love each other. It’ll clear the confusion.

Merry Chr…Duck! You’re Under Fire!

I enjoy catching up with friends who live at distances on Facebook. It is nice to be able to do that especially when the holiday season rolls around. Most posts are typical: here’s my Christmas tree, here’s 100 pictures (half of which are blurry) of a Christmas party, here’s yet another picture of a mischievous shelf elf, here’s a selfie (posed impromptu, of course), laments over an imagined “war on Christmas” (keep the “Christ” in it, folks), and finally the support/opposition for Mr. Duck Dynasty for his remarks on homosexuality.

Double take.

What? Now the screen is split between cutesy, mischievous elves, blurry Christmas trees, and a grizzled, bearded old guy under provocative headlines and enough hot-headed, shot-from-the-hip comments to make for a Fox News audition reel.

There are what seems to be two warring factions on the final recurring post about Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty. First, there is the outcry of my “Christian” friends who seem to feel that Phil Robertson is being persecuted unjustly for speaking his mind about the Bible and homosexuality. He is being persecuted so badly that he has been dismissed from his hit television show and that his first amendment rights have been stripped away. Next, there is the group that points the finger at Christian groups and gives a big “I told you so.” They feel that Christians are all the same: judgmental, homophobic, intolerant, narrow-minded, hate-filled, self-righteous bigots.

What is wild is that my Christian friends are all posting basically the same sentiments in support of Mr. Duck Dynasty independently of each other. It’s as if they all emailed each other prior to posting their “stand up for the truth,” “I support the first amendment,” “one side gets more free speech than the other” posts. I would not find this so uncanny if they didn’t do THE EXACT same thing with those silly shelf elves.

My Facebook news feed is one big, not-so-spirit-of-Christmas, hijacked mess.

(insert long, deep sigh)

There’s a problem in this. The Duck Dynasty/homosexual/homophobic posts are acts of provocation rather than acts to make peace. The posts contain more condemnation than goodwill. The posts contain more of a “I dare you to not like my beliefs” attitude that are more off-putting than welcoming. These posts are not an act of love. They aren’t posts of loving a neighbor as oneself. I’m slowly realizing that those who want “a Christian nation” the most are usually the ones who are the most counterproductive to such an idea. It’s there that I realize most of my christian friends don’t really have what they like to call the “Christmas spirit” (despite tree and elves) nor do they maintain the practice of faith as is detailed so explicitly in the Bible when it comes to teaching, practicing, or professing beliefs in a public forum.

Furthermore, there is an outcry over free speech as politics are dragged into the discussion. The Constitution is pulled through the mud in the same way it is every time there is some sort of social/political offense taken by Christians. These ingredients are mixed together into a tasteless, boiling stew that repulses both those who long for peace, truth, and justice as well as those who wish to point the finger at the Christian faith and show how worthless that religion is in their eyes. It tends to burn everyone who takes part in it.

Let’s look at the Duck Dynasty fiasco truthfully.

1. No one has had their free speech rights taken away from them.
It has not happened and it will not happen. Mr. Duck Dynasty had freedom of speech and said exactly what he wanted to say during his interview with GQ magazine. Anyone who reads the article (link below), watches the show, or has attended one of his speaking engagements/fundraisers/church lectures knows that he has these opinions. No one expects differently. Neither the government nor his cable TV benefactors prevented him from saying anything. Even though he has been suspended from the show he still has the right to say anything he wants. He will not be silenced unless he chooses to silence himself. He still has his website, social media, more interview offers than he can honk a duck call at according to the infamous article, and any number of people with which to speak his mind. He’s free to do so as guaranteed by The Constitution and the Lord who gave him a mouth (speaking of male body parts, Mr. Robertson).

2. He is not free from the consequences of exercising free speech.
That’s in the law as well. He not free from others having a free speech opinion on the matter. He is also not free from the consequences of having exercised free speech. There is no one in this nation exempt from the consequences of his/her own actions. A citizen’s actions can result in being hired, fired, making/losing friends, developing relationships, developing talents, earning grades, etc. Free speech does not excuse actions. Free speech does not prevent the opinion of others. Free speech is not a free pass to act as one pleases, free from the legal actions of others. Free speech can propel one to success or insure certain failure. In either result, the choice is yours as it is for Robertson.

3. It is alarming that Christians are rallying behind a man that quoted the Bible and spoke so blatantly and crudely about sex in the same interview. They are rallying behind a man who publicly claimed faith while simultaneously condemning and stereotyping groups of people.
This is strange. Mr. Duck Dynasty is being held up as being persecuted for being a Christian as a result of exercising his first amendment rights. This simply isn’t so. Robertson calls out the homosexual community first and foremost when asked “what is sinful?” Read the interview here:
http://www.gq.com/entertainment/television/201401/duck-dynasty-phil-robertson?currentPage=2
He lumps homosexuals into a group with terrorists, those who practice bestiality, prostitutes, and those who “sleep with this woman and that woman.” This isn’t normal or Christian, folks. Sin doesn’t start with homosexuality – that’s not found in the Bible. Ministry doesn’t start by identifying a sin and then saying something like, “you have a problem with alcohol? You’re just like the terrorists who are ruining our nation.” He then goes on to point out that those who have not had Jesus are the equivalent of “Nazis…Shintos…Communists…and Islamists.” The neighbors we love as ourselves aren’t lumped together or stereotyped as he proposes. They certainly aren’t compared to sects from history that he conveniently omitted who have committed such heinous acts as, say for instance the Crusades, the Ku Klux Klan, Jonestown, or others who have claimed acts in the name of a Christian God. Robertson’s proof-in-the-pudding, Jesus-less cultures list comes across as hypocritical on behalf of Christian culture. It certainly is neither effective ministry nor a statement of personal faith – it’s a declaration of worldview and an unbiblical, personal judgment of groups of people.

Furthermore, the way he describes the male and female anatomy in regard to his own sexual preference is crude and obscene (again, read the interview for the exact list of body parts and wording). This wouldn’t be accepted in a church sermon or on the Duck Dynasty show and it shouldn’t be accepted by those who profess faith. It is obscene to publicly describe such sexual practices in the presence of anyone who searches for Duck Dynasty on a computer (just give it a try – his remarks weren’t private) as many younger and adolescent hunters/fans probably do. It is profane for those who believe the marriage bed to be undefiled.

4. It is business. It is not religion. It is not a free speech issue. It is not a “who’s right/who’s wrong” issue.
A&E suspended Phil Robertson for speaking with hostility toward the viewers to which they market their shows. It’s business, not religion. It’s business, not free speech. It’s business, not “who’s right/who’s wrong.” A&E could have suspended him without him having said anything at all. It’s A&E’s show, not Phil Robertson’s show. There is nothing wrong with his suspension. It’s all perfectly legal and has nothing to do with his religion. It has to do with the way he offended a group of people.

Let’s be frank here. The group he offended isn’t simply “homosexuals,” “liberals,” or “sinners.” As a Christian I am offended at his public description of the male and female anatomy as he describes one as sexually preferable and the other as “illogical.” I am offended that he has reduced what I believe in as the intimate physical relationship of marriage to nothing more than the preference of female and male anatomy. I am offended that he chose to sell his Duck Dynasty brand with provocative sexual discussion (in this manner he is no different from any “real housewife” or “Kardashian” or “Miley Cyrus publicity stunt” on TV). I am offended that he alienates me as a christian from a group of people that have the same right to Christ’s gift as I do or as he does in such a public manner. I am offended that he makes it more difficult for me to minister to people that I am called to serve. I am offended that he lumps people together and feels that one sinful behavior is the root of other behaviors. I am offended that he paraphrases the Bible to justify his statements. I’m still a little stunned that most Christians find this kind of speech acceptable from the mouth of one professing faith. However offensive his statements are he is still by law entitled to them and to all the benefits and backlash that result.

Still, his interview is the result of business and his suspension is a business, not a religious or constitutional, decision. Even in being suspended from the show, Duck Dynasty will continue to air as of the date of this blog. None of the Duck Dynasty hats, Halloween costumes, cups, key chains, or merchandise ad infinitum/ad nauseum have been pulled from the shelves before the Christmas holiday. There is peace in the world of consumer capitalism despite one less character on a reality show.

5. Christians aren’t being persecuted.
You aren’t Phil Robertson. Even if you agree with him you aren’t being persecuted. Shoot (pun intended), Phil Robertson isn’t even being persecuted. He’s simply receiving the just consequences of his actions. If you talk about the human anatomy publicly as a grocery clerk, a banker, a school teacher, or a cosmetologist, then you would more than likely be reprimanded or suspended from your job as well. This was the case before “the ten commandments were taken from court houses” and “prayer was taken out of schools” and “everything became so politically correct” and will be the case as long as a media company markets a product to the public for profit. Persecution would have been if you, not Phil Robertson, were punished for having said nothing at all. When an action receives the expected reaction or just consequences, then there is no such persecution.

6. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.
Mr. Duck Dynasty didn’t say he disagrees with homosexuality as detailed in the Bible. He gave his own opinion (or camouflaged the truth, again – pun intended) on what he finds more sexually desirable using the names of body parts as well as stereotyping groups of people and casting sinners into groups with other sinners. He did so in an interview while riding the fame of a worldwide television hit show, one of the most public, widespread platforms a person can hold. I’m guessing that those who are homosexual don’t appreciate being publicly cast into a group with those who practice bestiality no more than those who practice religion (say for instance Christians) like to be cast into a group with other sincere religious practitioners (say for instance Muslims). He also placed homosexuals (and “morphed out from there”) into the same group as Nazis, Shintos (really? “shintos?!”), etc. What manner of ministry or faith is that? It’s puzzling. How he said what he said was wrong, therefore what he said was wrong. Let me restate that: If you say the right thing the wrong way, then what you say is wrong (that’s a biblical principle, for all non-Christians who wonder why I restate this). I’ve said it before in other blog articles but it bears repeating: lovingkindness, goodness, or purity that is wrapped in hate is still hate.

7. Don’t confuse being American with being Christian.
They aren’t synonymous. The more one tries to make them one and the same, the more one will find that one identity no longer exists. They can exist together but they are not the same things. This Duck Dynasty fiasco isn’t a constitutional issue. This isn’t an issue where someone was cheated of their rights and should therefore “take all the way to the Supreme Court.” This isn’t an issue of “if prayer were in schools, then we’d have nothing like this happen, ever.” That ridiculous mode of thought makes Christians appear ignorant of the law. It makes Christians look like they do not respect the law as well – and this is not what the bible teaches in regard our faith. Don’t pull “freedom of religion” by citing the Constitution or exercising free speech. In this case, exercise freedom of religion by exercising the two commands on which all of Christianity is based: love your God; love your neighbor – no more, no less.

8. Embrace the Christmas spirit (be good, for goodness’ sake!).
Peace on earth. Goodwill toward men. It’s hard to be a peacemaker when posting a picture of an elf at one moment and posting the support of a commercially-driven star exiled for an obscene, public opinion (no matter that he quoted the Bible in the same article). Don’t provoke bad feelings and expect peace or goodwill. Hold your tongue. Love your neighbor. Do good things. Count it blessed if you are persecuted. Bless and do not curse. Make peace. Bring peace as far as it is up to you. Make friends. Bring peace with your homosexual and heterosexual neighbor. Bring peace with someone who is angered or embittered. Bring peace within yourselves and with others whomever they may be. One will have a better forum for differences of opinion if this there is a strong, meaningful relationship in place from the beginning. The beginning of understanding and meaningful discussion is guaranteed with the assurance of peace.

Be good, for goodness’ sake. Remember that Santa is watching. If that does nothing for you, then remember that your children, other Christians, potential Christians, and your neighbors are watching. Make peace for them.

I must go and make peace with an elf who has spread marshmallows all over the kitchen floor. Those pictures aren’t going to take themselves.

Here’s to a Merry Christmas.

Dave Ramsey’s Viral Obamacare Video

Many of my friends are emailing and posting a video by Dave Ramsey who speaks about the Affordable Care Act. It’s being touted as unbiased and objective. I watched it once and found he was including good points but left out a few sides of the argument that are important to consider when trying to factor in “math” and “intelligence.”

Here’s the vid:

Here’s another great link concerning healthcare in America:
http://www.upworthy.com/his-first-4-sentences-are-interesting-the-5th-blew-my-mind-and-made-me-a-little-sick-2?c=la3

Here’s another video that talks about the wealth and prosperity demographics in America:
http://utrend.tv/v/9-out-of-10-americans-are-completely-wrong-about-this-mind-blowing-fact/

Finally, here’s a link for those who have learned more about the ACA from Fox News, Jon Stewart, or any rogue/faux news website blog. Ladies and gents, the actual Affordable Care Act:
http://housedocs.house.gov/energycommerce/ppacacon.pdf

Here’s what Dave isn’t explaining “critically”:

1. The math “kicks in” when we pay for the “500 lb” person in an emergency room or with other government allotments for those who are unable to afford health care. While he uses red herrings to bias the listener subjectively against overindulgent, “fat” people, he doesn’t attempt to bias anyone against the struggling single mom, the infant in NICU, the uninsured victim of domestic violence because he simply wouldn’t be persuasive with just “math” or “facts.” That list of red herrings aside, he doesn’t figure in the math of those living below the poverty line or those who are above poverty that simply cannot afford healthcare beyond their means (a regular tenet of his broadcasts). It’s a swayed opinion meant to bias you toward subjectivity. Don’t fall for it. By the way, diabetes isn’t even close to being at the top of the list of health problems:
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm

2. We pay higher premiums now due to insurance company selectivity and filtering along with their work toward a profit. Did you receive 20% more pay this year? Of course not. Your insurance company may have: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2012/industries/223/ . Now, instead of planned profits from those who are filtered from using insurance they will actually be providing services to those who need them. The “actuarial tables” he mentions are designed to project and insure profit to keep companies gaining upwards of 20% profit gains (as if a company profiting at this rate would go under) and would continue to project profits under ACA. Profit-hungry companies will fall or restructure, new and affordable companies will form and provide services, physicians will adapt, that workforce demographic will evolve and grow. He goes out of his way to say that the math against the ACA is no “moral imperative” yet he leaves out these factors that affect healthcare and will be affected by these changes (changes that are not a “moral imperative”) in any market situation. These changes are supply and demand. Focusing on skyrocketing premiums as the only change is verbal sleight-of-hand meant to focus the listener on one sliver of an enormous picture. When do premiums go down? They don’t. While taxpayer money pays for it to some degree, it will be made affordable so that other money is going into the system. It is also going toward preventative practices which are cheaper than the practices that merit emergency room visits and hospital stays.

3. Look at the link on wealth distribution and then don’t put so much weight on Dave’s “46% pay nothing.” It’s not that 46% chose this, it’s that “mathematically” supply and demand will not allow the poorest to afford the care provided by overpriced health care service providers. The demand is great; the supply is not affordable; the cost has to be placed elsewhere. This is also math that he simply doesn’t factor this into his equation. It doesn’t take a Dave Ramsey to know this. Furthermore, can you imagine blaming the rising cost of healthcare on the poor (again, see the upworthy link)? Dave paints the insurance companies as the victim whose profits are threatened by those who can’t afford their services. He goes on to threaten your job, your raise, and the ability to purchase insurance at the hands of the impoverished. In regard to the ACA, he talks about 46% not paying anything. That’s not accurate, either. The program accounts for poverty and provides a sliding scale that benefits not only Dave’s 46%, but also the middle class (individuals earning upwards of $45K). Here’s a link with a chart lower in the article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/01/readers-have-questions-about-obamacares-penalties-we-have-answers/.

4. His skewing of social security to look like a poor return to those who overpay for it is also a mathematical choice that he would preach for or against on his show regularly. Purchase what you can afford; don’t purchase what you cannot afford. The factor left out of this equation is that health is not a commodity and buying healthcare services is not the currency to pay for it. For the same people who can’t afford overpriced insurance premiums, it is impossible to afford retirement investments therefore making social security the only guaranteed default plan. Whether those returns are poor or great, they are guaranteed by our government to every citizen. Even if Dave or any other economist/politician predicts SS’s downfall in the future, it is still the only guaranteed retirement plan that is affordable to the poor at this time. He normally advocates paying down debt and living within means – but he would agree that these means are simply not affordable to the 46% he demonizes or to those with health problems of any magnitude (not necessarily members of the socialist 46%!). At the same rate D.C. “steals” it, independent providers prevent it by making it unaffordable; our wages and wealth distribution are so skewed that social security is the default program.

5. Equating health care to gun rights is a poor, laughable analogy. Health care isn’t a “right” – it is a necessity that can’t be voted in or out of existence. It is part of being human that has been co-opted by businessmen and made into a for-profit business. We sell cures like candy and it’s embarrassing to demonize those who need it the most because those who made the rules said that some were too poor to play the game. Affordable health care is being made a right, more especially in a society that touts the capitalism in which such an essential service would dare be made unaffordable for the sake of exorbitant profit – and the right to affordable healthcare is nonexistent for most of our society. The wealthy who need healthcare will never be the red herring because they can afford services where the poor have to subject their healthcare and poverty to public opinion, scorn, disdain, insult, and what is tantamount to begging. The sick and/or uninsurable didn’t choose for the price of healthcare services to be unaffordable – those who profit from those services made it this way and chose to demonize those who needed the services the most in the process (Dave’s poor 500 lb man) in order to wash their hands of responsibility in the matter. Dave doesn’t place this into his equation which shows a bias in his thinking. It has to be bias because he’s pretty sharp and I wouldn’t call him ignorant of these issues.

6. Also, in regard to that “right,” it is being provided to any American for a price (it’s not the “Free Healthcare Act”) and the penalty that is “forced” upon you goes toward your health care. That massive fine that everyone is griping about is $95 through 2016 or 1% of total income . To complain about this means one of a few things: in not purchasing insurance one is still willing to force the cost of his healthcare onto others while complaining about $95, one thinks that $95 is a huge fine instead of the hundreds (or thousands) paid currently for premiums, one simply hates Obama enough that he’ll go for anything against the current administration – no matter how sensible, or that accepting the “substandard program” provided affordably to you is worse than nothing or forcing others to pay for your healthcare. While Dave mentions communism and the idea that social security offers poor returns for the price a citizen pays in, he forgets to mention that at healthcare’s current rates and pricetag, it pays back far more in services than what you’ll put in at the penalty rate or even at the cheapest rates provided under the ACA. This is a glaring statement of hypocrisy in his argument, especially as he has given it the prelude of “intellectual honesty,” “budget,” “emergency fund,” “these people not doing math,” “there’s a tipping point in the math,” “the lack of freedom (really, Dave?).”

7. The allusion to “communism” is also laughable. No one says those communists made me drive on their roads, kept me safe with their policemen, guarded my right to free speech, kept criminals in their jails at expenses that were more than what I paid in. The ad hoc and ad hitlerum arguments are tiresome and beneath the level of intellect that is usually par for his show. Red herrings are signs of a weak argument even though he makes some good points. The ACA is guaranteeing a start to affordable health care, which is currently nonexistent for most, rather than free health care, which already exists and which taxpayers already pay for.

8. Don’t miss the glaring omission in this video, especially if you claim Christianity as your faith. “46%” cannot (not “will not” or “should not”) pay taxes. He brushed over the large problem to get to his political pet point. If 46% cannot put back into the system due to poverty, there is a larger problem than health care. This issue precedes “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and is essential to getting healthcare. Demonizing those or shaming them with “those of us who work will pay it for you” while looking down at them is not part of the solution, nor should it be considered as part of an intellectually honest argument. 46% of over 300 million people is an embarrassing poverty rate. Why is this not addressed? Why is the focus on shaming those who cannot afford healthcare that is not only expensive, but being sold at seven times the rate of expensive? See the link above for that info (upworthy link). Poverty at this level is inexcusable. Dave wants to talk about being honest intellectually while excusing this sad fact? Come on, Dave, I thought more of you.

9. A video that threatens taxpayers rather than those responsible for the cost and perpetuation of the current healthcare system isn’t objective. It isn’t truthful despite using some truthful data. The same argument isn’t being compared to what taxpayers were forced to pay for wars and military spending yet healing the sick is being demonized far more than the mistake of Iraq or exorbitant military spending. Dave’s argument isn’t helpful because it incites action to a personal or political agenda using lopsided angles – that’s defined as “propaganda.” It isn’t genuine because it plays to a fan base rather than to a benchmark of objective work. I respect Dave Ramsey but am not fooled by this brand of reasoning in trying to sell a political viewpoint.

What I See In the Neighborhood (Rest In Peace, Child)

My deepest condolences to those who lost this child. I do not know you, but you have my prayers and my commitment to try and help make my community a safe place for the children I know. Please forgive my attempt to reason with my thoughts in a public forum as my recounting of facts is harsh. I do hope my thoughts will spark discussion that will make my community safer for children and others living here.

There is too much conflicting and confusing information surrounding the media circus of Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman. As a parent and a Christian, I have tried to learn from this and decide how a may better the community that Christ has called me to serve. It is hard to suppress emotion as I try to discern what is true or not true in gathering what I need to know in order to act to keep my children and my community safe.

Here are the only facts I can gather that I know to be true to help in my thoughts. Despite what I’m seeing all over the internet, I have left “race” out of it and also noted what I may doubt with phrases such as “may or may not.” The facts that help me:

1. Two parents have lost a child who died at the hands and judgment of another man.

2. An armed man who can legally own a gun shot and killed an unarmed child who cannot legally own a gun.

3. Before the armed man who could legally own a gun shot and killed the unarmed child who could not legally own a gun, he rejected the advice of law enforcement dispatchers to not pursue the unarmed child and pursued the child with his weapon.

4. The armed man who could legally own a gun pursued the unarmed child who could not legally own a gun by his own reasoning that “he looked like he was up to no good” and “he’s on drugs or something” prior to shooting the unarmed child.

5. The unarmed child who could not legally own a gun was profiled on a 911 call by the armed man, who minutes later would kill him, on a 911 call as “he’s up to no good,” “he’s just staring,” “he’s wearing a…hoodie,” “[he looks like he’s] in his late teens,” “he’s just walking, looking about,” “these a**holes, they always get away,” “I think there’s something wrong with him,” “he’s running.” He also went on to say “okay” when advised not to follow the unarmed child that he shot and killed at an intermediate range of 1-18 inches. The armed man also seemed to fear the unarmed child when he said from inside his vehicle, “I don’t want to give [my address] out loud, I don’t know where this kid is” (the armed man who could legally own a gun calls the unarmed child who could not legally own a gun and would be dead minutes later “a kid”?).

6. Since there is no clear picture of the scuffle in which the unarmed child was killed by the armed man, all that can be assumed from testimony is that the armed man, who could legally own a gun, pursued the unarmed child, who could not legally own a gun, against the advice of law enforcement and was unable to restrain, subdue, or control the behavior of the unarmed child who may or may not have been surprised or scared that an armed man was following him. The armed man, who may or may not have been losing the physical conflict with the child that came about after he pursued the unarmed child against dispatcher advice, chose the combat advantage not legally afforded to the child by brandishing a gun and shot and killed him with the gun that is his legal right to own as an adult. The unarmed child, according to autopsy reports, was shot at 1-18 inches and lived “20 seconds to several minutes” and “for some time, anyway” after being shot. Right or wrong, the unarmed child lost the fight with the armed man who chose to pursue him against dispatcher advice and based on the armed man’s view of how the unarmed child looked and was walking.

7. The 911 call, in which the dispatcher advised the armed man who could legally own a gun not to pursue the unarmed child who “looks black” and “is up to no good” and (according to the armed adult) “is in his teens”, was made at approx. 7:09 PM. The 911 call made by the armed adult ended at approx. 7:15 PM. Police arrived on the scene at 7:17 PM where they found the armed adult standing near the unarmed child who we now know had been shot and killed. The unarmed child who could not, and now will never be able to, legally own a gun was pronounced dead at 7:30 PM. It appears that the judgment and verdict of the armed adult to shoot the unarmed child took place within an approximate window of one-and-a-half to two minutes. The unarmed jury of peers who judged and decided the armed adult’s case after he killed the unarmed child was given all the time necessary (over 15 hours) for a verdict according to due process in a controlled environment where the only armed adults were the law enforcement allowed in the court.

8. The unarmed child who could not legally own a gun was known for his misbehavior and had been suspended from school for recurring bad behavior as the media would report after he had been shot. Some of the behaviors were reported as tardiness, theft, graffiti, and bad language. These allegations, if true (and some acts were caught on video according to investigators) receive a prescribed method within our justice system by those trained in every aspect of law, justice, and investigation. None of these allegations are punishable by instant firing squad in the U.S. currently. Also, these allegations were not known to Zimmerman, the man who could legally own the gun that shot the unarmed child who cannot legally own a gun, who could not even accurately describe the actions, race, or behavior of the child that he saw walking in his community as Zimmerman (who at the time of the phone call was not threatened by anyone) drove by. These behaviors, if true, can now not be given due process the like of what was afforded citizens such as was given to the armed, adult male who shot and killed the unarmed child.

9. The unarmed child who cannot legally own a gun had traces of marijuana in his body according to his autopsy. Because he was shot and killed by Zimmerman, the adult who can legally own a gun and was advised not to pursue the child that Zimmerman said was “in his teens”, he cannot be given the chance to rehabilitate either by the society/the law or by his mother or father who may no longer act as parents to the unarmed child.

10. There are too many “what ifs” surrounding this case.
What if the child, Martin, had been armed rather than the adult? What if the adult, Zimmerman, had not had a gun – would he have so cavalierly pursued the child or been so callous in his prejudiced profiling? Could the child also had “stood his ground” in the initial presence of an armed man who had decided to pursue him? What if the unarmed child had not been wearing a hoodie? What if Zimmerman had not been prejudiced against “these a**holes, [who] always get away?” What if? What if? What if?

11. The unarmed child’s parents cannot speak with their child about how to act in a situation like this. They cannot remind him now of the safe place to go if he suspects danger. They cannot advise him on how to defend against armed strangers. They cannot remind him to do his homework. They will not celebrate his next birthday with him. They will not see him on Christmas. His absence was determined by an armed man who could legally own a gun and was advised not to pursue the child.

Will other facts come to light that will help me reason through this tragedy? It’s clear that there are no winners in this case. Justice, or whatever justice is according to our legal system, is a cold resolution of tragedy and death. What can I say to my children? How do I keep them safe from armed adults who will quote faulty laws and misconstrue constitutional rights to justify murder? How do I tell to my children that if they run, they’re guilty, if they fight, they’re in danger of being shot, and that if they look a certain way that it’s practically over. I don’t have answers amid my sorrow and astonishment. If you’re not a Christian or a person of faith, there’s no need to read further. However, here are a few things that I have tried to focus on in hearing this case:

1. Love God and love your neighbors.
If I’m not doing this, I’m not thinking straight about this tragedy.
This situation has the potential to create deep, profound love and knowledge, and safer communities or to create deep, unbridled hate, racism, red herring agendas, and/or community divide. Neutrality, unfortunately, is not an option. What or who do you love?

2. Become like children in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven.
We have to become like children in order to take instruction, to humble ourselves, to grow, to see others as equals before we start the callous, adult behavior of separating ourselves by race, economics, gender, and other sinful behaviors. And by the way, the kingdom is the church. The church has to adopt this behavior in order to overcome and survive this tragedy.

3. Do not give partiality.
Racism is sin. Racist jokes are sin. Judging a person according to race is sin. There is no such thing as “black racism” or “white racism” – it’s simply racism and it’s wrong. If alluding to race causes racism in a brother or sister, abstain from it. Do not be a stumbling block in any form or fashion in regard to race and racism.

4. Weep with those who weep.
A mother and father have lost a child. This child has been put under the microscopic scrutiny of law enforcement, the justice system, the media, and social media clowns who have judged his every act as a child (good or bad, but mostly bad). This becomes part of the memory for that mother and father who have buried their child. Do not exploit that for your personal causes and whims. Let me be more clear:
– Do not use a child’s death for your rant against “liberal media”
– Do not use a child’s death for your disdain for “gun control”
– Do not use a child’s death for your dislike of “President Obama”
– And please, for the love of God, do not compare the media’s non-coverage of the beating of a white child to the trial of an armed man who killed an unarmed child. Every reasonable person who reads this sees that you are making a “black” and “white” statement in regard to race. It’s the old “why can’t you see that the media won’t cover a crime for white people” argument. Racism of any form is unacceptable. Shame on you. Do the right thing in regard to the “other case” without adding insult to injury for more than one family. Justice is not a form of fair air time comparison. Again, shame on you.
– Do not use a child’s death for trivial, social-media-outlet sayings. This is a buckshot method that guarantees no controlled results. Do you want good results or bad results? More love or more hate? It doesn’t matter since you cannot control what happens afterward. Simply weep with those who weep.

(I speak to myself as I would others here. If you have found yourself guilty of any of these, please consider what has been expected of you by the One who gave Himself for you and called you to serve others, especially those who have found themselves in the poverty of grief and injustice at the moment. Please consider the distraction and worthless energy you have provided from relieving this grief and mending the justice system through your own selfish, personal agenda. Please consider your emotionally-charged actions as they take a bad situation and make it worse when the sparks you create fly about to create uncontrolled fires, as the tongue has a habit of doing. Lord, save me from feeling this way. Lord, save me from others who would feel this way. Lord, save me from those who would stand their ground against my unarmed child.)

5. Hug your child. Keep children safe.
Get involved with your community and schools. Make a family that has activities that keep children safe and promote the idea of family and safety. If you don’t have children, have some. If you can’t have children, adopt some. If you don’t have the strength to adopt, then foster. If you can’t foster, then mentor. If you can’t mentor, then sponsor. If you can’t sponsor, then support. If you can’t support, then encourage. If you can’t encourage, seek counsel on why this is, but by no means should you judge, prejudge, or admonish a child otherwise. If you’ve found yourself at that level in the game, then you are the weak link in the community that creates the very prejudices you fear enough to carry a gun and brandish it at a faulty, emotion-based whim. Counteract your insecurity and fear. Find a way to change your community. Raise a child in the way he/she should go. Stand your ground to keep a child safe.

6. Christian “rights” and American rights are not the same thing.
All things may be legal, but not all things are helpful. Love God and love your neighbor. For the Christian who happens to be American, everything is based on this.

7. Seek justice, do good.
Just because America made “a right” doesn’t make it right. If man made it, man can change it.

Please forgive my scattered thoughts as I reason through this tragedy. Heaven help our communities and those who shape justice. Rest in peace, Trayvon Martin.