Everything is just super

Even when it’s not.  Great game today though.

We had a little Superbowl party in the office this morning…

Good people, good food…

….and lots of it…

No way anyone comes back from being down 28-3 at the half, right? Right?

In other news…

baby brother turned 60 this week…

Tried to walk on Saturday, this is as close as I got to the Tower….

But I had enough energy to make it out to Shenanigans…

And later enjoyed some delicious grilled pork belly. Soju was not my friend that night however….

Thank you Facebook for reminding me of the ex-Korean girlfriend, Se Hwa.  Well, I’m sure she is still Korean, but you know what I mean.

Happier days….

I’ve learned a lot since then…

Bitter and disillusioned is not too attractive I reckon…

Speaking of Facebook, this is some of the troll bait I’ve been chumming to my lefty friends…

Seems a lot of lefties these days are engaging in the same eliminationist rhetoric of their ideological predecessors…

Open up and let ’em in!

And this about sums it up…

What else?  Well I’ll be heading out to the Philippines later this month to do some retirement reconnaissance.

Will look at some places on the old Subic Bay Naval base…

Not sure I’m completely down with moving to the PI and living in an American subdivision….

But then again, I do like creature comforts like a big ass kitchen…

A backyard patio…

And waking up each morning to a view of the bay like this one…

Of course, I need to make sure I’ll still be waking up every morning.  Still not completely recovered from whatever it is that ails me, but I’m getting increasingly concerned.  This afternoon I again experienced the shortness of breath thing which is quite disconcerting. So I was motivated to go on over to the Army hospital on base and get registered.  Well, actually, turns out I was still registered from my former tour of duty here.

Couldn’t get an appointment today though.  Civilians are at the bottom of the pecking order.  I’ll try again tomorrow.  Just want to get another opinion about what is happening and hopefully a resolution.  Time will tell.

Playing the Trump card

It has certainly been fascinating watching the reaction to the Trump election victory, especially on social media.  The overwrought expressions of hatred, name calling, and outright violence is precisely the reason Trump was elected president.

I was personally not surprised by the election results.  When in the last few days of the campaign the polls indicated a close race, I knew there would be a large number of Trump supporters staying safely under the radar.  Can you blame them?

I pretty much disengaged from the political discussions over the course of the election season.  Once the party nominations were decided I said we get to choose between a crook and a clown.  In that scenario, I’ll take the clown every time.  I know what I’m getting from the crook, but a clown is always full of surprises.  Hopefully, most of them will be good surprises.  We’ll see.

So, why did Trump win?  You can find far better analysis from folks a lot smarter than me all over the internet.  What I can tell you is where I was coming from and also what I am not.  I’d wager a lot of voters held similar views.

To begin, it will come as no surprise to regular readers that I tend to lean right.  I’m certainly more libertarian in my world view than I am conservative.  I believe the less government the better.  I believe our political establishment is corrupt and is more interested in cronyism than in addressing the real issues that the majority of Americans are concerned about.  Republicans are every bit as guilty in that regard as Democrats.  I think this election represented a big “fuck you!” to the powers that be, and I’m so very happy to join in that chorus.

I’m also a white male.  That does not make me racist, misogynist, homophobic, a xenophobe, or any of the other epithets that are hurled about whenever I have the audacity to disagree with the viewpoints of my progressive “betters”.  I will not be told “to check my privilege” in an effort to shame me into silence.  Maybe I’m old school, but making judgments based on the color of a persons skin is how I define racism.  And by that definition, far too many folks on the left are every bit as racist as the KKK.  I expect Trump got the vote of people like me who are sick and tired of being “othered”.

Of course, post-election the name calling from the left continues unabated.  Their unwillingness to step back for some honest introspection does not speak well for the future of the progressive movement or the unity of the American people.  At least one of my left-leaning Facebook friends [edit: turns out it is the son of my FB friend], Frank Jacquette, gets it:

Months and months ago, when the Republican primary was still a ten-person clown car and Trump was just starting to get some traction, I became worried that he had a serious chance of winning it all. What the DNC never seemed to understand is that people weren’t voting for Trump the Candidate, they were voting for Trump because he was the living embodiment of an idea. The idea was simple: “the system is broken, so let’s blow It up.” Competing on the strength of Hillary’s resume was never a winning strategy, because it couldn’t compete with the Idea. That’s why Trump’s personal flaws and insane attempts at policy never mattered. Bernie’s supporters bought into a more genteel version of the same Idea, so when the DNC engineered (or at least gave the suspicious appearance of having engineered) Hillary’s victory in the primaries, many of them weren’t going to just roll into line and vote for her. Gary Johnson also represented the Idea, but without the backing of the extremely well-entrenched two party duopoly never had a real chance. Take heart that not every Trump voter is a racist, misogynist xenophobe, but instead expressed fury and dismay at a broken system in the only forum where all of us are equal.

In the meantime, we have two years until midterm elections. We must do everything we can to ensure that we have good candidates available instead of the party-line caricatures we’ve been offered.

Frank brings up a valid point about what I think is the overriding reason Trump is president-elect.  Hillary represented business as usual and the people wanted change.  I was certainly no fan of Bernie Sanders’ socialistic model, but I would have loved to see him go head-to-head with Trump.  When the corrupt DNC ensured that would never happen, there was only one anti-establishment candidate left on the ballot.  Trump got just about the same number of voters as Romney in 2012.  Disaffected Democrats stayed home in droves.

So to all of those shocked liberals wondering why Trump will be the President, I suggest taking a long hard look in the mirror.

 

 

A blast from the past

So, I got a comment notification via email today from this post I wrote back in 2007.  It was the standard crap you’ve come to know and love here at LTG, basically I talked about the Bob Dylan song “Long time gone”, explaining that my blog identity actually derived from the Crosby, Stills, and Nash song.  I made a point that it was not based on the Dixie Chicks song of the same name, seeing as how I despised the Chicks.

Robert took offense to my long ago dig, responding thus:

you dis the dixie chicks for excercising their constitutional rights … you should be banned from listening to music … especially rock and roll …… if you ever even hear bob dylan you should hang your head in shame …

Hey, I welcome and appreciate all viewpoints (honestly, I’m always happy when anyone bothers to leave a comment).  And Robert certainly deserved a response, so I provided this one:

Well Robert it is always nice to see a new comment on an eight year old post. Thanks for stopping by!

It’s interesting though that you are offended by my passing dig at the Dixie Bitches. Yes, they have a right to say whatever the fuck they want. And I have an equal right to criticize them for it. And you, the defender of free speech, think I should be banned from listening to music because I took a contrary view? I reckon that makes you a fascist.

Hey, come on back any time though, I don’t discriminate.

Truthfully, I don’t expect to see him back any time soon.

Sunday morning coming down

Ah well.  We’ll always have Paris.  It will be interesting to see how long the memory of the “never forget” crowd turns out to be this time.

Scrolling through Facebook this morning was pretty depressing though.  I’d guess 90% of the folks on my news feed have the French Tricolor overlay on their profile picture as a show of solidarity with Parisians in their grief.  And that’s fine I suppose, especially if it’s an indication we will all stand together in defending Western values against those who would destroy us from within.  Alas, I fear a temporary Facebook pic is as far as most of them will go.

Now at least some folks are already fired up and agitating for action.  Against the “bigots” with the audacity to note that the attackers were yet again of the Muslim faith.  Then there’s the group saying “it’s all our fault” and we should work to appease the hatred of our enemies.  And of course you have people like Stephen King making the tired comparison between Muslims and the Westboro Baptist Church.  Because obviously they are exactly the same.  Except for the rape and murder parts.

So we can stand and fight or we can submit.  Islam is all about that submission stuff. Sadly, I fear we have indeed met the enemy. And it is us.

There is no point in engaging in political debate…

…on social media or blogs for that matter.  It’s not just that you are unlikely to ever change anyone’s mind, What I find most frustrating is the inherent dishonesty in the discourse.  So I pretty much just ignore the bullshit I see posted on a daily basis because responding is just not worth the aggravation.  Sometimes I’ll shake my head in sadness at the rantings of folks I know to be otherwise rational and intelligent human beings before scrolling on.  I do wonder why if they feel so strongly about an issue they resort to some mindless internet meme to make their point.  I guess it is easier to erect straw man arguments than to actually address the facts of the matter.

A case in point.  The other day a Facebook friend posted this:

No reasonable person on either side of the debate has said that Obama has actually confiscated guns, nor do I believe the President has ever articulated such a goal. But rather than debate how new restrictions on gun ownership might (or might not) stop random acts of violence by crazy people, the poster reduces folks who hold contrary viewpoints as ignorant. Which in my view is a pretty ignorant thing to do.

No reasonable person on either side of the debate has said that Obama has actually confiscated guns, nor do I believe the President has ever articulated such a goal. But rather than debate how new restrictions on gun ownership might (or might not) stop random acts of violence by crazy people, the poster attempts to portray folks who hold contrary viewpoints as ignorant. Which in my view is a pretty ignorant thing to do.

As I say, I usually just regard posts like this as unserious and unworthy of response. I did that in this case until the poster wrote this in the comments:

And most people that are for guns are generally not very educated in most everything else.

One of the things I dislike most about arguing with folks on the left is that they tend to envelope themselves with a belief in their intellectual superiority.  I mean, obviously if you don’t acknowledge the rightness of their position you must stupid.  And so I left this reply:

Seriously? Wow. I take it that disagreeing with your world view is evidence of ignorance. I almost never engage these debates because it is pointless. Because obviously, I’m stupid.

And he doubled down in his response:

I just go off statistics John. Most people that support gun rights tend to lean right and those people are GENERALLY less informed. If you took it personally that was not my intention. Obviously there’s exceptions to every rule. Do your homework & you’ll discover evidence to support what I said, unless you want me to do it for you

I’d said all I needed to say and the above response told me all I needed to know about where this friend was coming from.  Further engagement would be pointless.  I do love the part where I’m supposed to do my “homework” to support his argument.  That’s not the way debate works in the real world.  If you are going to shovel bullshit and tell me it smells good, it’s on you to supply the evidence to support that claim.

For what it is worth, I did spend some time reading about a disputed, if not discredited, study that purportedly found conservatives are less intelligent than liberals.  But as fair minded people have said in response, it all comes down to how you define liberal and conservative:

In fact there is nothing new in pointing to a link between social attitudes and intelligence. In 2010 the evolutionary psychologist Satochi Kanazawa, who works at the London School of Economics, analysed data from 20,000 young Americans and found that average IQ increased steadily from those who described themselves as ‘very conservative’ to those who describe themselves as ‘very liberal’. A study looking at British children, carried out by Ian Deary, reached a conclusion neatly summarised by the title of the paper: ‘Bright Children become Enlightened Adults’. Other studies have found correlations between strong religiosity (a traditional marker of conservatism) and low intelligence.

 

So case closed? Not really. The problem here is how we define ‘left’ and ‘right’ thinking, what this means socially and politically. A moment’s thought shows that the faultlines are not only blurred but they are legion, cris-crossing across traditional political strata and have changed through time.

 

But there is another side to what the Smarts believe. They are pro-immigration (immigration being a form of free trade, in this case in human labour). They are impeccably socially liberal. They do not care what consenting adults get up to in bed and would legalise gay marriage without a thought. They are as near as is possible to be colour blind and strongly favour sexual equality. They are internationalist and despise petty nationalism. And they are suspicious of the war on drugs and in fact of wars in general and do not believe the public should in general be allowed to own firearms. These are the social views, then, of the British metropolitan Left. So what is it then? Are dim people right or left? Here we meet the problem of defining liberalism and left-wingery.

 

A belief in economic redistribution of wealth does not correlate with social liberalism. The nations of the Cold War Communist bloc were ferociously ‘Left Wing’ in terms of a belief in statism, nationalised industries, basic equality and so forth but socially and in other ways they were far, far to the ‘right’ of any mainstream European or American party. The Soviet education system was brutally elitist – no wishy-washy mixed-ability nonsense there. Militarism and conscription were the norm. Communist states had and had an attachment to capital punishment, repression of homosexuals and paid only lipservice to sexual equality (Russian women were free to work, but they had to go back and do the cleaning and cooking when they had finished).

In today’s world the most ‘right wing’ attitudes are to be found not in the American Bible Belt but in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and parts of Asia as well as Russia. Across most of Africa the majority has an eye-wateringly brutal view of homosexuality (gays face long terms of imprisonment or worse in many southern and eastern African states). If you want to see robust attitudes to crime, sexuality, feminism, immigration and religious freedom go to somewhere like Sudan or Mauritania, Uganda or even Kenya and Jamaica.

 

The paradox is that the political discourse in nations such as these has been dominated by a leftish post-colonialism. The epitome of this paradox is, or was (attitudes have relaxed) Communist Cuba where attitudes to gays, criminals, and people of non-European descent would have softened the heart of a Mississippi Klansman.

I consider myself a classic liberal with strong libertarian leanings.  Which means I’m all about limiting government power and intrusions on our liberty.  Including our right to keep and bear arms.

 

 

Othering

As I’ve gone through the LTG archives for the “ten years of blogging” series I’ve been pretty surprised at how much I used to write about politics.  And now I almost never do. Which got me to thinking about why that is.

One obvious answer is that I really didn’t have anything unique to say; others had already made the arguments much more articulately. So it was getting to be an exercise in posting a link and a “what he said” type thing.  I also became painfully aware that a blog post was never going to change anyone’s mind irrespective of the facts, logic, or common sense rightness of your argument.  And that’s fine as well I suppose.  Sometimes it’s all about the debate–the back and forth of having your views challenged, being confronted with new ideas and concepts you might not have considered, and coming away with at least a better understanding of your opponents position.

Except these days that almost never happens.  Instead, if you express a contrary viewpoint you are simply labeled and put in a box with those “others”.  Sometimes it’s extreme.  I posted a comment on a blog challenging the concept of “settled science” as it relates to global warming and the response was “I have zero respect for you people and I hope you all contract cancer and die painful and slow deaths.”  Alrighty then.

Want to talk about limiting the power of the federal government and/or tax reform?  You’re a filthy teabagger.  Have a policy disagreement with President Obama–you must be racist.  Question campus rape statistics and your are a misogynist rape denier.  If you want to call evildoers of the Muslim faith to task for their atrocities?  You must be an Islamaphobe.  Hell, you can be the President of the United States, but if you call out a senator from your own party over a policy dispute–yep, that’s sexist.  Anyway, you get the idea.  There’s no such thing as having reasonable contrary opinion, your motivation for disagreeing is always suspect.  Of course, as a white male my feeling this way is most certainly a failure to check my privilege.  For those not in the know, being told to “check your privilege” translates to “shut up, I don’t want to hear what you have to say”.

checkyourp

What this really is all about is an attack on the diversity of ideas, or more precisely, an attempt to eliminate free speech.  When simple disagreement on a topic becomes “hate speech”, free speech ceases to exist.  You see this manifested most often at those bastions of open-mindedness–universities.  Stray from the accepted way of thinking, no matter how small the transgression, and face banishment.  Just ask these uninvited commencement speakers.

Someone should write a book about this.  Oh wait, they did.  In her book aptly called The Silencing, lifelong liberal Kirsten Powers laments the “Left’s forced march towards conformity in an exposé of the illiberal war on free speech. No longer champions of tolerance and free speech, the “illiberal Left” now viciously attacks and silences anyone with alternative points of view.”  As you might imagine, the response from her fellow travelers was as swift as it was harsh. So much for speaking truth to power I suppose.

By now you must be thinking, why are we being subjected to this diatribe?  I go days and days without posting and then I start in on this post and don’t know when to stop.  Well, I’m getting there.  But I’ve actually been thinking about this topic for quite some time now.  And I started thinking about it when I read this post over at Kevin Kim’s blog.  The topic was the Supreme Court hearing regarding gay marriage rights.  Kevin took issue with his friend Malcolm’s post basically saying the court should leave the matter for the state’s to decide. Both made good and reasonable arguments, and it appeared to be a situation where they would agree to disagree and move on.

But then something all too familiar happened in the comments.  After Malcolm thoughtfully responded to Kevin, a commenter named “Tony” weighed in with the nuanced view that Malcolm was a homophobe.  Malcolm responded politely by saying he was not taking a stand on gay marriage per se, only on whether this was an appropriate case for the Supreme Court.  Kevin defended Malcolm as well, saying he knew for a fact that Malcolm had no personal bias against gay folk.  To which Tony responded “nope, he’s a homophobe”.  Kevin eventually just shut down comments on that post.

Which I guess just goes to prove that the “othering” tactic works pretty much as intended. I don’t even bother responding to all the silly political memes on Facebook anymore for the same reason.  Sometimes I actually start, and then I think, no, what’s the point?  It will just end up in name calling.

A nice quote from the poet W.B. Yeats which I have shameless stolen from Kevin's blog...

A nice quote from the poet W.B. Yeats which I have shamelessly stolen from Kevin’s blog…

I do want to note that while I have pretty much given up on the internet as a viable forum for political debate, I have not been completely silenced.  I will on occasion engage with lefty friends and acquaintances in person.  This too has it’s frustrations.  One friend always insists that I’m just regurgitating Fox News talking points.  Which I find funny because I don’t recall the last time I actually saw a Fox News broadcast.  Anyway, I’ve had several beer fueled discussions with so-called liberals that were actually quite enjoyable and stimulating.  The odd thing is that once we move past the stereotypes and get down to the issue, we almost always find points of agreement on the problem, if not the solution.  The point is when people actually talk to each other as opposed to at each other, it often turns out that we are not as far apart as it may otherwise seem.

I’ll take whatever comfort there is to be found in that.

Potpourri

Things you may have missed.

It's cherry blossom season.  This is the street I traverse on the way to the bus station at U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan.

It’s cherry blossom season. This is the street I traverse on the way to the bus station at U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan.

Blossoms and barbed wire, does it get any better than that?

Blossoms and barbed wire, does it get any better than that?

The other day I went to the neighborhood 7-11 to buy some smokes. As is my custom I told the clerk “dongbae Marlboro silver chuseyo”. He pointed at the black pack and I said “anio, silver”. He pointed at the gold pack and I repeated “silver”. I finally had to gesture to where the ones I wanted were. He pulled them from the rack, pointed at the word silver, and proceeded to instruct me in how to pronounce the word “silver”. Apparently, it’s “shil-bah”. Who knew? Still, it was a unique experience having a Korean try and teach me how to properly say an English word.

Speaking of Korean, NPR did a story indicating that Korean language studies are the fastest growing in the USA.  Apparently it's a result of Korean cultural imperialism or something.

Speaking of Korean, NPR did a story indicating that Korean language studies are the fastest growing in the USA. Apparently it’s a result of Korean cultural imperialism or something.

I’ve pretty much given up arguing politics with folks.  Why bother when minds seem firmly closed to alternative viewpoints?  Many of my liberal friends seem to utilize comedians (John Stewart, John Oliver and the like) as their primary source for “news” and they seem proud to be spoon fed the talking points du jour.

I do get frustrated with what I consider to be fake issues manufactured to distract the sheeple from the important things going on, both internationally (allowing a nuclear Iran, genocide against Christians) and domestically (lawless politicians, zero job growth). Instead we are besieged with outrage over a mom and pop pizza joint in Indiana that *might* decline to cater a gay wedding if they are ever asked to do so, although no has in fact asked.

So, here’s the deal.  I’m all about freedom.  Gay folk should have exactly the same rights and privileges as any other citizen.  Who you choose to fuck and/or marry is no one else’s business.  And most assuredly not the government’s.  Go ahead and call me a teabagger, but the less the government intrudes in our lives the better off we all will be.  And so I don’t want to be told who I can or cannot marry and I also don’t want to be told who’s goddamn wedding I have to cater.  I believe that’s a perfectly consistent position.

And here’s at least one person who happens to agree.  A gay woman who donated money and apologized to the above referenced pizza parlor for the abuse they have suffered. Why did she do it?

“My girlfriend and I are small business owners, and we think there is a difference between operating in a public market space and then attaching the name of your business to a private event,” she said. “Like, if we were asked to set up at an anti-gay marriage rally, I mean, we would have to decline.”

Precisely.  When did common sense become so uncommon?

In the category of things that matter, why aren't we having a national conversation about tax reform?  Something that make actually grow jobs and make a difference in people's lives?  Tax reform is something the left and right SHOULD agree on. Which I guess is why the corrupt political class doesn't want us talking about it...

In the category of things that matter, why aren’t we having a national conversation about tax reform? Something that might actually grow jobs and make a difference in people’s lives? Tax reform is something the left and right SHOULD agree on. Which I guess is why the corrupt political class doesn’t want us talking about it…

End of rant.  Did I change your mind?  Didn’t think so.

Girl gets on subway wearing this jacket. Not sure whether to be offended or to agree.

The other night a girl gets on subway wearing this jacket. Not sure whether to be offended or to agree.  It’s all so outrageousing.

Easter Sunday was the second anniversary of my marriage to Jee Yeun.  After dinner, I took her to her favorite coffee shop in Myeong-dong, Cafe Coin.  It's a nice enough place, but that beam has a vertical clearance of 6 feet.  I'm 6'1" and I cracked my damn head on it coming in and leaving.  And to answer your question, nope it did not knock any sense into me.

Easter Sunday was the second anniversary of my marriage to Jee Yeun. After dinner, I took her to her favorite coffee shop in Myeong-dong, Cafe Coin. It’s a nice enough place, but that beam has a vertical clearance of 6 feet. I’m 6’1″ and I cracked my damn head on it coming in and leaving. And to answer your question, nope it did not knock any sense into me.

Coffee and cheesecake was our dessert...

Coffee and cheesecake was our dessert…

We had earlier enjoyed a nice dwaegi galbi dinner at our favorite Myeong-dong restaurant.

We had earlier enjoyed a nice dwaegi galbi dinner at our favorite Myeong-dong restaurant.

We didn't have a selfie stick, so we took simultaneous pictures of ourselves.  Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time...

We didn’t have a selfie stick, so we took simultaneous pictures of ourselves. Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time…

Speaking of the wife, here’s a transcript of an actual conversation we had the other night:

Jee Yeun: What are you doing?
Me: Whatever I want.
Jee Yeun: I want to do whatever I want too.
Me: As long as whatever you want to do is what I want you to do, you can!

See, it’s all about compromise.

Alright then, I’ll wrap up this overly long post with a quick update on my darting life.  I had a tough match against the top female player in singles league, but managed to eek out a 10-6 victory.  I’ll need to play better this Sunday when I go mano a mano with the guy currently occupying first place.  I’m going to try and take him down a notch.

In pub league action, the Dillinger’s Dartitis Quarantine continues to roll.  We beat the Gecko’s Jeckles last night 25-14.  I was happy to go 5-1 in singles against their top two players.  The 2-4 performance in doubles was disappointing but some things were beyond my control.  We are solidly in second place and play our rivals the Dillinger’s Dill Pickles who have the top spot in the standings.

And now you haven’t missed a thing from my so-called life.

 

 

The silence of the lambs

I was drunk when I came home last night and read about the terrorist attack in Paris.  It pissed me off and I reacted in anger.  I intentionally mocked and disparaged the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) by calling him a pedophile.

This morning upon sober reflection I have to say I was wrong.  Because the fact that the Prophet had sex with children way back when is really not relevant to the issues we face here in the 21st century.  What is relevant is that a bunch of ignorant thugs have systematically engaged in murder, rape, torture, and brutal warfare, all in the name of the “Religion of Peace”.   They have made their message to non-believers abundantly clear: submit or die.

To which I can only respond:

Muhammed farve. tegning : KW

 

Today I exercised!

My right to vote that is.  Of course, almost everyone on the ballot is a scoundrel so I was resigned to selecting the lesser of two weevils.  In some cases that required me to resort to a write-in candidate.  I picked myself.  I reckon I couldn’t muck things up any worse than they already are.

In other news, I spent the morning engaging in some domestic bliss.  Mopped the floors, vacuumed, cleaned toilets, did the laundry.  My motivation for this activity is an impending visit from a former co-worker.  Tomorrow I’ll actually cook.  Pulled pork BBQ, cole slaw, corn-on-the-cob, and a banana pudding for dessert.

Nice chat with Jee Yeun this morning helped improve my mood.  She’s got enough on her plate without listening to my whinging so I’ve resolved to keep the conversations on a more positive note.  It was a little sad to box up some clothes to mail her, but she’s my jagiya so I’m going to tend to her needs as best as I can from a distance.

Th-th-th-that’s all folks!

Regarding religion

So, I’ve found myself thinking about religion of late.  Not in terms of getting me some, just in general.  Which is to say I’m not exactly sure where these thoughts are taking me, but bear with me and we’ll muddle through together, okay?

Now, I was pretty much raised in the protestant tradition, at least to the extent that my grandmother dutifully took us to Sunday school every week.  I even played steel guitar in a little church band that toured the western states when I was 12.  At around 15 or 16 though I entered my rebellious phase and pretty much came to the conclusion that organized religion was all bullshit.  I certainly want no part of the Old Testament vengeful and jealous God, nor do I believe the stories of the virgin birth and resurrection.  Which I guess means that I ain’t much of a Christian.

Having said that, I do try very hard to be respectful of the religious beliefs of others.  I have a couple of Facebook “friends” (meaning people I’ve never actually met in real life) who constantly mock people of faith (usually Christians since they don’t have the balls to publicly criticize Muslims).  They are as strident in their atheist beliefs as any other religious zealot I have encountered.  In fact, I find their rants every bit as irritating as a knock on the door from a Jehovah’s Witness.

My second ex-wife was a Baptist (the other two ex’s were Catholic and the current wife is Buddhist) and I didn’t object to her taking my young children to church every Sunday.  For awhile I attended with them, but damn, I rarely left church feeling uplifted.  The sermons tended to piss me off as much as anything.  The final straw for me was the Sunday school session where we talked about “free will”.  Which was immediately followed by an entreaty to join in a planned march on the state house in favor of anti-abortion legislation.  I asked the Sunday school teacher how it could be that God gave mankind free will, but the Baptist church wanted to pass laws restricting choice?  I got the old standard reply that it was “a matter of faith”.  Whatever the hell that means.   The epilog to that incident came when the leader of the anti-abortion contingent got pregnant and was told the fetus did not a brain stem.  Yep, she aborted.

So, if I have a problem with religion it’s with the hypocrisy of the adherents.  The stuff people do in the name of God makes me want no part of the God they profess to believe in.  Oddly enough though, I don’t think of myself as an atheist.  I can accept the concept of some intelligence or power manifested in nature and the universe.  It’s just not the God you read about in earthly religious texts.  The closest I ever felt to this “God” was the night I had an epiphany after making love to my Mormon girlfriend.  “God is love” is what I felt in that blessed moment of understanding.  The very next day this woman whom I loved like I’ve loved no other broke up with me.  Which proves I guess that my God has a whacky sense of humor.  Still, I will confess that in times of crisis throughout my life I have found some comfort in prayer.  If that makes me a hypocrite too, so be it.

What prompted me to write about religion now I guess is current events.  Jews killing Palestinians in retaliation of Palestinians killing Jews.  Muslims killing Christians and everyone else who doesn’t adhere to the dogma of that particular sect.  All in the name of the same God of course.  But that is where any moral equivalence ends.  Israel has the right to defend herself.  If Hamas doesn’t like civilian casualties, they should stop trying to kill Israeli civilians.  And what ISIS is currently doing in Iraq (and the Taliban in Afghanistan) is an affront to all humanity.  So, when my liberal friends lament the “war on women” as evidenced by Hobby Lobby not wanting to pay for birth control on religious grounds, I share this photo:

“We have established the brigade to raise awareness of our religion among women, and to punish women who do not abide by the law” --ISIS commander

“We have established the brigade to raise awareness of our religion among women, and to punish women who do not abide by the law” –ISIS commander

Now, I want to accept as fact that of the billion or so Muslims in the world, only a relatively small percentage are of the radical Islamist variety that engages in head chopping, stoning, honor killing, and flying passenger planes into buildings.  But here’s the thing–I never see protests or outrage from these “moderates” regarding the atrocities being done in the name of Allah.  In fact, what I have witnessed is quite the opposite.

I have a couple of Pakistani Muslim friends in Itaewon.  Both are smart, kind, and generous.  They own a bar I regularly frequent. Both drink, smoke, and have married outside the faith.  I guess it doesn’t get any more moderate than that, right?  Except they have gone ballistic (no pun intended) over the current conflict in Gaza.  I finally had to block one of them on Facebook because I grew weary of the anti-Israel and anti-American (like it’s our fault!) rants.  I could match ten photos of some outrageous act being perpetuated in Pakistan for every Israeli impropriety.  And at least Israel is acting in self-defense, not out of some misguided belief in religious justification (what, she was raped?  We must stone her for being a whore!).

Anyway, I posted the picture above on my Facebook in the context of American politics (the so-called war on women).  And my Muslim friend responded that it was “anti-Muslim propaganda”.  One of the commenters asked if he was denying the existence of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) and the murderous acts in which they are currently engaged.  He responded:

yes ISIS exist and they have broken Syria and Iraq in to parts. They are trying to create a divide in Sunni’s and Shiites. Rumor has it that the leader of ISIS Abu Bakr Baghdadi was trained by CIA and mosad to create chaos in middle east so that the idea of greater Israel can be achieved. I came across a world map issued by the US think tanks in which they have shown 5 middle eastern countries dividing into 15 smaller countries. If u Google it you can find it and then you search for greater Israel map and you will know a secret.

So much for moderate Islam, eh?  Suffice to say, I no longer feel comfortable patronizing their bar these days.  I have taken an oath to avoid drama in Itaewon and I fear that drinking there may lead me to say some things that will lead to dramatic consequences.  And to what end?  Clearly, no minds will be changed.

Of course, America’s feckless foreign policy has played a part in what is taking place in the Middle East.  Can’t blame God for that, although I can and do blame Obama.

Jews

Sorry for the rant.  I’m just thinking things are gonna get a whole lot worse before they get any better.

God help us all.

 

Metamorphosis

Once upon a time I was a lowly caterpillar crawling through the muck and mud, lost and directionless, unable to find my way.  And then one day I awoke to find myself a butterfly!

But in all seriousness, my political transformation was not this extreme but I can certainly relate to what the author is saying.  My personal biggest irk is #4 and #5 on the list.  The left tends to demonize contrary viewpoints by making shit up.

Sometimes I lose hope for my country, but you never know.  People may actually wake up.  And given the left’s tendency to overreach (the current border crisis comes to mind) maybe we’ll actually get the Change we were Hoping for.

Sadly, the Republicans aren’t much better than the Democrats, so I’m not sure that winning a Senate majority will make much difference.

The link is worth the read.

 

 

Categorically speaking

So the Pew Research folks have conducted a survey and created a “political typology” that purports to better describe the mindsets of the American voter beyond the typical “red versus blue”.

According to Pew, I’m a “Business Conservative”.  Take the survey yourself if you are so inclined.

(I found this all mildly interesting and I guess the BC designation fits me well enough.  I rather dislike surveys that give you an “either/or” choice of “which best describes” your beliefs when it seems as often as not neither do.  YMMV.)

 

It wasn’t what you said, it’s what you didn’t say

It’s been awhile since I’ve used the “oh, THAT liberal bias” tag.  It’s not been for a lack of ample evidence that the Fourth Estate skews consistently to the left.  Hell, they don’t even really try and hide it much these days.  Still, I came across a couple of glaring examples this morning and for what it is worth (nothing I suppose) I felt compelled to point them out.

The first case deals with Wisconsin governor and potential presidential candidate Scott Walker.  Now, Walker has done some pretty amazing things as the Republican governor of a blue state.  Naturally, this makes him a threat to be neutralized.  A Democrat prosecutor has been trying unsuccessfully to bring an indictment on campaign funding issues for a couple of years now, but two different judges have deemed the charges bogus and chastised the prosecutor for abusing the system.  What, you didn’t read about that?   Ah well, I suppose that news was a local issue unworthy of the attention of the national media.  Now, the prosecutor’s office has unsealed the repudiated indictment and guess what–it’s big news!  Except the news didn’t report that the charges were found to be without basis by two judges.  They are reporting the unfounded accusations as if those charges had some merit.  The politics of personal destruction would not be possible without the complicity of the liberal media.  More details on this fiasco at Althouse.

The other example is less obnoxious but just as telling.  Those virtuous folks at CNN (home to the infamous Candy Crowley) hosted a Town Hall with Hillary Clinton featuring star reporter Christiane Amanpour.  Now, this was billed as a straightforward news event.  So, why was the audience coached on when and where to cheer?  A small thing perhaps, but another indication that the media is in the agenda-setting business.  Making news as opposed to reporting it.

Maybe we’ll have a Republican in office come 2017 and the press can once again return to its role as government watchdog.

Should a spoiled child be indulged?

That seems to be the point of this piece in the NY Times concerning North Korea.  I’m no expert but I do tend to agree that any short term pain associated with a reunification would be well worth it on both economic and humanitarian grounds.

Which is why China would never go for it.  The have no desire to see “Asia’s Germany” as a competing power.  Indeed, I think it more likely that at some point in the future the entire peninsula will be little more than a vassal of the power mad Chinese.  That’s pretty much been Korea’s fate throughout history.