A Short Letter to Caitlyn Jenner

Hey Caitlyn Jenner,
I see that you want to “help” the GOP understand LGBTQ issues. Good on you.
But here’s the deal- The GOP has been on Planet Earth for the duration of the LGBTQ struggle in modern times. They have had access to the same information as the rest of us, And they have at nearly every turn ignored that information. Ronald Regan saw the AIDS crisis in the 1980s but decided not to mention it. Conversion therapy has been completely disproven again and again yet Mike Pence, a heartbeat away from the presidency, ignores that fact and clings to it. The GOP was decidedly against marriage equality even though it’s a civil partnership, a civil matter, and even though it has nothing to do with religion, they held it up as a firebrand to ignite their base using biblical references hoping for political victories. Congress is preparing a “defense of the First Amendment Act” which givies people a pass if people want to discriminate against anyone including the LGBTQ community and claim “deeply held religous beliefs.” Nothing could go wrong with that, right? Come on. They already know how that plays out. Government-sanctioned discrimination based on religion- unconstitutional at best and purposely politically divisive is wrong and yet they will use it. They know what they are doing. It helps their party.
You said you supported Trump in the election. Trump. You knew who his backers were and what they should for. This rollback of transgender rights should not come as a surprise to you. Trump is always going to do what his background voices say. For profit prisons even though they are disastrous? Check. Get rid of regualtions and safety guards in order to bump up profits? Check. Take away healthcare for the masses instead of trying to fix what we have for the sake of money? Check. Appeal to the basest instinctincts of humanity by pleasing people they have misinformed? Check.
The GOP is never going to try to understand LGBTQ issues because they already do. They use us as a political, football live on hate, diviseness, and revenge. They are greedy, misogynistic and don’t want a better world because they want the world to fit their visions of cruelty and retribution. Their ideas are based in a puritanical ideology, one that punishes people for skewing from the norm. So when you try to convince them of their mistakes, just understand that they already know, and they do not care. And putting civil rights into the hands of the states does not work. Jim Crow laws, for instance, diminished our country. Since the Southern Strategy of Nixon in the 1960s switch the philosophies of both parties and the voting base also changed, it is no longer accurate to claim that Democrats are the prejudiced ones. The GOP has earned that title through and through.
Just thought you’d like to know since you professed support for Trump in the election and see this evil turn the “conservative” movement has taken.
Good luck,
Someone who has lived through the fear and hatred and refuses to sit down, shut up, and take it. Again.

Trump and the Downfall of the American Way

If you think that businesses will police themselves and don’t need regulations, Google Love Canal, the Cuyahoga River fire, the Woburn, Massachusetts groundwater contamination, the Gowanus Canal in NYC- these things aren’t just stories of the past. They represent a warning to us now that big business is really only interested in the bottom line. They have statistics about how much damage and loss they can weather without affecting profits. There has been an element in the GOP that either doesn’t remember that, understand it, or (worse yet) don’t care about it. It’s always about the money and not the people with them. Some argue that they are more likely to do the right thing because if they kill people, their businesses will fail. That’s almost laughable if it wasn’t so sad.
Have you ever seen a commercial about mesothilioma? The disease you get from asbestos exposure? When do you think businesses knew that asbestos was a carcinogen? Go ahead. Guess. If I told you that when I was working at a major law firm in the southeast we had a “war room” (a room dedicated to files and evidence about cases) entirely consisting of asbestos cases and that it was during the 1980s, you might think, “well, they got to it as soon as they could.” But you would be wrong. Industry and doctors knew the correlation between asbestos and lung damage goes back to 1899. The US Department of Labor saiid in 1918 that the danger asbestos posed needed urgent study. Businesses lobbied against these studies. But people kept dying and it wasn’t until the 1930 in Britain that studies were done and some safety measures were enacted. Through the 1960s while big business opposed studies and refused to enact safety measures on their own, doctors debated on the “safe” levels of asbestos exposure. And businesses tried to control the dust. People kept dying, all for the sake of money. As the years passed people began bringing lawsuits against railroads and shipyards, mining operations and mills. It was insidious, and industry wanted to hide it, settle out of court, deny facts that had been around for almost a century. That’s how business works when unregulated. They pollute and hope that their profits make up for the loss of life, disease, and human misery they cause.
Trump and his cronies are not concerned about clean water, safe food, an educated population. What they care about is money plain and simple. Not good health or smart children. They care about the bottom line and enriching themselves beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. So if you vote GOP and you don’t care about the environment, I weep for your children. They will have to live with the misery greed and power will most certainly foist on us all. I read about Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va) said quite flippantly that the riches liked clean water and air. He said the solution to the problem was to get rich. Well, folks, there is a finite amount of wealth to go around. The rich keep getting richer thanks to the GOP and Wall Street, but the middle class has stagnated and fallen into lower incomes. It’s because the wealthy hold the money so there is not enough to cover the rest of us. It’s not as simple as the rich “trickling down” their wealth on the poorer population. They are working on a stacked deck with the money concentrated at the top. How do you think people like Trump got so filthy rich? Hint: They didn’t get that way by sharing. They will never let their money go, and neither will big business or Wall Street.
Is it a bad thing to be rich? Maybe. Jesus sure didn’t have nice things to say about them despite Joel “Prosperity Gospel” Osteen’s proclamations otherwise. But I’m not debating that personal wealth does bring a certain amount of comfort. But with CEO salaries skyrocketing, and lower wages stagnating, who do you think is getting more money because they have literally bought legislation that is friendly to lining their own pockets? And if you are waiting for industry and business to regulate itself for the common good, you will be waiting a long time. The people that voted for Trump learned absolutely nothing from history, and what they have learned has been altered by conservatives to mean something that it is not. There is a reason why they want your kids stupid and uninformed. There’s a reason why they plant the seeds of doubt in their followers about “intellectual elitists” and how foreigners are to blame for their lack of jobs, or, shockingly enough, terrorism attacking the American way of life. They encourage discord because it is in discord that they can get richer and richer until we are no more than serfs. They have invaded the evangelical Christian community with their “us and them” philosophy, and it is all to enrich themselves, hide the truth, and rend power from the people.
God help us all.

Presidents and Chumps

When you go through a bankruptcy,personal or corporate, someone is going to get screwed. Corporate bankruptcies are not just “debt restructuring.” Someone is not going to get paid.
 
Now if things have become so bad you have to go through a bankruptcy, there’s no shame in that. And sometimes a company has to go through bankruptcy. Things happen. But serial bankruptcies speak to something different, someone who is playing the rules.
 
Let’s say you had a “restructuring” and that negotiations and results took five to seven years. Let’s say five and low-ball it. You did it four times. That takes up twenty years of your working career. That’s twenty years of bad decisions, twenty years of other people having to make up for your mistakes.
 
Now let’s say you’re trying to “make” your money back after these business events. You decide that you’re going to build things. You work with local, state, and federal governments to obtain land so you can build golf courses, casinos, apartment buildings. You work through laws of eminent domain so you can get what you want. You work hard, taking advantage of every loop hole that you can.
 
By this time, people have lost money being in business with you. People have lost land and homes they owned because you wanted these things to benefit you, not them. You take the money you make and live loudly. You have a lot of money now. You can afford to be louder than most people. People “respect” your money because, in spite of some charity work, you use your wealth like a club. Growing wealth beings power and a louder voice. You get extremely loud. “Yay freedom of speech,” you think. “I can say anything I want!” People forget about
 
So you proceed to speak your mind. Good for you! Really! Truth is usually appreciated, and there is so little of it in today’s world. Now you’re on a role. You’ve not only been in the media, you’ve become a master of it. You’ve successfully “branded” yourself. You’ve even built a fan base, You want more.
 
The one problem you have is your past. You’re a serial cheater, multiple divorces. Okay. You handle that by marrying a smoking’ hot babe. Everyone likes a pretty girl. The American public will give an older guy a wink and a nod if they’ve got a pretty girl on their arm. Public displays of wealth help too. Giant towers with your name in glittering letters, television programs, you have it all. Throw enough glitter on a pig, and the first thing you’ll see from then on is the glitter.
 
Most people don’t go beyond the glitter to find the pig. You begin to ride a wave with social media. You equate having millions of followers with having some special influence. Then one day you’re golfing in Arizona and one of your toadies is listening to one of your tirades, which are legendary by now. He pokes his buddy on the arm and mouths, “watch this.”
 
“Hey.” he says.
 
“Shut up. I’m trying to concentrate.” You try to line up an easy putt.
 
“Okay.”
 
The putt completes in 5 strokes. “What do you want?”
 
“You should run for president!”
 
The other toady croaks in. “Yeah! You’d make a great president.”
 
You think for a minute and put your face towards the sun. “Yeah. I would, wouldn’t I?”
 
Your toadies snicker and turn their faces from you. “You said it first! Run for president!”
 
This is how you get the idea that you’re going to run for president. It gnaws at you. You’ve become very powerful in the real estate world, and you like it. You’ve done all the rich things from private yachts to private jets to great cars. You can buy buildings, build buildings, tear down buildings. You won’t start with just running for mayor of New York City. You’re going to skip all the preliminary preparation. You jump into the fray. It’s a race!
 
Your numbers go up every time you open your mouth. You say outrageous things to appeal to a populist viewpoint that increases in its xenophobia and nationalism every day. It stops making sense, but you keep saying things like you can build a wall and get someone else to pay for it without hurting US/Mexican relations for decades to come. But even though you can make shrewd moves and say that if you’re president that you will hire the best, you can’t seem to hire a team that grasps local and state politics.  You engage in speculations about dick size and the sex lives of family members. You stumble and blame that stumble on “the system” rather than on your own team that really made a lot of mistakes. You may want to change the system, but if you can’t hire a team that understands it, how are you going to figure out the root of problems, other than speculation? People see these bumps in the road as your numbers keep rising. You get even more outrageous.

 

You’ve set up a scenario that where, if you don’t get your way, you are perfectly fine with violent results. You’ve encouraged violence by the crowds, seemingly not understanding that your tone, your word choice, no matter how “politically incorrect” you are aiming to be, should never incite or “approve” of violent acts. But hey, you’re gaining in polls, and getting loads of coverage. Any publicity is good publicity, and you understand THAT, at least.

So how would you be as a president?  You’re being infuriated by regulations and old set ups in a private political party. What’s going to happen if you run across several different problems across several states where as the federal government it would be proper for you to step in? If you can’t put together a team that understands the system, how are you going to fix it? Knowing what’s wrong and knowing what works to fix things are two different skill sets. And as yet in your life you are unproven as a political leader where you must compromise, watch what and how you say things, understand that the buck stops at the White House, and that when you get in too far, you can’t declare bankruptcy for the entire country, but you can bankrupt us morally as well as monetarily.

Asylum

Our country of immigrants, a country which has historically been an asylum for refugees, is falling back into an old pattern. In the 1920s America was seized by xenophobia. The Emergency Quota Act, passed in 1921, restricted immigration from southern and eastern Europe. For the geographically-challenged, that includes Italy, Greece, and Hungary among others. It was the first “Red Scare” when people were fearful that communism and anarchy were going to take over. This attitude lingered until even the late 1930s when people were against European Jews coming into our country. We all know how that panned out.

Now we have many of the same things happening again. People are fleeing terrorism, war, persecution. Many are women and children. The U.S. House of Representatives  recently voted to keep out Syrians. There is even talk about shutting down the government over this issue. It’s become a political football and popularity contest among presidential candidates. Donald Trump wants to make Syrian refugees carry special identification. Yes, the same policy Hitler and the Nazis used is being touted by a potential United States president. The “special identification” for Syrian refugees is just another form of the Star of David badge used to segregate then exterminate men, women, and children of the Jewish faith. Others wore badges that declared their “otherness” too- gays, the Romany, the mentally handicapped among them.

The events today are a prime example of “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Not only was xenophobia and separatism part of what made World War II so horrible, so destructive, each time it reared its ugly head, injustice and tragedy reigned. Think of how many lives were ruined in the 1950s under McCarthyism. Black lists were made. Congress was involved in hearings that were basically kangaroo courts, ferreting out “pinkos” and “commies.” It was a shameful and dark time despite many peoples’ wistful but flawed memories of the decade. And 60 years later, it continues.

It’s not the “damn liberals” or the “stupid conservatives” that are taking our country down. It’s regular people of all stripes that haven’t learned a thing from our past. They see heinous acts of violence from terrorists, and they succumb to fear, exactly what the terrorists want. Exactly. Closing our borders to those seeking refuge is what ISIS wants. They will use our denial of refugees against us, telling their people that no one cares about them, that their religion, their faith is what America is against. It won’t matter to these people that there are some here that are scared of the violence coming to our shores, hiding it under bravado and propaganda about the Islamic menace. The refugees will only see rejection, and in that way the extremists will win their hearts. And the violence is already here anyway. The Boston Marathon bombing, the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11 all resonate with violence against our government, way of life, and our citizens.

When you read Facebook memes and posts, including mine, remember the entire history of the United States, our traditions of immigration and asylum, and our tragic memories of the awful results of xenophobia. See that the politicians who use fear are no better than the terrorists themselves- they are all people who will use death and destruction to gain power whether or not they caused it directly or indirectly. Take care when you hear media outlets, news agencies, radio hosts, television personalities, church leaders telling us that we should not help these particular “others,” that we need to take care ourselves first, that they aren’t “Christian” or that they are infiltrating and hellbent on changing and killing us. That’s code for “fear strangers” and by that, all the terrorists accomplish their goals.

We all were the “others” at some point in our family trees. The Pilgrims fled persecution in England. The Huguenots ran from France. Jews, Italians, Irish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Korean, Cuban, Nicaraguan- the list of asylum seekers goes around the world. And they all came to America. It is who we are and who we were. Taking precautions and carefully examining refugees is a necessary and prudent thing in today’s world. But flat out refusal is a mistake on our part, and playing right into the hands of our enemies and detractors.

The Complexity Of Gender And Other Heroic Things

People are born intersex all the time, from those with “ambiguous” genitalia, genes that don’t match outward secondary sexual characteristics, and other physical variants from the “binary” norm. Geneticists studying the “traditional” XX/XY chromosomes that have been associated with gender determination have found in studies that there is more than just absolutes at work.

Years ago people used the term hermaphrodite to refer to children that were born with different types of genitals. That term came about because people didn’t fully understand what was going on with the physical characteristics of the baby. Hermaphrodite has mistaken connotations of being both fully male and fully female at the same time, which is a physical impossibility. Often these children were subjected to gender assignment surgery at an early age with the assumption that growing up “one way or another” would be the healthiest psychologically. This sometimes had disastrous results.

So with all the unknowns in genetics, all the myriads of ways people can branch out from the accepted norms, why is it so hard for some to accept that the same sort of thing could be happening to those that are transgender? In a world where there are multiple possibilities, where some people that have XX chromosomes can present as physically male, and some people that have XY chromosomes can look completely female, why is it so difficult to see that some people who look male, have male genetics, can have “female brains,” and vice versa? Is it because some people don’t fully understand the complexities of psychology and physiology? Is it because some think in a black and white manner about sexuality when it is really far more complicated than an either/or situation?

People are very, very quick to judge before they have all the information in a lot of situations other than gender and sexual identity. So it’s not really surprising that more than a few cannot or will not make the leap to understanding how someone can be transgender. They don’t see how difficult it can be for someone to understand and come to terms with their gender identity, and what a long process it can be. It took Caitlyn Jenner 65 years to come to full terms with self-acceptance and to present herself as she felt. The teenager Jazz Jennings who has her own “reality” show not only fights with her own self perception, she has to endure people that can’t or won’t understand her situation. Personally I think if we can call someone brave for their religious beliefs, or their career choices, or their sociological accomplishments, then we can call people like Caitlyn or Jazz heroes of a sort too. They are out there showing other people, other human beings with feelings and situations similar to theirs that they are not alone, that life can be good, and coming to terms with who you truly are is sometimes the bravest thing you can do.

Evangelicals And Their Dilemma

“Evangelicals don’t dislike our gay and lesbian neighbors, and we don’t mean them harm.” -Russell Moore

Except they do. They want to deny gay people the civil institution of marriage. Who cares if they don’t want the ceremonies to be performed in their churches anyway? A civil marriage is a civil marriage. It comes with certain tax benefits, inheritance assumptions, health proxies, and respect. When the conservatives talked about “civil unions” and explained they’d be the same as marriage, they were merely parsing words. They were trying to tell gay people that they were, and would remain second class citizens.

Evangelicals like to claim that they “love” their gay neighbors, but when they go to church, their preachers teach them hatred. They like to perfume it up with “oh we hate the sin but love the sinner” and that is just not true. They hate people different from themselves. They despair diversity. You can hear them saying things like “If I hear one more person say ‘coexist’ I will scream!” I know. I’ve heard them say it.

They resent that America is doing what America has always done- changed. They espouse politicians that say “bring back our America” with a hint of their own naked hypocrisy. They claim to want to make America great again, but they’re unwilling to see the truths in history that we can learn from. They rewrite events, such as Sarah Palin famously did with Paul Revere’s ride, and think that the Constitution should remain as static as their own literalistic religion. There’s no room for growth and understanding, just a set of boundaries and parameters that they refuse to change. In ways they exhibit behaviors that are like children that don’t want to grow up. They understand things as they were and don’t want that understanding to be clouding by complexities that they don’t seem to desire to even think about for fear that they may have some unintended results from actually considering other ways of looking at things. Look at how they cling to the “unchanging word of God.” Except interpretations of the Bible have changed throughout the ages, and they are always the ones that want to cling to the past as if that is going to guarantee them some sort of edge in gaining immortality after death.

So yes, the conservative evangelicals do actually want to cause gay people harm. They want to continue lambasting gay rights and thinking “well, that doesn’t have anything to do with them personally and how I treat them” except that it does. Creating hostile atmospheres, accusing gay or marriage equality of causing great plagues, disasters, and blasphemy is a way of keeping the homosexual community in perpetual otherness. It diminishes gays while allowing conservatives to have some sort of perceived moral superiority.

Don’t let them fool you with this rhetoric. When they finally grow in their understanding, when they finally give up the last gasps of homophobia, they won’t have to fight so hard or pretend to justify themselves any longer.

Is Your God Supposed To Be The One Everyone Worships?

Since God is everywhere, why do so many people think that He can be taken out of some places? I wonder which god some people suggest we put back into government. An Abrahamic god? That covers Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. But what about a Hindu deity? Ganesh is super cool, and he has an elephant head. What about a goddess like Wiccans honor? Or maybe we can go far back to Odin. I mean you talk about wow factor, Odin’s got it.

Look folks, God and religion are not the same thing. As long as you have your faith, whatever that faith may be, God as you know Him (or Her) is always with you. Taking religious practices out of government allows everyone to participate in the process. If we started letting one religion and their practices in our government just where do we stop?

You can pray anywhere. You can silently do it sitting in school, sitting in a court, or even sitting in the driver’s seat of a police car. But when you start making a big show out of practicing your religion like praying on your knees in algebra class, or proselytizing in a town hall meeting, that’s where you have stopped taking God everywhere and started in on your personal practices.

Religious freedom, like freedom of speech, has some limitations to it. When your religious practices and views interfere with governmental procedure or infringe on someone’ else’s civil rights, you are not lawfully using your freedom. But it always seems to be a certain group of people that want to interject their faith’s practices into our civil government. It just seems to be a sector of people that are not thoughtful or pragmatic or even that moral about their practices. They would desire to force everyone to do things their way. And that’s just NOT THE WAY GOD IS SUPPOSED TO WORK. If you are made to practice a faith either by force or de facto through laws that do not separate church and state, that is not spreading God, but it is spreading human desire to be the only religion around. And that’s not religious freedom. It’s a theocracy.