Friday, December 19, 2008

Response to A Pastoral Message to Homosexual Catholics in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles

This writing is in response to a letter from Cardinal Roger Mahony and the bishops of Los Angeles.  They wrote a letter to gay Catholics that can be read here:

Dear Roger:

I am truly quite surprised at the lack of understanding and caring in this matter.  You stated that homosexuals are "cherished members of the Catholic Church" and that you value us "as equal and active members of the Body of Christ."  What kind of equality is it where you worked to rid us of one of our rights?  How cherished are we?

You stated that the passing of Proposition 8 does not diminish our importance, but you fail to recognize that it takes away one of our rights.  If the same were to be done to you, how important would you feel?

You said that Proposition 8 was not intended to ban gay marriage, yet that is exactly what it was for.  Heterosexual marriage was never in jeopardy, and is not diminished by allowing same sex couples to wed.  

You use the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights as part of your argument, yet when has the Catholic Church ever been dictated to by the UN?  This argument is totally without merit and only shows the homophobia within the church.

You stated that "If we had ever thought that the intent of this proposition was to harm you or anyone in the Sate of California, we would not have supported it."  This is a lie, and you know it.  You knew full well that this initiative was anti-gay and yet you supported it fully.

You state that you began pastoral outreach to gays 20 years ago, yet you fail to mention that you closed down the office designed for this purpose, or that only four parishes throughout the entire archdiocese have gay ministries.  If you were so intent on being inclusive of us, why wasn't the creation of gay ministries made mandatory throughout Los Angeles?  Obviously, this is nothing but lip service to our community.

You stated that "Supporting marriage as it has always been understood diminishes none of us."  Please explain to me how supporting same-gender marriage diminishes any of us.  It does not.

What you did was discriminate against a group of people, some of us who happen to be Catholic.  I have retaliated by submitting empty collection envelopes into the basket each Sunday.  The money that would have been used to support the church is now being used to fund the lawsuits against Proposition 8.  What this means in practice is that money that would have gone to the Catholic Church is now going to fight the Church.  

Congratulations, Roger.  You took money away from a church that needs it in order to fight for rights that you wanted to deny.  I hope you realize what a mistake this was on your part.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bailing Out the Auto Makers

The latest buzz in the news is that added to the bailout of the financial industry, the auto makers now want a piece of the pie.  In fact, they want a rather large piece, asking for $25 billion in loans from the federal government.  In the grand scheme of things, this amount only equals about 3.5% of the total $700 billion bailout that Congress has already approved, but for those of us who live in reality, $25 billion is a lot of money.

The main question that needs to be answered is, do the auto manufacturers deserve our help? Should we add them to the growing list of industries that need money to keep from shutting their doors?  Political talk show host Stephanie Miller feels they do, and she states it openly on her program every morning.  Her reasoning is that the health benefits of the workers are in jeopardy. She and her team expound daily on the need for the government to help out these people.

I have to disagree with her on this.  I think bailing out this industry is not in the best interest of America because this industry should be in the financial position to help itself, and if it's not, then we shouldn't be rewarding an industry that bankrupts itself out of its own greed, arrogance and ignorance.

Allow me to explain my position by looking at the city of Detroit, Michigan.  Detroit has traditionally been the home of the auto industry, so it seems to me to be a good place to start.  For this discussion, I am looking at the three automobile manufacturers who recently sent their CEOs to Washington to ask Congress for money; GM, Ford and Chrysler.  The CEOs are Rick Wagoner (GM), Alan Mulally (Ford) and Robert Nardelli (Chrysler).

According to, the median household income in Detroit in 2007 was $28,097, below the state level of $47,950.  As a comparison, the median household income in Los Angeles for the same period was $47,781 and for California it was $59,948.  Detroit, then has a rather low household income when comparing it to the rest of Michigan, or to my area.

Using these numbers, the median worker in Detroit is earning $13.50 per hour, assuming they work full-time (2,080 hours per year) and are not earning overtime wages.  Higher than the minimum wage, certainly.  Using an assumption from the housing industry, that houses should cost four times the annual median income, would mean that the median price of a home in Detroit should be no more than $112,388.  The median home price for 2007 was $88,800, which means that a salary of $28,097 is a livable wage.  (As a comparison, the median home price in Los Angeles for 2007 was over $660,000).  $13.50 an hour may not sound like a lot of money (and it's truly not), but it would allow the average person to purchase a home and enjoy the benefits of a being a homeowner in Detroit.

According the Los Angeles Times, the average autoworker for the three automakers named above earns $73 per hour.  Assuming this person works full-time for a year without overtime, they would earn $151,840 per year.  The UAW (United Auto Workers) has negotiated a two-tier payment system where persons employed in the industry who do not actually work on automobiles earn considerably less; $27 per hour, or $56,160 annually.  Note that in either case these workers earn well above the median average for Detroit.

What do the workers do with this money?  Apparently, they spend it.  Pundits like Stephanie Miller are calling for the government to bail out these people because their health benefits are in jeopardy, but my question is, why can't they afford to bail themselves out?  With a salary of over $150,000 they should certainly be able to put money away for emergencies such as this.  Added to this, while they were earning these wages, what were they doing to prepare for their futures?  The majority of jobs in the auto industry don't require a college education, but many industries do.  At a salary of $150,000 annually, why weren't they attending college in the evenings to earn a degree?

Now we (the American taxpayers) are being asked to bailout an industry that has paid higher than average wages to people who have not done anything to earn them.  I don't see the logic in this.  I do agree that CEO compensation is insane, and that legislation to curb such earnings would be beneficial to our country.  I think that CEO and other executives should cap their salaries at five times the wages of the lowest paid person within their company.  I also believe that this cap should extend to any perks that come with the job, not only on the salary itself.  This would mean that if the lowest paid person earns $27 per hour, the highest-paid executive would make roughly $280,800 per year.  That's a far cry from the millions they currently make, but I'm sure most people would agree that one can live quite comfortably on a quarter of a million dollars annually.

It should be noted that the salaries paid in Detroit are not necessarily indicative of the remainder of the industry.  Toyota pays an average of $48 per hour, which equates to $99,840, still more than enough money to live on.  Toyota is not asking the government to bail them out, so before Stephanie Miller and her ilk jump on a bandwagon, perhaps she should investigate the cause of this dilemma.  Greedy unions, over-paid executives and a lack of personal betterment are not reasons for the rest of us to incur further debt.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Bailout

As I see it, the bailout of the financial industry is caused by the deregulation of said industry, and practices involving bad loans to homeowners.  If this is true, then we need to explore the cause more deeply before we can solve the problem.

From the looks of it, it appears that the initial mistake was made by the banks (and other lenders) in writing mortgages for people who truly could not afford to buy a home.  Take an example; John makes $35,000 a year.  His wife stays home to care for their two children.  A family of four making $35,000 a year is not a wealthy family.  After taxes John makes about $28,000 annually, which is $2,333 monthly.  Following the formula that his housing should cost no more than 25% of his income, he needs a mortgage at $583 per month.

Here in Los Angeles, where homes go for huge amounts of money, it's not possible to find such a mortgage.  Let's say he finds a house for $300,000 and gets a 4.5% loan with nothing down, his payments will still be $1,500 a month for 30 years.  If he extends the loan to 60 years he would only lower his monthly payment by $300.

So, the big huge bank loans John the $300,000 he needs to buy the house at 4.5% interest.  His wife takes a part-time job to help pay the mortgage, and for the next two years they struggle to make the $1,500 payment each month, but they manage to get by.  Then the "teaser" rate adjusts and their 4.5% interest rate jumps to 7.5%.  which means over $2,000 a month for their mortgage payment.  This is impossible for John and his wife to handle, and they try to raise the money, but simply can't.

Now, at the same time the house has increased in value from $300,000 to $450,000.  This gives them $150,000 in equity in the home.  If they were to sell the house they could use that equity to either put a down payment on a smaller house, or simply bank the money and have the start of a nest egg for their future.  Unfortunately, like many of these borrowers, John and his wife don't understand the market and didn't realize that selling the house was an option.  Worse, they waited until the foreclosures had started, and now the market is saturated with houses, so no one is buying.

Enter the bank (again).  This time with a notice of foreclosure.  John and his family vacate the property and move into an apartment.  The bank takes over the property, which has now fallen in value (because of the large number of foreclosures in the area) and is currently worth about $200,000.  John bought the house for $300,000 (the original loan) and paid on the loan for two years.  He paid $1,500 a month for a total of $36,000.  If the bank sells the house for $200,000 the bank will lose $64,000 on the deal.

What the bank calculated was a) interest rates rising (which they did) and b) the economy remaining so strong that John would receive raises that would allow him to meet the higher interest payments, which did not happen.  The bank was counting on getting it's $36,000 in the first two years, and then getting higher rates for the remainder of the loan.  Let's assume that it remained at 7.5% for the next 28 years, and the payments were $2,000 per month.  That would be $672,000 plus the $36,000 paid in the first two years for a total of $708,000 on a $300,000 loan.

There is a third possibility.  When the market turned bad, the banks could easily have converted the 4.5% adjustable rate mortgage into a 4.5% fixed rate mortgage.  This would mean that the payment would remain $1,500 for the entire loan (30 years), and the bank would be paid a total of $540,000.  This would show a profit of $240,000 or $8,000 annually.  Granted, not much of a profit, but still better than a loss of $64,000.  The banks chose not do this, however, because they wanted their entire projected profit.  

This crisis was brought about by greed.  As such, it should not be up to the taxpayers to bail out the banks.  Let them work out their own mess.  Sell the houses they currently hold below market value to get their cash flowing.  This would also allow more people to buy homes, stimulating the economy.  If our congress wants to do something constructive, work on keeping jobs in America.  Pass legislation to disallow tax breaks to companies that send jobs oversees.  Deny tax breaks to companies that have automated voice answering systems instead of human beings answering their phones.  Cut tax incentives to companies that outsource their customer service departments to India or the Philippines.

Our Congress needs to work on legislation that would benefit all Americans, and let the banks take care of their own messes.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Salute to Heroes

It was seven years ago today when tragedy struck America in the form of airplanes being flown into New York city and Washington, D.C.  On that day, the United States was under attack from an enemy few of us saw as much of a threat, but when the dust had settled we had losses of several thousand people.

While September 11 will live on as a day of tragedy, it was also a day of hope.  What was caused by the worst in people also brought out the best in them.  Many of those who lost their lives that day did so while helping others.  While there were many victims on that horrible day, there were also a great many heroes.

In the days and weeks following the incident, we stopped losing victims, but the heroes kept showing themselves.  Certainly running into a burning building to save others is heroic, but heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and show themselves in a great many ways.  Reaching out to those who lost loved ones is heroic.  Holding concerts to raise money for the survivors is heroic, and even making contributions to help out is heroic.

Our nation came together in a way few of us can recall seeing this country do, and the heroes rose to the surface.  Men, women and children across this land joined their fellow Americans to help out in any way they could, and their heroism should be remembered as well.

I would like to suggest that henceforth September 11 be known as National Heroes Day.  This day will commemorate those heroes of September 11, but also all American heroes, in every generation.  Heroes deserve to be honored, and we should set time aside to say thank you to those people who are heroes every day.

Heroes can be glorious, as the firefighter rushing out of a burning building holding a small child, but they can also be the school teacher who takes the time to work with a student and make the difference between that child going on to college, or dropping out of school.  The nurse at the hospital who takes the time to comfort the patient who is in pain and creating an unpleasant atmosphere for the other patients is a hero.  The local minister who comforts his parishioners when they lose a loved one is just as heroic.  Heroes are born out of love and compassion, and they are truly heroic when that love is expressed to someone they have never met.

There are heroes among us.  We should honor them, for in that honor, we encourage others to let the hero within shine forth.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Is Palin the Best Choice for Vice President?

According to Karl Rove, the person who runs for vice president of this country must not be a person whose only experience is as mayor of a small city and less than one term in office as a governor.  Oddly enough, he was not speaking about Sarah Palin.  He made these statements on "Face the Nation" on Sunday, August 10, 2008 while explaining why Tim Kaine (Governor of Virginia) would not be experienced enough to be the Vice President should Obama have selected him.

So, how does he explain John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin, who was the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska before becoming governor of the state, without sounding like a hypocrite?

I think I just answered my own question.

Is Palin the best choice?  Look at her record.  She was mayor of a town of 5,000 that has now grown to nearly 10,000 people.  Growth is indicative of progress, and progress is good.  Right?  More people means more homes, more businesses, more jobs and a better economy.  

It also means fewer trees, an impact on the environment, loss of shelter for wildlife, more pollution and increased crime.  Growth doesn't always mean progress.

During her term as mayor, she approached a local librarian about the idea of banning certain books.  The story is murky, but what appears to be clear is that the librarian refused and was fired, but a backlash in the community forced Palin to re-hire the woman.  The librarian later resigned on her own, and moved out of the town.  While the story ended without the books being banned, isn't attempted censorship still a threat?  If not, does the term "Freedom of Speech" ring a bell?

Also as mayor, Palin issued an order that no one employed by the city was allowed to speak with the press without first clearing it with her.  This not only violates their rights to freedom of speech, but another founding tenet of our nation, the idea of freedom of the press.  Perhaps Palin didn't study history when she was growing up in the frontier.

She was also apparently a member of a group that supported the idea of succession of Alaska from the Union, so when she speaks about this great country, she's not being very sincere.

When Palin left the job of mayor, she left behind $20 million in long-term debt that the residents of the small city will be paying for many years.  How progressive is that?  In all fairness, they did get a nice ice rink, and since she proudly admits to being a "hockey mom" that must have been very important.  To her, at least.

As governor of Alaska she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but then she states that she's against Big Oil.  Those two positions don't work together, but I don't think she's figured that out yet.  Drilling will also jeopardize the wildlife in that area, but she's against polar bears being on the endangered species list, so that's not an issue.  For her.

Perhaps the most disturbing allegation against her is her abuse of power.  She is currently under investigation for firing Safety Director Walter Monegan after he refused to dismiss Trooper Mike Wooten.  Wooten is divorced from Palin's sister, Molly.  The results of the investigation are due by October 31, 2008.  For a candidate who is supposed to be a "maverick" and someone who will change Washington, she certainly sounds an awful lot like the guy who has the job right now.

Palin is anti-choice and anti-abortion.  She is a proponent of abstinence, yet her 17-year-old daughter is now pregnant.  This clearly demonstrates to me that a) abstinence does not work, and b) a woman who chooses to have a child needs to be a mother to that child.  Perhaps if Sarah had guided her child (meaning spent more time with her daughter and less time trying to fire her daughter's uncle), her daughter wouldn't be in this condition.

Palin also brags about her blessing from God in the form of a child with Down Syndrome, yet at five-months-old the child is left in the care of a nanny because once again, motherhood is secondary to a political career.  I'm not saying that a woman can't be both a mother and a politician.  Hillary Clinton has done both, and done both very well.  Hillary spent time with her daughter when the child needed her mother.  Sarah seems more driven with her own ambitions than with the needs of her children.  

Is that the sort of person we want as second in command of our country?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Abortion in the 21st Century

With the Democratic National Convention currently being held in Denver, the topic of abortion is once again being thrust into the spotlight, albeit in a much less brightness thanks to Bush's efforts in Iraq.  Be that as it may, this topic should have been put to rest a long time ago, and by people on both sides of the issue.  It certainly should not be a tool used by the Republicans to garner votes, and yet that is exactly what it has become.

Republicans have successfully convinced Democrats that if they vote for anyone in their party they are voting for abortion.  These politicians have used religious innuendo to sway voters away from their own party, and have shown a great amount of success in this endeavor.  One must applaud their efforts.

Republicans are not interested in changing our abortion laws, and their actions have proven this.  They need this issue to stay alive to be able to use it as a wedge issue come election time, and anyone who wishes to outlaw abortion in this country needs to realize this.  Consider the facts: since the passage of Roe vs. Wade in 1973 there have been six presidents of the United States.  In that time, four of them (Ford, Reagan and both Bushes) have been Republican.  Only two (Carter and Clinton) have been Democrats, yet the laws have not been changed.

Further, when Clinton took office in 1993, the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate, but two years later, the Republicans won both houses.  For the remainder of Clinton's terms in office, the Republicans were in control of the congress.  The laws remained unchanged.

Finally, in 2001, George W. Bush, a Republican, took office.  For the next two years the Republicans were fully in control, holding the White House, the Senate and the Congress, and yet the laws remained unchanged.  This would have been the opportune time to enact legislation to outlaw abortion HAD THEY TRULY MEANT TO DO SO.  No such legislation was ever passed.

The Republicans need this issue to win elections.  As long as good-hearted Democrats believe that Republicans want to outlaw abortion (which they don't), those Democrats will vote the Republicans in and the Democrats out.  So, what's to be done?

First, we need to look at abortion logically rather than emotionally.  In the days before the passage of Roe vs. Wade abortions were being performed in this country, but not legally.  The following statistics come largely from the Centers for Disease Control, as this group has been recording such information since 1969.  

In 1972, the year before the legalization of abortion by the U.S. Supreme Court, there were 586,760 abortions performed in this country.  It is necessary to interject here that this number is lower than the actual number of abortions, as the practice was illegal at the time.  This number reflects the women who were known to have had an abortion, either because of an examination by their doctor, or by being brought to an emergency room because of the results of that abortion.

Using this number as our base, and looking at the total number of births in this country in 1972 (3,258,411) we have 18% of pregnancies that were ended in abortion.  In 2003, 30 years later, when abortion had been legal for three decades, the total number of births has risen to 4,089,950 and the total number of abortions has increased to 854,122.  Again, it's important to note that the number from 1972 is lower than the actual number of abortions, so the increase is not as significant as that.  Taking the total number of abortions in 2003 as a percentage of the number of pregnancies brings us to 21%.  From 18% to 21% is not a huge increase, so anyone who thinks that legalizing abortion has caused more abortions is not accurate.

So what does cause abortion?  Women who do not want to be pregnant.  According to the CDC, 91.8% of women who have had abortions did not want to be pregnant in the first place.  Only 8.2% of pregnancies are aborted because the woman's health is at risk, or the baby's health is at risk, or for some other reason.

What this tells me is that the pro-life groups need to shift their focus if they truly wish to lower the abortion rate in this country.  If the goal is to achieve zero abortions, the goal is not reasonable.  Abortions are not new and will not end with legislation against them.  The goal needs to be something reasonable, and that can be achieved.  Taking the figures for 2003, if only those abortions were conducted where someone's health was in danger, then rather than 854,122 abortions there would have been 70,038.  This lowers the percentage of abortions per pregnancies from 20% to less than two percent.  

This is a goal that can be achieved, and all it takes is for the pro-life groups to work with groups like Planned Parenthood to educate women on birth control.  Women who do not get pregnant do not have abortions 100% of the time.  This simple act would reduce the number of abortions in this country by a larger number than any legislation possibly can.  This action would also allow good-hearted Democrats to vote their conscience, and keep our government in the hands of the party that runs it best.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Joe Biden -

So, Obama has made his choice and his choice is Joe Biden.  Is this a good move, or has he single-handedly taken one of the most successful presidential campaigns in American history and nullified it?  Time will tell.

I have to wonder if Biden is the right choice, given Obama's stance.  The main platform of the Obama campaign was that our country needed change, and to that effect he (and his administration) would be the ones to initiate that change.  To exemplify that change, he has selected a man who spent the last 36 years working as a Senator.  How much change is that?  Wouldn't it make more sense to take someone relatively new to Congress (as Obama himself is), and thus show that change is really in the air?

It should be noted that both Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh were considered to be on the list as potential running mates, and that both of these Senators have less than a decade in the senate, thus the selection of either would indicate that the candidate of change was true to his word.  By selecting Biden, it seems that his administration is not so much about change as it is about more of the same.  One of Obama's strengths is that he's an African American and by electing him, we're showing that the age of racism is over.  Hillary Clinton, while not African American (that I know of) is a female (as far as I know) and the election of her shows that sexism is also over.  On the other hand, the Republicans only had old white men to select from.  So, who does Obama choose as a running mate?  An old, white man.

I also have to wonder about Biden's ideology.  While many of the votes taken in the senate while all three were in office were in agreement, there were a couple of times when Biden seems to go off on his own.  For example, on November 17, 2005 the senate voted to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to put a temporary tax on oil and give $100 per personal exemption to each taxpayer.  Obama voted in favor of the bill, as did Clinton, yet Biden voted against it (which put him in agreement with McCain.  Coincidence?).

On March 2, 2005 a vote was held to require credit card companies to provide information to consumers on the ramifications of making minimum payments on their credit card debt.  Both Obama and Clinton voted in favor, while Biden and McCain voted against.  Why would Biden vote against such legislation?  Hmmmmmmm.

On May 11, 2005 a bill was put forward to fund motorcycle safety programs specifically in those state that did not have helmet laws.  It seems to me that if you're stupid enough to get on a motorcycle without wearing a helmet you deserve what you get, but legislation was put forward to spend our tax dollars on these folks.  Obama and Clinton both voted no, as did McCain, but Biden voted for it.  I wonder if Biden rides without a helmet.  That could explain many things.

One of Obama's key messages was that the war in Iraq is wrong, and he points to the fact that he did not vote for it (which he couldn't because he wasn't in the senate yet), but that Hillary Clinton did.  So did Joe Biden.  Wouldn't that make Joe Biden just as wrong as Hillary?  Then why choose him as a running mate?

One vote that I found particularly disturbing was on October 26, 2005 when the senate voted on a measure to increase funding for AIDS drugs.  McCain voted for the funding, but Obama, Biden and Clinton all voted against it.  On November 3, 2005 a measure was put forth to give financial assistance to schools devastated by hurricane Katrina, and again McCain voted in favor while the other three opposed it.  It kind of makes you wonder who the good guys are, doesn't it?

I have to question whether Biden is really a good choice, given his record.  I understand that he has foreign policy experience, but Obama has to win the election before that experience can come in handy.  At this point, I seriously doubt that he's done that.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What is McCain Doing?

What is John McCain doing? During the last election, it seems to me that he was able to defeat other candidates (many of whom I considered much more worthy) by showing people what a nice person he is. Now that he's the last man standing, that niceness has fallen off of him like teeth from a hockey player.

Now that the election is down to two opponents, McCain has taken the gloves off. Actually, I think it's more accurate to say he's taken the mask off and is showing his true face. He doesn't seem to have any interest in telling us what he will do if elected, but rather by telling us what he believes Obama would do if Obama were elected. McCain is apparently clairvoyant.

Clairvoyance is a wonderful ability to have, and certainly one that would be a bonus to a president, but before we all go rushing off to the polls to vote Republican, we have to remember that McCain has not proven that he is clairvoyant; he has only attempted clairvoyance.

I think the best thing that McCain can do at this point is to tell us what will happen next week. Who will die, who will file for divorce, where will the next major tragedy strike, how well will Madonna's next album do, etc. The things that matter. Once he's done this, then we can look at his predictions and decide for ourselves if he actually has the gift or not. If he does, we would do well to vote for him. If he doesn't, then Obama might be a better choice.

Clairvoyance certainly isn't the only ability that a president should have, but in looking over the last eight years, and the last campaigns, I can't help but be concerned. The Republicans have shown a history of running smere campaigns, particularly when they run candidates without much merit (I know, many people believe that no Republicans have merit, but I'm not going there). Looking at McCain's campaign, what I see is an extension of the current administration.

Sorry John. You almost had my vote. I was concerned that Obama's lack of experience would not be in the best interest of this country, and that is still a concern to me, but your campaign tactics make me question your abilities even more. I've ordered my Obama bumper sticker and will be supporting the Democrat this time around.

One suggestion for any future campaigns; stick to your strengths. Tell the people what you can do that will make you the best person for the job. Don't tell us what someone else won't do (or will do that's bad), because you don't know that. Don't tell us why the other person is not the right person for the job; we have Fox News for that. Tell us what makes you the right person. Without that, you tell us that you're not.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

George Bush's Report Card

As a tax paying citizen of the United States, I am the employer of George W. Bush. Not just myself, of course, but all citizens like me and as such, we should certainly have the right to evaluate the performance of anyone in our employ, and Bush should not be an exception.

When I was a child, one of the areas that appeared on my report card was "Plays Well With Others" and in this category, I have to give little Georgie a solid F. Now, if the category were "Plays Well With Others Like Himself" he would do much better, as he has clearly demonstrated a love for his own kind, but that's not the name of the category.

Last week George signed the new FISA legislation into law. This legislation was opposed by Democrats, yet enough of them changed their vote to allow the law to pass. Why they were willing to do this I can't answer. In particular, why Obama would cross the aisle to vote for this piece of crap is beyond comprehension, but I can only imagine that he's fully giving in to the lure of evil that comes with politics and is selling his soul. That's a shame. He might find use for it as some point in his life, but what can you do?

So, the garbage law passed and George signed it and now we're stuck with it until 2012 (which is oddly enough how long we'll be stuck with the next president. Coincidence?). What this shows is that the Democrats were willing to make concessions to the president, which means on their individual report cards under "Plays Well With Others" they get high marks.

But back to Georgie. Another legislation is working its way up the hill, that would stop a 10% cut to doctors under Medicare. George has vowed to veto that bill, even though the votes are already there to override such a veto. This shows that Georgie has no intention of working with this congress. He wants everything his own way.

George is the boy with the ball who wants to make his own rules and if he's not allowed to do that, he'll take his ball and go home. My question is, why don't we just let him? We don't need his ball. We have plenty of balls of our own. What good is a congress without balls?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Going To Hell In A Hand Basket

Our country is doomed.  I've come to this dismal conclusion after suffering through a grueling meeting with a representative of one of the most American of all institutions; the United States Postal Service.

I visited the local Post Office to open a Post Office box for an organization to which I belong.  This should have been a simple process, but the people at the Post Office succeeded in making it as difficult as possible.

To start off, I first called the Post Office to ensure that they had boxes available.  I was told that they did, and in every size.  The woman I spoke with was very friendly and extremely helpful; or so I thought.

When I arrived at the Post Office I stood patiently in line and finally arrived at the window and made my request.  I was handed a form to complete and told I would need two forms of picture identification and a utility bill.  I asked why I needed the utility bill and I was told it was to verify my current address. 
But my address wasn't the issue since I was opening this for a nonprofit organization.  When I told her this, she left to get her supervisor.  He came out a few minutes later, and looked to be barely out of high school.  He didn't have any clue what I was talking about, and so he went in the back and came back with Mack.  I wasn't told what Mack's title was, but he's apparently the man who runs this particular branch.

Mack explained that the reason for the utility bill was so that the Post Office could ensure that the address I had given as a contact address was, in fact, a valid address.  Probably something to do with Homeland Security or one of the other useless laws that we must endure under the current administration.  I don't know why Mack had to come out to explain this, as it seemed simple enough that either the person at the window or the supervisor should have been able to help, but there you have it.

I returned home and gathered up the necessary documents and returned to the Post Office.  I again waited in line and this time came to the window of a different worker.  She looked at my driver's license and my passport and told me that these wouldn't work as they were both from the same list.  Then she produced a letter from Mack that listed forms of identification divided into two groups.  The first group were valid forms of photo IDs; driver's licenses, passports, military ID cards and so on.  The second group were other forms of ID that did not have photographs, such as paperwork showing citizenship.
The woman working the window couldn't understand that two forms of ID were needed, not one form from each section.  She went back for the same supervisor.  This time he was even less helpful.  He took the documents to the back, then came out and said that his manager was in a meeting and the best he could do was show him the form later that day, and mail the completed form to me so that I could return a third time to finally get the box.

I told him no.  I told him that he was to go in the back and get the manager out here.  He said the manager was in a meeting.  I said I didn't care.  "Tell him that he has a customer out here waiting," I instructed the supervisor.  The supervisor refused.  I refused to leave until I saw the manager.  In a battle of wills, I don't lose.

A few minutes later Phil came out.  Phil was the manager (Mack was at lunch).  He asked me what the problem was.  I said, "You tell me."  He looked at my information and my documents and said, "These are fine."  I said, "Tell her!" and pointed to the woman at the window.

She still refused to issue the box until Phil had signed off on the form so that if Mack had a problem with the transaction, it would be Phil's responsibility.  Phil signed the form and I finally got the box.  By this time, I had spent well over an hour working on something that should have taken less than 15 minutes.
She told me afterwards that she needed to make sure the rules were followed properly.  I told her she was misreading the instructions, as Phil had already proven.  "No," she said, "I've been working here for 14 years now.  I know what I'm doing."

Apparently, she's been screwing up the works for 14 years.  It's no wonder our mail delivery is so horrible in this country.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Agreeing With George W. Bush

Who would have ever thought that I would find an area where I would agree with George W. Bush, and yet that seems to have happened.  I heard on the news today that Bush intends on attending the opening ceremonies of the Olympics next month, despite the large numbers of Americans who think that it should be boycotted because of China's long history of violating human rights.

I think George is right in going.  It's difficult for me to say that, as I've had nearly eight years of disagreeing with this man, but I guess he's bound to get something right now and then.  In this instance, I agree with him.

The Olympics are set up specifically to give nations a chance to compete against each other peacefully.  We can be at war with each other at the time, but we come together in the spirit of competition to play games with each other.  We compete on the field so we can show that our differences are not so great that they cannot be overcome.

Nothing should stop this.  China's violation of human rights is not the point, the point is that we are there to compete against China and many other countries in a peaceful spirit.  Boycotting the opening ceremonies does not do anything to stop China from their practices.  It merely shows the world that we do not understand the purpose of the Olympics.

If we're truly interested in changing practices in China, we should stop buying products made there.  That would be a boycott that would make sense.  Boycotting the Olympics won't have any where near the same effect.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Religious Discrimination or Homophobia?

Eric Holyfield is a sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department.  He is also a minister, and in those combined roles he was asked to give a eulogy at the funeral of a fellow officer.  Clad in his ministerial garb, he gave his sermon, including indicating that gays would go to hell.  This was in 2006.  In June 2008 he filed suit against the LAPD and the city stating that he has been passed up for promotions and raises because of his speech, which means that he is being discriminated against because of his religious views (his opinion, not mine).  You can read the article from the Los Angeles Times by following this link:,0,6800842.story

This story brings up many questions for me, but the first is, why were these remarks being made at a funeral?  Was the deceased gay?  If so, it would hardly be comforting to the mourners to be told their loved one is going to hell.  If not, then why bring up gay issues at all at his funeral?  Was he killed by a gang of murderous gays?  I've never heard of such things, but in Los Angeles I suppose anything is possible.  Speaking from a personal perspective, I'm fairly certain that any gang of gays (which I think would properly be called either a "gaggle of gays" or a "pride of gays") who I know would not be interested in killing anyone, but might help them with their hair and clothing.  God knows we need the fashion police in this town.

But back to the funeral.  Barring the deceased himself being gay, or being killed by gays, what possible motive is there for mentioning homosexuality at a funeral?  A funeral is a time of high emotions, and I can only think that Holyfield was using this as an opportunity to enforce his own personal bias, and therefore what he engaged in is hate speech, which is illegal in this state.  It seems to me that the LAPD should have done more than just file a complaint against him; they should have arrested him and charged him with a hate crime.

According to the article, Holyfield quoted the Bible as saying, "men should not lie with men; women should not lie with women. To do so was an abomination or sinful; one must repent or be condemned to hell."  The article does not give any indication of what denomination Holyfield is, nor of where he studied to become a pastor.  For that matter, it doesn't give any details about whether he was ever ordained, but I have to question his educational background when he claims to quote the Bible and makes up passages.

What Mr. Holyfield is misquoting is Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.  According to the Tanakh, these passages read, "Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence."  And, "If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, the two of them have done an abhorrent thing; they shall be put to death -- their blood-guilt is upon them."

Notice that these passages do not say that women should not lie with women.  Mr. Holyfield made that up, which means he lied about what the Bible says.  What kind of pastor lies about the scriptures?

Also, as an educated, ordained minister, I would expect Mr. Holyfield to understand that these passages are an interpretation of the scriptures, and not a translation.  If you translate the first passage directly from the Hebrew into English, it says, "With a male you shall not lie the lyings of a woman."  That is not the same thing as saying two men shall not lie together.

Mr. Holyfield should also realize that this passage is taken from a section known as the Holiness Code.  In this section the people of Israel are God's chosen people, and they are being told to follow a path provided by God, and not one that other people followed (specifically the Egyptians and Canaanites in this passage).  These rules are meant to set the people apart in their religious beliefs and practices.  It does not condemn homogenital sex in itself, but as a religious prohibition.  For Mr. Holyfield to follow this he would have to follow all of Leviticus.  For example, Leviticus 19:19 says "You shall not put on cloth from a mixture of two kinds of materials."  I've never met Mr. Holyfield, but I'll bet he's worn polyester/cotton blend clothing in his lifetime.  Probably at the funeral.

Leviticus 19:27 says, "You shall not round off the side-growth on your head, or destroy the side-growth of your beard."  To me that just looks unkempt, but it's God's law, so Mr. Holyfield must follow it.  The article doesn't contain a picture of him, but I'll see if I can find one and post it.  I'm sure his sideburns must reach the floor by now.

There are more.  Leviticus is full of prohibitions and requirements, but the point is, if you claim that one must be followed then you must follow all of them.  This book was written thousands of years ago, and we don't follow these teachings any longer, so for Mr. Holyfield to state that we must indicates to me that his education is extremely limited.

One further point, the original passage that I quoted claims that this act is an abomination.  Leviticus 20:25-26 indicates that abomination is another way of saying "unclean."  This was seen as an unclean act.  The reason they would be put to death is because they committed a religious offense against God, however many of the other acts don't have the same punishment.  This has lead many scholars to believe that the correct translation ("With a male you shall not lie the lyings of a woman") is intended to refer to temple prostitutes (yes, they existed in the early days of Judaism), and therefore the prohibition was against sexual relations that were conducted within the temple.  As such, homosexuality is not being condemned at all, but ritualistic sexual acts that are conducted more for eroticism than ritual are being condemned.  

I wonder if Mr. Holyfield included that in his eulogy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The High Price of Oil

The following is a message I sent to my Representative in Congress, the Honorable Brad Sherman:

Representative Sherman:

It seems to me that our country works best when we all work together. The current overly-inflated gasoline price is a prime example of an area where we must come to an agreement. President Bush recently called for a moratorium on Congress’ ban on offshore drilling for oil and gas. I think this is an area that needs to be explored, rather than being dismissed immediately.

If the Democrats and the Republicans work together, we can do something to solve this crisis, however, it would be foolish to simply lift the ban, as the President has suggested. This ban has been in place for nearly 30 years, and has received large support from both Democrats and Republicans and to simply lift it is to invite abuse.

What I would suggest is a compromise that would be beneficial to the Democrats, as it shows our willingness to work with the current administration, as well as to the American people as it will help alleviate the high price of oil.

In the area of offshore drilling, the agreement would be that no drilling will be allowed offshore until the entire 68 million acres currently under lease on federal lands and waters outside of the ban area are developed. Only after this has been done will offshore drilling be considered.

Additionally, all oil extracted from the United States must be capped at fifty dollars per barrel, without exception. In no event can any oil from the United States be sold for an amount higher than this. Such a restriction would bring down prices considerably.

Next, any oil extracted from the United States must remain within the United States. It can only be sold here, it can only be refined here and the gasoline created can only be sold at stations in the United States. Further, those stations can only sell the gasoline at a price that would reflect the fifty dollar per barrel maximum. This would bring gasoline prices back down to less than half of where they are today.

Further, once oil prices on the open market drop to a level below seventy five dollars per barrel, all drilling in the United States that was begun to confront the high cost of oil must cease. Production can only resume when (and if) oil is once again trading at a rate higher than seventy five dollars per barrel.

Once all oil has been depleted from the 68 million acres currently under lease to oil companies on federal lands and waters, then and only then can Congress debate the idea of offshore drilling.

I welcome your response to this idea.


Mr. Patt Gavin

Monday, June 9, 2008

Gay Marriages Live On!

I was thrilled to hear that the California Supreme Court has decided not to stay its ruling to allow gays to legally marry in the state of California.  The implications of this for gay couples is enormous, since the ruling does not pertain to only gay couples living in California, but to any gay couples who get married in California.  For this reason, several other states have initiatives lined up for their November ballots to disallow those marriages from being legal in their states.

This is exactly what gay activists have been working toward for years.  By getting one state to allow gay marriage it opens the door for the issue to be finally pushed forward.  When a couple from another state come to California to get married, then return to their home state, they will file to be accepted as married, which will be rejected.  This violates the Full Faith and Credit clause of the United States Constitution, which trumps any state constitution.  Because of this, the issue will finally be forced to the highest court in our land.  This is the best possible situation for those of us who believe in gay marriage.

Not to toot my horn, which I would (almost) never do, but I did write about this subject five years ago.  For those who are interested, the book is still available and can be found at this link:  

Yes, I can admit it now.  I am ahead of my time.  

Now I'm working on my third book, this one on religions.  I'm hoping to finish it by the end of 2008 (I'd really like to have it completed before the summer is over).  I might put a few posts on here from that work over the next couple of weeks, so if religion is something that interests you, keep an eye out.

To anyone who reads this who disagrees with gay marriage, I'd be very interested in hearing from you.  Specifically, your reasons would be of great interest to me.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Gay Marriage

It was five years ago when I published my first novel, a fictional account of two men attempting to legalize their marriage in a story titled "Almost Paradise."  As an openly gay author, it's probably not going to come as any surprise to find out that I'm in favor of gay marriage.  What I find interesting is the number of homophobic people in our society who are against it.  I say these people are homophobic because I truly don't see any other possibility.

The issue of gay marriage is once again in the news, due to the California Supreme Court's recent ruling that overturned the state's ban against it.  Conservative groups are now coming out of the woodwork threatening to put an initiative on the November ballot to allow the voters to change the state's constitution making marriage strictly between one man and one woman.  The people who write such an initiative are, to my mind, homophobic.  I can't find any other term that adequately defines them.  They have an unrealistic hatred of homosexuals and are showing this in their actions.

I have yet to hear one compelling argument against same-sex marriage that would make me change my mind on this subject.  I've heard plenty of arguments, but they are easily seen as works of hatred, not logic.  Look, for example, at the website belonging to the National Organization for Marriage, one of the groups threatening the November initiative.  I searched their site for anything that would give a logical reason why they oppose same-sex marriage, but found very little.  They do have a pdf file called "Why Marriage Matters" and that lists "Seven Scientific Reasons" why marriage is important, but they fail to demonstrate that these reasons are truly scientific.  Note that these reasons are only for marriage, not against gay marriage.  Here are the seven reasons, along with my response:

1. Marriage reduces the risk of poverty for children and communities.  Wouldn't this also include gay marriages?  What evidence exists that this statement a) is true and b) only refers to heterosexual unions?

2. Fatherless households increase crime.  Again, what evidence supports this, and if it is accurate, then doesn't that say that two father households would be the best defense against crime?

3. Marriage protects children's physical and mental health.  Again, no support is given as to where this statement originated, but the American Psychological Association states that children of gay parents are at no disadvantage psychologically or socially compared to children of heterosexual parents.  The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children who grow up with gay parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social and sexual functioning as children with straight parents.  The National Association of Social Workers agrees that research on gay parenting shows a total absence of pathological findings in their children. Finally, Charles J. Patterson, researcher at the University of Virginia, stated that "Not a single study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents. Indeed, the evidence to date suggests that home environments provided by gay and lesbian parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children’s psychosocial growth.”  (More on this can be found at

4. Both men and women who marry live longer, healthier and happier lives.  Again, no support, but where is the research on the life expectancy of married homosexuals?

5. Just living together is not the same as marriage.  All the more reason why gays need to be allowed to marry.

6. Parents who don't get or stay married put children's education at risk.  What studies prove this, and do those studies include children of same-sex couples?

7. When marriages fail, ties between parents and children typically weaken too.  I don't how they could even print this.  I know plenty of children of failed marriages who have great relationships with both of their parents.  To me, this statement is purely fictional.

For gay marriages, the flier states that "Marriage teaches that men and women need each other and that children need mothers and fathers."  Again, no justification is given for this statement, other than that the author (and it doesn't say who wrote it) says so.  It should say "Heterosexual marriage teaches that men and women need each other" and that would probably be a true statement, but to state that marriage teaches this is false.  Marriage is a union between two people, be they opposite sex or same sex, and in and of itself, it does not teach heterosexuality.  

The second statement, that "children need mothers and fathers" is also false.  See the response to number 3 above and you can see that no reputable organization supports this claim.  The American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics are both scientific organizations (unlike the National Organization for Marriage), and both these organization show this statement to be false.

The flier also claims that "every same-sex home ... intentionally deprives children of their own mom and dad."  Note that I did not add the emphasis, it's in the original.  This statement is so obviously untrue it amazes me that they would print it.  If I have a child with a woman, and my lover and I raise that child, how would that child be deprived of their mom and dad?  Just as children of divorce are raised primarily by one parent, so would mine be.  

If, as a gay parent, I chose to adopt a child, then they are deprived of their parents, but not by my doing. Their parents either gave them up for adoption, and therefore the deprivation comes from the biological parents, or died, in which case the deprivation comes from whatever caused their deaths.  The gay couple who adopt these children are providing them with loving homes, not depriving them of anything.

Okay, more lies in the flier.  "The law will teach your children and grandchildren that there is nothing special about mothers and fathers raising children together, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a bigot."  Note again that the emphasis is in the original.  You can always tell when a writing (or speech) is relying more on fiction than on truth when it appeals largely to emotions.  This statement has no basis in fact, but relies heavily on making people believe that the law will call them bigots.  The law doesn't call anyone a bigot, that's a social construct, not a legal one.  The law also doesn't say that there is nothing special about mothers and fathers raising children together, it simply says that this is not the only way of raising children.  In fact, if this was so important to this organization, they should be trying to make divorce illegal rather than trying to stop gay marriages, since divorce is what stops men and women from raising children together.

"Marriage is about brining male and female together."  Again, that's a definition of heterosexual marriage, not marriage.

The National Organization for Marriage does not, in my opinion, give any good reason for putting an initiative on the ballot to outlaw same-sex marriage.  Based on their writings and on their website, I have to conclude that their actions are driven by nothing but homophobia.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Leahy and Dodd -- UnAmerican

There's quite a bit of buzz on the news lately with various politicos calling for Hillary Clinton to quit the race for the presidency and allow Barack Obama to win the Democratic nomination.  Senators Patrick Leahy (Vermont) and Chris Dodd (Connecticut) have both been quite vocal in this regard.

According to Leahy, Clinton "has every right, but not a very good reason, to remain a candidate for as long as she wants to."  Dodd was even more vocal stating, "if a person wants to stay in the race, stay in the race, but if you have enough people rallying behind what appears to be the likely choice, and I believe the choice is Barack Obama, then I think you have to step up to the plate and say, 'Enough is enough!'  We want this to be over with."

You have to admire politicians for their way of speaking.  Leahy never tells Hillary to quit the election, he simply states that she doesn't have a good reason to remain in the running.  Dodd starts off by stating that she has the right to stay in the race, but that she's not the "likely choice" in his opinion.  

Their careful consideration of the words to use are the main problem with their statements.  Clinton's reason for staying in the running is that America has the right to vote.  Where I live in California, we have already had our election, but where my mother lives in Pennsylvania they have not.  If my mother supports Hillary Clinton (and I believe she does because Mom's a smart cookie) she should have the right to vote for the candidate of HER choice, not Leahy's and not Dodd's.

Our election process is designed so that the candidate is elected by the people.  Not the senate.  The people.  Me.  My Mom.  People like us who read up on the candidates, formulate our opinions, pick the person we best feel represents our interests and go to the polls and vote.  When politicans like Leahy and Dodd, or pundits like Stephanie Miller call on a candidate to step down, they are showing themselves to be unpatriotic and unAmerican.  They would deny Americans the right to elect the person they best feel represents their interests.  They would deny Americans their freedom.