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.