Friday, July 31, 2009

Republicans got what they wanted

Delay in Healthcare legislation
The Republicans got what they wanted. They were successful in putting a stop to the Healthcare Reform Bill that President Obama wanted to come to a vote before the August Congressional Vacation.
What this means is simply this: We probably will not be able to get the Healthcare Bill passed. The Republicans were claiming that it was too fast, too much to handle and that Obama should slow down. All of it of course is a delay tactic to be able to use the time to bring negative ads and badmouth the Democratic initiative. Even if the majority of the American people wanted the Healthcare problem fixed, the Republicans and some Democrats who are more responsive to the lobbying efforts from the Insurance, Drugs and other special interests, they now have plenty of time to interject the negative campaigns from the Carl Rove playbook and confuse Americans with lies and exaggerations.
To the majority of us taxpayers and ordinary folks without health insurance, this is simply not acceptable and we are only hoping that those who hear or watch on television all this garbage that is going to be put out there by Republicans, we are really, really hoping the public does not believe or buy into the Republican crap.
Time will tell, but one thing is certain, the Republicans don’t have the best interest of the country or the American people. They are only loyal to the special interests that fund their campaigns and those, like the Insurance companies, want things to stay the way they are, thank you, which brings in plenty of profits.

Nobody gets out of this one alive

From the moment we are born, we are sentenced to death. It is a punishment or a blessing, depending on how you look at it. When you are young you feel invincible. As you get older you start contemplating the inevitable end, the demise of our own physical beings.

We are entitled by nature with a limited biological time span. The life expectancy for most people is 77.7 years; notwithstanding some accident or a catastrophic illness.

Since there are no answers, (at least none that I can rely on to ascertain that there is a life or that our egos survive or live beyond death) because there are no concrete evidence that there is a “hereafter” or another dimension, or a different realm of existence other than this physical one that we as human beings call earth; I am compelled to live my life the best way I know how.

Oh, of course there are many conjectures and theories on what happens after we stop breathing. There are even more superstitions and fabrications, mostly done by religions with the sole purpose of gaining the adherence of the “faithful” in order to obtain power and riches.

I am now entering what I consider the last lap in the life marathon. The questions and insecurities I had before become a little more urgent. Is there life after death? Is there a God? Do we get some rest or reward? Is there a connection between this physical world and the one we suppose exists beyond?

All these are age-old queries that philosophers throughout the ages were tormented with. They don’t go away and they are never answered. So I might as well live the days that are left in a productive and satisfying fashion. It is now about me…yes, me, me, me. I have missed out on a lot of things during my short existence and I think that now I have the time and money (on Social Security?) to get a few of those things done.

Among the things I want before I leave this world: I want to travel some more, I want to be able to paint portraits and obtain a certain degree of mastery in my paintings. I want to write, so far I am doing a lot of that. I want to leave some legacy to my children. I really wish I could leave this world a little better place than when I found it.

I was born the very day the United Nations charter was signed. (October 25, 1945) The world was a crazy place having just concluded one of the most costly and cruel conflicts that mankind had ever experienced. It was the arrival of the atomic age and as a new weapon, this one proved to be even more destructive than any other mankind had seen before.

For the following period in the history of mankind, society would live under the shadow of that mushroom cloud. The Cold War followed and many conflicts threatened the very existence of humanity. We saw the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and in between many other tragic incidents and injustices of cruelty by man against humanity: Cambodia, Darfur, Serbia, Iran, Jonestown and 9/11 just to mention a few.

When do we get old? People age 18 to 29 say "old age" starts at about 60. But those in middle-age figure it starts at 70. And those 65 and older put the threshold at 74.
So it goes with other perceptions about aging in a new survey from the Pew Research Center. The disparities between what younger people expect will happen as they age, and what really happens, are stark.

Among the worries are the loss of memory, failing health, disappearance of sex. It's enough to make the grandkids cringe!
When people age 18 to 64 were asked what they expect will happen when they get old. Those 65 and older were asked what actually has happened to them. The results (18-64 / 65 and older):
• They have suffered some memory loss (57 percent think they'll suffer it / 25 percent do)
• They report that they are not able to drive anymore: 45 percent / 14 percent
• They have suffered a serious illness, some are left with some kind of incapability: 42 percent / 21 percent
• They are saying that now they are still sexually active: 34 percent / 21 percent
What that means is that 79 percent of seniors are having sex, contrary to what they probably expected when they were younger. A separate study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 found that more than half of 75- to 85-year-olds reported having sex at least twice a month. (These are horny old bastards)

And the vast majority of them can still drive. It is said that Americans grow happier as they age. Being male or Republican doesn't hurt, other research finds. Thank you very much, I rather live a shorter life than be a Republican.

Moreover, it is said that happiness in old age depends not just on health and reality, but on attitude. There are studies that have found that people age 60 to 98 who had dealt with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental health conditions or a range of other problems were surprisingly happy; worried, but happy.
For those who live beyond age 80, there are surveys that show that about 41 percent of respondents age 85 and older say they've experiences some memory loss and 30 percent are often sad or depressed.

What about older gay Americans? The issues that plagued these as younger citizens are still with them today; only now they have to live in facilities where they are placed with homophobes and the repudiation by these continues, probably at the same levels of intensity as when they were young. I ask this: As senior citizens, are we not entitled to a little peace and quiet? Have we not earned a certain degree of respect? Do we have to continue to fight the same old battles?

There are many gay oriented and exclusively gay senior citizen communities. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford these and most gay senior citizens end up at a general population pool where they continue to be humiliated. Too bad for our society, too bad for the progress we have already made.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker is considered to be one of the most sensual performers of all times.
On April 8th, 1975 this worthy and courageous woman at the age of sixty eight put on a very special presentation at the Bobino Theater in Paris to celebrate her 50th year as an entertainer. Among the many prominent people who were part of the attendees was Princess Grace of Monaco and Sophia Loren. Just a few days afterwards, the living legend came to an end when Josephine went into a coma from a cerebral hemorrhage and died on April 12 of the same year. The funeral procession that followed her death through the streets of Paris was of awesome proportions.
Josephine Baker was the first American woman who received military honors in France. She was interred in Monaco.
I can understand the frustration many black entertainers in those days felt. Can you imagine playing to an all white audience, you being the black performer possibly earned as much as any in the public if not more and then when the performance was over you had to haul ass to the ghetto because you couldn’t even stay around to eat at a restaurant or sleep in any of the hotels?
Josephine Baker was one of many who took to exile because they simply could not accept being discriminated. That tragically was not the same for most American blacks; they had to stay and endure the indignities of apartheid and the hatred of bigotry.
To say that this is over is not accurate, as there are still pockets of discrimination and hatred left in this country. It is curious to observe that these areas of racism exist in the same “Red States” that voted Republican in the last few elections. Things are getting better for blacks, slowly and they are way overdue.
Now consider this: When you look at racism in America and homophobia, the same pockets of racial divides exist alongside sexual discrimination. Racism and homophobia walk hand in hand under the Republican umbrella. That is why I find it hard to understand why some black folks are also homophobic, taking into consideration what they have been through. But it is about religion and that is the most unreasonable of all motivations. Blacks know about discrimination and in theory they don’t want it for somebody else, but are unwilling to step up to the plate in solidarity with LGBT people. That is those who are extremely religious, or Evangelicals.
Just as it is very hard even to this day to be black in Louisiana, Alabama or Utah, it is even harsher for LGBT people. I think that blacks should re-think this religion based discrimination.
Her Quotations:
< "One day I realized I was living in a country where I was afraid to be black. It was only a country for white people. Not black. So I left. I had been suffocating in the United States... A lot of us left, not because we wanted to leave, but because we couldn't stand it anymore... I felt liberated in Paris."
"Beautiful? It's all a question of luck. I was born with good legs. As for the rest... beautiful, no. Amusing, yes."
"I like Frenchmen very much, because even when they insult you they do it so nicely."
< "Since I personified the savage on the stage, I tried to be as civilized as possible in daily life."

Marian Anderson, one of the most celebrated black singers of all time was denied lodging while in Washington after a performance. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt came to her support.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The origin of the Scriptures

We are most often preoccupied with the origin of the universe or tormented by questions such as “where does man come from?” or “who created God?” But we don’t often ask where does the Bible come from? Who wrote the Bible?
The reason we don’t question it is because it is part of a mysticism, a folklore of attributing “holy” or “sacred” status to these writings. As we all know, the Church, in particular the Catholic Church has had so much power and has for centuries been in control of governments and could pretty well do whatever they wanted.
So the Church, seeing the need to solidify its control, made it a crime to question the Scriptures. If you were accused of heresy, blasphemy or question the authority of the Church, you could easily pay with your life.
The consequences of even questioning the Scriptures were catastrophic.
Western society went through The Reformation, and this was a rebellion against the Church, its dogma and its ideology. Many men lost their lives in the Religious Wars and many more were affected by the Inquisition. To question the Church started then to become easier away from the spheres of influence of the Vatican. But religions in general continued to embrace the concept of not questioning the Scriptures. It was essential for their survival even if they were no longer part of the Catholic monopoly on faith manipulation.
Of course we know that the Scriptures were first handed down orally, eventually they started to write them down. But since most people could not read or write, the Church offered the masses someone who could…the priest. Catholic tradition does not include the members of a congregation to become heavily involved in biblical studies. The Reformation and the invention of the press made the Scriptures a lot more accessible to the masses as more people learned to read.

Sacred Scripture--WHAT IS IT?
Calliope, November 2008 by Karima Alavi “Scripture is any sacred writing or book. But, must it be something written on paper, in the form of a text or book? If yes, then what about revelations made before paper was invented? In very early times, people used animal skins, bones, papyrus, and sometimes even stones as paper. Are these writings less believable simply because they were recorded before the concept of the book even existed? Must a sacred scripture be written at all? What about the ancient peoples who passed along their traditions orally? Much of the belief system of the American Indians was not written down until the 20th century…”Before the Bible was written, it was spoken. The stories were told and passed on within the community.
Even after the earliest Scriptures were written down, they were still read out loud in community. Individuals were encouraged to memorize large portions of scriptures as a means of creating a strong sense of identity and preserving the traditions. "We are the inheritors of both the ancient Scriptures and the centuries of interpretation they have inspired.
We hear the Bible;
we read the Bible;
we sing the Bible;
we pray the Bible;
we preach the Bible;
we study the Bible;
and all of this shapes our understanding."*
From Stories to Scrolls to One Sacred Book The Bible is not a single book. Rather, it is a library, a collection of literature written by different authors in different contexts over a span of centuries. Some books, such as the Genesis, originated orally and were later written down; others, such as the letters of Paul, were written first. By the time of Jesus, many scrolls of ancient writings were circulating. Some of these were accepted as Scripture. Most important was the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The most authoritative writings later became part of the Jewish canon. A canon is a list of books considered authoritative as Scripture by a particular religious community. The Tanakh The Jewish canon is called the TaNaKh, an acronym for the three parts of the their Bible: • Torah (tor-AH) -- The Law, also called the Pentateuch (Greek for "five books") • Nebiim ( neh-veh-EEM) -- The Prophets • Ketubim (keh-tu-VEEM) -- The Writings Look at a list of the Books of the Tanakh and its three divisions. The canonization of of the Jewish Bible happened after the crucifixion of Jesus and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by Rome in 70 A.D. Before 70 A.D., Judaism was centered on the Temple and its rituals; after the Temple was gone, a new central focus had to be found-- the TaNaKh. Neither the Scriptural focus nor the exact form and order of the Jewish Bible were decided over night; "canonization" of TaNaKh was an ongoing process that extended until about 1000 A.D. Therefore, I pose this to you this situation: Suppose we have a room full of people, about 200, and in one corner of the room I say to the person next to me: “Mary just arrived, pass it on” Then this person turns and says to the next person: “Mary just arrived from Jerusalem, pass it on” Then this person says: “Mary just arrived from Jerusalem in a donkey, pass it on” And then that person says: “Mary just arrived from Jerusalem on a donkey and she was pregnant, pass it on”. The next thing you know this one says to the next fellow: “Mary just arrived from Jerusalem on a donkey, pregnant, but they say that Joseph is not the father, pass it on”. Before you know it, the logical extension to the rumor is to adapt it to the person’s own philosophy to justify that Mary is pregnant and Joseph is a cuckold: “Mary just arrived in Jerusalem in a donkey, pregnant and Joseph is not the father, she was impregnated by God himself and she is carrying in her belly the Savior, the Messiah.” I think that you can see the point. Before there was the written word, everything had to be memorized and passed down from one generation to the next. What went on during this process is impossible to evaluate. It is a lot easier to memorize passages if they rhyme for example. It is necessary to use repetition in order to remember the story being told; the Bible was written in paraphrases full of imagery and fables.
The object is almost always to impart some message of wisdom or a way to make the listener adhere to some principles of morality or common sense into their lives.
It is always a bit more exaggerated in order for the listener to remember it. I maintain that the more outlandish the miracle, the more extraordinary the situation, it becomes easier to remember. After all, nobody is going to remember a mundane and ordinary event in our every day lives. It is by far easier to remember for example: Jesus went to the Temple and in a fit of rage over the commercialism; he knocked down the merchant’s tables. Or Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, or he multiplied the bread, or he walked on water, or Mary was a virgin, or God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The more fantastic the “miracle” the easier for the listener to remember. Then blind faith takes over and to the listener this becomes reality. The Bible and its stories are therefore all true and this is the word of God. Then again, let us not forget that the Bible is not the only Book of Scriptures that claims to be “holy, sacred, or divinely inspired”. There are others, like the Koran and so forth. This tells me that the exclusivity claimed by our Western Christian religions is not infallible and that they don’t have a monopoly on being the bearers of the word of God. There is one program on television called “The naked archeologist” and this guy is going around all these sites in the Middle East trying to put two and two together and actually prove to the world that all these Biblical stories really did happen. Whether they did or not, it is not the point. The important thing is that even if the Bible has some historical validity, it is not “the word of God” nor is it more sacred or holy just because this archeologist finds some ruins that he says is the actual place where Jesus walked or performed this miracle or the other. That argument does not convince me, nor does it vindicate any of the Biblical passages. It is still conjecture and speculation, it is fairy tales and contradictions, it is at the same time full of ambiguities. It is by far easier for me to think of the origin of things in terms of a “BIG BANG” which is a little bit more consistent with reason and logic although not the ultimate explanation, and I really doubt that with our limited intellect we could even begin to understand the origin of the universe. For those who still insist that the world is only 6,000 years old, I present them with very concrete proof that it is not; as is the numerous fossilized finds that are millions of years old. There are others that would tell you that it is stupid to doubt the Bible such as the one I am quoting by Luke Timothy Johnson: “Luke Timothy Johnson has an essay in this week’s Commonweal upon which I would like to comment. Are the Sacred Scriptures true? Certainly they are. Here is why: Jesus is either the Son of God, or He was a madman. He worked miracles; He rose from the dead—these are solid historical facts. These vindicate His claim to be divine. Therefore, He is the Son of God. Christ founded a Church. He gave authority to His Church. After He ascended into heaven, Christ’s Church… 1) produced the books of the New Testament. 2) decreed that the books of the Old Testament are holy 3) organized, preserved, and handed down the Bible. The Church teaches that the Bible is the infallible written Word of God. When we read it, we can be certain that God is speaking to us.
The $10,000 question is: How can we understand Him when we read His Word?
The books of our dear Bible were originally written in languages which few of us can read. We rely on experts to translate. Even when we read the Bible in English, many parts of it are notoriously difficult to understand.
These books were written a long time ago, by people who had things on their minds that we do not. Therefore, we rely on experts to explain the Scriptures to us.
Above all, we have to remember that the Scriptures belong to the Church. After all, the reason we trust these books is that the Church of Christ tells us that we should! Dr. Johnson’s essay contains a few statements which I think are untrue: 1) Modern science has demonstrated that the universe does NOT have three stories, heaven, earth, and hell. In fact, science can neither prove nor disprove this. The fact that the universe has three “stories” is something we learn from divine Revelation. There is no question that the universe does have three stories: heaven, the material cosmos, and hell. 2) The Bible is historically inaccurate. There is no good reason to doubt that the history recorded in the Bible is accurate. For much of what is recounted, we have only the Bible as a historical record. On the other hand, other historical documents and artifacts corroborate some of the information in the Bible. None of the accounts in the Bible have ever been disproved by other documents or artifacts.
Of course, not everything written in the Bible is history. The Psalms, the prophecies, and the letters are not histories. The account of creation is not a ‘history.’ It cannot be, because the sun is not created until the fourth day. In history, we have no way of measuring days other than the sun. So the seven ‘days’ of Genesis 1 are something other than 24-hour intervals.
3) According to Dr. Johnson, the real question is: Is the world which the Bible ‘imagines’ true? This question is absurd, because there in only one world, one cosmos. Reality and imagination are different. If the Bible ‘imagines’ things that are not real, then it is not true. But we know that what the Bible teaches is true.
Therefore, the only possible source of error would be our own understanding of what the Bible means.
To put my commentary on Dr. Johnson’s article in a nutshell: In academic circles, the truth of the Bible is regarded as a problem. But it is not a problem at all. The Bible is definitely true. The problem is: We ourselves are inadequate to the task of understanding the Bible fully. We have to keep trying, of course. And we can have confidence in the explanations which our Fathers offer us. (The Fathers of the Church, the Holy Father, etc. Individual priests can make mistakes.) But if anyone ever claims to have given the definitive interpretation of even one verse of the Bible, you know he is a snakeoil salesman. The Bible has altogether more meaning than any single human mind can handle. We are fools if we doubt the Bible. Also, we are fools if we do not doubt our own interpretation of the Bible. All scripture is inspired of God. He may use whatever means he may to inspire men to do good and o testify of His divinity. He used his son Jesus the Christ, the apostles and prophets. He will even let Satan use he power he has been given to warn man of the impending danger of using evil as a means of doing so called good. He testifies of His divinity by using the simple things in life, things that people will understand and apply in their lives. All scripture is of God is so far as God’s word has been translated correctly.” ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bill Maher was one of the first to criticize President Bush and he paid a dear price for it. Right after 9/11 and the start of the war in Iraq, Bill Maher sort of had to “disappear” from public view. He was called many things and not until recently he has surfaced again to regale us with his wit and humor. He can be brutal in his observations but I think the dude is very honest. Bill is a self-proclaimed atheist. Here is the URL for his website: Mary Ann Kreitzer, president of the Catholic Media Coalition, an umbrella group of Catholic organizations, called the comments, “a horrifying anti-Catholic diatribe.” When your comedy is so lousy that you must resort to smearing an institution that has followers on every continent of the globe, that has withstood centuries of history and turbulence, then been instrumental in the development of Western civilization, then you’ve failed as a comedian. This is not uncommon for liberals like Maher. The Catholic Church is the perfect target for individuals who resent any limitations on their words and actions. Liberals especially resent limits on killing unborn babies in the womb, pre-marital sex, pornography, birth control, and sleeping in on Sunday morning. Yes, an oppressive institution, this Catholic Church. No wonder Maher is salivating venom when he speaks. Fortunately, Maher did not attack Islam or the Prophet Muhammed (who really was molesting nine year old girls) because that would be offensive. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Some quotes I like: “It’s sad about Iran. What do you expect about a country? It's a government propped up by oil money that’s led by a religious wacko. Kind of like Alaska.” Bill Maher “I would never say that Republicans are all racist. That’s ridiculous and wrong. But if you’re a racist nowadays in America, you’re probably a Republican.” Bill Maher “The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border? “ Pablo Casals “Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism - how passionately I hate them! “ Albert Einstein “Patriotic societies seem to think that the way to educate school children in a democracy is to stage bigger and better flag-saluting. “ S.I. Hayakawa


The Fellowship believes that the elite win power by the will of God, who uses them for his purposes. Its mission is to help the powerful understand their role in God’s plan. The Family represents "Jesus plus nothing," as its leader, Doug Coe, puts it, the "totalitarianism of God," in the words of an early Family leader, a vision that encompasses not just social issues but also the kind of free-market fundamentalism that is the real object of devotion for core members and insiders. At the heart of the Family's spiritual advice for its proxies in Congress is the conviction that the market's invisible hand represents the guidance of God, and that God wants his "new chosen" to look out for one another. "The Fellowship's reach into governments around the world is almost impossible to overstate or even grasp."[5] Core members and associates of the Fellowship deny that the Fellowship exists.[6]

The group which is linked to many prominent American politicians, primarly conservative Republicans, has been the subject of controversy for its secrecy, involvement in sex scandals, ties to third-world dictators and oppressive regimes, and approving references to Adolf Hitler, terrorist and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, Cambodian despot Pol Pot, and the Mafia. The Fellowship is built on the "Hitler Concept" based on a covenant among a political avant garde.


What disturbs most of us the most is this Mafia-like structure and even more disturbing is the “Hitler Concept” which is in few words a FASCIST organization. Do we really need to even offer any kind of validation to such organization? Do American Presidents need to attend their “prayer breakfasts”? I think we need to come down on the bastards the same way we came down on the Mafia and break them up by exposing their outlandish ideas and methods. Period, no more no less, let’s unmask them for what they are. I think that we should turn the Attorney General on them and bring all this shit to light. If there was ever a conspiracy theory about Fundamentalists trying to take over the government this is as close as you can get.

We know this as a fact: that the many congressmen that have at one time or another lived there are Republicans and most of them have been caught at one time or another in some scandalous, adultery situation. These dudes cover each other’s ass and even think that because they are “special” that they can get away with it. Most of them by the way, when someone else is exposed for an adulterous affair, they come out and condemn and demand they resign.