Thursday, June 26, 2008


The Supreme Court - fascinating group these days - recently ruled (for the first time) on guns, interpreting the Constitution's "the right to bear arms" for private use as well as for militias.

Perhaps ... but Chicago's mayor suggested the ruling would only increase crime and violence.

What struck me was a piece from Judge Scalia:

The handgun is Americans' preferred weapon of self-defense in part because "it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police."

Yeah, right. It remains to be seen what the framers of the Constitution intended, but whatever they meant, the America today is vastly different then the late 1700s ... of all the so-called civilized nations on the face of the earth, we have a serious violence problem, and guns and gun-lovers are a part of it. Their obsession, their fanaticism, their fixation - like all such obsessions, is irrational and dysfunctionally lacking in a larger comprehension of our society and the need to sometimes submit our personal interests to the larger good.

Getting back to Scalia - hard to believe this guy's a SC judge. Maybe a bartender at Hooligans in Brickville, GA - but a judge of the highest court? Just another small gift from our friend Reagan.

Lord have mercy ... or, let's all get guns and shoot the hell out of one another ... can hardly wait!

Oh yeah, while shooting one another, we can be dialing the cops with the other hand.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


At a Republican fund raiser in Livonia, MI, Bush offered the following observation about McCain: he's the only candidate "who knows what it takes to defeat our enemies."

Yah, right.

As if Bush and Gang have managed this well, and just who are these enemies?

Our enemies have been in the White House, and their names are Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, along with the right wing fundamentalist preachers like Dobson and Hagee, abetted, I'm afraid, by the mainstream media who've pandered to this nonsense by giving it airtime, along with the right wing media claiming mainstream media to be biased, further driving home the message that we're besieged on every side by "enemies."

This has been the biggest hoodwink perpetrated on the American people since "Remember the Maine" and the yellow journalism leading up to the Spanish American War. America has been victimized by a mad-dog Republican Party spawned by Nixon, nourished by Reagan, brought to maturity by Bush 1, a Republican Congress, and Bush 2. Without moral bearings, hiding behind religion, peddling fear, these criminals have gutted the nation, destroyed Dukakis and many others, to further their relentless grab for power, with big business cheering on the sidelines.

Of course, 9/11 was real, and there are folks out there who despise us, but can we get our act together sufficiently to see how Atwater/Rover/Bush have played upon our fears in order to manipulate the political process to their advantage?

It's time for the cowboy to head back to the bunkhouse, and it's time for McCain to put Vietnam to rest. It's time for America to enter the 21st century and be a nation among nations, working to slow down America's consumption of natural resources, restrain our made grab for oil hidden behind our blather about spreading democracy, address environmental and energy issues, provide universal health care, restore the middle class and by cleaning our own house, regain the respect of the world.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Is Love a Threat?

Monday, June 16, Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 84, were married by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in a special ceremony at City Hall in San Francisco.

The elderly couple, long involved in the struggle to gain the right of marriage for the GLBT community, at long last can look at one another, after 55 years of love, with the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage. Hats off to them and to everyone who made this good day possible for the great state of California.

Is love a threat?

The only threat here are small-minded Christians and reactive conservatives who will fight this tooth and claw. Why?

I've given up trying to understand their mind and heart on this one. Though I know the essential arguments - "the Bible says so" (no, it doesn't!) and this is threat to "real" families (a family is any unit wherein love is received and love is given). I can't help but feel some hell-driven fear at the root of their concerns, a fearfulness that distorts all of their perceptions and imprisons them in ideas and practices from which only grace can deliver them.

But enough about them for now; we'll be hearing a lot of them in the months to come.

But for now, let's take a deep breath, celebrate this moment and enjoy our friends and family members who have a chance to fully and publicly honor their heart and their commitments.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Refusing Gay Weddings

Kern County Clerk, Ann Barnett, has canceled a decades-old city hall practice: civil ceremonies in the Clerk's Office.

Barnett initially said her decision to stop the weddings was based on budget constraints and a lack of staff. On Thursday, she said her primary concern was office security because the county's two wedding chapels are inside the elections division, which Barnett also supervises.

"It's not roped off or anything, so people could wander into restricted areas," she said.

But her critics say the facts contradict her explanations. Just 26 couples had requested appointments for marriage licenses by Thursday, Wedell said. And numbers are expected to fall off after the first-day rush, she said.

Clearly, Barnett's position is influenced by her religious convictions. She's a member of RiverLakes Church in Bakersfield, a church traditioned in the evangelical/conservative mode wherein homosexuality is condemned and marriage can be only between a man and a woman. In other words, a church of easy answers and tightly-held corporate convictions wherein diversity is perceived as an educational/spiritual failure. Afterall, when "we're all into Christ and into His Word, we will all agree." Right? Wrong!

I'm into Christ and have been so for the 63 years of my life, and into His Word for 40 years of ministry. I am a Christian, largely evangelical in my theological orientation and liberal in my social commitments. I support ordination for the GLBT person called to ministry and I support his or her right to marriage.

Marriage is a legal association managed by the state to protect us, help us manage our rights, property and estates. It's not about sex and procreation; it's an arrangement that works, at best, 50 percent of the time, but putting it positively, it works 50 percent of the time. And when it works, it provides shelter and comfort - a means whereby adults can love and be loved, and if desired, children reared. Stability, comfort, joy and love. Who doesn't have a right to experience and share these realities. It's all about family!

I've done my Bible homework, and millions of Christians and Jews have done the same and come out in support of the GLBT community.

Churches like RiverLakes have backed themselves into a difficult corner. Diversity cannot be tolerated because their strength resides in their commonness, and having inherited the far-right's political posturing as "living their faith," they constantly feed on their "we're being persecuted" mentality and their harsh division between Christians who believe and "Christians" who are deluded and misled (I would fit into that category). If they were to admit the possibility of me being a Christian of equal place with them, they'd have to come to grips with my views, which, of course, they're unable to do.

I love Jesus, but I'm heartbroken and distressed that for the last 30 years, the far right has held the media limelight, defining the terms and setting the pace. Feeding on their media status, they came to feel utterly right and thoroughly convinced others utterly wrong.

It's changing, I pray, and I pray that Christians and Jews of other persuasions may once again have their day in the sun, not to the exclusion of others, but to bring balance to the religious community, to learn from the evangelicals and help them find the reality and joy of diversity.

Perhaps the day of the megachurch will end as they experience the power of diversity and the subsequent dissolution of their tightly-controlled commonness. As I write, evangelical youth are asking profound questions about their world, and many of them are reluctant to any longer call themselves Evangelicals or even Christian. Many of them are committed to Green theology and, like their culture, are opening their minds and hearts to the GLBT community. Within the evangelical community, warning signs are up all over the place. But I'm not worried - these young people, schooled in their tightly-controlled home-school environments will likely become creative liberals.

Anyway, enough rambling.

Wall Street & Obama

For the first time in a generation, most major U.S. business sectors are donating more campaign money to Democrats than to Republicans, according to a political fund-raising watchdog group.

Though some on Wall Street believe that McCain's economic philosophy would be better, the money and support is going to Obama.

Perhaps Wall Street is finally waking up ... that it's success in the last 30 years has largely been the feast of cannibals. We've ransacked the economy, lived on borrowed money, made the wealthy wealthier, weakened the dollar, threating the middle class with extinction.

Surely calmer heads and smarter economists must realize that we're headed for disaster, and that sound economic principles of taxation and government regulation create and sustain a middle class.

Because the middle class, the source of a robust economy, is an artificial construct.

Left to itself, an economy follows the same pathway, creating a thin layer of super-wealth, a very thin layer just below that (the remnants of a middle class) and the rest, struggling to hang on - in other words, a serf class.

Unregulated economies look good at first (post-FDR Nixon-Reagan economics), and for awhile, lots of folks ride the wealth-wave, but ultimately, it collapses. The super-wealthy are well-enough insulated to ignore it, and only those with some kind of a conscience will see the plight of the masses.

The simple truth: there's enough for everyone. Enough for the wealthy to be wealthy, the middle class to be prosperous and confident, and the poor to have a shot at bettering their status, but it requires management and cooperation between government and business.

Using a Biblical phrase: He that gathered much did not have too much, and he that gathered little did not have too little.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Failed Government

With the Reagan-inspired government retreat from its watchdog responsibilities, we now find another tragic example of business run amok: the Harvard child psychiatrist responsible for a 40-fold increase in the diagnosis of bipolar disorders and the prescribing of powerful antipsychotic medicines has been on the take.

Thanks to Senator Grassley, one of the few sane Republicans in Congress, who's snooping around has discovered a gross violation of protocol for university researchers.

In a telling paragraph, the New York Times writes:

In the last 25 years, drug and device makers have displaced the federal government as the primary source of research financing, and industry support is vital to many university research programs. But as corporate research executives recruit the brightest scientists, their brethren in marketing departments have discovered that some of these same scientists can be terrific pitchmen.

Though Dr. Biederman defends his scientific integrity, and he may well be a researcher of great integrity, the whole things smells. Money talks, as we all know, and it's a rare person who can avoid the terrible influences of money.

What belies Dr. Biederman's claim is that none of this income was reported for years, and only under the watchful eye of Senator Grassley has this come to light. At least 1.6 million has been put into Dr. Biederman's pockets; other researchers received similar amounts.

In another critical paragraph, the Times writes:

Doctors have known for years that antipsychotic drugs, sometimes called major tranquilizers, can quickly subdue children. But youngsters appear to be especially susceptible to the weight gain and metabolic problems caused by the drugs, and it is far from clear that the medications improve children’s lives over time, experts say.

In other words, no one knows if this stuff really works.

There may well be issues for children, but I suspect other causes - like the thousands of untested compounds flooding the food chain and tainting our air and water.

Part of the solution is likely to be found in cleaning up our environment and eliminating the junk in our food and drink.

Whatever ...

Perhaps laws weren't broken by Dr. Biederman - although that remains to be seen - but questions about integrity and honesty are now before us.

I'm no starry-eyed dreamer, but I know that we have to recover the positive role of government to work in partnership with business and education. Of the three, government is in the best position to ask critical questions about funding and oversight, and perhaps someday soon we may see our large universities regain some of their integrity (by the way, how about Japanese gang lords getting liver transplants at UCLA?).

Thanks to Reagan-inspired economics, we deluded ourselves into thinking that big business was our best friend and could be trusted to deliver quality of life for us, while monitoring its own ethics. Ya sure, youbetcha!

If you believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in.

Hats off to Senator Grassley.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Obama Has It?

It looks like Obama has it.

Check out New York Times article.

Though a real fan of Hillary, I voted for Obama in the California primary - made the switch in the voting booth.

I hope the Party can heal the wounds and present a united front to the nation, helping end an era of arrogance and monetary/social policy that has brought us to the brink of ruin. It will take decades to recover our inner balance, repair the economy, divert war-monies to infrastructure and social need and restore our international reputation.

The Repub rebellion has failed! If there's anything true about history, it's this: that "rebellion" driven by greed and power always fails. When the haves drive the nation, the vision, at first, seems so reasonable, tapping into the desires everyone has, but they always run us into the ditch. An every-one-for-themselves economy always fails, because its lacks justice, and God the Creator denies success to any such vision that fails the "widow, the orphan and the stranger."

It's time for a new coalition of vision - not unlike that of FDR - in which government and business cooperate to rebuild the middle class, ease the nation away from it's oil-addictions, focus on public transportation, strengthen the social safety net, kick the lobbyists out and nationalize medicine like all the other civilized nations of the world, and once and for all, root out the "frontier mentality" of everyone for themselves.

Let's recover the word "liberal."

It's a positive word filled with grace.

Liberal in love and hope, liberal in vision and compassion.

Liberal enough to honestly describe the greed and malice that has dominated our nation for two generations now.

The other day, I attended a meeting of activists in West LA - working for a living wage for LAX hotel workers - they're all young and eager, and reminded me of the energy and vision of the young who transformed our nation in the Sixties.

Yet coming through the Nixon-Regan-Bush era, these young people are not starry-eyed dreamers - their incredibly realistic, they know the systems and how they work, they have a vision for justice - and a very real sense that justice is profitable - a lesson American business has to learn again.

The LAX hotels have spent more money fighting the LA City Council's resolution on a living wage then the living wage itself would have cost.

Make sense?


But through the consistent efforts of a variety of groups and the CA Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold the Living Wage Law, the hotels are getting in line to recognize the union, support their workers and get on with it.

Justice is profitable for everyone - though it means, and rightly so, that the haves will have just a little bit less (sorry Wall Street), and the have-nots will have a little more - and along with a decent wage comes self-esteem, hope, stable homes and a shot at life.

Hats off to CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice) and LAANE (Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy).

And hats off to Obama, to Hillary and to the Dems ... may they lead us to a happier time.