Rick Perry: Guns not kids

This post was originally written a couple of months ago, but more immediate issues intervened. In light of recent announcements, this week seemed like the week to pull it from the closet.

You know how some people can read something and miss the meaning altogether?

Like, going into a restaurant. The sign says: “Pull to open.” Only you push and can't open the door. And neither can the people inside trying to push to exit because you're pushing it closed.

I used to work in a multimedia lab and for weeks we would post large signs saying, “The lab will be closed for maintenance on….” On the date posted people would bang on the door demanding to be let in. And then, if we were kind enough to open the door and point to the sign saying “The lab will be closed for maintenance,” they would say, “So can I use the computers?”

Then there are those people who read the Gospels time and time again, profess to believe every word, promise to do what Jesus would do, and then behave as though they read Machiavelli or a white supremacy manifesto.

Like, say, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who not only professes to listen to God and to do what Jesus would do, he even holds quasi annual rallies to bring the state back to Christ. But, even though the Gospels enjoin us to care for the poor and needy, when he had an opportunity to provide health care to poor women and children, he killed the program.

He wouldn't even have had to pay for it himself, nor would Texas taxpayers. These were federal dollars. But because they made services available to the poor he didn't think they should have access to, he refused the money and shut the programs down.

Granted, the clinics were funded by taxes Texans paid to the Federal government, but this also meant he took out tax dollars and sent them to another state, without asking. Which is stealing.

Governor Rick demonstrating his grasp of the Gospels.

He is a big believer in the second commandment, however. “Thou shalt bear arms.” He's even gone one better. This week he announced his initiative to bring gun manufacturers to Texas with an appearance at the NRA convention and a video showing him shooting semi-automatic rifles.

You can check it out on YouTube.

He even gave a speech at the convention claiming that gun control advocates outraged over the murder of children at Sandy Hook were little more than opportunists. He said that we can set our watches by the response time between mass murder and the outcry for gun control. The entire theme of the convention was that gun owners are freedom fighters.

I'm sorry, I can't picture Jesus making a public display of brandishing weapons and calling for his followers to pick up arms and fight for freedom. In fact, Jesus called for his followers to do the opposite of what was expected. If someone strikes us on the cheek, offer the other one. If someone takes our coat, offer our shoes. If someone threatens us with a weapon, surrender ours.

Except, Christians don't carry weapons. We are commanded to only carry a staff for walking and sandals. (Mark 6).

Nor are we allowed to turn away those in need. Even those in need of health care. Especially when the care is on someone else's dime.

Epilogue

Fortunately, we are now in a good news/bad news situation. The good news is Perry announced he has served his last term as Governor of Texas. He will be stepping down at the end of this term. The bad news is that there is a lot more bad news. First, retirement means nothing these days. Perry could be back to run in 2018 when God reveals that he laid his retirement on the altar, like Isaac, and his sacrifice was acceptable so now he can return. Or, second, God could reveal in 2016 that he really meant for Perry to run for President and Texas (not to mention Jesus and Christians in general) will once again be held up to ridicule internationally, at least until he washes out of the first three primaries.

Finally, for Texans the worst news is that Gregg Abbott is his heir apparent, and he makes Perry look like a cuddly Care Bear. The only question is how much of the blame will he lay off on Jesus. Perry was awfully good at it.

 

Pharisees tinkering with time stamps

It's been quite a week for Republicans, both in nationally and in our own dear state of Texas. They waved the banner for the rule of law, which is very important to Republicans. The rule of law is essential to America and to Christianity itself. It’s at the heart of the Old Testament.

This is why the Republicans have been so keen to keep those indiscriminate, wanton fraudulent voters from the polls. You know, the poor blacks without drivers licenses who can't get off work and can't afford to pay for transportation to get to the polls anyway. And in Texas they were most incensed when Democrats skirted the rules of filibuster by trying to help Ft. Worth Senator Wendy Davis adjust her back brace during an abortion bill debate. They were so incensed that they started a ruckus that caused the session to run into overtime and cause their precious abortion bill to expire.

No problem. The Texas Republicans decided to pass the abortion bill and change the time stamp to show it was passed before midnight. Not illegal at all. Just a technicality. After all, they were Republicans and they could make the rules since they were the majority. Even after the game was over and they lost. So they changed the time stamp and declared victory.

It wasn't the first time they changed the rules during the game. The abortion bill had been defeated during the regular session because the Democrats managed to get enough Republicans to vote against the bill to keep it from coming to the floor. It seems the rule required a majority vote within the Senate. So the Republicans brought it up again during the special session, which isn't supposed to happen. The special session is supposed to be limited to bills the Governor calls for consideration. But they added it to the roster anyway.

Then the Republicans changed the rules of the Senate to allow the abortion bill to come to a vote if a majority of Republicans supported it. And it still went down in flames. Only to be resurrected by the miracle of a time stamp. Proving Jesus is on their side.

Except that those sneaky Democrats took photos of the bill with the original time stamp showing that it expired. So now the Republicans are relying on the miracle of Rick Perry who has called another special session, making sure the Republicans have an entire month to pass the abortion legislation that was tacked on as an afterthought and rammed through in violation of every procedural rule of the Texas Senate. And he rubbed it in at a pro-life rally by gleefully telling Senator Davis that she should be glad that her own mother, who struggled financially, didn’t abort her.

I can't help but feel a calculated heartlessness in these moves, no less calculated or cynical than the Roberts court, who cited the fact that the advances in minority access to the polls under the Voting Rights act prove it was never necessary and was unconstitutional. Even as the very states that the Civil Rights Act singled out are openly preparing to limit minority access to polls with voter i.d. challenges, redistricting, gerrymandering and probably changing polling locations, the Roberts court claims that the success of laws to stop these practices proves they will do no harm.

Clearly the Republicans believe the rule of law is for others and not for them. Should the rules prove an inconvenience for their agenda, they simply move them. Should the rules prove inadequate to stop behaviors they disapprove of, they move to make them harsher than ever.

They remind me of the Pharisees in Luke 11, who “make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but (whose) inward part is full of ravening and wickedness,” (39) and the lawyers who “lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers” (41). No, they don’t remind me. They are no different. This is not acceptable, and whether they wrap themselves in the rhetoric of law or Jesus they should be called for their hypocrisy.

On the other hand, the Roberts Court upheld some of the rights of same sex couples in marriage, probably because those rights involve white men. It was a 5-4 decision. You have to ask, and if you don't, I do. Is someone on the Republican side of the bench just the tiniest bit bicurious?

 

Protecting the Public One Violation at a Time

God bless Rick Perry. He loves Jesus so much that he intends to protect the public from ethics violators by shutting down the ethics investigative unit for the state to stop one drunk driver.

This is the governor who holds regular rallies to hold the state and the nation accountable to Jesus. The governor who calls for prayer and fasting. The governor who finds it intolerable that Rosemary Lehmberg, who pled guilty to and served time for drunken driving, did not resign from her position as Travis County District Attorney.

Having been raised Baptist Preacher's Kid (BPK), I find his outrage surprising since Texas Politicians have been arrested for drunk driving as long as I can remember and nobody ever expected them to resign before. This includes Speakers of the House and legislators. I worked at the Capitol a few years back and remember watching legislators and governor's aides stumbling to the parking lot drunk during legislative sessions.

Of course, Lehmberg is a Democrat whose Public Integrity Unit has long raised Perry's ire, but this is irrelevent. This has to do with Jesus and morality. A drunk driver shouldn't hold elected office and it shouldn't be up to the voters to decide whether she stays.

So the day after vetoing equal pay for women and signing mandatory drug testing for the unemployed into law, not to mention a session in which he consistently cut back medical care for the poor, Perry decided that if Lehmberg didn't resign, he would veto funding for public integrity investigations altogether.

For a Christian, this is a classic example of pointing out the speck in someone's eye while ignoring the beam in his own. If we truly think the Christian agenda is served by enforcing public morality, we have to ask which is more important, forcing a district attorney to leave office or shutting down hundreds of investigations into insurance fraud, tax invasion and public corruption.

Speaking of public corruption, one of the investigations Perry's veto ended involved CPRIT and quite a few of Perry's cronies. Somehow I get the feeling that if Jesus wandered into the Governor's mansion, he might tell Perry he should be glad they weren't in His father's house or there would be a lot of furniture overturned.

 

Hallelujah Palooza is on

It’s been a busy week in Texas, what with everyone preparing for Hallelujah Palooza, Governor Perry’s call for 40 days of prayer and fasting to save the nation from Democrats. Much like the Philistines, Assyrians and Babylonians of the Old Testament, the Democrats have besieged the gates of the modern Jerusalem (Washington D.C.) and are prepared to dismantle the holy temples.

It seems nothing short of spiritual warfare will drive the Democratic hordes out of our holy land. This news totally drowned out the national news of Catholic priests openly endorsing Mitt Romney for President. Texans couldn’t see the problem because Baptists have been openly endorsing Republicans for years. It’s about time Catholics behaved like Christians.

Among the things Perry wants Christian soldiers to pray for is a new President, looser gun laws, Texas’ dead voters to stop trying to claim that they’re alive and for poor people to stop all the whining about health care. The last was prompted by a protest over Perry’s refusal to extend the Medicaid rolls, claiming that Texans don’t need health care when they have Jesus to heal them.

A large crowd gathered at the capitol to protest, but, taking his cue from the Gospels, Perry addressed the crowd and asked, “Which would you rather I give you, more health care or more guns?” Since this is Texas, guns won the day.

After the protest Governor Perry washed his hands and turned his attention back to Hallelujah Palooza. If enough Christian warriors don’t join the campaign, Perry intends to bring in carnival rides and a concert featuring Hank Williams, Jr. and KISS to draw the crowds. He quipped, “Nothing is too good for Jesus.”

That’s the news from Texas where the the guns are larger, the Bibles bigger and all the verses conservative.

Keep the Chrazies out of Christmas

‘Tis no longer the season to be jolly, but to be bitter and derisive. Too many people have a stake in Christmas and that stake has nothing to do with peace on earth and goodwill toward others.1 Christmas has become a platform for political platitudes and posturing. To listen to the religious right and their secular opponents, the fate of America’s soul, and every Christian or free thinker’s soul, depends on the outcome of the war.
Two recent examples:
A post office manager raised the ire of Fox news when he allegedly evicted Christmas carolers from his branch. I say allegedly, not because they were asked to leave, but because differing accounts depict him as irate or conciliatory. He claims he simply asked them to move to the sidewalk outside; according to Fox News, he was irate.
Of course, if you managed a post office and had to answer to bureaucratic supervisors who held you responsible for running things smoothly and avoiding customer complaints, you might be irate if a group of costumed carolers started singing during the rush at Christmas without even asking your permission. To me, their would be no “might” about it. I would be pissed.
Nor does this excuse the carolers for overlooking the need to ask for permission. I understand the philosophy that it’s better to ask forgiveness than permission, but if you practice that philosophy you should consider yourself lucky you don’t end up in jail. To protest their removal is disingenuous, if not dishonest. So I side with the post office manager on this one.
We would expect people to get upset if pro-life or pro-choice protestors tied up business in the post office. Or girl scouts selling cookies when we’re just trying to get to the counter. Or JW’s started passing out Watchtowers. Or even if a guitar player set up shop and let loose a riff from Jimi Hendrix on his Stratocaster.
In another culture clash, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), representing atheists in Pittman, New Jersey, protested the constitutionality of a sign “Keep Christ in Christmas” hung by the local Knights of Columbus. Maybe, they should have kept their mouths shut because the sign maker is now selling the sign as a bumper sticker at cost, so it should be popping up all over the country.
The constitutionality question borders on the placement of the flag. The mayor and town council claim that one side of the sign is anchored on private property and can only be removed by zoning restrictions. The FFRF says the other side is on public property and therefore impermissible.
My feeling is that members of the FFRF should just post their own banner, “Keep Christ out of Christmas,” and attach one side to their own private property. Then they could listen to the Christians howl.
To both the carolers and the FFRF, I say, get over it. We’re all Americans and we’re allowed to celebrate holidays as we choose. We’re also allowed to piss and moan about people we disagree with. In public. What we have is not a war on Christmas, but a war of words.
Speaking of wars of words, President Obama has evidently declared a war on faith itself. I didn’t know that, but Texas Governor Rick Perry says it’s true. According to the esteemed Texas Governor, Obama was responsible for banning prayer in schools, even though the Supreme Court ruled on the issue when Obama was in grade school. (Perry also thinks the Supreme Court is unelected and unaccountable and wants to stop this practice and restore the original intent of the Constitution.) Perry also believes Obama initiated “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and insists on stopping foreign aid to countries with policies of suppressing homosexuals.
Let’s be honest. Faith can not be reduced to gay rights, or even abortion. Not even the Christian faith. Even if we consider abortion to be murder, it still doesn’t make it into the top five commandments. In the Bowl Championship Series of commandments, it would never reach the title game. Being gay, or even marrying someone of the same sex doesn’t even rank until lying under oath or adultery become involved.
Nor can Christmas be reduced to the expression of personal faith or political opinion. Reggie McNeal, in his book The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church considers the modern church to be part “civil religion and in part a club where religious people can hang out with other people whose politics, worldview and lifestyle match theirs.”
Christians on both sides of the political spectrum would smugly smile on reading this and know, in their hearts, it applies to those “other Christians.” It applies to all Christians, including me. But, at Christmas, we need to recognize that the holiday Christmas no longer belongs to Christians.
Christmas has become a social festival to be enjoyed by all. We are supposed to celebrate the Joy of God in the world even if we don’t believe in him. Peace on earth, good will toward everyone. If Christmas isn’t for everyone, even those who choose to celebrate differently or not at all, then we should remove it as a Federal and national holiday.
But the Christian Right would never accept that. They want us all to celebrate Christmas on their own terms. In the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us, every one! As long as we celebrate the way Jesus intended.” Bah, humbug, indeed.


1 Oops, I already did it (to twist the words of that great philosopher Britney Spears). I misquoted the Bible. It should be “good will toward men.” If God wanted good will toward women, he would have said it that way.2back

2Who, to be honest was merely parroting the words of song writers Max Martin and Rami. But what a great excuse to chain a footnote off a footnote. If it seems as though I’m treating the war on Christmas with too much levity, I would say that, to the contrary, levity is all the subject deserves.back

Jobs for Jesus

Before we get to Jesus:

This week the Republicans stopped implementation of their own Bush era law, a law designed to hold three percent of payments from government contractors who are in arrears on taxes. When the bill passed through a Republican Congress with a Republican President, Republicans were outraged that businesses would take government money and not pay taxes in return.

After corporate investors looted the economy, took billions from the government and paid the money back without creating a single job or putting that money into loans to small businesses, Republicans decided they were wrong. So the law, which was supposed to go into effect in 2013 has been put on ice.

Tax-dodging government contractors are free to dodge their taxes again.

So much for render unto Caesar.

Here’s the stupid part. And I mean stupid. Obama and the Democrats were all for it. Somehow the Republicans convinced them that tax-delinquent companies would spend those revenues on jobs.

Get a clue, Democrats. If those employers were going to use the money they didn’t pay in taxes to create jobs, they would have done it already; they’re not going to create more jobs if they keep getting it.

So get back to the message:

Cutting taxes isn’t going to create jobs, at least not jobs for Americans.

Cutting taxes will only put us deeper into debt. And then we’ll lose government jobs as well. Wait a minute, that’s happening now. Because we’re cutting taxes and can’t pay their salaries anymore. Unless they move to government jobs in Texas from high paying corporate jobs.

Texas governor Rick Perry has been perfectly willing to exceed state salary caps to pay five new Department of Transportation (TxDOT) executives a quarter million apiece. As a consequence, TxDOT will have to lay off ten or twenty other employees, but these were corporate hot shots and they deserve better from our tax dollars.

Republicans aren’t really Christians, they just think they are. Maybe even believe they are. Maybe, on Sunday, when they aren’t obsessed with cutting taxes and abortion, they get close.

Corporations aren’t about the love of Jesus, they’re about the love of money.

Christians might let employees go if they had no money to pay them, but they wouldn’t lay people off to boost the bottom line. And they certainly wouldn’t lay employees off or force them into early retirement to lavish salaries on someone new.

One of the tenets of the charismatic movement’s prosperity wing (a movement which evolved into the moral majority and the modern Republican Right) was that if you give 10 percent to God, God would give back a hundred fold. So why aren’t more of these Christian corporations giving ten percent to God so they can hire more people?

How about this? Why don’t Christian conservatives hire ten percent more employees to increase their profits a hundred fold? Jesus said that which you do to the least of these, you do for him. Hiring a few of the unemployed would be the equivalent of hiring Jesus, and he would return profits a hundred fold.

They could even call the movement “Jobs for Jesus.”

It would be nice if they actually hired Americans for these new jobs, but that may be a lot to ask. Not ask of God, of course, but of American corporate management.

The more cynically minded thinkers—the ones who think the new Corporate Christian complex that is rapidly replacing the military industrial complex is little more than a ploy to exploit more gullible members of the faith—could even cash in with an ad campaign: “Buy Christian and create jobs for Jesus.”

Then the Corporate Christian complex could profit when God pays them back for giving jobs and profit from the increased business as well. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll do the Christian thing and actually hire somebody in America.

Before you can stay on message you must find one

Except for Anita Perry’s. That needs to go.

Okay Democrats, listen up (and you too Anderson Cooper).

Anderson Cooper, thinking he was acting in a spirit of fairness, claimed President Obama was fudging the truth when he said the Republicans had no plan to create jobs.

He then showed a clip of John McCain saying, “We submitted a bill with a detailed plan.”

Wow, Anderson and John, I feel so much better. Only nothing I saw said what those details were. So I looked it up and the details of the bill are this: Cut taxes, cut spending and cut regulation.

So Obama misspoke. The Republicans do have a plan, they just haven’t offered us a plan that differs from the same plan they’ve been offering since the Bush administration.

In the meantime, the house passed a bill allowing hospitals to refuse abortions even when there’s a medical need, and crippling the EPA’s ability to enforce their own regulations. In other words, the Republican plan to create new jobs also involves cutting back on environmental health (driving up health care costs) and stopping abortion to make sure more kids are unemployed in twenty years.

So here’s the message Democrats can stay on:

Businessmen will only create jobs if they think they will make more money, not because they pay fewer taxes. And those jobs will only be in America if businesses can’t get away with hiring somebody for less money in India, China or Indonesia.

How do we know this? Because in 2000 Bush launched reforms that were identical to McCain’s Senate Bill: Cut taxes, cut regulation, cut (domestic) spending (and cut back on environmental safety and abortions as well). We lost jobs in the recession that followed and never really gained them back.

Why not? Because the new jobs created under the Republican plan were created overseas. Just like they will be under the new Republican plan.

So let’s think back to the one time in modern American history when people had good jobs and good salaries and ask ourselves, “what was the country like?” America was a country with strong unions, executive salaries more closely aligned to starting salaries, and lots of regulation.

Companies did pretty good too. They just didn’t try to earn their profits on the stock market and pay the CEO two hundred times what they paid employees.

Oh, yes, and one last thing: Christians didn’t believe faith and free enterprise were the same thing.

Nor would Coke Stevens’, Allan Shivers’, Price Daniels’ or John Connally’s wives say their husbands were being brutalized for their faith. And trust me, the few Republicans in Texas during their administrations hated those Governors as much as, well, the few more Democrats and even Republicans hate Perry.

Sure, Perry has taken some (well-deserved) heat in the press, but brutalized? Rape victims are brutalized, abused spouses and children are brutalized, third-world journalists are brutalized, politicians who tackle terrorists and drug dealers are brutalized.

They are beaten, burned, violated sexually, tortured and even dismembered.

How has Rick been brutalized? Republicans (not evil, God-hating, devil worshipping Democrats, mind you) have challenged his conservative credentials and reminded people that he approved the use of the HpV vaccine (which evil, God-hating, devil worshipping Democrats and even I have no problem with), wanted Texas to secede from the Union and called Social Security a Ponzi scheme.

Wow. To hear Anita, you would think they nailed him to a cross. Upside down like the apostle Peter. (I didn’t want to carry the analogy too far).

But accusing her opponents of brutality wasn’t enough. She went on to say that she knew other Republicans thought they heard the call from God to run for President, but they were wrong. She knows because she heard the call herself. If she heard the call then—clearly—they didn’t.

In fact, even her husband Rick didn’t hear the call. Seriously. He didn’t know anything about it until she delivered the message for God.

Double wow. Dare we take a moment to thank the Lord that God didn’t tell her Rick should run for Messiah?

Now, I’m going to step away from my firm belief that God can speak to women, and address readers as a Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK). Being raised BPK, I can tell you that God appointed men as head of the house and would never speak to wives because that would bestow on women the leadership role in the family.

Here’s the best part. God doesn’t just want Rick to be President, he wants Anita to be Co-President (that’s what “God called us” and “we’re running” means). So now Anita isn’t just the spiritual guide in the Perry house, she’s supposed to be co-head of the country.

This would be quite a promotion considering that a few years ago many Texans thought she was merely Perry’s beard.

Even Hillary never went that far. One could even go so far as to suggest Anita Perry is the Anti-Hillary (and we shall know her by her number 333, which would be her dress size, shoe size and number of things she said in a single day that would embarrass any other husband).

Which just goes to show that what many people believe to be faith is little more than hubris. And possibly, in some cases at least, delusional.