Tuesday, February 25, 2014

And the Haters Just Keeps On Hating!

If I had been a drug user during the 60s, I’m pretty sure I would write this off as just another unfortunate “flash back”.

Sadly, this is all too real.

Last week, the Arizona state legislature voted for a bill that would purportedly protect the rights of local business people. As the bill was adopted by both state houses, business people would be allowed to refuse services to those they don’t like.   

This comes in response to several widely publicized cases, like the one in 2006 in which a wedding photographer in New Mexico refused to take photos of a gay wedding, and a another just last year in which a baker in Colorado refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding. The photographer and baker were taken to court for discrimination and lost.

So now, if Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signs the bill into law, business owners could deny services to anyone they choose – based on “sincerely held religious beliefs”.

Supporters of the measure insist they are defending freedom – even the First Amendment, somehow – arguing that business owners should be free to serve or not serve whomever they please.

Kellie Fiedorek, a lawyer for the “Alliance Defending Freedom” (which helped write the new law), says the law is to protect someone from being forced to “use their creative ability to create a message to support an event, to support an idea that goes against their beliefs.”

Her examples: “we would not force a Muslim to participate in a Koran-burning ceremony. We wouldn’t ask a black photographer and force them to take a picture of a KKK event.”

Bad grammar aside, she makes a good point. We should never force a Muslim to participate in a Koran-burning. In fact, there’s only one crack-pot in America stupid enough to publicly burn a Koran!

But we’re not talking about forcing Muslims to burn their holy book. We’re talking about expecting business people to treat their paying customers fairly and equally.

“This is America,’ argues Fiedorek, “and [in] America we should be able to live freely and not be forced to endorse ideas.”

Or as my niece used to say, “You’re not the boss of me!”

But she was seven at the time!

Opponents of the measure (and that includes me) see this law as specifically targeting the gay community, bringing back a new era of “Jim Crowe” – that sordid time in America’s past when people of color were legally marginalized and discriminated against. 

This time the separate-but-equal accommodations would target gays and lesbians.

After nearly 40 years of civil rights progress, do we really want to go back there?

Without a doubt, the Arizona bill, if signed by the governor, will be struck down by the courts. Already, three of the state senators who voted for it have expressed regret. The two Senators from Arizona (McCain & Flake) have asked Governor Brewer to veto the bill, as has a large segment of the Arizona business community.

For your additional consideration, Arizona is slated to host Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. But as was done in 1993 when the state refused to recognize the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, the NFL just might relocate the game to a more welcoming setting, resulting in the loss of an estimated $100 million in tourism revenue.

Arizona's anti-immigration law passed in 2010 cost the state some $140 million in revenues.

Furthermore, the Apple Computer Company has weighed in. Apple is planning to build a plant in Mesa that will provide jobs for 700 people – the gift that keeps on giving! But if this bill is signed into law, Apple has announced they will locate the plant elsewhere.

With millions of dollars at stake, Governor Brewer promises she will do “the right thing”.

The question is, what does she think “the right thing” is?

And will she do it for the right reason?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Knickers in a Knot!

The media was titillated this week by reports coming out of Moscow that women’s lacy panties are about to be banned in Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.

Apparently, anytime the press can use the word “panties”, they jump on the opportunity.




Yes, the Captain feels the same way!

But what this news story is really about has little to do with lacy things and everything to do with the import business. 
“According to the Russian Textile Businesses Union, more than $4 billion worth of underwear is sold in Russia annually, and 80 percent of the goods sold are foreign made. Analysts have estimated that 90 percent of products would disappear from shelves if the ban goes into effect this summer as planned.” (AP)

According to reports, the ban will outlaw the sale of any underwear containing less than 6% cotton.


Naturally, there have been protests. And as with the recent protests at Ipanema Beach over the imposition of a “no topless bathing” law, photographers are flocking to capture shots of Russian women waving their panties in the air.

Oh grow up!

It’s just underwear! We all wear it!

Okay, most of us do…

This new law is not requiring a return to Soviet-era “granny panties”!

And it’s not like the KGB is going to be kicking down doors in government-sponsored panty raids!

The natural – and desired – effect of this law is to encourage manufacturers to build factories in Russia. And once that happens, women will once again be able to purchase their naughty bits again….

…with 6% cotton.

And if you are counting, I used the following words…

Panty/Panties: 10 times

Underwear: 4 times

Naughty Bits: 2 times

Heh! Heh!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It's the 60s all over again!

A movement is sweeping across America. State after state is legalizing marijuana – some for medicinal purposes, some for recreational use.

Although still illegal in Kentucky, it remains the #1 cash crop in the Bluegrass State!

As expected, the nation is divided. Despite state actions, the federal government still considers it an illegal substance.

But President Obama stirred the pot recently (so to speak) when he proclaimed that he believes marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol. He has already confessed to having smoked pot in college. And unlike President Bill Clinton, he admits he did inhale.

Now, before you start bashing “those liberal Democrats”, keep in mind that President George W. Bush once had a serious drinking problem, was rumored to have had a cocaine conviction (that was expunged by his influential father), and when asked about marijuana, replied, “I wouldn’t answer the marijuana question. You know why? ‘Cause I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried.”

My parents valiantly tried to shield me from drugs as I was growing up. For example, I was not allowed to go to the local bowling alley because there was also a pool hall there. And you know what kind of people hang out at pool halls.

My best friend’s brother…

Nonetheless, I was very familiar with the publication “High Times” and knowledgeable of the pot culture – I loved the 60s! But I didn’t really encounter pot until seminary, of all places. During one Spring Break, my roommate went on a mission trip to South America and smuggled some ganja back with him. He never offered to share it with me (I would have declined), but he did ask me to observe him after he smoked it. He was hoping he would achieve some higher plain of enlightenment in the process.

The next morning he even asked, “Did I say anything profound last night?”

“No, you were just as stupid as ever!”

But now, as the laws are loosening, the anti-marijuana forces are becoming more vocal.

I fully expect to see a re-make of “Reefer Madness” just any day now!

And recently, Herman Cain entered the fray.

You remember Herman Cain, don’t you? …the failed Republican presidential candidates of 2012? Apparently, like former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin (2008), Cain is not content to return to his former life. Having tasted fame and glory, if but for a brief moment, he is intent on keeping his name in the media.

And like Palin, Cain frequently releases “sound bites” to the media without ever really studying the issue. Someone said it, he sees it as potentially inflammatory against his [perceived] opponents, and so he speaks, catering to his [perceived] base.

To be fair, what I am about to criticize was not written by Herman Cain. But it was published on his website (caintv.com) under “Best of Cain”.

I take that as an endorsement.

The headline reads, “Yes, Marijuana Kills People”, an article written by Dan Calabrese, an author of fictional works catalogued as “Christian spiritual thrillers”:

“The Bible warns us in no uncertain terms that we face real, willful spiritual enemies in our lives. Whether we believe God's Word or not, these forces war against us.

“The Royal Oak Series is about people who come to recognize this threat so clearly, their terror is matched only by the realization that they are called to action, and by their determination to rise up.” (from Calabrese's website)

You can guess where this is going.

Calabrese cites an article he read on WebMD, which in turn cited a study from Columbia University.

That sure makes it sound authoritative!

This study, he writes, “reports that fatal auto accidents involving marijuana have tripled in the past decade.”


Yes, according to the university article, “Currently, one in nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana.”

This information was gathered from toxicology tests on drivers involved in fatal car wrecks in six states between 1999 and 2010. While the number of alcohol-related deaths during that 10-year period remained steady, the number of marijuana-related deaths increased from 4 percent to 12 percent.

But here’s the thing about numbers: numbers can be manipulated. For instance, if one person smoked pot and died last year, and two people smoked pot and died this year, that’s a 100% increase in pot-related deaths. That's twice as many as the previous year! And at that rate, we'll all be dead shortly!

We used to play such numbers games in the annual conference in awarding churches for their “evangelism” efforts. A small church (let’s say 20 members) receives one new member. That’s a 5% growth! At the same time, my church would have to net 21 new members to show the same percentage of growth. Large churches would need hundreds!

Here’s another problem with the study. A projection, made by Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention, is that “If this trend continues, in five or six years non-alcohol drugs will overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving.”

That’s a big “if”. Unless Dr. Li has some powers I am unaware of, he can’t possibly accurately predict the future. Maybe marijuana-related fatalities will level off at 12% in the same way that the percentage of alcohol-related fatalities has apparently leveled off at 40%.

Wait a minute... 40%? Really? Hell, almost half of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related! And that percentage HASN'T changed in the past ten years! That IS significant! Why isn't this article about driving while intoxicated? Why aren't we marshaling forces to try to ban alcohol?!?

I think you know the answer to that one...

But I digress...

You can’t build a solid case on “what might happen” - even if it is said by an imminent researcher. (And here I’m giving Dr. Li the benefit of the doubt.)

Another concern with the study is about how marijuana use actually played into those driving fatalities. Since traces of marijuana can remain in the body for as much as a month after one has smoked a joint – long after the “buzz” is gone. It is quite possible that marijuana wasn't really a factor in some of those deaths.

Now, I am not here to encourage marijuana consumption.

Frankly, I don’t care.

What I really have a problem with is people – like Calabrese and Cain – who misuse and twist statistics to further their own agenda.

If marijuana use is really all that harmful, then let’s see some clean facts to support that position instead of regurgitating this inflammatory crap hoping that no one will actually think about what you have said.

“Oh, my! Herman Cain said this Christian fiction writer read something that reported on what someone else wrote that says marijuana is bad! It must be bad! We must do everything we can to make sure it remains illegal!”


"I'm Capt. Dave and I approve this message."