Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What Is Happening to Our Nation?



“Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.”
-John Steinbeck

The North Carolina state legislature just passed a law that overturns an anti-discrimination law passed by the city of Charlotte. Charlotte acted to protect sexual minorities in its fair city. Unfortunately, state legislators in North Carolina apparently believe is it okay to discriminate against some people, to the point they would pass a law codifying it.

If you're heterosexual.
They also snuck in a prohibition against any city passing a minimum wage law.

What assholes!

Georgia’s state legislature passed a similar bill, allowing businesses to refuse to do business with people they don’t like. 

But probably not for the reasons you are hoping.
Based on “sincerely held religious beliefs”.

Of course. Blame it on God.


Fortunately, under pressure from numerous corporations which threatened to boycott the state of Georgia, the governor wisely vetoed it.

Captain’s Note: Before making this governor into some kind of hero, understand that while vetoing the bill, he publicly noted that discrimination against gay people is already allowed in Georgia; there was simply no need for this redundant bill.]

Which leads the Captain to ask, “What is happening to our nation!?!”


Here’s what I think.

It was 1919 when the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote.


That was almost 100 years ago.

And some have never gotten over it!

Opposition to the 19th amendment included the fear that if women were allowed to vote, life for men would forever be changed. Issues dear to the hearts of women might finally become law – prohibition, child labor laws, minimum wage laws, health and safety standards.

And it’s a “slippery slope”, as they say. Given that power, women might even want to serve in the military, as police officers, on juries, or even become politicians.

Gasp! Heaven forbid!

Following on the heels of that success, an Equal Rights Amendment was set before Congress in 1923. It was written to guarantee the rights of working women.

Opponents argued it would take certain protections away from women – such as shorter work hours, no night work, and no heavy lifting. Conservative Republican activist Phyllis Schlafly argued the ERA would threaten the security of housewives, raising fears of women losing alimony and custody of children in divorce cases; women’s colleges would have to admit men; even single-sex bathrooms would be eliminated!

Men in the women’s restroom!

Oddly, the Captain never hears complaints by men about women in their restrooms.


Hmmm. Maybe not.

The ERA finally passed Congress in 1972 but failed to achieve the necessary number of states to ratify it.

But there’s more.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy proposed a Civil Rights Act to ensure the rights of all Americans to be served in facilities that are open to the public – hotels, restaurants, etc. It would ensure the voting rights of all citizens, protect against police brutality, end the segregation of public schools, grant access to public accommodations, and stop discrimination in private employment.

Senator Richard Russell (D-GA) argued against the bill’s passage: “We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states.”


“Social equality”? “Intermingling?” “Amalgamation of the races?”

Sheesh!

After much wrangling in Congress, a compromise bill passed in 1964 and was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

And there’s more.

In more recent years, the American people have wrangled over the rights of sexual minorities – gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender.

Opponents of equal rights for GLBT argue such a lifestyle is abhorrent to God, and they personally find it revolting.

Actually, they never admit the second part. They leave the blame with God.

Love the sin. Hate the sinner.


Or something like that…

Opponents of same-sex marriage argue it is against God’s will – based on obscure and otherwise ignored passages from the Old Testament – and that it would destroy the sanctity of the institution of marriage.


Opponents of rights for transgender people are afraid a person born male might invade the sanctity of the women’s restroom. Male politicians and right-wing media personalities alike publicly joked about donning a dress for that very reason.

Perverts!

We’re also dealing now with religious minorities. Long known as a melting pot of immigrants – mostly from Christian nations, America is facing a new wave of immigrants who are bringing their religious practices with them. So now the Christian faith is becoming one of many, rather than the dominant – privileged – force in our society.


And now we have a presidential candidate [who will hereafter go unnamed, unless followed by the letters “OMFG!”] who wants to “Make America Great Again” – not by improving our economic and moral standing in the world, but by building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico… by kicking out all the illegal immigrants and Muslims… by doing away with decency and common courtesy… by denigrating women and racial minorities… by undoing treaties and cooperative agreements with other nations (including withdrawing from NATO – a 28-nation mutual defense treaty in place since 1949).


It is quite clear that his agenda is to return lost power and privilege to white males.


It’s amazing that a man who claims to be so stinking rich (some question that) could feel so oppressed. Powerless. Inadequate.

If you hadn’t noticed his insecurity before, his public boasting about the size of his penis should have been a clue!

Image not to scale, says he.
And he’s the front-runner of his party!

Here’s the Captain’s concern: Are white men that afraid of losing power?

Think about it. First it was women gaining rights. Then people of color getting rights. Now “the gays” and non-Christians have rights too.

If this keeps going, who will be left for white men to lord over? To discriminate against? To feel “better than”?
 
In the words of Kris Kristofferson/John Prine, 
'Cause everybody's gotta have somebody to look down on
Prove they can be better than at any time they please
Someone doin' somethin' dirty, decent folks can frown on
But you can't find nobody else, then help yourself to me

Mates, it’s time to wake up. We don’t need to be looking down on anybody.

We’ve nothing to lose – other than the privilege to be mean – and everything to gain by embracing those who are different from us.

Sure, treating others as equals will be challenging for some. Painful even. It’s difficult to give up power and privilege once one has gained it.

But it’s all this fear and hating that’s gotten us into the mess we are in now.

It’s all about power.

White male privilege.


Instead of striving to leave the world a better place, many are (intentionally?) working to tear it apart at the seams.

Better to destroy it than let someone else have it.


Instead of fostering a sense of community in which everyone works together for the common good and where everyone can succeed – and no, I don’t mean participation trophies – we are instead determined to get everything we can for ourselves.

Even at the expense of the very lives of our brothers and sisters.

And instead of encouraging us on to better and greater things, our elected (or wanna-be) leaders are dragging us down into the bowels of hell.

Captain's Note: It would be worth your time to enlarge and read this.
The Captain proposes that we consider a different attitude to life. A different way of looking at our neighbors and at the world. A different path to peace.

In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.”

If you want to make America great again, give that a try.



Friday, March 25, 2016

Manly Men



Every now and then the Captain grows a beard.


Uhm. No.

I’ve got a friend who can sprout a thick facial carpet whenever he farts.


He has a 5 o’clock shadow at 11 a.m.

Damn!

Mine is nothing to write home about.


Barely visible.

Thin. Gray. Curly.

No big deal.

And that was after three months!

The beard happens two or three times per year.

Approaching Halloween, so I have a real beard when I don my pirate costume.

Sometimes after Christmas, and sometimes during the Summer.

When I’m just too lazy to shave.

Or when I see my favorite niece. She likes my scruffy face!


Last night, as we finished up the Maundy Thursday worship service, an elderly woman approached. She wanted to compliment me on the service.

Always nice to hear.

Then she rubbed my cheek and said, “I see you shaved!”

Uhmmm.

Four months ago.


But I’m feeling another beard coming on because in a couple weeks we’re headed to the beach.

Goin' piratin'! 

Arrrrgh!



Monday, March 14, 2016

More Disturbing News



Tomorrow is another big Primary Day. Votes will be cast in Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina. Each state is “winner take all” – which means the potential delegate yield could be significant.


Ohio is Kasich’s state. He has never lost an election there. But polls show Trump leading Kasich by double-digits. If Trump wins, Kasich – with only 56 delegates so far – will likely drop out of the race.

Damn! The only sane candidate in the bunch!


Florida is Rubio’s state. No one knows what’s going to happen in Florida – the land of the “hanging chad”. But Rubio is nervous. And he will likely drop out of the race if he can’t win there.

Trump has 457 delegates so far, which – in the Captain’s humble opinion – is 457 too many! But if he wins tomorrow, there may be no stopping him!


Disturbed yet?

But wait. You haven’t heard the really disturbing part yet.

The Daily News reported last week that there is a looming shortage of Single Malt Scotch.


No. Seriously.

Add to that Jezebel’s report in 2014 about the coming shortage of Bourbon, and last year’s announcement of a $140 million expansion of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, TN (after a $103 million expansion just three years ago), and it all points to the same reality.

O My God, we’re running out of booze!

Actually, I was looking for “We’re drinking more than ever.”

But, whatever.

Captain’s Note: For those of you who might be concerned about the Captain, rest assured that Southern Comfort is based simply on a “neutral spirit”, which means there should continue to be a ready supply well into my old age.


While the Captain is tempted to blame Donald Trump for this booze shortage – I mean, really, who couldn’t use a drink right about now? – this shortage has been approaching for more than a decade.

Scotch sales have tripled in America since 2002.

According to reports, the wealthy are drinking more… because they can afford it.

And the poor are drinking more… because, well, they’re poor.

And the Captain suspects that everyone in-between the wealthy and the poor are drinking more too.

Just because.

But here’s the real culprit: China. Of all people, the Chinese now drink 20% of the world’s Scotch!

WTF!

Beyond sales figures, another indicator of America’s increased alcohol consumption can be seen in the number of alcohol-related deaths (alcohol poisoning, cirrhosis), which reached a 35-year high of 30,700 in 2014. Add DUI fatalities and alcohol-related homicides and that number soars to 90,000.

In addition to increased consumption, the shortage comes because the distillers didn’t see this coming. You see, fine liquor like Scotch requires barrel aging to be authentic. The cheap stuff – that no one admits to drinking – must be aged at least three years. The good stuff takes anywhere from four to 20+ years to age.


That means scotch made today might not be ready to consume until 2035.

Bourbon can be sold after three months [*shudder*], but most of it is aged for at least four years.

Even bad rum requires at least a year in the cask.

So, Mateys, let’s take it easy out there. Drink responsibly. There’s only so much booze out there.


And we’re only in the Primaries!