Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Year!!

I wish you all a great and fun New Year. Sorry for the short post, but I am spending my energy this week battling a shady business owner out of Tampa. My experiences in the past year as a Seminole Dem have really lit the fire.

Folks, I fight entrenched politicians and fight on their turf, in the reddest county in Florida, all of the time. That is one thing to be said about being a Seminole Dem, you know how to fight!! And judging from our efforts for the new Congress, we also know how to win!!

Will return next week. God Speed, and may your next year be as fruitful as this one!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas to our Troops

It was exactly 10 years ago today I was spending Christmas day at a remote outpost at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia. (12 Security Forces Squadron from Randolph AFB). I was exhausted, absolutely miserable, missed my family, and couldn't wait to get home. But my time there was complete paradise compared to what the troops are going through this Christmas day in Iraq.

It was exactly 10 years ago today I was spending Christmas day at a remote outpost at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia. (12 Security Forces Squadron from Randolph AFB). I was exhausted, absolutely miserable, missed my family, and couldn't wait to get home. But my time there was complete paradise compared to what the troops are going through this Christmas day in Iraq.

Don't get me wrong: we had our moments of danger. But overall, we were safe (I was proud to be one of those ensured with protecting the troops). We were treated fairly well, and most important of all, we had purpose. Our mission was clear, and we were fortunate to have strong, competent leadership.

In Iraq today, our troops are performing miraculously under atrocious conditions and circumstances. Overworked and undersupplied, they alone are keeping an entire nation from collapse into anarchy and all-out civil war. They are patrolling the streets of numerous cities protecting people who don't appreciate them being there, and others who wouldn't think twice about killing them. Worst of all, they are directed by a commander-in-chief who has lost his grip on reality; a president who has no direction to give them because he can't even come to terms with the fact that his administration has failed miserably and needs to change course.

NO, the troops there are being told their new "mission" is to "end the violence and win in Iraq". Meaning that the benchmark to return home is for our forces to simply end the centuries worth of hatred between Shia and Sunni and allow democracy to flourish. (Or at least until 2008, whichever comes first...)

And through all of this, the troops must grin and smile when the CIC, or Cheney, or some other chickenhawk comes to visit and makes another patronizing speech using them as a backdrop. The troops aren't allowed to criticize in uniform--which was never a problem for me, but I can't imagine what these guys go through. (If you are wondering what they are thinking standing behind these blowhards, its the fact that these hypocrites would trip over themsleves trying to get out of serving today if the situation was reversed: See Vietnam).

Many of our troops are on their FOURTH tour of duty, and the time between deployments has gotten shorter and shorter. My heart really goes out for those kids who have both parents serving. Ironically, it was 5-time draft dodger Cheney who opposed calls for not allowing two military parents to serve a deployment at the same time when he was SECDEF (2nd worse SECDEF ever!)

Look, I didn't mean to go off on a tirade, I started this diary just wanting to say a quick thanks to our servicemen and women and wish them a Merry Christmas. But guys, the more I wrote about the work you do for us, the more angry I got about how you've been treated. (After all, I can say all this and not get court-martialed. Patriot-acted, yes, but not court-martialed).

Please know that even though most Americans don't support this war, we SUPPORT YOU!! We thank you, we love you, and many of us are working hard to bring you home. I urge my fellow Seminoles to send word of thanks or even a care package to those serving in Iraq and Afgahnistan right now.

Again, thank you, Merry Christmas, and please stay safe!!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Wishing Happy Holidays means you are a God-hater. Period.

Aren't you envious of the greeters at Wal-Mart? The senior-citizens get to stand up all day welcoming the shopping cattle herds to their store. The overpaid greeters don't even have to worry about responding to any pleasantries because most shoppers don't even acknowledge their presence with one syllable of breath (like "hi").

I never bothered these good people--I just let them do their job and got my cart. But last year, one of "them" had the nerve, nay, the gall, to wish me a HAPPY HOLIDAYS. I never would have noticed this, but thankfully, it was pointed out to me by one of my good friends who fancies himself a member of the Christian Right. Apparently, poverty and suffering and all those other evils mentioned in the Bible have been solved, so our attention can be turned to more pressing problems--like the threat of Tolerance that is creeping in our society.

What to do...

It was this time last year that the Wal-Mart heads realized that not every single person in America was a Christian. Therefore, when someone entered the store wearing Orthodox Jewish garb to grab some sufganiyot, the corporate suits ignorantly thought that the greeter shouldn't be required to wish him a Merry Christmas in celebration of my (and should be his) savior, Jesus Christ.

The suits wondered what to do with the problem of non-Christians shopping at Wal-Mart. I agree that this was a complex problem that no one could seem to solve. Eventually, some higher-up bonehead thought it would be more practical for the greeters to wish everyone HAPPY HOLIDAYS. That should cover eveyone.

Bad Move.

The worst thing you can do to a true Christian who has been saved is to say Happy Holidays. DAMMIT, there wouldn't be a December if there wasn't a Christmas. We'd go right from Thanksgiving to New Years. Why don't you just wish me a Happy Black Mass and we can both kneel down and succumb to SATAN==and you'd like that, wouldn't you, GOD HATER!

My solution is the one Wal-Mart EVENTUALLY agreed to: Just wish everyone a Merry Christmas. TAKE THAT, RABBI!

Of course, now the other religions are whining again because Wal-Mart won't acknowledge their "false" faiths, and many are fearful that they will cave. Of course, Happy Holidays is out, so what can be expected? Now, no one should be opposed to requiring the high-salaried greeter to simply inquire about everyone's religious background before entering the store, and then wish them whatever the Sam Hill thing they are celebrating. (See, I'm not unreasonable).

However, I am told that that might not go over so well with some people still believing in the so-called Right to Privacy. (Dammit, Bush, it's been six years already--quit screwin' around!)

No, I think the only thing left to do is require the greeter to say the following. This way I get my MERRY CHRISTMAS, and all the other heathens are placated:

Hi, Welcome to Wal-Mart

Have a Merry Christmas
and/or a Contented Feast of the Immaculate Conception
or Happy Hanukkah
or Joyous Kwanzaa
or a Kickn' "Tet"
or a Blissful Bodhi Day
or a Cheerful Maunajiyaras
or Wonderful Festival of Lights
or a Blessed Ramadan
or a Good Winter Solstice
or a Joyful Canadian Boxing Day, and a
Festive Festivus!


Problem solved. Christ is acknowleged at a Wal-Mart, and no one gets sued.

And I still get to go to Heaven.

Monday, December 11, 2006

How WE BLEW IT with JEB

If you laid out John Ellis Bush’s beliefs (that’s JEB) and policies one by one, they would be rejected by the overwhelming majority of Floridians. Not many people here supported squandering the huge surplus he inherited with billions of tax-cuts for the wealthy and his corporate buddies. Even fewer supported that fact that he did this while cutting education and Medicare spending.

In fact, the vast majority here consistently overrule Jeb at the ballot box on issues as varied as class size to anti-smoking initiatives. But people here still say they love their JEB—by the latest poll: 65%! Offensive when you consider that the overwhelming majority of registered voters here are freakin' Democrats!

People here love the man, but they don’t like what he has done. It’s odd. Not too many in this state can say that his largest agenda, to privatize crucial state services from education to adoption, has been successful. But while he had no problem putting Big Business interests over the public interest, he had no problem injecting himself in the most personal and private decisions of Terry Schiavo’s family. Jeb told us he had to get involved because he was "pro-life". What he didn’t do is explain why he fought so hard to prolong the agony of a brain-dead woman but had no problem cutting chemo-therapy for 26,000 needy Floridians. And Jeb certainly didn’t give much attention to someone whose plight he directly affected with his massive cuts in social services: 5-year old Riyla Wison. She wasn’t discovered missing by the Department of Children and Families until 15 months after she disappeared.

And then there is Jeb’s public education reforms that followers love to tout despite reality, which shows that our schools still rank near the bottom. Even the conservative-leaning Fordham Foundation gave Florida a C for its English standards and an F for its math curriculum. Bush’s revolution essentially consists of requiring teachers to "Teach to the Test" and put every stake, from school grading to grant money, on how kids do on one test (FCAT).

It blows my mind how someone who never went to public school (outside a photo op), was allowed to make such sweeping changes.

Then there is his well-known reputation for fradulent elections, to which Jeb replied that he has no "direct responsibility" for state elections. He’s just the governor.

I can go on about the property insurance debacle, oil drilling, transportation woes, special treatment his daughter received, our sad colleges, corruption, and so on. But this isn’t an article, unlike you might think, to bash Jeb.

This is to bash people like me—Dems. Specifically, Florida Dems.

You can’t expect Jeb to admit he sucks, nor can you wait for the rabid neocon followers to admit anything except that he’s the 2nd Second Coming (after W). No, the people who could have and should have spoken out against JEB and his right-wing disasterous policies were us--and we were mostly complacent for the past 8 years.

Now, Democrats are by nature much more fair in their assesments—we don’t automatically hate and seek to destroy those in power who don’t share our party. Yet I think we gave Jeb way too many passes.

Maybe we were too focused on stopping the bigger menance--his brother. Maybe Dems running for state office didn’t want to offend the overwhelming GOP majorities in both state houses by being too hard on Jeb. Or maybe they are afraid that the people will say how dare we attack a hero on hurricane preparedness. Now, I will be the first to admit he is better than his brother, because Jeb is at least intelligent and competent. He did his job during the hurricane season of 2004, which is the minimum to be expected of your state leader. However, because his brother botched up disaster relief at such a colossal level the following year, Jeb is undeservedly hailed as some sort of miracle worker.

For whatever reasons, Florida Dems just never went after Jeb the way they should have. (Yes, some did, but they were the exceptions). As a result, people think he is now a shoe-in for veep. And if he wants to run for president, he will most likely win the primary. He is adored by the right-wing, heads a major swing state, and, since the Dems here were complacent, will be touted as one who can win the general election as a wolf in moderate's clothing.

Luckily, if he does run, I don’t think he will win. Even if he wins Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio have had enough of the Bush name, as well as the majority of the nation. But if he does run, my fellow Florida DEMS, we need to go after him and HARD! We live here, we know what he is really like, and we have the credibility because we know what he has done to our state more than anyone. We have both the right and obligation to step forward and say NO MORE!

Better late than never...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Seminole Resident Could Have Saved Christian Coalition

The pastor at my church in Casselberry was lamenting in a recent sermon on why there were so many lost people these days. He showed clips of people telling an unseen interviewer that the Church today “isn’t relevant” or “a big part of their lives”. My pastor is a jovial and normally very optimistic person, so it hurt me to see him down.

I told him for many years I felt the same way, but then I realized it wasn’t the Church teachings that let me down; it was the focus of the Church that had changed. Growing up, I thought of Church as a place that helped, loved, and welcomed everyone. They would hug and help the sinners, and work to fight poverty. In the past two decades, the focus had changed. Christianity had become more and more narrowly defined by small group of narrow-minded bigots with a political agenda. In fact, what they define as “moral, Christian” values can be summed up in two primary issues:

1. Abortion
2. Gay Marriage

Everyone knows what the Church stands AGAINST today, but with the exception of allowing prayer in school; it is very difficult for many people to know what the Church today actually stands FOR. According to the neocons that infiltrated my Church, if you oppose abortion, gay marriage, and euthanasia, then you can call yourself a “good” Christian—period. How could people NOT be turned off?

Enter Joel Hunter. He is a preacher from Longwood with a devout following who was picked to lead the Christian Coalition. He too is opposed to abortion and gay marriage, but he also had a radical idea---return to the gospel. Be as passionate about fighting horrible diseases like AIDS that have devastated a continent. Stand up for the poor and needy, and be a good steward of our environment that God has blessed us with.

Unfortunately, these later positions do not jibe well with the GOP platform.
Joel Hunter resigned from the Christian Coalition because he would not limit his focus to abortion and gay marriage. That is unfortunate.

Christianity should not be an arm of a political party, but it seems that way to many. This is why you rarely hear preachers speak about the proliferation of guns, protecting the environment, the unequal application of the death penalty, or the inherent evil of going to war when you don’t have to. You certainly never hear about the disparity between the rich and poor, which, unlike abortion and gay marriage, is mentioned in every single book in the Bible. (What would Jesus say about the numerous tax breaks granted the superrich last year while so many children lack even basic health care? Is that not a moral issue?)

The separation of Church and State was never designed to protect the government from religion—it was designed to protect religion from government. Thankfully, many people are now realizing it isn’t the Church that is irrelevant, but rather those people who tried to hijack it for their own twisted, political agenda.

It is why the Christian Coalition, not Christianity, will become irrelevant.