Tag Archives: America

America


America is no more blessed or chosen by God than the Greeks, the Romans, the Huns, the Mongols, the Germans, the Spanish, the English, or any other nation that grew prosperous and enjoyed military supremacy for a time was.

Like every nation, we have done some good things and some evil things. Our ideals and actions have inspired many, but likewise our actions and our failure to live up to those ideals have hurt many as well.

We are neither uniquely good or uniquely bad.

We are humans standing on both the good and evil of our fathers.

And we should remember that, lest the hubris of assuming that what power and prosperity America possesses are a reward from God for our own righteousness or uniqueness as a culture. They aren’t.

Rains fall on the just and the unjust alike.

Helping the last become first…


The last statistic I read showed that there were about 650,000 homeless people in America.

You could build them all tiny homes. Now costs vary, but for our purposes, we could use $15,000 as a good marker. Get you a loft bed, a tiny kitchen, maybe a pullout bed, and a bathroom. Doing the math, construction would cost 9.75 billion dollars. Factor in some land costs, let’s say 25-35 billion dollars as an initial one time investment.

Now we’ve got enough homes to house folks. But we have to keep them there.

For poor families, it’s not a problem. We’ll let them rent to own and not charge them interest. Let them pay 20% of their income a month back to the government to buy their homes in full.

For folks with drug problems and mental health problems, we’re going to need to invest in community centers and clinics to help them manage or overcome their addictions and get them any psychiatric help they need. So we’ll need to spend initial construction costs on those buildings, plus an annual investment in social workers and doctors.

Let’s say 1.5 million to build a community center in our tiny house neighborhood.  Another 1.5 to build our clinics. Now our homeless population is going to be spread out. So we’ll need to account for that. Let’s say we’ll need 500 of each. That would be another 1.5 billion dollars. Throw in land costs and we can probably bump that up to 20 billion, just to be conservative.

So far, we’ve had one major investment in America for the total of 45-55 billion dollars. That’s less than ten percent of the annual Defense budget and it’s only for one year and we will slowly recoup some of that money as poor families pay their rent to own fees monthly.

Now we’ll need to staff them. So we’re probably looking at another 10-20 billion in annual costs to start. There are also maintenance fees, but we can save costs there by hiring able bodies community members to do basic maintenance and earn money and credit towards purchasing your own house too.

We can plan public transportation routes near these tiny home communities to allow folks to travel into other neighborhoods where they can spend some of the money they’ve earned, we can build small parks, provide Wi-Fi to the community, plan spaces for community gardens, and have a farmer’s market. None of this would cost that much.

We can hire local artists to paint murals or decorate houses. Have the community centers hold job training, ESL, and basic financial classes.

Like I said, as a one-time outlay we could probably do all of this and more with 10% of the Pentagon budget for one year and maintain it for 40-60% of that cost annually. I don’t know for sure, I would have to have some professional accountants run the exact numbers. Right now, we’re just guestimating.

But that wouldn’t be that much to pay to end homelessness and bring a better life to those 650,000 people, would it? I don’t think so. We’d still be outspending the rest of the world on “defense” by an obscene amount.

But we won’t do that. Because of people who view poverty as a moral failing. Judgmental people who have never had to skip a meal or delay paying a bill or dig through couches to find loose change to go buy ramen because their job doesn’t pay them enough. Or maybe they have. And instead of letting that experience soften their hearts they get angry and they think, “I had to pull myself up. Why should I give them a hand? Why should I pay to give them a break? No one did that for me.”

Maybe you’re right.  Maybe no one did that for you. Maybe your family couldn’t. Maybe your friends didn’t.

But don’t you wish they had? Wouldn’t you have wanted someone… anyone… to come by in the lowest moment of your life and offer you their hand?

Instead of being the Christian who would scream, “It’s not fair!” maybe we could be the kind of people who rejoice that we’re helping the last become the first and giving people a chance to live better. Maybe not all of them would. But some would. And aren’t they worth it?

We’d be doing the work of the Kingdom of Heaven.

But I don’t think we will. Instead, I think a lot of people… a lot of Christians would be pouting on the sidelines complaining about their tax dollars going to Those people.

We could do nice things. We just don’t want to.

Oh, come on…


Contrary to what some of my friends might think, this doesn’t upset me. It’s only natural, after all, that people with a strong interest might want to visit a dating site where they can find people who share that interest. And while I may think that it’s far too easy for people to get their hands on a lethal instrument of death and are gun laws and enforcement are criminally lax, I’m not opposed to people finding true love.

No, what disappoints me is that they didn’t go with calling their site: E-arm-ony: Your best shot at finding true love.

Come on, guys, it was right there.

The lottery…


I’m tired.

Today, I hugged my kids a bit tighter, knowing that when I dropped them off at school, I was playing the lottery. They’ll probably make it home alright, unless their numbers come up and someone picks their school for the next massacre.

We all play it now. And we know it. In the backs of our minds, we might consider as we sit in a movie theater where the exits are in case we need to leave quickly.

As more and more places install metal detectors and do bag searches, we’re reminded of the lottery. Our numbers might come up.

Of course, there are other ways to die that come without warning. Car accidents, heart attacks, and strokes, but we can try and do something about those. We can lose weight, exercise, eat better, and drive slower and more carefully, but you can’t do anything about lottery. Not unless we want to wear body armor every day for the rest of our lives.

We’ll see the same results of the winners of this sick and twisted lottery. The survivors will mourn. Some will suffer PTSD for the rest of their lives. Their loved ones will cry, scream, curse God, and wonder why… WHY, in the name of all that is holy does this shit happen? Why do we do nothing while it happens?

Then the other voices will sound. The ones that live in fear, the ones that demand the rest of us live in fear. We can’t stop them all, so why bother trying? It’s not the gun’s fault. They could do the same thing with a knife!

But they can’t. You could fight a man with a knife and have a chance of surviving. A man with a gun will shoot you long before you reach him. Someone tried yesterday.

If only we were all armed!

A deranged fantasy we’ve all had about being a hero in a crisis situation, when in reality, in the chaos and confusion, concern for your family, who knows what they would really do? Who knows if they would have a chance. Maybe they’d die long before they knew they should draw their weapon. Maybe they would kill an innocent bystander by mistake. Maybe the police would mistake them for the shooter.

And because those that cater to our fears have the ears of our political system, we will do nothing. The bodies will be buried. The blood cleaned up. The media will move on. What has that wacky Donald Trump been up to this week? And things will calm down.

Until the next drawing of the lottery.

Then we’ll all hug our children a bit tighter and go about our business as we live under siege.

God bless America.

State validation


Why do so many Christians seem to require the state’s validation of their beliefs?

Is their faith so weak that without constant reminders that the majority of the country also believes in God and Jesus that they would fall away?

Do they think Jesus is sitting up in heaven with a lightning bolt saying, “By Dad, if those Americans don’t get around to plastering my name on every state owned building, I’m so going to smite them…”?

What is the deep seated inner need for this? I think some people need to right, so they can be assured that other people are wrong.

But I’m honestly curious at this point. So any Christians out there who do want Ten Commandments monuments on government land and prayer in schools and other displays by the State of theism in general and your faith in particular, please explain to me why you want that and why we can’t simply let the government be secular and each of us practice our religion as we believe God wants us to?

Middle East madness


Wow.

On the question of whether to support Israel’s interests even when they diverge from America’s, independents are closely divided, 48 percent to 44 percent, a bare plurality in favor of supporting Israel because of its importance as an ally and the only democracy in the region. Republicans say yes by 67 percent to 30 percent, while 64 percent of Democrats say the U.S. must pursue its own interests over Israel’s.

I’m guessing there are two contributing factors to the Republicans’ sudden lack of patriotism: they really, REALLY hate the President and would be happy to stand with anyone (even foreign leaders) who oppose him even if it wasn’t in the country’s best interests, and there are a hell of lot of Evangelicals engaging in the bad theology that God is going to curse the United States if we don’t unilaterally back everything their government does.

I can also imagine the literal outrage storm that would have happened had a similar poll came out in 2002 saying that 2/3rds of the Democratic party supported the interests of Iraq above those of the United States.

Quote of the Day…


“Almost overnight the Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was in full flower, and Captain Black was enraptured to discover himself spearheading it. He had really hit on something. All the enlisted men and officers on combat duty had to sign a loyalty oath to get their map cases from the intelligence tent, a second loyalty oath to receive their flak suits and parachutes from the parachute tent, a third loyalty oath for Lieutenant Balkington, the motor vehicle officer, to be allowed to ride from the squadron to the airfield in one of the trucks. Every time they turned around there was another loyalty oath to be signed. They signed a loyalty oath to get their pay from the finance officer, to obtain their PX supplies, to have their hair cut by the Italian barbers. To Captain Black, every officer who supported his Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade was a competitor, and he planned and plotted twenty-four hours a day to keep one step ahead. He would stand second to none in his devotion to country. When other officers had followed his urging and introduced loyalty oaths of their own, he went them one better by making every son of a bitch who came to his intelligence tent sign two loyalty oaths, then three, then four; then he introduced the pledge of allegiance, and after that “The Star-Spangled Banner,” one chorus, two choruses, three choruses, four choruses.” – Catch 22, Joseph Heller

American exceptionalism


One of these days, I’d really like for some journalist to start calling politicians on their “America is the most exceptional country in the world” statement by asking, “In what way is America the most exceptional country? Certainly not in the number of gun deaths, or education, or health care, or even total GDP output now and you have voted against attempts to improve any of those things… so please quantify for us the ways in which America leads the world as the most exceptional?”

Rats scurrying in the walls


Any time both parties want to get together and do something quickly, expect that it’s going to impact the average Joe’s life rather miserably.

Case in point:

I’d encourage you all to contact your congressperson and Senators and tell them that you want them to their damn job and actually debate this treaty rather than letting the President have his way.

Home of the brave indeed…


So make an anonymous threat and invoke the words 9/11, and everyone loses their collective shit and utterly capitulates to your demands.

Sony Pictures Entertainment’s extraordinary decision to scrap the Christmas release of “The Interview” came amid mounting pressure from powerful theater owners and other studios concerned that the film’s release could keep moviegoers away from multiplexes during the holidays, one of the most lucrative periods for Hollywood.

The action came as U.S. intelligence officials confirmed widespread speculation that the North Korean government was behind the devastating cyberattack, which has hobbled Sony Pictures and spread fear throughout the entertainment industry. “The Interview” depicts the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Federal investigators began briefing some legislators that the rogue state gave the order to raid Sony’s computer system, leading to a massive leak of sensitive data, including emails, financial documents and even the salaries of Sony’s top executives.

The U.S. government takes “very seriously any attempt to threaten or limit artists’ freedom of speech or of expression,” and it’s “considering a range of options in weighing a potential response” to the cyberattack, a National Security Council spokeswoman said in a Wednesday night statement.

The fast-moving events that led to Sony yanking the film across the country came after the nation’s top theater chains decided to cancel screenings following threats of violence against theater-goers by Guardians of Peace, the hacking group that has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Even now, 13 years later, after empowering torturers, after bombing the hell out of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, after letting the government read our emails, we still have no idea how to respond to terrorist threats.

I really do shudder to think of what America will look like if there’s another terrorist attack on our nation.