Tag Archive: Republican Party

Trump’s War: Evidence Against Iran a Myth in John Bolton’s War-Mongering Mind

john bolton iran

Cartoon by Dave Granlund

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, wants war with Iran. Two weeks ago, Bolton released the following statement:

In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force. The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.

Recent reports suggest that the United States is planning to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East, purportedly to be used to stem the existential threat the United States faces from Iran (and Islam). On Monday, Trump said:

 Would I do that [send 120,000 troops to the Middle East]? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. And if we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that.

Supposedly, evidence exists that “proves” Iran intends to attack U.S. military bases and interests in the Middle East. As of today, not one shred of this evidence has been provided by the Trump administration. This leads me to believe that no such evidence exists, and what Trump and Bolton want to really do is show everyone that the United States is still the John Holmes of the world. Trump relishes an opportunity to finally play with “his” army men. And Bolton? Well, he has ALWAYS wanted war with the Persia of the Bible. In 2015. Bolton said:

The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.

Let’s not forget that John Bolton was one of the main architects of the immoral war with Iraq. In 2002, Bolton said:

We are confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction and production facilities in Iraq.

We now know that Bolton, along with President George W. Bush, lied to the American people about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction. I have long supported President Bush and other war-mongers facing war-crime charges over their murderous actions in Iraq. Alas, the military-industrial complex always wins, regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican sits in the White House. America’s war machine has long provided cover for economic decline and increased unemployment. Bloodshed is good for our economy. Everyone wins when Middle Eastern women and children die from American interventionism and drone strikes. Well, everyone except the people slaughtered by our military might. Hey, as long as we are fighting “them” over there, and not here, it’s all good — right?

I came of age during the Vietnam War. We now know that this war was predicated on a lie — North Vietnam’s attack of American navy vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin. Wikipedia states:

The Gulf of Tonkin incident (Vietnamese: Sự kiện Vịnh Bắc Bộ), also known as the USS Maddox incident, was an international confrontation that led to the United States engaging more directly in the Vietnam War. It involved either one or two separate confrontations involving North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but eventually became very controversial with widespread belief that at least one, and possibly both incidents were false, and possibly deliberately so. On August 2, 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox, while performing a signals intelligence patrol as part of DESOTO operations, was pursued by three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats of the 135th Torpedo Squadron. Maddox fired three warning shots and the North Vietnamese boats then attacked with torpedoes and machine gun fire. Maddox expended over 280 3-inch (76.2 mm) and 5-inch (127 mm) shells in a sea battle. One U.S. aircraft was damaged, three North Vietnamese torpedo boats were damaged, and four North Vietnamese sailors were killed, with six more wounded. There were no U.S. casualties. Maddox “was unscathed except for a single bullet hole from a Vietnamese machine gun round.”

It was originally claimed by the National Security Agency that a Second Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred on August 4, 1964, as another sea battle, but instead evidence was found of “Tonkin ghosts” (false radar images) and not actual North Vietnamese torpedo boats. In the 2003 documentary The Fog of War, the former United States Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara admitted that the August 2 USS Maddox attack happened with no Defense Department response, but the August 4 Gulf of Tonkin attack never happened In 1995, McNamara met with former Vietnam People’s Army General Võ Nguyên Giáp to ask what happened on August 4, 1964, in the second Gulf of Tonkin Incident. “Absolutely nothing”, Giáp replied. Giáp claimed that the attack had been imaginary.

The outcome of these two incidents was the passage by Congress of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by “communist aggression”. The resolution served as Johnson’s legal justification for deploying U.S. conventional forces and the commencement of open warfare against North Vietnam.

In 2005, an internal National Security Agency historical study was declassified; it concluded that Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2, but that there were no North Vietnamese naval vessels present during the incident of August 4. The report stated, regarding the first incident on August 2:

“at 1500G, Captain Herrick ordered Ogier’s gun crews to open fire if the boats approached within ten thousand yards (9,150 m). At about 1505G, Maddox fired three rounds to warn off the communist [North Vietnamese] boats. This initial action was never reported by the Johnson administration, which insisted that the Vietnamese boats fired first.”

(The Wikipedia article on the Gulf of Tonkin incident is quite informative. If you are not familiar with what happened, I hope you will take the time to read it.)

On August 4, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson made a TV announcement to the American people about the supposedly unprovoked attacks by North Vietnam on the United States. We now know, of course, that Johnson (and Robert MacNamara) was lying through his teeth. This mythical event fueled what was to become ten years of bloodshed in Southeast Asia. More than two million soldiers and civilians died, and millions more were wounded.

Call me an old curmudgeon or a military-hating commie, I care not. All I know is this: I have not seen one scintilla of evidence that suggests that Iran poses a threat to the United States. Thus, I have concluded that the current saber-rattling is little more than an attempt by Donald Trump to pump up his “manly” image before the 2020 presidential election; to show the American people that he is willing to kill on their behalf. John Bolton is all too willing to help Trump fulfill his destiny. And who will pay the ultimate price? The American people — soldiers forced to shed their blood in yet another supererogatory war; and civilians in faraway lands who can’t figure out why Jesus-loving Americans hate them so much.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Donald Trump Plans to Use “Socialism” to Ameliorate Effects of Tariffs on Farmers

trump tariffs and farmers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Local newspaper editorial pages frequently feature letters from right-wing Republican Christians attacking what they believe is the Devil’s economic policy — socialism.  Never mind the fact that few if any of these people could articulately and comprehensively define socialism and differentiate between the various types of socialism. Never mind the fact that the United States has always been to some degree or the other a socialist state. Never mind the fact that many of these letter writers participate in and benefit from socialist programs: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, public roads, public infrastructure, veteran benefits, Food Stamps, vaccines and flu shots, public education, public parks, etc. These letter writers clamor for a libertarian world where government has little to no role to play outside of national defense.  Envision, if you dare, such a world; a world where the moment you pull out of your driveway onto the road, you are required to pay a toll because all roads are privately owned. Imagine a world without laws and regulations; a world without the EPA and FDA; a world governed by one rule: “let the buyer beware.”

Donald Trump, the buffoon currently inhabiting the White House, is waging a trade war, mainly against China. Using punitive, excessive, and unnecessary tariffs, Trump is causing all sorts of economic and social harm. No one has suffered more under Trump’s delusions than American farmers. Grain prices are plummeting, and will only get worse, especially if China punitively cuts off farm imports from the United States and turns to other countries to meet their needs. Farm bankruptcies are on the rise, leading to further agricultural operation consolidation.

Local TV news programs have been featuring local farmers whining about what Trump’s tariffs are doing to their bottom lines. Farmers already operate on razor-thin margins, so I understand them not wanting to face continued financial loss. The irony here is that most local farmers are registered Republicans and voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. It’s their chosen one who is saying to them, “bend over and take it like a man.” Trump and his on crack economic advisors, of course, know that rural white Midwestern voters are key to their hope of winning in 2020. Lose farm country and one of 2,022 Democratic candidates running for office will be the next president of Christian America. That’s why Trump has been spending billions of dollars subsidizing American farmers. Not that this is anything new. Farmers have always been on the government teat, suckling price guarantees and other programs meant to stabilize prices and ensure profitability. Farmers benefit from commodity buybacks, government-sponsored insurance programs, land set-aside payments, etc. You know, s-o-c-i-a-l-i-s-m.

Last week, Trump asked for an additional $15 billion in socialist funding for farmers. This is in addition to the $12 billion already allocated for socialist relief checks currently being sent to “suffering” farmers, including large, multi-million-dollar agricultural operations. Why should farmers alone get welfare checks from the U.S. Treasury? Trump’s tariffs are causing all sorts of harm to local manufacturing concerns, including the company that employs my wife and several of our children. Shouldn’t these companies also benefit from Trump’s socialist largesse?

Come November 2020 — as sure as corn, soy beans, and wheat spring forth from Ohio farmland — local farmers will line up at polling stations to vote for Donald Trump. No matter what the man does — and war with Iran is looming on the horizon — he will get their vote. Why? He’s their great white hope, the only man who can stave off atheistic socialism from taking over the world. Cognitive dissonance abounds in America’s heartland, and Trump and his fellow Republicans count on this so they can continue their pillage and destruction. Their goal remains what it has always been: to continue to accumulate vast sums of wealth at the expense of working-class, poor Americans.

Duping Americans into believing that socialism is some sort of evil that will destroy all that is holy and good is key to Republicans holding on to power, both at the state and federal level. One of my objectives as a writer is to help people see that Republican economic policies are harmful to the American people and actually impede social and economic progress. Laissez-faire capitalism has miserably failed, and it’s time for a new economic system to take root and flourish.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

“Why Do Liberals Think Trump Supporters Are Stupid?” by Adam-Troy Castro

donald trump

Found on Facebook. Written by author Adam-Troy Castro

An anguished question from a Trump supporter: “Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?”

The serious answer: Here’s what we really think about Trump supporters – the rich, the poor, the malignant and the innocently well-meaning, the ones who think and the ones who don’t . . .

That when you saw a man who had owned a fraudulent University, intent on scamming poor people, you thought “Fine.”

That when you saw a man who had made it his business practice to stiff his creditors, you said, “Okay.”

That when you heard him proudly brag about his own history of sexual abuse, you said, “No problem.”

That when he made up stories about seeing Muslim-Americans in the thousands cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center, you said, “Not an issue.”

That when you saw him brag that he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and you wouldn’t care, you chirped, “He sure knows me.”

That when you heard him illustrate his own character by telling that cute story about the elderly guest bleeding on the floor at his country club, the story about how he turned his back and how it was all an imposition on him, you said, “That’s cool!”

That when you saw him mock the disabled, you thought it was the funniest thing you ever saw.

That when you heard him brag that he doesn’t read books, you said, “Well, who has time?”

That when the Central Park Five were compensated as innocent men convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, and he angrily said that they should still be in prison, you said, “That makes sense.”

That when you heard him tell his supporters to beat up protesters and that he would hire attorneys, you thought, “Yes!”

That when you heard him tell one rally to confiscate a man’s coat before throwing him out into the freezing cold, you said, “What a great guy!”

That you have watched the parade of neo-Nazis and white supremacists with whom he curries favor, while refusing to condemn outright Nazis, and you have said, “Thumbs up!”

That you hear him unable to talk to foreign dignitaries without insulting their countries and demanding that they praise his electoral win, you said, “That’s the way I want my President to be.”

That you have watched him remove expertise from all layers of government in favor of people who make money off of eliminating protections in the industries they’re supposed to be regulating and you have said, “What a genius!”

That you have heard him continue to profit from his businesses, in part by leveraging his position as President, to the point of overcharging the Secret Service for space in the properties he owns, and you have said, “That’s smart!”

That you have heard him say that it was difficult to help Puerto Rico because it was the middle of water and you have said, “That makes sense.”

That you have seen him start fights with every country from Canada to New Zealand while praising Russia and quote, “falling in love” with the dictator of North Korea, and you have said, “That’s statesmanship!”

That Trump separated children from their families and put them in cages, managed to lose track of 1500 kids. has opened a tent city incarceration camp in the desert in Texas – he explains that they’re just “animals” – and you say, “well, ok then.”

That you have witnessed all the thousand and one other manifestations of corruption and low moral character and outright animalistic rudeness and contempt for you, the working American voter, and you still show up grinning and wearing your MAGA hats and threatening to beat up anybody who says otherwise.

What you don’t get, Trump supporters in 2019, is that succumbing to frustration and thinking of you as stupid may be wrong and unhelpful, but it’s also . . . hear me . . . charitable.

Because if you’re NOT stupid, we must turn to other explanations, and most of them are less flattering.

donald trump the liar

Access database of lies and misleading claims told by President Donald Trump

 

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Pastor Randall Snipes Goes Out of His Way to Offend Non-Evangelicals

randall snipes

This is the one hundred and ninety-ninth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of Fundamentalist Baptist pastor Randall Snipes preaching a “prayer” before the Virginia House of Representatives. Snipes is the pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Colonial Beach, Virginia.

Video Link

Transcript of Snipes’ prayer

Let us pray. Heavenly Father, we bow before You, Lord, and we proclaim now… that you are God, and there is none other than You, and there is none like You.

God, we ask that, as a nation, Lord, we would not seek our own pleasure, our own preferences, or our own praise, but that, God, we would seek Your pleasure. That God, we would seek Your praise. Lord, that we would seek Your will.

God, we ask you humbly today that you would convict us. Lord, if you’d send your Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, and the righteousness, and of judgment. God, the sin that that we commit, the sin that we celebrate, the sin that we allow, the sin that we promote. God, convict us of that. Lord, convict us of righteousness. Lord, Your holy standard. God, and how far short we are of that on so many occasions. And God, convict us of the judgment it is to come, the day that you have already set before, for we will give an account for every action, every deed, and every word. God, a day that you have set aside where every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that “Jesus is Lord.”

God, I pray that you would convict us of that day where those who love you will be rewarded, and those who reject you will be sentenced.

God, give us that conviction this day. And Lord, we ask that you would grant us wisdom, that this group of people would have supernatural wisdom today. Lord, of wisdom that begins with the fear of you. God, we ask… for forgiveness. Lord, forgiveness for the millions and millions of innocent lives that have been murdered for the sake of convenience. God, we ask you for forgiveness for the bloodshed that is on our hands as a nation. And Lord, we don’t deserve it. God, we confess before you that we do not deserve it. But Lord, we have nowhere else to turn but to you, and to ask as humbly as we know how, God, that you would forgive us. That you would help us turn from our wicked ways. God, that we would seek Your face.

God, we pray that this day you would begin a spiritual revolution, an awakening, a revival in our nation, Lord, that you would deliver us from evil, not just of our nation might be exalted, but God, that you would create in us once again a nation that exalts You.

We do not ask these things based on our own merit or in our own power. But today, God, we evoke their precious and powerful and Holy Name of Jesus. In His name we pray. And to Him be glory and power and honor, forever and ever. Amen.

According to Many Evangelicals, Donald Trump is a Modern-Day King Cyrus

bill maher

In the video below, comedian Bill Maher  ridicules and dismantles the Evangelical notion that President Donald Trump is some sort of modern-day reincarnation of Persian ruler King Cyrus (also known as King Cyrus the Great). If you are not up on old King Cy, please read Isaiah 45. OMG, did you see that? Isaiah 45? Trump is the 45th president! Thank you, Jesus, we now know the pussy-grabber-in chief is your anointed one!

Enjoy!

Video Link

How American Taxpayers Subsidize Churches and Ministers

free-money-for-pastor-waltRight-wing Christian Republicans love to talk about the importance of religious freedom, and how liberals and atheists are hell-bent on destroying this freedom. Listen to Evangelical talking heads and you would think that the martyrdom of American Christians is just around the corner; that if atheists have their way, Christians will be rounded up and imprisoned in WWII-type internment camps. Of course, none of these things is true. Christians are free to worship Gods where they wish, in any manner they wish, without government intrusion. Christians are free to stand on street corners and preach their versions of the gospel. Christians are free to start new churches, proselytize, and do any of the things they have done for the past two hundred years. Similar to the cheesy bread in the Domino’s commercial, you’re FREE Christians, you’re FREE.

Video Link

What HAS changed is that Christianity is no longer given a seat at the head of the American culture table. Evangelicals, along with conservative Catholics, are butt-hurt over their loss of influence and power. In a last-ditch attempt to regain their glory days, many Christians have turned to politics. Now spiritually bankrupt, Evangelicals have abandoned Jesus and turned to their true God: Republican politics. Eighty-two percent of voting Evangelicals voted for pussy-grabber-in-chief Donald Trump. Without their vote, Hillary Clinton would be president. Worse yet, Evangelicals have spent the last two years defending and supporting a man who can only be described as a sociopathic, narcissistic liar. But, hey, he’s a “baby” Christian, right?

Secularism and religious indifference are on the rise in the United States, and young Americans are fleeing organized religion in droves. Evangelicals feel their power slipping away, and they don’t know what do. So, much as did Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, Evangelicals see demons — and liberals, socialists, communists, and atheists — under every bed. What they, in fact, see are delusions cooked up in the minds of Evangelical preachers. The fall of American Christianity rests on Christians themselves, not secularists or atheists. Certainly, we are enjoying the bonfire, but it’s Evangelicals who gathered the wood and set it on fire. How about some hot dogs or marshmallows?

Secular legal groups have now set their sights on how government unconstitutionally subsidizes Christian churches, pastors, and educational institutions with taxpayer money. That’s right, atheists and Fundamentalist Christians alike help support Christian churches through their payment of taxes. I, for one, am tired of financially supporting religious institutions. It’s time for churches, parachurch groups, Christian colleges, and other religious institutions to pay their own freight.

Here are some of the ways ALL of us currently support Christian churches, pastors, and religious schools:

  • Churches are, by default, tax exempt. There are no forms to file or reports to be sent in to the IRS. Any group of people can gather together, call themselves a church, and the IRS will consider them tax exempt. Churches are, by default, EXEMPT from all filing requirements. A church is a church because it is a church. End of discussion. Or so says current tax law.
  • Churches in most states are exempt from paying real estate and sales taxes.
  • Monetary or in-kind donations to churches are tax exempt.
  • Pastors can claim what’s called a housing allowance. This allowance allows churches to designate their pastors’ rent/mortgage, utilities, home repairs, and other housing expenses as part of their housing allowances. Claiming a housing allowance allows pastors to drastically reduce their taxable income. Some pastors claim ALL their income as housing allowance, thus reducing their taxable income to ZERO.
  • Pastors can also opt out of Social Security. That’s right. Pastors can pay little or no income tax and no social security tax. Jesus F. Christ, what an awesome deal!
  • Pastors can buy cars through their churches, and have their churches pay all the expenses, further lowering their taxable income. Other expenses such as book and computer purchases can be made through the church, lowering a pastor’s taxable income. The goal is to give the evil government as little money as possible. Zero taxes paid and a big fat Earned Income Credit refund is the wet dream of countless Evangelical preachers.

I was a pastor for twenty-five years, and I can tell you this: any pastor who is paying income tax needs to get a better accountant. The U.S. Tax Code provided numerous ways for churches and clergy to avoid paying taxes.

It is time for us to end all tax subsidies for churches and clergymen. Churches should be forced to PROVE they are charitable organizations before receiving tax-exempt status. Good luck with that, churches. Churches should be required file the same tax forms and pay the same taxes as businesses. No more hiding the truth about the golden calf of American Christianity. And while we are at it, it is time for pastors to pay the same taxes as everyone else. Both churches and pastors should pay their fair share. The United States is a secular country, and as such, we should stop supporting Christian churches, pastors, and educational institutions with tax money.

Evangelicals clamor for religious freedom, and I am all for giving it to them. The government has no business subsidizing religious institutions and their leaders. It’s time to set the cheesy bread free!

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Donald Trump Chosen by God to be President

evangelicals and donald trump

I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times and I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become president, and that’s why he’s there and I think he has done a tremendous job in supporting a lot of the things that people of faith really care about.

— Sarah Huckabee Sanders, CBN Interview, January 30, 2019

Quote of the Day: Trump’s Economy vs. The Economy Most of Us Live In

robert reich

As White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow recently put it, “The single biggest story this year is an economic boom that is durable and lasting.”

Really? Look closely at the living standards of most Americans, and you get a very different picture.

Yes, the stock market has boomed since Trump became president. But it’s looking increasingly wobbly as Trump’s trade wars take a toll.

Over 80 percent of the stock market is owned by the richest 10 percent of Americans anyway, so most Americans never got much out of Trump’s market boom to begin with.

The trade wars are about to take a toll on ordinary workers. Trump’s steel tariffs have cost Ford $1 billion so far, for example, forcing the automaker to plan mass layoffs.

What about economic growth? Data from the Commerce Department shows the economy at full speed, 4.2 percent growth for the second quarter.

But very little of that growth is trickling down to average Americans. Adjusted for inflation, hourly wages aren’t much higher now than they were forty years ago.

Trump slashed taxes on the wealthy and promised everyone else a $4,000 wage boost. But the boost never happened. That’s a big reason why Republicans aren’t campaigning on their tax cut, which is just about their only legislative accomplishment.

Trump and congressional Republicans refuse to raise the minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 an hour. Trump’s Labor Department is also repealing a rule that increased the number of workers entitled to time-and-a-half for overtime.

Yes, unemployment is down to 3.7 percent. But jobs are less secure than ever. Contract workers – who aren’t eligible for family or medical leave, unemployment insurance, the minimum wage, or worker’s compensation – are now doing one out of every five jobs in America.

Trump’s Labor Department has invited more companies to reclassify employees as contract workers. Its new rule undoes the California Supreme Court’s recent decision requiring that most workers be presumed employees unless proven otherwise. (Given California’s size, that decision had nationwide effect.)

Meanwhile, housing costs are skyrocketing, with Americans now paying a third or more of their paychecks in rent or mortgages.

Trump’s response? Drastic cuts in low-income housing. His Secretary of Housing and Urban Development also wants to triple the rent paid by poor households in subsidized housing.

Healthcare costs continues to rise faster than inflation. Trump’s response? Undermine the Affordable Care Act. Over the past two years, some 4 million people have lost healthcare coverage, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund.

Pharmaceutical costs are also out of control. Trump’s response? Allow the biggest pharmacist, CVS, to merge with the one of the biggest health insurers, Aetna — creating a behemoth with the power to raise prices even further.

The cost of college continues to soar. Trump’s response? Make it easier for for-profit colleges to defraud students. His Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is eliminating regulations that had required for-profit colleges to prove they provide gainful employment to the students they enroll.

Commuting to and from work is becoming harder, as roads and bridges become more congested, and subways and trains older and less reliable. Trump’s response? Nothing. Although he promised to spend $1.5 trillion to repair America’s crumbling infrastructure, his $1.5 trillion tax cut for big corporations and the wealthy used up the money.

Climate change is undermining the standard of living of ordinary Americans, as more are hit with floods, mudslides, tornados, draughts, and wildfires. Even those who have so far avoided direct hits will be paying more for insurance – or having a harder time getting it. People living on flood plains, or in trailers, or without home insurance, are paying the highest price.

Trump’s response? Allow more carbon into the atmosphere and make climate change even worse.

Too often, discussions about “the economy” focus on overall statistics about growth, the stock market, and unemployment.

But most Americans don’t live in that economy. They live in a personal economy that has more to do with wages, job security, commutes to and from work, and the costs of housing, healthcare, drugs, education, and home insurance.

These are the things that hit closest home. They comprise the typical American’s standard of living.

— Robert Reich, Alternet, Here’s the Truth About Trump’s ‘Great Economy’, October 21, 2018

Quote of the Day: White Evangelicals Sacrificing Sexual Assault Victims on Altar of Political Expediency

pastor jeff cook

The marginalized, the abused, those culture perceives as weak — are often those whom Jesus served and defended first. In his most important sermon he called down blessing on “the meek,” “the mourning,” and those “starving for justice.” In fact, he died at the hands of those who mocked “truth” and used the legal system for self-serving ends. But his is a legacy of honor and it is a gift many of us embrace today.

With this in mind, let me list some truths I find alarming. National stats show that one out of every five women will be raped and one in six men will be sexually abused or assaulted. Such stats also unveil that less than 1 percent of rapists will be convicted of their crime, and the vast majority of sexual assaults are never reported. Research also shows that false accusations are incredibly rare (one local researcher claimed the number was .005 percent of all reported rapes are lies). So as we hear stories of sexual assault in the news and the lasting damage they have done not only to those on TV but to a large percent of our neighbors with similar stories, we need to acknowledge the abuse and marginalization of many among us. And Christians in particular need to be reminded that these kinds of people were those Jesus turned to serve and bless first.

When a sexual assault victim comes forward and tells her story at great cost to herself. When she says she remembers their laughter. She remembers fearing being suffocated more than being raped. She remembers bouncing from the bed when the second man jumped on it. She remembers locking herself in the bathroom, but cannot remember what day it happened or who else was in the house — these stories matter and they are the identical accounts of many not on TV. They have the ping of truth for sexually abused teens will not know what to do after they have been violated. They will often hide their shame and try to put that memory as far away from themselves as possible — just so they can function.

The Kavanaugh nomination process for the Supreme Court this week shows how hopelessly broken the American government is right now, and as such how broken American society is. I am a white evangelical male, and I have been shocked that it is my Evangelical brothers and sisters — who for decades have been the most outspoken about high moral standards regarding sex — who have been among the most vocal in silencing the testimonies of sexual assault victims this month. In fact, according to a recent Marist poll, 48 percent of white evangelicals think a proven history of sexual assault should not disqualify someone from the Supreme Court, and 16 percent of white evangelicals would not answer the question at all.

When white evangelicals choose to support those accused of sex crimes without considering evidence, those who have been assaulted are listening! For those of us who were sexually abused when we were young, the words of Senators and the President and Christians around the country about the woman on TV aren’t about her. They are about us. You are speaking about our past which we haven’t told anyone. You are accusing us of having bad intentions and calling us liars. You are choosing not to advocate for the abused and marginalized, but to hold our hearts out, place them in an ashtray and smother them because you need to fill a government job.

How unlike Jesus. How truly pathetic. White evangelicals, stewards of Christ’s words and power, are sacrificing relationships and trust with the very kinds of people Jesus served and blessed first — and it needs to end now.

— Jeff Cook, pastor of Atlas Church in Greeley, Colorado, The Tribune, October 7, 2018

I am a Liberal

proud to be a liberal

Cartoon by Monte Wolverton

What follows was started by a woman named Lori Gallagher Witt. The brilliance is hers; the rest has been edited to best express similar, though not identical, opinions of those passing the main ideas on. I didn’t write this from scratch, but edited and added to a similar post to reflect my personal beliefs. I found this particular post on my editor’s Facebook page and have edited it to reflect my personal beliefs.

I’m a liberal. I wasn’t always a liberal. There was a day when I was a conservative. For many years I was a Fundamentalist Christian, a supporter and foot soldier in the Evangelical culture war. Today, I am a liberal, though I suspect many readers don’t know or understand what the word means.

Some of you suspected. Some of you were shocked. Many of you have known me for years, even the majority of my life. We either steadfastly avoided political topics, or I carefully steered conversations away from the more incendiary subjects in the name of keeping the peace. “I’m a liberal” isn’t really something you broadcast in social circles where “the liberals” can’t be said without wrinkling one’s nose. I live in a community where seven out of ten voters are Republican and even the Democrats tend to be religious conservatives.

While most of the readers of this blog skew towards the left, a fair number of you are Republican and voted for Donald Trump (or Jill Stein). You love my critique of Evangelicalism and you love my atheism, but you despise by liberal politics. I hope what follows will give you a better understanding of my political beliefs.

Then the 2016 election happened, and staying quiet wasn’t an option anymore. Since then, I’ve received no shortage of emails and comments from people who were shocked, horrified, disappointed, disgusted, or otherwise displeased to realize I am a liberal. Yep. I’m one of those bleeding-heart commies who hates anyone who’s white, straight, or conservative, and who wants the government to dictate everything you do while taking your money and giving it to people who don’t work.

Or am I?

Let’s break it down, shall we? Because quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of being told what I believe and what I stand for. Spoiler alert: Not every liberal is the same, though the majority of liberals I know think along roughly these same lines.

  • I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected.
  • I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.
  • I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the U.S.), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.
  • I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.
  • I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. I’m self-employed, so I already pay a shitload of taxes. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, that means increasing my already eye-watering tax bill. I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.
  • I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that people should not have to work two full-time jobs and a part-time weekend job just to keep their heads above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multi-billion-dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work forty hours and live.
  • I am not anti-Christian. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOTillegal; *compulsory* prayer in school is — and should be — illegal) All I ask is that Christians recognize *my* right to live according to *my* beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose Sharia-like biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me or mine.
  • I don’t believe LGBTQ people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the *same* rights as you and I — justice and equal protection under the law.
  • I don’t believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY DO(spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I’m not opposed to deporting people who are here illegally, but I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc.).
  • I believe we should take in refugees, or at the very least not turn them away without due consideration. Turning thousands of people away because a terrorist might slip through is inhumane, especially when we consider what has happened historically to refugees who were turned away. If we’re so opposed to taking in refugees, maybe we should consider not causing them to become refugees in the first place. Because we’re fooling ourselves if we think that somewhere in the chain of events leading to these people becoming refugees, there isn’t a line describing something the U.S. did (like dropping bombs on civilians and fomenting civil war).
  • I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since capitalistic greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices, etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation.
  • I believe our current administration is fascist. Not because I dislike them or because I’m butthurt over an election, but because I’ve spent too many years reading and learning about the Third Reich to miss the similarities. Not because any administration I dislike must be Nazis, but because things are actually mirroring authoritarian and fascist regimes of the past.
  • I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized.
  • I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think of it as social politeness. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because, as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person? Your refusal to adjust your vocabulary in the name of not being an asshole kind of makes YOU the snowflake.
  • I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. There are too many sustainable options available for us to continue with coal and oil. Sorry, billionaires. Maybe try investing in something else.
  • I’m not interested in coming after your guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is sensible policies, including background checks, that MIGHT save one person’s life by the hand of someone who should not have a gun. I am also in favor of removing from the market military grade firearms. No one needs a clip that hold thirty bullets.
  • I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men, and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?
  • I believe that life begins at viability — at the point where a baby can survive outside the mother’s womb. But that’s my own belief. I do not have the right to impose my belief on anyone else. Nor do you. Abortions have happened since the dawn of history, for a variety of reasons — some good, some bad. They are not going to go away. Government has no business legislating morality. It does have a responsibility to create and educate people on possible alternatives. But neither the government, nor you, nor, I, can make that choice for another.

I think that about covers it. Bottom line is that I’m a liberal (and a humanist) because I think we should take care of each other. That doesn’t mean you should work eighty hours a week so your lazy neighbor can get all your money. It just means I don’t believe there is any scenario in which preventable suffering is an acceptable outcome as long as money is saved.

So, I’m a liberal.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

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Want to Share Your Thoughts on Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh, or #metoo?

your story matters

Are you angry over how Donald Trump treats women and how he denigrates them publicly? Do you have passionate opinions about the sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump or Brett Kavanaugh? Do you support the #metoo movement? Do you have a personal story to share about being sexually abused, raped, or sexually harassed? Are you appalled by Evangelical support for President Trump, Brett Kavanaugh, and the idea that what happened in high school — even sexual assault — shouldn’t disqualify a man from public office? Are you sickened by how Evangelicals abandoned any sense of moral authority, choosing instead to be shills for the Republican Party? If so, I want to hear from you.

If you are a woman and have something you want or need to say on these matters, I want to extend to you an invitation to write a guest post (or multiple posts) for this site. I think it is important for readers to hear from women on these issues. Guest posts can be any length, and can either be written anonymously or under your own name. If you are interested in writing a post but fear your writing/English skills are lacking, please don’t let that hinder your participation.  I have a first-rate editor who will edit your post, making sure the grammar and structure is correct. Your point of view will not be changed in any way. My editor is a progressive woman, so you can rest assure that she will do all she can to help you.  You may have noticed frequent guest posts by ObstacleChick.  OC is also a woman. Her recent letter to Evangelical women was posted as written with only a few minor grammatical corrections. She will tell you that I don’t alter content. It’s your story, and I want to provide a forum for you to tell it. You don’t have to be an atheist or agree with me to write a guest post.

Interested? Please email me expressing your interest via the Contact Form. I will then provide you with my private email address to which you can send me your post. All correspondence between us will be held in the strictest of confidence.

Thank you!

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