Welcome and Acceptance

Message to Parkersburg, WV – City Council Person Zachary T. Stanley
( District 8 )

Hello,

I am concerned about what I have heard in the current debate over the proposed ordinance prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.

It would seem to me to be something very harmless. In fact, I would think that such discrimination should already be actionable in both civil and common law as simple discrimination against persons – anyone as a person should not be discriminated against according to the 7th, 9th, 13th, and 14th amendments to the constitution of the United States.

The church groups which have invested so much in opposition to this ordinance have pretty effectively killed it as a means by which more persons could be valued and welcomed to Parkersburg. However, there are other ways that that you as a City Councilman could ‘put out the word’ that you are welcoming and that all people are safe with you. That you will not stigmatize people who confide in you their sexual preference and/or gender identity.

From the beginning of Christianity (to the current day) the fish symbol has been used as a signal to others that they were either Christian or sympathetic to Christians. The rainbow flag or any pattern that uses the colors of the rainbow associated with your office, or the city of Parkersburg would do the same. Using this symbol does obligate you to actually be welcoming, accepting, and safe. It does not require legislation. It is an action of the heart in the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. As the apostle Paul wrote: (Second Corinthians chapter 3 verses 5-6 )

Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

The letter of the law cannot make Parkersburg welcoming, accepting, or safe for all the people who live here, only the spirit of the law; where each of us as people reach out to the other person to make them welcome, accepted and safe.

Unacceptable

Representative David B. McKinley,

My name is Doug Mitchell, I moved to Parkersburg, WV from Des Plaines, IL in January of this year. I design and maintain computing environments; in my current job I am the operations manager (and systems designer) of a web based commodities trading platform.

I noticed in your recent email newsletter:

All across America, working families have been facing soaring premiums, skyrocketing deductibles, and limited choices because of Obamacare. I have listened to constituents and stakeholders who have raised concerns about the current healthcare system and one thing has been made perfectly clear: it’s collapsing. Families are not getting the care they need because they can’t afford the costs. Obamacare has become a train wreck and doing nothing for these working families is completely unacceptable.

On Thursday the House took an important step towards keeping our promise to reform healthcare. Now, as the legislative process continues, the Senate has the opportunity to review and modify the bill accordingly. Most assuredly, the final bill will be a compromise between the House and Senate versions. Everyone deserves access to affordable, quality healthcare coverage and that is exactly what we are trying to deliver.

What is unacceptable is this statement of yours. Anyone of your age that was around before the ACA (ObamaCare) was passed knows that healthcare in our United States has been a train wreck for at least the the last 30 years. The ACA has not been all that good, but at least it forced all the insurance plans to cover the basics. So what did the Medical Insurance companies do? They attacked the plan these selfsame Insurance companies wrote (single payer was never considered for the ACA). The Medical Insurance companies took a couple of years off in raising rates, then changed all the plans, even private employer plans. Raising rates, eliminating (or charging extra for) any coverage not expressly mandated by the ACA. The real flaw of the ACA was that it did not take into account the greed of the Medical Insurance companies or the mendacity and cruelty of Republican party officials – particularly on the state level. Such hate that the people of your party have for the American people: the poor, the infirm, anyone who has not been financially successful.

And now this abomination of a ‘heath care plan’ the AHCA you voted for last week. What could be better than depriving the American people of a lousy opportunity to buy somewhat affordable and standard health care insurance? Only the chance to also give the wealthy a tax cut. Robbing from the poor to give to the rich. Just like the ‘reforms’ in increasing social security payments while simultaneously lowering top marginal tax rates during the Reagan/Greenspan years, or the Reagan lie of trickle down economics. As an engineer, you should know by now that giving more money to wealthy people only makes the wealthy more wealthy. The government services that are cut to balance the books just make the poor more desperate. We have been doing this repeatedly for the past 30 years with disastrous results. (Like the meltdown in Kansas) Yet your party with the help of the compliant members of the Democratic party have not learned that cutting taxes will not result in more money collected. Cutting programs to help people get off their knees, does not make them more independent. It only makes them lose hope, it encourages a feeling of powerlessness, it causes them to give up.

I applaud your advocacy for coal miner pensions and health care. (My grandfather was a coal miner in Pennsylvania.)

But what about the rest of us in West Virginia and our United States?

Don’t we deserve health care too?

Why can every other wealthy (and some poor, like Cuba) country on earth afford healthcare for everyone but not our United States?

Doug Mitchell
USN – VAW 117 – 1981 – 1985
BSEE – University of Akron – class of 1991
Lay Chaplain – Bishop Anderson House Chicago – 2016
International Electronics and Electrical Engineers
Association for Computing Machinery

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Hernandez v Mesa

Chief Justice, John Roberts, Jr.
The Supreme Court of the United States
One First Street N.E.
Washington, DC 20543

Chief Justice Roberts,

I had not thought that anything could move me to write to you and your fellow justices again. In reading about and watching the video of the death of Sergio Hernandez I feel so moved. I realize that Sergio’s death is only peripherally connected with the case of Hernandez v Mesa, and for you to maintain your vaunted judicial objectivity it is necessary that you keep yourself as ignorant of real world events as possible, however, make an exception this time. It is a video of several fifteen year old boys running back and forth across a concrete river bed – touching the US side and running back across the international border which runs in the center of this river bed. Four boys fooling around. How many times did you in Indiana, or I in Ohio as we were growing up do stupid things like this? A border patrolman runs up between the boys and the Mexican side of the border grabbing one of them – the lucky one – as we later see, because he then starts shooting into Mexico at the other boys. He kills Sergio Hernandez – by his own admission in his report. He does not enter Mexico to check Sergio or to render assistance, he is not allowed to enter Mexico. Only his bullets are allowed to enter Mexico, depending upon how you and your fellow justices rule in this case.

Please give the Hernandez’s family the legal recourse to have standing in the federal courts of our United States to sue for damages in the wrongful death of their son.

It is not that much, it is the very least that we can do to give this family a semblance of justice. How sad is it that I will be surprised if your court grants this family even this small consideration.

Respectfully yours,

Doug Mitchell

CC
Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer
Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr.
Associate Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor
Associate Justice Elena Kagen

8,102,216 Views

I sent the following to Senator Mitch McConnell yesterday via his senate website message form after watching Senator Elizabeth Warren’s celebrated video posting. (Now at over 11 million views)

 

Elizabeth Warren now has 8,102,216 Views of her video of some of the truth about the record of the ‘Honorable’ Jeff Sessions. It is too bad that the truth about the Senator is prejudicial to his confirmation to the office of Attorney General of our United States.

You go ahead and confirm Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. It won’t do you any good.

 

Police Reform in Chicago

Rahm Emanuel
City Hall
121 N. LaSalle Street
Chicago, Illinois 60602

Mayor Rahm Emanuel,

As a proudly liberal, Roosevelt Democrat, I have long disliked how the Democratic party has abandoned liberalism to embrace more ‘business’ oriented policies. Your neoconservative Democratic party does not bash unions but it does not protect them either. It establishes healthcare insurance for more or less everyone but not universal healthcare. It has tacitly endorsed torture by not prosecuting the war criminal George W Bush, and directly advocated murder by executing Osama bin Laden (and many others) without trial. I mourned for Chicago when you were elected Mayor, wondering what city services/concessions you would sell off next. As expected, you continued the attack on the Chicago Public Schools, what passes for neocon education policy practically demands it. (because unions are bad) In spite of all of the above, I was pleased and very surprised by your speech on December 9th of this year. There might yet be some hope for you.

You have a problem. Your police department like most police departments in the United States has attitude issues among the rank and file. Every time they go out into a non-white neighborhood, you have the potential for another police killing like the one on December 26th. Do you like those ‘Rahm Failed Us’ sweat shirts the Black Lives Matter activists had printed up? Black people have been murdered by the Chicago police since the city police force was first organized in 1835. They know that there is no way this is going to stop anytime soon. So they have decided to go after you. Like big game hunters, Black Lives Matter – Chicago wants your head for their political trophy wall. You are bringing in the Feds, but that is not going to save you. You fired the chief of police, but I have yet to hear of any American police chief with the courage to enact the reforms that are required. (Wholeheartedly supporting the prosecution of police officers who have murdered those they are supposed to be protecting.) By the time a police officer has the experience to become a chief of police, they have embodied that ‘us against them’ mentality which allows the officer on the beat to believe that he/she has the right to kill.

If you want to politically survive as mayor of Chicago you are going to have to choose to support the people instead of blindly supporting our police force.

Possible Initiatives

  • Police on the beat need to supervised. Perhaps you could have representatives from local neighborhood watch organizations ride with the police on their patrols.
  • Your Independent Police Review Authority oversight board is a joke. You should immediately (apologize to and then) call back Lorenzo Davis, the Independent Police Review Authority Supervising Investigator you fired this past July. (And then back him up 100 percent!)

If you are as serious about police reform as you are about ever again holding political office in the city of Chicago; you are going to have to prove it to all the people of Chicago – not just the white people.

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Michael Moore for President

Michael Moore
Dog Eat Dog Films, Inc.
430 West 14th Street
Suite 401
New York , NY 10011

Michael Moore,

It was with great delight that I read about your willingness to serve as President of our United States in the April 6th, 2015 edition of the Nation magazine. I announced that week to my family and friends that I finally had a candidate that I could support without reservation.

Of course, you intended your announcement as a joke and compiled your twenty point platform for comedic effect.

The joke is indeed on all of us, as your platform – jokes and all, is far better than whatever Hillary Clinton is likely to advocate. Assuming that she actually implements the platform she adopts, instead of just setting up Jamie Dimon on speed dial to determine what she should think on any given issue. (Just as Scott Walker has outsourced his thinking to Koch Industries.) I know it is asking a great deal of you; but would you consider running for President for real? The thing I admire the most about you is that you always know your own mind. There must be something in the water in Washington, DC such that whoever is sent there forgets all common sense and adopts in its place this weird Washington consensus: might make right, trickle-down economics was a fantastic success, trade agreements create jobs, stupidity and ignorance are admirable qualities, if we just bomb people overseas enough – they (the people who survive) will finally appreciate us, etc.

Some of our Presidents have been able to at least function in the DC environment – Jimmy Carter for example. But most others start acting like the pod people in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 version).

Seriously, please think about it. And if you do decide to run and are elected as either President or Vice-President, whatever you do, don’t drink the water in Washington, DC.

Update – The above mailing address for Michael Moore refused delivery of my letter.

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Just Say No – TPP

President Barack Obama,

Congratulations!

You have finally succeeded!

You have completely alienated your Progressive supporters. With your push in attempting to gain the authority to fast-track an up or down vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade agreement; we have been forced to accept the same conclusion as Brother Cornel West, in that we progressives collectively cannot respect you as a person or a leader.

    • Your excessive secrecy did not do it.
    • Your Intelligence agencies collecting the phone and Internet communications of everyone in the world did not do it.
    • Your continued operation of the no longer so secret Guantanamo Bay military prison, and other more secret prisons around the world did not do it.
    • Your Justice Departments priorities in persecuting whistle-blowers while not prosecuting torturers and war criminals did not do it.
    • Your Justice Department ignoring the greatest financial fraud in the history of the world, and refusing to prosecute those responsible did not do it.
    • Your escalated ( and lately de-escalated ) assassination of people ( by drone, and by United States military personnel ) overseas did not do it.

But finally, your single-minded, no hold barred pursuit of this trade agreement, which promises more profit to multi-national companies and fewer legal protections for your fellow citizens – THIS is where you focus your attention and time.

No one is more disappointed in you than myself.

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Marriage Equality

On Tuesday, April 28th, the United States Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in the four marriage equality cases that the court has selected to consider. ( Which are being referred to overall as Obergefell v. Hodges )

Obergefell v. Hodges
Tanco v. Haslam
DeBoer v. Snyder
Bourke v. Beshear

One of the things that most worries me about the United States Supreme Court, and most of our courts at all state and federal levels these days is the lack of mercy, their lack of a sense of the spirit of the law, in their very formal parsing of the letter of the law. In many cases, Judges seem to have forgotten that they are there to apply their human judgement in reaching their decisions. To make some allowances for human frailty. To weigh extenuating circumstances. These all too human foibles don’t seem to find much bearing before our courts these days; unless the person being judged is a representative of the law, or the government itself.

In second Corinthians chapter 3 verses 5-6 :

Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

The letter of of the law – which kills.
The spirit of the law – which gives life.

This past Sunday, I heard about a call to pray, that the Supreme Court would make a wise decision in these cases of Marriage Equality that they will be arguing this week. ( Link is in the image below )

call_for_prayer

The Supreme Court certainly needs our prayers.

Last Sunday in Epiphany

I gave the following sermon at my church, 15 Feburary 2015.

(The readings for this sermon are at the bottom of this post.)

Listen to this sermon

In our lessons during this Epiphany season, we have heard all about the different ways people experience epiphanies. Many times an epiphany is simply a personal revelation, a change in our perspective. It may be inspired by an idea we have read, or from a conversation we have had. Sometimes an epiphany is more startling, it results from a numinous experience, a manifestation of the divine.

In our lessons today we are given several examples of these big, flashy, divine manifestation epiphanies.
Flaming chariots.
Whirlwinds carrying people up into the sky.
Transfiguration – transformations of a person’s appearance and clothing.
Legendary prophets from the past appearing and speaking to us, big as life.
God’s voice out of the sky.

From our gospel lesson, Peter, James, and John were terrified when they witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus. Peter reacts as any of us would, and starts to babble, “It is good that we are here! Let us build three houses here for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Let us stay up here on this mountain, Let us hold onto this experience.”

But that is not how it works, we cannot stay up on the mountain. The moment passes, and we must go back out into the world,
back to our work,
back to our homes,
back to our regular lives, but with a difference, a true epiphany leaves us with a somewhat different perspective than we had before.

These big flashy miracle epiphanies just don’t happen so much these days. What if how we see the world around us, depends on what we believe?

In the past 200 years, humanity has experienced a revolution in our collective knowledge. The scientific revolution. We now know a great deal more than we ever have before about how to manipulate matter and energy; the physical world that is all around us. I wonder if all this knowledge of science has changed the way we think so that we just don’t notice the miraculous when it is right there in front of us.

As an engineer, I am amazed by what we can accomplish. With our modern industrial, and manufacturing technologies we can produce nearly anything, in enormous quantities. Unfortunately, our ability to produce the necessities of life does not extend to distributing those necessities to everyone who needs them.

Perhaps we need to believe, in order to perceive, what should be obvious to everyone.

I have had an epiphany, a revelation, about our society. In each of the last three Congressional elections – 2010, 2012, and 2014, more than three and a half billion dollars was raised and spent, just by senators and congress persons running for office. There seems to be plenty of money available in the United States, if such an enormous amount of money can be raised just for advertising and political organizing in each of these elections. My revelation is that also toward the end of that four year period, the United States government cut unemployment benefits, food stamps, and several programs which only exist to feed hungry children.

I believe that the Lord God has inspired the growth of our knowledge of the physical world. This knowledge has put into our hands and our minds the tools to provide for all the physical needs of our fellow men and women. There is only one thing we lack, our hearts are closed to God and to each other, we do not live with whole hearts, in service to each other.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

The god of this world. There are organizations in our country, which actively spread fear and uncertainty. I think that some of these organizations collectively believe their message of fear;
there is only so much food,
there is only so much money,
there is only so much hope,
some will have to do without.

The people in these organizations, have given up to their own despair and want the rest of us to join them. Other organizations, knowingly try to blind the rest of us to the truth just to make money from our fear or to gain the power that we give to them when we are afraid. It is very hard for us to ignore this constant siren song of fear: we fear to lose what we have, we are afraid of those who are different from us.

This is the task that has been given to us. Like Elisha travelling with Elijah, we need to hold fast to our beliefs, no matter who tries to persuade us otherwise, and not settle for anything less than a life with an undivided heart, so filled with the spirit that there is no room for fear.

It is our privilege as believers, to demonstrate to everyone the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. To remind everyone that we are all the daughters and sons of the Light that shines out of darkness. When enough of us share this epiphany, we will be transfigured to be like Jesus. Not as Jesus was on the mountaintop, but in the way he performed his ministry among the people. We will cease to fear, because we will be too busy sharing all the good things of our hands, and our minds; with whole and open hearts.

2 Kings 2:1-12
Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”
Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Mark 9:2-9
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

We can do better

My mother sent the following to the Marietta Times (Marietta, OH) on February 12, 2015. I come by my liberalism naturally.

Re: We can do better than this

Now that Obamacare is the law of the land and doing pretty well, some Republican governors are rethinking their negative position on the expansion of Medicaid. The problem is that if they expand Medicaid, they want poor people to pay a “fee” for the health care. Of course, there are still a lot of people without health care and we can do better than this.

It is quite evident that we don’t have enough doctors when we have to wait a month to see our family doctor or specialist. So if you have a serious illness and you need to be seen immediately, you have the choice of the ER or a walk-in clinic. We can now get immunized at the local pharmacy and some pharmacies plan to expand by caring for people with minor illnesses. Governor Kasich and the Republicans did not help the situation when they cut funding to Planned Parenthood causing many clinics to close and the loss of affordable health care for women. We can do better than this.

It seems like poor people just can’t win. All those churches that provide meals, the food pantries and other organizations that provide help are to be commended but wouldn’t it make more sense to raise the minimum wage so that people could take pride in providing for themselves? Cities now must take into consideration that if they close the schools because of bad weather, a lot of the children will miss the hot lunch that is provided; many families depend on the lunches that their children receive in school to help feed their children. While many states have raised the minimum wage because they know it will benefit their economy, we can do better by raising the minimum wage on a national level.

Our jails are like debtor’s prisons of the past where the homeless and poor are fined and then jailed when they cannot pay the fines. Many of these people are veterans and the mentally ill and most of the people in jails are no threat to society. Because of our “law and order” mentality, the United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world. We can do a lot better than this.

Yes, businesses are the ones that “create the jobs” but is it asking too much for them to share the profits with their employees by giving them a raise once in a while? What about hiring more people instead of making their employees work 12 hours a day and making sure they get overtime pay when they do. We are the only modern industrialized country that does not give mothers (or dads) substantial time off to be with a newborn. We can do better than this.

So what do some of these greedy individuals and businesses do with their ill-gotten gains? They avoid paying their fair share of taxes in this country by hiding their assets in off-shore accounts and take advantage of numerous loopholes that they have helped Congress to create. Some of them like Carnegie try to make amends for past atrocities by building libraries and doing other “good works.” And they live in “gated” communities for protection against the growing population of the disenfranchised. Surely, we can do better than this.