Letter to My Uncle

[reply to litany of anti-Obama invective in a discussion about THE SUPER BOWL *sigh]

Dear Uncle ■■■■,

I’ve tried to talk about football and other things you like so you wouldn’t stop talking to me when I replied about politics. You said we shouldn’t talk about politics yet you insist on doing it. I have resisted each time because if I reply, there’s a chance it’s a massive waste of my time and in the end you’ll not want to be my uncle anymore, not want to be friends like your ugly and mean sister who will bleat on about Jesus’ love but then be a horrible person in an argument and end it by never speaking again, or on and on with several other examples easily available. I always thought you were different, more worldly, educated, etc. but the more I let you go on you sound like everyone’s stereotypical crazy racist uncle. If you start going on about Jesus too I’m giving up. (smiles). Now, since I know you aren’t that bad, I keep trying. So I will break the no-politics pledge just this once, but if you decide not to talk to me anymore, that’s on you. You can run out the rest of your days without hassling with that nephew who loved you and cared about you but then you fucked it up.

I agree the national debt is bad. I was complaining about it when Bush took a surplus and turned it into a deficit, doubled the national debt, and left us bailing out rich people who paid themselves massive bonuses. I don’t recall such concern among Republicans then, and was even called unpatriotic etc. So I agree the national debt is too high and bad, but it is hardly just Barack Obama’s fault and anything else is disingenuous.

Also the concern is always on social programs (which conservatives benefiting from them, like you or your sister or my parents, invariably want to keep and inexplicably think Democrats are coming to take), but my concern is also with the bloated defense budget, other waste, corruption – and corporate welfare is way worse than human welfare. I rarely hear conservatives complaining about these things, so I call shenanigans again.

The President called for a “grand bargain” on social programs. Like Bill Clinton being able to get away with signing welfare reform, Barack Obama could have worked on social programs and got away with it, but Do-Nothing Congress 2 well, did nothing. They opposed everything, on purpose, practically treasonous. So I have a hard time with statements that indicate it was all the bad president who wouldn’t work with the nice Congress. Compare the approval rating for Congress to the approval rating for President Obama. When we needed it the most this was one of the worst Congresses in the history of the nation. Disgraceful.

I agree that illegal immigration is a problem and what’s more is I think legal immigration is a problem too. With H1-Bs they are trying to replace citizens with cheaper labor as fast as they can import, they would import faster if they could (and keep trying), and this effort is just to replace the jobs that they can’t just ship overseas as fast as they can. And these are the decent-paying middle class jobs, not picking fruit (which should also largely be going to American citizens). I’m with you on immigration, believe me. It’s a big reason why Trump might still get my vote before it’s over.

We have lots of things we agree on: Americans take their lives for granted and many couldn’t even pass an immigration test, concern about ‘anchor babies’, immigrants integrating into American society, and on and on. However, I think statements like ‘Obama doesn’t believe in free enterprise and capitalism’ are ridiculous unsupportable hyperbole. I agree the money corporations and the wealthy have stored overseas is a problem, we just have different remedies. I agree the they print money and devalue the dollar. But stunts like closing the government and risking debt default are bad and endanger our global hegemony.

So, thanks for sharing your opinions and thanks for reading my reply. Hopefully we can continue to be civil.

Love, Jason

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Divorce is wrong*

Recently I had the opportunity to spend some time with a couple I love very much and it was great to get to see them and chat and all that. These two also have chosen to be fundamentalist Christians. As with many (most?) fundamentalists, this association is very important to them and defines their identity. During our conversation, the subject of marriage and divorce came up. Excuses were made for divorce that are just nagging at me. It’s another case where folks like these use the Bible however they see fit. On one hand, homosexuality is condemned unequivocally as wrong on its face. But Jesus never said one word about homosexuality. Jesus had as much to say about The Gay as he did about The Who. The same evangelicals march in lockstep and wring their hands over the evils of abortion. They spend their lives petitioning the government to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies and forego their own right to life and pursuit of happiness, while the other side of their mouths decry government intrusion and overreach. And the list goes on.
But something Jesus did specifically express disdain for is divorce. Jesus (or words later authors ascribed to the character) specifically said not to get divorced. Jesus didn’t say “don’t be gay”, but he did say “don’t get divorced”. He didn’t say “well, unless it’s inconvenient to stay married”. Related and in case it’s not totally clear, “don’t commit adultery” is one of the Ten Commandments. They want to engrave one of the versions of these Commandments on massive granite blocks and embed them in front of public buildings so everyone will turn from their wickedness, but they don’t care as much about actually living it themselves unless it’s convenient. A clerk who has been married many times won’t give out a marriage license to a gay couple, and the modern-day Pharisees flock to her defense. 8ca43fbf9cf6d09e8ccd89f966c8e861This is yet another reason why the Founding Fathers specified religion can’t form the basis of our laws, freeing us from the worries of Sharia Law, be it from Muslims or Christians. People don’t obey even the most basic precepts of their religion, yet they often want everyone else to obey. Christians make up more of a majority in the U.S. than most other “Christian” countries, yet half of all marriages end in divorce, which is literally forbidden by God and their savior. If religious people spent less time moralizing to others (and brainwashing their children and rejecting science) and instead just lived what they ostensibly believe and held themselves to their alleged standards, atheists like me would spend less time bothering them for their hypocrisy. But as history has and always will continue to exhibit, that’s just not going to happen.

Study on online charter schools: ‘It is literally as if the kid did not go to school for an entire year’

Reading this study about online charter schools is troubling. Even though I’ve no children to worry about (thankfully), these people will be taking care of us when we’re old. Of at least equal importance is these are the people who will be called upon to advance and protect our civilization and our species. A book I’m reading now talks about how when the Soviets launched Sputnik, American parents, teachers, and politicians were shocked into awareness that something wasn’t right with our educational system. By and large they banded together at that time (1950s) to aggressively tackle the issues. Nowadays we have governors taking money from universities to give it to the already wealthy, underfunding public schools suffering from decades of white flight, school shootings, rampant homeschooling, privatizing and/or closing schools, etc. In Ohio these ‘alternative’ schools seem to be gaining a terrible reputation, and then this about online charter schools. It’s troubling to me and I don’t have any children, so hopefully people with children are doing something besides complaining about standardized tests or Common Core. Mostly over the past 10-15 years I’ve just seen conservatives defend No Child Left Behind against liberal critics, and then the same conservatives inveigh against Common Core and what seems like teachers in general. I don’t know what the answers are but I can see where we rank against other countries, and we’re not #1. We should be #1.

“Is our children learning?” – George W. Bush