Sunday, January 31, 2010

God's Littlest Angels in Haiti

God's Littlest Angels in Haiti

Sadly, now there's a lot more orphans to care for. I donated, now it's YOUR turn.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Perfect Snow Day

This is especially for those of you who live in a warmer climate. Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman has posted a photo of the gorgeous view outside his guest bedroom window in Minnesota. Even this blog ought to have something pretty in it occasionally.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Hard Truth From Orlando

There’s a big story on Christian Bible references engraved
on U.S. gun sights by the manufacturer is in the news today.
A practice for some years (and an open ‘secret’ on the Internet
and in military circles) is the placing of Biblical verse references
on gun sights manufactured and sold to the U.S. military by
Trijicon. It’s a clever idea – kind of like being a kid again and
decoding a message with your magic decoder ring – only in this
case, you need a Christian Bible instead of the ring. Yeah, it’s
kind of cool when you have nothing else to do and the biggest
enemy a soldier has (per Rudyard Kipling) is boredom. It
even plays to the violent video game mentality so prevalent in
our younger generation to have a reference that reads the
classic “If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out” or “There
shouldn’t be any divisions among you, but you must all learn
to think the same way and share the same opinions” from 1
Corinthians or “you should hand such a man over to the
Opposer for the destruction of his flesh” – also from
Corinthians. I mean, no one can top the Bible for great
rhetoric and pithy quotes for every occasion.
But there’s a problem with the practice. It’s illegal. And
it’s illegal for a reason. It’s a violation of Constitutional
Law – specifically, the First Amendment, and the U.S.
military is supposed to be an impartial enforcement
agency of that Constitutional law. Therefore, endorsing
this practice – or turning a blind eye to it, compromises
the integrity of our military mission, at home or overseas.
Worse still, it makes us hypocrites in the eyes of the
non-Christian world.

Scarier for Americans, though, it’s representative of a
deeper, more invidious situation developed in our military
hierarchy over the last 25 or so years – the unspoken but
real culture of mandatory Christianity in the American
Armed Forces.

An officer of the Central Command orchestrating the
ongoing war against terrorist and insurgency in
Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan -- some major,
but not the commander, who’s hopefully smarter than
that -- said he doesn’t see a problem with Bible verse
references on weapons. It’s just like “In God We Trust”
on the back of the U.S. dollar bill, he says. Basically, he
implies, “What’s the big deal?” I’ll just bet he’s a
member of the Christian Officers Society and he really
doesn’t see the big deal in proselytizing, or appearing to
proselytize, when the U.S. is engaged in a war against
an enemy who recruits against us because they’re on a
jihad – a holy war. He doesn’t see the practice of Bible
verses on weapons as fuel feeding the fire – or even as
a profound violation of the civil rights of American soldiers
by the endorsement of a particular religion’s credo on the
very equipment they’re required to carry.

He’s probably the same guy who doesn’t understand why
the ACLU keeps filing, and winning, lawsuits against schools
for prayer before games and classes, nativity scenes on
government property, the Ten Commandments in
courthouses – because he’s part of what many consider
the “majority” religion in this country. He fails to see any
harm in insisting everyone and everything meet a religious
standard, because after all, his is a real religion, but theirs isn’t.
And he’s also the kind of guy who is about to cost the U.S.
a ton of money in legal fees because he is part and parcel
of a culture of Christian fundamentalist military leaders
who continually violate the Constitution of the United
States to which they have sworn an oath. A former
White House Attorney, military man from a long family
history of military service, Mikey Weinstein, founder of
the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, reports that
he has been contacted by more than 5,000 active duty
and retired soldiers, many of whom served or serve in
Iraq, who told Weinstein that they were pressured by
their commanding officers to convert to Christianity.
And we’re not talking about the minority of American
soldiers who are Muslim or Jewish or atheist – we’re
talking about soldiers who just don’t subscribe to the
particular brand of evangelical Christianity espoused
by the military commanders engaged in this
discriminatory practice.

Seems we’re doomed to keep forgetting history – and not
just ancient history. In the 1800’s, the British had one
of the bloodiest mutinies in history when they packed
ammunition in animal grease and issued it to Hindu
soldiers in the employ of the British. The British
Christian officers didn’t see the big deal – it was cost
effective to prepare the ammunition this way. To the
Hindu soldiers, it was a deadly insult and sacrilege and
just underlined the reasons why the British should not
be allowed to impose their way of life on local populations
with utter disregard for indigenous culture, custom and
religion. At Fort Hood in the 1990’s, a group of soldiers
won a lawsuit which allowed them to practice their Wiccan
beliefs and rites on post property – the same rights
always enjoyed by Christian soldiers and Christian
chaplains – but rights only won by Jewish and other
minority soldiers in previous lawsuits years before.

We can’t show the Muslim world that we’re
and we’re not engaged in a religious war with them
when we openly subscribe to practices which impugn
our impartiality and dedication to freedom. We can’t
expect respect for our religious beliefs when we fail to
respect others. When a soldier puts on the uniform, he
is now a representative of all Americans – not just his
race, culture or religious belief. He represents true

So get rid of the Bible references on the weapon sights
or find a new secular manufacturer. Retire those sights
already issued and sell the old ones on E-Bay as
collectibles of politically incorrect military history.
American soldiers lead by example – let’s make sure
we’re setting the right one – not the religious one.

Florida Cracker

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Thought For Today

"There is a fine line between recklessness and courage." - Paul McCartney

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Thought For Today

"Against stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in vain." - Friedrich von Schiller

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Hard Truth From Orlando

I like this current brouhaha about Democrat Harry Reid’s
reported racist remarks. He apparently made the statement
some time ago that because presidential candidate Obama
was a light-skinned African-American and spoke grammatically
good English with good enunciation (“didn’t sound Negro”) that
he had a good chance in the presidential campaign. Apparently,
some Republicans want Harry Reid to resign for his “racist”
remarks. Since when do people resign for telling the truth?
And which part was racist; that Obama’s light-skinned,
speaks Standard American English -- or is the word Negro
just no longer politically correct?

I didn’t vote for Obama because he was “African-American”
and we need to put an “African-American” in the White
House. And I didn’t just vote for the Democratic ticket
because I was so sick of the Bush-boys and their
hard-headed, let’s-go-back-to-the-fifties policies that
any Democrat would do. I supported Hillary first because
I thought she was the best choice of all those running for
office at the time. I still support Hillary, but Obama
wasn’t a bad second choice of the candidates available.

But I have to say right up front, if Obama had been
named something illiterate and idiotic like Anfernee
(instead of Anthony) or Dontravious (which has no
meaning in any language) and flashed gang signs during
his speech and sprinkled his oration with unintelligible
inner-city street slang and constant hip-hop references,
I would have voted for a cardboard cut-out of anybody
else. I don’t want to flinch when my president opens
his mouth in front of the world.

Does that make me racist? Possibly, but statistics are
in my favor. We needed a president who communicates
effectively with the heads of other nations, who reflects
the American ideal of equality before the law and personal
achievement. Obama does that – whether you agree that
he represents mainstream American values or not. Harry
Reid was dead on when he said Obama had a good chance
of being elected because he didn’t fit the stereotypical
African-American. And if African-Americans don’t like
the stereotype, they need to work on their image, just
like everyone else.

Frankly, though, I haven’t heard African-Americans
quibbling about Reid’s remarks, only some Republicans.
I guess nothing is too trivial to squabble about when your
party can’t come to the table with any realistic means of
tackling the big issues of recession, unemployment,
poverty, illegal immigration, spiraling international debt,
financial corruption at the top levels of our monetary
institutions, wars in multiple countries, terrorism and
illegal drug trafficking. Political correctness –
always a priority when you’re teetering on the brink of
national disaster. Uh-huh.

Florida Cracker

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Thought For Today

"A great marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences." - Dave Meurer