Category Archives: 2018

Tinker to Evers to Chance

Three of the past four months I’ve been blocked from Facebook thirty days at a time with brief intervals between so’s to allow me the freedom to get blocked again.     The what?  reason?  explanation?  Ah well, the nature of the offenses have been comments made in reference to two [2] different issues about which I hold opinions Facebook finds unacceptable.

The first was the Israeli occupation and annexation of the parts of Jerusalem that are outside the boundaries of Israel established by International Law in 1947.   Evidently Facebook and many FB users find this opinion to be antisemitic and offensive.

Similarly an opinion expressed involving the IDF molestation of a pre-adolescent Palestinian youth in the Hebron area where Israel has confiscated homes and land from the owners outside the International Boundaries of Israel was worthy of a second 30 day block from Facebook use.

And finally, strong skepticism concerning US military activities in Syria, the motives for those activities, and the complicity of Israel in those activities were the subject of a comment FB deleted and banned me another 30 days.

Facebook is a free service and I don’t argue their ‘right’ to disallow any sort of comments they wish, nor their punishment of commenters who express opinions they find unappropriated, or offensive.   Of course they have that right!  There are no ‘freedom of speech’ issues on Internet social media sites because they are all privately owned.    What would be the point of furnishing a service of that sort if you didn’t intend to use it to further your own agenda, whatever that agenda might be.

However, I think it can be said without danger of inaccuracy that even though the FB agenda isn’t stated outright, certain facets of that agenda can be deduced by the choices of what description of opinions to delete, and what opinion-holders to punish for having expressed those opinions.

Life is a learning experience and I’m gratified to discover I live in a world where supporting Semitic Palestinians to preserve their homes from theft by a secular state controlled by invading European Jews is anti-Semitic.

And that believing the US government is performing as a puppet to the only nation on earth named for a family, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, in its involvement in Syria is also offensive enough to be worthy of punishment by a social medium seems a statement worthy of the 21sc Century.

Old Jules

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Resolving resolved issues

The thing about your life flashing before your eyes is the real deal, except it doesn’t flash and it doesn’t wait until the last minute so’s to have to rush around and maybe forget something.  But if you get into your 70s and have any memory left, I can promise you you’ll find yourself re-living all the tiny events of your life you thought nothing about at the time.   Then, a few nights or months or maybe years later, doing it again, and remembering you’ve done it, remembered it before this time.

For instance, I was thinking the other night about an incident on the playground when I was in the fourth grade in grammar school.   It was an incident I’ve written about here involving a kid named Winkie Hodges, and another named Keith Kelt.  [They still call him Winkie – posted July 29, 2014]

But this time I was remembering it all in a different context.   I was thinking about several of us who were around at that time, but who lived to a ripe old age.   One died a few months ago – Eddie Hiner – and I was thinking about how surprised we would have been back then if someone had told us, “Hey kid…..let me flash your life before your eyes [the way it gets flashed backward nowadays but faster] and give you a look at what you think as an old man was valuable about your life.   What was worth doing.   What was worth remembering.

I don’t think it would have changed much about our lives, but we’d probably have shuddered some and figured it was a nightmare.    Everything I thought I wanted out of life back then, everything I thought made life worth living, got replaced and eroded so many times I should have realized a lot sooner how little difference any of it actually made.

The area between this old 1890s house I live in and the next one over is all grass.   We’ve been told they’re going to let us put in a ‘community garden’.   Got my fingers itching to dig them around in some cow manure and soil.    Went out and bought a Roma and a Big Boy each tomatoes to put in the solarium porch… [one’s going to blossom tonight or tomorrow – but stumbling blocks keep showing up for starting to dig that community garden].

But my point is, breaking up a little dirt, putting some seeds down, it’s probably as important ans anything I’ve ever done this lifetime, and that’s just fine.   In fact, I’d count it as important as anything anyone I knew this lifetime ever did, too [at least anything they did that I knew about].

So I’m wondering how everything came to be so complicated back then.   How Winkie, and Eddie Hiner, and Keith, and all those other kids ever came to believe there was something we could do that didn’t involve turning over some dirt, squeezing in some cow manure, and putting some seeds in the ground, that was going to produce something of lasting value.

In those days it was a given that old people were where you’d find wisdom.  By hindsight I tend to think wisdom escaped them, too.

The old men in that photo at the top of this post were out there at that time, doing what they’re doing in the photo.    I’m thinking they probably knew that thing about putting seeds in the ground and cowshit..

But they weren’t telling.

Old Jules

Seven decade tug-of-war between organized religion and the 1st Amendment

Nobody paid a lot of attention to issues of the ‘Separation of Church and State’ between Reynolds v. the United States in 1789 [upholding federal bigamy laws], and Everson v. The Board of Education, 1947 ruling it was okay for Catholic parents to be reimbursed for sending their kids to Catholic schools on buses, same as for public school kids using buses.

Those of us who attended public schools prior to Engels v. Vitale in 1962 managed to survive prayers coming over the intercom each morning without any permanent damage and the only eyebrows raised were in response to boredom.   In one school I attended, popular kids were selected each day to give the prayers and they seemed to compete with one another to add dramatic emphasis, but generally I’d count it all harmless.

Around that time Madalyn Murray O’Hair entered the picture and atheists became militant and vocal.   Maybe it was something in the water.    The Murray v. Curlett Supreme Court decision in 1963 ending religious study in public schools became a harbinger for a long series of religion versus state legal battles.

Maybe it was the times…. the fact is, a person declaring himself to be an atheist prior to the 1960s would have been asking for all manner of difficulties.   My granddad got a visit from the FBI out on his hardscrabble farm around 1953, because one of his neighbors reported he was an ‘atheistic Communist’.   In those times that was serious invective indeed.

But though I’ve spent almost all my adult life not subscribing to any organized religion, which in some circles damns me as an atheist, I’ve often thought the church/state religious battles that emerged to the US Supreme Court were mostly petty embarrassments.     If those were the worst infringements accusers could come up with insofar as the separation of church and state, it would have been better left alone than hold them up as evidence atheists were a lot of nit-picking whiners about nothing.

But that’s roughly what we’re left with.    Lawsuits filed, court time wasted about nativity scenes on courthouse lawns and plaques containing the Ten Commandments.

Ironically, now we see the Christian fundamentalists trying to establish a foothold as a state religion to protect the US from Islamics and scary Sharia Law.    While splinter groups of Mormons drift back into polygamy and assortments of Asian religious establishments creep into suburbia.

Keeping in mind that no legal battle arrives at the door of SCOTUS until it’s been through lower courts and appeal courts.    So the list below really doesn’t convey just how much legal time and money has found its way into the pockets of lawyers as a consequence of the determination of people who don’t want religion anywhere in their lives, and those who want their own religion to be implied as valid by display at public expense:

U.S. Supreme Court Decisions
(arranged by date)

Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879)

Court finds that the federal antibigamy statute does not violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of religion.

Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)

Court finds that a New Jersey law which included students of Catholic schools in reimbursements to parents who sent their children to school on buses operated by the public transportation system does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

McCollum v. Board of Education Dist. 71, 333 U.S. 203 (1948)

Court finds religious instruction in public schools a violation of the establishment clause and therefore unconstitutional.

Burstyn v. Wilson, 72 S. Ct. 777 (1952)

Government may not censor a motion picture because it is offensive to religious beliefs.

Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961)

Court holds that the state of Maryland cannot require applicants for public office to swear that they believed in the existence of God. The court unanimously rules that a religious test violates the Establishment Clause.

Engel v. Vitale, 82 S. Ct. 1261 (1962)

Any kind of prayer, composed by public school districts, even nondenominational prayer, is unconstitutional government sponsorship of religion.

Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)

Court finds Bible reading over school intercom unconstitutional and Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203 (1963) – Court finds forcing a child to participate in Bible reading and prayer unconstitutional.

Epperson v. Arkansas, 89 S. Ct. 266 (1968)

State statue banning teaching of evolution is unconstitutional. A state cannot alter any element in a course of study in order to promote a religious point of view. A state’s attempt to hide behind a nonreligious motivation will not be given credence unless that state can show a secular reason as the foundation for its actions.

Lemon v. Kurtzman, 91 S. Ct. 2105 (1971)

Established the three part test for determining if an action of government violates First Amendment’s separation of church and state:
1) the government action must have a secular purpose;
2) its primary purpose must not be to inhibit or to advance religion;
3) there must be no excessive entanglement between government and religion.

Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980)

Court finds posting of the Ten Commandments in schools unconstitutional.

Wallace v. Jaffree, 105 S. Ct. 2479 (1985)

State’s moment of silence at public school statute is unconstitutional where legislative record reveals that motivation for statute was the encouragement of prayer. Court majority silent on whether “pure” moment of silence scheme, with no bias in favor of prayer or any other mental process, would be constitutional.

Edwards v. Aquillard, 107 S. Ct. 2573 (1987)

Unconstitutional for state to require teaching of “creation science” in all instances in which evolution is taught. Statute had a clear religious motivation.

Allegheny County v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989)

Court finds that a nativity scene displayed inside a government building violates the Establishment Clause.

Lee v. Weisman, 112 S. Ct. 2649 (1992)

Unconstitutional for a school district to provide any clergy to perform nondenominational prayer at elementary or secondary school graduation. It involves government sponsorship of worship. Court majority was particularly concerned about psychological coercion to which children, as opposed to adults, would be subjected, by having prayers that may violate their beliefs recited at their graduation ceremonies.

Church of Lukumi Babalu Ave., Inc. v. Hialeah, 113 S. Ct. 2217 (1993)

City’s ban on killing animals for religious sacrifices, while allowing sport killing and hunting, was unconstitutional discrimination against the Santeria religion.

https://infidels.org/library/modern/church-state/decisions.html

If you believe this isn’t over yet, you are probably correct.   Because even though religious affiliation in the US is evidently dropping somewhat rapidly, the strength of the fundamentalist right, the Latter Day Saints, the Jews, and the Islamics is gaining, rather than losing momentum.

There’s cause to suspect we’ll see at least another half century before any of the parties involved are powerless.    It’s a crapshoot who will be the last man standing.

Old Jules

Two rich men and the eye of a needle – Philosophy by limerick

Mark 10:25 – “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Some things don’t need to be said
And a jet plane can mess with your head
Oxygen deprivation
While preaching salvation
Makes camels appear to be thread.

Old Jules

The presidents and their ladies

There’s been a temptation on the part of the opposition for the last couple of decades to make as much hay as possible when it’s discovered the US president has a mistress, or had one.  This hasn’t always been so.   Presidents of the past venerated by those finger-pointers and accusers have frequently had their affairs during a time when such matters were left for gossip columnists and rumor mongers.

Lucy Page Mercer Rutherfurd was one of two women believed to have been FDR’s mistresses. Lucy has the distinction, though, of being the only certainty. Eleanor found her letters to FDR. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Mercer_Rutherfurd

Then there was Ike.   Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during the invasion, and Republican president after Truman.

All those years Ike was in office I never knew anyone to criticize him about that particular issue.    If they hated him at all [and the rabid right wingers certainly did] they didn’t bring his private sex life into the conversation.

Then of course there was LBJ and his shenanigans too numerous to bother mentioning except one.

As far as I know Ford, Carter, Reagan and both Bush presidencies were either adultery-free, or discrete enough to keep it out of the public eye.    As was Obama.  Goes to prove some presidents have the good sense to either keep their peckers zipped up safely inside their pants, or go the extra mile to keep it out of the headlines.

And there’s no point even discussing Bill Clinton….. that one’s the record Trump is trying to beat with Stormy Daniels.

Maybe it’s time, really time for a woman president so we can put all this sexual scandal to rest.

Old Jules

The thorny ethics of silence – Philosophy by limerick

This is Stormy. Her reputation was ruined when the president broke their non-disclosure agreement and gabbed to all his evangelist buddies. Now her phone rings day and night and she can’t get a moment of quiet rest.

The porn-star named Stormy was nice
And of course everything has its price
Including discretion
And public confession:
The ethics aren’t all that precise.

Old Jules

These youngsters and their ‘March For Our Lives’

I suppose you have to have buzz words and jingles if you want to turn out the masses for your demonstrations.   I’ll confess I’m a bit ambivalent about the anti-assault weapon frenzy and don’t believe for a minute any lives will be saved by taking them out of the hands of civilians.    I wouldn’t lift a finger to support an issue I consider a meaningless gesture.

But on the other hand, it’s an inconvenient fact the same folks who rally for the 2nd Amendment and want to wave their assault rifles around also want to rape Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.    And these youngsters in the streets waving signs wouldn’t lift a finger to keep them from doing it.

So what a lucky coincidence!   The flood that’s going to sweep away assault rifles [I couldn’t care less about] will carry with it the people who want to rob senior citizens of their livelihood, health care, and keep them from having to live under bridges [which the anti-gun youngsters couldn’t care less about].

Just imagine it!    800 places all over the US, thousands of people in the streets inadvertently working to throw the people out of national elected office in 2018 and 2020 who want to destroy Social Security, Medicare and Medicade.

March 24, 2018, March of our Lives locations in the US. People inadvertently marching and demonstrating to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/22/us/politics/march-for-lives-demonstrations.html

Well friends, I might just have to get me a sign and join them.

If I had to take away every assault rifle in the US to save my SS pension and Medicare, I’d be out there carrying signs pretending to believe that confiscating every assault rifle in existence would stop those school shootings.

Nobody ever demanded the two issues had to ride in the same boat, but once it happened I favor torpedoes to sink the ship and making sure any lifeboats carrying them don’t reach a safe harbor.   They haven’t left any room in the equation to call themselves a loyal opposition.    They are the enemy who happens to like guns and hate letting old people have a means to live.

What a lucky coincidence the same politicians who pander to gun lovers want to rob seniors of their Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Sooooo you can have my Social Security check when you pry it from my cold dead fingers,

You can have my Social Security check when you pry it from my cold dead fingers, I reckons.   Me and my kiddos who want to take your guns away and incidentally protect my livelihood are going to sink your ship.

Old Jules