Category Archives: News

Views on what’s going on in our world. More than likely I’m poking fun at one or more of the politicians or their parties.

In Defense of Drunk Drivers

There is none.

Zero.

Unless you are the rarest of alcohol abusers, there are points in your day when you are sober. And it is in those moments that you make a CHOICE to either ignore the problem or go get help.

Far too often, alcoholics rarely choose the latter.

A week ago my wife’s cousin was hit head-on by another driver who was driving drunk, or operating a vehicle impaired for those that try and make it sound as unoffensive as possible. He had apparently drank the better portion of a six-pack, either during or after leaving his job at a bar. At the accident scene, one of his empty beer cans was found on the floor of the driver’s side of his car.

According to court documents, he admitted to the ambulance crew that he had been drinking, but later denied it to the Montana Highway Patrol Trooper who interrogated him. Thankfully, his bloodshot eyes and breath gave him away. The court ordered a blood a draw at the hospital he is in (he got ejected through the windshield) because the perpetrator refused to give a sample, knowing it would give him away.

And this will be his SECOND DUI. SECOND!

This scene is recent and close to home for me, but we all know it is played out repeatedly across the country on a daily, and possibly hourly, basis. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) a person is injured every TWO MINUTES by a drunk driver.

I’m not even sure that cigarettes were killing people that fast at their height of acceptance.

Please spare me the utter garbage that society forced this cruel fate on people. That’s ignorant, stupid and a sad attempt to divert responsibility away from the people who commit this dastardly act. They are individuals who make a CHOICE. A choice to have fun – and I still don’t get the “fun” is in drinking – and put other people lives at risk, including their own.

The penalties for drunk driving are not nearly harsh enough, especially in Montana. It seems like while the laws are there, they rarely get enforced. It’s a shame. A crying shame because sooner or later the idiots who allows the laws to slide will become a victim of them down the road.

In the accident described above, the county is charging the perpetrator with Criminal Endangerment, a felony which carries a maximum 10-year sentence, $50,000 fine, or both. I hope he gets the maximum on both ends, but its likely he’ll get yet another slap on the wrists and sent home when they should put him in a cell and melt the key into the lock.

Drinking is bad, but coupling it with driving can be lethal. It almost was last Tuesday night.

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Illegal Immigrants? Follow the Money!

As Deep Throat said in “All the Presidents Men” … Follow the money.

It’s no secret that the United States has an immigration problem. People flow in and out of our borders faster than shoppers on Black Friday when Walmart opens its doors.

And the debate for the last 20+ years, especially since 911, has been how to stop them.

Granted, we there are a nefarious few that are bent on trying to hurt the United States of America. This discussion really doesn’t focus on them. While building a wall will help keep some folks out, it really won’t do much for those seeking to commit atrocities on U.S. soil.

Pew Research CenterWhat I do want to address are the immigrants, which those of Mexican descent seem to be the focus, who come into our country each year without a lot of regulation. The pew Research Center estimates that the number of illegals within our borders has stabilized at about 11 million since 2009, and that about 8 million of those are in the U.S. labor force.

The claim by those wanting to get rid of all illegals is that they are taking jobs in that U.S. citizens could have.

The claim by those who don’t want them exported is that they are doing jobs that Americans don’t want.

So how do we solve this problem?

As Deep Throat said, “Follow the money.”

It seems that if we simply beef up and rigorously enforce the laws that we already have on the books regarding the employment of those in the country illegally (Cornell University Legal Information Institute), the problem will solve itself. Let me explain…

If you read the code linked above, you’ll likely end up in a deep slumber. Suffice it to say there is a lot there that to my untrained eye seems to be fluff. But I think by shortening up the statute, cleaning up the language and making it clear that violators will be prosecuted, we can get this done.

In my view, the whole problem with illegal immigration is that the prospect of coming to America, even be it under bad working and living conditions, is evidently still better than living in their own country. If that’s the case, we need to take away the reasons for their reason for being here: a.k.a. The Money.

With that said, here is my proposal:

  • Establish a uniform I.D Card for American Citizens – This will alleviate some of the issues currently Hiring Employeesexperienced by states that have not yet met the requirements of the Real ID Act. It can even have electronic attachments to it like your state of residence, whether you can drive a car, motorcycle or none of the above and if you’re an organ donor. Oh yeah, if you have a criminal record that would be on there as well.
  • Impose a financial penalty for hiring someone who is not in country legally – For some places like Walmart and Target, fining them something like $10,000 would be the equivalent of hitting a star baseball player with a $10,000 fine for using a corked bat. It looks good to the public, but when they guy makes $20 million a year, it just doesn’t hurt. So the fine for hiring a non-citizen of the United States would 10% of the company’s gross earnings.
  • Impose a jail sentence for hiring a non-citizen – This is where it would get real for people. The jail sentence would be 2 years with no probation for the company’s CEO/Owner and anyone who helped facilitate the hire. If they are found to have done it knowingly and attempted to cover it up, the fine and the jail time automatically double.
  • All employment records are cross-checked with employee tax returns – It’s the computer age. If my son can play something like Call of Duty across the world wide web with a few dozen people, this should be easy pickins. But this allows businesses to prove that they people that they say are working for them actually do. And all of these records are made public, so everyone can see who’s doing it right and who is not.

This means that the United States needs to start talking to each other electronically. It means that people need to be verified BEFORE they start working for you, whether it be on Wall St. as a trader or on Maple St. as a day-laborer building your new deck. It means that people will have to be – Heaven forbid – responsible for what they do.

I know, I’m such a bastard.

The creation of a singular ID card for citizens will also be immensely helpful in other areas like voting and healthcare. If you walk into vote during an election and you don’t have a card, then you don’t vote. Same with health care. I know that seems harsh, and there will be some very unique exceptions, but while the United States is a charitable nation, we need to make that decision in our homes and offices and not because someone just decided to come here and get something for nothing.

Now I’ve heard the argument before that requiring ID to vote will prevent some folks from voting. Sorry, but that’s just ignorant. We’re not charging for this card, you get it when you prove you’re a citizen of the United States. It gives you access, it doesn’t take it away. And it would give those with it in their possession preference over those that do not have it.

Without a source of income and healthcare, illegals will find living here a lot tougher. They will clearly have more options and opportunities in their home country then they would here when they enter the U.S. illegally.

Building a wall? Decent P.R. move but poor execution.

If you really want to get illegals to leave and not have some gigantic police state where actual citizens are getting tossed over the border by mistake, you have to take away their reason for being here.

No money, no reason to be here.

An Open Letter to the Electoral College

To the 538 members of the Electoral College of the United States of America,

It has been an unprecedented time in the history of our country, one that has seen many strange, wonderful and awful things happen. We are a nation divided, regardless of what some may tell us. We are divided by age, political affiliation and sexual orientation to name just a few. And sadly, we still have a significant division of race.

But in a time when such divisions exist and appear to be growing, it is my opinion that the last thing we need is an administration that apparently seeks to divide even further.

It is with that primary thought in mind that I ask you to consider taking an historic leap of courage and to not elect Donald President when you meet next week.

Hamilton QuoteWe are getting a daily glimpse into what his administration will be like. Donald Trump is a man who has sought to take the powerful governmental position on earth, and yet can’t make time for a daily intelligence briefing and who would rather spend tax payer dollars by commuting to work between New York and Washington D.C. He is a man who does not wish to fully commit to his role as the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, still wishing to retain his position as the executive producer of a second-rate television show.

His appointments are showing him to be a man who is regularly selecting people to head state agencies that have been thoroughly abusive and negligent of those same laws in the past. And for others, he has sought out people who hold racist beliefs and ideals that do not reflect those of the greater population of the United States.

Your vote is the last, best defense we have against the powers that would seek to only to drive a wedge further between us, dividing our nation so it is easier to control. That is not the America that I live in and it is certainly not the nation that our founding fathers envisioned.

In the days since this post was published, it is now clear that the election was significantly influenced by the Russian government and their success in hacking various computer systems. Is that really how we want our president chosen?

Today, I implore you to take a step the ideals that once made America great; To stand for truth, to stand with the immigrant and to stand those who struggle to make ends meet every day.

I realize that taking such a stand will not come without a cost. I know that if you take that stand that I am putting forth, that members of your own party will mock and shame you, not to mention your family and friends. Those forces will rage and threaten, and they will be wrong and shown to the world for the charlatans they truly are.

But America was not forged by men and women who sought the easier path. They counted the cost, they made the sacrifices and despite being called ‘traitor’ by those in the homeland, the withstood the storm and are now revered heroes of the United States of America.

Stand with the likes of Washington, Jefferson and Franklin; stand with Lincoln, Parks and King. When you cast your ballot on December 19, 2016, stand with America and more than 74 million of your fellow citizens who do not want the kind of leadership that Donald Trump seeks to offer.

Do the right thing, not the convenient one.

All but one

Last Friday night I stood on the sidelines of the Granite High School football field awaiting the start of the game between Flint Creek and Charlo. Vikings fans seemed at ease and ready to play as they talked about their chances in the contest. I’m sure Titans fans did much the same on the opposite side of the field.

When the announcer came on the public address system, he welcomed everyone to the field and then asked that everyone rise for the national anthem. Everyone did.

Everyone … except one.

But this man wasn’t protesting or trying to make a statement. He was handicapped.

He sat as straight and tall as his body would allow. But for him, standing wasn’t an option. So he did the best he could with what he had to honor flag and country.

Colin KaepernickI have to admit that I’ve had a hard time with the protests that San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick started during the NFL preseason. In my view, I don’t see Kaepernick truly drawing attention to the issue which he claims to be so passionate about. The ONLY discussion I hear being had is whether or not he has the right protest in the manner he’s chosen. His cause of black oppression in the United States is rarely mention and lost in the noise of people offended by his actions.

My problem with Kaepernick is that he has shown very little “skin in the game”. Last week Kaepernick said he would donate the proceeds from his jersey sales (which are currently soaring) to charity. Which charity he failed to state. But as of late August, Kaepernick had made zero donations to Black Lives Matter or any other such cause. He has not stated plans to start any such organization himself or become part of one that already exists.

Personally I find Kaepernick to be the chicken in the old joke about who was more involved in breakfast. The chicken contributed to the meal, but the pig was completely invested in it.

I was dismayed when I initially heard that the Seattle Seahawks were going to act as a team and not stand during the National Anthem during their season opener Sunday against Miami. But evidently calmer heads prevailed, coming up with the idea to remain standing and interlocking arms to show their support.

I think that decision showed the proper respect for everyone involved.

Let’s hope others take note.

The real question of Kaepernick’s dedication to the cause he has expressed interest in is when his career in the NFL ends. Anyone who follows the league knows that it won’t be long before he is off the 49ers roster. And his performance in the last few years won’t likely get him a spot on another team. And if that’s the case, then you just have to wonder what his next move is?

If the contract goes away, will his fiancé leave him? They were engaged just a few months before these shenanigans and is a devout Muslim and Black Lives activist.

Will he join a cause and back up his sit down with a stand up attitude?

Will he create his own movement if one doesn’t really address his cause? Heaven knows with a net worth of around $100 million, he should be able to manage something.

Or will he just be the spoiled little rich guy and fade into the shadows never to be heard from again, except for possibly a brief mention on Sports Center for some misguided action.

Only time will tell just how committed Colin Kaepernick really is. I’d like to hope that it is more than what we are seeing now, which isn’t saying a lot.

FOXNews and the Lesser of Two Evils

A time is quickly coming when FOXNews – or as I prefer to refer to them FAUX”News” – will have to make a choice. And that choice will likely determine the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.

FoxNews LogoDon’t get me wrong, I think FOXNews played a huge role in 2012. It was their stonewall defense of Mitt Romney and some of his ludicrous statements that allowed a whole host of GOP voters to be completely blindsided when Barack Obama won in a veritable landslide, at least by today’s standards. The Republicans were so sure that they were going to win, that any victory by the Democrats looked huge.

But now FOXNews is faced with a real dilemma. It’s time to put their well-lined wallets where their mouths are.

On one hand they have an pretty popular candidate in Donald Trump. The Donald seems to be able to say pretty much whatever he wants, only to have his poll numbers continue to go up. The problem is, a lot of what he says flies right in the face of the GOP baseline.

On the other, they have a field of remaining candidates that are about as popular as a booger on a wedding dress. Ben Carson is about the most electable of the bunch, but even he has perception issues with the public due to his apparent lack of energy and his belief in things such as the pyramids being created to store grain.

Really?

And if it’s not Carson, it’s Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Carley Fiorina, none of which are remotely electable.

So who do they back? At some point FOXNews has to help the GOP whittle down the field and who they choose to back could very well determine Republican fates come next November.

Donald TrumpIf they back Trump, they must accept a candidate that (A) they cannot control, (B) doesn’t share their views and (C) doesn’t give a rip if he pisses them or anyone else off.

They back anyone but Trump, it’s very likely that The Donald will pull a Sarah Palin and go rogue, splitting off his candidacy into a third-party arc and sucking off more than enough votes to literally hand the White House to the Democratic candidate in an actual landslide.

Republicans loved Trump when he started out because he said whatever he wanted and wasn’t a Washington insider. But now that he has called out a few of their own and gone off the rails on people groups like Muslims and Hispanics, they seem almost scared to admit that he may be their only shot at winning the election.

The lesson?

It’s an age old one – Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it.

A Little Slight of Hand

We are nothing more than a fluttering piece of paper…

When I was in college I knew a guy named Dave who, prior to attending our school, had become one of the most renown young magicians in Canada. He once performed for a dinner/dance we had and did the old tear-the-newspaper-without-tearing-it and pour-the-milk-into-the-newspaper-cone routines. As he tore the paper up, a few pieces of paper fell to the floor. And has he reached for them, it was apparent that Dave was struggling. His trick wasn’t going as planned.

Or so it seemed.

Dave eventually pulled off the illusions to roaring applause. Later as he stood next to me in the sound booth, I leaned over and whispered, “Man I thought you going to die up there. When you dropped that paper I thought the whole thing was going to fall apart.”

He leaned back to me and said, “Tim, when you’re watching that paper falling, you’re not seeing what else I’m doing.” He gave me a wry smile and I knew that I and my classmates had been bamboozled!

When it comes to politics people, we are way to busy watching those pieces of paper.

It the last few days I have come to realize that there is, in my opinion, a better than average chance that the government may have invented social media. That Mark Zuckerberg may actually be the best weapon the Feds have ever had to control the masses.

How did I come to that solution? Follow me here…

The claim by those on either side of the party lines is that the government is trying to take something away from us. The political right would have you believe that we need to arm ourselves beyond measure to stave off the government when they come to take us away. The left, well they’d have you believe that Washington wants all women to die in dirty hospitals south of the border because they won’t fund Planned Parenthood.

Neither are true.

If the government really wanted you dead, they’d get you before you ever saw it coming. A drone or smart bomb would leave a gaping hole in the planet where you were sleeping. And if they really wanted to kill off women and their unborn babies, well there are a lot easier ways to go about it than through something so grossly obvious as abortion.

And there are literally hundreds of issues just like those two. Mass killings, taxes, emails, foreign policy, banking fraud …

The truth is all of these issues get batted around endlessly on social media and rarely, if ever, does anyone offer a solution much less find one. The government even keeps a healthy facade of having no interest in working with other so that whatever side we’ve chosen, that we blame the other.

And all the while, they merrily keep chugging along year after year, do the same thing over and over. The names and and places change, but the game always remains the same.

It’s a slight of hand that makes my buddy Dave’s milk trick, or anything ever conceived of by David Copperfield, pale in comparison.

See, by getting us, the general public, to focus our attention in the wrong place the government can pull all the shenanigans it wants. And what’s more, it does so right in front of our eyes.

While watching a show called “Brain Games” I found a remarkable gentleman named Apollo Robbins. You could call him a magician, illusionist or even a con man, but in the clip below he clearly explains what I believe the government is doing to us.

See, when we fight and bicker on sites like Facebook & Twitter, we are going at each other. We’re engaging our “Frank” as Apollo calls him with things that do not matter and that we cannot change.

We all do it. We whine, bitch, moan and complain. We call each other names and divide ourselves. We sap the very strength that made this nation great at its outset – Unity.

Consider these numbers:

  • There are 540 members in Congress (435 voting members in the House of Representatives, 100 members in the Senate, and 5 delegates)
  • There are 9 Supreme Court Justices
  • There is one President.

These 550 people decide how we live our lives on a national stage. Toss in maybe 1,500 more for state governors, lieutenant governors and various county reps and state supreme court judges and we have approximately 2,000 people running the whole show.

We get all excited and angry about the “1 percenters” or even the 1 percent of the 1 percenters”, but even they amount to more than 319,000 people out of 391.9 million people. And while their extreme wealth may grease the wheels, the 2,000 state and federal representatives still have to answer the call and make the decisions that shape our lives. They still have to take the bait. They are a mere %0.000625 of the population, and yet they are getting paid, both over and under the table, are free from any law they pass while getting free life-time health care and retirement. Personal body guards included.

For all of the bluster and bustle that goes on during campaign season of “I’m gonna do this” and “We’re gonna do that”, how much of it ever really gets done? Hell, how much of it ever gets started?

And all the while we sit at our terminals and on our smart phones and tablets, talking to friends that we have known for years, sometimes decades, calling them names, casting aspersions and frequently saying things that leave those relations irreparably damaged and changed.

We keep fighting over everything that they – the government – want us to see. All the while plucking our money, our dignity and lives out form under us, right in front of our noses.

Forget everything and focus on just one thing.

Forget the political differences.

Forget the racial differences.

Forget the religious differences.

Forget the sexual or lifestyle differences.

Forget your stance on on topics like guns, abortion and school immunizations.

Focus on just one thing – your government.

If they are not doing what you, a citizen of the United States wants done, then get up and vote them out. Or, in the unlikely circumstance that they are doing what you want, make sure you vote them back in.

Do not try to convince, coerce or influence anyone to do anything other than to vote their conscience and their values. Help them learn how to register. Drive them to the polls if you have to. But just let them make whatever decision they want to make as long as they vote.

And on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, stop trying to be right. I challenge you for a month to never respond to a socially or politically charged topic unless you have a well thought out solution to offer. Don’t challenge someone else and their solution, but rather ask questions like “How to you plan to fund that?” or “How will you implement that?”

The only other reason to respond is if the post they are making is factually wrong.

Do that and you might find that aside from weird cat GIFs and pictures of your family doing rather embarrassing stuff, social media might get awful quiet for those 30 days.

And if it does, that’s when you can almost bet some unexplained bombshell will drop because the last thing the boys and girls on Capitol Hill want are for you to start looking at them in earnest. They’ll be scared you’re starting to figure out their game. And that ever happens, they’ll likely have hell to pay … literally.

Hyperbole – The Weapon of Mass Dysfunction

People, before you spout off at the mouth on something, check your facts. You expect your 11-year-old to do it on their big report, so be the example and do it yourself.

We’ll use the recent ruffle caused by the Confederate Flag being taken down at the state house in South Carolina.

Picture from ABC News

Picture from ABC News

The prevailing rhetoric is that some part of our heritage and rights are being stripped away because of it’s removal – not only from the state house but from stores around the country. Folks, these are two very different things.

First, if you think we ought to be flying the Confederate flag because of it’s involvement in the Civil War, because their ancestors fought and died for the Confederacy, fine. But if we’re going there then we must include the flags of France, Germany and Great Britain on every government building as well. All of those countries had people that fought and died on American soil during the American Revolution.

And yes, like the Confederacy, Great Britain was on the losing side. Just as the Confederacy fought to maintain an economic system based on human enslavement, the English fought to stop us from leaving their control so they could continue to receive taxes without any form of representation in government.

We don’t fly those flags because we are the United States of America.

We are not part of Great Britain, France or Germany.

And we are not part of the Confederate States of America. They no longer exist after their very brief existence.

As a government, we fly OUR flag, not the flag of countries we beat. This isn’t the Olympics where the top three finishers get recognized. It’s OUR land, OUR country and we fly OUR Flag. No other country on this planet flies the flag of a regime that lost power. Don’t believe me, go ask a German about how much they’d like to see the swastika on one of their government buildings.

Prepare for a verbal slap down worse than dropping an “F-Bomb” right in front of your mother at a family gathering.

The Confederate flag and it’s associated memorabilia belongs in a museum or private collection. Hell, have one in your home or hang it in your backyard. But these items should be kept as a reminder of a time when a group attempted to divide our nation for profit and comfort. Spout all the states rights junk you want, the right they were most concerned about was being able to continue making money off the backs of their slaves.

Not much unlike corporate America today. But that’s for another post…

Now on to Point #2…

Stop spouting this nonsensical crap that your rights are being infringed upon or taken away, that your heritage is being ripped from you or that this is all some liberal plot to take down the country.

It’s a lie.

It’s a lie you tell yourself and others so you can get your way and stay in your comfort zone.

And don’t throw the blame on Walmart, TVLand or anyone else. They CHOSE to not be associated with the emblem of the Confederacy because they CHOSE not to be associated with a symbol of hate and bigotry. I’m sure profits played a much larger part, but there may have been a sliver of humanity in there somewhere.

At the end of this blog post there is a place for commentary. If you want to post in opposition to this post, this time around I am requiring you do it with FACTS. If you post some more of your pathetic rhetoric without some kind of link to law and proof that takes away your right to own and display the flag of a failed attempt to destroy this country, I will simply delete it.

I believe in free speech and open debate, but not without responsibility. Not this time.

If you want to have the Confederate flag and other such relics in your home, go for it. But be aware that while you may try and explain away what it means to you, that to the majority of Americans – and especially those of color – that the Confederacy stands for racial hate and a justification for profit based on a mentality of “I’m better than you because I’m white.”

In closing, what I find interesting about this whole debate is that I could go right back through this post and substitute all the rhetoric about gay marriage by Christians for the Confederacy and it would still all hold true. Grow up people, it’s time to get over yourselves.

Not Even Close

Religion (as defined by Meriam Webster)

1 a :  the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion>

   b (1) :  the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) :  commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 :  a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic :  scrupulous conformity :  conscientiousness
4 :  a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

Watch that definition very closely, because it’s about to be changed.

Indiana’s new “religious liberty” law is anything but, essentially giving people carte blanche to discriminate againstReligious_Freedom-09cbc anyone if they don’t lineup with their personal beliefs. The law has, in essence, created personalized police state that allows any individual to be judge, jury and executioner if someone disagrees with them.

The law, signed into action my Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R), allows businesses to deny business to anyone who doesn’t fit into their personal set of beliefs. Notice I said beliefs and not religion, because it is in that fourth line of the definition that this law will find it’s doom – assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t strike it down before the ink dries.

And if you think I’m wrong, then you’ve never been in Indiana during basketball season as an opponent.

An article in The Daily Grind from March 28 relates how an Indiana business owner named Ryan called into 100.9 RadioNOW and professed his support of the new law, stating that he freely discriminated against the LGBT community. I’d love to tell you the man’s last name or that of his business, but he refused to give them.

Before I get into what I believe are the Christian ramifications of this law, let’s take a brief look at this particular business owners actions:

  1. Ryan (the business owner) thinks discriminating against the LGBT community because they are in sin is OK. Let’s run with that for a moment. I wonder if Ryan remembers the time before he was a Christian? You know, when he was a sinner. I wonder if he would have been OK with people discriminating against him then? And will he be OK when he walks into a place owned by someone in the LGBT community and they kindly tell him to get out because he doesn’t match up with their beliefs? Or would he be even more surprised to enjoy an excellent meal, only to have the owners tell him where he had been eating afterwards?
  2. Ryan’s personal convictions are so weak that after “bravely” calling the radio station to spout his nonsensical rhetoric and boast of his “religious” stance, he won’t tell the station his last name or what his business’ name or location is. Wow! What moral conviction! Plus he gets free air time and missed a chance at a major plug that, as we now see, would have gone nationwide. This guy is clearly a marketing genius too.
  3. Ryan’s faith is such (I will call it outright fake, cheap at best) that instead of telling people why he is discriminating against them, he lies to them. So not standing up for his ‘faith’ aside, that commandment about bearing false witness goes right out the window too.
  4. And assuming his has any measure of actual faith in him, when Ryan has people that he believes are in sin in his business, he ignores the one commission Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19-20, saying “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” I wonder if Ryan knows that Jesus came to earth and hung out exclusively with the sinners of the day, eating with them and ministering to them? I mean the only “quality” time that Jesus spent with the religious leaders of the day, they were in the process of trying to kill Him.

Christians are split on this matter and I feel it’s due to a concern about what they will have to give up in order to allow people who are not of their faith make a decision about Christ. What would they be giving up – the safety of their personal religious cocoon – the one Christ never intended us to have.

I have a friend named Greg who I have known since kindergarten. As the electronic age has come upon us and the miles between us have grown, Greg and I have taken to debating a number of issues through social media. We usually focus on politics and religion, so you can only guess that this new law was hotly debated just a few days ago.

Some Christians view the mere act of serving someone not of their faith as denying Christ and participating in that customer’s sin. For example, if you were a caterer and baked a gay couple a cake or food, that that constitutes taking part in their ceremony. Another might be a photographer taking pictures of that same wedding.

Others, like myself, think that it would require more than just providing the service. So in the case of caterer, I don’t wedding-cake-ideasfind an issue with a Christian baking a cake for a gay wedding or even serving the food, for that matter. But if they wanted me to serve it some plate with sexually suggestive images on it or wanted the cake to look like a phallic symbol, then I’m not the caterer for them. Likewise, as a photographer I’d have no issue taking the various images that you normally take at a wedding, including what are sure to be variances due to a couple being both men or both women. But if those images were to include anything suggestive, I’d have to tell that those are services my business does not provide.

The Apostle Paul clearly spoke to this matter in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Verses 20 and 21 are the keys as I see it. Verse 20 addresses those that are under the law (those of Jewish faith) and that we should become as though we under that law, even though we are not. The Jews are the extreme opposite of the LGBT community, adhering to laws and rules that we, as Christians, think were done away with by Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.

Verse 21 goes to the opposite end of the spectrum, saying that to those without any law we should also become like them – even though we are still under the law of God.

And that may be the sticking point. Just like when you were dating and minded all of the Ps and Qs you would later forget about after you got married, following the law of the Jews is easy for a short time to try and show them the salvation of Christ as we know it. But where do you draw the line going the other way?

Over the years I have made a number of friends who are gay and even have one family member who has expressed an interest in that lifestyle. We eat, we hang out, we do things together. But when it comes down to things like affection, we give a friendly hug and that’s it. When it comes time to eat, I say a prayer over my food quietly while they usually start chowing down.

See, what I think Christians today are forgetting is that becoming a Christian is a choice. God doesn’t force it on us, nor does He want to. God wants you to be under his guidance, care and discipline because we choose to be, not because we have to. And it is that choice, one that every Christian has to make (and no, you are not born into Christianity. But that’s a topic for another post) that they seem to forget that were allowed to make by God Himself. And it is a decision that, for some strange reason, they don’t want to let anyone else make for themselves.

If a person of the LGBT community coming into your business and buying a sandwich or a shirt is that threatening to your Christianity, then your faith isn’t worth a plug nickle. If all it takes is the mere presence of sin in someone else – and believe me, there is still sin in every Christian because none of us are perfect. NONE of us! – to throw you off track, then you better close your business, go home and plant your nose in your Bible and prayer 24/7.

God wants us in the world. He needs us in the world. We are His hands and feet, carrying the gospel to all of the lost, not just the people that we’re OK sharing it with.

In a time when the forces of the day were openly giving letters of authority to hunt down and kill Christians, God called the worst offender of them all to his ministry to preach His word. He preached it to the people of that time and to millions since.

His name was Paul.

Christ broke down all of the Christian faith into two commandments and one commission. The commission we covered above, but the first commandment is to love God with everything you have. The second was like it and was to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Notice is doesn’t say “fellow Christian” or “like believer”, it says neighbor. Your neighbor may be a Christian, or they may be gay, or lesbian or even worse in Indiana – a Michigan fan.

And finally, if you think that discriminating against the LGBT community is OK and a righteous thing to do, then I’m sure you’ll be just fine with it when they turn the tables on people of faith. Don’t think it will happen? Maybe you should take a gander at the book of Revelations:

It (the second beast) also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.” ~ Revelations 13:16-17

As Christians, I do not believe that we are afforded the luxury of ignoring the masses that do not share our faith. Christ’s Great Commission requires us to be in the world, but not of the world. It’s the only way that we can reach the lost. It was the only way that any Christian was ever reached with the Gospel.

I’m going to include links to two songs that I feel are very germane to the topic at hand. The first is from Steve Taylor and speaks to doing business with people who do not share our Christian faith. The second is from Petra and speaks to a Christians desire to sit safely inside their church, never reaching out to world around us.

 

A Few Questions for “The Interview”

OK, I’m tossing this theory out there. Believe me, I know it’s a long shot and pretty unlikely. But when I think of the myriad of other things that have happened over the years that were scams or just unbelievable things that individuals/companies have done, this one looks like one of the more mild ones. So here goes …

What if the whole thing with “The Interview” was a planned publicity stunt?interview_tout_large

Grab some cookies and milk. This is gonna take a while.

You have a movie that, by normal standards, was getting OK reviews in advance of its Christmas Day opening and the whole debacle with the North Koreans. And even after it’s showing online and at some 300 theaters across the U.S., it’s still pretty mixed.

“The Interview” cost $44 million to make, which is roughly equivalent to what it’s competition – “Unbroken” ($15.59 million), “Into The Woods” ($15.08 million) and the two-week old “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” (#13.14 million) – made in a DAY. Toss in “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” ($7.35 million) and “The Gambler” ($5 million) and there wasn’t going to be much of a box office left for Seth Rogen and James Franco to get a piece of. And with at least the top four movies in that list with significant staying power, “The Interview” was just never going to make a ton of money any time soon.

So, we have a so-so movie scheduled to open on a very powerful weekend. Not a good mix from the get go.

Then we have Franco and Rogen. Neither are Hollywood elites and generally make second-tier movies that make some money, but not a bunch. And neither is anything like the traditional stars we all know and love. Rogen is generally considered a bit of a loose cannon, and there always seems to be an inference that he is “on something.” Franco is a multi-talented guy who is always trying something new, and who loves a good joke.

And so here we are: Sony pushing a marginal flick with a pair of stars who just might go along with a gag like this if would help the film make money.

Yeah, I know. It seems too farfetched, too insane and just flat out crazy.

But let’s assume for a moment that a meeting was held in some shadowy back office at Sony one night with just a handful of players involved. What might the reasoning have been to try and pull the wool over the world’s eyes?

I can’t have that? Gimme 12 of ’em!

Let’s start with the outrage. I mean, aside from Denis Rodman, who really has a whole lot good to say about North Korea to begin with? We already know that Kim Jong-un is certifiable, recently proclaiming that no children born in his country may share his name and that those who already do must change it. He has made it clear he has no love for America, but has little armament to do much about it, and so he becomes the perfect patsy.

But think about Jong-un’s ego for just a second. If he and North Korea really had been able to hack Sony’s system, doesn’t he seem like the kind of guy who would brag about it endlessly? Much like the Klingon empire, he rules by showing his superiority over another nation to his people. It seems to me that he would have much to gain by claiming this accomplishment as his own and playing the heck out of it in front of his population, not to mention the world.

So with a hated rival apparently stopping the release of this movie, American’s felt outrage. “How dare you tell us what we can and cannot watch! Why, we’ll go see this now even if we weren’t going to before!” A Dec. 22 story on Wired.com stated that the ratings people are giving the film (mostly people who haven’t seen it) are summed up in this way, “By giving The Interview glowing reviews, the thinking goes, those making the threat will hear loud and clear that the people support this movie and will not buckle to terrorists.”

Yeah, there we go. Invoke a little 911 terrorist backlash sentiment and we get a few more people to show up for a film that they might never have seen, much less rented.

Read All About It!

Interview Bad-Press-PublicityThere is no such thing as bad publicity (Succès de scandale), or so they saying goes. As stated previously, the reviews for “The Interview” were mixed. And like any good American company, Sony can’t afford to have one of its products sit around forever attempting to recoup its original $44 million cost. They are about making money, not breaking even.

So the reasoning might have been that if “The Interview” was going to be a financial stinker anyways, why not take a shot and see if it can do something that no other movie has – debut successfully online.

Assuming the hack was faked, Sony’s stunt did cause a bunch of regular theaters to jump ship at the first sign of terrorist threats. Threats, mind you, that the Department of Homeland Security could never verify. According to Slashfilm.com, “… the Department of Homeland Security says there’s no credible info to indicate an actual threat. (to theaters)”

So with most theaters out of the loop, Sony stands to make more money from the film by not having to split it them.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul.

Movies are costing more and more for the public to see, and that’s an issue for … well … the public. Sony may have come up with an idea years ago and “The Interview” may have provided the perfect testing ground for it.

Sony is big into electronics. Duh! And while they do great at movies, they do immensely better in what they’ve been doing for years – electronics. So why not try and corner the market by providing the buying public with both?

“The Interview”, which did draw over $1 million in just 300+ theaters and that could be streamed online through limited outlets, could be Sony’s test case for releasing movies straight to services like Netflix, YouTube Movies and GooglePlay in the future. Why go through all the hassle of theaters and them taking a cut when you can go straight to the consumer? And who’s to say that Sony couldn’t just make its own home entertainment network more accessible and just release them there?

But if Sony can convince movie lovers that there’s nothing better than seeing a movie in the comfort of their own home – which they do a pretty good job of already – then they already have a foot jammed further in the door to sell them more high-end equipment to create their own home theater experience.

Yeah, it sounds crazy. Crazy like a fox.

Does the jury have a verdict?

So one argument I hear over and over are the lawsuits that are being filed against Sony for not protecting the personal information of its workers in the hack by the Guardians of Peace (GOP). OK, maybe so. Can someone provide me a list of Sony Workers so we can we verify that they are, in fact, actually employed at Sony? Or even exist at all.

Look, I know it’s a reach. But if this is playing out like some bizarre Hollywood script – about as crazy as a talk show host being asked to assassinate the leader of North Korea – then disseminating the names of a bunch of fake people and all of their fake personal data is well within the realm of possibility.

So, two hackers walk into a bar…

Want to hear something funny, try the generous message from the GOP to Sony employees about the potential release of their personal data:

“Message to SPE Staffers,” it read. “We have a plan to release emails and privacy of the Sony Pictures employees. If you don’t want your privacy to be released, tell us your name and business title to take off your data.” (NYPost.com)

Employees working in a call centerI have to be honest here, I get a little perturbed when I have to reset the password for one of the people on our church staff of 11, because it escapes me how they forget their email password and don’t just have the browser remember it. But the GOP, the guys who slithered their way through Sony’s digital security, seem more than happy to sort through almost 141,000 names to make sure that one person’s data won’t be released if they just “drop them a line.”

Try getting that kind of service from your typical bill collector or telemarketer.

What’s good for the goose…

Since the government got involved in the hack, Sony could face some pretty stern discussions with members of the House and Senate if this is all a fake. Heck, they may even get called befor a subcommittee or Homeland Security and get asked “What the hell were you thinking?”

So what’s the government going to do? Close Sony down? Fine them into oblivion?

Doubtful.

Ford Automotive, one of the car manufacturers that got part of the $80 billion bailout in 2009, employees roughly 180,000 people. If they are too big to lose, then why would a company that essentially pulled an oversized prank get a worse punishment? The government is stupid, but not that stupid … especially with an election year looming on the horizon.

How well would it go with the younger crowd if you’re the senator who killed “Paul Blart 2”?

Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up.

As a result of the ‘hack’, Sony had approximately 50 scripts released for various movies. (BGR.com) Thirty of these were for films that were already released.

Interview TalladegaSo, exactly when was the last time you saw a great movie and suddenly ravaged your Google search engine looking for its script? If you have, then you seriously need to move out of your parent’s basement.

Oh, and none of the already released movies were anything of note. Unless of course your local theater group is hoping to do a stage production of “Talladega Nights” or one of the first two “Smurfs” movies.

Of the 20 that have not been released, there’s nothing earth-shattering about the titles either. “Annie” and “When the Game Stands Tall” have already opened, so now it’s an 18-32 split. Of the remaining flicks, we all know pretty much how every “Paul Blart” movie is going to go, with a few pratfalls that we may not have seen coming. But getting the scripts for stuff like “Little House on the Prairie” or “Smurfs 3” (yeah, it’s a trilogy now just like “The Matrix” and “Ironman”) is not going to break anyone’s bank.

And again, who is going to be checking these scripts word for word when these movies are released? If this is you, it’s just another reason to get out of your parent’s basement.

You’ve got mail.

So the basic crime here is that some executives had some emails published that were less than favorable reviews of some of their stars. Let’s face it, as far as this goes it’s pretty slim pickins. We all know that stars think they are end-all-be-all of the world, while execs believe the world could spin on its axis without them at the helm. Neither party likes the other and I’m fairly sure that if they started publishing the emails of various stars, none of them would be too flattering about the execs either.

Toss in what films cost, discussions on luncheons and tennis matches and the budget for the Motion Picture Association of America and you have the equivalent of most folk’s spam folders.

This one’s a wash at best.

Push *#62##7*3 For Customer Support

Interview FBI The Feds were able to trace the cyber attack, with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers stating that he was “fairly confident” that North Korea was involved. (Deadline.com) But today (Dec. 27) FoxNews.com released a story where critics have a number of more likely theories on who hacked Sony, on e of which was a Sony employee.

And North Korea’s infrastructure is looking less and less likely to be the source of the hack. It has just over 1,000 IP addresses, one ISP (Star Joint Venture Co. and is used almost solely by the government. Sounds like Kim Jong-un and his crew barely have enough power to run a Roomba, much less try and hack Sony.

That’s a wrap everybody!

In the end, I’m finding a lot more reasons to believe that this whole thing is a giant publicity stunt than one would think. Yes, it would take incredible daring and gall to pull off, but if it is and if they did do it, the rewards could be almost unimaginable.

Almost as much as two bungling TV personalities actually killing the dictator of a third-world country.

Sources: Forbes.com, USMagazine.com, Wired.com, Wikipedia.com, NYPost.com, BGR.com, Nola.com and others listed in story.

The Injustice of Michael Brown

As Joe Friday would say, “Just give me the facts mam.”

It’s time that we do away with the misplaced anger, frustration and sorrow in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Those things, mixed in with a lot of lies and rhetoric, are making for a bad mix of emotions that only serve to cloud the truth and widen a racial gap that it has taken so many years to narrow.

It’s time to focus on what’s real, period.

In lieu of laying out the points piece by piece here, I would ask you to link to a great visual reenactment of the entire episode by the Washington Post. It is extremely clear and very well done.

Micahel Brown WP Recreation

Washington Post

In summary, the facts are these:

  • Michael Brown was a criminal.
  • Michael Brown refused direction by an officer of the law.
  • Michael Brown initiated a confrontation with an officer of the law inside the officer’s patrol car, attempting to get his weapon.
  • After turning to run, Brown turned back around and made a second attack on the officer.
  • The officer shot Brown when he refused to get down on the ground, again refusing to obey an officer’s orders, this time in a heated situation with the officer’s gun drawn.

This incident had nothing to do with race or racism, and those using that as an excuse are only doing so to fuel their own racism and hatred of others.

This incident is was all about an officer recognizing that two suspects fit a description from a previous robbery and him attempting to apprehend those criminals as he saw them on the street.

This incident is all about a young man making a decision to defy authority by committing robbery, disregarding an officer’s instructions and then trying to relieve and officer of his weapon. And there is no doubt is most people’s minds that had Brown been able to obtain that weapon that officer Wilson would be dead today, with Brown still roaming the streets.

But what lies at the true heart of the death of Michael Brown is that his parents are truly the ones at fault here. They claim to be victims and that their son was wrongly taken form them. The truth of the matter is that they didn’t do their job in raising their son. They didn’t teach him respect for them, for other adults and certainly not for authority figures like Officer Wilson.

It’s been apparent over the last few decades that there is a laissez-faire attitude about parenting taken by a larger number of folks. It’s almost like a bunch of people decided to have kids and then suddenly realized they were too much work to care for. It’s almost as if they just decided, “Oh, they’ll figure out how to be good people.”

In shirking their responsibility to raise their kids and teach them right from wrong, they have created a class of people who think they are entitled to do whatever they like, wherever they like whenever they like. They feel the world somehow owes them something for just being here. It’s the way a child thinks.

News Flash Kids – The world owes you nothing.

If these kids want to be angry at someone for the situation they’re in, direct them back to their parents. Parents are responsible for their kids know and how they react in various situations. Yes, as they get older people will eventually make their own decisions. But as they grow they will form the base for how they make decisions and that is a parent’s responsibility.

The riots and feelings of race inequality are the fault of a few leaders who persist on pushing this incident as one of color and race. Idiots like Chris Rock keep claiming it was a white cop killing a black kid. Yeah, statistically that is correct. But color had NOTHING to do with WHY Michael Brown is dead.

Michael Brown is dead because he chose a life of crime and was met with the most unfortunate of consequences that that lifestyle affords – Death. And it is unfortunate because we know that in some cases, people who have chosen that lifestyle have been able to overcome the pathetic efforts of those that parented them and rise above it to become more. Michael Brown was not afforded that chance not because of Officer Wilson’s bullets, but because of the lack of parenting his mother and father gave him.

Dr. Martin Luther King

Dr. Martin Luther King

Dr. Martin Luther King hoped for a day when his children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Michael Brown’s character was severely lacking because of his parents.

Until leaders in the communities of color stand up and stop pleading for their followers to stop rioting and start stating plainly that this was not a crime of race and admit that Michael Brown was a criminal and was justly killed because of his own actions, nothing will get better. The gap between the races will get bigger again and the gap between the less fortunate and authority figures will get bigger again.

Until the absolute truth is told and repeated without hesitation, the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King can never be realized in full.

“I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama … will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.” ~ MLK, “I Have A Dream”, August 23, 1963.

 

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