Thursday, December 29, 2016

Important New Book: Women Beyond Belief

When I read a book that I think my readers will enjoy and benefit from, I like to share the good news. "Women Beyond Belief" is one of those books.

Karen L. Garst has compiled twenty-two essays into a book entitled “Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life without Religion,” which can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and bookstores. Dr. Garst became incensed when the U. S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby in 2014. This decision said that because of its religious views, Hobby Lobby, a craft store, would not be obligated to follow the dictates of the Affordable Care Act and provide certain forms of birth control to its employees. “Will we never end the fight for women’s reproductive rights?” Garst stated. Once again, religion has influenced the laws of our land. Politicians cite their religion in supporting restrictions on abortion, banning funding for Planned Parenthood, and a host of other issues that are against women.

 The mainstays of the modern atheist movement - Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett - came with backgrounds in science and philosophy. They launched a renewed effort to show people how destructive religion can be and how all Abrahamic religions are based upon a late Bronze Age / Iron Age mythology, borrowing from other mythologies of the time.  Dr. Garst wants to add a focus on women and the role this mythology has played in the culture of many countries to denigrate and subordinate women. She states that “Religion is the last cultural barrier to gender equality.” And she is right. More and more women atheists are speaking out. And as we all know, if women leave the churches, they will collapse.

The twenty-two essays are all written by women who describe their journeys and experiences from religion to reason. They are varied and compelling.   Here is an excerpt from one of the contributors:

“But at the end of the day, I kept coming back to one simple realization: I fundamentally did not believe that one religion (Christianity) could tell another religion (Hinduism) that it was wrong, that its deities did not exist, that its moral compass was askew, that the beliefs of its people—while noble—did not coincide with the lord-and-savior Jesus Christ and his father-in-heaven God, and therefore could not possibly be valid.

To me, Hinduism embraced beliefs and morals and a lifestyle that was so much more relatable and beautiful than anything Christianity, even in the Seventh Day Adventist form, had ever taught me. The thought of discounting all of it to adhere to a religion that I was essentially born into by way of my geographic location was completely backward. I couldn’t get over the notion that devout faith to one religion obliterates the ability to believe in another, despite the fact that so many millions of Hindus formulated their realities and structured their (in my opinion much more meritorious) belief systems based on those religious principles.”
  Taylor Duty

Dr.Garst has received support with reviews by Richard Dawkins, Valerie Tarico, Peter Boghossian, Sikivu Hutchinson and other atheist authors.

If you know of a friend or family member who may be struggling with their religious upbringing, and who may benefit in their transition  into reason and reality by the sharing of these stories you'd be doing them a great service.  I don't think you'll find a better resource.  I found it eye opening and very revealing, myself having not been raised in a religious environment thus never having experienced the escape to modernity and reasoning.   

I encourage you to check out Dr. Garst’s blog at and consider pre-ordering this excellent book.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Holidays

Wishing you and your family a happy holiday, and a better 2017.
Stay safe.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

On Defamation and Veneration

I listened as they called my President a Muslim.
I listened as they called him and his family a pack of monkeys.
I listened as they said he wasn't born here.
I watched as they blocked every single path to progress that they could.
I saw the pictures of him as Hitler.
I watched them shut down the government and hurt the entire nation... twice.
I watched them turn their backs on every opportunity to open worthwhile dialog.
I watched them say that they would not even listen to any choice for Supreme Court no matter who the nominee was. I listened as they openly said that they will oppose him at every turn.
I watched as they did just that.

I listened.
I watched.
I paid attention.
Now, I'm being called on to be tolerant.
To move forward.
To denounce protesters.
To "Get over it."
To accept this...
I will not.
I will do my part to make sure this great American mistake becomes the embarrassing footnote of our history that it deserves to be.
I will do this as quickly as possible every chance I get.
I will do my part to limit the damage that this man can do to my country.
I will watch his every move and point out every single mistake and misdeed in a loud and proud voice.
I will let you know in a loud voice every time this man backs away from a promise he made to them.
Them. The people who voted for him.
The ones who sold their souls and prayed for him to win.
I will do this so that they never forget.

And they will hear me.
They will see it in my eyes when I look at them.
They will hear it in my voice when I talk to them.
They will know that I know who they are.
They will know that I know what they are.
Do not call for my tolerance. I've tolerated all I can.
Now it's their turn to tolerate ridicule.
Be aware, make no mistake about it, every single thing that goes wrong in our country from this day forward is now Trump's fault just as much as they thought it was Obama's.
I find it unreasonable for them to expect from me what they were entirely unwilling to give.

Author unknown.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Treason, Thy Name is Trump.

"LOCK HER UP!" was the constant chant of the mindless all through the election as their Fuehrer egged them on.

I say now the chant we should embrace is "HANG THE TRAITOR!" and keep chanting it until he's tried and convicted, along with any of his handlers who participated in or knew of the Russian meddling. 

If hanging was good enough for Mussolini it's good enough for him.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

And so it begins....

Trump suggests loss of citizenship or jail for those who burn U.S. flags

Monday, November 28, 2016

An appeal for a real response to an obscene reality

On Facebook people are posting hysterical admonishments that we must "stop Trump from being inaugurated!".  As if by posting memes and signing petitions it will make one iota of difference.  One may as well pray to stop it, for all the good that will do.

The reality is he's not going to be stopped. He was duly elected. And if by some ridiculously remote chance the electoral college electors do not cast their votes for him, more than likely Pence would end up in the Oval Office.  No improvement there.   

I deal in reality as ugly as it may be, not wishful thinking.  Therefore, if we really want to do something feasible, actionable, and meaningful in response to the obscenity that will befall this nation on January 20, I urge everyone to make a donation to the ACLU, and/or Planned Parenthood, and/or the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and/ or Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

They are going to need our support now more than ever.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An Apology to the Free World

The fools have had their say, they have anointed their champion; and now the world will pay the price.   I'm sorry, World. Forgive us. They know not what they do.

And to those who would congratulate the winners, who seek to reconcile, and who use Jefferson's quote as a means of assuring their under educated-right wing-Jesus loving-gun totin'- racist-angry white brethren of no hard feelings I say FUCK THAT!

I wonder how magnanimous Thomas Jefferson would have been if he was Jewish, lived In 1930's Germany, and his "friend" endorsed the "final solution". Or if he was Black, and his white "friend" joined the KKK. Or if he was of Japanese descent in 1942 USA, and his "friend" endorsed internment for Japanese-Americans.

No... it's one thing to disagree on the size of a budget, or foreign affairs, or the running of a pipeline, et al... But it's a whole 'nuther thing to embrace someone who holds in contempt human rights, human dignity, and the sanctity of the freedoms this nation was founded upon.
I'll have none of it.
And none of them.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Have these Jews forgotten what Fascism looks like?

According to the Religion News Service, Jewish voters favor Clinton over Trump by a wide margin.  Here's the key extract:

"... 61 percent of Jewish adults said Clinton and 19 percent picked GOP nominee Trump in the American Jewish Committee survey."    
Whole story here.
All well and good.  But it begs the question: What exactly do the remaining 19% of Jewish voters see in a Trump presidency? According to the article, some are annoyed by the nuclear deal the US and our allies made with Iran, but can that really account for almost one in five Jews preferring the obscenity, xenophobia, and fascist like concepts Trump has expressed as his platform?

Having come from a Jewish family, one that lost relatives in the Holocaust, the similarity between Trump's programs might say "solutions" ... to our national ills is so blatantly fascist that it makes one blanch, or should.

It  includes singling out of minorities, Mexicans, Muslims  and Blacks.  According to Trump he'd reinstate water boarding ("enhanced interrogation" is the nice term), profiling, and  "stop and frisk" (which has been declared unconstitutional).  How one can hear that, read that, and not think: "I vant to see your papers mein herr!" baffles me.

Oh but of course,  anyone who is or looks black or Muslim or Mexican has to be up to something.  His declaration that Muslims know more than they tell, that we must treat Muslim "neighborhoods" differently;  that every illegal Mexican is a rapist or criminal (after all "someone is doing all the raping!") and must be rounded up; that Blacks are their own worst enemy and are the highest crime producing people in the nation...all of it speaks of demonization, of scapegoating that smacks of totalitarianism.

How does an educated Jew who knows anything about the Holocaust accept the singling out of minorities today, any more than they would have accept the singling out of Gypsies, Jews, the physically handicapped, the Trade Unionists, the Socialists in Germany and then across Europe?

Can it truly be  "Well, I'm not a  Black, or Mexican or Muslim, so what do I care?."  Can 75 years of time have really blunted the horror that such "special treatment" and "solutions" delivered? Can they really embrace the "It can't happen here." fallacy? Can those 19% of Jews be so callous or so blind or so hateful that they'll readily wear the same emblem that their ancestors' persecutors wore in the last century, just invisibly?

No explanation or commitment to other national issues could justify this obscenity among people who shouldn't have to think twice about it.  1 in 5 Jews will vote for Trump!!??  It's enough to make me ashamed of my Jewish  roots. 


Thursday, September 29, 2016

A dear friend's appeal on behalf of Trump. I still love him never the less.

He's my childhood friend.   Fifty-five years we've known each other - caroused, hunted, camped, fished, and almost died canoeing and driving while under various influences. I love him like a brother.

But, alas, he has never quite shaken off the "Guns and taxes  is all I give a shit about, and fuck them welfare niggers, ragheads and queers who hate America!" mentality. A mentality that I must confess I once shared, a long time ago in another life.  I oft received obscene and racist mass email mailings replete with gross cartoons or photograph meme's from him, evidently part of the stuff he regularly receives from his similarly racist and right wing New York friends. Happily he respected my request to be removed from that distribution.

Today I received this email from him:
  "Pal the next president will be appointing at least one probably 2 supreme court justices.. I don’t think even you will like Clinton’s choices.. You gotta vote Trump."

My response:

"Thanks... but I don't vote for infantile, hateful, narcissistic, sociopath, misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, fascistic, inveterate liar reality stars for president. If I did it would be Charlie Sheen ... a coke head who always thought he was "WINNING" too.

And I'll settle for any Supreme Court justice who isn't 'in the mold of' Scalia or Thomas.  

No... I'll stick with the hideously elitist phony woman with international experience and a modicum of mental stability who doesn't fuck her own daughter. But..,I do appreciate your always."
I don't expect a reply.  I hope there isn't one since I have exactly no interest in engaging in debate on this.  I'll always love him, I'll always be there for him ...but I mourn the passing of time that has left him so many years behind the evolutionary progress of civility and reasoned thought.  

Meanwhile, Trump demands that non-Christians identify themselves during a rally, and invites the attendees to vote on whether they should be allowed to stay.   Just think about that ... the implications on a broader scale. That any thinking person can't see what he is and be repelled speaks to the spiral  into fascism with which our nation is flirting. It disgusts and horrifies me.   Whole story here 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

FLASH: The Catholic Church Steps Up to the Plate on Ending Clergy Child Abuse. LOL ... Just Kidding!!!

In case you didn't hear, the Catholic Church's commission and advisory board to the pope on ending clergy sexual abuse of children has made a major stride in fixing the problem that has plagued this cabal of sex perverts and hypocrites for centuries. The whole story here.

This intensive plan that will no doubt flush the child molesting priests and bishops out of their ranks once and for all is pretty much summarized in this one sentence:

"Following a week of meetings in Rome, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors announced several new initiatives, including a training program for bishops and a day of prayer for victims of sex abuse."Hey, don't scoff. At least it's better than the all too telling quote by Bishop Robert Cunningham last year as shown under his photo above.

Bishop Robert Cunningham
Bishop Robert Cunningham
Bishop Robert Cunningham
Yup... it's been a long time coming, but there it is: training and prayer. Bam!  Why didn't I think of that?  I'm sure this will come as a welcome sea change to the tens of thousands of victims left in wake of the deaf, dumb, blind, sick, and utterly ludicrous Catholic Church. I for one am glad THAT's over.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Behold... Born Unto You This Day, the Holy Potato. Let us pray.

So... they slice open a potato, and lo and behold an execution device appears, placed there evidently by their God of Potato Messages. It's immediately declared a "divine presence" by this group of aging and obviously senile Catholics.   Read all about it here.

Seriously? A signal from God? And he sends it inside a fricking tuber, because he's what... Irish? or maybe because he yearns for some tater tots?

Never mind that it's a commonly recognized disease that causes the death and thus darkening of cells inside of the potato.  Never mind all that normal reasonable scientific fact of freekin agriculture, it's a sign from Gawd! It's a "Miracle"!

I fully expect that potato to be canonized.  It would be just as deserved of that nonsensical mumbo jumbo as is Mother Teresa. In fact...maybe even more so.  At least the potato didn't prolong, and take satisfaction in, the suffering of dying patients. Catholics. Ya just gotta shake your head.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dissent: UnAmerican, or a Patriotic Duty?

I consider myself patriotic. But not blindly so. I love this country, with all its faults and inequities. I'd rather live nowhere else. If called upon to genuinely defend this nation ... I mean for real this time ... I'd do so without hesitation.

But those who see
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's act of dissent by refusing to stand for the anthem out of protest over how this nation treats people of color, as being worthy of punishment or worse, are false patriots.

I'm seeing it from the "
LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT!" crowd; whites who have never known prejudice; people to whom the concept of "something is amiss in this nation, let's try and make it better, more fair for everyone" is just plain unpatriotic. They are the ones who spit on the very Constitution they claim to love. They are blind patriots ... and ignorant.

When I got back from Vietnam I wasn't exactly grateful for the fact the US had lied to me and sent me there under a false premise. I was young and angry. 

Soon after my return home I went to a movie with the future Mrs. Hump. Back in '69  they played the National Anthem before the film. I refused to stand for the anthem. An old guy behind me growls: "Show some respect for your country."  I almost lost it but I didn't . I said seething through my clinched teeth. "I got back from Nam two months ago fighting for a lie this country sold us; so unless you're man enough to make me stand go fuck yourself."

I don't regret it.  Neither my act of dissent, nor my retort.

And that's about all I have to say about that football player's right to express his dissent and his dissatisfaction with how people of color are treated in this nation.  Other than to say I support his action of conscience ... and his courage.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

France: Making Secularism Look Idiotic One Moronic Law at a Time

Look, I've never held myself up as a bastion of tolerance and brotherly love.  I  have no patience for religionists who wear their foolishness as a badge of honor.  I look at Hasidim attire as patently idiotic; I don't want a waitress' "dead Jew on a stick" necklace dangling in my food at a restaurant; and I find Muslim head scarves and burkas ridiculous.

But I acknowledge that how I feel has exactly nothing to do with people's right to wear what they please as long as it doesn't interfere with my rights or exceed the bounds of good taste (i.e. wearing only an athletic supporter while teaching a class on thermodynamics in a publicly funded college would be an example).  As a secularist it's simply a matter of live and let  live ... their goofy garb not withstanding.

Evidently the French don't share this mentality.  Their laws involving religious garb or symbols have become so draconian as to actually embarrass me as an atheist / secularist.

If you haven't read about it, the police in France forced a Muslim woman to remove more of her covering at a beach than her religion and modesty permits. It's the law!  It's part of the law that also says one cannot wear yarmulkes, or any distinctive religious garb publicly that falls outside the "norm" of French culture.  It is a law so beyond the pale that when I first learned of it I thought it was an article from the satirical site The Onion.  It isn't. It's quite real. Read the whole story here.
It smacks of a bizarre reversal of what was done to the non-religious or to Jews during the Spanish inquisition:  "You damn well better start eating that pork, or we'll arrest you for being a Jew!"

What the heck has happened here?  How can a nation whose motto is  "
Liberté,  égalité,  fraternité"  speak of liberty and equality and brotherhood on one hand, while the other hand holds a baton ready to punish those less deserved of liberty or equal treatment because of what they wear?

I wonder how it got to that point. 
I wonder how much worse it will get there.
I wonder if it can happen here. 
I'm disgusted.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Product of Religious and Political Stupidity

What do you get when you combine devotion to an imaginary supernatural being, with the worship of a narcissistic sociopath, congenital liar, and purveyor of hate?  This guy.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Pew Research center reports that Evangelicals have come out strong for Donald Trump. Seventy-eight percent would vote for him for president today.  Here's a link to the story and poll data.

I'm unsurprised. Why wouldn't Evangelicals support a man who has been divorced twice; lusts after his own daughter's "figure";  is a fake Christian who misquotes biblical verse, and panders to the religiously stupid; makes fun of the disabled, is an inveterate liar, and has a wife who poses nude?

After all, Christians in general, and Evangelicals in particular are utter hypocrites. Hypocrisy is a veritable sacrament to them. Let them be damned.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Violence, Hate and Sickness in America: The Religious Answer

From time to time I go to the religion section of the Huffington Post to see what the religiously impaired are up to. Given the horror of the assassination of police in Dallas, and the brutal killings of African American civilians by police in the past few days, the religious leader take on the issue and what needs to be done about it took center stage. You can read the article here, albeit, it's hardly enlightening. 

This one comment from a pastor caught my eye: 
"Dear Lord today please protect black men who are driving, selling, walking, riding bikes, working or just breathing,” "

Naturally it really tweaked my hump to read that. Appeal to the Lord to protect black men, because if you don't beg god it doesn't know what to do? Because it has the power to do that, but was too busy over the past few days, months, years, helping some balls players win some games to intervene and stop an innocent passenger from being blown away in cold blood at 18 inches? Why not just do the old "our thoughts and prayers are with the victims" nonsense that they all spew as easily as saying "God bless you" after a sneeze and leave it at that as though that platitudinous religio-gibberish means anything.

The fact is we are a sick society. Racism, white privilege, political extremism, xenophobia, a culture that s
ees guns and violence as the answer, the means to an end, for everything - this is our nation's prevailing mentality. We have become the example of what civilization should never become; the obscenity that every other industrialized nation points to in horror.

So naturally I'll be asked "That's all well and good...but what do we do about it?" I haven't the foggiest idea. I'm not sure it's even fixable anymore, our ills having been either ignored or embraced for so long they may now be terminal. But what I do know is two things:
1) that spewing religious platitudes, praying to a make believe sky daddy , or imploring people to "hold on a little longer", as though there is a fix afoot is patently inane and less than useless. And...

2) Pogo was right: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Bible: Either Love it or Leave can't have it both ways

In a recent interview Jimmy Carter decried the use of the Bible as justification for immoral and unethical behavior. Here’s an extract:

“You can pick out individual verses throughout the Bible that show that the verse favours your particular preference, and the fact that the Catholic church, for instance, prohibits women from serving as priests or even deacons gives a kind of a permission to male people all over the world, that well, if God thinks that women are inferior, I’ll treat them as inferiors. If she’s my wife, I can abuse her with impunity, or if I’m an employer, I can pay my female employees less salary,...”

Whole interview here:

So the question becomes:  “Yeah…and? Problem?”
The fact is that the Bible, the “Good Book”, is, according to believers, the last word in how their God wants people to behave. He sets the tune, and the sheep dance to it.  How then can Jimmy decry Christians who take God and His Bible at His/It’s word and accuse them of less than Christian behavior?  How does one have the nerve to say on one hand as a Christian he embraces the bible, while on the other hand it shouldn’t actually be taken seriously, lest we behave badly?  Why doesn't he just renounce the bible, since its been justifiably used to do just that for some 1700 years?

Seems to me if he wants to continue to believe a mythical dead Jewish guy is God he can do it without holding the bible up as some bastion of morality and ethics.  Thomas Jefferson respected Jesus' [alleged] specific words, but rejected everything else in that book of supernatural foolishness and immoral horrors. Jimmy could do it too ... all Christians could do it.

My point is: those who use that book as a guideline / as a model for and justification of their behavior, as obscene and evil as it may appear in the 21st century, definition...more Christian than the one who rejects its guidelines but embraces its existence as holy.

Want people to stop using the Bible as support for their misogynist, homophobic, xenophobic, and violent behavior?  Then declare it an obsolete and false doctrine. Disown it as a product of ancient ignorance and prejudice.  To condemn the actors but not their script, and its authors, is patently absurd and hypocritical.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Fear and Loathing in the US: If you’re not having a déjà vu moment, you may be part of the problem

I don’t typically scare easily. Oh sure, the occasional furry spider may startle me, but I don’t go into flash backs over it.  But coming from a Jewish back ground, and what with my parents having lost relatives in the Holocaust…I’m starting to get a funny feeling that I’ve seen this all before, and I’m scared. 

Before I go any further, I must apologize to my readers, especially those who bought my books. In them, more than once, I declared that the greatest threat to this nation is not radical Islam from without, but Christianity from within.  I may have been wrong and I’m sorry.

Perhaps I can be forgiven, because I was foolish enough to be lulled into accepting that what happened in Europe in the 1920s and through the 1930s could never happen here; that we learn from history; that we would never repeat its most heinous events; that we are better than that.  Well, it can, we didn’t, we may, and we aren’t.

Once this nation looked toward a bright future. Once our politicians, on both sides of the aisle, had high ideals and great hopes for our future.  We didn’t always accomplish those goals, those promises, but the promises were invariably predicated on hope, on growth, on advancement.  Usually only the method toward achievement divided us.  Not so anymore. 

As I hear the rhetoric of the GOP front runner, slathered with hate speech, with fear mongering, with innuendo, with encouragement to violence against those who may protest that speech a knot forms in my gut.  When I hear him espouse truncating the 1st amendment to be more to his liking and benefit I cringe. When I see the racism, scapegoating and demonizing of minorities as people coming to take American jobs while they perpetrate "rape and murder" throughout the land; or the lumping together every member of a given religion as “they all  hate us! I don’t know why...” , I know I’ve heard this somewhere before. 

When the throngs of followers, largely white, and largely less educated - are driven by that rhetoric to the point where they feel compelled even encouraged toward meting out violence and doing so with a sense of entitlement and impunity… I am seeing something I remember from old photographs and newsreels.  Only the brown shirts and the guttural speech and accents are missing. 

As I hear that would be leader, that con man, that hater and purveyor of hate- babble his circular and self aggrandizing say nothing babble, and as he directs his fanatical and mesmerized followers to pledge their allegiance to this cult of personality … a feeling of familiar dread comes over me. 

Some will say I’m exaggerating, that I’m being melodramatic, that I’m distorting this into more than it is.  They’re wrong. I’m seeing this for exactly what it is:  Fascism. To ignore it, to down play it, to say “it can never happen here” is to be in denial.  Worse, that denial makes us complicit in what could well be our future.  It’s not too horrible to contemplate… it is our duty to contemplate it now, before it’s too late.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Obituary for a Theocratic Tyrant.

Antonin Scalia represented to me the worst kind of  tyrant. His decision on the Gore V Bush election issue was obscene.  His failed attempts to overthrow Roe V Wade would have set women's reproductive rights back fifty years. His racism was verbalized more than once while on the bench.  His prejudice toward gays was blatant.

He interpreted the Constitution strictly, as "a dead document", meaning not to be interpreted in / or adapted to today's societal realities, but only by its original words in its original time period.  But his point of view, his decisions were, by my observations, equally if not even more driven by his devout Catholic beliefs.  He was just as dedicated to the dead document perspective /  literal interpretation of the law as he was to the literal interpretation of the Bible . He was theocratic. He lived in the past on virtually every social issue that came before him.  His objective was to maintain the status quo, and suppress societal growth and advancement.  If he ever decided in favor of human rights and progressive thought, it was tantamount to a blind squirrel finding a nut now and then...rare.  My guess is he bemoaned the fact that he was born too late to serve as a church appointed prosecutor during the Spanish Inquisition.   

There's my obituary for him.

    "How disrespectful! How dare you speak ill of the dead. What about his family?" 

The above is typical of the comments I received in response to comments I posted to facebook. Yes, it's disrespectful. And is intended to be. 

Why should I be respectful? Because he's dead?  Because his brain ceased to function and his heart has stopped? Because his body is in decomposition?  Why should the state of nonexistence garner respect for a person who commanded none from me in life?  I've said this before:  I'm not John Donne - every man's death does NOT diminish me, and certainly not the demise of a tyrant.

This mentality hearkens back to nonsensical religious superstition. "Do not speak ill of the dead, lest they haunt you from the grave."  Thanks. I'll take my chances.

As for his family:  I doubt any of them are on my facebook friend list, or are readers of my blog.  If they are surfing the net at the hour of their beloved's death, they have bigger issues than worrying about my words of contempt.  

No, this phony piousness for the dead that we must supposedly feign even though we despised them in life is hypocrisy... religiously inspired archaic hypocrisy.  I don't do hypocrisy. If you didn't honor him in life, but think the end of his bodily functions requires some sanctimonious false respect... take your hypocrisy elsewhere.
I'll have none of it.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Night in Nam with Jesus

I don’t typically talk or write about Vietnam, I’d just as soon forget it. I was going to include this account as a chapter in one of my books and talked myself out of it both times. But I’m comfortable enough now, in my waning years, to recount an episode that if nothing else reaffirms my atheism. This isn’t a war story.  I don’t do war stories.  This is a Jesus story.

From my first days in country, and after being assigned to my unit, I heard the phrase: “Charlie owns the night.”  Our ground forces…Army, Marines, South Vietnamese Army, Aussies, and assorted other allied troops ...we ruled the day light hours. But Charlie, the Viet Cong irregulars, Charlie flourished in the darkness. 

This idiom was in the back of my mind when a week or so into my tour my squad was sent out on ambush.  Ten or twelve of us, lead by our sergeant, were going out beyond our forward firebase’s concertina wire and set up before darkness in a likely spot, perhaps a path through the jungle, or a natural opening.  There we’d settle into position, an L-shaped configuration usually, in the hopes of surprising Charlie, the Viet Cong, as they moved through the darkness…catching him off guard, blowing claymores, and raining down shit on him.

Leaving our rucksacks and steel helmets behind, we wore only our soft boonie hats, ammo bandoleers, combat suspenders and pistol belt with a canteen, extra loaded magazines and fragmentation grenades; rifles, an M-79 grenade launcher, extra belts of ammo for our machine gunner, some claymore mines, and a PRC-10 radio (phonetically referred to as the “Prick”).  For my first ambush I was picked as the radio man.  

We should have already pushed off. It was getting close to dusk, and you don’t want to be humping the boonies in the dark.  But we were waiting for “Doc”, our medic.  He showed up 20 minutes late, reeking of weed. We pushed off.

We were about a klick, a 1000 meters, outside the wire when darkness started to close in.  The sergeant took point and following his nose he lead us through tall elephant grass looking for a place that was close by and advantageous for the ambush.

As he came around a curve in a trail, which we wouldn’t have been on had we left earlier and it had been lighter, he shouted “HALT!” (an involuntary ejaculation I suspect since shouting halt in the jungle is not SOP and rather absurd), and immediately opened up with his M-16.We would later find out we had walked head on into a unit of  North Vietnamese regulars, exact strength unknown.

In what seemed to be an instant hundreds of green hornets were streaming over our heads (they shoot green tracer rounds to track and adjust their rifle fire, we use red). The stream of  bullets were cutting the tops of the elephant grass over our heads as we all struggled to get on line and make ourselves as low to the ground as we could, then lay down return fire in the direction of the enemy.

The guy next to me wasn’t firing.  He was mumbling something I couldn’t understand between all the shooting and my sergeant yelling orders at the top of his lungs. 
“Gimme the fucking Prick!” That was my queue to crawl over to the sergeant with the PRC radio.

It was about fifteen yards but felt like a mile.  When I had almost reached him I realized I couldn’t find the handset to the radio. I started to panic until Doc, mildly bemused in spite of the shit storm all around us, gestured to me that the handset was attached to the radio and was trailing behind me on the handset cord. Oh…yeah!  The sergeant snatched the radio and started calling in artillery support from our firebase.  I crawled back to my position next to the mumbling kid.

He was still mumbling, and hadn’t seemed to have fired a shot as evidenced by there being no empty magazines around his position. Then I heard it. In between my changing magazines and over the din of the shooting I could hear “…who art in heaven hallowed be…”.  He was praying to Jesus….and crying. 

In short order our artillery was dropping high explosive shells about 75 to 100 meters to our front, and lighting the sky with flares…better for us to see any enemy movement. Eventually the enemy fire stopped. We set ourselves up in a tight perimeter in the event we were being flanked and to fend off any attack.  None came.  It got quiet.  No one slept. The kid next to me was still praying in between sobs. I must have heard “Jesus” mumbled in his southern drawl about a thousand times that night.  I came to hate that kid as much as the word “Jesus.”  The next morning the NVA were gone. We counted three NVA bodies; took their weapons and their assorted effects, and made it back to the fire base.

The praying kid was transferred to another platoon. Three or four months later he was killed in action.

I always wondered about that night.  About what would have happened if every guy on the squad was praying and not focused on returning fire. About if that kid thought the reason he survived, that we all survived that encounter, was owing to his prayers and Jesus, and not because of ten or eleven other guys doing their duty, the sergeant’s cool head and experience, and the artillery support. I also wondered if, when he was killed, he was he still praying and not returning fire; if he may have contributed to his own demise…and the deaths of two other guys in that later action because of his dependence on his nonexistent God.

I’ll never know the answers to those questions.  I still wonder about it, almost a half a century later. But I know one thing for sure - that Jesus and any other imaginary friend - is worse than useless in battle.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Inventing the Ideal Religion

The Huffington Post has an article that asks:
             "If you could invent a religion what would it look like?"

I gave the concept a minute's thought and posted the following to the article's comment section.  I think I have it reasonably  well developed, albeit, any such religion that would have me as a member I'd want no part of.

What would my religion look like?

One that sucks the money out of the poor and ignorant; that sells them a promise of eternal torture after they die if they don't believe; one that promises prayers will be answered, as long as it isn't to end starvation, or war, or disease, or re-grow an amputated limb.

A religion that hides its abuses of children; that amasses great amounts of money and real estate and sets itself up in a palace, or ten bedroom mansion with a swimming pool and 100 acre compound in the country, with private jets, expensive cars - and that promotes itself as a follower of an impoverished wandering carpenter ...or plumber.

One that dismisses women as lesser beings, who need to have their reproductive system controlled by men. A religion that condemns people to second class citizenship because they love someone the religion doesn't approve of. One that says masturbating is a sin...and God is watching you while you do it.

A religion that promotes the idea that the End of the World is a good thing, something to be looked forward be worked toward. One that demonizes the other religions, and establishes the people of a specific religion as scapegoats based on a 2000 year old mythical execution.

One that says every child is a sinner, because a mud man and a rib woman ate a fruit, and thus need to be cleansed...even though it claims to have paid for that sin in sacrificial blood. A religion that claims to have the one TRUTH, and yet has over 30,000 sects and denominations because it can't decide exactly what that precise "truth" is.

A religion that says only God can end the world, thus encourages people to ignore the science that says the world is being slowly poisoned to death. One that tells children a boogie man created the universe as per scientifically ignorant nomadic goat herders and to pay no attention to the realities of science. One that has no ability to understand why there are both monkeys and humans, even when you explain it's for a similar reality as to why there are still Europeans AND Americans from whom they descended.

Yes...this is the religion I'd invent, and ..... Oh...Wait...

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, okay? It's, like, incredible." –Donald Trump, speaking at a rally in Sioux Center, Iowa as the audience laughed, January 23, 2016

Dear Reader,

If that insane comment made by an obviously narcissistic sociopath can be laughed at and applauded by GOP supporters who deem him qualified to be President of the United States - some of whom may live next door to you - doesn't frighten you, perhaps the fact that he's probably right should.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Two days of Madness and Hate and The Straw that Broke the Camel's Patience

I don't know what to think anymore. There was a time when reason prevailed, when diplomacy was always the first course of action, when the GOP warned against the rise of the Military Industrial Complex, and who, like Eisenhower, had nothing but disdain for war and who, like Goldwater, warned of the religious fanaticism that was creeping into their party.  They were, it seems, ignored.

Something is very wrong.  For years now the drum beat of the GOP has been for more war. "Bomb bomb bomb....bomb bomb Iran." McCain sang when he was running for President ...and he's singing it again now. McCain has never met a war he didn't love. And while it pains me to say it, being a combat Vietnam veteran, I wish he had come home in a body bag - he'd have better served his country .

Now  Allen West, an Uncle Tom Right Wing fanatic is decrying the fact that those ten captured sailors who floated into Iranian waters didn't fight to the death ...  and that the insult of that video Iran released is defamation of our honor and thus worthy of war.  Here's an excerpt of his blog:

“This, folks, is an act of war, and our soldiers were captured. Our honor calls upon us to fight, to resist, not surrender. The ramifications of not doing so means our honor is now being mocked and we’re seen as nothing more than cowards on our knees."   **

The GOP presidential candidates are falling all over each other declaring Obama's weakness by negotiating the freedom of five Iranian held US captives for the release of seven Iranian/US citizen's being held for non-violent offenses.  They are all declaring Obama everything from "feckless" to "traitorous" and the comments on Right Wing blogs and media sites by the FOX News sheep are virtually calling for the death of Obama and War with Iran.  It is insane. 

Every New Hampshire GOP primary advertisement by Cruz, or Trump, or Christy, or Rubio espouses that our military is weak, that it has been degraded by seven years of Obama's neglect; that they will be the ones to "rebuild' it to better intimidate our enemies..and instill fear in those who might be our enemies someday. The code phrase is "to Make America Great Again." For surely only then can we be safe.  NEVER MIND the fact our military spending is, and has been for decades, higher than the next ten largest nations'  armed forces combined ....including China and Russia... we just aren't spending enough to intimidate it seems! 

Look, I've tried  to keep this blog focused on atheism and anti-theism.  I've occasionally mixed politics in with it, mostly as it relates to the Religious Right's grasp on the GOP. But it has gone beyond that now.  These episodes over he past two days have broken the camel's to speak.  So let me say it clearly:

I despise the GOP, everything they stand for, and everyone who supports them. If any of my readers support the madness I described above,  if any of them decry Obama's diplomacy, his efforts to avert another Middle Eastern war quagmire and impair Iran's nuclear ambitions; or if any of them are livid over his ability to our get sailors freed under 24 hours without firing a shot, or loss of life on either side; and gain the release of five US citizens who were suffering in Iranian captivity.. then do me a favor unsubscribe from this blog.

You see, I left the GOP some years ago realizing that --- The Party of Jesus, The Party of War First, The Party of Fear Mongering,  The Party of Israel or Die, The Party of Mindless Nationalism, The Party of Gun Ownership Absolutism, the party of extremism, homophobia, racism, of financial privilege, of demonizing of the poor  --- no longer represented me or my ethics.  I want no discourse with those I left behind.  I want no false patriotic platitudes.  I will entertain no justifications for what I deplore, because there can be none among the thinking.

If you hold fast to those principles of hate, and war, and racism, and homophobia, and misogyny, and class privilege et al -  then our shared atheism is insufficient reason for me to either respect your positions or tolerate you.   Go forth - send your sons, or grandchildren to die in the glorious service of nation building, or mindless anger, or for our national honor that Mr. West so deeply urges. But do so silently. I don't care to hear your cries of mourning.

**Read West's blog story here: