May 2011

Innocent! As Charged.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. F. Scott Fitzgerald

A local reader recently took me to the woodshed of “Letters to the Editor” and gave me the verbal beating she thought I well deserved. Take that you relativist! And that, you multiculturalist! You, you, liberal!!

My reader opined, “Chris Jepson honestly believes he believes in diversity of thought. What he actually believes in is diversity of culture (multiculturalism), moral relativism and conformity of thought. What really irritates is his tagline. Chris Jepson is “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” Is that an oxymoron or what?”

Oh, my gawd, not a tolerant multiculturalist?! When I read that criticism I wondered how can that be a bad thing? In America? The world’s melting pot? To be anything but a multiculturalist seems, well, un-American.

Gosh, the fact that the best man at my wedding 40+ years ago was a bulllaaaack man, oh my! Or, that I’d go to France any time (ANY TIME!) and eat dem’ nasty ol’Freedom Fries!

Stop now, Chris!! Don’t say it, Chris, don’t do it . . . why, even some of my good friends are . . . dare I say it? Gay!! Shudder, shudder! Now I’ve done it!! Jews, too! Oh, Nooooo! Yes, I’ve even had Jews at my dinner table. And, I at theirs. Many times. Even a Unitarian or two. Stop it! And unbelievably, I willingly dine with Republicans on occasion! E-gads, I am one of those! A dreaded multiculturalist!!

Not only that but I practice situational ethics! I do. And during those often tricky ethical adult moments, I employ moral relativism. Yep. Any rational, mature human being does.

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, observed Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Conformity of thought? Accuse me of anything. Faulty logic. Intemperate comments. Simplistic thinking. But conformity of thought? Let’s see if I understand the logic. If I conform to “your” thinking, well, I’m okay but if I espouse “liberal” positions I’m a commie-socialist anti-American pinko. I’m just another moral-relativist, homo-loving secular humorist. Is that it?

Which leads me to “What really irritates is his tagline. Chris Jepson is “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” Is that an oxymoron or what?”

Let’s see. Fiscally conservative. I fervently believe in balanced budgets, pay as you go. I wouldn’t run our imperialistic wars off the nation’s financial books. Trillions in debt for idiotic wars. I don’t support corporate welfare. Financial bailouts? Only if any corrupt CEO is already hanging from the yardarm. I’d solve the Social Security problem by, over time, increasing the retirement age and raising payroll taxes. Fiscal intelligence? Well, single payer Medicare for all Americans makes economic sense. If all Americans are part of the team, that is.

Socially Liberal? Yes. I don’t want the government ever monitoring my daughter’s (or any woman’s) womb. A marriage is what you personally make it. I don’t give a damn if you marry a goat (many actually do). Don’t ask-Don’t tell? Why even think to ask in the first place? Who cares? Younger Americans sure don’t. Prayer in public schools? Sure, if Gaea is invoked? Birth control? Put it in the drinking water. Clean air? Clean water? Clean land and food? Gosh! How novel.

An unapologetic liberal? You bet-cha. I am. Innocent, as charged.

I Want A Slave!!
On Cherry-Picking God’s Word.

I am fascinated by the human predilection for having it both ways. Republicans are frequently the best examples of this fondness for the “do as I say not as I do” sort of mentality. It’s almost comical how many boys of the GOP are caught with their pants around their knees, or actually on their knees, often in the clutches of other men. Oh, my! All the while hypocritically professing their belief in the sanctity of marriage and/or loudly decrying homosexuality as such a grievous offense against the Christian god.

That has always intrigued me. What is it that deeply offends God? And how does lowly man know the mind of God? That, in and of itself, is a monumental example of hubris. That any group of human beings knows God’s intentions. But know they do because the Bible says it’s so. Let’s explore “that” knowledge by way of a fortuitous example.

David Swanson, Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando recently wrote an editorial in The Orlando Sentinel justifying why his church was at odds with the national body of The Presbyterian Church (USA). Swanson’s Orlando Church will not ordain gay and lesbian individuals to serve as church pastors. Okay. And the reasoning?

Pastor Swanson claims, “God’s expressed justice means there are standards for right and wrong, and our determination of that is found in Scripture, a word created by that same holy God. In it, homosexual behavior is repeatedly shown to be contrary to God’s plan and purpose.”

How was it determined (justified) that gays and lesbians are unsuitable for leadership roles in the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando? The Bible.

But what I do not understand is the following. Are you allowed as a Christian to cherry-pick the words of God and to follow only those laws that are determined (in this case by the hierarchy of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando) as applicable? Is that how Christianity works? Oh, I’ll follow this rule but not that one?

My neighbor sometimes works on the Sabbath. It says that in Exodus 35.2 she should be put to death. Am I required to do it (put her to death) or should I first organize a committee or just have the local police do it?

While at Panera Bread last week, a casual acquaintance asked what I thought his daughter might be worth on the open market as he was considering selling her into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21.7? I recommended he contact his local “family values” congressman, who is, no doubt, conversant in such transactions.

Finally, I anticipate traveling to Costa Rica soon, would it be okay to pick-up a slave there? I know we’re not to enslave our fellow countrymen but it’s perfectly okay if they are from outside the country. According to Leviticus 25.44, I can have slaves of either sex providing they are from neighboring nations. Having a Mexican slave today seems soooo gauche, don’t you think? But would a Costa Rican be okay?

It’s clearly ludicrous. But it isn’t. You cannot have it both ways. Oh, homosexuality is God proscribed according to scripture but those other prohibitions (rules) are just the ramblings of a long ago priesthood attempting to structure order out of chaos.

How about we’re all human beings and leave it at that?

Quit cherry-picking!

Live and let live.

A Naked Marilyn!

I remember the first time I ever saw a Playboy centerfold. It was the classic Marilyn Monroe (red background) pose from 1953. It was hanging on an exterior wall of a meat locker. I kid you not. I was seven years old and I was accompanying my father to pick up mink food. My father was a lawyer-cum-mink rancher and the year was 1956.

Twice a month we’d drive across Woodbury County, Iowa to Jensen’s mink farm and load up my father’s rust-bucket of a 1948 purple Studebaker truck (running boards no less) with enough 50 lb. chunks of frozen tripe to feed 2000 mink for two weeks. Dad loved music and I’m sure we were listening to something on the radio like the still melodic “Wayward Wind” by Cogi Grant. If something zippy came on Dad would make popping noises with his mouth while rhythmically rapping his knuckles on the metal dashboard or repeatedly trail his fingernails across the grill that fronted the radio. He was great fun, larger than life, and this was before I’d mix his whiskey cokes on the return drive.

The men would go off and look at Jensen’s mink or talk about pelt prices in New York. Mink ranches are a rich amalgam of odors. You’ve the mink waste itself that, depending on the time of year, can be bearable or unbelievable. But even more richly fragrant is the mink food itself. My Dad’s recipe was a mixture of tripe, liver, ground turkey heads, Purina Mink Chow, cooked eggs and anything else the packinghouse had on special that couldn’t be made into hot dogs.

I recall that one particular summer day standing at the entrance to Jensen’s processing room and looking up at the photo of Marilyn and fixating on her . . . um . . . nudity. Wondering. I grew-up in a home where Vogue and Harper’s Bazarr were common coffee table fare. Women and clothing (fashion) I understood—they were within my universe of comprehension. An out-and-out naked woman was something else. And posted on public display no less. Naked! Oh my.

In walked the men and I averted my attention elsewhere. I couldn’t just stand there and gawk which is what I wanted to do. They didn’t even cast a casual glance at the naked Marilyn. They were ho-hum, conducted their business, loaded the truck and we were gone.

For several years thereafter just thinking about the naked Marilyn fueled my desire to make the trip to Jensen’s. Alas, over time flies speckled the photo until one trip she was gone. I was disappointed. Yet the image remained vivid.

What prompted this memory of my first exposure to “blatant” sexuality was a recent NPR discussion on how “overexposed” we all now are to pornography. And what the ramifications are for our children and culture.

We know this is an accurate assessment of our culture. For the first time in history what can be imagined is available for viewing somewhere (anywhere). Not only that, human sexuality is the universal marketing tool for virtually any lifestyle choice or selection. Sex goes with anything. Make that a Danish, a latte with soy milk and . . .

Humans are quickly bored. What once intrigued may soon produce yawns.

Oh, that?! How about just a little suggestion of violence?

It’s a slippery slope. Ho-hum.

The 1950s All Over Again, Bubba.

You sometimes forget that Florida is a Southern state and all that that implies. Our bright blue skies mask a sorry past and a questionable future. Less than 50 years ago some central Florida communities buried their public swimming pools rather than integrate them. Democrats became Republican; switching wholesale overnight when Civil Rights came to mean human rights for black Floridians. When the politics of George Wallace became a Republican Party strategy.

Where are the Bill Grahams or Lawton Chiles of yore, governors of vision who moderated the extremism of the rural yahoos clamoring for a return to “tradition?”

If you were not already a resident of Florida would you, today, move to the Sunshine State knowing what you know about our state government?

I laugh out loud when I hear Republicans speak of making the state more competitive when recruiting new businesses to the state. Lighten the corporate tax burden? Hard to go from virtually nothing to nil. Growth management? Yes, that is soooo hindering Florida’s ability to attract new business. Gut it.

Want more laughs? Florida ranks dead last, 50th in nation, in education funding. That is soooo appealing to any forward thinking business leader contemplating opening a new business in Florida. We’re lower than Mississippi. Welcome to the bottom, Bubba!

Republicans during the past state legislative session actually made it more difficult to vote. More difficult to vote!?! The reason? To limit what Republicans imagine would be Democratic voters.

Republicans are fighting the voter approved Amendments Five and Six mandating election districts be nonpartisan. Nonpartisan districts!?! Horrors!

Republicans supported packing the State Supreme Court to make it more favorable to business interests. (See Dean Cannon)

Republicans limited the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability by slashing its budget and changing how its management is hired and fired. This agency is a watchdog agency on how taxpayer money is spent and the effectiveness of government programs. (See Dean Cannon)

Republicans would institute sharia law on Florida women if only they could. Unfortunately (for Republicans) abortion rights are federally protected. That doesn’t stop them, however, from placing impediments to a woman’s fundamental right to choice. They even want to dictate what private insurance policies cover regarding abortion. (See Dean Canon)

What is it with Republicans and women’s bodies? Is it that women are just too sexy for their own good and Republican men know best what is right for Florida’s women. It’s obvious you don’t have much of a brain—you are, after all, merely a woman—and Girl, if a pregnancy occurs, well, if you can’t control your urges, we’ll control the outcome.

Republicans don’t give two cents about life after birth but by gawd, from conception to birth they’d own your uterus. (See Dean Cannon)

It was jokingly suggested by Florida House member Scott Randolph that his wife “incorporate her uterus” to get Republican legislators to leave it alone. Our very own Speaker of the House Dean Cannon got his shorts all in a bundle over that. Does he lie awake at night, sweating, all atwitter over what all those nasty, nasty Florida girls might be doing? Ooooo-h! How about minding your own business, Dean?

Oh, Dean Cannon is. He’s moving the state . . . back to a more repressive, less democratic time. Oh, and is Florida open for business? Hell, Florida is for sale. C’mon down.

It’s the 50s all over again, Bubba.

N-yah, N-yah, N-yah, N-yah, yah! Obama got Osama!

It’s over. The 2012 presidential election is over. If you think the Republican presidential field is sketchy right now, what with ol’Donald “Yo-Birth-Certificate” Trump as the leading candidate, well, wait until the August, 2012 GOP National Convention when the only candidates willing to run are the Republican-Twin-Airbiscuit-Sisters of Palin & Bachman.

N-yah, N-yah, N-yah, N-yah, yah! Obama got Osama!

Too funny how things work out. Six more years of Obama must absolutely stick in the craw of Republicans. I can hear’um now. All that Tea Party wailing. From under a rock comes, “How are we going to completely destroy gubernment if’n dat black pretender still be presidin’?”

Oh, Jepson, it was never about Obama being a black man! Of course not. It was never about race. What was I thinking? That President Nixon made it formal Republican Party policy to target disgruntled Southern racists upset over Democrats and their damn 1960s civil rights legislation? Nah, it was never about a black man in the White House. It isn’t at all about picking-up Southern Boomer bigots (voters) or their Oklahoma redneck cousins or their Western counterparts, the anti-immigrant ignoramuses of sunny Arizona. “I see little Brown people. Everywhere! And they don’t like me!”

“We’re just fine with a black man in the White House but where’s his birth certificate? Huh? And what about his elementary school grades? And just how did “HE” get into Harvard? And, my gawd, he can’t even bowl!”

If we ever needed to know the answers to such questions, it would have been for President George W. Bush. He weeeeent to Yale/Harvard!?!? REALLY!?! Legacy appointment! Fer sure! And where exactly was Bush during Vietnam? In the Alabama National Guard? REALLY!?! Talk about missing in action.

Nope. It’s over. Now the only card in the Republican quiver is their infantile threat that, “We’ll shut down guberment — WE WILL! REALLY! WE WILL!— and hold our breathes really, really long unless Democrats agree to toss granny and grandpa under the Medicare bus!” All sung to the Republican chorus of, “That’s the way, un-huh, un-huh, I like it, un-huh, un-huh!” With maybe a little Republican conga-line tap dance over the remains of that liberal, seditious NPR or one of those godless—Horrors!—Planned Parenthood birth control clinics.

“It’s over, it’s over, it’s ohver,” sing it with me, “It’s over, it’s so oh…oh…ohover.” The 2012 election.

N-yah, N-yah, N-yah, N-yah, yah! Obama got Osama!

But the spin will come. Republicans will say this is a great day for America, blah, blah, blah and of course, we’re happy for President, ahem, Barack-HUSSEIN-Obama. But they’ll be secretly seething inside because they know it’s over. It’s so oh…oh…ohover!

The President got his “chops” card punched! Boy! Did he! Obama took down Osama! Obama pulled the trigger. Who’s the MAN now!?!

Picture the 2012 campaign with Sarah Palin still seeing Russia from her back porch, giving her entire book reading list (The Gospel of Wealth for Republicans Only! And, The Blessed Benefits of Trickle Down Economics). Oh, I can’t wait.

President Obama will simply stand before a wanted Dead or Alive poster of Osama and slowly raise his left index finger and pretend, as if, to blow smoke from a gun barrel and then slyly brandish that beatific smile of his.

It’s over.