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If you must judge Paula Deen, judge her for who she is today.

Everyone who knows me, also knows that I am an outspoken opponent of bigotry in all forms. Yet I have sympathy for Paula Deen. I don’t know her, nor do I watch her cooking shows. I have only the basic knowledge of her as a famous southern cook who is on television. I do, however, understand completely how a person can be a racist simply because they were raised to be one and yet grow to reject bigotry.

Growing up in my small hometown in East Texas in the 70’s and 80’s, that hated word was how most white people referred to black people (when no black person was present). While our schools were integrated, we had, for the most part, segregated ourselves. On the outskirts of town, across the tracks, was the “quarters”, which included remnants of the old “black school”, a dilapidated park, and a close-knit, all black community.

We all went to the same school and interacted through academics, clubs, sports, band, and riding the school bus together, but we usually kept our social lives separate. There were a few white girls who were ostracized for dating black boys though. When one of those girls was also one of my best friends, I began to see things differently. I realized my narrow view from “my side of the tracks” was wrong. We were not only not better, but not very different. However, culture and peer pressure are powerful things especially with the insecurities of being a teen.

Eventually, I grew up and moved away. I now adamantly object to the use of that word and all bigotry – racial or otherwise. I sincerely apologize to society for spending my first 18+/- years believing successful, white, straight Christians were somehow superior members of the human race. That is my most shameful admission, but it is the truth. While I can’t change those years, I am no longer that person.

I don’t know Paula Deen – the person or the celebrity – nor do I know that she is currently a racist. It is neither hard to believe or understand that at some point in her life she may have been racist. She didn’t choose to be born into the racially segregated south, and the reality is we know what we are taught. I believe I should be judged on the person I am today – the person who eventually rejected the bigotry.

Not that it matters, but I judge Paula Deen on her honesty about her past and how she chooses to handle this very important conversation. Children are still being raised to think in this bigoted way. We need look no further than Jackson, MS for proof. Even if Paula Deen is currently racist, we should reach out to her and teach her. If she is not, I encourage her to use this opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about the reality of racism in America.

Constitutional Blasphemy

Pledge

I suppose I’ll get some shit for posting this on my Facebook page, maybe lose some friends. Oh well. I hope somebody asks me why I feel the need to constantly post about my non-belief. My family believes I do it just to piss people off, but that really isn’t the reason. I love my country, and I feel like the addition of God to the original pledge is constitutional blasphemy. America is a secular nation to ensure religious freedom. Why is that so hard to understand?

Living as an open liberal atheist in the Bible Belt is not easy. Everyone assumes everyone is a Christian; sending emails praising God and condemning those who want to “remove God from everything”. I usually correct anyone making that assumption about me. For some reason, people find any mention of my beliefs offensive, but never consider their own declarations offensive. I am willing to keep my beliefs personal – as they should be – when I am no longer expected to accept public displays of other’s beliefs or have to be subjected to public prayers or being singled out for not participating.

The purpose of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause is to guarantee an individual’s right to live by her own beliefs. If our government favors any one set of religious beliefs, then we no longer have religious freedom. Our founders realized the importance of religious freedom because they remembered a government sanctioned religion and its ability to oppress – and oppress it does. While we are far from having a government sanctioned religion, it would be untrue to say our government doesn’t favor Christianity.

As you can see from the Pledge of Allegiance, our money, and our motto, God has entered our government despite the egregious constitutional violation of the Establishment Clause. Our government is making the assumption that all of America’s citizens trust in a “God”. Even if you are a believer, this should be offensive as an American. Imagine the words “There is no god” printed on your money, or a world where no churches were allowed, and all religious texts were banned. That is not religious freedom and that is why our government should not favor any one set of beliefs.

While I am vocal about my non-belief knowing some will be offended, that is my constitutional right. To inject one’s religious beliefs into public life and force others to either participate or be singled out is unconstitutional and unpatriotic. So I will continue to be vocal and public with my beliefs until I am no longer subjected to the beliefs of others.

American First

I am so proud to be an American. Today, and every day – especially in the face of tragedy – before we are republican/democrat, conservative/liberal, religious/non-religious or any other thing that divides us, we are Americans and united we stand.

The USA definitely can improve, and we’re not 1st in every category of measure. Americans bicker and argue over politics and religion and a long list of other things, but one thing most of us share is compassion for each other and love of country. When you hurt Americans, you hurt our country and threaten our way of life, and we will literally stop our lives to find you.

What unfolded in Massachusetts after the Boston Marathon bombing showed America at her greatest. Law enforcement agencies and citizens came together to show the world that while we are all individuals with individual ideals that sometimes divided us within, we are united as Americans always. When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.

So today, and every day, let us look at each other as Americans first, knowing that while we may disagree on many things, we love the USA and united we stand.

 

 

The majority of the Republican party is clueless, as former Senator Rick Santorum shows. This is the party stripping Americans of their rights. Liberal Americans do not want the government to provide all of our needs. We want our government to protect our rights from the ‘ruling class’, such as Senator Santorum. We are happy to provide for ourselves when we are paid for our productivity and contribution to a companies success, instead of funding homes around the world, and luxury cars and boats for the owners. Owners deserve to make a profit, but not by paying slave wages to its’ employees.

CNN Political Ticker

(CNN) — Former Sen. Rick Santorum delivered a solemn but forceful rallying cry when speaking about the death of a close family member Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

With tears in his eyes, the former presidential candidate talked emotionally about his nephew who passed away Thursday in Pittsburgh from what Santorum described as “a horribly painful disease that almost overnight began ravaging his body.”

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Forward

Forward

In 2009, President Obama was handed a country in crisis when he took office. On top of the financial collapse, he had the unfunded wars to contend with. In my opinion, he has done an amazing job, despite the least productive and most obstructive Congress since the Civil War.

Republicans, especially Boehner, have been largely successful in blaming the rapidly rising deficit on Obama’s policies. However, multiple non-partisan studies show that most of the debt is a direct result of  the Bush tax cuts, the wars, and the unfunded Medicare drug benefit (kickback for big pharmaceuticals). While almost $5 trillion has been added to the debt during Obama’s presidency, only about $1.5 trillion is the result of Obama’s policies (and half of that is the from the stimulus).

Government spending routinely increases during an economic downturn, due to the increased need for government assistance, such as unemployment benefits, welfare, food stamps and Medicaid. With a record 46 million Americans on food stamps, Republicans  have dubbed Obama the “food stamp president.” While there are way too many people abusing government assistance, the greater problem is the reason for the need, and how we got here?

The Clinton years were unquestionably a time of progress, especially on the economy. Besides the record-high surpluses and the record-low poverty rates, we had the longest economic expansion in US history; the lowest unemployment since the early 1970s; and the lowest poverty rates for single mothers, black Americans, and the aged. Clinton submitted a budget that would cut the deficit by $500 billion over five years by reducing $255 billion of spending and raising taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of Americans. The results were the exact opposite of what Republicans said would happen

That policy allowed GW Bush to take over with a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off our debt, GW and his Republican congress used it to fund massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Then come the unfunded wars and there goes the surplus.  Then finally, just before Obama takes office, 30 years of deregulation by both parties catch up to us, and the economy almost collapses creating the need for additional spending.

While recovery has been slow, we have seen recovery. We have had 31 straight months of job growth in the private sector. The DOW has rebounded, the auto industry has rebounded, and  home prices are rebounding. After losing nearly 50,000 factories between 2000-2009, manufacturing is rebounding. Our exports are near record levels , and we are less dependent on foreign oil than we have been in the last 20 years.

Recovery may be slow, but we are headed in the right direction. FORWARD.

 

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