Friday, March 29, 2013

Seeking Equality

It has been interesting to hear speculation on what the U.S. Supreme Court might do with the two cases concerning gay Americans it began hearing this week. It has been particularly interesting to hear what the Justices, themselves, have said and the questions they have asked during the proceedings.

Of course, we learned in the court's hearings concerning ObamaCare that what the Justices say and the questions they ask don't necessarily give the slightest hint to their ultimate ruling. The same could very well be true in this round of hearings concerning gay rights.

I'm probably a pretty rare individual in that I am not a gay man, but I have been to two gay weddings. I call them weddings, though technically they were not. One was here in Texas where such weddings are not legal. The ceremony was, in reality, just a commitment ceremony presided over by a member of the clergy. I'm happy to say that the couple is still together almost 10 years later.

The second event was last August and took place in Europe. It was also not a wedding but rather a legal civil commitment ceremony presided over by a government official. But in every real respect, it was a wedding.

Like most other Americans, I have my own personal opinions on gay marriage. I hate to use the term I am about to use because it has some bad connotations, even for me; but the reality is my personal opinions on the subject are still evolving. At this moment in time, I think I would have to say I am not supportive of "marriage" for gay people. My personal opinion is they should have the benefit of a civil ceremony which gives them all the rights, benefits of protections of married people without marriage. I admit my opinion on this is greatly influenced by my desire to compromise on the subject. I can understand certain religious groups feel marriage is between a man and a woman. To limit gays to civil ceremonies takes the argument over who should be involved in marriage away from the fundamentalists.

At the same time, I have to admit marriage between two guys would not upset me personally. Nor would I feel it in anyway denigrated my own marriage. Those who contend same sex marriage would destroy traditional marriage are just being stupid. If anything has denigrated and almost destroyed traditional marriage it is those who have married multiple times and also divorced multiple times. These people, and there are millions of them, certainly have no real respect for marriage.

If I had to guess, my guess would be the high court will overturn Proposition 8 in California thus making same sex marriage legal in that state. My guess is,
the Justices will not extend their ruling outside the state of California. The rationale for such a ruling will be to put the various states on notice that the court is supportive of same sex marriage and the individual states must address the issue constitutionally or have the high court do it for them at a future date. By not imposing same sex marriage on all the sates, the Court avoids the social turmoil such a ruling would bring, yet gives support to the movement supporting same sex marriage.

As for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Court would fail to live up to its oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America if it did not strike down what is clearly an arbitrary, capricious and perspicuous assault upon the Constitutional rights of American citizens. I believe the Court will strike down DOMA. Such a ruling will mandate legal marriages between same sex persons in one state be recognized in the other 49 states, even states in which gay marriage is not permitted. It will also change Federal and perhaps state laws to forbid discrimination against those in a same sex marriage. Such marriage partners will be beneficiaries of all the rights and privileges provided to traditional marriage partners including tax benefits, and other benefits traditionally extended to married spouses.

There is little doubt the conservative right will continue to rail against what they see as the advance of evil in the United States. However, I was actually pleasantly surprised last week by Rush Limbaugh's admission. As he sees it, same sex marriage is an idea whose time has come and thus cannot be stopped. I think he's right.

Twenty years from now, same sex marriage will be a normal family option in the United States. The benefits of the normalization of same sex marriage will be many. Fewer kids will find themselves the victims of our child services programs. More kids will be growing up in loving and supportive two parent homes with all the benefits for the children and for society at large such homes bring. The scare tactics of the fundamentalists will have long sense been relegated to the dust bins of history where they belong. I wish I could live to see it.

Jack Scott

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Giving Back To Westboro Baptist Church

The following video and blog appeared this week on The Huffington Post. I couldn't help but smile. I thought some of you might do the same.

The Westboro Baptist Church is about to get a big surprise in the form of a new neighbor who plans to give the notoriously anti-gay group a taste of its own medicine.
Aaron Jackson, one of the founders of Planting Peace, a multi-pronged charity that has in the past concentrated on rainforest conservation, opening orphanages and deworming programs, bought a house that sits directly across from the church's compound six months ago. On Tuesday, March 19, he and a team of volunteers are painting it to match the gay pride flag.
The project -- which the nonprofit is calling the "Equality House" -- is the first in a new campaign Planting Peace plans to wage against the group. Westboro is known for its intimidating tactics of protesting (or threatening to protest) what they refer to as America's pro-gay, anti-God agenda, in close proximity to pride parades, soldier funerals and other events like the Sandy Hook memorial services.
"I read a story about Josef Miles, a 10-year-old kid who counter-protested the Westboro Baptist Church by holding the sign that says 'God Hates No One,'" Jackson told The Huffington Post.
"I didn't know anything about the church or where they were located, but that story kept popping up. And one night I wondered, Where is this church? I got on Google Earth, and I was 'walking down the road,' and I did a 360 view. And I saw a 'For Sale' sign sitting in the front yard of a house. Right away it hit me, Oh my gosh, I could buy a house in front of the WBC! And immediately I thought: And I'm going to paint that thing the color of the pride flag."
Jackson said he's always wanted to get involved in gay activism, but hadn't been sure of how to do it until this opportunity presented itself.
"The reason I haven't gotten into the gay rights activism is because, in a sense, it's almost silly -- it's 2013, are we really still in this position? It just seems ludicrous," he said. "But it is a real issue and kids are killing themselves. I've wanted to do something, and I knew when I saw that house for sale that it all came together. Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a little crazy and there's no red tape in my charity. When I want to do something, I do it."
Planting Peace bought the house for roughly $83,000, and Jackson has been living in Topeka for just over a month. As he waited for the perfect time to transform the house into a very visible celebration of gay pride -- and a direct challenge to what Westboro preaches -- he encountered members of the group, including the Phelps family, which has run the church since it was established in 1956.
"They own the majority of the homes in the community, and I walk through the area every day, and I see them running in between each other's houses," he said. "One day I was walking, and Shirley Phelps [one of Westboro's main spokespeople and the daughter of the church's leader, Fred Phelps] was on her four-wheeler. And I said, 'Hey guys, how are you?' And [she and her husband] responded, 'Oh, we're good. How are you?' We had a short conversation, and she was extremely nice, and she made a joke and we all laughed."
"It's the craziest thing -- and it really throws you off -- because she's the type of woman who calls you "hun" and "darling" -- she's very Southern," he said. "It's like, aren't you the lady that's supposed to be casting me into hell? It's truly mind-boggling, but I can't say anything personally bad about her because she was kind to me and she made me laugh. She'd probably be fun to hang out with."
But pleasantries aside, Jackson said he's confident that the church is already wary of his presence and may be expecting some sort of action from him.
"They're extremely smart, and I would be willing to guess that when I moved into this community that they looked up property records, especially considering that I drive a Prius and I have an original reelect Jimmy Carter sticker on the back of it -- I'm a screaming liberal," he said.
Jackson said he's also witnessed members of the church taking photos of the house and the industrial flagpole he installed, which stands in opposition to the flagpole that currently flies the pride flag and the American flag upside-down in front of the Westboro Baptist Church.
"It looks like the United Nations is having a stand off with flags. These flag poles are huge. They know that we've forked out big money for this," Jackson said.
Jackson said he's seen people who he thinks are members of the church, including high-ranking member Steve Drain, taking photos of the house.
By the end of Tuesday, the Westboro Baptist Church will no longer be wondering what is going on at Jackson's home. But beyond painting the Equality House the colors of the rainbow flag and flying the flag from the newly installed flagpole, Jackson is already working on the next steps in his new fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) equality.
"We want this house to be a message that where there's hate, there's also love. But we also want to raise awareness and capital, and we want to put all that money into creating and sustaining anti-bullying programs, along with supporting anti-bullying programs that already exist," he said. "Beyond the symbolic message of the home, [the house] will be utilized by volunteers to live here, and these volunteers will work on promoting equality anywhere in the world and managing these anti-bullying initiatives that we plan on creating."
While Jackson understands that Westboro feeds off of the attention that it receives from the media and others, he said he believes that it's still critical to address their hate.
"The media has already given them such a huge platform, and I don't see that stopping," he said. "We're taking the energy that's being poured into them and turning it into something positive. This is how we plan on playing it: Use their energy and let's turn it into something incredibly positive for the LGBT community."
Jackson said he also sees the Equality House as one more step toward bringing about the demise of the organization. In recent months, the group has faced a backlash both from former members -- like Lauren Drain, who released a book about her life in the church and who recently suggested that Westboro's leader, Fred Phelps, may himself be gay -- and city governments, which have passed legislation aimed at limiting the group's ability to picket.
"I think the future for the Westboro Baptist Church is very bleak," he said. "These poor kids will hopefully continue to leave that church. They have a lot of kids over there, but unfortunately they're not in a place where they can make decisions for themselves."
Jackson is confident that Westboro's loss of power and relevance is just one sign of the good things still to come for the LGBT community.
"I love seeing all of these Republicans and all these people who have been anti-gay all this time jumping ship because they know they're on the wrong side of history. It's an amazing thing to see," he said. "I know we have a long way to go in fighting bigotry, but we all know the gays are going to win. It's going to happen."
To find out how you can help support the Equality House and its anti-bullying campaign, click here.
My personal thanks to Aaron Jackson. Keep on rolling Aaron!
Jack Scott

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Case Against Gay Marriage - Is A Secular Argument Possible?

The video which is embedded below was produced by Wall Street Journal Live. The interviewee is Ralph Reed, best known as the first executive director of the Christian Coalition during the early 1990s. 

Reed was hired by religious broadcaster-cum-Presidential candidate Pat Robertson as executive director of the Christian Coalition in Virginia Beach, Virginia. 

Reed led the organization from 1989 to 1997. Once Federal prosecutors began investigating charges by the Christian Coalition's chief financial officer, Judy Liebert, Reed resigned from his post, and moved to Georgia . The Coalition's finances were collapsing, and the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission were investigating.

The Coalition organized former Robertson supporters and other religious conservatives to oppose political liberalism. Abandoning confrontational tactics of street protest learned in college, Reed attempted to project a "softer" public face for Christian conservatism, self-described as "guerrilla", putting "enemies" in "body bags" before they even realized he had struck.

Reed appeared on the cover of Time on May 15, 1995, under the title "The Right Hand of God: Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition."

In 1996, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) brought an enforcement action in United States District Court, alleging Reed and the coalition "violated federal campaign finance laws during congressional elections in 1990, 1992 and 1994, and the presidential election in 1992." The FEC prevailed in this action.

One could perhaps be excused if, in light of all this history, Ralph Reed's Christian Values seem to be not very Christian at all at times. Never-the-less, like most right wing Christian Conservatives, Reed has absolutely no problem in presenting his religious views as the only valid view possible on secular (not overtly or specifically religious) social issues

As I have pointed out many times, Reed and his followers are not the only type of Christians which exist in the world and particularly in the United States. There are, in fact, millions of liberal minded Christians like myself who have a totally different view of what Christianity is and should be; a totally different view of the Christian faith to which we are called.

It is clear in the video above that when Reed speaks of "social issues" he is really talking about "religious issues" or a "religious view" of social issues. He clearly has no concept whatsoever that social issues in the United States of America are, by Constitutional Law, secular issues. What I mean by that is that our Constitution forbids the government from promoting religion or religious dogma. Instead, the government of the United States must be a secular (non religious) body.

Reed thinks social issues should be hashed out in the public arena or in the legislatures instead of the courts. As a liberal Christian, I don't necessarily disagree with his "words." I do vehemently disagree with the unspoken meaning he gives to his words. When he says social issues should be legislated in the public arena, he means that the point of view of Conservative Christians should prevail in the courts of public opinion because Conservative Christians are (they believe) the only true Christians and they are uniquely (they believe) called by God to protect and promote Conservative Christianity and thus save the country from the Godless liberals.

When he says he thinks social issues can also be legislated in the chambers of elected representatives, he takes that view because over the last two decades, Christian Conservatives have tried their best to pack state legislatures and the Congress with as many Christian Conservatives as they possibly can. The Federal Courts, on the other hand, are headed by unelected judges who serve for life and who are thus more likely to be guided by the principles of law than by the dogma based views of the Christian Conservative mob.

It has been rightly said that the more educated one becomes the less confident one becomes in his personal viewpoints. This is true because traditional education exposes one to and schools one in the use of critical thinking. Within the philosophical frame of critical social theory, critical thinking is commonly understood to involve commitment to the social and political practice of participatory democracy, willingness to imagine or remain open to considering alternative perspectives, willingness to integrate new or revised perspectives into our ways of thinking and acting, and willingness to foster criticality in others.

Right wing Conservative Christians often choose not to participate in the traditional educational process, and they often choose to limit their reasoning to the "truths" of the Bible which they see as the only real source of truth. They see the truths of the Bible as being in conflict with scientific theory and scientific knowledge. 

Because of these views, right wing Conservative Christians often eschew public schools and colleges in favor of Christian schools and colleges. In these schools and colleges, the Conservative Christian view of science which holds that the earth is no more than 10,000 years old and was created in six 24 hour periods by God is often taught as fact. They also teach that man was created by God in the form in which he presently exists rather than by an evolutionary process. These educational practices make right wing Conservative Christian thought incompatible with critical thinking.

I again hasten to add that right wing Conservative Christians are NOT the only Christians. Liberal Christians are quieter, less confrontational, less evangelical and almost always the product of traditional educations. Liberal Christians see no conflict at all between Biblical scriptures  and evolutionary theories. Liberal Christians see no conflict at all between the Bible and scientific knowledge. This is so because Liberal Christians see the Bible as a good and sufficient guide to faith rather than a science book or a history book. Liberal Christians understand the Bible is not the literal word of God but rather a collection of allegories, the purpose of which is to teach moral lessons, not establish scientific truths.

This profound difference in viewpoints between right wing Conservative Christians and Liberal Christians enables Liberal Christians to take a more tolerant view of the world and of social issues. Liberal Christians understand Christ never said a single word about his feelings concerning homosexuality. In fact, because homosexuality seems to be a congenital condition, Liberal Christians often feel homosexual persons are created by God for a purpose. Thus Liberal Christians, more often than not, join with the secular community in growing support of same sex marriage and the rights of same sex partners under the law.

Reed and people like him talk about social issues, but what they really are talking about are religious issues and how social issues are perceived in the light of their own religious dogma . The fact is, when they make a case against gay marriage, they are making a dogmatic religious case against it. Liberal Christians do not make such a case. They are more apt to see social issues as secular Americans do. As a Liberal Christian, I can point out good and not so good things about gay marriage. For instance, I believe it has been sufficiently proven that a child is best raised by a loving father and a loving mother. However, I think it has also been sufficiently proven that a child is better raised by two loving fathers or two loving mothers than he is being raised by the child welfare and foster care system. The fact is, I do not think one can even make a secular case against same sex marriage. Looked at from a secular viewpoint, same sex marriage is a collection of both good and bad points just as traditional marriage is. Like traditional marriage, same sex marriage can serve society well in spite of its faults.

The fact is, there are many very good people who are Conservative Christians. Many of them are my personal friends. Some are Conservative Christians in name only because grandma and grandpa and mom and dad were Conservative Christians. These people tend to keep their names on the rolls of conservative churches and quietly practice their own more liberal views. Other Conservative Christians have reasoned out on their own that there are things one just cannot know if one is honest with himself. These people may remain on the rolls of  Conservative Christian churches simply because they know no no one can know the truth to as it pertains to the mind of God, but they too tend to keep a low profile and individually practice their own faith more liberal view of faith. My own mother was such a person. A Conservative Christian since childhood she had become traditionally well educated, but she chose to remain in a conservative church as an honest voice of dissent. Raised in the same church, I made a different decision and left the church for a more liberal congregation in which I could feel at home. My mother's critical evaluation of conservative Christianity from inside it was a great value to me in my coming to understand my own views of what it means to be a Christian.

As I have already stated, the is the United States of America and right wing Conservative Christians have a right to their religious views just as more liberal Christians do. However, Conservative Christians do not have a right to impose their conservative religious views on other Americans under the guise of social policy.

Right wing Conservative Christians have so successfully projected themselves as the face of Christianity that many people do not even realize there are such things as Liberal Christians. Many of the people who are falling away from the church are doing so because they cannot define their faith as believing the unbelievable or professing the unknowable as the word of God. My feeling is that everyone needs something bigger than himself to believe in. Those people who realize this about themselves should consider seeking out the Liberal Christian church rather than forsaking religion altogether. There are many of them in every community.

The fact that truly Conservative Christians are, contrary to their propaganda, in the minority in this country is illustrated by the ever increasing number of Americans who support gay rights, who support reproductive choice and who support scientific reasoning and critical thinking.  Conservative Christians are, in fact, fighting a loosing battle. Unfortunately, we may expect the right wingers to become more and more regressive in their thought processes and actions as their social standing becomes less and less stable and as the world, in their view, travels further and further down the road to Hell.

Jack Scott

Monday, March 4, 2013

An Open Letter To the Republican Party

I almost never blog about politics, but we are living in perilous times when all that is needed for evil to threaten the liberties that we Americans take for granted to come to an end is for good people who put the good of the country and all its citizens first and foremost to continue to say and do nothing about the extremism that is shackling our Country. And as you will see if you bother to read all the way though this blog piece, I'm not just talking about one political party or the other. There is more than enough blame for all to share.

One might ask, how does that have anything to do with homosexual and bisexual people. The answer is that it has everything to do with it. America is just now beginning to take the rights of gay Americans seriously. But if America is overtaken by extremist politics and viewpoints, those citizens with little power, including racial minorities, immigrants, and those who are sexually different will be the first to be assaulted.

I have not always been a Republican. As a young man I was a supporter of LBJ, and I actually voted for Bill Clinton; not once, but twice. I don't actually regret either stance. I've come to believe that the old saying, "If you are young and not liberal, then you have no heart; but if you are old and not conservative, then you have no brain," is entirely true. As I aged, I got smarter and more realistic about the world, just as one is supposed to do.

As a moderate Republican who believes that neither the Republican Party nor any other arm of the Federal government should be making laws about what goes on in our bedrooms or insist that their religious beliefs should trump mine concerning reproductive rights, I felt Mitt Romney could and should defeat President Obama in last November's national election. I was wrong on the "could" part of that feeling. I remain convinced the country would have been better off had the "should" part of my feeling prevailed.

I'm not fearful for myself over Obama's political goals. I an old man who may well be dead before his second term ends in 2016. I am, however, very fearful for my kids and my grandkids who are going to continue to live in a country that bears almost no resemblance to the country in which I grew up in the 50's and early 60's.

The founding fathers never meant for government to be a guarantor of and provider of equality among the people of the United States. Instead,
they meant  the government to see to it that everyone  has an equal chance at equality, not in absolute terms, but under the law. Because the right to happiness and its pursuit is inalienable, we as individuals must take full responsibility to work hard at achieving our own happiness. Many people don't realize that. They sit and wait for the government to deliver it wrapped up in a bow.

President Obama and the Democrat Party have perverted the wisdom of the founding fathers and are trying their best to make the Federal Government the arbiter of equality through taking full responsibility for everyone's happiness. If one group has failed to achieve for whatever reason, the Democrats are willing to help through the redistribution of income. In other words those of us who have worked hard all our lives and achieved the American Dream will be required to share our hard earned wealth; and yes, our privileges with those who have never taken advantage of any opportunity or worked hard at anything in their whole lives to achieve their own piece of the American Dream. 

I was astounded, during the Democrat National Convention last summer to hear Official

Delegates say that to a television pollster, no American Corporation should be allowed to make a profit. How did we get to the point where people who are so utterly stupid can hold an official position in a major party representing the interests of thousands, if not millions of Americans? How could anyone raised and educated in America not understand that corporate profits are the backbone of the American economy and that these profits accrue not just to big corporations but also to Americans of every race and every economic circumstance? How could we get to a place where the most powerful person in the world is consciously and purposefully turning the country over to the left wing nuts who see the American Dream as one in which America is a mediocre country filled with mediocre people saddled with mediocre lives courtesy of the Federal Government?

But it is not just the Democrat Party which has idiots and uneducated imbeciles within their ranks. The Republican Party has, over the last few years, all but turned itself over to their own right wing nut cases. In the last few years, we have seen so called Republican candidates for the highest state and national offices who lack any qualification for these offices. All too often these right wing nut jobs espouse ideas and concepts that could only be described as stupid. Many of their political ideas have their root in fundamental religious beliefs which are subscribed to by only a small minority of Americans. Jack Wu of Kansas is a case in point.

The following is from a February 2010 blog in the Huffington Post.

Jack Wu believes public education is “preparing its students to be liars, crooks, thieves, murderers, and perverts,” which is one of the reasons he's running for a chance to overhaul the system from the inside.

Wu is a Republican candidate for the Kansas Board of Education and an attendee of Fred Phelps' controversial Westboro Baptist Church, a far-right congregation best known for its anti-gay protests and picketing of military funerals. Wu writes that he moved from California to the "evil city of Topeka and this perverse state of Kansas” after "seeing the light of the Westboro Baptist Church.” He also believes evolution is "Satanic lies," which has added particular significance to his upstart candidacy.

Kansas is set to play a pivotal role in creating national education policy as one of 26 states working with the National Research Council to develop science standards for a large portion of the country. Wu's 4th District opponent, Democratic incumbent Carolyn Campbell, supports the teaching of evolution and natural selection, as does the majority of the state's board. But with five seats on the ballot this fall, Kansas' support for commonly accepted scientific principles could hang in the balance.

The Kansas City Star recently interviewed Wu, who explained a bit of his worldview:
“The truth matters more than the opinion of other men and women,” said Wu, clutching his green cloth-bound King James Bible during a recent interview on the grounds of state Capitol about a block away from the Kansas Department of Education’s offices.

“The Bible says if you’re hated by other people for taking a stance that’s not popular, it’s like a sign you’re chosen by God, almost,” added Wu, who describes himself as a reality television fan who works as a self-employed computer programmer and designer of video games.

He's also claimed that Harry Potter promotes witchcraft and likened Christmas trees to pagan idols.

Wu has said he is running for State Board of Education "to throw out the crap that teachers are feeding their students and replace it with healthy good for the soul knowledge from the holy scriptures."

But the nature of his candidacy has largely failed to draw support. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who makes a habit of supporting Republican candidates in the state, opted not to back Wu. According to the Lawrence World-Journal, Wu responded by claiming that he was happy not to receive Brownback's blessing.

“The poor governor needs to obey the commandments of God and stop being a vile Catholic,” Wu said, according to the World-Journal, reportedly noting the Catholic Church's problems with child abuse.

Democratic operatives and non-partisan educators say they're taking Wu's candidacy seriously, but the Star reports that he had only received $5 in contributions through July, the most recent reporting period.


Kansas has never been seen as a state where scientific fact and common sense are always revered over religious ignorance, but I am happy to report that Wu was too much for Kansas. He lost to his Democrat opponent by a wide margin.

I would like to say that it is now no secret to anyone that the Republican Party must change if it is to survive, but that cannot be said. Some of the most radical right wing nuts are still contending that the Party is suffering not from right wing idiocy, but from its failure to embrace even further the right wing agenda.

The strength of America has always been its abundant natural resources, its population which is made up largely of the best and brightest from around the world and its embrace of the political moderate middle. Now, both parties are trying to out do each other in seeing who can most quickly bring America and Americans to the furtherest extremes, both left and right. 

The fact is that an America which embraces either the right wing extremes or the left wing extremes will not long endure. All one has to do is look back at 1930's and 1940's Germany to see what happens when a moderate country comes to be dominated by extremists.

I am still convinced that the great majority of Americans are not extremists. A country of extremists would not be embracing the changes now taking place in America regarding the bringing of full civil rights and acceptance to gay men and women. Although many Americans think otherwise, the growing acceptance of gays as deserving of the equality under the law all Americans deserve is not an extremist position. It is a moderate position.

In spite of President Obama's current control of the levers of power in the Democrat Party, I am not concerned for the long term about the Democrats. Obama is the most extreme President ever to hold the office of the President of the United States. And the fact is he was elected not because of his extreme ideas, but in spite of them. Once he has served his second term and is barred from holding the office again by the U.S. Constitution, the Democrat Party will return to a much more moderate stance.

I am not so optimistic about the Republican Party. Too many of those in powerful positions in the Party seem quite content to continue or even step up their embrace of extreme positions. If that is indeed the case, the Party is doomed.

To survive and be a viable Party again, the Republican Party must embrace its moderate center. It must stop seeing itself as the spokesman for the Christian right wingers. It must embrace, as American has always ultimately embraced, its immigrants, even those who are illegal though generally law abiding people willing to work hard. It must figure out a way to educate Americans to the value of Capitalism once again and bring all Americans back to a common embrace of the power of Capitalism to benefit people of all economic conditions. It must bring people back to the view that America is a land in which a mix of hard work and education will bring enormous benefits which far outstrip those that can be bestowed upon them by a government which would rather hand them a margin of success that would make them and every one else in the country comfortably mediocre.

I believe in  American Exceptionalism, not in American Mediocrity. For those who are not politically and morally blinded, American Exceptionalism cannot be denied. American Exceptionalism does not mean that America is without faults or problems. It does not mean that we don't have the need to reform areas of our public and private character. What it does mean is that it was American Exceptionalism that allowed a band of rag tag Americans to defeat a far superior professional British army in the Revolutionary War. It was American Exceptionalism that made America the defender and savior of democracy in World War II. 

It was American Exceptionalism that allowed Americans to be not only the first; but also, the only men to ever walk on the moon thus far. And to embrace American Exceptionalism is not to deny the exceptional people that can be found in the other countries of the world. Our exceptionalism springs from our willingness to embrace and give opportunity to immigrants from around the world.

All one has to do is consider people like Steve Jobs and Apple, Inc. Steve jobs was of Syrian ancestry. Is there anyone who believes that Jobs would have changed all of mankind with the iPhone, the Mac, and the iPad had he been raised in Syria? Jobs touched the life of every American and a huge percentage of the rest of the world population because of the reality of American Exceptionalism which allowed him the freedom and the opportunity to pursue his dreams in a way no other country could or would.

I believe in the benefits of hard work and the self-striving for a better life while protected from strife and assault by a powerful central government. The Republican Party has traditionally seen the Federal government in that role - the keeper of peace and the provider of equal opportunity. Unfortunately, the Party has come to see itself more as the defender of the rich at the expense of the poor. It has come to see itself as the promoter and defender of right wing Christian values which are not the values of the majority of Americans. It has come to see itself as the defender of low tax rates which prevent the government from keeping up with the demands of inflationary forces as well as the legitimate demands of an ever increasing growth in population which depends on government's legitimate role in keeping the peace and providing and maintaining an infrastructure that supports American ingenuity. It has become the Party which is more interested in creating rules and laws to benefit the richest among us while ignoring the need for rules and laws to help the poorest among us have the chance to build their own wealth and achieve their own dreams.

I married at age 18 and started out with nothing much more than the clothes on my back and the will to make a better life for myself and my family. I was not only able to do that, but to do it to an extent I never envisioned. I'm not sure my young grandchildren are going to have that kind of chance when they become young adults.

It's high time that both Parties, and in particular the Republican Party, gets back to playing the role it has historically played in the lives of Americans. Most black Americans have no idea that it was the Republican Party which brought the Civil Rights victories in the mid and late 1960's over the most obstructive tactics of the Democrats who stood in school doors to prevent integration and used force to beat up blacks who tried to be served at lunch counters. Most black Americans have no idea that it was the Republican Party which moved heaven and earth to bring the Emancipation Proclamation into reality against Democrat resistance. Republicans have stood still and let the Democrat Party steal for themselves its most significant accomplishments. All that must change or America itself is imperiled.

I believe there are good men and women in both parties who are earnestly willing to work in bipartisan ways for the good of the country over their own self interest. The problem is that these men and women are and have been over the last decade or so, willing to let the extremists in both parties speak for them,  immobilize them and disempower them. It's time that changes.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott