The Magical Minimum Wage

Over the hubbub of the minimum wage hike racket, I’ve heard a lot of people shouting about different sides of the debate. Yesterday, someone shared this picture on Facebook:

minimum.wage.1

I’m getting tired of hearing the debate. Here’s the real facts.

Raising minimum wage to $15 an hour will be disastrous. You want inflation? Double the minimum wage then stand back and watch the fallout. I can’t believe nobody is wondering why gas prices more than doubled after Obama took office. I will tell you why: federal minimum wage was kicked up from $4.75 an hour to $7.25 an hour. Businesses do not eat those losses; they pass them on to the consumer. When a business that pays minimum wage for new workers suddenly has to pay twice what they were paying, they’re not going to sit there and say, “oh, well – we’re not gonna make as much money!” No. They’re going to raise the price of everything they sell. Everything is going to cost more, from a loaf of bread to a gallon of gasoline to a crappy McDonald’s hamburger. It’s going to go way up in cost, so it’ll go way up in price.

The more a business has to pay to make a product, the more it costs for the consumer to enjoy it. My girlfriend’s 22-inch tube TV cost about $100 when she bought it. My 55-inch flat-screen cost about $600 when my dad got it for me for Christmas a year ago. The technology of both of these items is very different; a tube TV (which they no longer make) is simple to build and the parts are cheap. A large flat-screen requires more expensive parts, more time, and more labor to build. Compare two different restaurants: McDonald’s and Smashburger. A quarter pounder at McDonald’s costs about $4 (depending on where in the country you are). A “small” hamburger at Smashburger costs about $6. Why? Because Smashburger pays more for better ingredients and they pay their employees slightly more than minimum wage.

The concept is the same for workers. The more a business pays its workers, the more the consumer will pay for the products being assembled and sold by those workers. My iPhone cost me about $200 (I had to sign a new contract with my cell carrier to get it that low, but hey…). My iPhone was also assembled at a factory in China. Had my phone been assembled at a plant in the US, it would have been exorbitantly expensive and I wouldn’t be able to afford it. Why? Because workers in the US cost that much more.

The principle will not change if minimum wage is doubled. These people keep thinking, “oh, if I only made more money…” Yet they refuse to face the fact that if they make the government force their employer to pay them more, things are going to go downhill fast. Their employer will raise the price of the food they’re making, driving some consumers away. The poor people who tend to eat at places like McDonald’s won’t be able to afford it anymore. The cost of basic necessities will shoot up. Suddenly, making more money means nothing because the problems just followed them right into their new predicament. These people don’t think about the consequences of their demands.

What I’m going to say next is going to really piss off a few people, but it needs to be said.

If you want a better life, you have to make it yourself.

I used to work for JP Morgan Chase. After that, I worked for American Express. I hated working in an office setting and having to kiss ass everywhere I went. I really, truly, genuinely hated my job. I made a lot of money, but I hated where I was and felt like I was in a dead end profession. I would prove my abilities beyond everyone else, but would always lose out on promotions to new departments because my boss needed me where I was. I was tired of it. So, I took a pay cut to go work as an EMT full-time. I’m actually making more money now because I love my job and I’m willing to work a lot of overtime. I can take my EMT certification back to my home state and make even more money there. Emergency medical and rescue are always in demand, and since I am capable of dealing with people who are bleeding and throwing up, it works for me. I wanted to make a change in my life and be happy, so I went out and found something that would facilitate that for me.

If you are going to screw around in high school, refuse to attend college, and spend all your time and money trying to have fun, then the consequence is that you’ll never be worth more than minimum wage. You’ll never have marketable skills. Thus you will never have a better job.

Oh, and this whole thing about having kids and working minimum wage? Oh, please. If you hadn’t hopped in bed, you wouldn’t have a kid. If you couldn’t afford a kid, you should have thought about that before jumping in the backseat of that car. Yay, you had sex! I’m glad it was fun! Now, here’s the consequence – a responsibility to take care of a tiny little person who will be completely dependent on you for the next eighteen years (likely longer, considering how poorly you’ll teach basic principles of responsibility). Just like you’re not thinking now about how your demand for more money will affect the future, you didn’t think about how that twenty minutes of fun might affect your personal future. Whose fault is that? I didn’t benefit from you having sex. Why should I have to pay for it?

Cry me a damn river.

Find a trade school – yeah, the ones that your beloved President makes fun of when he tells you to go get an education – and learn an in-demand skill. Learn how to weld. Learn how to fix a car. Learn to be a plumber, an electrician, or a licensed contractor. Go learn medical coding and billing. All of those professions make a lot more money than fast food does (and don’t require mopping up after a patient who misses the emesis bag). And, bonus, you won’t have other minimum-wage earners yelling at you for screwing up their orders and throwing food at you.

You want more money? Go find a way to earn it honestly rather than twisting people’s arms with some emotional appeal that will only make things worse. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, stop expecting everyone else to pay your way for you, and make your own life better. Nobody is responsible for you and your spawn except YOU. Forcing the minimum wage up with not magically solve your problems, nor will yelling at me that you slaved over a hot stove for that cheap chicken sandwich that I just bought to get my blood sugar back up again. I tell you what…do that for 24 hours at a stretch and I’ll be impressed.

I Was A SLAVE!

I used to work for banks as a fraud investigator. In fraud, we talked every day to the bad guy trying to pass themselves off as the customer. We always had the occasional stretch of about a week or so where the same two or three men with heavy accents would call in on multiple accounts – and they’d have a hell of a lot of information on the customer they were trying to rob through us. We weren’t stupid. The accent, by the by, was Nigerian. I learned long ago how to tell different accents apart. Any time we had a fraud trend going with the bad guy calling us, the bad guy was always Nigerian.

One day, I announced to my team in our open chat session that another trend was starting. I’d just ended a call with a man who spoke with a heavy Nigerian accent and he was trying to pass himself off as a customer to open a card we had stopped making a lot of highly suspicious transactions. Out of nowhere, a black woman on our team typed, “how do you know he’s Nigerian? I’m Nigerian, and I don’t have an accent! I think you’re a racist!”

She said this for twenty people to see.

The team immediately exploded. I went on the most professionally outraged tirade I could muster. I explained, “you did not grow up in Nigeria. Your ancestors may be Nigerian, but you did not grow up speaking Hausa, thus you do not speak English with a heavy accent. This guy clearly did because he speaks with a very distinct accent. I’m from Texas, so to your ear, I speak with an accent – are you racist against me for pointing that out last week?”

That meltdown was the talk of the entire floor until I left the company. The woman involved transferred to another unit quickly after the exchange. She was never required to apologize to me (and I wouldn’t have wanted them to force her to), but everyone knew she was being hysterical for a silly reason and that was enough for me.

After that, I tend to laugh uproariously whenever a black person starts losing their mind over something I say and accusing me of being a racist. I talk about welfare needing more checks and balances; YOU OWE ME FOR SLAVERY! HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST I HAVEN’T EARNED THIS MONEY! I talk about food stamps not being a right; I get the same response. I talk about how you can own your future, get an education, and work hard to have the things you want; HOW CAN I?!? YOU CRACKERS OWN THE WHOLE SYSTEM! YOU AND THE JEWS AND THE CHINESE AND THE INDIANS, YOU OWN EVERYTHING!!!

Imagine my amusement, then, when a friend sent me this video. Before you click, be prepared – the last half is pretty foul. It’s NSFW. When you’re home and the young kids aren’t around, click the link and watch all six minutes. If you have older kids, have them sit down and watch it, then explain to them just why she’s a moron. Note that she’s losing her mind because the clerk at the store wanted her to pay $0.20 – yes, twenty cents – for water.

You own your own future. YOU. If you give it up to other people, it is your fault. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is. It doesn’t matter what neighborhood you live in as a child. If you want to make a better life for yourself, you will find a way. Stop blaming the system and the white man for your willing failures. Stop blaming circumstance or your parents for the crimes you commit. Stop expecting everyone else to pay your way through life when you waste your high school years “having fun”.

The Sterling Incident

By now I’m sure we all know that LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught on tape chastising his trophy girlfriend for posting pictures of herself with famous black athletes – and forbidding her from bringing them to games. His racist rants have just earned him a lifetime ban from all things NBA and rumors that the NBA board will force him to sell the team.

There’s a lot of emotions revolving around this. I have friends who are thrilled that Sterling is getting his comeuppance. I have others who don’t care. Still others are upset that his privacy was violated and that he’s being punished for views he expressed in the privacy of his own home.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

Donald Sterling has a girlfriend, known only as V. Stiviano. Yeah, he’s married, but he keeps this trophy who is at least half a century his junior because he likes to have a pretty girl on his arm, right? In 2006, the Department of Justice (the BUSH DOJ, no less) brought him up on charges of discriminating against certain races in renting out apartments in his properties around the LA area. In 2009 he was sued by a coach when he remarked that he wanted to fill his team with “poor black boys from the South and a white head coach.” So really, it was no surprise that Sterling was a fuming racist. Sterling’s wife sued Stiviano for fraud, and Stiviano had vowed that she would get even – and she did. The day he got mad at her and started flipping out over pictures of her with Magic Johnson, she recorded him.

A few days ago, her tapes were published by gossip site TMZ.

Now, all of a sudden, they’re willing to do something. He’s been outed two previous times as a racist, but NOW they’re going to do something, now that Magic Johnson is involved. It rings rather hollow that it’s taken this long, but it’s done. Sterling is banned. Something about this made it worse than the previous incidents and now he’s toast.

Here’s where I tell you what I think.

The First Amendment protects us from the government – not from private entities. I can’t say it enough because people somehow get it in their heads that the First Amendment is there to protect us from employers, too (and stores, restaurants, etc.). Let me say it again: the First Amendment is there to protect us from the government. The government had no hand in this, so the Constitutional rights argument holds no water.

That said, does Sterling have a right to expect a certain amount of privacy in his own home? Of course he does. I have friends who are upset that his career is being ruined over personal beliefs voiced in his private home. Okay…is this really the first time any of us has heard of a jilted lover ruining their sugar daddy with something like this? This story is just about the oldest in creation. Creepy rich guy has a wife. Wife isn’t young and pretty anymore. Creepy rich guy buys a girlfriend and publicly shames wife. Wife gets mad and tries to get back at trophy skank of a girlfriend. Trophy skank vows revenge. Trophy skank does something to publicly humiliate lover and shamed wife. Is this really new? Do we not watch plotlines like this in the shows and movies that we watch – and then cheer the skank?

Folks, being banned from the NBA isn’t going to ruin Sterling’s finances. He should have been banned after the first incident, when he was caught saying out loud that he refused to rent to Latinos because they “drink and smoke and hang around the place” and refused to rent to blacks because “they smell and attract vermin.” That should have been enough, but somehow, it wasn’t. And it’s not like it wasn’t highly publicized and talked about.

Sterling is really only getting what people have wanted for several years. Yes, he has a right to free speech – but we as equal citizens have the same right to tell him we aren’t willing to do business with him. The NBA now has an obligation to react to this. This is the third incident in which he has been proven to be a blathering racist, and if they allow him to continue showing up and sitting in his courtside seats, the NBA stands to lose a lot of money when people stop coming to games and buying their merchandise. They are moving to save their image. Donald Sterling dug his own grave here. He deserves exactly what’s happening.

(None of this, BTW, is to mention the fact that rap stars who use racist and homophobic slurs in their work haven’t been banned. In that sense it does, yet again, ring slightly hollow.)

Oppression in the System

Last night, Bill O’Reilly had Oklahoma volunteer militia leader Scott Shaw on his program to talk about the Bundy Ranch fiasco. O’Reilly asked, “what is the difference between what you’re doing and what the Occupy movement was doing?” He said both were dissenting against a system that they believe was oppressive.

There’s a huge difference, Bill. I’d like to think that you’re just trying to figure out if Shaw does, but I don’t know.

Let’s talk first about the Occupy Wall Street movement. First of all, they were protesting not the system, but a set of ideas – mainly perceived social and economic inequality. “I am the 99%” memes popped up all over the place, with uber-liberal fanatics posting pictures of themselves holding up signs bemoaning their minimum-wage jobs, lack of benefits, crappy apartments, and college degrees that cost too much money and gave little in return. More dramatic protesters set up tents and camped out in public parks and in front of high-powered businesses. Even more defacated on police cars and vandalized the parks and businesses they were protesting. Some went so far as to riot, smashing bank windows and even looting on a couple of occasions. It was not a peaceful protest by any means. When rampant crime was reported in Occupy camps, protest leaders warned their people not to go to the police about it. They added that they were angry about corporate influence on the political process somewhere in the mix. The so-called 99% began as a rabble and rapidly devolved into a modern-day attempt at a French Revolution. The bonus? It wasn’t started by Americans. It was started by a Canadian socialist group called Adbusters who said, “America needs its own Tahrir” (referencing the 1977 bread riots in Egypt).

The Occupy movement demanded a change in the very fabric of American society, not just its corporate structure. They demanded all student loans be forgiven, home foreclosures cease, a raise in minimum wage, better jobs, government income distribution – basically they were insisting that nobody should be wealthier than anyone else and they were going to terrorize the public until they got what they wanted. They referred to themselves as slaves to the system (oh, please). They were out to push the idea that the government should take care of its citizens.

Cliven Bundy is the antithesis to the OWS movement. His family arrived in the area sometime in the 1870’s and has been raising cattle there ever since. The government has argued that they have owned that land since the 1848 purchase from Mexico; unfortunately, the federal government can’t really stand on that alone. They may have owned it, but it was open for cattle driving and grazing for a very long time. In 1933 the Grazing Bureau was started; in 1934 the Taylor Grazing Act was passed, meant to regulate cattle grazing on public lands. The Act provided a system of permits for grazing on public lands, but that system was given the ability to revoke any permit at any time for any or no reason and gave no rights or claim to lands by ranchers. In 1954, Cliven and his father began actively grazing their cattle in Bunkerville. In 1973, suddenly the Bureau of Land Management (which is what the Grazing Bureau became in 1946) decided to start requiring Cliven’s father to start paying for the right to graze cattle there. In 1993, the rules changed due to the status of the desert tortoise; the animal was placed on the endangered species list. That meant that large swaths of Bunkerville were no longer usable for grazing.

Cliven refused to stop grazing, claiming that the cattle were no threat to the desert tortoise. The BLM began fining him for grazing his cattle there and he refused to pay the fines because there was no evidence that the tortoise was threatened by his cattle. He also provided some evidence (although the courts dismissed it) that his family had been grazing cattle on the land since 1877. Then the government began telling Cliven that he had to reduce his 908-head herd drastically. While it is true that Cliven was technically breaking the law, that law was unjust. After 20 years of legal wrangling the BLM decided to stop arguing and get serious. They sent a small army to the Bundy ranch to begin rounding up cattle. Some cattle were shot and buried in mass graves. The Bundys called for help, and several militias showed up to stand up to federal agents who were killing animals in the name of…saving animals.

To be fair, some of the militiamen were complete morons. I’d love to slap Richard Mack silly for admitting to having strategized putting women at the front of the protest so the shock factor would be high if the feds got violent (dude, you don’t even think of that kind of thing – and if you do, you don’t friggin’ say it out loud!). Scott Shaw wasn’t able to articulate the differences between OWS and the Bundy Standoff very well at all. Either way, the differences are both simple and complex at the same time. OWS was a bunch of slackers who wanted to take from innocent, hardworking people to make their own lives more comfortable when they weren’t willing to work for it. Cliven Bundy has centered his entire life around hard work and earning every single thing he has.

(Of course, none of this is to mention the fact that Nevada Senator Harry Reid has his grubby fingers all over this. His son, Rory, has been trying to secure the Bunkerville land at an unbelievably low price in order to secure a deal with a Chinese company to build a solar plant there. Reid pushed to have a former aide installed as the head of the BLM to rush the process of getting Bundy kicked off of the Bunkerville property to make sure the deal moves forward. But, you know, it’s really the Republicans who are infringing on people’s rights.)

By the way…it’s worth mentioning that the BLM agents destroyed at least one desert tortoise den (that we know of) while enforcing the protection of the animal. The BLM’s Desert Tortoise Conservation Center is also about to close, and in the process will euthanize half of the over 1,400 animals currently in its care. Yeah, I can see how important the conservation effort is that it required a heavily armed response.

Excuses, Excuses

When Ron Paul was discovered accepting campaign donations from known white supremacists, he refused to send the money back. He said that they had a right to their beliefs and he had no place judging them. I, like many others, called him out for making excuses, and poor ones at that – that accepting the money was akin to agreeing with their idiotic beliefs.

Dan Clevenger, the mayor of Marionville, MO, is now doing the same thing while he backpedals like mad.

On Sunday, April 13, Frazier Glenn Miller, Jr. went to two Jewish community centers and killed three people (he fired at far more than that) with a shotgun. He had long since been very well-known for his white supremacist beliefs, particularly for his Antisemitic views. For well over a decade he’s lived in the Overland Park suburb of Kansas City and has continually espoused his beliefs that Jews are the cause of all of the problems in our country. His self-published book, “A White Man Speaks Out”, is on the shelf at the local library. Clevenger is now trying to say that the 2,200 or so who live in Marionville don’t believe the way Miller does.

Clevenger, however, does – and it is quite well-documented.

In October 2004, Clevenger wrote a letter to the editor of the Aurora Advertiser where he called Miller a friend and openly agreed with his beliefs about Jews. He said he wanted to spread Miller’s “warnings”, including that of Jews in the medical industry making money by “killing us off”. Just in the last few days he has continued to spit out those vile beliefs in more than one interview. He believes that Jews are running the world economy and Jews are responsible for the economic crash – because, you know, Jews run the Federal Reserve, right? How does he know? The names, of course! Only one Jewish name in the bunch since 1913, but you know it has to be a conspiracy.

In an interview with CNN, Clevenger said, “I considered him a friend, and everyone is entitled to freedom of speech and I didn’t keep him away because he was a customer. I can just ignore things that people say.” The problem here is that he’s not ignoring anything. He’s openly agreeing with it.

You don’t see these types walking into gay community centers and shooting them up. You don’t see white supremacists bombing gay bars. They do that to Jewish community centers. Hatred for Jews is the one kind of hatred that transcends all other racial and ethnic boundaries, including sexual orientation. I have met gay people who believe this way…that Jews are destroying the world through the economy, medicine, and the supposed occupation of Palestine.

Now that Clevenger has been outed, it will be interesting to see if he gets re-elected for a second term. If he does, I won’t be going through Kansas City any time soon.

Don’t Go There

During what seems to be the umpteen jillionth hearing on Capitol Hill about the failures of the now-infamous “Fast and Furious” gun running program yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder showed breathtaking disrespect to members of Congress while being grilled by Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX).

Multiple requests by the House Judiciary Committee for the Department of Justice to turn over nearly ten thousand pages of documents related to F&F have gone unheeded. During yesterday’s hearing, Rep. Gohmert pointed out the fact that this documentation has been readily turned over to lawyers representing those accused of supporting terrorism, yet all the DOJ has been willing to provide the Judiciary Committee is a link to the parts of that evidence that has been made publicly available (roughly half of what has been requested). The frustration of the committee at being continually snubbed had already come out in the form of a charge of contempt against Holder, and it came out again when Rep. Gohmert rehashed all of the events leading up to yesterday’s hearing.

Not without reason, Rep. Gohmert said, “I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our Attorney General…”

Holder’s response was incredible. Leaning back in his chair, he sniped, “you don’t wanna go there, buddy. You don’t wanna go there, okay?” He then proceeded to go on a tirade about how important this investigation has been. This after a similar grilling from Rep. Steve King (R-IA) during which Holder became visibly upset, saying, “I’ll put my record up against any other Attorney General, any other Justice Department, and any hint we have engaged in anything that’s partisan or inappropriate in nature I totally one thousand percent reject.”

Well, let’s take a look at that record, shall we?

During the Presidential election in November 2008, two members of the New Black Panther Party were captured on cell phone video standing outside a Pennsylvania polling place in paramilitary garb, carrying nightsticks. Several people complained that they felt intimidated; some even left without voting. The Bush administration DOJ handily won the case against the NBPP when the members of the group failed to show up (and, you know – video evidence and all) to defend themselves against charges of voter intimidation. In his first act as the new Attorney General in early 2009, Holder tossed the win and dropped all charges against the NBPP and the specific members who were there, claiming there wasn’t enough evidence. He excused himself by saying, “When you compare what people endured in the South in the ’60s to try to get the right to vote for African Americans, to compare what people subjected to that with what happened in Philadelphia… I think does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line for my people.” In other words, what your people did back in the day was worse, so you can stop crying about what my people are doing now.

In 2009, Holder gave a speech on race relations in America in which he called us a “nation of cowards.” He went on to say, “Certain subjects are off-limits and that to explore them risks at best embarrassment, and at worst, the questioning of one’s character.” I’m sure we can agree with that last statement, although the subject that we would like to explore are very different.

In 2010, Holder attempted to take what was clearly a military matter and make it a civilian one. Several foreign nationals who had engaged US forces in acts of terrorism were set to go on trial and Holder swore that he would give them civilian trials in New York City. After the uproarious outcry over the move, President Obama had to force Holder to back off.

Last year, George Zimmerman was found not guilty by a jury during a trial to determine whether he murdered Trayvon Martin. In a flagrant violation of Zimmerman’s Constitutional rights, Holder announced an investigation into whether Martin’s civil rights were violated almost immediately after the jury’s verdict was announced. In contrast, two incidents of racial hatred – one in Chicago, the other near Detroit – have been completely ignored by Holder’s DOJ. Both involved black children in poor neighborhoods being hit by cars after darting into traffic. In both cases, relatives and friends of the children involved mobbed the white drivers. Neither has seen one iota of attention from the DOJ’s civil rights division.

It’s been over a year since the news first broke of the IRS targeting conservative groups. Early on, an Inspector General reported that there was more than enough evidence of a conspiracy against conservative groups – the IRS was using its power to try to intimidate those who didn’t support Obama. Eight months into the DOJ’s so-called “investigation”, it came to light that the lead investigator, Barbara Kay Bosserman, was a major contributor to the Obama campaign. Holder had absolutely no answer for the questions that Ted Cruz had for him in January. Now, suddenly, in light of Holder’s thinly-veiled threat during the hearing yesterday, we’re hearing that the DOJ is actually going to prosecute Lois Lerner for her role in the targeting scandal.

Convenient, isn’t it, that we’re calling him out for his record after he kicks back and flippantly all but threatens Rep. Gohmert and out of nowhere Lerner is being prosecuted? Quite the CYA moment.

It is astonishing to me that this administration hasn’t been held accountable for the multiple egregious scandals it has been embroiled in. If Holder doesn’t want us to go there, then maybe he should do his job rather than applying the law only to people he doesn’t personally like. And, really…the threats, sir? We all know that’s exactly what that was.

Don’t go there.

(In)Tolerant

In 2012, many names of those who contributed money to California’s Prop 8 campaign – the law proposed to make newly-legalized gay marriage illegal again in the state – was publicized. Many people were called upon by angry LGBT groups to answer for their support. Not surprisingly (at least to me), many of the people who contributed were also Democrats who voted for Barack Obama. I’m sure nobody remembers the fact that the vacationer-in-chief staunchly supported DOMA during his first campaign in order to attract the Democrat voters who are against gay marriage,

One of the names on that list two years ago was Brendan Eich. At the time he was the CTO of Mozilla, the company that built popular free internet browser Firefox. Last month he was hired as Mozilla’s CEO. Almost as soon as he achieved the highest position in the company he helped found, the fact that he had donated $1,000 to the Prop 8 campaign was trotted out by bitter gay activists again. OKcupid got involved by asking their users to log onto their website using any browser other than Firefox. The message was sent: Eich is an anti-gay hatemonger, and we need to ruin him!

Just a few days ago, Eich was pressured to resign as Mozilla CEO. He apologized for having hurt anyone but the apology mattered none.

Before I get into my issues here, know that I am fully aware that this is not a matter of First Amendment rights. Nothing that happened is a violation of Eich’s rights. Everyone involved was exercising their rights to free speech. That is not what is wrong here.

What is wrong is this episode is setting a dangerous new precedent. This is the new face of the mob mentality that has begun to take over in American politics. Lists of political donations and firearms license holders are being published in the press by so-called journalists who feel they have an obligation to shine a light on a perceived wrong in society. The fallout is things like this – people being singled out, their lives torn apart because one small group decided that they were doing something they felt was wrong.

It is no secret that I don’t have much love for Arizona representative Kyrsten Sinema. Whereas I once had a couple of things to agree with her on, thanks to her followers I cannot even hold onto that anymore. A couple of years ago, I engaged several of her most ardent followers in a “debate” (I do use that word rather lightly) about Second Amendment rights and whether human beings have a natural right to defend themselves. As is always the case with hard-left liberals, it was very heated on their end with a lot of name-calling and almost no factual offerings while I tried to be rational and reasonable. One of them started taking the personal information on my Facebook page and posting it on the thread, making fun of me for it. Then it came out that I’m an EMT working in a 911 system in their areas.

Oh, that was it. Multiple people had absolute meltdowns. How could I possibly believe we have a right to carry guns when I’m responsible for treating people who have been shot? How could I believe that we should defend ourselves when I see the consequences of those beliefs on the streets? Here’s a sampling of the comments made:

“Your license to practice as an EMT should be revoked! You are violent and angry and I hate you and everything you stand for!”

“I’m going to write a letter to the state health department about you, Mel Maguire! You’re a disgrace to your profession and you should never be allowed to help people ever again!”

“If you ever come to my house, I won’t let you in! Don’t you ever answer my 911 call!”

And these are some of the nicer comments made. Kyrsten never deleted anyone’s comments, never stood up for me as a public servant, and never bothered to tell people to dial it down. Her silence said a lot about where her stance was. I didn’t have the heart to tell any of these people that the overwhelming majority of police, fire, and EMS workers are on the right side of the political spectrum. Their reactive comments, though, honestly scared me. They still scare me – now more so thanks to what was done to Brendan Eich. Nobody deserves to lose their livelihood simply because a few disagree with their politics.

If a small but vocal group of angry people can end a man’s career with the company he founded based on a technology he wrote (JavaScript), it does not bode well for the rest of society. That anger can and will be turned on others. It is magnified many times over when those in power do nothing to calm that sentiment. Don’t hold your breath for a phone call from President Obama apologizing for the hate that Eich experienced. Don’t plan on a DOJ investigation into whether his civil rights were violated. The press has said little about the fact that Eich’s professional image was irreparably damaged by this episode.

His donation and personal beliefs about marriage are not anti-gay. He simply doesn’t believe in gay marriage. That does not equate to hatred, and I’m tired of hearing people make that parallel. We can’t get the press to call out Al Sharpton for his blatant and wanton racism, but you can be damn sure they’ll attack anyone who is not 100% supportive of gay everything.

Eich’s personal beliefs were never brought into his workplace. He never refused to hire gay people. In fact, Mozilla has gay-friendly workplace policies as far as I know. If he never brought his personal ideas into his office, then nobody else should have. The way he was forced out of his own company, you’d think he’d been caught on camera drowning puppies or something. He wasn’t a member of the KKK. He just doesn’t believe in gay marriage. I fail to understand why that is grounds for a smear campaign aimed at destroying him both personally and professionally.

Just because the First Amendment allows you to do that to a person does not make it right. The fact that you don’t agree with him doesn’t make him intolerant and you a saint. Every single person who allowed this or supported it should be deeply ashamed. You are the living proof that those who scream for others to be more tolerant are the most intolerant among us.

Insignificant

When actress Ellen Page came out last month, several conservatives I know (and those I only know by association) posted comments that were really pretty mean. I read everything from “Ellen WHO???” to “who cares? Did another idiot celebrity really need to come out?”

First of all, if you have seen the movie “Inception” then you know exactly who Page is. If you haven’t seen that movie then you should be slapped silly. It’s amazing.

Second, it is unfortunate that it is still important for celebrities to come out of the closet.

In the last six years, I’ve run more calls than I can remember. I’m in public safety. I talk to a lot of different kinds of people. I’m not allowed to give details, but I have met a hell of a lot of people – teens and adults alike – who have battled depression second to the bullying they are dealing with for being gay or lesbian. I’ve talked to kids as young as 13 and adults as old as their mid-40’s who are still fighting to be accepted as human beings. Most of the kids haven’t even figured out whether they’re gay; some know they aren’t, but other kids (and sometimes even teachers) are bullying them because they simply appear to be gay.

Bullying takes many different forms. I was bullied for a lot of reasons. The fact that I was a huge tomboy was only one of those reasons. I have told my story before; I was the loser that other losers used to pick on and beat up. I was a tomboy, I was a girl who played guitar and bass, I was a science nerd, I was a history buff, I was terrible at sports, I was awkward, I just wasn’t cool enough…I was never good enough. I often still feel like I’m not good enough, but that is par for the course when you see the way I grew up.

The belief that I was a lesbian when I was a kid was one of the reasons I was bullied, though, and it was huge. Nowadays kids take school bullying home with them on their smartphones, where they endure a continuous stream of hate through Facebook, Twitter, and a myriad of other forums. I’ve talked to a lot of those kids. They’re afraid to tell their parents at least partially because they know the bullying will only get worse when they tattle. More than one kid has looked at me and asked, “did your parents hate you when you came out?”

No, they didn’t hate me. It wasn’t easy for them to accept at first, but they didn’t hate me. The first time a teenage boy sat in my ambulance and asked me to help him tell his parents because that was why he was sitting there with serious injuries from a beating, I wanted to disappear. How do you do that? How do I sit down with this kid in his hospital room, look his parents in the eye, and tell his crying mother that he needed to tell her something? Once I’ve said that, how do I stand there and mediate while he tells her something she probably never expected him to say because he was such a good religious boy?

Even the most well-meaning conservatives among my friends who are straight don’t understand how hard that can be. It took me months after my horrible self-realization to finally tell my parents. It’s still a stigma in society. It’s a stigma at home. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear that Ellen Page is losing work because of her announcement, but a lot of actors and actresses in the past have watched their careers tank after admitting to the world that they were gay.

It took a lot of courage for Michael Sam to come out. It took a lot for Ellen Page. It took a lot for Chely Wright (who immediately saw her career as a top-ten country artist evaporate). It took courage because, even in a society where being openly gay is becoming normal, there is still enough stigma and enough bullying to make one’s life very difficult. Being true to oneself is important; when those around you decide that they can’t stand your true self, it can be devastating.

I look forward to the day when we won’t have to “come out” anymore. Until then, I will have a lot of respect for those who come out and tell the world that it’s normal for some. We’re still people. We’re still just like you, and we’re not insignificant.

Peace

News has hit the airwaves that Fred Phelps Sr., the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, is now in the care of a hospice in Topeka. It has been reported that he was voted out of the church he founded in August of 2013 and last month went into hospice. Yesterday the news reported that his estranged son, Nate Phelps, had announced that the elder Phelps had stopped eating and was completely unresponsive. To me, an EMT (who recently said goodbye to my own grandfather), that spells the end of life.

Many in the media, milbloggers, and gay activists are having a field day right now. When I first read the news I thought about a lot of things I wanted to say, but nothing I can reflect on right now is really appropriate. Nothing that I or anyone else thought of him matters in light of the fact that Fred still has a family that loves him.

Of the 70 or so members of his family, about 20 had left Westboro. A few were forced out; most left willingly. Those who made the decision to leave knew that they would never see any of their family again but still hope to have the chance to see the man they know as “Gramps” one last time.

Fred was a different person to his family than he was to us. His granddaughter Grace, who left with her older sister Megan last year, wrote a beautiful missive about her love for her grandfather today. Nothing that he did or said that made him a different person to me can change the fact that he obviously loved his grandchildren, and they deeply love him.

I refuse to take part in any celebration over this. I will not rehash his wrongs. All I will say is directed squarely at those of his family who miss him the most, those who had to leave because they no longer agreed with the teachings of the church. Nate, Mark, Dorotha, Libby, Josh, Megan, Grace, and the others whose names I do not know, I am sorry. I wish you could see him again. I wish things hadn’t gone the way they did in your family. I wish you could mourn privately, without the media deconstructing everything your Gramps has ever done. I understand how much it hurts to lose a grandfather that you haven’t been able to see or speak to in a long time because of family issues, and I hurt for you. I was at least able to see my Pawpaw before he died; I cannot imagine how I would feel if I hadn’t been there when he left this life.

I hope you all find some peace. I wish I could do or say more, but I can at least say there is one small corner of the new media of the internet where you will not find anger or hatred while you grieve. I cannot be happy for Fred’s pending death because all of you still wish for one more minute with him.

(On this post, I will break my rule about not deleting comments intended to inflict pain. Any comments posted against the spirit of the main article will be deleted. Continued attempts to re-post such comments will result in your IP being blocked.)

WWJD?

As a conservative, I voted for Jan Brewer. I felt no qualms in doing so. I’ve been irritated with some of her choices of late, mainly her decisions regarding Child Protective Services, but I have been impressed with her refusal to back down on issues such as Second Amendment rights and immigration issues.

Now, as a lesbian, I’m sitting here with my breath on hold. The state senate and house of representatives have both passed SB 1062. Now all that waits is Governor Brewer’s decision – sign it into law, veto it, or take no action and let it become law.

The bill came about after multiple lawsuits and civil complaints brought against business owners in several states. Gay couples preparing to hold marriage ceremonies are running into bakeries and photographers who are refusing to do business with them because the business owners are Christians and don’t agree with homosexuality, let alone gay marriage. When this happens it makes the news. It also typically goes straight to court. Several states, including Kansas, Ohio, and Kentucky have all drawn up laws with the intent of preserving “religious freedom” and protecting business owners who want to refuse service to gays based on their religious beliefs. Arizona, however, is the first state to come this far in passing that legislation. All other states have dropped it.

I’ve read the bill. It’s short and simple enough to understand. The big problem I have is that it’s pretty ambiguous in its language. In short, the bill literally says that any business can refuse service to anyone and claim a “sincerely held religious belief” to avoid being sued or penalized by the government under discrimination laws. That means this would stand to affect more than just gay people; it could spread to racial and religious discrimination very quickly.

I have said before and will say again that I will only support gay marriage rights as long as the rights of churches to refuse to perform gay weddings is preserved. Churches should never be forced to engage in practices that go against their beliefs. For the record, I think if a caterer or a photographer doesn’t agree with gay marriage they shouldn’t have to be forced to do business with gay couples. I think that if a gay couple knows that they’re going to a Christian-owned business that won’t want to help with their ceremony, they’re inviting disaster in the form of poor, shoddy work. The problem that I have with SB 1062 is that it is far too broad and flings the door wide open for all kinds of discrimination to be excused by religion.

In reality, however, this is little more than an exercise in stupidity by the socially conservative hard right. This is more of the same from social conservatives who claim to want limited government and then turn around and expect the government to legislate personal and moral issues. Rather than minding their own business and learning to live and let live, they want everyone to snap to and agree to their brand of morality a la legislation. If anyone dared suggest allowing Sharia courts anywhere in the United States (something I vehemently refuse to support, in case anyone was wondering), these folks would be up in arms in a heartbeat, as well they should. But they have no issue at all with trying to legislate from their own pulpit.

Mushy moderates like John McCain and Jeff Flake know how strong their social base is and they play to it. During the last election, both Arizona senators openly supported the social conservatives who were worried about gay marriage and gave them exactly the answers they knew that base wanted to hear. Now that both of those senators have come out in the Gang of Eight and agreed to come to some kind of compromise on gun control, those socials are crying foul. They just can’t understand this kind of betrayal.

You don’t get to feign ignorance now. You were more worried about those damned social issues than you were about the economy, amnesty, taxes, healthcare, and gun rights. Because that was your primary concern, we’re all stuck with men representing us who are willing to sell us out. The problem is that you are still refusing to see that truth. The liberals are thoroughly enjoying the resultant mess and watching the conservative side implode. They are the ones that will win this war because you simply cannot let go of issues that have no bearing whatsoever on what’s really destroying us right now – the economy, Obamacare, amnesty, and rising taxes. Cities are going broke and some states are well on their way and we’re still kibitzing about gay marriage.

Of course, none of this is to mention the breathtaking arrogance of social conservatives. Your whole beef is that you should be allowed to refuse to do business with someone because they’re gay and you don’t agree with homosexuality. Do you really think Jesus would approve of putting up a sign in your restaurant asking gay people to stay away? Do you think Jesus would applaud you for turning away a patient because you didn’t want to treat a gay person? What would Jesus say if he were standing in front of you while you called all gay people pedophiles and screamed for them to be stripped of their rights? What happened to “whatever you do unto the least of these”? If you support this farce of a law, then go out and scrape that WWJD sticker off your car and take that cross necklace off. You obviously don’t remember what Jesus said about how you’re supposed to treat other people.

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