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Posted by on Feb 5, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Politics, What's Left | 1 comment

So, the old miser bailed on the new stadium deal — what’s next Las Vegas Raiders?

 

 

In case you didn’t hear the big news earlier this week — the old miser dropped out of the stadium deal.  That places the NFL’s Oakland Raiders-to-Las Vegas move in serious jeopardy.

So, what’s next?

Sheldon Adelson, the cantankerous fat cat who supposedly pledged $650 million from his vast fortune estimated at worth more than $32 billion — for him, what amounts to an old set of golf clubs sitting out in the garage — backed out of an agreement with Raiders’ owner Mark Davis and the City of Las Vegas, the third partner in the complicated business deal.  Adelson’s involvement (actually, his money — nobody really cared much if he showed at the meetings) was essential to the construction of a new stadium, expected to be built near The Strip and could have been ready just in time for kickoff for the 2020 NFL regular season.  Adelson’s role in the agreement was like the rich family uncle who everyone despises.  But you don’t want to piss him off because there might be something in the will, later on.  Without a new stadium, which required Uncle Adelson’s money to build, the Raiders deal was, and remains, dead.

Adelson cutting and running when his help (money) was needed most reveals a pettiness not even his most vocal critics would have expected.  To be clear, Adelson’s financial contribution could have been a remarkable testament to his appreciation to this city and its people.  For many, even his detractors, it might have transformed his spotty reputation from a casino mogul and political reactionary who’s not particularly well-liked by many in this community into something of a local civic hero.  Yet, when time came to buy into the game and write out the marker, Adelson scootered away from the table faster than a busted gambler at one of his craps tables.

Now, the partnership is $650 million short.  More pressing, the clock on the stadium deal is ticking and could go kaput, as early at March 1st.  Somebody needs to step in and reach deep into their pockets — and fast.  Reportedly, the MGM-Grand folks were open to stepping in and riding to the rescue as our savior.  However, negotiations quickly collapsed.  Unless David Copperfield can magically make a half a billion in cash appear, that deal’s not happening.  Other powerful casino interests could be interested.  But the last time anyone checked, Caesars Entertainment had $17.43 in the bank.

What’s puzzling to me is — why do football stadiums cost so much goddamned money?  Does Las Vegas — or any other city where are schools desperately cry out for renovation and roads and bridges need improvement — really need to squander $2 billion on a mega-sports arena that hosts on the average just ten ball games a year?  Assuming the Raiders were to remain in Las Vegas for the next 30 years, that would come out to about $6.7 million per game, and that doesn’t even include the cost of upkeep and maintenance.

Inexplicably, stadiums have become the new cathedrals of modern civilization.  Sunday worship isn’t much of a church thing anymore.  Now, it’s a football thing.  What the Sistine Chapel and Notre Dame were to the peasantry centuries ago, today the Superdome and Jerry’s World assume that same spiritual and financial ambiance.  Indeed, churches have lots in common with the NFL.  Both cause brain damage and then demand that taxpayers pay for everything.

Here’s my idea:  Screw Adelson.  Screw the MGM.  Let’s slum it and build the stadium for $1.35 billion.  Wouldn’t that work?  Wouldn’t that be enough?  Must every pro football stadium look like a giant UFO?  Can’t we throw down some seeds, water the grass, construct a few grandstands, and enjoy the game?  Didn’t natural-grass stadiums filled with real fans minus all the sky boxes and sponsor-driven hoopla work pretty damn well for six decades?  Didn’t pro football become America’s true national pastime because games were played in authentic arenas like Lambeau Field, the Orange Bowl, and Yankee Stadium?  Sure, no one wants to go back to the olden days of leather helmets.  But can’t we forget about retractable roofs, faux rubber grass, and VIP sections?

How about this.  Let’s offer to build the Raiders a new stadium for $1.35 billion.  Two billion minus $650 million equals $1.35 billion.  That’s the budget.  We can tell Mark Davis — hey, you wanted a Tesla.  We’re offering you a Buick.  Take it or leave it.  Right now, given that they call the Oakland Coliseum home, the Raiders are driving a shitbox.  How to cut down on costs?  Easy.  Since Trump’s border wall with Mexico isn’t up yet, we can use cheap migrant labor.  We’ll cut on the number of stalls in the ladies restrooms.  They’re going to bitch they’re aren’t enough stalls, anyway.  We can remove the escalators because most sports fans are fat and lazy.  They need to exercise more.  We can charge $15 for a beer and $30 for a parking spot.  Oh wait — stadiums are doing that already.

An NFL stadium doesn’t need to resemble the Johnson Space Center.  Yeah, I get that Las Vegas weather is hot as fuck much of the time and perhaps an enclosed facility may be necessary.  But, the weather here isn’t any more uncomfortable than the steam baths of Miami or Jacksonville or Houston or the frigid weather in northern cities.  If Bills and Bears fans can sit in the freezing cold in subzero temperatures and watch those shit teams, Las Vegas football fans should be able to risk a mild case of sunstroke.  250 miles to our south, the Phoenix Cardinals played in an outdoors stadium for nearly 20 years and there weren’t more than a handful of deaths, and pretty much all of those were from eating the nachos.

According to Forbes’ latest figures, the average NFL franchise is worth about $1.5 billion.  For teams who also own their own stadium, the values are considerably higher.  Assuming Mark Davis will own half of the new Las Vegas stadium, it follows that the value of the team would probably double and surpass the $2 billion mark.  That should be anough money to live on for a while, even in the Bay Area.  Besides, he sure as hell isn’t spending much money on haircuts.

If he still short on cash and needs a few bucks, given those figures and that level of collateral, Davis could probably get approved for a bank loan.  If he needs a co-signer, then give me a call.  Unlike Sheldon Adelson, I won’t back out of the deal.  I’ll even throw in my old set of golf clubs.

 

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Posted by on Feb 3, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 5 comments

Student Rioters are Betraying Progressive Principles

 

 

A few days ago, an outspoken media personality who also happens to be an attention-starved right-wing extremist was invited to speak at Cal-Berkeley, one of the most liberal institutions of higher learning in the United States.

Milo Yiannopoulos, an admitted protagonist-agitator, who’s best known for spiking the witch’s brew of noxious deceit oozing out of the sewer pipe called Breitbart.com, was to appear at the university on Wednesday.  Given his toxic background as a provocateur personified by divisive opinions on gays, race, gender, and religion, protests were expected.

However, no one foresaw that a two-day riot would erupt, forcing university officials to capitulate to the angry mob which was comprised almost entirely of students and faculty.  Accordingly, the invitation sent to Yiannopoulos was withdrawn, citing “safety concerns.”  A swarm of media attention ensued to cover the controversy.  Hence, someone who had previously been unknown to most Americans catapulted overnight to near the top of every social media platform.  Largely anonymous aside from a few basement-dwelling gamers and conspiracy kooks, Yiannopoulos couldn’t have asked for more grandiose introduction to national prominence, unless his name popped up in lights on the marquis of “A Star is Born.”

Call this abomination what is was — not a victory for the left, but a counterproductive embarrassment and humiliating defeat for all progressives.

This is the latest sad chapter of a much longer and more troubling trend happening on many college campuses, which is the threat to free speech.  Since the 1960’s, an era of innumerable Vietnam War protests, American colleges and universities have become increasingly liberalized — particularly in the social sciences.  There are valid reasons for various departments to lean left.  While conservatives tend to gravitate to business school, or study law, or medicine, liberals are drawn naturally to the arts and sciences (with exceptions, of course).  I’d even go so far to argue that inquiry is, by design, an inherently liberal pursuit because it invariably calls the status quo and many of our conventional belief systems into question.  And so, leftist activism has fertile traditions deeply rooted in academia.  By extension, it’s easy to understand why youthful idealism would ignite on campuses like Berkeley with a combustible passion for many progressive causes.

Yet somewhere along the way, a long time after liberals won the right to protest and even spout off radical ideas, some of us devolved into what we’d once feared the most.  Now, intimidation doesn’t come from authority figures, such as campus police or university administrators nor the surrounding communities.  Bullying comes from within our own ranks.  Fact is, free speech has been hijacked in recent years and the problem appears to be getting worse.  Liberals in many areas, once arm-to-arm on the front lines of the free-speech and free-thought movement, now demand that dissenting voices be silenced, which is precisely what we’ve witnessed at Berkeley.  By doing this, we are undermining the very foundation on which liberal free thought is based.

Let’s be clear.  Colleges and universities should not be cradles.  Instead, academic institutions should be mental minefields ready to blow up bad ideas in a moment’s notice.  Bad ideas are best exposed by scrutinizing them and exposing them as such, not by heavy-handed censorship.  Indeed, knowledge, skills, and perseverance must be put to the test.  “College in an earlier time was supposed to be an uncomfortable, experience because growth is always a challenge,” Dr. Tom Nichols, professor at the U.S. Naval War College wrote recently.  “Now, attending college involves “the pampering of students like customers.”

Education demands that we constantly push ourselves to new heights.  It’s vital that we place odd people with seemingly strange ideas in front of the classroom and under the microscope so that we can bear witness and potentially learn.  This is especially true for those with whom we disagree.  It’s even more vital to subject ourselves to thoughts we might at first consider to be absurd, objectionable, and even obscene.  All great ideas start out as blasphemy.  Assuming we believe that facts will come out and truth prevails, the very worst thing that can happen to a bad idea or a flawed argument is intense scrutiny.  Hence, assuming we’re convinced Yiannopoulos is something of a crackpot, his ideas should have been given the chance to be voiced  If those ideas don’t stand up to the heat lamp of truth, they melt down.

This is even more profoundly important at a state university, in other words, a school that’s publicly funded.  One might argue that private schools (and particularly religious-based institutions) have every right to limit free speech, if they so wish.  They might even limit speakers and guests to those who conform strictly to the university’s codes and ideals.  Public schools like Cal-Berkeley, however, are obligated to expose students to the widest possible spectrum of people and ideas.  Sure, protesting such an event is fine.  Silencing a speaker is not.

Years ago, my outlook on life changed when I attended a university lecture by writer Raymond Bonner, the famed New York Times foreign correspondent who broke many of the news stories which exposed the dark and dirty things happening in Latin America at the time, largely engineered by the Reagan Administration (illegally, we’d later discover).  I went into that lecture thinking one way about the issues, and came out afterward as a changed person with very different attitudes about the world.  Such is the power of inviting guest speakers and openly exchanging ideas.  This is the purpose of higher education.

Some will argue, at times there are justifiable reasons to limit free speech, even on college campuses.  The hate speech” victim card gets wrongly played.  But these objections ring hollow and make the protesters seem petty.  British author David Irving has written prolifically on World War II, yet is also infamously known as the world’s leading Holocaust denier.  To many, he’d certainly qualify as a proponent of hate speech.  Years ago, Irving toured the United States and spoke to students on several college campuses.  It took some time, but eventually, his “research” was exposed as fallacious and he was openly discredited in a very public trial that took place in London.  Had Irving not been given a university platform, he might have remained hidden on the outer fringes and made quite a nice living at the expense of those who suffered unspeakable horrors.  Hence, subjecting Irving’s words and ideas to scrutiny became truth’s most powerful weapon.

From what I’ve seen of Milo Yiannopoulos, he can easily be dismissed as just another punk.  There’s nothing remotely credible about any of his ideas, particularly on politics and society.  He’s engaged in crude look-at-me tactics.  He written and said outrageous things, purely to gain notoriety.  Yet for all his pernicious pestilence, Yiannopoulos should have just as much right to speak and be heard at a public university as anyone else.  Free speech means exactly what it says — the right to speak freely.  That means without interruption nor intimidation.

Unless we all have it and defend its practice, none of us enjoys free speech.  That’s the reminder we progressives must take away from the Cal-Berkeley embarrassment.

 

Comment below or follow the discussion on Facebook HERE.

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Posted by on Feb 1, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

Democrats Offer the Right Message, but Have the Wrong Messenger

 

 

Last night, Rep. Nancy Pelosi held a nationally-televised “Town Hall Meeting.”

Overnight television ratings were’t available at the time of this writing.  However, one presumes the hour-long Q & A session with the House Minority Leader taking center stage probably drew a few million voters.  It’s also a valid guess that just about everyone tuning in to watch Pelosi were Democratic loyalists, and/or voters repelled by President Trump.  It’s highly doubtful that many independents or Republicans watched the telecast.  I’d even go so far as to say the number of opinions swayed by Pelosi’s remarks during the town hall meeting could probably fit into a telephone booth, assuming there were still any phone booths around, which precisely makes my point.

This begs the question all Democrats should be asking, namely — what in the hell was Nancy Pelosi doing on that stage?

Incredibly, the Democrats never seem to learn the lessons of history, even when it’s a hard reality to face and a bitter pill to swallow.  Despite Republicans offering a dreadfully-flawed candidate at the top of their party ticket stained by the highest negatives in American political history, Democrats still got whipped in the election — at every level.  Republicans won the presidency, the House, the Senate, plus an overwhelming number of gubernatorial slots and state legislatures.  Democrats, who spent just as much money nationally as the Republicans (arguably more, depending on metrics), were humiliated.

Democrat defeats weren’t due to spouting the wrong message.  Not at all.  On virtually every issue, Democrats enjoy the majority support.  Do Americans favor raising the minimum wage?  Check.  Do Americans favor responsible gun legislation?  Check.  Do Americans believe in climate change?  Check.  Do Americans want to improve our national infrastructure?  Check.  Do Americans want to protect a woman’s right to chose?  Check.  On nearly every issue, the Democrat message wins the hearts and minds of most people.  Accordingly, since the message wins the popularity contest (and by an overwhelming majority on some issues), the explanation for disproportionate losses must lie elsewhere (yes, gerrymandering has a lot to do with it).

Here’s a novel thought:  Perhaps it’s the messenger.

Given the mass rebuke of Democratic candidates across the board, in all regions of the country, one might have expected plenty of heads to roll after the disaster.  Certainly, it seemed reasonable to expect Democratic Party leadership to gracefully step aside and allow a younger, more energetic crowd with new ideas — not only about how to govern but how to campaign — to step forward and carry the progressive torch.  But instead, Democrats gave virtually all its leaders a contract extension.

Using a sporting comparison, there’s a reason why the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars fired the entire coaching staff after the team finished 3-11 last season.  Even though they’re all probably good and decent people, each talented and knowledgeable in his own right, the ax fell because coaches failed to accomplish their objectives.  Not only did they fail to win, they also lost badly.  Yet, Democrats continue to slumber blindly onward with the same impotent leadership, oblivious to how much of the country sees them.

One of the very first acts by Democrats who assembled in the new congress in early 2017 was to re-elect Nancy Pelosi to what amounts to the de facto face of the party, along with Chuck Schumer, her counterpart in the U.S. Senate.  One might argue there’s justification for choosing Pelosi (and Schumer) and allowing them to continue in their leadership posts.  After all, congressional staffs are immensely critical in the legislative process and it would be hard to argue there are better staffs than Pelosi’s and Schumer’s.  There’s also long traditions in congress, which reward seniority.  Political insurrections might happen in some elections, but they aren’t common on Capital Hill.

Yet, television and town halls require a completely different skill set than the wonkish acts of governance.  If President Trump’s election victory teaches us anything — it’s that we’ve now rocketed into a completely new age of political marketing and showmanship.  Voters aren’t interested much in policy details and studies, nor even facts.  I know, that’s a frightening conclusion.  But no once can refute it.  Facts don’t matter.  Instead, they want a circus.  So, Democrats need to give it to them — wild tigers, elephants, trapeze artists, and even clowns.  That’s how to create the Big Tent and win election victories.

Fortunately, Democrats have a number of outstanding ringmasters ready and eager to spread the progressive message.  Instead of Nancy Pelosi, Democrats would have been advised to offer  the town hall spot to Sen. Al Franken, or Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, or Sen. Amy Klobuchar, or even Sen. Cory Booker (despite his inexplicable vote against allowing pharmaceuticals into the United States from Canada, which angered many on the Left).  Want to pick a better national spokesperson for the party then Pelosi?  Here’s how to do that:  Pick up the congressional phone book, open it up to any page, and point to any name.  It’s that bad.  It’s that dire.

To be fair, Pelosi is right on most issues that matter.  She was way ahead of the rest of the country on civil rights.  She’s also done admirable work in the past and can continue to be a political force.  Yet, when picking a champion for change, it’s baffling why someone was selected who has such high negatives.  Pelosi is the anti-populist.  You know it’s “game over,” when Sen. Mitch McConnell is out-polling the Democratic Minority Leader in national polls.  Why even bother holding a town hall if it’s going to be fronted by someone considered by a majority of voters to be a pariah?  It’s self-defeating.

Still, the Democrats not only refuse to clean house.  They won’t even look at themselves in the mirror.  Even with what would seem to be overwhelming advantages coming up in the next election (2018) given the chaos we’ve witnessed in recent weeks, Democrats could very well blow it again unless some key lessons are learned from recent history.

Nancy Pelosi’s mystifying showing at a town hall meeting might not seem like a very big deal in the grander scheme of bigger issues.  Yet the truth is, it’s yet another painful indication that Democrats remain completely oblivious to how they’re perceived and what’s going on across America.

 

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Posted by on Jan 26, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Politics, Travel | 1 comment

How You Can Help Save and Protect Red Rock Canyon

 

 

I woke up this morning to the majesty of contrasts that is the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, better known simply as “Red Rock Canyon.”  Everything within sight, from the desert cactus to mountain pines, was covered in white snow.

Most Las Vegas visitors, and even many locals, may not know about the natural splendor nestled in the mountains due west of The Strip just a half-hour drive away.  Red Rock is an oasis for the mind and a vacation for the soul.  It seems light years apart from the fabricated latticework of 1.5 million people, continuing to crawl with an alarming expansion beyond the sustainable resources necessary to ensure a healthy balance between what we build and the natural world around it which cradles our city like a protective glove.

Red Rock is a vast “pause button,” ready to be hit any time, a temporary escape to a quiet place still mostly unspoiled by sprawling urbanization, except for a few roads and the occasional traffic sign.  In a city blanketed with casinos, cookie-cutter tract homes, and look-a-like strip malls, Red Rock has become our common escape, even if just for a few fleeting seconds with an affectionate gaze in the westward direction of the snow-capped mountains.  Like a seductive temptress, we long for our next encounter with beauty.

Note:  Here’s a short article I wrote last year about my hike in the canyon, along with several photos. [CLICK HERE]

Sadly, each time I’ve driven into Red Rock in recent years, commercial development looks to be creeping closer and closer to the park.  Now, when driving up Charleston Blvd., which eventually leads directly into the heart of Red Rock Canyon, it’s shocking and sad to see the extent to which homes and shopping centers have stretched to the valley’s outer boundaries and very nearly into the canyon area itself, which is now seriously threatened.  Towards the north, specifically the Lone Mountain area, commercial and industrial development has been even more aggressive.  Lone Mountain was once on the outer fringes of the west side of Las Vegas.  Now, it’s been engulfed by a freeway, thousands of new homes, and a monochrome of dust and blowing debris which seems to swirl around constantly.

South of the Red Rock area, there’s a controversial proposal by developer Jim Rhodes to convert prime land currently occupied by a gypsum mine to construct more than 5,000 additional homes, which is likely to bring in another 10,000 cars and unforeseen disturbances to the area, such as noise and pollution.  A city where air quality is marginal at best and often covered in a thick haze on bad days chokes on its own exhaust fumes.

A few nights ago, a meeting was held here in Las Vegas where many critical issues important to our region were discussed.  I was stirred into action by the presentation of Justin Jones, who’s a board member of the organization known as Save Red Rock.  I learned that this non-profit is fighting to protect one of Las Vega’s last natural resources, not just for us, but for future generations.  Jones stated if we don’t take action now, it might be too late in the future.  He also noted that big-money developers have filed a lawsuit against Save Red Rock, purely in an effort to silence opposition, thus squashing citizen advocacy and democracy.  Fortunately, many people with the local community, Democrats and Republicans alike, are now speaking out and making their voices heard.  But that might not be enough given the power of developers who look towards Red Rock as a potential piggy bank.

We aren’t opposed to responsible development.  Indeed, there are plenty of attractive neighborhoods in our city where new homes can be built and new businesses can be created.  That’s something every community needs to remain vibrant  In fact, many established parts of Las Vegas are desperate for investment of this kind, and even offer generous tax incentives.  So, why allow unbridled expansion into one of the most gorgeous areas of Southern Nevada, when so many other opportunities exist for local development and revitalization?

If you’re interested in learning more, please visit the website SAVEREDROCK.ORG.  There’s also a petition you can sign for an upcoming public hearing with country commissioners (in February), which will show your support for protecting the natural majesty of this critically important and precious public recreation area.  Consider signing the PETITION HERE.

Once Red Rock is gone, it’s lost forever.  We must act now.  Please help and also tell your friends and neighbors.  We need your voice, your signature, your support, and most of all your action.  Please do it now.

 

READ THE FACEBOOK PAGE, with comments, HERE.

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Posted by on Jan 23, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 1 comment

The United States of Jesusville

 

 

Last week’s presidential inauguration lasted a relatively brisk 90 minutes.  About half of the official swearing-in ceremony was comprised of speeches.  The other half was filled with lively music and assorted patriotic fanfare.

Lost in the controversial aftermath of political protests and petty partisan bickering over attendance figures on the mall that day, was the disturbing amount of time given to religion.  The nation’s biggest platform was frequently turned over to religious authorities.  Prayers dominated the order of the day.  In fact, prayers accounted for nearly as much stage time as President Trump’s much-anticipated inaugural address.  There was the actual swearing in process also, buttressed by not just one, but two versions of The Holy Bible.  A copy of Trump’s own The Art of the Deal was reportedly ready on stand by.

For we secularists, calls for public prayer are typically but a minor annoyance.  Most of us do respect the rights of others to pray and/or show other outward signs of their faith.  We stand quietly while others choose to worship, even though we believe such rituals make about as much sense as praying to the Easter Bunny.  Everyone, everywhere should be afforded the right to demonstrate their beliefs (including we), both in private and public.  However, our patience does get tested.  Our tolerance is abused.  While we’re perfectly willing to pretend-pray and play along, we don’t like getting smashed over the head by the imposition of a pious religious order.  That’s precisely what happened in Washington last Friday.

President Trump’s 17-minute inauguration address was framed by six — count ’em SIX — prayers.  Three prayers were held at the beginning of the ceremony [Pastor Paula White,  who is Trump’s “spiritual adviser,” followed immediately by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and then Rev. Franklin Graham].  That was followed by three more prayers near the end [Rabbi Marvin Hier, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, and Rev. Sam Rodriguez].  All that was missing was the Little Drummer Boy and a partridge in a pear tree affixed to a giant cross that screams “Jesus Saves.”

Usually, non-denominational religious rituals include a benediction from each of the so-called “Big Three” — which is Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  But this year, Christians covered the point spread and smashed the over easier than the New England Patriots in the championship game.  At Trump’s inaugural, there were five Christians and one Jew upon the Deus.  What ever happened to the Muslim?  Islam was shut out.  Perhaps the imam’s car got caught in traffic at the “largest crowd ever to witness an inauguration,” according to White House propagandist, Sean Spicer.  We’ll have to check on that.

Were five Christian prayers necessary in order to bestow the imaginary blessing of the world’s phantom superpower upon the incoming Trump Administration?  Might just one, or two, or even three prayers have been sufficient?  Gee, even three seems like overkill.  One realizes that not only are all the religions divided among themselves, denominations too are subdivided into different belief systems, each requiring plenty of grandstanding and gerrymandering.  And so, a sort of Christian ice cream cone was stacked with all the most popular flavors of Baskin-Robbins at the inauguration.  The only thing missing was hot fudge and a cherry.

Once the swearing in ceremony officially ended — for those horrified at the sight of this historic moment, the swearing at began.  The billionaire ruling class accompanied by their congressional puppets and new cabinet appointees and excused themselves over to Union Station, just a 10-minute walk from the Capital.  That where the inaugural luncheon was officially held and began with….(take a wild guess)….yet another prayer.  Some verses were quoted out of a holy book written 2,000 years ago laden with contradictions which mysteriously even condones slavery.  I don’t remember what was said exactly.  I doubt anyone was listening, or paying much attention since everyone’s hickory smoked brisket was getting cold on the plate while the mullah rambled on about the ancient Corinthians.  There were a lot of thou’s and ye’s slung around, though.

In the spirit of bipartisanship, President Obama’s inauguration ceremonies had plenty of religious fanfare, also.  And, I was just as annoyed about it then as I am now with this new Administration.  In fact, religious gets used as a political prod by many politicians in both parties.  But this was akin to smoking the frankincense.  Curiously, most in attendance at these types of public events don’t appear take prayers very seriously, as evidenced by the bitterly deep political divide fueled by institutionalized greed and avarice for money and power that’s come to inflict the ruling class.  It’s as though once the praying ends, it’s open season and the political pickpocketing begins.  Let’s steal and kill for Jesus.

Next came Day Two.  Any notion that the first full day of the new Administration would take on a more serious tone was shattered when, on the following morning, less than 24-hours after seven prayers were offered, President Trump’s first order of business was to attend something called a “National Prayer Service,” held at Washington’s National Cathedral.  Somehow, instead of just Christians and Jews peppering the pews and slinging the sermons, a Muslim and Hindu miraculously passed through security.  Once again, we’ll have to look into that.

Prayers and preaching has no place in or at any official government function, assuming one shares a literal interpretation of the Constitutional separation of church and state.  Millions of American secularists share this view.  Fortunately, the previous Administration even acknowledged what’s become the fastest-growing of all factions on religiosity (which is the “nones” — meaning those having no religious belief).  We aren’t growing smaller.  We’re increasing in size.  But you wouldn’t know any of this given the holy liturgy of events over the past three days and all the lapdog attention afforded to Christian evangelicals.

Surely, there’s at least one thing on which we can probably all agree. believers and secularists alike.  There’s plenty of praying going on right now, right this very instant.  Even many of those who strongly oppose President Trump and his policies are out there praying.  They’re praying with as much conviction as anyone else.  I sometimes wonder how any spiritual being, real or imagined, could handle the disparate prayers of so many contradictory hopes and wishes.  All this praying is enough to make any god ignore the incessant chatter and flip the off switch.

 

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