Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An Open Letter to Black Republican Pastors

Last week I came across this article on CNN.com. The article mentions an African American pastor named Aaron Wheeler who usually votes Republican, swung to Obama in 2008, and now, disillusioned, is planning to vote Republican again. He also mentions that he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. That inspired me.

Dear Black Republican Pastor,

I recently read about one of you, and was troubled by a couple things. Quite simply, how on earth do you vote Republican? How? They are the party of lying, racist hypocrites.

As a black man, you are supporting the party that harbors the vast majority of racists in America. Many of them are the great great grandchildren of slave owners, and while the laws have changed, their hearts have not. Those are the attitudes they continued to instill in their children for a century after Abolition--you need only look back at how their parents were treating your parents when you were a child--and those are the attitudes many continue to instill to this day. They call themselves Republicans and Tea Partiers, and you vote for them to rule over you. I find it utterly mystifiying.

As a ‘man of God,’ how on earth do you vote Republican? Do you actually read the Bible, or just wield it and thump it? For the most part, Republicans are lying hypocrites, and God hates liars and hypocrites (look it up--I can give you the specific Bible verses if you need them). Whether they’re screaming about the need to pay down the deficit (a deficit which they created, look it up) then planning on increasing it with continued tax breaks for the wealthy--their only promise and their only concern--or screaming that abortion is murder while dropping their pro life bombs on babies across the globe, or saying that now is not the time to address immigration then blaming the federal government for inaction on immigration, they are HYPOCRITES. I could go on and on--how they 'plan' to create jobs to replace the jobs they destroyed and outsourced, and how the government is too big when it bloated by ten percent during the Bush administration--the hypocrisies are shameless and neverending. They are afraid to face the TRUTH, which is why they fabricate their own phony facts.

So you finally voted for Obama to clean up the mess that YOU made with your votes over the years, then when he can’t clean it up in a day, you become disillusioned and plan to vote for his enemies who have been knocking the mop out of his hand for two years. That'll move government forward. (And if you somehow think Jesus would be OPPOSED to health care for everyone, then you need to go look up the verses where HE HEALED THEM ALL (Matthew 12:15), non believers included (Luke 17:11-19).) Yet you now plan to vote for the racist hypocrites who want to repeal health care for everyone. How is that Christian?

Can you see how God might be looking down at you and saying: What exactly do you want, Black Republican Pastor? I give you everything you ask. You vote Republican, and you get Republican oil spills, Republican economy, Republican unemployment, Republican wars, Republican oligarchy and its accompanying Republican contempt for the impoverished. And now with their new Contract on America the Republicans have promised to continue governing EXACTLY as they did when they were in power, so if that’s how you vote, that’s what you’re going to get. Don’t choose those politicians then cry out to God when they oppress you. If the Republicans take over and fulfill their one promise, more money for the wealthy, then shut down government by holding superfluous hearings about members of the Obama administration (when the entire Bush administration deserves to be incarcerated for crimes against humanity, at home and abroad) while America continues to suffer, don't you DARE to complain--you will have gotten exactly what you asked for.

You may have been in attendance when Martin Luther King Jr. marched, but you weren’t with him---not if you spent your life empowering his enemies with your vote. You were just another onlooker at a civil rights rally. And when you stand there in the voting booth this November with your finger poised again on the Republican lever, take a moment and listen carefully in the quiet: that sound you'll hear is Satan laughing in your face.

Why I Stopped Attending Tampa Bay Rays Games

After reading about Evan Longoria and David Price whining and complaining about attendance at Rays games, I decided to write all this down and post it here on my blog. Not one word is invention nor exaggeration.

I moved to Florida in October 2003, and to St Petersburg in November 2004. I went to three or four Rays' games in 2006, and following the bush league manner in which I was treated by Rays management in August 2006 I swore never to attend another game. I have not. From my perspective, the management of the organization is a comedy of errors acted out by a cast of boneheads and bozos.

In 2006 my friend and neighbor bought a single season ticket for the Rays. She had some extra Red Sox tickets she had previously purchased, and treated me and few other of her friends to some random games throughout the season. Then in August she came to me and another neighbor and invited us to that evening’s Rays' game. She explained that the Rays management had invited her to a ‘wine and dine’ in a luxury box to try and get her to commit to season tickets for 2007. She told us not to eat, because they had promised her food and drinks aplenty would be provided.

When we arrived we were brought to an obstructed view box deep in the right field side line. It was like watching the game through an oversized slit. We couldn’t see much—fly balls would appear for a moment on the way up, and then again for a moment on the way down before disappearing back onto the field, most of which we couldn’t see.

There was no food and no drink. After two innings, realizing the screw up, a Rays rep explained to us that it was just that, a screw up. He apologized, then said, and I quote: “I think there are some diet cokes in the fridge in the corner.” There weren’t, just a single bottle of water, which he handed to us. About the fourth inning he came and brought us to a better vantage to watch the rest of the game—actually, to be able to see the game. It was, well, utterly absurd, and a golden opportunity squandered by the moron Rays rep. It would have taken so precious little to wow us--were I the rep I would have been able to do it for about two dollars--but instead we left the building muttering about morons and badmouthing the Rays.

And if management in some way thinks I’m making this up, go ahead and check your records. Her name was Terry, she was a huge Red Sox fan from New Hampshire, and her seat was near the third base dugout, directly behind Dick Vitale’s seats. I haven't seen her in a couple years, and for all I know she may still be sitting there.

But the amateur shitshow continues.

In 2008 I worked for a restaurant that had gotten permission from the Rays to give out coupons at Spring training games. So one day my coworker and I went and did just that. We were only allowed to hand out coupons outside the stadium, and only between innings. Fair enough, and we fully respected that. It was about the seventh inning of a blowout, and we asked if we could go in and watch a couple batters while waiting to hand out coupons. At first the security woman we asked was boggled by the request then she simply freaked out. She got on the radio with more security, they called around to more security and fifteen minutes later—after we had told her not to bother, and we were sorry to have asked—she informed us that we could go to the top of the tunnel and watch, but no further. You’d think we had asked to go on the field and solicit autographs while the game was in progress. Again, just freaking ridiculous. And another squandered opportunity to give my coworker and I a taste of the product and make us fans.

A month later I happened to turn on my radio just as a Rays game was beginning. The announcers, whose names I forget, began EATING DOUGHNUTS the very moment the broadcast began. 'Mmf, mf…somemfone…brought us a box…mfmf…of doughmfmfnuts. mmf..delmmflicious....pflitchim tomay fo da Ways...' It was beyond amateur. Have you ever heard someone eating while talking on the radio? It's not just unprofessional, it's disgusting. And I could not believe what I was hearing. They had all morning to stuff as many omelets and doughnuts down their gullets as they desired, but they waited till the moment the microphones were turned on to start munching. I was turned off, and did turn it off and haven’t listened again. I kid you not.

Word on the street is unanimous—the cowbells are HORRIBLE. Worst idea ever. The New Coke of event attendance. I’ve heard fans talk about them, and no one has ever said anything remotely approving. The perception is that they're still in the stands to this day, and if you think someone wants to drop a hundred bucks on parking, tickets and overpriced weenies and beer only to run the risk of getting stuck next to some drunken yahoo screaming and whacking a bell in their ear for three hours, well, that’s Rays management for you. Trust me, that godawful idea has cost you untold ticket sales.

Even today, I went on to the official Rays website and sent them a note through their contact form. (If you didn't get it, well, that's the Rays.) I said that if they emailed me I’d be happy to tell them why I refuse to go to games. Here’s a page of Web Design 101. You DO NOT default your website to start playing music or making any sound the moment someone clicks on it. It's obnoxious and annoying. Most people are listening to radio or music or watching television while browsing the internet, as was I this afternoon. So, after clicking to the Rays official website and being bombarded by an online replay of some Rays game that conflicted with what I was already listening to, I had to immediately click off the site, turn down my speakers, then go back and search for the very tiny ‘Contact Us’ button hidden at the bottom. What an annoyance. And as of now, about seven hours later,(well, now it's over two days) no one from the Rays has responded to my offer to tell them why some people don’t go to their games, which is further testimony to the incompetence of Rays’ management.

If you’re hiring, send me an email. I’ll come in for an interview. I've worked in pr and service all my life. You are bumbling a potentially lucrative business. Even I could have gotten 12,000 fans in to see the possible division clinching game last night. But you wouldn't even consider me, because you’re the Rays.

An exchange might go something like this:

PR Expert: "Hey Tampa Rays, you should listen to this guy Bob and put him on payroll. He has years of experience and wisdom in dealing with and pleasing the public, and any salary you might pay him would yield ten, twenty, fifty or a hundredfold in increased revenue."

TB Rays: "Yeah, right. In case you haven't seen our ticket sales, it's pretty obvious that we know what we're doing. Thanks anyway."

We know, it's not management. It's the outdated stadium, and the parking, and the neighborhood, and the local apathy, and the economy, and every other excuse under the sun. Not anything to do with management. Except, if the inhospitable ways I was treated are extrapolated to Rays' employee interactions with other locals over the years, then 12,000 attendance the other night really should come as no surprise. Hold it in the light--you are a JOKE.

And if you go to another city, as is speculated, and take this team—-this MANAGEMENT team with you--you won’t be leaving the problem behind, you’ll be bringing it along. Because you’re the Rays management team...the inept, incompetent, bumbling Rays management team.

Now get out there and vote for the criminal Rick Scott and the ultra right wingnut teabag sucking Rubio and the rest of the Republican ticket so they and their felonious cronies in congress can hammer the Republican wrecking ball on the economy a few more times, and outsource a few hundred thousand more jobs, and in the coming years nobody will have a nickel of disposable income to waste on your silly baseball team.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

You Are The Pharisees

Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadduccees—then understood they how he bade them not beware of the leaven of the bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadduccees. Matthew 16: 6-12

The Pharisees were an ancient Jewish sect that bear many resemblances to today’s compassionate, conservative, right wing, fundamentalist, evangelical Christians. Pharisee means separate, and describes one who keeps away from impure people and things, to be more righteous, better to commune with holy God. They were obsessed with the law, moral purity, and outward shows of faith, but were so strict they made hypocrites of themselves, and were used for examples by Christ.

The very first mention of the Pharisees in the Bible is in Matthew (3:7-9), when they are watching John baptize in the Jordan, who...when he saw many of the Pharisees and the Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O brood of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Viper describes false ‘Christians’ who lie, and are not what they call themselves, and many more who expect to come to reward, and will not. And just as the Pharisees thought that being in the bloodline of Abraham guaranteed their salvation, so do they say of being Christian today.

The Pharisees were a political force, and respected as authorities of Jewish law. The Sanhedrin was a council of 71 sages mostly comprised of Sadducees and Pharisees, before whom Caiaphas conducted the trial of Jesus. The Sadducees were concerned with matters of the temple while the Pharisees with obedience to the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, also known as the Pentateuch); and while they were sworn enemies on account of these differences, they were able to put those aside for a moment and come together in condemning Christ to death.

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

Such are the self-righteous moral authorities who preach the very Bible they disregard and disobey. Some boast the sanctity of marriage while committing adultery; some rail against homosexuality and get caught in the act, and some decry pornography while the thoughts of their hearts, minds and souls are pornographic.

But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.

And strut their faith, which should be private, and wear it proudly upon their sleeves.

And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues.

And crave celebrity, and seek the spotlight on their faces, and to be approved and beloved by men.

And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

And other titles, like doctor, or pastor, or Phd.

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

And woe to you evangelicals, who give the wrong example of what it is to be in Christ, and who lead anyone that follows you astray into oblivion.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

And woe to you fundamentalists, whose voting blocs empower the lawmakers that enable the banks to ravenously consume homes, and who publicly proclaim yourselves to be Christian over and over, and invoke God in earshot of everyone. You will get yours.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

Woe to you evangelicals, who rejoice in finding and claiming converts, thinking it diminishes sin while increasing reward, when in truth all you’ve really done is find others to share in your ultimate misery.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

And woe to you fundamentalists, who wage passionate fights for the right to pray in school, yet neglect the schools themselves; who tithe to the penny, and raise vast sums of money and campaign vigorously for changes in marriage laws instead of domestic violence and the needs of children who are victims thereof. Who indignantly fight for the right to display the ten commandments in public, while in private are thieves and adulterers and blasphemers.

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

Tell that to someone who uses Christianity to try and prosper themselves, and they will deride you too.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

Sanctimony testifies unto itself.

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

They’re not going in, neither anyone who is no better.

Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.

Like fundamentalists who point out the faults and measure the sins of others.

`And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

And hold at fault they who associate with them.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.

So do they call on Christ, and are seen coming and going in church, while their hearts are prideful, gluttonous, greedy and violent.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.

And if they live not in Christ, they are already dead.

The Pharisees believed strongly in the resurrection of the dead even before Christ; they are alive and thriving in America today. And since it is repeated in the gospels, it bears repeating here: beware the leaven of the pharisees, which is hypocrisy.