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A Place where I can spout off about anything . . . and often do 

Here are some thoughts that could be called Editorials if this were a newspaper:

Religion

It would seem to me that religion has become mixed with politics to a degree that really scares me. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against anyone’s beliefs and would be the last person to want any controls on beliefs or thought of any kind. If one were to study the great civilizations of the past, they seem to me to have ultimately failed when religion and politics started to become mixed together. It is often the reason wars start. The terrorists that have targeted Western countries certainly fall in this category, but I wonder how much of our response does also. We should certainly respond to such acts, but we should really do it for the right reasons. There should be a separation of church and state, not to limit religion, but to encourage free thought. The United States was founded by people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs, and that is what made us great. Let’s keep it that way.

The former Soviet Union is a good example of an empire that fell apart because they were officially atheistic. This was, in effect, a mandatory state religion. To call the United States officially Christian would be to make the same mistake. This country is full of people with diverse beliefs and we need to remember that people came here to escape religious persecution. I see signs that many would turn this into an official Christian state. Christianity is certainly a force in the American culture of today, but it should never become the official state religion. That is the way the country is going and it is too much like mind control. One should accept a religion because it makes sense, not because it is forced upon you. Faith should follow careful thought, not come first. Many religions work the other way around. People are taught to have faith, and not to question the teachings of the religion.

Many evangelical Christians will argue against embryonic stem cell research saying it is taking a potential life and yet agree with President Bush that global warming is not happening, when in fact it will kill billions of people in the years to come, not to even mention the extinction of multiple species of other life forms. Talk about having your head in the sand!

I know this is a real hot button subject, but if you only knew one set of beliefs, how could you say these beliefs are correct? It seems to me that the only beliefs worth having are those that the individual chooses for himself or herself. You shouldn’t be afraid to study the other guy’s beliefs and values. There might be some small part that you will want to keep. If someone tells you that it is wrong to believe that which you have thought about and makes sense to you, then that person is trying to control your mind, and you should learn to think for yourself. There are things of value in all the world’s great religions. You should not be prevented from choosing what is of value for yourself.

It also occurs to me that people who have accepted a well defined set of religious beliefs often act as though it is their duty to pass them along to anyone who doesn’t share the exact same beliefs. If however you try to persuade such a person to share your feelings, the effect is often a closed mind and often outrage. This is the definition of hypocrisy. The roots of the word are in the Bible. . . look it up.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to any single denomination or religion for the reasons I have mentioned, but if I had to I think I’d be a Unitarian; problem is they strike me as too conservative. I do, by the way, believe in God, I just don’t think any of us mortals are capable of defining him or her, and I don’t think we can trust any of the writings of any of the world’s great religions as being historically accurate. Our own history has been rewritten within my own lifetime so how can we not suspect that religious writings have also been rewritten to suit the political winds of the time.

Traditions I would like to see go away

I’m sure my friends wonder why I don’t send out Christmas cards. I think a personal visit or a phone call is more in order, or perhaps just a wish for a happy experience in the doldrums of Winter. What’s with the duty most of us seem to feel to send cards to people we see every day, or who we can call on the phone? I have a Voip phone line, so long distance costs me zip. Isn’t the call better than the card, or does it show that one cares if you put a stamp on a card that is one of a hundred you mindlessly send out? The greeting card industry has even invented “holidays” just to sell more cards. Why would anyone send a card on Grandparent’s day, Sweetest day, or for that matter even birthdays? Why not a phone call instead?

Once when I was a stringer for the Associated Press I was talking to them about a local story and the conversation got around to a card I had received by mistake. There are a lot of Tom Young’s out there, and the person who sent the card actually sent me a letter requesting that I return it! Now, lets see, that would cost me postage to return a ten cent card (this was a few years ago). The AP put the incident on the wires and it ended up in the newspapers and on radio and TV all over the place. I worked nights at the time and the person tracked me down like the mad dog I am and woke me up to say I was mean because I didn’t return the card and because the story the AP wrote suggested this person was cheap.

This has nothing to do with traditions, but another time when I was talking to the AP I told them I was arrested for having too many license plates on my car.

It happened like this: I applied for special plates that had my Ham Radio call letters on them. They were to arrive by mail but I moved before I received them. I called the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and said that I had not received them and the time was getting short before my old plates were to expire. As it turned out, the new plates arrived just in the nick of time, as did the first set they had sent to the old address, so I put all four on my car. . . two on the front and two on the back. They were all identical. I drove around like that until one day I was going through one of the ritzier villages which is surrounded by Toledo and one of the local’s finest spotted me and pulled me over. I think I irritated him when he asked for my registration, and I asked if he wanted the one for the top set or the bottom. He couldn’t decide if I had violated any laws, so he called for help. Before it was over no fewer than six, yes six policemen were standing there debating the issue. I was issued a citation to appear in court without a charge being stated!

I was an overnight radio announcer at the time, and I told the story on the air, and I got calls from Attorneys all of whom said I had done nothing wrong.

My grandmother read the story in a paper in a neighboring state and called my dad, asking if I was in jail. I wasn’t. Since I made calls to the police dispatchers as part of my duties as a newsman, the Ottawa Hills dispatcher invited me to drop by and see the cell they were reserving for me. I did. 

Finally I got my day in court. The judge looked at me and smiled, then said I had done nothing wrong and suggested that I try three on the front and one on the back, but when I tried it the front ones dragged the ground. The story of my acquittal actually led the radio station’s noon news. I think I recall that the local TV stations and the newspaper made a mention, also.

Embryonic Stem Cells

On our income tax returns we have the choice of deciding if we want a very small portion of our payment to be divided among the presidential candidate’s election funds. This option is probably the only national referendum we have. Since the precedent has been set for national referendums, why not let each of us decide whether to let our money be used for stem cell research by asking if we want to allow a fixed amount of each person’s tax payment to be used for this purpose or not? This, it would seem, would be fair to each of us. If an individual is opposed to the use of embryonic stem cells for medical research, then that person could walk away and rest comfortably with the knowledge that his funds are being used to support the growing war effort instead.

Better still, why not ask what we want our funds to be used for: stem cell research, the wars, paying down our huge national debt, attempting to correct global warming by developing alternate energy sources, or perhaps leaving a blank line that the taxpayer could fill in?

Perhaps we could even be given the option to divvy up the funds among the categories by choosing a percentage for each.

Embryonic stem cell research is no more immoral than the war we started in Iraq, which threatens to spread to the rest of the region and indeed the whole world. Why should we worry about the fate of tissue that will be destroyed anyway when we are responsible for over a hundred thousand Iraqi deaths and close to 3000 of our own brave men and women in the armed forces? The only thing we have accomplished so far is to catch a few bad guys, who have been replaced with other bad guys, and to open Pandora’s Box.

Recent developments suggest that useful cells can be harvested from one’s own skin, and serve the same function, and that is indeed great news, but we have wasted the last eight  years in research time. If it were not for George W. Bush, enough knowledge might have been gained to make these skin cells useful sooner. The argument now seems to have been settled by the pro-life people, but it really hasn’t. The argument was always about what we could learn by such research, and was never about whether the continuing use of embryonic stem cells was the final answer for these diseases. Life saving research was set back years by uncaring evangelicals.

Rush

My doctor tells me I have high blood pressure, so I take a pill a day, and the last few times I have checked it myself it was about 115/72, so I don't worry about it too much.

In fact, when it seems to be too low, I listen to Rush Limbaugh on my way to lunch and it goes right back up again.  What a sorry excuse for a radio host.  He claims to know everything and has the style of an evangelist, thumping the Bible and repeating himself over and over.  Once in a while a screened phone call is allowed, and the caller seems obligated to praise Rush for the first minute of the call, and they seem to do so with the same quality of belief in what he says as they would the local preacher.

What he says is outrageous and as fair as a Fox newscast (but that is another story).  I voted for and support President Obama, but I can find a lot of fault in the administration, as I could with any, but Rush calls it the "regime" and the "democrat" party, rather than take the high road and show a little respect.  As I recall Mr. Obama was approved by a majority of the electorate.  Even through the dark days when G. W. Bush was in office those of us who wanted almost anyone else to take his place had the decency to refer to him as President Bush.  I don't mind Rush Limbaugh disagreeing with our president,  I just wish he could take the high road and show a little respect.  To call his company Excellence in Broadcasting is an insult to every other broadcaster.  Please Rush, calm down, take a (legal) pill and make your case the old fashioned way, without preaching and name calling.  The only person that compares with Rush is Glen Beck.