Monday, August 14, 2017

Hate on Both Sides?

This weekend the President characterized the Charlottesville violence as a result of "hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides... on many sides."  He curiously felt the need to repeat "on many sides." This rationalization was parroted in social media by his followers.  This, as with most things the President says, is not entirely truthful nor accurate.

The untruth and inaccuracy was this: the "egregious display" of bigotry came from one side only.

 Granted, there certainly was hatred from both sides, but the bases of this hatred must be clarified.  One side hates people of darker skin color.  The other sides hates bigotry, racism, jingoism, etc.  I happily join the latter group.  It may be ironic, even ludicrous, to be intolerant of intolerance, but these are ludicrous times with ludicrous events unfolding.

What was basically a klan rally was very euphemistically titled, "Unite the Right."  Of course, "right" is intended to also mean right vs. wrong, not just right vs. left.  For those who claim this event was only an expression of freedom of speech to protest the removal a Confederate hero's statue, you are either lying to everyone, you are lying to yourself, or your worldview is severely astigmatic.

I tend to believe all of the above are true.  They were not there to peacefully protest, because they had pepper spray, clubs, shields, helmets, and semi-automatic weapons.  Civil rights protesters of the 50's and 60's marched peacefully and were unarmed, but then targeted with fire hoses and attack dogs.  The alt-right, neo-nazi protesters were in Charlottesville to intimidate and incite violence in pursuit of their political objectives; hence, to commit terrorism.

While the freedom of speech guaranteed us in the 1st Amendment isn't absolute, it does offer wide latitude, and I'm fine with that.  It's not unconstitutional to have or verbalize stupid, racist views.   Nor is it unconstitutional - should you choose to have or express racist, bigoted views - for me to believe that you are an infected, festering, puss-filled, bloody cyst on America's rear end that should be lanced and disinfected immediately.

No one admits to being a racist - even David Duke denies it.  And no one I saw on social media this weekend admitted this was a klan rally, despite the numerous swastikas and neo-nazi emblems being held, worn, or presented by attendees.  Nor would they ever admit to committing terrorism.

I must admit here and now, though, that I am prejudiced, intolerant, and hate-filled.  I am.

I'm prejudiced against anyone who believes they are  a superior person strictly because they get sunburned faster than others.

I'm intolerant of anyone that claims to be a patriotic, "real" American but averaged a C- or worse in American History and Government in school.

And I hate knuckle-dragging, swastika-wearing, inbred neanderthals, with the intellectual capacity and IQ of slime mold, and a worldview smaller than a pinhole, who have the nerve to think they love America more than I do.

Does that make me a bigot?

For all Trump supporters who agree with his immigration policies, please don't bother trying to rationalize your views.  "I don't hate those people," they say, "its about economics."  Those of us who disagree with you know better.

If you're a part of that group, ask yourself this: suppose that all the refugees and immigrants, legal and illegal, in the U.S. came from Canada, Iceland, and Scandinavia -- would you still focus on illegal immigration as an issue as much as you do now?  Would you still hate immigrants like you do?  If it were 12 million light-skinned Canadians harvesting our crops, would you feel the same about immigration?

American history is filled with racist acts and racist Presidents, but no President in modern history was so blatantly racist.  What makes his racism so obvious is that he is, at the drop of a hat, prone to immediately denouncing any person or group he doesn't like, launching now famous tirades on Twitter.  Attacks by non-whites on whites particularly draw his immediate, tweeted attention.  But a neo-nazi speeds a car through a crowd, killing one and severely injuring dozens more who openly disagree, and nothing from him for days.

Only this morning, after 3 days of pushing from his staff and criticism from both sides of the aisle, did he finally rebuke the white nationalists.  Only after.  And frankly, the insincerity was more than apparent.

Similarly, during the campaign when then candidate Trump received the endorsement of David Duke, for days he was asked if was doing to denounce it, which he didn't immediately do.  After several days, he finally did, but in passing.  "Alright, you want me to denounce it, I denounce it."

That was it.

He, like all bigots, can't admit it to himself or anyone else.  History will remember this President as the ignorant, bigoted racist he is, and his followers as the bigoted racists they are.  They are ignorant not only of the reality that all humans are created equal, but also of their own hatred and ignorance.

The fish isn't aware of the water until it's out of it.   The ecosystem this species of fish thrived in for a thousand years is disappearing, and they are unable to adapt to the changing environment.   As the water level drops, they flounder and writhe on the drying mud.  Eventually they will suffocate, so just let them.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I get Election 2016 now...

Dear Republican Party,

I understand. You hate Bill and Hillary. You H-A-T-E them! You tried to bust Bill Clinton on just about any allegation you could think of, and he kept getting away. On the day of his impeachment, his approval rating was in the 60's. So you hate them. You can argue all you want about ethics, morality, blah blah blah... but they just plain beat you at your own game. So you hate them. I didn't trust Hillary either, but not for the same reasons you don't.

And there are A LOT of people out there who didn't enjoy the income benefits of a growing and widening economy. Whole new business sectors were added in the last 25 years, and many didn't see income gains from it. I've studied economic inequality for the last 15 years, and as a result I firmly believe that the Middle Class began shrinking back in the 70's. Remember "stagflation?" That was when prices were going up yet the economy was stagnant. That's when it really began. And it only got worse, especially during the Reagan and both Bush administrations, but also during the Clinton tenure.

That is because the economy evolved, businesses tightened their belts, and many jobs were lost. BUT, many new jobs were created in the last 30 years, jobs that required skills and training beyond high school. Today, many economists argue there is a "skills gap" in our economy, with many people creating an available workforce, but many open jobs require skills that available workforce doesn't have.

So people are angry that others are getting rich when they are not; that the Great Recession happened it impacted their lives even further. Fair enough. But people weren't adapting to the changing economy, and I think you're blaming the wrong people.

I understand, too, that Christians fear an Obama/Clinton tightening of what they perceive to be an infringement of their religious freedom, because they won't allow Christians to discriminate against other religions, or because they won't allow Christians to discriminate against people who live lives Christians believe to be abhorrent to their beliefs.

Well, wasn't the Moral Majority formed specifically to mold public policy to be more inline with Christian beliefs? Basically, Christians have been trying to amend our legal system to force everyone to live by their religious beliefs, regardless of what anyone else believes. Isn't that the case? Christians may try to call that "religious freedom," meaning I'm totally free to live by your religious beliefs. I call that hypocrisy.

So, in your detestation of Hillary Clinton, you voted for someone who throughout his life has demonstrated no religious conviction whatsoever... none. I must've missed that line from the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus said, "Blessed are the greedy and self-promoters, for they will inherit the favor of all who reject science, data, education, information, and knowledge."

You have the right to believe whatever religion you want to, but historically the Supreme Court's interpretation of the 1st Amendment is that you don't have the right to infringe on my right to believe what I want to.

And before I forget, Democrats, you aren't entirely blameless here. You nominated the most divisive and polarizing Democrat since Andrew Jackson... nice going there.

This is the final point I want to make. Okay, Trump followers, you got what you wanted. I could list the volumes of times in the last 16 months Trump has proven himself to be a liar, bigot, sexist, racist, narcissist, and fascist, but I'll spare myself the torture. So here's the thing:

- If we lose our freedom of speech, it's on YOU.
- If we lose our civil rights, it's on YOU.
- If we lose our voting rights, it's on YOU.
- If we lose actual freedom of religion, it's on YOU.
- If we lose any freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, it's on YOU.
- If we end up in a new World War, it's on YOU.
- If we end up in a global economic collapse, it's on YOU.
- If we end up in a total fascist state, it's on YOU.
- If Klan rallies spread and lynching happens again, it's on YOU.
- If innocent Muslims in this country are harassed, injured, and/or killed, it's on YOU.
- If innocent immigrants are harassed, injured, and/or killed, it's on YOU.
- If in 4 years you're not better off than now, it's totally on YOU.

If any or all of these things happen, its on YOU. It is on you. If things don't go as planned, look in the mirror. You voted for someone who throughout his life has only cared about himself, and never, ever demonstrated any concern about the Middle Class, Working Class, or even the rest of the 1%. He's only ever done what suited him at the time. That includes skirting laws, unethical business practices, and suing whomever he wanted to because they said something negative about him, true or not.

Blame President Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or whoever you want, but History will blame you. And as a lifelong student of history, political science, and economics, I will blame you, too. I don't know what your vision of a "great" America is, but I honestly think MY country is already great.

"Give me your tired, your poor, you huddled masses yearning to breathe free, your wretched refuse from your teeming shore..." THAT is the America I was taught to believe in, the America I believed was emerging from its past, the America that elected its first African-American president, but its apparent you don't agree. For the moment, we still have the right to believe what we think is right and just.

You won this election. I know you're happy. Now you have four years (if that?) to show what you meant. But remember, it's on YOU.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Choosing Between the Lesser of Two Liars

After following American Politics since 1986, the first year I was able to vote, it seems clear to me that each presidential election has elicited louder and more hateful voices toward the opposition's candidate.  Bush and Dukakis in 1988 was intriguing to me because a guy named Lee Atwater created TV commercials that amazed me with the exaggerated claims made in them, but I began to see that politicians will stop at very little to get what they want.  And in the 28 years since, they seem to be willing to stop at less and less.

History teaches us the that the ugliest presidential campaigns in the U.S. were 1800 -- Adams and Jefferson -- and 1828 -- Jackson and JQ Adams.  These were truly vicious, with surrogates printing the most inflammatory, exaggerated claims about the other party's candidate.  But I think 100 years from now, historians will include 2016 in that group.

I expect campaigns, consultants, surrogates, and the AM radio parrots to spew vitriol about candidates,  and I expect campaign commercials to present embellished arguments bordering on outright lies -- that's the nature of the beast of American politics.  With the advent of social media, I can now see the vitriol and incredibly one-sided hatred that many of the big party voters spew, and I'm horrified.

Now we know this is the first campaign in modern history where both major candidates have higher unfavorable ratings than favorable -- meaning more people dislike each candidate than like them.  As a follower of presidential campaigns, I'm entertained by that.  As a voter and citizen and self-proclaimed patriot, I'm horrified.

I'm horrified to see so many people willing to spew hateful things about the other major candidate, while being completely blind to their own candidate's blatant and obvious flaws.  Hillary Clinton is  a lifetime politician, who should know better than to keep her State Department emails on a private server.  With the microscopic lens that she knew was going to be on her as she ran for President, that decision was arrogance bordering on recklessness.  She and her husband truly are world-class political agents, and they had to know this was going to be thrown back in their face.  Did they think they would just be able to explain it away, or just add it to the list of conspiracy theories their opponents would pull out of the file cabinet?

Now there are plenty of examples of why I don't trust Hillary Clinton.  For one thing, she seems to be the most manufactured candidate I've seen in my adult life.  She seems to strike whatever point she feels will get her the most support.  During the primaries, she took the position of "pragmatic progressive" compared to Sanders' "revolution."  I wonder if Sanders had taken the pragmatic road, if she would instead have campaigned as a "revolutionary."  Probably so.  Another example... one week she says, "I'm not going to apologize about the email issue."  The very next week -- the VERY next week -- "I'm sorry about the emails."  That is why I don't wish to vote for Clinton.

I don't believe all the conspiracy theories about her that emerge from numerous outlets, but I still don't trust her.  I do believe, however, that part of the reason that why the Right doesn't like her is because her husband beat them at their own game.  Republicans threw everything they could again Bill Clinton during his administration, and when he was about to be impeached, and when he left office, his approval ratings were still in the 60's.  Sorry, GOP, I know you tried.

Which brings us to Mr. Trump. He has made such blatant claims during this campaign that many well-known and respected Republicans have very publicly jumped ship.  This is perhaps the clearest difference between the two -- I don't know of any Democrat politicians who have publicly said they would vote for DJT over Hillary, though there are a Bernie supporters who have said they wouldn't vote for Clinton.

And those same followers who support Trump the most fervently are the ones who hate the Clintons to the same degree.

I believe that Trump is pathological liar, a sexist, a racist, a narcissist bordering on delusion, and a dictator in waiting.  Mental health professional don't like it when lay people do armchair psychological diagnoses, but there are plenty -- puh-LENTY -- of examples to show Trump suffers from an extreme case of Narcissist Personality Disorder. (Sorry, mental health professionals, its true, and you know it.)

Now, I could expand extensively on why I will not vote for Trump, or what I think of Trump's followers, but I will say that another truth brought out in this campaign that worries me is that DJT is exposing the rampant bigotry still exists today in the United States.  I thought we were past that in 21st century America.  It's as if DJT is the manifestation of a backlash that was brought out by the first African-American President.

But what worries me the most is complete lack of 360 degree vision of voters of both sides of the political spectrum.  I see scathing accusations about both candidates from people, accusations that I don't necessarily disagree with.  But what I don't see -- except from the people in the Middle I'm getting acquainted with thanks to Twitter -- is that the people making those scathing accusations about either candidate seem completely oblivious, or intentionally ignorant, of the issues with their own candidate.

These are people with the worldview boundary and introspective capacity of a kindergartener.  I'm reminded of the line somewhere in the New Testament where Jesus is talking about trying to get the speck out of someone's eye when you have a log in your own.  These are the people choosing our next President, and I'm horrified.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Why Moderates Don't Get News Coverage

I've asked the question in several places why the Moderate movements isn't getting more press coverage, even though the majority of voters now state they don't align with the extreme voices in the major parties.  If the centrist view -- or at least the non-extreme view -- is beginning to catch on among rank-and-file voters, why isn't there more coverage?

After extensive consideration, the answer may be Reality TV  There is a reason why reality television shows don't ever show rational, emotionally healthy behaving like civilized adults:  because ratings would plummet.  We've all read the stories about how show-runners try to stir up emotions and goad participants into tirades and difficult situations, then edit out anything that doesn't bring a dramatic climax and/or fist-fight.

This is not to say that reality TV is necessarily to blame, but is definitely an indicator of our current situation.

There is a little-known reality cooking show called Top Chef Master, which -- in its first couple of seasons, at least -- featured mature, experienced chefs.  It was one of the very few shows I watched, because the show featured grown-ups collaborating and competing at the same time, helping each other out, and communicating with professionalism and courtesy. It was thoroughly refreshing.

Having cut the cord a couple of years ago, interest in TV in general has been lost for me.  Looking for the show online, its not on the network's main menu anymore.  Meanwhile, there are still 8.. EIGHT Real Housewives shows. While I don't watch much TV anymore, I read extensively from a variety of news sites, and from the growing number of moderate opinion sites, from which I get my media information, and hence draw these conclusions.

The 24-hour cable news industry is dominated by the need for viewership.  That's why Trump gets exponential coverage on cable news compared to Sanders.  Like him or hate him, Trump gets viewers, and the cable news networks know it.  So when imagining Anderson Cooper or Rachel Maddow, or especially any Fox News parrot, trying to interview a Moderate advocate, one can hear the sound of thousands of remotes clicking..

The fact is, moderate and centrist dialogue isn't good for ratings, because to really get to the heart of any centrist-moderate-independent policy issue requires details, facts, data, explanation, depth, and most of all, t-i-m-e, with absolutely no taglines or slogans.  We don't use three-syllable slogans to outline our views -- "tax and spend," "cut and run," etc. -- which doesn't translate into the riveting TV that networks strive for.  Most cable news segments are just a couple of minutes, and even the Sunday morning news shows have to offer some draw, despite the lowered volume of the dialogue.

Imagine a moderate-centrist "McLaughlin Group" type of show, where someone says, in a civil tone, "I'm not sure I agree with that view, and I ask your indulgence to explain why."  Would this show ever, e-v-e-r get air time?

Most voters seem to want easy options and solutions.  Don't burden them with too many policy options for any particular issue, and by all means do not attempt to discuss the full range of issues a President, or Senator, or Congressional Representative really has to deal with.

Take foreign policy for example.  Most voters don't want to consider that maintaining good relations with other nations, even our closest partners, is incredibly complex, requiring depth of knowledge, ability to discern nuance, cultural sensitivity, firm grasp of international law -- and numerous other areas of understanding.  The current batch of GOP presidential candidates want to say, "All we need to do is __________."  This is simplistic approaching idiocy, but these types of statements resonate with the people they are attempting to attract.

They are simple, they are black and white, they are "us versus them."  And too many voters want that.  But there is hope.  There is a growing number of internet content dedicated to moderate-centrist politics and dialogue.  There are a growing number of Twitter tweeters sharing articles and updates.  And there is growing data showing more voters are leaving the two major parties and seeking an alternative.

This blog discussed before the need for a centrist party, but also of the difficulty of attempting to meld a huge number of disparate, but respectful, viewpoints into a single party platform.  I've suggested we might need a charismatic and eloquent voice to lead the movement.  Upon further review, I'm not sure anymore.  I like that we are so diverse in opinion, and can share differing views. But then again, I don't watch reality TV.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Can a Centrist Movement be Unified?

As the year winds down, 2015 seemed to be the Year of the Extreme, at least to me.  Extremist views seem to have become the norm, with inflammatory rhetoric and outright lies becoming not just accepted but embraced by candidates' supporters, and this is not just limited to GOP candidates.  Bernie and Hillary both have had their share of fact-checked statements discredited.

While I would love to see 2016 become the year that logic, reason, data, facts, and truth return to our political culture and dialogue, you and I know that possibility is slim, if existent at all.  Supporters for both Trump and Cruz -- they are the best examples -- take everything their candidates say as gospel truth, and criticize the critics who dare to question their candidates' statements.  It doesn't matter how outside the realm of probability that statement is, or how far removed from confirmation with actual data, if someone disagrees, its because they are a part of the "establishment."  (The rise of the low-information voter will be a subject of future writings.)

To me, we need a united movement of Centrists, but I honestly wonder if that is even possible, for the following reasons:

1. From my observations and own experience, Centrists tend to adopt their political opinions completely independently, and not because the same statement is repeated ad nauseum over various broadcast and cable media.

2.  People who don't feel the need to belong to any group will likely not need to join this one, either.  Being able to act and think independently takes a certain measure of self-worth and self-identification. This issue could be our Achilles' heel.

3.  The range of opinions within this broad circle will likely diverge much farther than anything either of the major parties will see.  This would cause the construction of any kind of a political platform to require significant discussion, lively debate, and in the end, compromise.  That, in turn, requires us to reveal if we can truly act according to our words.

4.  There are more Centrists emerging within the parties, and data shows this.  But, I believe, those voters would prefer to remain under that canopy, even if others are moving that canopy further in a particular direction.  Maybe they don't see a need for a middle canopy, or they just aren't ready yet to step out into the bright sun of a million ideas to help construct something new in the Center.

5.  Lastly, I believe this effort requires some kind of a unifying voice, theme, or charismatic representative, willing to be hit with all the verbal punches that would ensue.  Ted Cruz, for example, calls us the "mushy middle," although he may have been referring to Donald Trump's beltline, or his own.  There will certainly be far worse insults hurled at us should these efforts appear on the national media radar.

While I initially saw some light at the end of the tunnel with better-known efforts such as "No Labels" and the Bipartisan Policy Center, upon further review, I'm less enthusiastic.  These organizations actually have funding and have been able to draw some notable former legislators to their non-partisan events, but it seems disingenuous since, while in office, these legislators were as partisan as anyone else.  Having since retired, or been beaten, they suddenly believe in crossing the aisle to shake hands?  I doubt it.  I'm fine seeing someone like Jon Huntsman participate, but people like Trent Lott and Eric Cantor cause these efforts to lose credibility, in my view.

This needs to be a grassroots effort, an a-c-t-u-a-l grassroots effort, not just one called that by well-funded organizations.  I know you're out there, I see you on Twitter every day.  We're like the many cars jammed on a freeway, all heading in the same general direction.  It would be so much faster if we all just got on a train together or rented a few buses, and we would get where we want so much faster. But we like having our own car, where we can pick the music, and can choose on our own if we want to change lanes or stop and get some coffee.

I once had a journalism professor in college state very clearly to never use the words, "the time has come for..." in any kind of editorial piece, because, one could easily argue, the time has come for just about anything.  And up until now, I have adhered to that instruction.  However...

The time has come for us to come together and get in this fight.  We need to raise awareness and let people know that we are here; that we don't like what the parties are offering; that we believe inflammatory rhetoric and demagoguery are not constructive towards creating sound policy that benefits all Americans; that sound policy only results from research, data, and a thorough sifting of facts from lies.

I consider it a fight, one that will be ugly.  You have encountered some of the internet trolls already, who are incapable of having a rational discussion on issues, but are well-armed with ridiculous words like "libtard."  And heaven help anyone who becomes a target on cable news or AM radio.

But if we don't engage collectively, then are we just confirming what the critics say?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


I just have to get this off my chest.  Trump is a narcissist.  The most sociopathic narcissist I have ever been made aware of.. and I know some real a-holes.  He desperately craves attention and validation, and when criticized throws it back with insults and degradation.  I'm actually entertained with he calls someone a "no-class dummy."  Is it really classy to call anyone that?

The Twitter-verse has already and exhaustively completed the diagnosis of Trump Narcissist Personality Disorder, so don't need to do into detail here.  But do any of his followers not want details when if comes to policy?  It apparently is enough for him to say things like, "the Blacks like me."  "The Jews like me."  "The evangelicals like me."

... or to say "ban all Muslims."  Or "shut down the internet."  Really?

I'm not ever sure he really believes any of the things he's advocated for during this campaign.  I wonder if his NPD simply makes him say these things that resonate so deeply with his audience.

The real concern for me about the Trump movement is the following that has developed around him.  Demographic analysis shows that the bulk of those followers -- I call them "followers," not voters -- are low-income, less-educated, white males, the same group, other that whites over 50, that rallies after Fox News and listen to their AM radio propagandists.  Reports indicate shouts of "white power" at Trump rallies.  That should explain it all.

I've never quite understood why low-income whites were always such a vehement, vocal faction of the Republican Party.  It's painfully obvious the GOP cares nothing about the situation of the blue-collar class, regardless of race.  But this group has unfortunately fallen for the underlying themes of GOP messages, the "if you aren't with us, you must not really love America," trope.

Numerous articles in the left-center web media discuss how the GOP has created this Frankenstein themselves, and this is just chickens coming home to roost.  I tend to agree, but am still puzzled as to what this Trump following really believes will make 'Mair'cuh great again.

My hasty, somewhat bigoted conclusion is that this group of white males, who didn't necessarily finish, much less start, college, see non-whites as a threat.  They view their economic situation as a direct impact of "those people" coming here to take their jobs.

My response to that viewpoint would be to explain that as the economy has grown and evolved over the last 30 years, education and vocational training has gained in importance, and there are still many good-paying jobs available for those who have training and education.  This, of course, could be backed up with data.

I tend to think simpler people seek a simpler explanation of the world, which Trump easily delivers.  So the next time he calls anyone a "no-class dummy," accuracy would dictate he target his own audience.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Biblical Bases for Political Viewpoints... and My Own.

While most of my views and posts focus more on economic issues, I couldn't help but chime in on the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.  In order to offer a basis, perhaps it may help to elaborate on some of my religious views, as it seems the basis for the opposition to the issue is based on religious grounds.

I am an agnostic... an inquisitive, deistic agnostic.  That is to say, I don't know if the God depicted in the Holy Bible is real, or if the Bible itself is "true."  I seriously doubt it is.  I believe the Bible was manufactured from a wide variety of documents, letters, and written narratives that were cherry-picked by the Council of Nicea.  I believe the Church that emerged after the death of Jesus quickly morphed into an organization more concerned with maintaining, and gaining, power and wealth from its followers than the sanctification of followers' souls.

Since college I have read a great amount of history of the ancient worlds, including the Stone-Bronze-Iron Ages, Greece, Rome, the Dark Ages, etc.  This study has come partially under the light of answering questions about the Bible, the same questions my numerous Sunday School teachers couldn't answer.  But it also came as a result of general curiosity.  I've always wondered what happened and who lived before us.  But I've also dabbled in other social sciences such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, as well as a little into the physical and life sciences.

As a result, I've discovered that science makes much more sense as to the various religions do.  I have, in truth, my own theory on the origin of religion in human history, though I'm sure I'm not the first to have conceived it.  It is this: humans have always been an inquisitive species, and we have always wondered where we came from, how we got here, and why we're here.  So it seems natural and rational to perceive early religions being created to begin answering those questions.  One need only recall their own childhood, or being a parent to a young child, and asking the many questions inquisitive young children ask.

After reading Hitchens' "God is Not Great." I learned its an idea well-developed.  Hitchens takes the point further; since we created religion to explain the world to us before science, now that we have science to explain the world, we don't need religion anymore.  And I tend to agree.

I imagine it starting like this: a small tribe of early humans are sitting around a campfire one starry night.  A child asks what those tiny lights are in the sky.  No parent, especially a father, wants to look stupid or ignorant to their child, so a parent, most likely the father, was willing to make up something.  If the parent was clever, they would create a fable that would entice the child to behave and obey.  "Those lights are the spirits of all the people who lived before us... including my parents, their parents, and their parents' parents.  And they are all looking down upon me and you.  So you better always do as we say, but they are always watching y-o-u."

Not just a plausible theory, but in my view, an allegory of religion in general.  Because of what I've read from so many different subjects, I'm led to conclude the Bible is not a history book, not a logical explanation of the Universe, and barely a comprehensible morality document.

I do, however, believe the words of Jesus are a more consistent moral doctrine, and simpler to absorb and follow.  Sparing all the quotes and passages, I'll just summarize Jesus' teaching as: "Be good to each other."  Simple as that. Don't just be good to the people around you, or the ones you like more, but, as Jesus did, those most in need.  Help heal the sick.  Help feed the hungry.  Just "be good to each other."

Where my agnosticism crystallizes is in the question: Is/was there some kind of a Creator?  While I do not believe the God as depicted in the Bible is real, I do believe there are an infinite number of possibilities of some kind of a being that drives the Universe.  Maybe it's just energy, maybe there is some logic and order to this seemingly random space, or maybe there is not.  To me, to extrapolate that because the God of the Bible isn't real there is can be no higher power of any kind is a leap I'm not willing to take.  A sharper mind like Dawkins or Hitchens would be able to skewer this viewpoint, and one day I may work to develop the idea further, but for now I'm okay with that view as is.

All that said, I take issue with the people who say homosexuality, and hence gay marriage, is wrong because the Bible says so.  The Bible also says it is not only right to have slaves but its also okay to beat them when they get out of line.  The Bible describes the eating of pork as a sin as much as it refers to homosexuality, or other "immorality" as a sin.  The Bible also says divorce is akin to adultery.

Therefore, I will conclude that the people who truly believe homosexuality is a sin because the Bible says so, also own slaves, have never divorced, and especially never had sex before marriage, and never, ever eat pork.

There's a much greater discussion to be had another day on the impact of the Religious Right on contemporary American politics, but I promise you, we will have it soon.