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Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

The book is in the bookstores, the crowds are eagerly waiting in line for autographs, the book tour is set to travel through a number of key battleground states. So is this it? Is this the beginning of Sarah Palin’s 2012 Presidential campaign?  Sarah’s supporters are already saying they would vote for her in the next election.  She is being compared to Ronald Reagan, the former movie star turned President of the United States.  Let’s face it, if Ronald Reagan, a man who got his inspiration for important government decisions and policies from watching old Hollywood movies, could be elected President – twice – there is certainly a reasonable chance that Americans might also vote to put Sarah in the White House. I know it is something that is hard to accept for a lot of people, but we have to consider it, just as scientists and policy makers contemplated the “unthinkable” many years ago when it seemed that there was a possibility of global thermonuclear war.

So what would happen if Sarah were elected President? Can we discern anything from her actions as a mayor of Wasilla and governor of Alaska?  Is there something in her speeches and interviews that provides us a foretaste of things to come, should the unthinkable come to pass? Most of her political experience comes from being the Mayor of Wasilla, a small town in Alaska. She was mayor for ten years and seems to have made several accomplishments, although in a heavy-handed way, that helped the town to prosper. She appears to have a record of trying to “clean up” Alaskan politics and is driven by an ethical concept that seems to be shared by a lot of Alaskans. She only served as Governor of Alaska for two years and her time as Governor was marked by significant friction with the political establishment. She seems to place little value on being a “team player”.

Interestingly, although she is officially a Republican, she has supported some initiatives that required major government intervention.  It would be hard to characterize her as a Libertarian in her deeds, regardless of her words.  She wholeheartedly supported and signed a bill that would provide government funding to build a trans-Alaska gas pipeline. She also signed an energy bill that gives $1,200 to every qualified resident of Alaska. The money comes from Alaska’s revenue from the oil and gas.  It sure seems a bit Socialist to me, hardly a Republican ideal, and certainly something that no pure Libertarian would ever dream of.  In her statement about the gift of government money to Alaskan families she said that these people needed the money to buy groceries and heat their homes.  An admirable thought, but hardly Republican ideology.

In an attempt to save money for the state, Sarah sold the governor’s jet plane and fired the governor’s private chef.  It seems, from her actions, that she has no problem with spending hundreds of millions of dollars for gas pipeline construction, some of the proceeds of which will then be given as a gift to the people of Alaska so they can buy necessities , but she is against spending taxpayer money for non-essential things, like jet planes and chefs.  Overall, it appears that her political philosophy is more aligned with the Democrats than the Republicans.  However, her religious views can only be viewed as deeply “conservative”.  And it is the clever alliance the Republicans have made with the conservative Christian movement that seems to be the principle reason she calls herself a Republican.

Now we come to the last election.  Sarah was quickly catapulted into the national limelight as John McCain’s Vice Presidential running mate. The infamous interview with Katie Couric clearly showed that she was in way over her head. And that is the problem.  The simple fact is this: if there is one thing the campaign showed us about Sarah Palin it is that she is woefully unprepared to be President of the United States. Her knowledge of foreign policy and geography, the fact that she seems to read almost no magazines or newspapers, her inability to respond intelligently on major issues of interest to Americans simply showed that she has not concerned herself with the world outside of Alaska.

So now she’s written a book – a best seller, even before it was in the bookstores. It shows what name recognition can do for you – the one thing that the American publishing industry cares about (but that is a subject for another time).  Now she is on the campaign trail, sort of pretending it’s a book signing tour. There is no doubt that she will find many supporters who love her down-home, simple, goldurnit, aw shucks logic.  The question we all have to ask ourselves though is this: does she really have the knowledge and skills to run the country? Could she be a good President? The thing to recognize is that while many people might have what it takes to be a good mayor of Wasilla, after all there are thousands of Wasillas and thousands of good mayors all over the U.S., it is quite another thing to be President of the United States. Well, what about being Governor of Alaska? Remember, she was only governor foe two years, and then she walked off the job there.  Remember also that she was continually at odds with the other politicians in Alaska.  She has a sort of “take no prisoners” way of doing business when she is in charge. It’s her way or the highway, it seems. Not exactly the way a competent and seasoned politician operates, and certainly not the way to be successful in Washington.  It is my guess that if she were elected, she would be the most ineffective president in our history, because she doesn’t understand how the U.S. system of government actually works. In a word, she is naive.  And that spells great danger for our country, because the same people who voted for the movie star, Ronald Reagan, might vote for her too.

Our forefathers anticipated this potential moment in our nation’s history. The knew that a time might come when the common people might be deceived; they knew that it is possible for a slick talker to convince people, based upon emotional arguments, that they are the best candidate, when in fact they are simply incompetent.  That is why we have the electoral college. It is our last hope – a group of people of learning and experience, who in the end have the ability, the right, and the obligation to overrule the people and protect them from a grievous error in judgment.

When I contemplate the unthinkable I am left with this: This small group of people, the electoral college, may well be the only thing that can save this nation from itself in 2012 –  I wonder if they will have the courage to do so.

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I suppose it might be difficult for some members of the extreme right wing to accept, but God did not invent Capitalism.  Another fact, equally hard to accept for the extreme right wing is that Jesus did not condemn Communism.  I know.  It’s hard to believe. After all, if Jesus was alive today, wouldn’t he be a Capitalist?

Of course there is the difficulty of some of the things Jesus is quoted as saying.  I am referring to expressions like, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven”. Or, “Sell all you have and follow me.”  I wish I could find a Republican extreme right wing Christian who could explain these discrepancies to me, because I just can’t figure it out. And, since the Christian right wing seems to be exclusively Republican, I figure they must know the truth about this.  Please feel free to explain this to me.

Meanwhile, I’ve been wondering.  Have you noticed in our Capitalist economic system, where everybody supposedly has an equal chance to be a millionaire, how it seems sort of like the system is sort of rigged in favor of the people who already have a lot of money?  For example, take a look at our laws on taxing estates – that’s what is left over when you die.  Under the administration of President Bush the tax on estates of less than $3.5 million was reduced to zero. Yes, zero dollars.  The wealthy can pass on their gains to their heirs and pay absolutely no tax on anything under three and a half million dollars.

What about income tax?  Surely the wealthy pay their fair share there, don’t they? Well, under President Bush’s “tax cuts” the tax on the wealthiest Americans dropped by almost 40% while the tax on the poorest Americans dropped less than 1%. Our American tax system favors the wealthy. Why? Well, for one thing who do you think writes the tax code? It surely isn’t the poor people. Senator Kerry is the richest man in the Senate, worth close to a billion dollars.  A lot of the Senators are worth many, many millions of dollars. Overall the median (not the average) net worth of U.S. Senators was $1,700,000 in 2007. For Congressmen it was $684,000.

President Obama has talked in the past about restoring the tax rates to be the same as they were under President Clinton.  At that time the wealthy paid a larger share of the country’s tax burden.  However, since his election there hasn’t been much talk about tax reform, even though one might think that recirculating some of that tax money might help to stimulate the economy.  I get the impression that Congress is not too eager to vote for a tax increase on their own pay. So the money of the wealthy just continues to sort of clot up in their bank accounts.

Here’s something to consider: the bonuses for the bankers on Wall Street are growing astronomically while everyone else’s salary is just sort of keeping up with inflation. Goldman Sachs employees will receive bonuses of about $700,000 apiece this year. How fortunate for them!  And even more so because of George Bush’s tax cuts:  they will have to pay very little tax on their bonuses. Aren’t you glad for them?

Meanwhile, average Americans are continuing to lose their homes to foreclosure.  Millions are out of work and can’t find a job.  One can only ask one question: is this right? I don’t mean in a legal sense – of course it’s legally right – the laws of our country have enabled this. The question is this: in a moral sense, is it right? The thing I find it hard to understand is how the “Christian” right – those diehard Republicans who claim to be true Christians and just love the George Bush style of government – reconcile this with the teachings of Jesus. Are we reading the same Bible here?

It’s a simple question. Are the Capitalist values of America and the resulting coagulation of wealth for a very small number of people in America, at the expense of the vast majority of people, compatible with the teachings of Jesus? A simple yes or no will do, but if anyone can explain how they truly are compatible I would love to hear the explanation.

And here’s a second question for the Republican “Christian” right: if you cannot answer my first question then why do you call yourselves Christians?  I would love to hear that answer too.

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It is John McCain’s greatest fear: the redistribution of wealth.  He’s not the only one who is afraid of course, there are plenty of other people like him.  They have made their fortunes one way or another, and they are damned if they are going to share it with anyone.  Good Christians all, I suppose.  It’s a touchy subject for the very wealthy – they would rather we talk about something else, like lowering taxes or the right to bear arms or freedom of choice in health care.  All good subjects, no doubt, and all emotional trigger issues that are guaranteed to distract the easily distracted from something they would rather not dwell upon.  America has become a country polarized by unequal – very unequal – distribution of its wealth.  Current estimates are that the total wealth of the United States is about $53 trillion. That is a lot of money.  The thing that John McCain would prefer that you don’t know or dwell upon is that, of this amount, about $18 trillion (a bit more than 1/3 of all the wealth of the U.S.) is owned by only 1% of the population.  The other thing that Johnny doesn’t want you to think about is that at the other end of the spectrum, the total wealth of almost half the people in the country – add up the wealth of 150 million Americans – is only about $0.5 trillion, i.e. less than 1% of the total wealth of the country.  Of course John McCain and the other rich folk think this is perfectly OK – and let’s talk about something else, can we? Like freedom, or the enemy, or taxes, or big government, or something.  Anything else. This is America, right?  Anyone and everyone has an equal chance to be a billionaire, don’t they?  So stop whining.

I am reminded of a new song written by a very good Irish songwriter, Jimmy McCarthy, called The Sky Road.  It tells about a young man named Danny who, I suppose, left Ireland long, long ago – centuries ago.  It starts like this:

Danny’s made his mind up

He’s leaving for America

He’s leaving for America

Leaving all of us behind.

He says there’s nothing here not drenched in beer

In blood and retribution

And the wealth distribution’s

Been weighing heavy on his mind.

Allow me to put this in a little perspective:

In the aftermath of nearly a thousand years of defending itself from constant invasions from England, Ireland finally fell to Oliver Cromwell’s extraordinarily savage attacks in the mid-1600’s. (This was at exactly the same time that English colonists were busy taking America from the Native Americans in the “New World”).  Ireland now belonged to England (soon to be called The British Empire) – all of it.  Mostly,  Ireland belonged to a very small number of people – the English aristocracy.  They had promptly declared it to be  illegal for any Irish person to own land in Ireland.  There was little for people like Danny to do except leave, particularly when the potato crop failed in the mid-1800’s, and the Irish starved to death, literally by the millions.  All the while, the English-owned plantations in Ireland continuously exported massive amounts of food (beef, pork, butter, grain, and so forth) to England.  It’s a story of genocide not usually taught in our American schools, is it? One can only wonder why…

The society in Ireland before the famine in the 19th century had become polarized into two classes: a small but enormously wealthy upper, aristocratic class, and a very large class of poor, landless laborers who worked for the aristocrats.  For all practical purposes, nineteenth century Ireland was a feudal society – and the English aristocrats were delighted with that.  The important thing to note here is that the aristocratic class, those who had attained their wealth through theft and murder, hadn’t the slightest care about the welfare of the poorer class. Good Calvinists, they felt justified because they believed it must be God’s plan – otherwise things wouldn’t be that way, would they?

Today, in America, a nation of equals (at least theoretically), we find ourselves in the midst of an argument about health care. Is it a right for all?  Should it be paid for by taxes? Why should the wealthy pay for the medical needs of the poor?  The Wall Street Journal has leaped into the fray calling our Congress “reckless” for even considering higher taxes on the wealthy in order to pay for a health care plan. We are hearing commentators talking about possible class warfare and the evils of the coming wealth redistribution.  The important thing to note about all this talk is that the extremely wealthy people in America, the ones who have benefited the most from the Bush tax cuts and the elimination of the estate tax, feel entirely justified in tightly grasping and hoarding their billions of dollars while they do absolutely nothing to help those who are suffering.  After all, this is surely God’s will isn’t it?  Otherwise it wouldn’t be this way.  And therefore, aren’t these wealthy people demonstrably God’s elect? Surely they have no need or obligation to help the poorer people – let them help themselves.  Didn’t John Calvin say as much?  Christianity at it’s best.

I can still hear John McCain’s voice from the campaign trail as he warned about class warfare and wealth redistribution.  He is typical of the new class of would-be American aristocrats.  Content to sit back and do nothing while they watched the people of New Orleans drown, they are equally happy to bomb the people of Hanoi or Iran or anywhere else that suits their needs.  This new society of American aristocrats, led by their genius, George W. Bush, are without a conscience, caring only for their own wealth and intent on deceiving the American people that health care for all is the worst thing that could happen in America.  The fact that their Republican political party has aligned itself with the so-called “Christian” churches in America is an extraordinary irony.  Never mind “What would Jesus do?” What would Jesus say?

History has shown time and again that when a society becomes extremely polarized, and a small number of very wealthy people dominate, an unstable society is produced.  It is always the case that the poorer people suffer under the domination of the wealthy and that the wealthy use all their power and wealth only to amass even more wealth. We are in such a situation now.  For the past eight years, the extremely wealthy have used their power to enrich themselves, while in the process bringing the world’s economy to its knees.  The extremely wealthy have used their power to rewrite our tax laws so they could significantly decrease their tax burden while simultaneously increasing the tax burden on the poorer people.  We need only to look at the catastrophe of Czarist Russia to see what happens when a large poorer class is continuously abused by the wealthy few. It is the lesson of history  that has occurred over and over again.  And this lesson is what our current American aristocracy fears the most, which is why we hear the cries of “class warfare” and “wealth redistribution”.  Even so, they won’t relent.  They don’t believe they should subsidize anyone’s health care, and so they propagate their lies about European health care – which is in fact, far superior to U.S. health care.

In the end, the struggle is not about freedom and values and patriotism;  it’s all about money and wealth.  And greed.  Lots of greed.  The wealthy American class has tried mightily to convert us into an aristocratic society – and they have succeeded.  Now they want to keep it that way.  It’s worth remembering that two hundred years ago, when Danny left Ireland for America, he had a reasonable hope of being treated fairly in a new country where the English aristocracy didn’t already control everything.  However, our situation is different from Danny’s.  If we quietly allow our fair country to continue to spiral downward into a John McCain/George Bush style aristocracy, where only a very small number of people own all the wealth of the land, we won’t have anywhere else to emigrate to, because there is no other America.  This is it.

It is time for the vast numbers of ordinary people in the United States to stand up against the lies of the wealthy, otherwise they must inevitably surrender and forever live under the heel of this new and heartless American aristocracy.

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In 1776, a group of revolutionary minded people, many of whom were Freemasons, created the United States of America.  This new country was to be a break from the past. The leaders of the movement: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, and many more were Freemasons.  They were informed and inspired by some of the tenets of the Freemasons, tenets that were at odds with the established manner of world governments at that time.  Many of the governments of various European countries had a long established and close relationship with one branch or another of the Christian church.  Most of the governments had kings or queens, whose right to rule was based upon their ancestry.  The American revolutionaries had a different concept in mind – a democratic, elected  government that had no association with any religion.  It was a daring concept, and a complete break from the European view of government.  These Freemasons even documented this break from traditional government when they made the Great Seal of the United States and when they printed the one dollar bills that we have today. One each of these bills are printed the words: Novus Ordo Seclorum, i.e. A New Order of (0r for) the Ages.

The New order that was founded by these Freemasons created a Republic where the principal ideas and visions were centered on individual liberty.  A key concept was that the government was not made up of the elite or the wealthy or the influential or the religious leaders. The government was changed regularly, based upon a schedule of elections, and anyone could become a member of the government – as long as they could convince their friends and neighbors to vote for them.  This concept of a republic also implied something else, there would be a distance, a division, between the will of the wealthy and the will of the government, i.e. the will of the people.

Today, as our economy lurches towards a dubious recovery from a worldwide economic meltdown, we can observe that there has been a key change in the Novus Ordo that was created by the Freemasons.  There is no longer a distance between the government and the wealthy. Indeed, it was the closeness of the wealthy to the government that directly led to the meltdown.  It was the money in the pockets of the our governmental representatives that led to the relaxation or the complete annulment of laws that had protected us from nefarious economic practices by the banking industry.  It was the government’s Securities and Exchange Commission that looked the other way when Bernie Madoff ran his gigantic Ponzi scheme.  Over the years, the wealthy had established a cozy relationship with the representatives of our Republic – all for the purpose of gaining more money for themselves and less for the average citizen.

Today, the wealthy have almost a stranglehold on our government.  Some would say it is more than that.  They say we have an oligarchy – a situation where hidden, wealthy people rule through a puppet government and all laws are made to benefit the small, wealthy elite.  All you need to do is look.  Our American companies have become multinational. Our once good paying jobs have been moved to other countries where the cost of labor is much less.  Our government has “reformed” our tax laws allowing millionaires and billionaires to pass on their fortunes from one generation to the next while not a cent of tax is imposed on this transfer of wealth.  The wealthy have used the government to create income tax cuts for themselves and income tax increases for the middle and lower class.

The New Order created by the Freemasons is fast dying.  Today, our multinational companies, owned by the wealthy, fabricate our goods in China- creating no jobs for American workers – except those who work for Wal-Mart.  Our multinational companies pay little or no tax to our country, because they are officially located in the Bahamas or some other idiotic legal location.  And our government just winks and says, “OK”.  Our country has been transformed without our even realizing it.  We have a new world order that we never saw coming.  In this new world order, it is the wealthy who rule and it is the poor who pay taxes.  In this new world order everyone can vote, but it hardly matters who you vote for. Money flows like water from the mighty Mississippi into the pockets of our Congressional representatives who pretend to ask for our opinions but then vote the way they are told.

The Novus Ordo Seclorum of the Freemasons has gone, and we didn’t even see it go.  We can only sit and watch, dazed, as the government tires to stimulate a dying economy, knowing in our hearts that we are only surviving on financial life support.   How can our economy ever rise again when the wealthy have sent all our jobs to China?  How can our children ever compete again when our schools can’t compete with those in Malaysia or Norway?  How can we lead and inspire the world when so much of our television and radio news is now filled with the lies of the wealthy media owners, propaganda, and gross distortions of truth?

The new order of the world is here.  It is the multinational companies of the world who now make the economic rules. It is China that will be the world’s supplier of almost everything anyone needs.  We are to be the consumers, borrowing money from banks in order to live – while living forever in debt.  Meanwhile the people of the wealthy class return to their rightful place: Rulers of the World.  And the elected leaders of our Republic grovel before them and do their bidding – all for a pocketful of change.

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There was a time when Americans could agree to disagree.  There was a time when rational debate was possible, when one side would listen to the other and would then respond with their criticisms and their own point of view.  No more.  With the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency, Change has occurred – but not the Change we were expecting.  This Change has come from the “right” – the extreme “right”, which sadly now seems to include most of the Republican Party.  It seems the Change to the Republican Party took place almost overnight.  Leaderless after the McCain/Palin combo failed to win the election, the flailing Party faithful looked for new inspiration.  They looked for other voices to lead them, and they found people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, people of dubious intellectual ability, to provide a new vision for the Party. And a Hellish vision it is.

Remember the Town Hall meetings of the summer?  Remember how free speech was throttled by a well organized gang of “American”  thugs who refused to hear or discuss any plans for health care reform? Their only plan was to prevent the exercise of free speech and an intelligent discussion of the issues.  Now, the new Republican Party, a faint shadow of its former self – no longer recognizable as an American institution, but rather an instrument that strives to stifle public discussion and prevent the free expression of opinions, has sunk to a new low.  It’s members are now shrieking about President Obama’s planned speech to the school children of America. In doing so they have forever demeaned the office of the Presidency, and they have done so without reason nor regard for our values of freedom of expression and our culture of holding the office of the President of the United States in high regard.

Today, the President will release the text of his speech in advance in order to prove to the Republican Gestapo that his message is not political but is instead intended to simply encourage children remain in school and do well.  But the damage has been done, not only to the reputation and culture of the United States, but also to the reputation of the Republican Party.  This formerly legitimate political party has descended into some sort of imbecilic Hell, a morass of rotting ideas and lunatic leaders.  More and more they have concentrated their appeals to the lunatic fringe of America – people who refuse to believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States, people who have stocked up on guns and ammunition in the insane (and dangerous) belief that President Obama plans to somehow restrict this right. These are people who are unable to debate an issue intelligently, and thus would rather drown out the opposition with screams and shrieks and rants. Anything to prevent free speech.

Today is Labor Day in the United States.  So where is Glenn Beck?  Shouldn’t he be ranting insanely about how this holiday – Labor Day – celebrates unions and labor? Surely, if  he can connect the dots, in what serves as his brain, and determine that President Obama is either a Socialist or a Communist, shouldn’t he also determine that our Labor Day holiday places us in solidarity with worldwide Socialism and Communism? Shouldn’t the Fox television network be staging a day-long campaign to ban this un-American holiday?  Shouldn’t people who take Labor Day as a day off from work be investigated for their obvious Communist sympathies?  How did Glenn and Rush miss this? Or could it be that noting this close association between an American holiday and the united workers and unions around the world doesn’t suit their propaganda campaigns against the President?

The Republican Party, and its mouthpieces and minions, have taken a desperate path.  They have taken the path of denial of free speech and the deliberate distortion of truth  – all to gain political advantage. They have done so at the expense of our Constitution and our Freedom of Speech, and now they have done so at the expense of the dignity of the Office of the President.  In their insatiable lust for power and wealth, the Republican Party has crossed a line.  They are deliberately destroying those rights and values that they claim to treasure.  They have descended into hypocrisy for the sake of gaining political power and in doing so they are endangering our nation and its long held values of fairness and freedom of speech.

I suppose Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh would defend themselves by saying they are inciting all of this chaos for the “good of the country”.  What else would you expect them to say? Perhaps besides enjoying our Labor Day today, we should pause for a breif moment and take note that this is also a truly a sad day for America. A major political party has completely lost its sense of American values and has turned to the politics of desperation, and now allows itself to be led by men who admit to having chemically fried their brains.

I suppose it won’t be long before they start saying that Jesus was a communist too.

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Well, the inevitable has finally happened.  The New York Times has descended into the realm of bullshit.  Remember when it used to proudly proclaim “All the news that’s fit to print”? Actually, it still does tout that line, except that it is no longer true.  Yesterday, a “health” writer for the New York Times, Roni Caryn Rabin (a young lady who I suspect is of the Jewish persuasion) wrote an article about the Centers for Disease Control, saying that they are considering the routine circumcision of all baby boys born in the U.S. in order to prevent the spread of AIDS. No, I am not kidding.  She’s as serious as a sharp knife.  I’m not so sure about the CDC though; hopefully they are of a more scientific bent of mind.  But after eight years of the Orwellian world of Bush/Cheney who knows what passes for science and truth in the government anymore?

Here’s the essence of Roni’s story: it seems that some folks in Africa decided that if they circumcised baby boys they could cut down on the spread of AIDS, which, as we all know, is a scourge in Africa.  I guess they did the circumcisions a long time ago because it seems the baby boys have now grown up and are having unprotected sex but not contracting AIDS at same the rate that their more intact brothers are.  That’s the research story.   It reminds me of a story I heard a long time ago, when I was student.

There was a professor who demonstrating a remarkable experiment to his class. He held a trained grasshopper in his left hand and then held up his open right hand.  “Now watch this,” he said to his class. “Jump, grasshopper, jump!” he shouted.  Immediately, the grasshopper jumped to his right hand.  Now, the professor took a pair of scissors and cut off the grasshoppers hind legs.  He took the now legless grasshopper and put it back in his left hand.  Once again he shouted the command, “Jump, grasshopper, jump!”  The grasshopper did not move.  The professor shouted the command again, only louder.  Again, the grasshopper did not move. The professor then turned to the class and proclaimed, “As you can see, I have now proved that if you cut off the rear legs of a grasshopper it will become deaf!”

Based upon the “research” in Africa, that is similar to the anecdote above, Ms. Rabin reports that the CDC is seriously considering circumcising all the new born baby boys in the U.S.  She adds that there is scientific evidence to back up the removal of foreskins.  She says that  the “mucosal tissue of the foreskin is more susceptible to HIV and can be an entry portal for the virus”.  Interesting – not true, actually it’s total bullshit.  This claim is a complete fabrication.  The foreskin is not made of mucosal tissue, it is skin. The only mucosal tissue in the penis is in the urethra, Ms. Rabin. That is where the AIDS virus enters almost all the time. It doesn’t really matter  whether you have a foreskin or not.  So, if there is some sort of correlation between removal of foreskins and a decrease in AIDS, it is not because of the removal of the site of entry of the AIDS virus. I wonder if anyone thought it might be caused by a change in behavior? Maybe men who have had circumcisions simply have less sex because it is less pleasurable? Of course, that would be a sin, I suppose.

Is that why these people all hell bent on circumcising little boys?  And why is it when little girls are circumcised it’s called mutilation but for boys its a healthy thing?  The fact is that it is mutilation for boys too.  Circumcision is a Jewish custom – you can find its origin in the Bible.  Then, somehow, back in history, the Muslims started following this Jewish practice of mutilating boys. The Jews did it to show that they had made a deal with God. I don’t know why the Muslims decided to follow this practice.  But the vast majority of the world doesn’t. It’s not too popular in China or India where most of the population of the world lives with intact foreskins. But Ms. Rabin wants to circumcise all American boy babies – but, wait a minute, why not the adult males too?  After all, they’re the ones having all the sex, aren’t they?  It’s not the poor innocent babies.

Here’s another question: if we need to remove our foreskins in order to be healthy, does that mean that God made a mistake?  Or, if you don’t believe in the creation story, does it mean that millions of years of evolution came up with the wrong answer?  Which is it?  And, if we need to surgically alter out bodies because they are born imperfect, then what about all the poor horses and donkeys and cattle and elephants and tigers and monkeys and apes and  such. Shouldn’t we circumcise these animals too who have been born to suffer with such imperfect bodily designs?

But here’s my most important question: Is this what passes for science in the United States today?  Really? Is this what passes for the truth in the New York Times these days?  Is it really true that our government would begin a program of mass mutilation of babies without even asking if we, the people, approved?  It’s hard to believe.  If it were true it would certainly be enough to make me want to become a Libertarian or even a Republican.

Wait! Is this some sort of planted story, like the death panel stories?  Is this just a clever hoax to make us all turn against government health care? Hmmm.  I suppose it’s possible, and who can be sure with the Republicans? There is, however, one thing I do know about this story.

It’s all bullshit.  I am deeply disappointed in the New York Times.  This isn’t fact; it’s African pseudoscience, and it is definitely not news that is fit to print.

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Today, the government of Scotland released the only person ever convicted of the terrorist bombing that destroyed a Pan Am Boeing 747, named Clipper Maid of the Seas.  The plane was flying high over Lockerbie, Scotland when a bomb exploded in the luggage compartment.  Pieces of the plane rained down upon the town.  Two hundred and seventy innocent people were killed, eleven of them were people in the town of Lockerbie.  The attack on the aircraft, the airline, the passengers on the plane, the crew of the plane, and the country the plane represented (the United States – Pan Am used to call itself Pan American World Airways) was made by a group of Libyan terrorists who were trying to make some sort of point, a point that was never very clearly enunciated before or since.  In the years since, Libya has renounced terrorism.  Ultimately, the terrorist attack achieved nothing.  It was a pointless killing of innocent people.  It was also the final and ultimate cause of the the demise of Pan Am and thus a loss to all of us for whom Pan Am will always be the symbol of what air travel used to be.

Many of the families of those killed by the terrorists have now expressed outrage over the release of the terrorist, who is dying from cancer.  The man is in the terminal stages of prostrate cancer and the cancer has spread throughout his body. He has no hope to live more than about three months – three months of suffering no matter where he is.  Today the Scottish Justice Secretary, Mr. Kenny MacAskill, released a statement explaining why he decided to release this convicted terrorist, despite the objections of the families of those killed and the objections of the U.S. government.  It is an eloquent statement that informs the listener or reader of the role of Scotland in this man’s imprisonment.  It also explains the system of justice in Scotland, and while many people in America would say, “let the man rot in jail till he dies”, Mr. MacAskill explains Scotland’s reasons for his release and his reasons are worth hearing.

The U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, has also released a statement. He has condemned the release of the terrorist, who is being sent back to Libya to die.  The emotion is understandable.  The crime was extremely heinous.  Yet, at the same time, Scotland calls us to face reality.  You can’t kill a dead man.  Keeping a man in jail is not nearly as severe a punishment as having a body racked with cancer.  The question is this: is keeping a man imprisoned, who is dying from cancer that has spread throughout his body, justice or is it something else?  Does it go beyond justice?  Is this cruel and unusual punishment?  Granted that this man is among the cruelest of the cruel people who have ever walked the Earth, what do we ourselves become when we deal out an eye for an eye, torture for torture?  Do we not then become that which we despise the most?   The urge to deal out intense and everlasting punishment to this man is understandable, but the Justice Minister from Scotland is right.  We Americans pride ourselves on our magnanimity, yet the facts dispute this belief.  Our prisons are chock full.  We imprison more people, per capita, than any country in the entire world. Perhaps one good thing that will come out of this tragedy is that we Americans might listen to a voice from Scotland that says, enough is enough.  Frankly, I doubt that we will. We are already too far down that road.  We have more prisoners than Russia or China, Mexico or Venzuela, Germany or Japan. We have more than anyone.  We are really into punishment.  Thank God we’re a Christian country.

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi will soon die no matter what happens.  His fate is sealed. May God have mercy on his soul – whatever God he reports to.  Ultimately, this terrorist failed in his assignment.  Yes, he brought down the plane, and yes he killed a lot of innocent people, and yes there are no longer any planes that fly around the world bearing the name Pan Am.  But Pan Am lives on in our memory, as do the innocents who were murdered.  In the years to come no one will remember the name of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi.  In the end he was just another murderer.  But the families who lost their loved ones will always remember the joy they had experienced with their families before that fateful day.  Families of the crew members will always treasure the memories of their fathers, wives, and children.  And American’s will always fondly remember the glory days of aviation and Pan Am that safely took so many of us to those far away places in a style and comfort that is unheard of today.

So today, instead of castigating a Scottish Justice Minister for showing more charity than we would, let us pause a moment to consider the innocent victims and their families who can never be made entirely whole again, and let us also pause a moment and reflect on the loss of the Clipper Maid of the Seas and the greatest airline that ever circled the world, Pan American World Airways.

Let’s just remember for a moment, for auld lang syne.

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