The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

SALAMIPHOBIA

There are few culinary treats that I find more satisfying than a thin slice of Genoa salami topped with a piece of aged provolone all sitting on a crisp bread such as that Swedish delight, Wasabrød.  What a multi-national treat, blending textures and flavors in an exquisite and elegant manner.   My mouth waters as I write this and I feel impelled to go out and purchase the ingredients to treat myself to one of life’s great pleasures.  And perhaps I had better hurry.

A friend recently forwarded a purported response by the mayor of Dorval, a suburb of Montréal in the province of Québec, Canada to Muslim parents who had demanded that the schools in that city remove all pork products from the cafeteria lunch rooms of the city’s public schools.  The mayor allegedly answered with the following message:

“MUSLIMS MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THEY HAVE TO ADAPT TO CANADA AND QUÉBEC, ITS CUSTOMS, ITS TRADITIONS, ITS WAY OF LIFE, BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE THEY CHOSE TO IMMIGRATE.”

“THEY MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THEY HAVE TO INTEGRATE AND LEARN TO LIVE IN QUÉBEC.”

“THEY MUST UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS FOR THEM TO CHANGE THEIR LIFESTYLE, NOT THE CANADIANS WHO SO GENEROUSLY WELCOMED THEM.”

“THEY MUST UNDERSTAND THAT CANADIANS ARE NEITHER RACIST NOR XENOPHOBIC, THEY ACCEPTED MANY IMMIGRANTS BEFORE MUSLIMS (WHEREAS THE REVERSE IS NOT TRUE, IN THAT MUSLIM STATES DO NOT ACCEPT NON-MUSLIM IMMIGRANTS).”

“THAT NO MORE THAN OTHER NATIONS, CANADIANS ARE NOT WILLING TO GIVE UP THEIR IDENTITY, OR THEIR CULTURE.”

“AND IF CANADA IS A LAND OF WELCOME, IT IS NOT THE MAYOR OF DORVAL WHO WELCOMES FOREIGNERS, BUT THE CANADIAN-QUÉBECOIS PEOPLE AS A WHOLE.”

“FINALLY, THEY MUST UNDERSTAND THAT IN CANADA (QUÉBEC) WITH ITS JUDEO-CHRISTIAN ROOTS, CHRISTMAS TREES, CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS, RELIGION MUST REMAIN IN THE PRIVATE DOMAIN.”

After reading the email I did some research and discovered that this interchange was a fabrication, a takeoff of a similar purported exchange between the Muslim community in a town in Belgium and its mayor – also a hoax.  But that isn’t the point, because the sentiment which was supposedly expressed by Dorval’s mayor is exactly what should be said by elected officials at every level in every civilized country in the world when an immigrant minority makes demands of their host countries that they must accommodate the newcomers’ ethnic or religious beliefs.

Those who object to these demands, which are often although not exclusively voiced by immigrant Muslims are vilified as being Islamaphobes. This is, at the least, a mischaracterization of the motivating attitudes of such critics.   A phobia is nothing more than a fear.  And it is my view that it is not fear which directs the outrage against some in the Muslim community or Islam itself.  It is anger, an anger that I admit to sharing, at the outrageous, barbarous and uncivilized behavior of any individual or group which says that, “I and I alone know the truth and if you disagree with my views you should die and I will be the agent of your death.”

Genoa salami is a creation normally made using pork.  I presume the fact that I enjoy it, not to mention a few other thoughts, attitudes and beliefs which I hold dear are sufficient to qualify me as an addition to the jihadi hit list.  I consider myself potentially a victim of what I can only describe as Salamiphobia.  But if I get taken out for my food choices, I am completely confident that I will go to that big deli in the sky where I will be able to place an order for some Genoa salami topped with a piece of aged provolone all sitting atop a crisp bread.  And I’ll say to myself, “Those fools don’t know what they’ve been missing.”

A TALE OF THREE LAWYERS

London – the year was 1535.  Sir Thomas More, a lawyer and formerly Chancellor of England was incarcerated in The Tower, accused of high treason for his refusal to sign “The Act of Succession” which had been passed into law by the Parliament.

Despite More’s reliance on the  law’s provision, “qui tacit consentire” that “silence gives consent” and that his silence on the subject should be construed as an affirmation of the act as it had been passed, More’s silence was generally construed by the public as meaning that he opposed the provisions of the law.  Because More was held in such high esteem this presented a political problem for his liege lord, Henry VIII who had done everything in his power to get More to acquiesce.  More would not, however, abandon either his position or his principles.

Finally, Henry tasked More’s daughter, Meg to try to convince him to take the oath and sign.  After trying every logical argument with her father, all of which he countered with his own, she finally said, “Father.  Take the oath and in your heart think differently.  God will know what you really believe.”

A dismayed More replies, “Oh,Meg, what is an oath but words we say to God?”

More continued his silence and refusal to sign the act, was tried and convicted through the use of perjured testimony and was executed.

Washington, D. C. – 1998.  The House of Representatives votes to impeach William Jefferson Clinton, President of the United States on two counts – “Obstruction of Justice” and “Perjury.”  Two months later the Senate acquitted the president on both charges with not one senator of the president’s party voting for conviction thus assuring that the vote would fall far short of the two thirds majority needed.

During the trial, President Clinton was asked about his sexual relations with women in the oval office, specifically Monica Lewinsky.  “”Did he have sex with her in the Oval Office?”  To this, Clinton said haltingly, “I did not have sex with that woman.”  That statement was later proven to be a lie and although he was not convicted by the Senate, he was stripped of his law license and ordered to pay a fine.

While we don’t know the finale to the “Clinton story,” we do know that the former President’s popularity is high among American voters, he commands half a million dollars for giving an hour’s speech and is one of the driving forces behind the Clinton Foundation which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars.

The contrast between these two lawyers is monumental.  Sir Thomas’ reputation was spotless.  He was revered by the general populace as a man who was both honest and fair, a man of integrity.  He is today perhaps most remembered for his book, “Utopia,” best translated as “No Place Land.”

In the book, More theorizes a society set in the New World – a communist society in which  there is no unemployment because everyone is required to work.  Meals are eaten communally and the population is regulated as to the number of people who live in a particular neighborhood so that if there is an excess in one locale, some of those citizens are relocated to a less populated area.

There is general equality between men and women although only widowed women may become priests in one of the accepted four religions.  Only atheism is not taken as a valid view, the basis being that if one has no fear of repercussions in an after life then that person has no reason to try to conform to the laws that the society has enacted.  Atheists are tolerated but are subject to vigorous persuasion by the priests of the society to “set them straight.”  Medical treatment is, of course, free and available to all citizens.  And lawbreakers are shackled with gold chains, to remind the society of the unimportance of wealth and money.

In contrast to More’s reputation, former President Clinton’s career and person have been mired in controversy and allegations of questionable behavior dating back to the time that he was Governor of Arkansas.  Many of those relate to his extramarital sexual activities although I believe that relates more to a matter of morality than to an ability to govern.  But the matter of his libido was one of the focuses of his impeachment.

What disturbs me about the former president is his response.  Frankly, while I do not condone his behavior – that is not within my purview – I would have respected him if, rather than falsely denying his tryst in the Oval Office, thus perjuring himself, he had said, “Hey, I have a very high sex drive and took advantage of an opportunity that presented itself.  Now what’s your point?  And if you don’t have one, let’s move on.”   I’ve generally found that the truth, as painful as it may be to admit is usually a person’s best defense.  We all make mistakes and most people can forgive someone who is honest about admitting to one.

Despite More’s reputation, he was, as Chancellor of England, responsible in an almost ISIS-like way for the persecution of Protestants in England.  That certainly puts some tarnish on More’s reputation.  As a devout Roman Catholic, I doubt that he would be apologetic for his actions, as reprehensible as we might view them today.

And I doubt that former President Clinton would apologize for his past sexual adventures as new information now surfaces that one of his close associates, the wealthy Jeffrey Epstein, a registered sex offender, convicted of soliciting prostitution from a 14 year old girl frequently entertained Clinton and other prominent people on his private Caribbean island, Little St. James, nicknamed “Orgy Island.”  Epstein has been a cash contributor to the Clinton Foundation, although he might have offered more to the former president in kind rather than dollars.

Without much surprise, the controversies which have swirled around the former president have adhered to his wife now that she is officially a candidate to hold her husband’s former position.  And the pending release of a book about how Bill and Hillary (also a lawyer) have conducted their financial affairs have brought the old controversies back to the public’s attention and have gone from a simmer to the boiling point.

Despite the Clintons’ efforts to divert attention from the issues by labeling them as “right wing conspiracies,” such publications as “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post” have joined the fray and brought out revelations about their and their foundation’s financial affairs which are causing the foundation to re-file at least five years worth of federal tax returns.  Neither of those publications could be accused of being conservative voices.

Hillary Clinton’s camp has pushed back strongly about the allegations that are being raised, specifically that there was a “quid pro quo” for donations made to the Clinton Foundation by both individuals and foreign governments and various accords that were reached that benefited them personally while Ms. Clinton was Secretary of State.  And it would be fair to say that at this point no smoking gun, no specific email can be produced to substantiate the claims that have been raised.  Perhaps that is a function of Ms. Clinton’s destruction of 30,000 emails that she deemed “personal.”  We will probably never know unless we can tap into the records of the NSA – assuming that they archived those.

But one thing is clear.  As in More’s time, if a person does not have an expectation of punishment for lying under oath either in this or a future life, then there would be little reason not to try to obfuscate the facts and put on one’s best game face using a strategy of total denial.  And while it might be impossible to provide the sufficiency of evidence that “influence peddling” took place during the time Ms. Clinton was Secretary of State to obtain a guilty court verdict, it should be a call to the American voter to question the qualifications of a person who may herself be implicated in this scandal and who is married to a man who clearly broke the law – a law which he had sworn to uphold.

We’ll see if anyone is paying attention – or more importantly, cares.

THE REFRESHING HONESTY OF ISLAMIC RADICALISM

It was a rainy and cold fall day so after school athletics had ben cancelled and I returned home from school early.  I finished most of my homework, leaving the assignment to translate the second chapter of Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s  classic story, “Le Petit Prince” for later as I had three days to complete that.  As I closed my math book, Grandma asked me to set the table for dinner and I was in the process of doing that when the door opened and my father came home.  I went over to give him a hug and could tell that something was bothering him.  He wasn’t his usual jovial self.

At dinner the conversation turned to the fact that he had let go Andy Willis, his salesman who covered the New England states for his company.  He also told us that since he didn’t have a salesman representing the territory, he would have to go to Boston to man the Gift Show which was being held a few weeks later and would probably spend a week calling on his clients in the region.  It was a bit reminiscent of the days gone by when Dad was on the road forty or more weeks a year before he started his own company.

Mom asked why he had let Andy go.  This was not an every day occurrence by any means as most of my father’s employees had been with him for ten or more years.  And I knew, given my father’s disposition, that he would have tried everything in his power to help his now former employee become successful as he tried to help everyone he met and knew.  That was one of his most impressive virtues.  He simply said, “Well, to call a spade a spade, Andy simply wasn’t meeting the goals that we had mutually agreed were reasonable – and I saw no reason to believe that was going to change.”

I believe that it was the first time I heard that expression, “Calling a spade a spade.”  It was very characteristic of my father’s approach to life.  He called things the way he saw them – no pussyfooting around.  That is not to say that he was crude or rude because he was one of the most gentle people I have ever known.  But if you tried to put one over on him, he would call you on it – albeit in the most polite manner.  I know because on more than one occasion I tried.  I lost every one of those attempts at deception.  And finally, perhaps because I learned that telling the truth was a heck of a lot easier than trying to fabricate and maintain a lie, I adopted my father’s philosophy and came to believe that, “Honesty is the best policy.”

The events this week in Paris would have infuriated my father – not for their mere depravity but because of the dissembling response by most world leaders, including our president, about the cause of these events.  And the effete news publications which have “covered” the slaughters would be right behind in deserving his derision.  What it all comes down to is the fact that none of them is willing to “Call a spade a spade.”  Instead, they all pussyfoot around the central and unifying issue which caused the deaths of more than a dozen people in France and which several days ago took the lives of more than two thousand in Nigeria.  And the name of that cancer is “Islamic Radicalism.”

Whether or not President Obama or the media wish to admit or acknowledge it, there is a war going on between terrorists who are Muslims and whose goal is the overthrow of Western Judeo-Christian civilization and its replacement with their interpretation of the Quran and Sharia law.  That’s the facts plain and simple.  And no amount of politically motivated vocabulary ethnic cleansing is going to eradicate the truth nor ameliorate the outcome.  In fact, by denying the truth these “leaders” are more likely to ensure that a worse outcome will ensue since they are failing to address the root cause of the problem and call it out for what it is.

I have to say I appreciate the honesty if not the execution of it in actual terms of the terrorist radicals.  They make no bones about their goals and they make no apologies for their methods.  They are focused with an absolute if misguided faith in what they want to achieve.  The complete domination of the world and the replacement of Western Civilization with their own perverted version of Islam.

Meanwhile, back in the capitals of Europe and the U. S. we listen to idiots like our potential new president, Hillary Clinton speak about how, “We should listen to our enemies and try to see the world through their eyes and from their perspective.”  What a load of crap – pardon my Urdu.   And this woman wants to be president.  It’s hard enough to believe she’s sufficiently competent to schedule her next appointment for a cellulite removal treatment.

And then we have our beloved media.  “The New York Times” springs to mind as the standard bearer for what passes now for modern journalism.  The Times had well over thirty articles describing the antics of the Westboro Baptist Church, a hate organization masquerading as a Christian church with a membership of less than thirty people who are focused on a single subject – deriding and ridiculing gays and lesbians.

To my knowledge, as repugnant and un-Christian as this organization’s tactics are, I don’t believe they have ever been accused of either stoning to death a gay male or lesbian woman or beheading one – in sharp contrast to Radical Islam (or one might argue Islam as a religion) which holds that is the appropriate punishment for a person engaged in gay sex – among quite a few other offenses – including extramarital sexual relations of any kind.  It’s hardly surprising that the left wing media choose to ignore that fact because if Sharia law were implemented, three quarters of Hollywood would disappear overnight.  One might argue that wouldn’t be so bad.

So as those in positions of political authority dither along, the enemy, firm in its convictions and determined in its will, are undoubtedly planning the next event, to which when it occurs our “leaders” will come out and make platitudinous general statements, descrying the most recent “outrage.”  But it will be an outrage which has been decades in the making – since the invention and implementation of “Political Correctness” (a/k/a “B*ll Sh*t”) – and will most likely continue and intensify unless and until they get a grip, put down the rose-colored glasses and take up the AK47’s.

We’ll requisition a supply of clothes pins that they can attach to their noses, to dampen their distaste at pulling the trigger, before those who are sworn enemies of our way of life pull theirs and put them out of our mutual misery.

ON TRUE CHARITY

When I first met Br. Thomas, OSF I was struck by the fact that he spoke infrequently and then only softly, but he listened avidly to each person who spoke and with a great intensity – as though that person’s words had the import of a final earthly utterance.  Perhaps that was natural for him or perhaps it was an acquired skill he had developed.  He had spent over twenty years ministering to those who came to the hospice that his Franciscan priory maintained for those who were dying.

I couldn’t imagine the strength of his and his brothers’ faith to be able to deal on a daily basis with those who came to that hospice – knowing that none of them had long to live and none would leave on their own.  Perhaps that is less a testament to his view of life than it is a statement about my shallowness of spirit.  This reverent man made me feel vey humble by his gentle, taciturn demeanor.

Those who minister without fanfare to the sick, the poor and the dying must hold a very special place in God’s love.  That the mendicant orders have been with us for centuries demonstrates that despite the contentious nature of so many of us, there are at least some who are willing to contribute to them so that they can carry out their much needed, good works.

Another order, The Little Sisters of the Poor which also maintains hospices, has been in the news lately because of their position regarding provisions of the ACA and their refusal to compromise their religious principles.  Like their brother Franciscans, their charity and care is not reserved to those who are Roman Catholic.  Their compassion is open to all those who are at their final moments, irrespective of creed or lack of one.

 

 

Deo gracias! Deo gracias!
Adam lay ibouden,
Bouden in a bond;
For thousand winter
Thought he not too long.
Deo gracias! Deo gracias!

And all was for an appil,
An appil that he tok,
As clerkès finden
Written in their book.
Deo gracias! Deo gracias!

Ne had the appil takè ben,
The appil takè ben,
Ne haddè never our lady
A ben hevenè quene.

Blessèd be the time
That appil takè was.
Therefore we moun singen.
Deo gracias! Deo gracias!

(Anonymous, 15th century)

At this time of year, most of us feel obligated (or if you prefer, inspired) to go out and buy presents for friends, loved ones, or ourselves.  I’ve tried to reign in the temptation to spend, spend and spend more by enacting a simple rule.  For every dollar that I spend on gifts (and I mostly now make my own rather than finding them on store shelves) I donate an equal amount to charities which truly represent the spirit of Christmas, not just at this season but throughout the year.  Nevertheless, there are some people for whom a store bought purchase seems most appropriate.

One of the sites which offers the shopper an opportunity to reduce her or his out of pocket costs is eBates.  The site allows a person to link through their site to over five hundred well known and more obscure internet retailers and earn rebates on their purchases which range between two percent and as much as fifty percent.  They also offer a program for members who refer new members in the amount of five dollars per referral.   My referral link is listed below:

http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=4cwCeH%2FFsKXfalPzt9zdgA%3D%3D&eeid=26471

If you are not familiar with the program, I encourage you to take a moment and review its features and benefits.

The reason for my making what is my first “commercial” appeal in nearly 900 posts is simple.  I will take any referral bonuses and combine them with my own contribution and donate those to The Little Sisters of the Poor – this being my designated charity for the year.  I hope you will contribute to that effort.  Or, if you’re already an eBates member, I’ve attached a link to their website so that you might read more about their good work and perhaps consider making a donation to them directly.

http://www.littlesistersofthepoor.org/

I wish all of my readers a blessed remainder of Advent and the joy of a wonderful Christmas.

SPAY AND NEUTER

With a lifelong passion for companion animals, primarily dogs although a few kitties worked their way in, I heartily support the effort to act humanely and control the animal population so that fewer of them are inhumanely treated or are euthanized.  While I personally value these critters more highly than at least a couple of the people I’ve met on my journey, I realize that the prevailing thought among most people is that we, as top of the food chain (momentarily), are far more important than the most wonderful of our four footed friends.  So let’s go with that line of thought for a moment.

I’ve previously written about an explanation I received from a Russian Orthodox bishop as to what the “unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit” was.  For those who missed it let me recap.  God’s love and forgiveness is limitless.  But unless the person who needs that forgiveness asks for it, God does not impose himself on the sinner.  The way most of us know this is by the label, “Free Will.”  But if a person is so hardened of heart that he refuses to ask for forgiveness, it is denied him.  That is not by God’s choice but is a function of the individual’s decision.

While I am not a theologian, from a lay person’s perspective I have come to the conclusion that certain specific acts or crimes are manifestations of the person who has reached a point where he or she is incapable of asking for compassion – because that person is unable to understand compassion and feels no guilt about inflicting violence and brutality against others.  The three crimes which I view as examples of this are crimes against children; crimes against the infirm or elderly; and crimes against animals.

We send our children to school to be educated in the fundamentals they will need to make it through.  We trust that when they go there they will be provided a safe environment in which to learn.  The most recent shooting spree by a jilted boy friend in Washington state is garnering only slightly more attention than the hatchet attacks against two rookie New York City policemen, probably because the shooter, a Native American, doesn’t fit the left’s agenda that virtually all violence is committed by white males and the NRA is responsible for all our ills.

But this piece is not about school shootings.  It is about something at least as tragic and even more widespread.  It is about sexually predatory teachers.  And it seems, based on recent arrests, that there is an ordinate number of women, not men, who are the guilty parties.  That doesn’t work well with the “War on Women” meme that abounds in the liberal media.

I recently read several stories in which female teachers took advantage of their position and had sexual relations with their students.  One was committed by a twenty-two year old substitute teacher on her first day teaching at a school in Washington, D. C.  The student was a seventeen year old male, on whom she performed oral sex.  Perhaps as disturbing as the story were the comments on the story, many of which referred to her attractive appearance and left remarks like, “Wow, she’s a looker.  I wish I had her teaching my class when I was in high school.”

Another story from a few days earlier detailed the fact that a thirty-four year old teacher had been arrested in California and charged with having an inappropriate sexual relationship with one of her students.  In this case she was married and has several small children at home.  That in itself is a scary thought.

In New York City, a gym teacher was charged with thirty counts of statutory rape for allegedly having sex with one of her male students on a regular basis over a period of many months.  In addition, she faces four charges for “criminal sexual acts”.  Apparently, predators are not restricted to any geographical area.  All they need is a classroom.

My parents had many concerns that they pondered in my rearing.  I am, however, confident that worrying about one of my teacher’s molesting me while at was at school was not on their list of worries.  If I had kids in school today I suspect I would feel differently.

Now I realize that there are those on the left who adamantly oppose the death penalty, suggesting that the argument that executing someone does not really deter others from committing similar executable crimes.  Perhaps they’re correct.  And the argument that if we made a mistake in arriving at a conviction and then execute the person, well that decision is irreversible.  That’s definitely true.  So I would like to promote a compromise punishment for people who are found guilty of sexually predatory behavior – whether teachers or otherwise.  Spay and neuter.

Should the reader think this is “cruel and unusual punishment” I would draw their attention to the children who are maligned and how they are likely to suffer a lifelong struggle to overcome their abuse.  And, unlike a lethal injection or a firing squad, having to live the rest of your life as an asexual person might indeed prove to be a deterrent for others contemplating engaging in similar activities.

As to the argument that the death penalty is final – well, I’d admit that this too would be irreversible should someone be wrongly convicted.  But I have faith that in the near future, science will have developed a way for us to clone ourselves – so for those few who were innocent, there would still be light at the end of the tunnel.  That might be a brighter light than the one that will ever shine on the victims whom these predators have abused.

Easter, 2014

“There are those who have a religious faith and those that don’t, and that has pretty much been the way it’s been throughout mankind’s history.  It’s unfortunate that people who fall into either camp disparage those who believe differently from themselves.  I think of it as philosophical racism.”

“Whether or not we have a religious orientation, I suspect that most of us, if we were to read the Pope’s remarks without knowing who the author was, would applaud his statement.  It seems foolish, if not reprehensible, to discard or demean his comments simply because they come from a religious figure while, if the same speech were given by Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela, we would applaud it as an outstanding piece of oratory.”

The above two paragraphs were a comment that I left for someone on the Huffington Post who had thoroughly denounced Pope Francis’ Easter “Urbi et Orbi” proclamation.  While I presume from the tone of the statement this person left that he or she is an atheist, the same sort of intolerance unfortunately can be found within the ranks of the religious – both towards members of other belief systems as to those who profess to having none.

If there is one thing that we who claim to be Christians (in whatever form that may take) should most remember at Easter particularly, but throughout the year as well, it is that if you look at the three year ministry of Jesus, he drew everyone to Himself without regard to their physical condition, their status in society or their financial situation.  Much of that message appeared in Francis’ speech at the Vatican.

Easter is a time for renewal and optimism.  So let’s hope before we celebrate it again next year, each of us will be filled with the message of tolerance and love for one’s neighbors that Jesus taught and that we may find that next year the people of the earth are more at peace with one another and with God.

HUMILITY

foot washing

 

“Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  – Matthew 25: 40 (KJV)

 

 

As we prepare to celebrate the most holy period of the Christian calendar I wanted to take the time to wish all my readers a blessed Easter and the hope that all of us will focus on those things that are truly important, remembering that all else will eventually “pass away.”

THE SINS OF THE FATHER

“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”

Exodus 20:5 (KJV)

There are some conservative American Christians who believe that the government is conducting a systematic attack on their beliefs.  They point to an increasing volume of anecdotal evidence to support this claim.  But in light of recent events, perhaps they will have to re-examine their view.

It would appear that at least one governmental agency has taken the admonition in the above Scriptural verse to heart and has decided to act as God’s instrument to fulfill it.  It may come as a surprise to most of us but that agency is the IRS.  Perhaps IRS has misread the verse from Exodus and believes that it is the Supreme Being – or at least the Supreme Enforcer of Righteousness.

Most people when they hear from the IRS are, like Queen Victoria, “Not amused.”  There is nothing very funny about anything that agency does – or threatens to have the ability to do.  That sentiment has long preceded the obvious politically motivated refusal to give conservative organizations a tax exempt determination.

But even the IRS has reached a new low – leading one to believe that somewhere there really is a bottomless pit.  Thanks to an act of Congress, the former time limit of ten years that the agency had to collect taxpayer debts has been lifted.  And the IRS has wasted no time taking advantage of its newly extended abilities to reach into the taxpayers’ pockets.

The problem isn’t that the agency is collecting monies that a specific taxpayer has failed to fork over to them.  The agency feels that it is perfectly correct to collect those funds from the descendants of the taxpayers who originally incurred them.

Now this may astound you but there are apparently some “errors” which occur in the course of governing this great country.  In fact, there are quite a few of them which occur regularly.  In previous posts I made reference to how the IRS annually sends refunds to people who fraudulently claim that the government owes them money.

From sending millions in over 200 separate refunds to a single address in Florida or similarly sending half a million bucks claimed on 100 returns to one address in Bulgaria, the agency has shown its abilities in mastering the fine art of ineptitude.  But the current rampage against the taxpayer comes not from the IRS’ own inadequate procedures but rather from another federal entity.

If you’ve been amazed at how inept the roll out of Obamacare has been, it should be no surprise that the same agency which was responsible for that debacle, HHS is also the source for other mistakes which the IRS is trying to set right.  And the particular division of HHS which apparently screwed up is none other than the Social Security Administration.

SSA not only administers retirement benefits into which all Americans are forced to pay through payroll deductions or, in the alternate, on their tax returns.  But it also administers disability payments to workers who are (purportedly) unable to work due to physical impairment or mental issues.  The second of these two programs has been fraught with fraud.  Even SSA acknowledges that.

But while the erstwhile crooks who con the taxpayers out of their hard earned dollars by making false disability claims has increased substantially in recent years, there have always been some who made false claims or received benefits after they no longer qualified.  It is these people who are currently being targeted by IRS.  Or more correctly, it is their children who are being forced to make restitution for these “overpayments.”

Let’s think about this for a moment.  Purportedly, a person received payments to which he or she was not entitled – let’s say 40 years ago.  Then, for lack of anything better to do, someone in SSA noticed that their agency had made a $350 mistake.  And they decide that going after this will help relieve the national debt.  So they inform IRS that there is a balance due them for the mistake which they originally made.

But there’s a problem.  The individual who received this overpayment died ten years earlier.  Not to be deterred by this, the IRS has figured out that their child, who was four when this problem started, is still alive and has a refund due on her return.  So the IRS flags her return and deducts the overpayment to her parents from her return and sends her a notice, explaining why her refund is $350 short of what she was expecting.

I’m not sure this program will prove to be anything near the windfall either for IRS or SSA that pursuing and shutting down fraudsters who collect around $50 MM per year in bogus refunds receive would prove to be.  Frankly, I doubt it.

As this will do little to contribute to federal revenues, I can only assume that the IRS is adhering to the principles espoused in our quote from Exodus.  It will be interesting to see if some religious group decides to file suit to block this program, citing the once venerable precept of “Separation of church and state.”  Meanwhile, it appears that the sins of the father will indeed be heaped upon the children.  We’ll have to stay tuned to see for how many generations that will last.

TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY

A little over a year ago I wrote a piece that was part of my “comedy” posts.  It was entitled, “On Thinking You’re Important” and I’ve provided the link below as the introduction to this post.

https://juwannadoright.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/on-thinking-youre-important/

I hope you enjoyed that little vignette into our perception of ourselves.

Most of my readers, I hope will agree that when examining various issues, I try to take a balanced and a fair approach.  Perhaps I don’t always achieve that standard and I would be the first to admit that each of us has certain predispositions which influence our thinking.  But I believe that an intelligent person owes it to her or himself to try to arrive at a logical answer to every question based only on the evidence, not on pre-formed personal opinion.  It is for that reason that I consider myself a libertarian conservative.  I was not always so.

Frankly, whether the label we apply to either a movement or an individual is Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal probably is inadequate to completely define a person or a group.  Some of my conservative friends and I disagree on the way to address a specific problem and I agree with others of my liberal friends on certain issues.  But it would be fair to say that it is far easier, if I had to describe myself, to identify with one camp rather than the other – even if that means that we disagree on the fringes.  Conservatism offers me the right to form my own opinions – something I see lacking in the liberal camp.  Furthermore, while my views might evolve over time, they don’t juxtapose themselves from one side to its diametric opposite overnight with no rational reason to explain this change.

A liberal reader might find it easy to disagree with his conservative counterpart.  I understand that.  But the reason for the disagreement stems from the fact that most conservatives have a clear and stated position to which they adhere.  They have a world view which might be incompatible with the view of others.  And that is exactly the point.  You know where most conservatives stand on any given issue and it doesn’t change on a daily basis or because it is politically expedient to alter the view to garner votes in the next election.

That is perhaps my biggest difficulty with taking liberalism seriously.  What is today in liberalism is just as likely to be what it isn’t tomorrow.  How can a reasonable person take any ideology seriously if it is subject to change without notice?

I believe most of us would agree that President Obama has a “liberal agenda.”  So as I look at him as the current titular head of the liberal movement in America and review his positions, I wonder how anyone can play follow the leader with him at the head of the Conga line.

Gay marriage – opposed as a candidate – now embraced as the Holy Grail; opposition to increasing the deficit as a U. S. senator – now nearly doubled during his administration; stating that we should close Gitmo during his first campaign – that facility is still open; anger and outrage at the IRS scandal and the promise to get to the bottom of it – now over a year later his administration setting up barriers to those who would investigate it; and, of course, there is Obamacare, touted as the best thing to happen to America since the invention of sliced bread – now in its 35th changed iteration.  This list is far from complete.  Which brings me to the current rage in liberal talking points – “The war on women.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali woman who is an author and filmmaker.  In her homeland she was subjected to genital mutilation and left the country when she refused to become a wife in a marriage her family had arranged.  She has written extensively on the way in which Islam treats women and has made a documentary detailing behavior that, if it occurred in America, would subject the perpetrator to  a long jail term.

Most Americans would consider public beatings, execution as a result of “honor killings,” even something as simple as the refusal to allow women to drive cars or be seen in the company of male non-relatives to be far more serious than issues of whether women earn the exact same rate of pay as their male counterparts.  But apparently, that is not the view that the liberal cause has currently chosen as a basis for their most recent crusade.

A fatwa has been issued against Ms. Ali for her writings and the documentary on Islam that she produced.  This gives any faithful Muslim the right to assassinate her should the opportunity present itself.  That in itself ought to give any person, liberal, conservative or independent a reason to speak out about this barbaric culture and its proponents.  But do we hear that from our liberal friends?  Quite the contrary.

Brandeis University, one of the most self-identified “liberal” schools was going to offer Ms. Ali an honorary degree – until a significant portion of its faculty signed a petition opposing the award.  That in itself is somewhat confounding since Brandeis has a long history as a school with a large preponderance of both Jewish professors and students.  Perhaps they’re unaware that Islam speaks of the Jews in the most derogatory terms and has vowed that it will bring about the end of Israel.

When it comes to the “war on women” there are real issues.  And while there may be some inequity in this country, compared to a significant portion of the rest of the world, I fail to understand why there is no outcry from our liberal friends about the sort of medieval behavior to which Ms. Ali and other women in the Muslim world are the victims.  Frankly, their focus is similar to that of a doctor who is treating a patient with terminal cancer and is focusing his attention on the fact that the patient has an ingrown toe nail.

That is why, although they speak with fiery rhetoric and great passion, I find it hard to take liberal views seriously.    Methinks they do propound too much.  But in fairness, I might change my opinion.  After all, in liberalism, what is today may not be tomorrow.  And tomorrow is another day.

LIVING THE GOOD LIE

The patient has been ailing for quite awhile and despite the best efforts of medical practitioners, there seems to be little that can be done to facilitate a recovery.  The best they have to offer is to keep him on life support, hoping against hope that his condition may improve.  That patient is truth.

We have evidence that the patient first started to succumb to his condition as long back as Adam and Eve.  When God asked Adam why he had eaten of the forbidden fruit, Adam started truth on its death spiral by blaming the woman whom the Lord had given him as being responsible for his transgression.  And the woman, Eve took no responsibility for her actions but blamed her failing on the serpent in the garden.  It’s all been downhill since then.

Long before the popular song was written, mankind knew that, “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie.”  That hasn’t prevented us from crafting some whoppers.  But there used to be some guilt  and squeamishness associated with dishonesty, even on the part of the prevaricator as he or she committed the offense.  Perhaps the reason for that was that at one time most of us used to subscribe to an evanescent  principle which we called, “The fear of God.”  The word “fear” in this context is interchangeable with another word – respect.

The critics of religion are plentiful and vocal.  They argue that science has debunked faith and that the only reality is what we can touch, see or hypothesize based on the eternal principles for which scientists are the shamans.  The purpose of this post is not to argue the virtues or flaws either of religion or science.  Rather, it is to consider the practical ramifications of how, having relegated God to the back pew and having put science in the pulpit, we have altered our society.

.Fundamental to any ordered society is the rule of law.  The basis of any lawful society is that its citizens agree to be governed by laws and that the laws be faithfully and universally enforced, punishment being meted out to those who disregard or violate those laws.

How do we determine if a person has infracted a particular statute?  In the United States and throughout most of the western world, the facts are adjudicated in a trial in which the evidence is examined and witnesses offer testimony.  Either a panel of jurors or a judge weigh the facts as they are presented and then render a verdict.

As with science, it is fundamental to the judicial process that the data which is reviewed is pure and uncorrupted.  That is why those who tamper with evidence in an attempt to influence the court’s verdict are subject to severe penalties.  Similarly, we require that those who testify do so honestly.  They are sworn in and must take an oath before the court will consider their testimony.  But an oath to whom?

Our judicial system is predicated on tenets that are fundamental to the Judaeo-Christian experience and teachings.  And underlying that is the belief that  there is a God and the person who offers testimony falsely will be punished for violating his oath to Him.  While it is true that we provide civil penalties for perjury, it is equally true that, other than in the most high profile cases, those charges are seldom pursued or imposed.  Thus the prevaricator who has no belief in God, has little reason not to pursue his own agenda without the expectation of any consequences, thus potentially corrupting the entire judicial process.

If those who hold offices of public trust, presidents, celebrities, and sports figures, all of whom are the focus of our attention, behave deceitfully and are not called to account, it sets an example which others then feel empowered to follow. Our tabloids are filled with example after example of this sort of behavior. Scarcely a day goes by before yet another of those who are privileged is featured on the front page as the subject of the most lurid or disheartening stories.

Telling lies might not seem to be a big issue to the majority of our citizens. We’ve all told a white lie at one time or another. The question is not whether we have transgressed, but whether we recognize the difference between having done what we did and what we should have done and try to improve our behavior in the future. In other words, do we have a conscience.

In truth, religion has not succeeded in converting mankind to live a moral life.  We have not yet heard from science if they can develop an implantable “honesty” gene.  But without the fear of earthly punishment for “bearing false witness” and no concern for a final judgment, it is safe to say that there will be many of us who will remain committed to Living The Good Lie.

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