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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Untold story of Sodom

Okay, so the Hollywood guys decide to alter Biblical stories and it is okie dokie with the public.  So I thought I would tell the untold between-the-lines script of Sodom.  Instead of all the fighting we saw in 'The Bible' by History Channel, here’s how I envision the event unfolding.

“And the Lord appeared to him [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.  He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold three men were standing in front of him.” Gen. 18:1,2.  “Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom…The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.  When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth…They said, ‘No, we will spend the night in the town square.’ But he [Lot] pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house.  But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man surrounded the house.  And they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight?  Bring them out to us, that we may have sex with them.  Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him and said, ‘I  beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.’” Gen. 18:16, 19:1,3-7

            But the men of Sodom would not take no for an answer, ‘It is our mandate to educate the children in the practice of gay love, so that they may be gay and proud and not discriminated against.  So Lot said unto them, ‘But we hold by religious faith that our God has ordained marriage as one man and one woman, not two men, not two women, not a man, two women and a dog, or any other such thing. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man put asunder.’  Then the men of Sodom lifted up their voice and declared, ‘We too recognize marriage, but only love and commitment defines it.  And our commitment is just as good as any.’  ‘Nay,‘ said Lot. ‘For it is self-evident that both God and Nature teach us that it takes a man and woman to reproduce.  And even though love is desirable, the species and family can occur even in arranged marriages.’  The men of Sodom had a rejoinder, ‘We recognize arranged marriages too and that is what we are here to do—arrange a temporary marriage—as our Muslim brothers call it—a gay marriage with these strangers.’  ‘But sputtered Lot, ‘You can’t argue that only love and a tryst define marriage! For to do so neglects thousands of years of tradition, Nature, and God. Not only would that be an invalid marriage, your wrongheadedness would nullify the ability of men to form their own governments.  For the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them they may then assume among the powers of the earth, and to derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Or at least I hope someone has the courage to say it that way some day.’   

            “And they said, ‘This fellow came to sojourn and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.’  Then they pressed hard against the man Lot and drew near to break the door down…And they [the angels] struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.” Gen. 19:9-11.  And the rest is history, as they say.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Is Cyprus the beginning?

Cyprus is broke.  Its government debt to GDP ratio is 145%--much like Greece and worse than Portugal @ 120% or Italy, 115% or USA, 110%.  The European Central Bank vowed last year to save the Euro but with member countries like Cyprus, et. al. how can it continue?  European finance ministers offered to bail out the Cypriots with 10 billion Euros but 17 billion are needed.  Everyone is arguing who ordered who to do what but the idea was floated that the Cyprus government would assess a 10% tax by fiat on all bank accounts.  That led to riots in the street and the members of parliament all passed the buck and said, no, we won’t do any such thing.  Then as the weekend started with banks closed for 10 days, they did a very similar thing, an ingeniously loopy thing, by assessing a whopping 40% charge against all accounts over 100,000 Euros. 

            In USA we’d call this unreasonable seizure, a violation of the Amendment IV.  But TV political idiots chortled that this only hurt the Russian mafia who created Cyprussia by parking big bucks in the banks there. 

            But what happens now?  Among the proposed daydreams of the political class is a Russian Bailout.  Something that would give Russia claim to most of the enormous natural gas field that has been found in Cypriot waters in exchange for a bailout.  But then the thought of having a puppet government and banking system run by Putin where German taxpayer money goes towards making the Russian mob whole isn’t very appealing.  Unlikely to happen.  Hereinafter, no sane individual keeps his money in a Cyprus bank.  No deposits, no banking or at least only a miniscule banking industry.  No banking, no business loans.  With little banking available, how do mortgages get paid, salaries get paid, or anything else commerce-wise?  Clearly in such an economy cash is king.  Bartering begins.  The economy tanks and the government collapses.  Eventually, a succeeding gov’t will have to prop things up by some technique and the likely outcome always points to inflation, which allows a Mt. Debt to look smaller with each passing year until it is under control.  

            But there is more.  Greece’s banking system is heavily interfingered with Cyprus and will likely collapse if Cyprus does.  The ECB and IMF suggested that individual’s accounts be zapped and they are likely to suggest this to other PIIGS countries.  Already there seems to be a solution trial balloon floated that essentially all private stocklholders and junior debt holders of banks be given a haircut (or beheading).  Now it may seem grossly unfair that old grandpa who keeps his life savings in an account, or some investor who bought bank stock should lose most of what they have, in order to bail out the government who created the debt.  True. But this is how government power works.

            What Europeans hope is that the Euro nations’ troubles won’t make the investors of the world very skittish about lending money to Europe.  If that happens, they will have to borrow at a premium of interest and likely make their economies into sinkholes for years to come.

            So what should an American think?  First, the people who are scoffing at concerns over our debt are Fools.   We must get deficit spending  under control, along with entitlement reform.  If you are pessimistic about this happening, then bury some cash, because if the debt disease spreads to USA, there is no big ECB or IMF to bail us out.  We are the IMF and we are too big to bail. Finally, if the credit crisis expands, there will be countries defaulting, that will bring high borrowing costs and stagnant economies, and opportunistic dictators will arise to blame someone else.  Like Hitler blamed the WWI allies.

            I just pray that Obama can watch what is happening to others and learn a lesson before it is too late. You are digging your hole in the backyard, aren’t you.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Odd topics

You know I heard that Michelle said, "Barack, are you coming down with something?  You sure look like the devil." 

If USA ever seized 10% of our bank accounts, wouldn't that be Unreasonable Seizure by the 4th Amendment?  I do however, agree with the Cyprus government officials when they say it is a one-time levy.  Nobody will ever put their money in a bank again.  A better place is under the matress.  There won't be a second time. If you really want to kill the banking industry, just pass a levy on bank accounts.

I listened to Sarah Palin at CPAC.  There is no other pol who happily and steadfastly pronounces conservatism like she does in simple terms anyone can understand.  All the others sound alarmist--as we conservatives are prone to be under Obummer.  But if conservatives are to win again, this is just what they need, a happy warrior like Reagan, not the least bit defensive about belief in conservatism and able to distill big solutions into ordinary terms.  For a century and a half, the R's have stood for a mainstream party of the normal and centrist beliefs of America.  D's were the coalition party of group (fasci)  politics.  If Romney had been simple in his explanations like Lincoln, like TR, like Reagan, like Thatcher, he would have won with 55%.  Sorry, that's the way politics is.

Someone conducted a poll of what concerns us when we pay our taxes.  49% were concerned with how flagrantly the government spends our money.  38% are angered about what other people pay.  8% are frustrated with all the forms and rules. Ha! Those groups are respectively: conservatives, liberals, and businessmen.  Count me in the last group.  As most any guy in business will tell you, keeping your nose clean, doing things honorably so that customers trust you, is about the most important intangible asset of a business.  When you didn't make any money but your tax returns are still a quarter inch thick, when the government sets down byzantine rules and maze-like forms that are enough to make a criminal out of anyone because no one knows what's truly correct, that is the epitomy of evil.  When I hear some gassy Senator yak on about how they are going to add some provision to the code that makes everyone test their books to see if they qualify for some tax break, to disallow certain things for the rich, who never speaks of repeal of all the regulations they make us comply with, I squint my eyes and think, "You are a person who teaches honest and well-meaning men to stumble in confusion.  You sure look like the devil."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Why no gay marriage

Back in my restaurant days, I used to read some market research.  Do you know what the least liked vegetable is? Parsnips.  Only 14% of the public has tasted one, but only 2% of those who have like ‘em.  Best I can describe a parsnip is like a fat carrot but with bitterness of a turnip.  If you love parsnips, I don’t take issue with you.   When there is something that just 2% of humanity wants, we Americans are tolerant—meaning we don’t agree, but we don’t take away your privileges. 

            Hmm.  2% of the public is gay.  I had three gay roommates in my 20’s and I don’t take issue with their practices.  I enjoyed their company.  But I still disagree with them over their religion. 

            Humanity began to practice marriage from the earliest times.  The purpose of marriage was not to have sex and companionship with someone you loved or dearly liked.  It was to mutually protect and pro-create.  Marriages were arranged and often lacked love.  But to say that the defining characteristic of marriage is love, would mean that all those couples from eons back weren’t married.  Likewise, the Old Testament patriarchs and about every other primitive tribe considered “family” to include household servants and others in the care of the clan.  Marriage was to make the clan grow while protecting it’s identity.

            If we want to change that in our modern arrogance to “family means any group of people” and “marriage is a relationship with anybody you love”  then you are walking over my Christian beliefs.  Unlike a Muslim who says that seeing a prostitute is a ‘temporary marriage’, I still believe in what my Bible says-not because I define things that way but because God has. 

            So what does God say about homosexuality in the scripture?  Well, it starts early.  In Genesis 19:5 two angels had come to save Lot and family.  The Sodomites began banging on the door and demanded Lot produce the two “men” (angels) so that they could have homosexual relations with them. (Thus the word sodomy) Lot begs the men of Sodom not to commit the “evil” and offers his two daughters instead.  Evidently rape of a female was a lesser sin.  The angels struck the gays blind and escaped with Lot and family. 

            In Leviticus 18 is a list of evils that God found abhorrent about the Canaanites.  Human sacrifice, incest and homosexuality (vs. 20-22).  In vs. 28-30 we find out that if Israel picks up any of these practices, the land would “vomit them out”.  These are strong words.  I wouldn’t have chose them, but God does.  I figure I need to pay attention. 

            But say you take the point of view that the Old Testament is mostly myth (Don’t let a devote Jew hear you say that!).  Did Jesus say anything about gays?  After all the Romans glorified homosexuality since they considered females to be somewhat subhuman and only another man could understand a man.  Jesus started talking about something that wasn’t mentioned in the OT—Hell.  But he didn’t use the word “Hell”.  The word we translate Hell is Gehanna, the name of the city dump of Jerusalem.  That’s where people dumped old worn out sandals and that rotten basket of dates and so forth.  They burned the dump with a fire that almost never went out.  But Jesus wasn’t talking about a smoldering fire of refuse.  He was evoking images of an intense hellfire that couldn’t be put out and demonic forces.  Gehanna was built on the site of a former temple of Molech, that god referred to in Leviticus 18.  Molech was a form of the god Ba’al which was called Bel in Babylon and Allah in Arabia.  The temple kept an extremely hot furnace in which humans were sacrificed (there was a story of 3 guys, who wouldn’t bow down to Bel and were thrown into the furnace but survived) and Molech temples sacrificed infant firstborn children.  I suppose no family man could be found to run the temple of Molech.  At any rate the priests were all gays.

            I don’t know what is involved spiritually with homosexuality, but God sure doesn’t like it. I “tolerate” in the authentic sense of the word—I don’t agree with it but I allow the practice.  Whatever the mentality with gays, they seem to have a large sense of guilt and want the rest of us to approve Gay Marriage.  If again you need the words of Jesus, in Matthew 19:4ff he says what is quoted at marriage ceremonies throughout Christendom.  “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning created them male  and female and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.’?” Which is a quote of Genesis 2:24. 

            But, the gays protest, they were born that way.  Hmm.  The International Genome Project, after a number of fruitless years felt they had proof that there was no gay gene.  There are other scientific studies that show that homosexuality is an acquired syndrome, not genetic.  For instance, a study of identical twins in which at least one of the twins was gay, shows only about 30% correlation of the other twin being gay.  We’d expect almost 100% correlation, since the genes are identical for these twins.  The syndrome seems to follow younger siblings.  Among families with 3 or more boys, there is a 6% probability of the youngest being gay, not 2%.  What does birth order have to do with genetics?  And finally, of all out-of-the-closet gays in their twenties, by age 50 half will become/revert to heterosexuality. 

            What’s more, there are very significant  differences between gay males and females.  Lesbians are very relationship oriented while gay guys are very much into image of avant garde pretty boys. Male gays have a far less penchant and success with long-term relationships.  Indeed, many of them spurn such things.

            Whatever gets into the head of gays, I don’t know.  It still brings a lot of condemnation from scripture.  Their ranks are filled with far more mentally disturbed individuals than straights. I don’t hate gays or understand them.  And the wary Christian in me just prays that whatever it is, we don’t need to honor their trists with “marriage” and that the land won’t vomit us out.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Auto Show

We went to the car show in Oklahoma City.  It was pretty good. There were a lot of people who climb all over you when you try to look in a door or open the hood.  But no salesmen.  Lots of kids playing driver who are cute.  It was my chance to take my bride as a captive audience and get her to try out the seats and entry for comfort.  Then she goes for the tailgate, folds down seats because she is not dreaming cars but spring and all the flowers she can haul in the back end. 

            They have the doggonedest names for cars.  Who decided, in their infinite marketing wisdom to name a truck an Avalanche.  Isn’t that a big disastrous pile-up?  Or the Armada.  Wasn’t that the huge fleet which went down to the embarrassment of Spain?  Reminds me of that car they used to call the Citation.  “Boy, you in trouble. I’m gonna write you a citation.”  Or when Volkswagen named that little car the Golf.  Gee, does it run on batteries and have a fringed top? And who thought up that slogan for Chrysler, "imported from Detroit?" At least claim a respectible country without so much debt.  That's worse than, "Imported from Greece." 

            I tend to just enjoy it.  Do not fight the other people looking at the cars but talk to them.  One old guy was trying to see the sticker behind a particularly dark tinted window.  “Tough to see, ain’t it,” I observed.  He grinned, “Yeah, if I had a car with windows that dark they would think I was the mafia.”  “I know,” I commiserated. “But if the police saw us old guys driving ten miles an hour with our blinkers on, they’d know the mafia was getting old.”

I told the it’s-been-a-long-day girl who was waiting to speak on the rotating stage she needed to get a drink so she wouldn’t look like Marco Rubio.  When a bunch of us looked at a Lexus sports car’s sticker at $381,000, I asked who wanted to flip me for it.  Everybody started laughing about how you’d have to win two lotteries! 

I had a nice visit with a very well-versed fellow who manned a booth on CNG where several manufacturers had vehicles displayed but nobody talked to him.  He taught me all about the ins and outs of natural gas dual fuel conversions, and gave a map of all the Oklahoma outlets for CNG.  So with this freshly in mind, I was approached a few minutes later by a hyperactive salesperson from Ford.  I asked if Ford had a CNG truck.  CNG makes more sense for a truck since it can be placed affront the bed, protected against impact.  No, Ford did not, he told me rather haughtily.  He was from San Francisco and he had just heard of CNG for the first time this week and everyone was annoyingly asking about it and he sure wouldn’t want such a vehicle if he were traveling cross country where he would run out of fuel.  Whatta you do then, walk? 

I couldn’t resist. Naw, the way it works is with a dual conversion, I told him.  You start the vehicle on gasoline and the computer then changes over to the natural gas.  So there is a 20 gallon gasoline tank as well as the CNG tank and you can go for about 1000 miles using both tanks.  Plus there are almost 100 natural gas outlets already in OK and many in other states.  About ¼ of an MCF of natural gas is equal to a gallon of gasoline so that is like driving on 90 cent gasoline.  Plus there is an oil patch company in Oklahoma City that makes a home gas compressor you can hook up outside your garage.  CNG is a coming thing for trucks, and our state is converting most of the state fleet to CNG.  We intend to show our jackass President, who doesn’t want us to drill, that we are going to solve this thing anyway.  And then all his liberal friends can just eat their hearts out and freeze in the dark.

You should have seen the slack-jawed look of stunned befuddlement on his face.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Report on House Bills

I thought many of you would be interested in reading about what the House committees advanced during their first 3 weeks.  During the first 3 weeks, all bills must pass out of committee. 

            The Republican leadership together with the Caucus has tagged several areas for importance.  Some bills will come through the Senate, some through the House.  Economy issues include workers comp reform with an administrative system, income tax rate reduction, and workforce development through education. Infrastructure spending via an 8-yr. pay-as-you-go plan by House Speaker Shannon will be considered.  Education funding reforms and local control bills will be on the docket.  Health and Human Services will of course be under consideration with DHS reorganization.  Also to be considered are ways to address more medical in underserved areas and mental health facilities.  Second Amendment protection and yet more laws on drug enforcement will come from Public Safety.

            So then, here are some of the highlights and lowlights.  The first one is called Rep. Paul Wesselhoft vs. Big Brother.  He has introduced bills to disallow drones with weapons, driver’s licenses with tracking software and will require a warrant for law enforcement to access location information from cell phone providers.  In a similar vein, Todd Thomsen has a bill that allows school districts to deregulate from certain rules that are unfunded mandates.  Sally Kern has a bill that would nullify Agenda 21.  You are probably familiar with these Reps as some of the most conservative and they wish to guard us against government intrusion.  Agenda 21 is a UN initiative.  Best I can explain it is an imposed tax on property that the UN thinks they can force upon USA. 

            Bills for budget and finance were advanced.  Elise Hall has a measure to limit budget increases during boom times so that the state would be more prudent and not get ourselves in the kind of troubles we often encountered in the past.  Speaker TW Shannon wants agencies to prioritize the federal monies they receive, so that if the federal water spigot goes dry, we know what to cut first.  Shannon also has a Bond Cap bill that would limit total state indebtedness and another bill concerning sale of unused state assets as follow-up on last year’s law.

            Worker’s Comp reform will come from the Senate, but Randy Grau has a bill to privatize Comp Source into a mutual insurance company.  Comp Source is the state-run insurance company that writes workers comp.  A few years back it was the only company businesses could go to.  Now it is one among many private insurers and this has helped bring down rates. 

            Gus Blackwell has several bills to remove archaic and bad bills that are on the books.  Jason Murphey, has a bill that would remove language regarding a fire ant research and management committee, the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Act, the Oklahoma Military Base Closure Prevention Task Force and an Oklahoma Office of Volunteerism.  A bill by Grau, removes a misdemeanor for blasphemy (Hollywood breathed a sigh of relief) and another that  would remove a requirement that county commissioners not own railroad stock.

            McCullough has a bill to disband the Children First Program which he claims eats funds and performs marginal results.  Sally Kern has a bill that allows victims of human sexual trafficking to get their prostitution records expunged. Sean Roberts would allow no public funding of pro-gun control PR. 

            Taxation was addressed.  A bill to (finally) remove the Franchise Tax from businesses by Leslie Osborn advanced.  Franchise tax is a tax simply for the right to run a business in Oklahoma and is much-hated by the business community.  It collects $45 million annually.  Pat Owenbey has a bill to expand electronic items included during the sales tax holiday.  Dustin Roberts wants to exempt home bakeries from state health licensing in consideration that many organizations raise money through bake sales and health inspections and equipment discourages bakers.

            Mike Ritze wrote a bill that would nullify Obamacare.  Speaker Shannon has a bill to disallow Obamacare’s religious intolerance and a second that would disallow Medicaid money be used for morning-after pills.  Hulbert and Roberts have a measure to allow a person to seek a physical therapist without a sponsoring doctor. This would aid disabled veterans among others, and return to an earlier standard in Oklahoma.

            Minority Leader Scott Inman got bipartisan support for his bill to tweak the A-F grading scores of schools.

            Curtis McDaniel advanced an anti-texting while driving bill.  Kern put forth a bill to allow private schools to set gun policies independent of public schools. Steve Vaughan has a bill to forgive citizens with a rap incurred long ago, who have a very clean record in order to buy a hunting rifle.

            Two major, sea-change  legislative initiatives will be voted on.  Scott Biggs wants a House Joint Resolution to ask amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution.  It has been called Right To Farm in other states and it nullifies government intervention in a farmer’s right to use new technology and methods. North Dakota passed such an amendment last year because environmental groups, animal rights groups, EPA and others are using the courts to beleaguer farmers who lack resources to oppose their demands.  Speaker Shannon has a welfare “workfare” reform that would require anyone who is able-bodied to work 35 hours per week on a list of projects in order to get welfare assistance.

            These are the things that will be debated hotly in the House over the next 3 weeks.  Then House and Senate trade those bills that pass. Wait! I left out the story on Horse Processing Plants. Long story.  Another day.

The Bible and The Question

 The Bible

Have you been watching History Channel’s “The Bible”?  I guess HC is teaming up with Hollywood to produce both The Bible and the Viking series.  Hopefully HC can supply a Bible since they couldn’t find one in Hollywood. Something non-historians aren’t aware of is that a fad of explaining all history as economic took over in the 1950’s.  While there were good aspects of this—for too long history had neglected economic effects—it warps what is taught in public schools.  For example, the reason cited behind the American Revolutionary War of Independence is “no taxation without representation.”  But in reality, that was just one of many grievances of the colonists.  And a minor one at that.  Most of the reasons cited in the Declaration of Independence were what we would call abuses of power. The result of this bias of historians is that you can’t find a historian who is conversant in faith.  Read some of the old timers like Will Durant and you’ll be amazed at how much he understood the faith/piety/church issues of say, the Reformation.

The Bible has some pretty cool Hollywood effects. When Moses puts his staff in the Red Sea and it parts, this is the best special effect you have ever seen.  The swordfights are realistic. The acting is first class. And some of the ways they short-circuit stories to get them shoehorned into time allowed is plumb clever, like Noah explaining creation while the ark rocks over the waves.   But there is little noteworthy of the real faith that propelled the people involved.  We get Abraham rescuing Lot but not Abraham’s Covenant.  Nowhere is Grace.  Nowhere is forgiveness.  The Bible purports that what we believe is more like an allegiance to God. And a few characters have mysterious voices in their heads.  The undeserved kindness of God in saving Israel from slavery or saving Rahab from her own paganism isn’t addressed. 

And then most curiously, Sodom and Gomorrah are given Act III but the part about the Sodomites wanting homosexual rape of Lot’s guests, the angels, is not mentioned whatsoever.  They were right there with the story but left out the modus operandi, the punch line, the reason for why Sodom was considered vile, and the root word of “Sodomy”.  Maybe Hollywood just thought Sodom only wanted gay marriage, eh?


Rand Paul, Ted Cruz

Three cheers for Senator Rand Paul for filibustering Brennan over the administration’s lack of committment over drone killings.  And three more for Sen. Ted Cruz for buttonholing Holder until he got an answer to that question.  If a US Citizen poses no imminent threat, can they be killed by a drone without due process of trial?  Seems like a no-brainer to say NO.  Most of us would say that.  If you say yes, you might make note that to deny trial without jury is not only a violation of the Constitution, it goes back to the Magna Carta’s guarantees of human rights.  Why anybody would hesitate seems mysterious—unless they plan a dictatorial move.  So then if a suspect is in his mountain cabin yet poses “no imminent threat” can the government drone him without trial?  Holder finally said it was unconstitutional but still didn’t say if our government would or would not attempt it.  

            And concerning the guts of Paul and Cruz, I stand with Rand.  We're led by Ted.