Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


2014 has been hereby designated the year of “I can’t breathe!”  As in
“I can’t breathe.”—Robin Williams
“I can’t breathe.”—Michael Brown
“I can’t breathe.”—Democrat Senators and Obama who went underwater with the slogan, “E.B.O.L.A.—Enjoy, Barack Obama’s Legacy, America”
“I can’t breathe.”—Malaysia airlines passengers
Oh, and there was something about that Eric Garner guy too, but I think he said something different.  And LeBron James who showed up with teammates and tee shirts that said, “I can’t breath”.  Hmm.  Can’t spell either.
            Each year I make up a byline for the year because it helps me remember oddball facts that happened that year.  The all time favorite was 1998, the year of Kaczinski, Lupinski, and Lewinsky. (for unibombing, Olympic skating, and Presidential services).  2006 was the year of the Blessed Virgin and the Cardinals.  The former was Nancy Pelosi (why do both libs and cons chuckle when I say this?) and the St. Louis Cardinals who came from the worst-ever record as a wild card team to win the World Series.  2011 was the year of High, Low, Jack Joker, and Game.  High was the record 62 days over 100 degrees in Oklahoma, Low was the -31F record  low set at Nowata (PC had a record -24), the Jack(ass) Joker was Obama who lost an attempt to use the EEOC to dictate who can be the minister at your church in the Hosanna supreme court decision by 9-0 vote.  And finally Game was Game 6 of the World Series, where the Cardinals came back twice in the same game from the final strike from losing and then won the game.  Never duplicated in MLB history, let alone in the World Series.      
Last year, 2013, was the year of Indy 500.  Indy is the indiscretion, indictable scandals that came out of Obamaland almost weekly—IRS, NSA, Benghazi, ISIS cluelessness, etc.  It is also the indignity of singing great, Whitney Houston’s death by drug overdose.  The 500 is the anniversary of Luther’s Tower Experience, his eureka moment connecting Psalm 31 and Rom. 1:17 and all of faith into “Faith Alone, Grace Alone, Scripture Alone.” Thus began the Reformation. 
Who knows what is coming?   I leave the year with a memorable joke.  Did you hear about how the Pakistani Taliban are trying to take over India?  They took over an 800 call center.  It was a suicide prevention number and if you call and say you are thinking about suicide, they enthuse, “Can you drive a truck?!” Okay you need a better joke?  How about this, “We can’t drill our way to cheap gas prices.”—Barack Obama, 2010.
Or maybe you prefer some inspiration from an economist.  “Keynes said we can boost output by burying trash and then digging it up. All supervised by the government, I suppose. If fascism ever comes to America, it will come in the name of liberalism.  And what is fascism?  It is private ownership, private enterprise, but total government control and regulation.  Well, isn’t this the liberal philosophy? The conservative is the one that says, less government, get off my back, get out of my pocket, and let me have more control over my own destiny.  That’s the American Dream.”
 –Ronald Reagan, 1975.

Is California Dreamin'?

            I guess the California legislature passed a bill that would allow non-citizens the right to do jury duty.  (“Illegals just want to do the jobs that Americans don’t want.”)  Amazingly, Governor Moonbeam, now partly grown up, vetoed it.  Last year he vetoed a similar bill that would have allowed illegals to vote.  The LA Times was chagrined that such wonderful laws were vetoed by a Democrat, no less.  And they just can’t understand why the 2.5 million legal aliens in California (another 1-1.5 million illegals reside) don’t apply for citizenship. 

            Good thing.  They would vote La Raza and ask to secede to Mexico.  La Raza, which means “The Race” as in Nazi Superior Aryan terms wants everything from Cal to Col to Tejas back in Mexican hands. And when they are talking The Race, they aren’t kidding.  Mexico has a troubled relationship with their history.  Cortez defeated the Aztecs and brought Western values, but also smallpox and measles and the colonial hacienda system.  The Aztecs were murderous sacrificers yet artistic and passionate. Today, few Mexicans are either purely Native American or purely Spanish heritage.  Almost all are mestizos, mixed blood.  Since neither ancestry has a good reputation, they have swept some things under the carpet and blended the two into a Mestizo Race of pride.  And the analogy to the way German Nazis constructed a Race myth of an oft-mistreated Great Race of people, drempt-up to smother any possible shame, is too close for comfort.

            Don’t think I am kidding or stretching things.  I have this on the authority of a Mexican friend who went to the university to study political science and history before he became a pastor.  He laments that Mexico doesn’t honor Cortez and has basically built construction over the historic sites.  And rather than see something to imitate in USA’s good government, they cling to revolutionary models and resentment of the Anglos.  Hence, when you examine the attitudes of Mex immigrants, they divide.  Some want to stay proudly Mexican--but just want a good job.  Or they dearly want to be an American citizen.  Or they are in-betweeners who came just looking for prosperity but learned English and are now toying with the idea of being from USA.  That explains why so few of the legal aliens have applied for naturalization. It also disproves the oft-repeated Republican bromide that all those people are coming to have anchor babies and dig into our welfare and get the Dems to promote them to citizenship through amnesty.  (alacrity of gentry liberals over voter registration and amnesty aside).
            Oddly, I think I am agreeing with Governor Moonbeam for the first time ever.  Just let immigrants sort out their attitudes before we offer them citizenship and do it with care.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Some statistical stunners of 2014

I learned a few stunning things in 2014 I wanted to pass along.  See if you are as surprised as I.

USA has gone from 4 million bbls./ day in oil production to almost 11 M bbl./day since 2007.  No credit to Obama admin which was held in contempt of court for refusing to allow drilling in Gulf of Mexico and has locked down most federal lands.  We are now tied with Saudi Arabia. It has so stunned and frightened OPEC that they are trying to bring down US oil with a price war.  Go USA!

In the late nineties, Americans favored gun control by a 66 to 29% margin.  Today they favor 2nd Amendment by 52 to 46%. In the mid nineties Americans were pro choice by 56 to 33%.  Today they are pro life by 50 to 41%. Death penalty support has fallen from 80% to 60%.

Oklahoma pays only 25% of their public school budgets toward teacher salaries.  KS pays roughly 20%.  What does the rest go toward? Ask you school board.  OK is also the cheapskate education state with less spend per pupil than the other 6 states in our area (common education).  There are 673,000 students and there has been a 37% increase in 10 years—about 3% per annum.  We rank 43rd in spending. BUT, we rank 30th in SATs. One of the reasons common ed spending is low is that the legislature transferred about 2% of the state school budget to career ed and colleges in the early 2000s.  And in the last 5 years we have gone from 17,000 to 25,000 bachelors degree grads.  38% increase in STEM grads.

The ten largest states are CA, TX, FL, NY, IL, PA, OH, GA, NC, and MI.  In 1970, FL was #9, GA and NC weren’t in the top ten but NJ and MA were. 

A recent poll of Democrats asked what they thought of Obama’s executive action.  43% of Dems were strongly in favor. 29% of Hispanic Dems were and a similar percent of blacks.  So who is driving the numbers?  White gentry liberals.
How do you get rich?  They did a poll of millionaires and found 94%-hard work, 87%-education, 83%-smart investing, 78%-frugality, 60%-risk taking, 36%-luck, 31%-inheritance.  This generally plots with Millionaire Next Door statistics except that frugality is underrated by this group and education perhaps a bit stronger. 

In 1960 there were 150 employed white males and 90 employed black males for every 100 females.  Today it is 110 and 50.  Why are so few men at work?

The S&P gained 900%, GDP grew 3.8% and 44 M jobs were added from 1982-2000.  Since then the S&P has grown 50%, growth has averaged 1.8% and 5.5M jobs added.

28% of the 1.6B Muslims think it is okay to kill civilians for jihad.  Honor killings of women is approved by 22% and 96% say a wife must obey her husband at all times.

Crime and death.  Number of deaths in 2013 from all rifles=453, handguns=6009,auto accidents=32,885, knives=1817, hospital/surgery accidents=98,000.

18% think they will never retire.  44% do no retirement planning.  Of those seniors on social security, one out of four have only social security. 

The 5 freest states are ND, SD, TN, NH, and OK   

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

800th anniversary of Magna Carta

The 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta is coming up June 15.  I had an aunt who got into genealogy and found out my 23 generations-ago great grandfather was a French Norman who had signed the Great Charter.  What’s more, for 4 centuries thereafter my ancestors had French names.  Yikes!  I’m one of them!  I told this to Lynn Comeaux in New Orleans and he laughed.  “Oh, don’t take it so hard.  You can tell cool Cajun jokes like all the rest of us.”  At which point I had heard a couple of great Cajun stories in Oklahoma and the guys in LA had not heard them.  They laughed so hard and kept repeating them all the time in fond memory.

            Meantime I got interested in the Magna Carta. This historic document, sometimes called the foundation of liberty, had a crazy history that is almost as much illumination as the principles of limited government, parliament, habeas corpus and trial by jury that we now remember it for. 

King John gets a bad rap in some ways.  He was no more of an ass than the average European king.  Henry II, his father was one of the great kings of England.  A somber astute administrator, he married Eleanor of Aquitane who was, I swear, the world’s first feminist and adventuress.  With Eleanor’s kingdom in southern France and the Norman kingdom in northern France, John came to the throne owning everything from Scotland to the Spanish border, but he couldn’t control the nobles who each had their own little baronies.  His brother Richard the Lionhearted, often romanticized with bravado, had been like mom the adventuress.  He’d bankrupted the country and gone off on a crusade that ended badly.  Nobles were ticked over the taxes.  When Richard died of an arrow in a siege, John became king.  He wasn’t so tyrannical but was a sharp-tongued, insulting asshole with hardly a smidgeon of faith. (like his dad Henry II, who never darkened a church door)

And he had a huge problem.  Normans were vassals of the French king, even though they had conquered England.  The French king, Phillip Augustus, was ambitious to reclaim all of ancient France as his domain.  First John secured the right to divorce Isabel of Glouchester and marry Isabella of Angouleme from Pope Innocent III.  The English nobility were ticked off again that this new king had rejected one of their number to marry a continental girl and appealed to Phillip for redress.  Phillip called John who refused to meet him in Paris. The French court declared Normandy, Maine, Anjou and Touraine forfeited and started a war. John had to pass heavy taxes to fight to retain northern France lands.

Meantime John got himself in trouble with the Pope.  He quarreled with the bishops over their choice to name a new archbishop of Canterbury.  Pope Innocent III, trying to quell the argument nominated a Frenchman, Stephen Langton.  John threatened that if he didn’t get his way, he would take church property and privileges.  The Pope hit back with an interdict (Papal ruling that a certain territory could not have valid forgiveness in the masse).  John ignored this and confiscated all the church lands. 

He might have won his argument but he had lost the support of the nobles (and my granddad).  He neglected his second wife and had numerous mistresses and illegitimate children.  He jailed Jews trying to milk them for money—but that meant that they couldn’t lend to the public as usual.  He added insults to taxes to support his coming war.  In 1213, the Pope used his last resort, excommunication and a decree of deposition (released king’s subjects from allegiance and declared king’s property the spoil of whomever could conquer it).  Papal support was music to Phillip Augustus’ ears.  Then John discovered that his excesses had lost him support of the nobles in the fight to save his French possessions. He was in a fix.  So he struck a deal with the Pope.  He would let Stephen become archbishop, would swear allegiance and pay tribute to the Pope instead of the French king Phillip, in exchange for the Pope relaxing his decrees. 

Smooth move but it didn’t win any of the nobles or bishops over.  They demanded he return to the laws of Henry I which had limited the power of the king.  They assembled a collective army and marched on the Thames.  Now John was in a real pickle with rebellious nobility and a French war impending. 

So at Runnymede on the Thames, June 15, 1215, John made his great surrender and signed the Magna Carta.  The first article was that the Church of England would be free.  The idea that the church, and Christians by extension, should be free to practice their faith, rings through in USA’s first amendment.  And it implies that the king is not absolute but limited—limited government.  Article 12 was no taxes except by a council of 25 advisors of the king, the forerunner of parliament. This power of the purse by a legislature is the founding principle of separation of powers in a republic.  Art. 36 says you can’t be long imprisoned without a trial—habeas corpus.  And article 39 says trial by jury must be possible.  Finally, articles 40 and 60 say essentially that everyone is under the law, a founding principle of our judicial system.  With this, John placated his nobles and got his army to go to war with Phillip. 

A funny thing happened on the way to the foreign encounter.  John had no intention of obeying the agreement and got his new buddy, the Pope to declare it void. Some of the nobles asked Louis, son of Phillip to come invade England and they would crown him their king.  Louis invaded but John destroyed his invasion.  Then a few months later, John died of dysentery or was it poisoning?

The Pope feared he’d lose his tribute.  So he slyly named William Marshal earl of Pembroke regent to rule until young Henry III could come of age.  With one of their own at the top, the nobles got in line of support and then to everyone’s surprise, William turned out to be a tremendous regent.  For a long time, nobles and kings all over Europe had squabbled and signed documents, but then in the next breath had forgotten what they had signed.  William reinstated Magna Carta, and it lasted.  It lasted because it defused the rebellion of the nobles, so kings saw it as a powerful tool.

 Louis went back to France.  Phillip died.  Henry came of age and built Westminister Abbey.  His son, Edward I (1272-1307) became one of the most successful in English history, reorganized the army, instituted a new defense force called a militia (unwittingly creating a military base for a republic) and abolished both papal and French suzerainty over England. Most of all, Edward organized the council of Magna Carta into what we now know as English parliament.

The Brits say that Magna Carta was just the beginning, that the principals had to be fought for again and again over their history.  And so as I sit here faxing letters to get our Representatives to allay Obama from tearing down church highway signs all over America, from  handing the vote over to illegals, I think they are quite right.   Freedom never comes free.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Common Core Islamic Vocab

Apparently there is a vocabulary exercise in Common Core that also promises understanding of Islam.  Students learn vocabulary while coming to appreciate Islam.  I would like to add a few lessons myself.  Read this and see if you think a child would learn anything.
Abrogation.  The holy (i.e. “perfect”) Koran has contradictory passages which are fixed by the doctrine of abrogation.  The later passage (i.e. revealed to Mohammad) is the correct one and the abrogated early passage is said to be a Satanic Verse (i.e. influenced by Satan).  But since the Suras are not arranged chronologically and different sects of Islam think different sequences of Suras took place, it takes a Muslim scholar to tell you which is a Satanic verse and which isn’t.  In general, the latter revelations are more warlike so the peaceful, inclusive passages are Satanic, but these are still valuable since they allow Muslims to quote them to infidels and hide their true intentions
Holy Books The Koran (Quran) is holy to all Muslims as are the Haditha, stories about the prophet Mohammad.  But different sects have different Haditha.  Hence Islamic law or Sharia (Islam is both a religion and a political system) differs with each different sect. Hence the sects distrust and kill each other with impunity.
Tahrif Muslims believe the Bible has become corrupted or tahrif. So in the Koran, Mary is the mother of Jesus but also the sister of Moses.  Jonah and Samson are placed after Christ.  And  Jesus didn’t die on the cross.  He passed out and Roman soldiers couldn’t tell a dead man from an unconscious one, so they entombed him.  When he woke on the third day, he evidently managed to roll away the several ton stone and overpower the guards. 
Jihad.  Jihad simply means an act to further the faith.  Some jihads are non-violent, some are not.  But if you are killed in jihad (martyred) that guarantees heaven.  This is why most suicide bombers and other violent jihadists are not dregs of society, who worry about getting daily sustenance, but rich and accomplished men who lack nothing but assurance of heaven. This is important because of …
Hell Hell is where everyone goes, Muslims and infidels and pagans. Some Muslims are purified in hell’s torture but others stay there forever, along with infidels and pagans.
Infidels Infidels are ‘unfaithfuls’—Christians and Jews who God tried to reach before Mohammad.  They didn’t write his words or obey his submission, however, and have bastardized scriptures.  But infidels are a category different from pagans who are to be simply exterminated. In the Haditha, Mohammad pronounced that Jews were descended from pigs and Christians from apes.  It is not clear if one converts, does your DNA change?
Dhimmitude  Dhimmis are Christians and Jews living under Muslim Sharia law.  They are to pay a tax of 20%.  What usually happened historically to those under Dhimmitude was that they went bankrupt and were sold into slavery. 
Andalusia  Andalusia was the Muslim kingdom which is now Spain during the Middle Ages.  Western scholars admire the buildings and for a time in the early twentieth century thought that a peaceful and prosperous regime ruled the country.  (It is now realized that Dhimmitude essentially made others a lower caste, hence the state rotted from within.)   So one form of jihad is “to promote the myth of Andalusia” as a deception of infidels.
Wife-beating.  Wife-beating is prescribed in the noble Koran in 4 places.  In the Haditha, it is clear that Mohammad blamed women for every sexual sin, since they “tempted” men. Thus the holy books prescribe head coverings and there are lots of traditions among Muslims, like genital mutilation.  Today most Muslims are monogamous.  Only in the Persian Gulf is polygamy common.  The Koran allowed up to 4 wives but Mohammad had 9, the youngest he married at age 6.
Arabic Khadijeh, Mohammad’s first wife, who was a Jew, wrote down his revelations because he couldn’t read or write.  But the revelations were in ancient Arabic, which Mohammad said was the sacred language of God. And only in that language is the Koran valid.  That is why fewer than ½% of Muslims today have actually read the Koran because they don’t know ancient Arabic.  So most Islam is ‘cultural’-- learned through traditions and word of mouth.  Thus many think Mohammad was sinless, but in one Hadith, Mohammad tells Khadijeh he wasn’t sure if even he was destined to heaven.
Allah  Allah is just the Arabic word for God, but it has other implications.  The Arabs before Mohammad worshipped the moon god Allah who was originally Ba’al of ancient Israel and Bel of Babylon. Allah followers were renowned for fanaticism, cruelty and bloody violence.  In 622 Mohammad’s wife and her supportive uncle died and Mohammad was run out of Mecca by the other Jews.  He went to Medina, converted and allied with a tribe of Allah worshippers and 8 years later attacked Mecca and massacred all the Jews.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Exodus, God and Kinks

Just when I thought my Christmas shopping was done, I realized that I need to get a Bible for Hollywood.  We went to see Exodus, God and Kings.  My, did that one ever go off script.  It is as if an agnostic, who had never given an ounce of thought to the scriptures, had seen Ten Commandments and said to himself, “Golly, this would be a lot cooler if we could make more of a thriller out of it.”

I realized we were in for something strange when the trailers of all the other movies they play ahead of the show were for shoot-‘em-ups.  This wasn’t going to emphasize spiritual insights or human relationships.  Hollywood will probably nominate it for ten Oscars. 

God makes a few scant appearances, depicted as a little boy.  The burning bush episode is just wacko with Moses having been pinned down by a mudslide, and God, “the kid” saying nebulous things as he strolls in sight of a burning bush in the background.  No removing of sandals, no “I am that I am”, and no command to return to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let His people go—just a suggestion.  Moses doesn’t carry a staff, which as I recall was rather important in parting the Red Sea.  Instead he carries an overly elaborate Egyptian sword, somewhat like you’d buy in a pawn shop or rent from a costume place to go to a Halloween party.  He left his staff with his son in Arabia.  Ah! And of course the Bible says Moses’ wife was Cushite, that is, Ethiopian.  You’d think leftist Hollywood would seize on this verified Biblical fact to make a statement for diversity.  Nope.  She’s cast as a nice Jewish girl, complete with Anatolian nose and smart mouth.  Aaron?  No spokesman for Moses.  Instead he just hardly ever speaks to his bro, Pharaoh except over the final plague.  When you have too much dialog, I guess it takes away from the chariot chase scenes and bloodshed.

This is not to say that the movie doesn’t have its moments.  Pharaoh’s wife, waking up covered in bed with frogs and screaming is one of the better vignettes.  The tsunami that hits the Egyptian army is very terrifying and this is what they proudly show in the trailer.  Oh, by the way, half the Egyptian army did not meet its fate in the deluge.  Rather they fall off a mountain side in a landslide.  And my favorite is Pharaoh’s head advisor, a cold, calculating guy who sounds just like Barack Obama when he talks about the disasters of the plague—as if they were naturally occurring phenomena and all the fault of the opposition party.   Moses is not humble, but rather feisty and politically passionate but gets to his wits end at times.  Then God, like magic (or Harry Reid), appears just in time to save Moses and his political cause. I guess Hollywood uses the character development they currently observe.

Only 5 of us were in the theatre.  That sort of thing always makes me sad for the management.  Good thing, however.  I was constantly tempted to revert to my teenage years when we used to go to see vampire movies and horror flicks and would sit making comments of comic relief.  “Bite him!  Bite him, girl, before he bites you!”  “Use the staff, Moses! Use the force, Luke!”  “No! No! Don’t open the shower curtain!  It’s Moses and he’s got a sword!”  Ah, well. 
Go see it if someone pays your way.  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Market Oklahoma

When we first started this event the idea was not to make money but to help others make some holiday spending money.  Booth fees at Marland Mansion’s Oktoberfest are $250-750. That rules out some little person who makes some homemade craft and doesn’t know whether it will sell.  Similarly, other craft fairs strive to make as much as possible for whoever puts them on.  So our idea was to do something for the community, allowing hobbyists and folks with some art or craft to sell for a day and this is how some really serious businesses get started.  We also help with sales taxes for the Oklahoma Tax Commission.  Christmas Mkt. is an incubator of sorts.  That has worked very well.

Another idea was to have fun.  Have German food, a German Christmas market knockoff, and a place to shop for very unique Christmas gifts and cookies.  Here we have found things we hadn’t anticipated.  The school kids all get higher than a kite when they see the campus decorated.  This year we added hot drinks and sold 240 bierrocks.  Humorously, we had to explain that a bierrocks is a “German meat pie”.  All the powwow attendees suddenly smiled and bought several.  The women’s guild makes a hot soup German dinner, about as tasty as it gets.  And the newspaper put a photo of Roosevelt School dancers on the front page.  We think the music thing will grow with time.  Pictures with Santa were non-stop.  And several churches had booths of crafts too, among which were some extraordinarily cheap gently-used ornaments. We’d love to have every church in town participate and help sponsor the event.    

And there were sideline benefits.  Principal Dave Birnbaum was quick to see advantage to having material to hand out to families about the school.  This year we had about 40 folks involved from 6 sponsoring churches and civic groups, putting the program together.  Money from booth fees goes to the school scholarship fund and several of the parent recipients jumped in to help out as well.  Now here’s an interesting thing.  Oklahoma has a law that no charter schools can be established by the state outside of Oklahoma City and Tulsa.  So the only school choice small town Ponca City folks have is the 3 very good parochial schools. Yet polls show the top concern of parents is “school choice” by a 68-71% vote.  Thus the scholarship program is an important contributor helping about 25 families. 

LWML sells cookies on their Cookie Walk, a splendid assortment that was sold out by 2 pm.  They give the money to mission projects, both Oklahoma and international.  And they grossed about $2000. The women’s guild made about $700 and they use the earnings to buy groceries for the funeral dinners they do for free for both members and non-church associates. The Youth group made about $400 with their food sales. There were also about $800 of other food sales and $2800 of booth fees (89 vendors).  Together with Conoco and Phillips community service grants the total should run somewhere around $10,000 for the sponsors and church-associated groups. 1500-2000 attendees were estimated and $20,000-25,000 in total sales.  So this represents roughly $1500 of sales taxes for the city and state.

And as usual, we had a lot of fun. 

Polish jokes

So there was a riot in St. Louis and some guy of African descent kept talking about the Pole Lease.  I know what John and Stan, the two Polish Pittsburgh engineers I used to work with at Amoco would say.  “Didn’t know they could lease us.  At least Lincoln freed the slaves.”  Those two used to love acting Polish-dumb to the consternation of way-serious management or perhaps to give a little comic relief from all the equations and calculations.  ‘Jano and Stusch’ they called each other, were actually a couple of top notch tertiary recovery petroleum engineers.  Stan leaned over to me after someone told an Aggie joke one day.  “Lived here two years before I knew it was a school!  I thought it was some new minority group.” 
You never hear ethnic jokes anymore.  Some guy told me there was still a lot of racism in the country and I said, “Oh, yeah? Tell me a Negro joke then.  I have been working with staunch Republicans for 5 years and they are supposedly the big racists.  So why do I hear no black jokes?”  He didn’t have any joke he wanted to tell either.  Here’s a few of the jabs Jano and Stusch used to tell just for old time’s sake.

They found bodies of those two Poles that have been missing for some time .  They were at the drive-in, found frozen to death.  They came to watch “closed for winter.”

The Russians used to enlist Poles in their air cavalry.  Poor survival rate however.  The parachutes were made in Warsaw and it said on the side of the pack, “Opens upon impact.”

There were these two Polish twins.  One was 18 and the other was 22.

Are you using that cheap Polish dictionary?  It isn’t alphabetized.

What do you get when you cross a Jew with a Pole?  A janitor who owns the building.

A cop stopped a Polish woman and told her that she didn’t have the red light on the back of her car.  “It’s not that kind of car!” she protested.

There was a Pole who got upset after he gave blood at the blood bank and they didn’t give him a toaster.

Only one Polish driver has ever competed at the Indianapolis 500.  He unfortunately made too many pit stops asking for directions.
 A group of Poles got mad at a politician and decided to march on Washington.  Some actually made it to Seattle.

Santa Claus is definitely Polish.  Who else would wear a red suit?

So what kind of jokes do they tell in Poland?  They tell Obama jokes. (Sorry I threw that last one in just for fun.)  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Liar Liar II

Come let us reason together.  Do you remember the Jim Carrey movie a few years ago, Liar Liar? The little boy blows out his birthday candles and wishes his dad, who was a lawyer and always broke promises to his kid, would have to tell the truth.  Carrey’s character then finds himself compulsively telling the truth.  Hilarious and embarrassing.  That’s what this last week’s Gruber tapes and Pelosi getting busted about Obamacare looked like.  Now if only we could figure out what made them do it, we could give the truth serum shot to Obama and Hillary and Chuck Schumer. What would they say?  That could really be funny! “If you like  your Democrats, you can keep your Democrats.” “We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Democratic party, I hope.” “I told Michelle, if you want to run for Senate in 2016 just remember by that time there will be a lot of hungry kids old enough to vote.”  “Screw it.  I’m going golfing.”

            But he claims a mandate from the 2/3 who didn’t vote.  Um, is he wearing a tin-foil hat?

            R’s won 24 out of 36 Senate races (well counting LA yet to come).  Had the whole Senate been up for election and the same proportion have gone this way, the R’s would have 67 seats. All you Republicans who think you accomplished this need to understand that you didn’t entirely build that. Obama did. Thanks Barack for making OK see red.  So he thinks he’s big stuff because he has a pen and a phone?  Well, we showed up with a pen and a ballot.

            Hey how do you like that interpretation from Harry Reid?  He said, “The results of this election are clear.  The voters want us to work together.”  Old Har’ has 352 bills on his desk that were passed by the house.  98% of them had bipartisan support and exactly 50% passed unanimously. The House can supply you with another copy if you happened to shred yours, Harry. 
            It’s the artwork I keep thinking of.  Remember that expressionistic painting called “the scream”?  Just imagine Harry or Hillary’s face superimposed on it.  Or do you remember that Obama  poster with the HOPE written under his picture?  Maybe we should make some with NOPE. Or maybe we just need KFC to change their logo to “Kentucky Fried Obama” with a picture of Mitch as the colonel.  Or maybe the R’s need to show that USA map of congressional districts that are red vs. blue and compare it with Verizon's map.  “We now have more coverage than Verizon”.

            Ah, it is going to be fun!

Killing Obamacare

            This shouldn’t be hard.  Several steps.  Step 1. Have the House just pass funding far less than necessary to give everyone a hefty subsidy on their policies.  I would shoot for about half.  So when you see your policy has gone from $5000 to $7000 with a $4000 deductible (instead of $400) most people hit the ceiling.  But then Uncle Sugar comes to the rescue by providing $2000 of subsidy and the people quiet down.  But what if Uncle Sugar could only pay $1000 subsidy or $500?  People would still be enraged and demand repeal or vast changes. (One way the House could do this is just to pass the exact same subsidy budget item as last year.  This year the number of people signing up triples.)

            Step 2. Repeal the penalties. If a lower middle class guy has $35,000 per year in income and can’t afford insurance, he  has to pay a 2% or $700 penalty.  "I paid 700 bucks and still don’t have insurance!"  It’s pretty hard for Dems to defend this story.  So the R’s should press to repeal the tax penalties. 

            Step 3. Repeal the 30-hour rule on full time employment and put it back to 40 hours.  Why are part time people losing hours and livelihood due to Obamacare?  Hard again for the Dems to defend this.

            Step 4. Repeal the devices tax which is a 10% tax, not on profit, but markup.  Think about this.  A business often makes 10% profit on 20% markup, but what this tax does is to basically remove all profit from a medical devices manufacturer.  A huge business and jobs killer. If this were explained well to the public, Dems could not defend it. 

Step 5. Repeal the business mandate.  Requiring businesses to pay $4000-$14000 on employee insurance causes them to just drop coverage and opt to pay the $2000 penalty.  So the boss paid $2000 per employee, making it advantageous to have fewer employees, yet employees lose their insurance. Everybody is hurt. What good did that do? Try to defend that, Dems. 

Step 6.  Repeal the individual mandate.  So why are we forcing people to buy something?

It seems to me that Obamacare becomes unworkable at Step 1.  By Step 5, the groundswell against Obamacare would override a Presidential veto.  Take the law apart populist step by step and make the Dems suffer all the way through the story.  Happy days are here again!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Vets and Heroes

Vets and Heroes

We passed a couple holidays, Veterans Day and German Re-unification Day and both have an untold Christian story.  In the case of the Germans, Nov. 9 marked the 25th anniversary of the falling of the wall. Oddly enough, the historic story is not what Americans—either left or right—often believe.  Mary Sarotte, history prof at USC has written a book that absolutely confirms what our German exchange kids remembered.

            There are two American myths.  The one on the left attributes Gorby and perestroika and glasnost with the credit.  The trouble with this myth is that none of the governments of the communist countries went quietly.  All resisted but the mass of humanity overwhelmed their staid defenses.  Myth of the right is that Reagan told Gorby to tear down this wall and what with the inevitability of the bad economy and longing for western lifestyle brought down the Wall.  The trouble with this story is that E. Germany had the highest lifestyle of all the eastern block countries and most of the people did not know what they were missing.

            What brought down Honnecker’s government was faith, determination to be free, and the conduct of provincial actors—pastors, students, artists, journalists, information smugglers, farmers and miners.  Sarotte says that the myth is that the opening of the wall brought freedom.  Events show it to be the other way around, “First we fought for our freedom; and then, because of that the wall fell.”  The Monday Marches occurred in Leipzig, a town of 500,000.  4 churches started the habit of prayer meetings followed by marches to the center of the city where these Protestants sang that famous Reformation hymn,Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress is Our God). This went along placidly, attended by old folks and poor people for ten years.  The communist government came to accept it as “a lame tradition.”  But by 1989, two other groups began to attend.  First ordinary citizens who longed for freedom and wanted to uphold the the fact that no matter how bad things get, God is still in control.  Secondly, dissidents began to come to the churches and use the meetings as a mild protest.  By the time September rolled around over a thousand participants were gathering in the city square.  Now the communist secret police were closely monitoring the meetings, but how do you arrest a pastor who leads a prayer for the community leaders, for peace, and forgiveness.  On October 9, 1989, the communists had resolved to stop the gatherings in the square.  They posted 50,000 army soldiers in and around the city, 3000 police and another 600 members of the communist paramilitary organization.  They were expecting 10,000 marchers, but 100,000 showed up.  The streets were clogged, the soldiers were given votive candles and asked to sing. And perhaps the local communists did nothing because they expected Honnecker to abdicate and a new guy, Ergon Krenz was in line.  And on October 16, almost 500,000 people turned out to march, an estimated 95% of the population.

            The Monday Marches were copycatted all over Germany.  In Berlin, the new Krenz government decided to strike a conciliatory note and they asked West Germany for a loan in return for opening the border.  This was a visceral issue with Germans, many who had relatives on the other side.  Again the communists and police intended to stop the marches, but on Nov. 9 a lowly official named Schabowski made a gaffe and announced that the border was to be opened right away.  Tens of thousands flooded the Brandenburg gate, demanding it be opened.  The guards didn’t know what to do, and eventually capitulated when they received no orders.  The rest was an enormous storming of the wall and sledge hammers came out of houses to accomplish the task. 

            It has been said that the left has little moral certainty and that is why they don’t like wars.  To fight you have to have that certainty that you’ll defend your beliefs.  If you have relative morality and don’t know the difference between right and wrong, you won’t fight.  That was also a factor in the fall of the wall.  And of course the economy and political intrigue were factors too. 

            Thus it is that the left in USA hates patriotism and flag-waving.  The still remaining a few Christian leftists say the bible forbids war. “Thou shalt not kill”. Yet this seems an odd stance when Jesus told Peter to buy a sword.  The OT lionizes warriors like David who killed “ten thousands” in defense of Israel.  The first Gentile to become a follower was a soldier at the foot of the cross, and Cornelius, a Roman centurion and his whole household became followers.  Nobody told Cornelius he had to quit the army.  “No greater love hath he than to lay down his life for his friends,” Jesus said. Common sense at work there!  And now that our archeology is uncovering the fact that soldiers were instrumental is spreading the gospel far and wide in the empire, we realize that even though the state made them swear allegiance to Caesar, they kept a higher power in their hearts.

            “We support the troops,” mantras the left.  But they don’t support their job or their mindset—a dishonor to our veterans.  A soldier would be home if he could but he volunteered to defend the United States and the Constitution.  It is more important that America be free and free to worship God without fear.  That’s why they do what they do.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Maker

Guest speaker at our Reformation festival was Dr. Bill Weinrich, one of the grand old guys at one of our seminaries, a former native Ponca Citian.  One of the other speakers at our fest gave a speech on evolution and how Christians can talk about controversial topics.  I asked him why pastors don’t speak much about some of the strong political issues of our time, not the politics, but the issues and what a Christian should think. 

Weinrich got up and did just that.  Here’s my notes. 

In the early days of the church, Bill said, the Greek philosophers thought of the origins of the earth as created by a god who found some amorphous matter and formed it into the earth.  Why did they want to believe that?  They wanted to think that the god was subject to limits and rules which they could find out.  If they found the rules, they could plan.  But the Christians argued that God simply created the universe.  The Greeks hated that thought.  Why then, God was arbitrary and chaotic, and it was no good to plan or think logically.  Which came first, the nothingness or the god?  No, the Christians continued.  He didn’t create from nothingness.  He spoke His word and brought it into being.  “And God said, ‘let there be light…’” This means that there are two central questions.  First who is this God and what is he like?  Second, what did He intend by creating things?  The answer according to Christians was that He was the living God, the God who imparts life.  He “makes” things and gives them life.  And His word says He made us in His image.  Why?  Well, that is what He does.  He is living and gives His life to the universe and to us.  He doesn’t just make things like a carpenter makes things (adding order to the matter).  He brings them forth from nothingness and makes them live. 

So? We are to love the Lord with all our heart and soul and mind, says the Shima. But sin entered the world.  And so God made His Son.  He is a Father because He made a Son.  “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son.” “And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver (Greek word is “maker”) of life.” God gives us life and asks us  “be fruitful and multiply”, i.e., to give life and procreate.  That is His intent for humanity.  So when people say that gays should marry, they don’t do so to give life.  The relationship, no matter how loving, is sterile and barren. It doesn’t do what God asked us to continue.  It ain’t from God.  We have this thing called marriage and Jesus insisted that it was instituted by God of one man and one woman (Matt. 19:5).  And so we have that as a definition of marriage and society also deems it has to be of an adult consensual age and not between close relatives.  All that is make it procreate successfully. 

God is merciful.  Though we don’t deserve even a second look because of our sin, God came after us.  The Jewish first commandment is “I am the Lord thy God who has brought you out of the land of Egypt.”  God saves through His mercy and comes after us in love.  Jesus, we confess, was true man, but in fact he was the only true man.  He was what we are supposed to be.  Trusting and humble and completely attuned to His Father’s will.  And with a mercy big enough to save the whole world.  On the cross, Jesus didn’t just save our sins like some sort of cash transaction, but they became part and parcel of who He was. He took our sins upon himself.  And yet staring death in the face at a point blank distance, He did not waver but confessed his trust, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Only a God begotten, true man would speak that way, because that is a mercy and humility that only God could fulfill.  And so the God of Life gave His Son life and raised Him from the dead. Please note, it ain’t God the Father if there is no resurrection. It would have to be some other nature. And so too, we must strive to look death in the face and commend our spirit to God. 

Hence Luther objected to indulgences as fundamentally against God’s nature of Grace.  People in Luther’s day were saying that man was made in the image of God, had great talents, could speak the words of God unlike animals and all sorts of other wonderful things.  Humanism. Luther countered, “and they all died.”   If you are incapable of something, if you are flat on your back and someone comes and lifts you up, what do you say?  You say, “It was done for me.” And so God has saved you, not from your deserving it, but it was just done and you accepted it in faith.  Grace alone.  And He put faith in our hearts to say “It was done for me!” Faith alone.  And then it relies entirely on the living God who speaks.  Scripture alone.  It all follows from the nature of who God is and what was His intent.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Losing America, Getting it back

Somehow the Supreme Court has managed to not just legalize same-sex marriage, but to force it on all of us.  Two ordained ministers in Cor d’Alene, Idaho are being fined by the state for refusing to marry gays in their chapel.  From there it isn’t much of a leap to demand pastors marry gays in their churches. Yeah, except that it violates Matt. 19:4-5 and Leviticus 18. 

Two things bother me.  One is that Christians aren’t upset.  To have government force belief and practice upon a faith—if that’s not a violation of the first amendment, what is?  Instead, Christians are apathetic or worse, they side with the secularists.  It’s not that this trend hasn’t been observed.  Barna measures poll respondents of many Christians.  There are 9 articles (Barna uses 8) that are known as orthodox Christianity—those principles taught by just about every Christian church in existence—salvation by grace, virgin birth, existence of hell, etc.  Yet in the polls, Barna notes that only 9% of respondents agree with these orthodox views.  A lot of people are more swayed by the Kardashians and the NFL than  our Lord, Savior and Friend, Jesus the Christ.

Maybe that’s my problem!  I can’t keep up with the Kardashians, nor do I care to. I’m a Norman Rockwell guy in an Entitlement World.  A Dietrich Bonhoeffer guy in a soft-Nazi world.  Or as Bonhoeffer asked a fellow pastor who came to visit him in prison, “Why aren’t you in here too?”  And the way I answer the Christian Apathy mystery is that I suspect that most folks haven’t crashed and burned as many times as I have.  Thus, there is little fear of God and besides, “do we still believe in a burning hell?!”

The second bothersome thing is that America no longer cherishes the Constitution.  We become just another nation of the Americas without our Constitution--another Argentina or Peru.  Our soldiers need swear on nothingness, let alone our politicians.  We scoff at property rights, and think that government rules over the people rather than “We the people, in order to form a more perfect Union.”  Buried at the core of this insolence is our loss of faith. For in the formative age of our Founders, it was considered that all men should be free to pursue their own relationship and destiny with the Almighty.  To step on another’s freedom risked challenging God.  Such a sense of destiny, known as the America Dream, made us work.  We truly did “ask not what your country could do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Now it’s just trying to find out what they qualify for.  The American Dream just means ease and money, not destiny.

The Constitution lost its luster when our schools began to teach ambivalence.  High school government classes went from being year-long to only part of a semester.  D’Tocqueville observed an America where everyone was talking politics.  Today, a lot of people refuse to vote or pride themselves in not voting.  You hear talk about how independent they are because no one running agrees with their hallowed points of view.  (That ought to tell you something is amiss with your views, right there!)

And so we lose our faith and our founding and descend into fascism of government dictates, multiplying rules and special privileges for the well-connected.  Then, we lose our economic luster and go from 3.8% growth from 1982-2000 down to 1.8% since.  This is but a symptom of the destiny we have lost.  But there’s a way out of this mess.  We must educate those who never bothered with the faith or the Constitution, a monumental task.  Revitalize our economics by de-regulating and reorganizing government bureaucracy, a monumental task. And we must reform entitlement with responsibility, a monumental task. 

But we have had big jobs before.  We are still the people of the self-evident truth.  And many of us find that here in our senior years we have yet another challenge to bring back America.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Inadvertent Rabble Rouser

We sometimes laugh that our careers have been lived on the edge, a couple of Rabble Rousers.  Of course these days, I just try to stay out of trouble.  But as I led a Bible Study the other night a name reminded me how I once roused a rabble rather humorously and without meaning to.  Stuff follows you around. 

We were reading about Dionysius a 3rd century bishop of Alexandria who wrote about how Christians rushed into a plague to nurse the sick while the pagans rushed the other way.  And then I remembered that weird teenage thing that happened to me.  In 1973 I saw old friend Ted Mayes who put his grin on and his finger in my chest and said, ‘So here’s the guy who got societies abolished at St. Johns.’  I didn’t know what he was talking about, but then he explained and we both had a laugh. 

In 1969 I was a freshman at St. Johns College.  Missouri Synod Lutheran colleges didn’t have fraternities since LCMS frowns on secret societies in a big way.  Instead they had Societies where you just joined and raised money for good causes, etc.  There were six societies at SJC, three for men and three for women.  Only one, the Demosthenians, was by invite only.  They were a group of big studs on campus, and I wanted to be invited like my roommate had been.  No such luck. So in a fit of sophomoric spite, I proudly declared myself GDI, an independent.  What I didn’t know was that the Demosthenians were a huge barb in the side of the faculty and staff of the college.  They had named themselves after a non-Christian, a failed Greek orator who committed suicide and called themselves “Demons” as a nickname.  Often they played practical jokes which bordered on vandalistic and they had a lot of beer parties down along the river.  Everything a rebellious teen loves and adults hate. 

I was vice president of our class and Ted was Prez.  Our Treasurer, I think was Pam Ochs, heard me proclaiming my independence and she decided she wanted to be one too.  But, she told me, everyone knows that GDI stands for “God Damned Independent” and the other girls didn’t like this label.  Did I know any early church father whose name started with a D.  “Ugh—Dionysius?” “Good, then we can be God’s Dionysian Independents,” she chuckled.  And so that year, the whole campus which normally divided itself into 3 groups, had about 40% of students who stayed independent.  And after that year I left to go to Kansas State and pursue a degree in physics. 

But, Ted related, the faculty, chagrinned over this rivalry and the Demons, decided it was the time to outlaw all societies—with almost half the students uncommitted.  “And you are the guy whose example gets thrown around all the time,” Ted said. “A promising Lutheran School Teacher who got discouraged over the atmosphere at the college.”  Whoa! That was hardly true, but good for an argument by the adults. Weird thing was that I learned about it ex post facto.  An absentee Rabble Rouser, no less!

Maybe this stuff runs in the family.  My seven-generations ago great grandfather was General Dan Morgan in the Revolutionary War.  October 7, 1777 marks the second battle of Saratoga at Freeman’s Farm.  Dastardly Dan re-wrote the rules of warfare. Prior to this, women were non-combatants and nobody shot at them.  But the women of the Hudson valley were tough women. [If the man of the house was felled in an Indian raid, the women grabbed the rifle and started shooting.] When British General Burgoyne brought merciless Hessian mercenaries with his army, rumors rose that the Hessians carried small pox. The women were ready to fight to the death for their families and farms.  So Dan posted them as sharpshooters and snipers behind trees and rocks.  The dumbfounded British and Hessian troups didn’t know how to handle this.  Burgoyne surrendered against an army that seemed to just rise out of the ground at Saratoga.  Subsequently, the French joined the war on America’s side, declaring us an independent country and the rest is history.

Okay, so once you get on Medicare, it may be cheap but not too smart to jump off a cliff.  I just need to learn to behave myself.