Sunday, September 26, 2010

Why we have to go Green - We have no choice.

A few days ago I turned on the talk-radio show I usually listen to early in the morning to find that the host was a temporary fill-in, an ultra right-wing Wingnut. I listened to his nonsense anyway, and to the nonsense of the Wingnut callers. He used the typical language, the canned, and expected, responses, and laughed his little smirky laugh. The part that got me was the five minutes or so that he spoke about climate change and he scoffed at the Democrat's efforts to pass a climate change law. He called climate change science a "myth" and made a big case that the climate change we are experiencing is due to "natural" cycles of the Sun. He dismissed all of the science on climate change as so much hype and junk science and concluded that America would be better off by doing nothing.

The fact is that we no longer have a choice in the matter. The world has made the choice for us. In this article, In Passive-House Standards, a Brighter Shade of Green -, there is every indication that Europe has already decided to go Green in house building. The point of the article, of course, is about building an energy-passive house, the details about doing that and how difficult it is in the United States where building standards and home insurance practices have not caught up. While the details are interesting, that's not the point I thought of. The point I noticed is: Europe is already doing it. Thomas Friedman is a New York Times OP-ED Columnist who also studies and follows the Green movement, not only in the United States, but in other countries. He also had an article in today's Times about Green initiatives, here, regarding China. China, too, is going Green, big time. In fact, China is going directly to Green without passing through the period of growth of fossil fuels that the United States went through. Both Europe and China aren't waiting on the United States to show its "world" leadership. They have thumbed their noses at our inaction.

The problem with doing nothing is that we continue to use huge amounts of fossil fuels, paying a huge amount of money for it, most of which goes to other countries, and the total cost is passed down to each of us, the consumer and taxpayer. At what point will we, you and I, have to turn off our air conditioner or furnace, or not drive our car, because we can't afford the price? What will we do then? Go back to using horses and buggies? So, our bigger problem is that our economy continues to be based on fossil fuels, and when the rest of the world economies shift away from those fuels, ours becomes antiquated; our companies continue to move to other countries, labor moves out of the U.S., we become irrelevant, immaterial, unimportant to the world. We become a third-world country. We become as poor as dirt.

The problem with the "natural" cycle argument is that it isn't happening now, and that the Sun has caused it in the past is, in itself, so rare that we can't even guess as to when it last happened. In fact, a solar flare large enough to heat us up, strong enough to pass through our magnetic shield, would kill us in less time than we can snap our fingers. It's a ridiculous argument. In most cycles that have occurred in the past, high levels of carbon dioxide was the cause. Except in those past events, the high levels of carbon dioxide was caused by unusually high volcano activity, asteroid hits, or both. There is no unusually high volcano activity or asteroid to blame for current carbon levels, around 350 parts per million. We'll be HOT at 450 ppm! There is only us and our high use of fossil fuels to blame. It won't be long! If you want to read about this stuff, go here, Scientific American. There's a lot to read. Educate yourself. The Right-Wing is pulling their argument out of a dark place - you know where.

I guess it all depends on what we want to be when we grow up. We can be relevant, or we can be the party of "No." We can be "cute," defiant, rebellious children, back-talking and smart-mouthed in the face of good logic and evidence, at our own peril. The Republicans, Right-wing Wingnut talk show hosts, Tea Party, Karl Rove and Fox News preach about obstructing climate change laws, voting "No" on everything, for the sole purpose of making a U.S. President fail, but they are putting the final nail in America's coffin. A coffin built by economic ignorance and climate change ignorance. I doubt that we'll like our grave. Take a look at what our grave will look like: Africa.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Mantra for Leadership - A False Criticism, a False Expectation, a Great Fraud

Gene Burns is a Libertarian talk show host on KGO Radio in San Francisco. He's been filling in for Ronn Owens, who also has libertarian, moderately right-wing ideology beliefs, on Ronn's 9 A.M. talk show. Yesterday I heard Gene argue with an Obama-supporting caller, somewhat loudly, that President Obama was not providing leadership. In so many words, Gene argued that if Obama was providing leadership, he would change the direction of the mid-term elections, change the minds of the Right, stop the Tea Party in its tracks and make it ineffective, stop the GOP's coup. Gene is mistaken. Gene is only slightly right of center in American politics, and in that respect, as an intelligent man, he expects reason to prevail. He admittedly voted for Obama. He, like many, voted for hope. And, in most respects, I'm guessing that he agrees with most of what Obama has done, since Obama too is a centrist. But, Gene can't get past the idea that America is now unreasonable; that it has swung to the extreme, driven there by myth, unreasonable beliefs and outright fraud and lies. Gene's brain won't go there. He still believes people are are reasonable, so he's taken up or has been "taken in by" the GOP, Tea Party, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh mantra: "If you want my support, then show some leadership."

The fact is that there is nothing President Obama can say or do to change the direction of the extremism in the GOP take over and the media blitz promoting it from all directions. They, the Right Wing movement, are determined to force, coerce, obstruct, bribe, pay for or otherwise cause the American Government under President Obama to fail in spite of all of the reasonableness of Obama's actions and accomplishments. I have two questions: 1) What do we expect of a person, Obama, to say or do if there's nothing that can be done in the face of unreasonable, mythological beliefs? and 2) What is, really, at the bottom of the Right Wing extremism? I know the answer to both questions, and so does James Carville. Beneath all of the words spoken in public and the excuses given in the media for the movement, is the unspeakable and an astonishing irony. Carville sees it. So do I. If Gene sees it, he's not capable of acknowledging it. His brain won't accept it. He's denying it.

A few nights ago, James Carville appeared on the Joy Behar Show on CNN, and he said something very enlightening in response to Joy's question in regards to the Right-Wing, Tea Party, anti-Muslim, Quran burning followers, "How can we reach these people? They're crazy!", or words to that effect. Carville's response spoke the unspeakable. It is so unspeakable and so bizarre that the transcript of the show omitted Joy's question and Carville's response. Nobody will admit, aloud, what is really at the core of the movement and at the core of the great fraud. His response was, in so many words, "You can't. They want this. It's the second coming. It's the final war, the Apocalypse, Armageddon, Christian against Muslim when Jesus returns to win over evil. They believe Obama is evil and they don't like him and his 'secret agenda'." James is right. Nobody can reach them or convince them otherwise. They are on a path of self-fulfilling, self-destructive prophecy.

Carville is a very savvy strategist. If he doesn't understand a political movement, he conducts study groups to study the phenomena, such as this one he conducted in Cleveland last year. He analyzes factual data for reasonable conclusions. He gave his report the title "The Very Separate World of Conservative Republicans." I would have given it a different title. I would have titled it "The Republican's Bizarre Universe." What was true then is still true today, except that the movement has grown, become a little more defined and added more reasons to hate both Obama and Muslims. It isn't "racial." It is belief. But, even then, James didn't write in his report what he said to Joy's question, although he probably heard it spoken by the members of the study group. He didn't want to go there, because saying it aloud or publishing it in a report would have made him anti-Christian, a nut, crazy in the eyes of the believers and subject to ridicule.

The most extreme and the most ignorant, and there are many, in the movement believe that Barak Hussein Obama is the "Anti-Christ." His name, Hussein, says it. He's a Muslim, in spite of evidence to the contrary. He's a Kenyan, in spite of a Hawaiian birth certificate. He's smooth, a great talker, a smooth talker, a great orator. He has a "secret agenda." He's a "socialist." He's a good dresser, suave and debonair. He fits the image of the Anti-Christ in the History Channel show, "The Anti-Christ." He fits the image in the Book of Revelations. He fits the image in Tim LaHaye's "Left Behind" books no matter that the books are blatant fiction and intended to prey on ignorant beliefs. The signs of the "End of Times" are all around us, in their minds. Given the chance, in a quiet moment of confidentiality, they will tell you that. Others in the movement like to keep their own "End of Times" beliefs to themselves, not quite disbelieving the myth, but not denying it either. They are the fence walkers, willing to follow just in case the prophecy is true.

In fact, you can argue until you're blue in the face that the letters John of Patmos wrote to the Christians of Rome, that became the Book of Revelations, were intended only for those Christians of Rome 2000 years ago. You can tell them that those letters were never intended to be "Prophecy" for the coming times. They won't hear you. You can argue that the symbolism he used was to hide both his and the Christian recipients identities from Roman persecution. You can argue that his symbolism was intended to identify Emperor Nero. All of the knowledgeable historian of that period say so. All of the Greco-Roman-Jewish-Christian anthropologist who study the society of Rome in the days of Nero say so. Even the most learned theologists say so. You can cite all of these sources, but you won't change a single mind or belief.

You can argue until you're blue in the face that the real source of today's End of Times belief was actually a 19th century preacher in England, John Darby, who concocted the first theory of Dispensationalism, a theory that divides the periods of the Bible into "Dispensations" that rationalizes God's relationship with humans. It, of course, explains away the inconsistencies that cannot be reconciled with modernity, so they can continue to believe the myth. You can argue, but you won't change a thing. The belief is too strong, in the Charismatic churches, in the Evangelical movement, in the radical Southern Baptists, in Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, Pat Robertson and Paul and Jan Crouch organizations and Trinity Networks, in the talking in tongues, snake handlers, Quran burners and Muslim haters.

So, what is President Obama to do in the face of mythical beliefs? I don't believe he can do anything. I don't believe anyone labeled as the "Anti-Christ" could do anything. The astonishing irony is, if you know the characters in the myth, such as the "False Prophet," the "Devil's Emissary," and the "Anti-Christ," who is the polar opposite of an honest, compassionate Christ is that Obama is the one who is identified as the Anti-Christ. Wouldn't a false prophet be a liar? Wouldn't an Anti-Christ be without compassion and against the poor, the unemployed and the voiceless? Wouldn't a Devil's Emissary be for pollution, against God's Earth? Wouldn't he or she be against all things Christ spoke of? If all that is true, then who on this Earth today best fits those descriptions? Personally, I wouldn't chose Obama. I would choose Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Michele Backmann, Sean Hannity and their ilk as the liars and the frauds of the day. It seems to me that all of the so-called believers are following the wrong leaders. It seems to me that we are on a path of self-fulfilling, self-destructive prophecy based on a lie.

So, if I'm right, does that mean that if God DOES call the faithful to heaven, that He will choose me instead of "them"? Wouldn't that be a kick? I'd like to see the faces of all of those who think THEY will leave me behind when I disappear! It would give me a chance to thank Him, to say, "What a ride! Thank you, God!" Until then, why don't we enjoy the trip? Let's be a little more reasonable and stop believing bullshit.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Why Do "They" Want to Kill California's Good Green Law?

Arnold Schwarzenegger is not the typical Republican that's walking the streets today. He's not a Right Wingnut. He doesn't do Tea Party rallies nor shout about state secession or sue the U.S. Government over the Constitutionality of Health Care Reform. In fact, all in all, he's very pragmatic and he's done a decent job as Governor of California. Even though he helped kick Grey Davis out of office, something I disagreed with because I knew recalling Grey Davis was a scam forced on California by the Bush Administration, with the help of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and buddies in Texas, such as Enron, I'm glad we got Arnie. In spite of G. W. Bush's hopes of "a man in California," he didn't get his wish.

One of Governor Schwarzenegger's major accomplishments is California's Environment Law passed a few years ago that limits and reduces greenhouse gas emissions in California. Clean air is the issue and the law cleans the air. Since then a whole new industry has sprouted in California with lots of money invested in it. A Green Industry. New research and development. New companies. Lots of jobs and more coming. So, why are the Koch (pronounced Coke) Brothers, from Kansas City, and the Valero Energy and Tesero Corporations from San Antonio, Texas fighting to suspend California's law as this article, California Braces for Showdown on Environmental Law - indicates? It's because they are going to lose money, a lot of money, if California continues to enforce the law and regulate these companies. It's ironic that Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, eleven miles from where I live, isn't joining those against clean air. But, Chevron has changed in the past few years. It seems to have gotten on board with environmental concerns. Maybe it's because they live here and want clean air to breath too, but we'll see whether they will put money over clean air.

So, the Kochs, who are Tea Party supporters, Valero and Tesero are putting lots of money into Proposition 23 to suspend California's Environmental Law. "They" claim the current law will hurt the nation, cause the loss of lots of jobs and increase energy costs. And, like the Tea Party, it's all a bunch of crap. Here we go again. Like Prop 8, that passed and changed California's Constitution and has cost California millions in the courts, and Prop 16 that thankfully failed because it would have made PG&E a monopoly in the state and would have cost power customers millions more in higher energy costs, Prop 23 is all bunk. In fact, going back to the energy guzzling, polluting days will keep energy costs high. That's because California requires a special blend of gasoline, unlike any other state. We can't get our gasoline from just any oil company, and that's because most oil companies don't use the formula our law requires. The result is that California has the highest priced gasoline in the nation. And, the oil companies that do use the right formula and sell their gasoline in California make a ton of money doing it. Valero, Tesero and the Koch owned petroleum company Flint Hills Resources refine and sell their products in California. Our energy costs are already high and that's what makes alternate energy sources, such as Green energy, solar panels, high mileage hybrid cars and wind so competitive with those who don't want Green. Green will lower our energy costs in California, and, of course, put Velero, Tesero and the Koch Brothers in a tighter bind. Their California based refineries will have to spend some money to clean up their plants and their pollution.

California may be a mess in a lot of areas, but the Environmental Law we have is one of the best in the nation. It will create a new industry, more jobs and increase revenue to the state like no other thing we can do. It will also decrease energy costs in the long run. We need to keep it. We need to defeat Prop 23.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Please Don't Remind Me of the Taiwan Straits

I listen to National Public Radio (NPR) on a regular basis because is it one of the best news sources I know of, but sometimes I don't want to hear it. Take this story about rogue waves, nightmare waves that scare you to your soul and make you wonder, for a few very long seconds, whether you're under or on top of the ocean. Stories like this bring back images and memories too vivid and harsh. By the time the story started, however, it was too late to ward off those memories.

I've written about some of my experiences on the ships I've served on. The first is this story and another is this story. Both of those stories included events on the USS St. Francis River (LFR 525); LFR stands for Landing Fire Rocket because its primary purpose was to go in close to shore and shoot rockets at the enemy in support of combat troops on land. I believe I wrote that it was the most dangerous ship I served on. And, it was. The entire crew on that ship walked the thin line between good and bad luck, and it was inevitable that on one occasion we stared into the abyss of bad luck.

You can see various pictures of the ship here, and here is one where rockets are firing. The St. Francis River was 206 feet long and 35 feet wide, had a compliment of six officers and 137 crew. It was originally built for a crew of around sixty. Its Mess Hall could only feed sixty at a time. It had ten rocket launchers, a five-inch gun and twin forty millimeter canons and there was not another square foot on the main deck for another weapon. So, you'll have to imagine a relatively small ship crammed to the brim with crew members and tons of ammunition. There was not one more spare square inch for any other cargo. It was a floating powder keg. And, it was older than dirt. It was originally built for World War II. It was the original proverbial rust bucket.

It was also inevitable that the crew would learn more than it wanted to know about the ship and that happened during our preparation for our last trip to Vietnam, in Yokosuka, Japan between late August and mid October, 1969. During that period we were repairing the ship and bringing on supplies for Vietnam. Yokosuka Ship Repair Facility (SRF) workers swarmed over the ship, welding, grinding, cutting and mending various things that helped keep us afloat. But, as the end of the prep time came to an end, one little bit of information began to circulate through the crew. We knew that the ship would be decommissioned in 1970 after we returned from this last trip to Vietnam. The plan at the time was that we would sail the ship to Bremerton, WA for decommissioning and that little bit of information had all of us worried. Nobody knew the ship better than the crew and I recall that most of us felt we wouldn't make it. Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific on our way to Bremerton, we thought, the ship would sink.

The SRF, hearing our concerns, x-rayed the hull in the last few weeks in Yokosuka and discovered a crack in the hull in mid-ships that extended across the main deck and down the sides of the ship, from the waterline on one side to the waterline on the other side. The crack was approximately 45 feet long. At last we had finally discovered the source of the water leaks when it rained into the Chief Quarters that was just below the main deck, center ship. If you looked real close, nearly needing a magnifying glass, you could see, or imagine, a very slight light shining through the main deck into the quarters. Nearly a microscopic crack. While we made a few jokes about that, our worry increased. We didn't want to know about the crack. "Well," we thought, "surely 'they' will cancel our trip to Vietnam. We can't sail with a crack in the hull." We were wrong. Much to our amazement, we set sail in October 1969 for Vietnam.

As I recall that last trip was the worst one yet. We had a lot of battle time, closer to shore than usual, and the battles seem to be more fierce. We emptied the ship of rockets more frequently than before and resupplied our rockets at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, more often. I recall that most of us felt that the skipper was trying to prove a point, that he was trying to impress his bosses for a better choice of his next duty station. A "can do" spirit is always impressive, whether doing it killed us or not. I also recall that we didn't sleep well. "The crack" was the subject of daily conversation. We ask about it daily. "Dear God," we prayed, "please, no storms," even though the Pacific usually showed no mercy in the winter months.

We already knew how fierce Pacific storms could be. On a ship that struggled to go nine knots forward (about 12 miles per hour) in good weather, we had already seen such rough seas that pounded the flat bottom of the ship with such force that it rattled our bones and with all the power in our engines to move forward we still went backwards at one or two knots, bobbing like a flimsy cork at the end of a fishing line. Sicker than dogs, we checked each hatch to make sure it was tightly closed and all of us prayed we wouldn't end up one thousand feet below the surface trapped in a closed compartment, not to drown, but to die of lack of oxygen after our last breath. It literally scared the shit out of us, more so than any gun-line battle did.

But, we made it through Vietnam, without a storm if my memory is correct. We were on our way home at last, via a five day stop in our favorite port, Hong Kong, the last time the St. Francis River would visit there. And Hong Kong was as glorious as our last few months in Vietnam were grim. It seemed a rebirth of spirit. We would make it. We left Hong Kong and started north, on a path that would take us through the Taiwan Straits and home. On that day when we sailed into the open ocean, the sky was dark and stormy looking and the seas were rough, but I don't think we knew the path of the storm. It could be behind us or ahead of us.

You can see the Taiwan Straits in this image. It is a relatively shallow body of water compared to the open ocean. It is because it is shallow that the wave action in it is more pronounced, more like the waves along the shore than in the ocean. The swells are larger and the waves rise and break in a froth of foam. The ship rocks with more force and the ship bottom pounds the waves after it crests. We were at least heading into the seas and not parallel to them. The rocking motion to and fro is much preferred to rocking side to side. And also, a broadside wave is more likely to turn the ship over than one hitting us head-on. By the time we entered the straits, we knew that we were also heading into a storm. It was coming our way for a head-on collision. With Taiwan on our right and China on our left, we could only go forward. We had no other choice.

By the morning of our second day in the straits we were fully engulfed in the storm. The seas were enormous, pounding us with every crest. We had already tied everything down that could possibly hurt us if it flailed about through the passageways. Everyone was sea sick and barely able to stand. Vomiting in the toilet brought mixed results. The high pressure through the drains from outside of the ship could just as easily reverse the drain flow back into our face as flush it. Yet, with all of that, we all constantly checked water-tight hatches and frequently poked our heads in the Chief Quarters to ask about the crack. No one slept that night as the storm kept pounding us.

The next day was better. The storm was passing and a few of us made it outside to the main deck for a breath of fresher air. The seas were still rougher than normal, but they had calmed considerably even though we sailed into deep troughs with mountainous swells on every side. While scary, swells were not as bad as waves. Swells can be ridden up one side and down the other. Waves usually cannot. A ship usually goes through a wave. The storm, however, had one last punch to deliver. It was while I was taking a breather on the main deck that the "General Quarters" bells rang out loudly and the Officer of the Deck shouted "ALL HANDS BELOW DECK," in a panicked voice we didn't usually hear. I looked up and saw in the not far distance a huge mountainous wave coming at us. Those of us on the main deck made a beeline for the nearest hatch and we managed to close them tight as the wave struct us, knocking us in all directions. The ship, hitting a solid wall, shuddered and groaned steel-bending screams, louder than I had ever heard, and I can recall the image of wide eyes and frightened faces as we looked at one another and I heard "Oh, God" from everyone around. Slow seconds passed, we waited. Finally, the words "All Clear" sounded such a relief that I sat in the passageway and tried to breathe again as I looked around at the tears and relief in everyone else's eyes. Life never felt so good.

We were told later that the wave wasn't "all that big," perhaps 40 feet high, which could easily engulf the St. Francis River. We were also told that it was cresting when it hit us and that seemed to be better than us trying to climb it, which our engines could not do. Never the less, the main deck was fully under water for a few seconds as it rolled over us and the thought of that scares me to this day. The crack had widened. We didn't need a magnifying glass to see it now and we were taking on water nearer the waterline. We used portable pumps to bail out the water for the rest of the trip home, 24-7. Our scheduled trip to Bremerton was cancelled. Somebody in authority had finally figured out that we wouldn't make it, that we would sink before we got there. Thank God for that. The St. Francis River was decommissioned in Yokosuka, Japan, soon after we arrived and I transferred to the USS Beacon in San Diego, CA.

If you've heard me say that I'll never take an ocean cruise, nor that will you find me on any other ship at sea, now you know one reason why. There are larger waves out there. The Pacific is not a wading pool.

It's good to be alive. I hope to stay that way.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Pacific Gas and Electric Culpability

Last Spring Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) spent $40 million on a political campaign to promote Proposition 16, a proposal to limit the ability of counties and cities to choose alternate sources of power that would make PG&E a monopoly in the state. Yesterday, a PG&E 24 inch gas line blew up in San Bruno. Preliminary reports indicate that the gas line was corroded and decaying. The skyline in the West Bay area, near the San Francisco Airport, lit up with the fire. Fifty-three homes were completely destroyed and a hundred more were damaged beyond habitability. Three people were killed and an uncounted, so far, were burned and injured and are hospitalized. Hundreds of families have been evacuated from the area and are now in evacuation centers. Over 50 firetrucks responded from all counties in the Bay Area. California Air Fire Response was called in to dump tons of fire retardant and water on the fire from the air. I could see the blaze from the East Bay, 25 miles away.

Now the multiple choice question.

A. Was it the best use of PG&E profits, profits that I pay through my monthly bill, to support a political campaign I didn't agree with?
B. Is it the best use of PG&E profits to be used for maintenance of its gas lines?

How dumb do you have to be not to choose "B?" I feel like I'm being scammed.


Who is Buying the Election of Richard D'Amour to Vanderburgh County Superior Court

A while back I asked the Committee to Elect Richard D'Amour to the Vanderburgh County Superior Court for its financial disclosure statements regarding the financing of Magistrate D'Amour's election and its expenses. I received no reply. D'Amour appears to be the prominent contender. I'm told that his signs are all over the city of Evansville while the other three running for the position are few and far between and hardly visible at all. In fact, the other candidate names are hardly known. This New York Times letter to the editor brings to mind that I should write about this.

From my experience, we know less about local political candidates than we know about candidates for Congress or President. Usually, all we know about a local candidate is what we read in a one or two paragraph bio in the voting guide. And, we know nothing about who is financing local candidates. Even if we knew that this or that Political Action Committee (PAC) is financing a candidate, we still wouldn't know who, specifically, is financing the PAC. It's all hidden and it appears to be designed to hide the details. Nice and convenient for special interests; all special interests.

I suspect that most voters vote for local candidates like I do; pick the name that we know the best and ignore the others. In the case of D'Amour, and had I not made an effort to look into his financial backing, I would probably have voted for him because his name is well known and on a sign in every front yard. Maybe that's a bad idea. Maybe the name that is in my face, that I see on signs all over the place, is NOT the name I should vote for. Perhaps I should vote for the candidate that has no money and wasn't able to put a sign in everyone's front yard. After all, the candidate who hasn't been bought owes nobody any favors.

So, there you go. Until you know who is buying Richard's election, and can determine he isn't a bought and paid for judge, vote for the other guy, whoever that may be. What's the difference? It's a coin flip anyway.

Oh, and by the way, vote NO on every damn voter approved proposition. They are all special interest and they complicate governing like no other concocted idea. Voters know nothing about governing a state and county. That's what we elect governors, state legislatures and county councils to do. Want proof? Just look at California. It's a mess.

Another by the way: VOTE!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Will all the Charismatic Evangelicals Who Think They are Jesus Please Step Forward

I've been listening to the national conversations about, between and with the fool pastor in Gainesville, Florida who is planning to burn the Qu'ran this coming Saturday. I'm glad that nearly the entire nation is against the burning. As far as I can tell, the pastor's church has about 35 members and that the Gainesville population is against him as well. The video I saw of Pastor Jones at the lectern showed four in the audience, so I guess not all of the 35 are church goers. And everyone from all of the nation's religious leaders to the President and the Pope has told him not to burn the books, yet he marches on, determined to burn the books. He was asked if he thought Jesus would tell him to burn the books. "Yes," he said, "He would tell me to face the Devil," or words to that effect.

"You really believe Jesus would tell you to burn the books?" the questioner asked again. "Yes," he answered, again.

I heard this morning that he would not burn the books if the President, Secretary of Defense of Secretary of State called him and told him not to burn the books. So there you have it. Any of those three can overrule Jesus. My head is reeling.

You have to wonder about the miraculous thing we call a brain. In a guy like Einstein, it can divine the laws of the Universe using nothing more than a blackboard, a few sheets of blank paper, a piece of chalk and a pencil. In a guy like Gandhi, it can move a nation to shed its colonial rulers and stop a Hindu-Muslim war. In a person like Jimmy Carter it can reason with nations to resolve diplomatic stand-offs and bring peace. I admire these three because they did what is humanly possible using methods, reason and tools available to humans yet with a brilliance not found in the every day Joe.

But, at the other extreme, the brain in people like Charismatic Evangelicals can create illusions of grandeur that they, and they alone, know God's will. They claim to know which religion is evil and not. They claim to have direct talks with God and to receive instructions directly from him. People like Pat Robertson (700 Club), Paul and Jan Crouch (Trinity Broadcasting Network), Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Ted Haggard and others who collect millions of dollars from those they scam, all of them Charismatic sects. There are a lot of Charismatic churches now days, and the number is growing and all seem to have a common characteristic of  pastors who have visions of grandeur, speaking in tongues, communicating with God, or Jesus, and some, like Jim Jones of Jonestown, Guyana 900 suicides fame, believe they are the second coming. I'll bet that if Pastor Terry Jones would admit it, that deep in his very warped mind, he would admit that he believes himself to be the second Jesus.

The idea that one man can conjure up an idea that holds the world hostage without a single thought that he is grossly overreaching all common sense or without the slightest tinge of self control is mind boggling. Maybe it's time that all Charismatic Evangelicals who believe they are Jesus step forward. We need to identify you before you create a catastrophe. Also, put a sign on your forehead if you're hearing directly from God. We need to know who you are, too.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Flimflam Woman

It is difficult to describe what comes to mind about Sarah Palin after reading this, Sarah Palin the Sound and the Fury | Politics | Vanity Fair, which jives with a lot of the bits and pieces I've read since Sarah hit the scene. It's a very comprehensive article. I guess I have to borrow a word from the article: unhinged.

Palin is a flimflam woman, and she's taking this country for a ride that's heading for a crash.