Zero Tolerance

I have zero tolerance for not getting what we voted for.

Shee-uh, look what’s happened over the last few days.  The F-ing  FBI  may have altered witness statements to protect Clinton! !  Did you hear that?  No, you didn’t, not over the noise of children caterwauling on the border (BTW, crying is what toddlers DO, I’d say like, four of the 12 hours  they’re awake every day, even when they ARE with their parents)  What  is being revealed in the Congressional hearing she ought to be provoking incredulous outrage.  But the Left has the power to cloud minds.

I want a border.  And  I want a wall on it.

I don’t know yet whether I blame Trump for “giving in”.  I just…havent decided yet.  I’m still hoping it works out.

But oh, I’m angry tonight, which is why I’m still awake at nearly 1 AM .

It feels like a relatively small cadre of Leftist politicians and their allies in journalism and entertainment are preventing our elected president from doing what we voted for.

And  my tolerance Is exhausted.


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Just thinking

I just had a connect-the-dots thought. When I worked at the university one of the common complaints we often heard, especially from really outstanding Black students, was, “Everyone assumes I only got in by Affirmative Action.” I wonder if America’s lackadaisical attitude about enforcing its borders and immigration laws puts all Hispanics in a similar situation? Because Affirmative Action makes second-class status a matter of policy, and failure to control our borders and immigration does the same thing. You can say it shouldn’t, but it does.


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On Churchill’s Darkest Hour, and Ours

On Monday evening I took the time to watch Darkest Hour, wherein Gary Oldman gives an epic performance as Winston Churchill during the days and weeks after he rose to the prime ministership on May 10, 1940. Toward the end of the film, there was a scene where Churchill decides to ride the London Underground to Westminster. While on the subway, he speaks with a woman carrying a five-month old baby on her lap. Now while that woman and her baby were likely fictional, it struck me that were that baby still alive today, he would be five months younger than my own father, who turns 79 next month.

As William Faulkner wrote in Requiem for a Nun, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

Churchill, who led the United Kingdom during my father’s lifetime, refused to back down against Hitler’s brutal war machine which had overrun Western Europe and threatened to do the same to Britain, ignoring the advice of his own senior cabinet ministers who wished to pursue a negotiated peace.

I think of my Great Uncle Phil, a dual Canadian-American citizen who answered the King’s call and volunteered for service in the Royal Canadian Air Force, receiving a commission as a flight lieutenant as the Battle of Britain was underway in the fall of 1940.

I think also of my great-great-great grandfather Juan Francisco, a prominent politician in the then northern Mexican city of Laredo, suffering under the heel of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s brutal oppression, but ultimately leading his fellow Laredoans into an alliance with Texas and the United States. On April 25, 1847, he was administered his oath of American citizenship by none other than Mirabeau B. Lamar, former President of the Republic of Texas.

History is not made by the weak, but by those who have the courage to stand fast.

We face a similar reckoning at present, being told that to secure our southern border against alien invaders is inhumane and heartless. No less a personage than former First Lady Laura Bush has called for compassion in dealing with illegal alien children and their alleged parents.

Well I dare ask, where was this vaunted Bush compassion during her husband’s presidency, when on Thanksgiving night in 2005 some Mexican cartel members decided to have a shootout in my parent’s tony upper middle class neighborhood in Laredo, Texas? Nowhere.

Where was this vaunted Bush compassion when hundreds of innocent Mexicans were killed as a result of the Obama administration’s Operation Fast and Furious? Silence.

What of the confederacy of dunces and rats known as the Democratic Party? They make common cause with the illegals and other foreign interlopers against their own people.

And then there is the vile nest of copperheads in the Republican Party who call themselves NeverTrump. What is NeverTrumpism, but the philosophy of despair, the creed of arrogance, and the gospel of surrender?

I will have none of it. Like Horatius at the bridge and Churchill before the Nazi menace, it is time to stand and fight.

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A Question on immigration

Y’all no doubt have opinions on the broad topic of immigration.  I have a very long-time friend, now retired from a very successful career as a corporate atty., who sends me questions from time to time.  If you’ll forgive the conceit that anyone else might care, his question and my answer:

The European Union is being inundated with Muslim immigrants, and the US has a growing immigration problem along the border with Mexico. What is the answer? Does Scripture provide wisdom and direction? You know my feelings, but I am concerned that I may be unduly harsh and judgmental.

I replied: I’m wary of replying because I am well aware of my immense capacity for rationalization and self-justification, not to mention just fooling myself. Nonetheless, fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

I’m inclined to say that scripture has nothing to say directly on the point because scripture was written in and to a very, very different chronological and cultural period. Nation-states as we know them did not exist at all in that time. Even the Roman Empire or the Greeks or the Babylonians or the Assyrians, though they controlled territory by might, did not exist with borders and entry points and passports and visas. And scripture must be interpreted first in light of what the writer understood and meant and what his readers would have understood and meant. (This is not to say that scripture may not be transcultural. Our belief in its truth implies that it is. It is just to say that original meanings is the necessary starting point.)

Thus, the best we can do, ISTM, is to try to tease out principles that can then be applied to our world. And that is where the rub lies. Because no one interprets scripture without first consulting their baggage of interpretive assumptions and philosophies. No one.

Thus, disagreements arise not from scripture, but from which principles we select to include in our analysis and what priority order we give them based on our own philosophical biases.

With that bushel basket of caveats in mind, here are some scriptural principles that apply, IMO.
* Romans 13 – All earthly authorities are established by God. All means ALL, or else God is not sovereign. We may not understand His reasons, but the choice involves God’s sovereignty.
* Romans 13 – We are to obey the laws that the authorities establish….or be subject to the penalties. (This, and the above, mean that, Biblically, there is no such thing as undocumented (illegal) immigrants because if they were obeying the law they wouldn’t be here.)
* A number of Biblical passages address the importance of hospitality to the strangers and foreigners among you. Important principle. But this would not have meant to the writers or readers anything like “illegal immigrants”. It would have meant something more like, in our contemporary understanding, “ business travelers or tourists” or “immigrants with visas and green cards.” And, indeed, we owe it to them, as well as our American-born neighbors, to show a hospitality that reflects God’s love for us.
* A number of places in scripture speak to defending those in need of defense. This principle speaks most directly, I think, to the issue of refugee-type immigrants, not what might be called “economic immigrants”, people looking to better their life and that of their family. But this is not unfettered entry because, IMO, it falls under the purview of the governing authorities.

That’s my opinion in a nutshell. Will it satisfy? Probably not….unless one happens to share my perspective. 😃 So, what to do? Stop voting for useless, feckless poltroons who are only interested in building personal power and prestige and start voting for people who are willing to sacrifice their personal life in order to actually improve our country’s laws. Our immigration system is TERRIBLE but the people we elect are interested only in posturing and using the issue as a way to fire up a segment of the population to vote for them. That’s why politicians never solve problems. (Well, except for one.)

Btw, here’s an irony. In America at least. Any economy needs a growing population if it is to grow and prosper as an economy. For the past 40+ years America has murdered about 50 million babies….who would have grown up to work in our economy.

That absence of workers created a supply-demand imbalance that becomes a draw for illegal economic immigrants. So they come.

But the Law Of Unintended Consequences is always at work, and maybe, too, the hand of God in discipline. Because, if we hadn’t murdered our babies, we would have had a population of workers who’d grown up in America with American cultural values. Instead we get a mashup of people with all manner of different cultural values. And that creates social tension as a price.

But the babies that were murdered are needed in society now. So, we import them…..along with whatever cultural problems they may bring with them.

My two bits. YMMV.

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A Dime for my thoughts?

In commenting on another post, Dime wrote:

A philosophical thought. Why do people who have learned more things about the universe seem to find themselves in despair? It is as if enlightenment has led them to darkness. There was a time that people studied science to get closer to the Old One than away from the same.

As what was written on another thread, one views life from a perspective. The same image or experience is interpreted differently. One sees the hope. The other sees the despair.

It brought to mind an experience from my working days.  I spent a 37 year career at Univ. Calif. Davis as an analyst in the central administration.  UCD had a Christian Faculty and Staff organization which an engineering faculty member and I co-founded.  At one of our meetings one of the faculty members asked me if I would be willing to research and make a presentation on the ‘arguments for a naturalistic basis for religion’.  (Those of you who’ve spent much time on a university campus will appreciate what it means for a faculty member to propose a staff member doing such a thing, and how thoroughly the request illustrated the application of Christian principles on a campus.)

Anyhow, the research was fascinating but particularly interesting was a study done by a group in Canada.  They fitted study participants with a ‘shower cap’ of electrical sensors and then asked them to do their religious thing.  So, Hindus meditated, Bhuddists chanted, nuns prayed the rosary, Pentecostals spoke in tongues, and Baptists prayed.

They found that a particular area of the prefrontal cortex lit up like a Christmas tree in a similar manner for all these participants.  It was in interpretation of the results that the key point became apparent.

The researchers’ conclusions: we know that meditation has positive survival benefits so clearly man evolved to benefit from these various meditation-like activities.

I looked at their research and came to a different conclusion: a Creator, who is a Spirit outside our space-time environment, wanted to communicate with His creatures, who were part physical and part spirit inside our space-time environment, included an “antenna” that would enable them to receive spiritual communications.

The main point, as someone has said, there are no a priori facts, there are only a priori assumptions.  Therefore, we all need to be cautious because no one is unbiased.


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“The names of those who love the Lord”

Abou Ben Adhem

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.
******************************************
With tomorrow being Father’s Day, this poem has been an ear worm for the past few days.
Most of his  life, this was one of my father’s favorite poems to recite. As an agnostic, living in a household of three Catholics, he found it a way of saying his piece.
In order for Harriette and Fred to marry, back in the early 1940’s,  my father had to tell some bishop or archbishop in Chicago that should any children bless the marriage, he promised  that they would be  instructed in the Catholic faith.
After making that promise, WWII broke out. Then he spent quite  a bit of time in  fox holes, wondering when the “one with my name on it” would shatter him to pieces. Even so, he never felt the need to pray.
The closest thing to praying that he ever did was to recite  this poem before tucking me in some nights. Although he attended Mass each Sunday with all three of us, my mom, my little sister and me, he never joined in any prayers. (Although he was known to chime in with singing some of the hymns as he loved to sing.)
He was an honest man, passing on the life he would have led if he had taken a childhood chum, Mayor Daley, up on various offers for a career in that man’s Comptroller’s Office. “Think of the money you are passing on, Fred,” my mom would plead when he once again refused the job.
“Think of the jail time I will be avoiding,” he’d retort and go back to working the crosswords.
He was a gifted story teller, a lover of corny jokes, a man whose favorite activities were the “unimportant ones” of taking the kids to the hills of local forest preserves for winter sledding. Or pretending to be a large whale floating effortlessly in the middle of a Mid Western Lake, his belly being the goal we kids would swim out to reach, sometimes wickedly poking his tummy when we made it.
He died at the age of 90, while taking a nap in his Lazy Boy at home, after finishing a big bowl of ice cream. It was eleven on a Tuesday AM. My mom never let him have ice cream before dinner, but this one day she made an exception.
His grandson was inconsolable. I flew back to be at his wake, but also to ensure that the crematorium would not goof up and put his ashes in someone else’s box to take home.  For whatever reason, it troubled my son that his granpa might not get the respect he deserved.
No fears were needed. His body was the only one consumed by flames that day. The crematorium manager had an impromptu ceremony for those of us who showed up. When I explained that my dad  had truly thought some 57 years earlier that he’d die with body parts blown up across Belgium and that he could care less what happened to his physical remains, other than the scene of his Lazy Boy death  had held ICE CREAM, my son relaxed.
I do not share my dad’s agnosticism. But I do feel that at some point after his death, this scenario played itself out in that Reality of a higher dimension than the one enshrouding us here:
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

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Church is Lame, and You Should Go Anyway

Picture a depressing scene. No, no, more fluorescent lighting! More! OK, you’re getting close.

Now make the space like nineteen times bigger than it needs to be. So that the modest gathering seems even smaller than it is.

OK, now, only tiny styrofoam cups to drink from. No, not fresh coffee! Coffee brewed like an hour ago. Now, fill everybody’s styrofoam plates with cold Asian noodles. Somebody made them early this morning.

The space is big, like a gymnasium. Because it is a gymnasium. It’s the multi-purpose room of our church building. We are gathered here for after-mass coffee hour. And I don’t want to be here. But the priest asked me to stay.

Now, fill the table with the meekest people in New York. Make them kind, interesting, humble. Give them life stories. Make them devoted to God.

There’s the awkward young guy who does a Bible study for teens every Friday night. There’s the widow who tells you how she organizes her weekly meals and cares for houseplants. There’s Sylvan, whose birthday it is, so she made a cake for everybody.

I told the priest I don’t want to get involved. I don’t want to stay for these things. I don’t want to build relationships. Ever since my own church went full heretic (never go full heretic), I am jaded. I’ve lost hope for what church can be, and should be. I just want to show up, take communion, and go home.

But I stay, because he asked me to, and I’m glad I stayed. I know church is supposed to be much more than a weekly meeting. It’s supposed to be a family, a transformative power. The expression of God on the earth.

And in a little while I’ll probably start to hope again.

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Speaking of rich ladies and patent tomfoolery

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes indicted.

Holmes, who in dress and demeanor consciously mimicked Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, was a media darling who wooed former secretaries of state George Schultz and Henry Kissinger to her company’s board, along with now-Defense Secretary James Mattis.

But the company in recent years had burned through more than $600 million invested by a number of high-profile investors, who included the Walton family, who are Walmart’s founders, media baron Rupert Murdoch, and the family of U.S. Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos. According to a recent lawsuit, each had invested $100 million or more in Theranos.

An impressive list of suckers.


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