Ranting and Ramblings of an Old Man

Donald Trump has gone beyond the limit. Now he is advocating that the USA murder the families of terrorists. That’s the sort of collective guilt that China has used and the Nazis kept their political enemies in line with. How can we expect other nations to look up to the USA as Reagan’s shining city on a hill if our behavior is no better than that of such monstrous regimes. But I suppose it fits in with the general “Fortress America” mentality so popular in the “30s and now. It’s amazing how many churchgoing Christians have a “I’ve got mine mentality” and are willing to violate everyone else’s right to a decent (or any) life so long as they have their Botox, guns to play with, and fungus free toenails. Why not just elect Darth Vader president? At least he’s honest and intelligent.

The western world is indeed at war with militant Islam in all its incarnations. Muslims, please don’t blame the west. It was the middle east which raised the already awful situation there to the level of war upon us. Few in Europe or the USA wanted it. Our civilization is founded upon Judaic-Christian ethics, enlightenment regard for the importance of the individual, and the dominance of English style law over individuals, institutions, and even governments. You call our interference with your culture a crusade but it has little to do with religion. Few of us are that serious about exporting our theology. But we did try to export the triad of our ethics, individual rights, and law. It seems very many of you did not want that. But If we no longer have any interest in exporting our religion we yet feel obligated to export this triad, not for our own benefit but for the millions that your mullahs and tribal leaders refuse to help to improve their own lot. You share with Hinduism a fatalist belief. Yes, the Koran demands charity to others of “the book.” But not to all others. They are slaves without human rights. Even your charity to other Muslims does not demand improving their lot in life with education. If they are born poor you are obligated to care for their basic needs, but no more. Worst of all to us, that seems OK to those of you who have something of the world’s goods.

So we are at war. Do not think because some westerners insist on peace at any cost that you have an advantage over us? There are many strands in Islam as in Christianity, some militant, others that stress peacefulness and kindness. We know this but you have given us no choice but to defend ourselves and we cannot do that with extreme care not to harm or offend the peacemakers either in the west or in Islam. Sometimes we agonize too much over stereotyping you and others. Thus for many years it has been popular to blame our government for interning Japanese Americans during WW II. This stereotyping was justified in war. Our more liberal writers constantly point to the patriotism of most Japanese Americans, some of whom volunteered for the American army and died fighting the Germans in Italy. What they don’t mention is that perhaps there was no sabotage by Japanese Americans because the potential saboteurs were in camps and therefore could not commit sabotage. Likewise I have no problem with keeping a closer eye on an Arab American than an Irish or Italian one. No one denies that some, however few, will commit mass murder here if able to do so. Some rights must be suspended in times of war. The problem for us will be how to keep this just a brief interlude of suspicion when there is no nation state to sign a peace with and return to normal. We must also accept as we did in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 that there is no absolute security no matter how much we allow restriction of our freedoms. We will take losses and must reject the call for security at any price. Moderation in all things, but yes for a time some targeted invasion of privacy by the government is necessary. Hell, marketers already do it.

These are the rules that militant Islam has forced upon the west. How can it be otherwise? That is up to you. Certainly most Arabs have some reasonable sympathy for The militants. Even though they would not themselves attack us neither will they turn against their “brothers” who you consider heroes for bringing retribution on the former colonial powers. But you will not advance your economies or the lives of your children by blaming the colonial powers of the last century for your miseries now. No matter how hurtful for you, to make progress anger and revenge must be laid aside. There are examples of this attitude of reconciliation working. Ireland and South Africa come to mind. I know that it is easier to follow the route of trouble makers who seek to promote themselves among you. They yell and blame the west for all your troubles beginning with settling the Jewish displaced persons of WW II upon your land. But all these are a fait accompli and no amount of complaining about past wrongs will reverse history. I ask: even if what they say be true how do they help advance your common man and woman? That is only done by cooperation and a willingness to refuse cover to murderers no matter how much you may agree with their anger at the west. Here in the United States we ourselves had to come to grips with the problem. For a hundred years after our civil war our negro citizens were denied the rights of citizenship in our southern states and discriminated against openly in the south and more subtly in the north. It was not until our southern voters turned against the reactionaries and haters among them that progress was made in both the political and economic sphere, not only for Negroes but also for whites because until then business was reluctantly to invest in the more racist and backward states. But it was peaceful civil rights leadership that brought change, not the ranting and threats of black militants.

Fact is, by today’s terms Muhammad was not a peaceful man because he would have had no concept of the horrors of worldwide war. The Arabs of his time were a warlike peoplet as were others. That was their culture just as it had been the culture of Vikings. Both supported themselves by raiding others and by hiring themselves out as mercenaries. That was how life was and had always been for them. Muhammad was a good man who stopped the Arab feuding among themselves and was intent on teaching them ethical monotheism. However his successors set upon a program of conquest. They justified it to themselves as spreading Islam among the unbelievers. The same can be said of the blood shed by Charlemagne in the west so I’m not charging them with anything that Christians weren’t also doing. That was the world in which they lived but it was all a long time ago. If Muslims insist that such behavior was a good thing then we in the west are necessarily their enemy. In war innocents will die. Many, many innocents. But we cannot just lie down and let these murderers kill our innocents to avoid killing yours.

Try to see our side. You say that crusaders attacked your land but ignore that the successors of Mohamed won these by attacking what had been Christian lands. You forget that by the time of the crusades you were killing any Christian who dared to make a pilgrimage to his holy sites. Surely you would justifiably call for jihad were westerners to prevent Muslims from visiting Mecca and Medina. Because I respect your prophet (peace be unto him indeed) I do not believe that were he alive today he would inflict a sixth century paradigm of conquest and slavery upon the world. Would Charlemagne? I don’t know. Perhaps not but perhaps like your jihadists he would cloak his own ambition with religion. What I can say is that our Jesus whom you claim to have been a major prophet would not. The evils of Christianity stem not from him, but as in Islam, from those who followed after him.

(Parenthetically, I understand why you consider the theological claims in the Christian scripture to be distortions. OK, understandable. I have some problems there too. But I see no reason why you do not adhere to the moral teachings of Jesus if you claim such high regard for him. Awhile back there was an incident where a Muslim woman was stoned for adultery. I refer you to an exact duplicate of her situation in the bible, that of another woman caught in adultery. She was to be stoned under the law of Moses but begged Jesus to help her. He simply spoke to the crowd saying: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and then began doodling in the sand. When he looked up again the crowd had dispersed. He then asked the woman “Is there no one to condemn you?'” “No, Lord,” she replied. and Jesus said “Neither shall I. Go in peace and sin no more.” This is purely a moral not a theological lesson yet you ignore it. There is no reason why anyone would have distorted it. [Pope Francis has taken it to heart.] )

Unfortunately, people can always find in holy scriptures justification for whatever they want to do. The world has changed since Muhammad’s time but not fundamentalist Islamists who pick and choose passages from the Koran rather than follow its spirit. Your Muslim neighbors in Nigeria enslave non Muslim children and the world rightly gets angry. They know that such behavior was glorified in years past. Musa, the Arab conqueror of Spain, allegedly sent thirty thousand virgins back to Arabia. These virgins were most likely children whose menfolk he’d killed. Since Arab women commonly married at age twelve these would have been children intended for brothels and harems where they would be sex objects and servants. Even today, non-Muslim girls travel at risk of being raped in Muslim lands, and the police do nothing. You don’t even punish rapists of unescorted Muslim women. You blame the women instead of demanding that your men behave as honorable Muslims should behave. I do not blame this on your prophet but on those who claim this element of your culture is justified by the Koran. Certainly Muhammad did not support sin and violence against women but always demanded charity toward women and orphans.. Moral behavior is what Muhammad demanded of his followers just as did Jesus. Have Christians also abused their scriptures? Yes, of course. But few today will use the bible to justify terror, brutality, selfishness, and sin. Most of us try to emulate the spirit of the gospels, not find words here and there to justify the crimes that we want to commit.

Of course I do not want war but it is up to Islam to control its extremists and prevent it. We cannot do that for you. The USA attacked Afghanistan to destroy the architects of 9/11. We stayed to help rebuild that country. A moment’s reflection will make it clear that the United States had nothing to gain by it. That was one of the few incidents in history when one nation has tried to help another without anything to gain. Iraq is more complicated. There is the matter of oil and it was our mistake to think that once Saddam was gone all Iraqis would play nice together.

I am not so naive as to think that our high tech weapons can win us a victory. They will only make money for the arms manufacturers without eliminating the present hatred that you have for the west. Our George Washington and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Ming will tell anyone who wants to listen that a people fighting for its own land will always win in the end. But the cost to you would be reinforcing those among us in the west who want to return to some sort of racial and religious exclusiveness here. That wouldn’t work even if it were a good thing, and it’s not. A lot of blood would be shed without either some sort of victory by anyone or a warm peace. What would result is tyranny in the name of security for both sides. Already Assad looks like a good ally to many in the west though earlier they’d wanted to remove him in the interest of democracy in Syria. Don’t you see that an Islamist victory would be as bad for the middle east as for the west?

Heaven is:
Twelve ounces of black coffee,
A full tank of Gas,
And an empty highway at dawn.

Kevin McCarthy October 11, 2015

Kevin McCarthy had to withdraw from seeking the house speaker post. His unthinking revelation of how purely political the Benghazi inquiry was has taken from his GOP the issue that they planned to never let up on no matter how often Hilary Clinton was absolved of responsibility. Unfortunately it has become the norm in politics (actually it always was) to hammer at an old hat point no matter how often it is debunked or how silly or irrelevant it is. If this turns out to not be an issue based campaign it will not be because there aren’t issues but because for political consultants a slander is easier for a dyed in the wool Republican (or Democrat) to hold onto to defend his choice then is considering real issues. The fact is that few people vote the way they do because of issues. It is much more primal than that. But they can hold onto such debunked stuff as an excuse to feel the way they do.

The arms industry though its mouthpiece the NRA continues to fiercely fight minor (and useless)_ legislation like background checks so that when it has to give in on these it will be able to say that it has done its part. There will be no meaningful limitation on the number of unnecessary pistols and assault type weapons in the USA. That’s business. There will be no elimination of gun shows (Guns are tools not toys.) The sad fact is that too many folk in the west and Midwest don’t give a damn how many people in cities die freon crime, gun accidents or just being in the way during a shootout. Yet they claim to be Christians. Hunters, ranchers, and farmers need a 30/30 rifle and a couple of shotguns. Some others (cab drivers for example) need a handgun but a .22 cal 2-shot derringer type weapon is sufficient for that while not being a weapon that one would try to commit a crime with. I don’t accept it when people in other lands use the excuse that “It’s our culture” and I don’t accept it here. The 2nd amendment is not an unrestricted gift from God. Change. Yes it would take time and for a while “only criminals would have guns” but in time most would be confiscated or rust away (like WW II souvenirs weapons.) Meanwhile, crime is what cops are for, not armed civilians untrained in police work and the law.

What everyone seems to miss about Francis and Church teaching is that teaching has fossilized since the 19th century and been reduced to slogans and placards on all sides. He wants to tone it down so that the next generation can examine these matters with fresh eyes. Current Church teachings on morality are neither ancient as advertised, nor simple, nor central to the faith. The big question is not what Jesus said (a few words here and there) but what would he say in our overpopulated world which has a far better understanding of psychology and human frailty than early Christianity did. Put in a Protestant way: what would Jesus say, not what has the Vatican demanded? I grew up catholic but long ago wearied of hearing “the Church this,” and “The Church that.” Yes the Vatican has an obligation to keep the faith pure but moral concepts and church administration should change with understanding. The Middle Ages were hardly the high point of Christianity, only of clerical dominance of every aspect of life as though people live not for God but for the hierarchy.

I Just had a weird dream. My wife, Tamiko, and I were on our way to a Walmart in N. Dakota when we discover that the store has been replaced by a coal fired but low emission power plant,. I am excited that a use has finally been found for all that ND lignite. We go there and the place is still selling stuff including a really cool paper shredder. Somehow Tamiko has gone off somewhere and I am talking to some guy about the shredder and how I am to get it without annoying Tamiko since I already have a perfectly good shredder at home. He suggests that he drive me home and that we discuss it en route. I tell him that of course that can’t work because I would then be at home and Tamiko and our car at this Walmart cum power plant. Tamiko shows up and makes the reasonable suggestion that instead of going home my friend and I go for coffee to discuss the shredder problem and celebrate ND having found a use for lignite. We both think this very funny since it makes so much sense and agree that women just don’t understand that getting something cool that we want has nothing to do with needing the item. Good thing I woke up before buying the shredder. She’d have murdered me.

Death walked the streets like a nun watching for bad little boys to discipline. Death opened a church door and drifted in. Like a storm cloud he spread his gloomy self over many. He did skip over some, mostly those whose demise would not greatly upset the others. Instead he picked out a child here, a mother there, and as many of the beautiful as he could. How different they would look in a few days; their flesh would turn gray even before they closed their terrified eyes for the last time and surrendered into his grasp. Then would come decay. The living would bury the dead of course, but beneath the new green grass their faces would drip away, leaving only rotting meat; then that too would be gone, eaten by maggots.
Stephen Foster had asked the eternal question in song: Why must the beautiful ever weep? Why must the beautiful die? Life had no answer. Life knows sunshine and butterflies and green grass but nothing of death. It is said that dying is but a part of life. Horse shit.
Oh optimists, you who will not face the end; what answer have you that is not simply a wish based upon nothing but blind hope and fear?
Ask the fat maggots. Without the beautiful children they would starve. God provides for his creatures, great and small alike.

A generation that changed America: Bond, King, Wilkins, Marshall, Randolph, Abernathy, Farmer, et al. Too many of us only know Dr King’s name but each of these did enormous good each in his own way. I firmly believe that M L King Day should be renamed Civil Rights Day to honor all who worked, were jailed, and sometimes beaten or killed for the same dream. Not a dream of racial separation as some later black power advocates wanted because they did not have faith in Dr King’s Christian ethics or in America, but one of understanding and integration.


Trump likes to rile people, and succeeds. That’s the only reason I keep writing about him. I should ignore him but somehow can’t. So why is Trump so obnoxious? Because he can’t get the nomination but can’t bear to be a loser. Ergo, be a jerk and be able to say he was pushed out by those in the media who couldn’t abide straight talk. By the way, Donald, stop confusing opposition to excess political correctness – which most of us hate – with being rude, crude, and simply ungentlemanly. Didn’t your Dad ever tell you that it is most unbecoming even in a spit and sawdust bar?

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