Thursday, June 24, 2010

Which Country is This?

Let’s suppose you are working clandestinely for your government’s intelligence services. Because of your anti-war activist credentials you are able to make international contacts otherwise unavailable to the government. Your handlers routinely use you for ‘back door’ contacts to unfriendly foreign governments. Let’s suppose you have done this through years of service to your country with good success.

Through your clandestine contacts, you become aware of a direct and imminent threat to your country. Your warnings are ignored and the dire threat becomes all too true, blossoming into a horrific event with international repercussions. After the event, you frantically and repeatedly try to warn your country’s leader against an erroneous course of action leading to war. You even have a close relative who works directly for your leader in his own office, and as a last resort you try to get a warning message to the leader through your relative. Sadly for everyone, that fails.

Now, let’s suppose you watch the leader of your government embark on a course of action which you believe in error. Horrible and bloody wars with all its terrible consequences now result. You are devastated because all your warnings were ignored.

 You try to tell your country what happened. But now, you are a political threat to your government and your leader because of what you know about the ignored warnings. You are arrested by your government’s secret police on  ‘Secret’ spying charges and kept imprisoned without trial for five years.  The courts declare you mentally incompetent and you confined despite psychiatrists' finding that you are not.

After years of imprisonment without trial you are finally released. Even though you try to get it out, the media ignores your story largely because the government has officially branded you as mentally incompetent. In what country do you live? 18th Century France? Cold war Russia?  North Korea?  China?  Iran?  Zimbabwe?

None of the above. Sadly, the answer is “The United States of America”,  and you are a lily-white, natural born American woman, born in the USA, named Susan Lindauer . Your father was a Republican nominee for the governor of Alaska.  The time is 2004-2009. Sadly, most of the media exposure of this tragically unhappy story came through foreign sources.

Read this if you dare. Fair warning: If you are an American, this will give you some very uneasy and chilling feelings about your own country, and most particularly about the so-called ‘Patriot Act’.

In particular, please read Susan’s letter of January 6, 2003 to her cousin Andrew Card, President George W. Bush’s Chief of Staff. That letter is eerily prescient, coming just two months before the Iraq invasion. Even if Susan was mentally challenged this letter should give you pause. Susan’s letter was dismissed by the US Department of Justice as  "an unsuccessful attempt to influence United States policy."

Would that it had . . . oh, would that it had.

Lindauer’s prosecution was quietly dropped 5 days before Barrack Obama’s inauguration as President. Odd, timing isn’t it?  Perhaps the Patriot Act should really be called the 'Patriot Prosecution Act'.

Further reading:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Potential candidates are jockeying for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Some of the front runners are considered to be, not in any particular order, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney,  Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul and possibly Governor Rick Perry of Texas.

Sarah Palin, who seems to be positioning herself for the nomination was recently interviewed by Rolling Stones magazine reporter Hugh Upps:

UPPS:  “Thanks for taking the time to meet with me Ms. Palin.“

PALIN:  “Not at all, Hugh.“

UPPS:  “It’s now being said you no longer have a chance at the Republican nomination for President in 2012. What do you have to say to that?“

PALIN:  “Well Hugh, first I’d like to say I have never sought the nomination. It’s just that everyone wants me to run and it is thrust on me. I have no personal ambitions at all you know. I’m just a simple Alaskan housewife who only wants to make a safe home for her family.“

UPPS:  “Simple housewife? How does that square with your multi-million-dollar book contracts, your mega-million-dollar Fox News programs and all those hundred-thousand dollar speaking engagements?“

PALIN:  “Oh, I’m just taking advantage of a few extra dollars where I can. A woman has to look to the future you know.“

UPPS:  “Do you think being president is good for your family’s future?“

PALIN:  “My being president will be good for everyone’s future in our christian nation. I’m the only one who can get this country back on track, back to the core christian values our forefathers founded our country on. I’m the only hope we have left.  Without me, the country is guaranteed to go to hell in a hand basket“

UPPS:  “So, you say you are the ONLY one who can save us?“

PALIN:  “You, betcha, Hugh. I think so.“

UPPS:  “Well, they say you are far behind some of the others in the polls, like Romney and Ron Paul.  Maybe even Rick Perry in Texas.“

PALIN:  “Not a problem, Hugh. I can kick their butts anytime I want to.“

UPPS:  “How do you figure?“

PALIN:  “Well, you can forget about Rick Perry. He’s just a pretty-faced cheerleader and he's now about to get his pretty butt kicked by some panty-waist liberal democrat of all things, down there in Texas as we speak.

UPPS:  “Aren’t you sort of thought of as being a pretty-faced pin-up girl yourself?”

PALIN:  “Not at all.  I’m just a plain and simple Alaska girl.  If I happen to seem cute to some people, what about it?”

UPPS:  “Okay. What about the other competition besides Perry?“

PALIN:  “Ron Paul will probably die of old age before the nomination.  And Romney, he is Mormon you know.“

UPPS:  “Does that make a difference?“

PALIN:  “Well, yes, you betcha.  Mormons are not really christians you know. They say they are some kinda ‘Merican jews.  They call themselves God’s chosen you know and I just have to laugh at that.  Everyone knows God always choses christians! I have the christian vote all sewed up!“

UPPS:  “You do?“

PALIN:  “You betcha, Hugh!  When it comes to bible-thumping, with my credentials I can out-thump the best of them.  And, how many other Republicans can say they have actually been exorcised?  And, maybe you didn’t notice, but I have personally interceded and called on God’s divine intervention on that oil spill in the gulf.  I have absolute faith God will answer my prayers and stop that gusher. When that happens I’m  a shoo-in, not only for the Republican nomination, but for the presidential election itself. I’m sure of that.“

UPPS:  “Wow!  You’re kidding, right?“

PALIN:  “Not at all, Hugh.  I’m as serious as a heart attack.  God is 100% on my side.“

UPPS:  “What if God doesn’t answer your prayers about the oil spill?”

PALIN:  ‘That will be because he will have another purpose and that will be his will. I can guess, but I don’t always know what God’s will will be. I do know it will always be for a higher purpose and I can’t chose to try to second guess God.  Ever. I would never try to place myself above God, Hugh, no matter how tempting that might be.”

UPPS:  “That’s good to know, but there are lot’s of other constituencies out there besides christians. What about the others?“

PALIN:  “Well Hugh, for one thing, when I have my way only good christians will ever be allowed to vote.  And, remember; the Tea Party people absolutely adore me. I consider them the real ‘Mericans and have lots more faith in them than all those intellectuals and smart acting college people all put together. I’ve got 100% of the Tea Party support plus the trailer trash folks. I personally invented the Tea Party you know.“

UPPS:  “I thought the movement was started by Glenn Beck of Fox News.“

PALIN:  “Oh, he helped some, but the movement is mine“

UPPS:  “Are you conservative enough for the neo-cons and folks like the National Rifle Association?“

PALIN:  “Hugh, you’re kidding right? You haven’t seen all those pictures and videos of me shooting automatic weapons? I’ve got all the militias and the black helicopter crowds and all the other crazies all sewed up.You just can’t get any more conservative than I am.  In fact, I would say I qualify as ‘THE Conservative’ in God’s good ol’ US of A. God has chosen me to be our country’s savior, Hugh.“

UPPS:  “Okay then. If you are elected president of the US what changes will you make?“

PALIN:  “Well Hugh first off, I’d lower all taxes of course - completely eliminate them if I can. Income and property taxes will be a thing of the hateful past and we’ll return to the policies of 1776 when our country was founded. We’ll finance things with fees on the poor and the illegal immigrants and things like non-christian schools, churches and synagogues. Then I’d get rid of social security, medicare and all those other socialist programs that are bleeding us dry. I’d double our military forces to protect the country through preemptive strikes against those countries we suspect are threats, like Iran and North Korea and maybe Cuba and France. I’d free up corporations so they can make money and not be hamstrung by all those stupid OSHA and EPA rules and stuff. I’d get rid of public schools and let the market dictate how many schools we should have, all privately financed.  If God wants people to go to school, he will provide them the money.“

UPPS:  “If you do away with all the social programs, what will those who depend on them do?“

PALIN:  “Oh, I wouldn’t do away with all the programs. I’d keep the police and border patrol and stuff like that. For everything else, the people can depend on God just like I do.“

UPPS:  “What about the disabled, and the poor children, the aged and infirm?“

PALIN:  “God will take care of them. When God is ready he will let them die so he can take them home to Jesus if they’re christians. “

UPPS:  “What about all the people who aren’t christians?“

PALIN:  “They will all go straight to hell where they belong. In fact, I don’t know but what God will just go ahead and send them straight to hell right away just as soon as I get in office. It’s just all those socialist programs that enable them to stay around now you know.  That’s what I want to do away with, Hugh.“

UPPS:  “That’s sort of cold don’t you think?“

PALIN:  “Not at all, Hugh. Hell is hot for one thing. And, if they haven’t found God and accepted Jesus by now, they deserve to roast in hell.“

UPPS:  “What about the poor and disadvantaged christians?”

PALIN:  “Well Hugh, God will provide for them until he decides it’s time to take them home to Jesus. Then, he will let them die.”

UPPS:  “Wow!“

PALIN:  “Yep.“

UPPS:  “I’ve heard some people say the reason Republicans adore you so much is you tend to make George W. Bush seem smart.“

PALIN:  “Well hugh, I hope that’s not an insult from you.  And, since I’m a christian lady let me just say those folks can all just go Cheney themselves.“

UPPS:  “I don’t mean it as an insult Ms. Palin, just an observation. So, you do consider yourself intelligent and well-rounded?“

PALIN:  “Well all right then, Hugh.  You betcha. I’m just as intelligent and as well-rounded as anybody needs to be.“

UPPS:  “So, you read books and newspapers and such now?“

PALIN:  “You betcha.“

UPPS:  “Which ones have you read lately?“

PALIN:  “I’ll have to get back to ya on that, hugh.“

UPPS:  “ I noticed you’ve made some major errors in some of the things you’ve said. Like Obama’s ‘death squads’, about the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’, about Obama palling around with terrorists and all sorts of other things.  Some people would call your statements outright lies in fact.  How do you defend those things? “

PALIN:  “Hugh, I didn’t lie and I wasn’t wrong.  I was just misinformed.“

UPPS:  “Are you often misinformed?“

PALIN:  “All the time, Hugh. Almost every day. I can’t help that, Hugh.  Just remember:  It is always the misinformer’s fault, not mine.“

UPPS:  “Have you made any mistakes?“

PALIN:  “None that I actually know about. I might have a few regrets.“

UPPS:  “Like what?“

PALIN:  “Hugh, let me get back to ya on that.”

UPPS:  “Well, I see our time is up Ms. Palin.  I will say goodbye now and thanks for your time.“

PALIN:  “Not at all, Hugh.  You’re perfectly welcome.“

* This is an imaginary interview with Sarah Palin to illuminate her philosophies, if one may call them that.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Capitalism and the Power of Money

When any political system is controlled by the Power of Money (capitalism), you may predict - and expect - the invariable consequences. Many results of capitalism are good, even wonderful, to be sure, but some are bad, and some are downright dangerous to health, to the environment, and indeed possibly to civilization itself. Global warming, or climate change (or whatever the term of the moment is), is a good example of that.

The problem arises when good things resulting from capitalism and the Power of Money are outweighed by the injurious things.

Vested capital ALWAYS resists any change to the status quo threatening itself (the anticipation of profit), which is only to be expected when you think about it. Vested interests always spend and do whatever it takes to protect themselves, including, but not limited to murder, intrigue, lying, obfuscation, and cheating. To capitalism, money itself is the ONLY worthwhile motivation which really counts in the end.

This is because of these facts about money:

1. Money has no conscience;

2. Money has no sense of justice;

3. Money has no morality;

4. Money has no regrets;

5. Money has zero interest in ANYTHING except as how it affects profit;

6.  Having absolutely no conscience, the Power of Money is utterly ruthless when pitted against anything else, including people, the environment or cultures;

7. Money invariably controls the political system wherever it can, as it manifestly does in our country, and indeed as it does in most so-called ‘free’ countries in the world wherever so-called ‘capitalism’ holds sway. This is because control of the purse strings is ultimate control in capitalist systems.

In the past century we witnessed many catastrophes and disasters directly attributable to capitalism and its voracious greed. All these disasters have affected humanity and human lives, usually to a huge extent.  A few recent examples offer sufficient demonstrations of this:

Stock market crash of 1929;
Wars for oil, the ‘black gold’;
US savings and loan crisis of 1989;
The financial crisis of 2007 - 2010 (and very possibly far beyond)

The list is much, much longer of course - these are only some of the major highlights. The true cost in human lives and suffering is unspeakable and incalculable. For one thing, the excesses and outrages of capitalism are the direct reason for the rise of communism, and the human suffering which followed and continues to the present day. And, I’d like to point out right here that objecting to the excesses of capitalism is in no way the endorsement of communism, a favorite, dead-end argument of diehard capitalists.

There have been many efforts to rein in capitalistic malfeasance, some of which have been modestly effective, such as the phenomenon known as ‘democratic socialism’ in Europe. Nonetheless, capitalism remains the implacable enemy of anything that seeks to limit it in any way, and all efforts to control the Power of Money are met with strenuous and imaginative resistance. All controls invariably fall under continuous attack after being imposed, the Power of Money being satisfied with nothing less than complete dominance over anything else.

Unfortunately for the United States of America, capitalism is the Ultimate God and the Holy Grail of the Republican Party in our country today. Not that many Democrats do not also bow down to that exact same God. Would be that we as citizens, might change that. There are two political acts which have even the faintest hope of replacing the dominance of the Power of Money with the interests of the people of the nation:

1. The imposition of meaningful campaign finance reform to prohibit financial special interest and corporate control of our political system, and;

2.  The imposition of political term limits to prevent bought and paid for politicians establishing impregnable dynasties.

Unless and until we do those two things we will be at the mercy of the Power of Money forevermore.  And, you can bet your bottom dollar all these things will be fought tooth and nail by the Power of Money.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Marriages Made in Hell

Sometimes, often, marriages are for convenience.  ‘True Love’ is the traditional motivation for a marriage, but other factors surely play a major role.  There’s the old adage that ‘two can live as cheaply as one’ for example used as a justification.  Many young women opt for an early marriage to get away from their parents’ rule, often accepting a less than ideal partner in a kind of lesser of two evils sort of way.  Young men sometimes do the same thing for the sake of regular, more or less guaranteed sex - though often to be sorely disappointed in that aspect in the end.

Some marry for money, some for social status, and some for security.  Others get married to enable them to immigrate to a new country and so on and on.  There are myriads of reasons for marriage other than the traditional ones of love, to gain a life partner for mutual support, respect, and to form an enduring family.

A marriage partner by definition, largely accepts and embraces the other party along with all their warts, sicknesses, bizarreness and reputation.  In most marriages a party even assumes the other’s financial obligations, as well as legal and other challenges.  And, the most common denominator of all marriages of convenience is they usually, almost invariably, do not endure.  They do not last, and when the break up comes things tend to get very, very ugly.  Marriage breakups of any kind all too often lead to outright disaster.

We are now seeing political marriages of convenience on a national level, or rather a series of them.  Republicans are falling all over themselves in their rush to embrace the Tea Party movement and their attempts to form political marriages for political gain - another common reason for marriages of convenience.  But,  Republicans are playing with dynamite and courting disaster, if not for the party at large, then certainly for the individual candidates who are so eager to get in bed with the new movement which may be compared to the new, hot girl in town.  The perception is that the Republican Party in the aggregate is trying to climb on the Tea Party ride.  The party at large will certainly pay the price for the disaster that is almost certain to follow.  Let me tell you right here, there are myriads of bizarre warts, zits, diseases and blemishes inflicting those Tea Party people.  Some, more wiser Republicans perceive the danger and quietly try to distance themselves, without offending anyone, but many more are actively and eagerly courting the Tea Partiers like high school football players after the sexy prom queen.

The Tea Party and the arch-conservative nut jobs behind that movement are eventually going to drive the the Republican party so far to the bizarre right they go not only into the ditch, but right off the far right side of the cliff.

Surely they are watching the polls.  What in hell are Republicans thinking?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Christians in the Deep South

I live in the deep south now, way, way down there, in the Stephen Foster, ‘way down on the Suwanee River’ country.  I went for a drive around my town a few days ago and ran across a neighbor a couple miles away who I at first assumed to be of the Christian persuasion .  The reason I thought this was all the signs with biblical connotations posted around the yard and on the fence.  Of course, the large 15’ cross planted in the yard was a big hint too.

There were signs saying:  “Iniquity”,  “Covetousness”,  “Incest”,  “Personal-Sin”,  “Disobedience”,  “Transgression”, “Outcast”,  “Living Water”, “Repent”.  All those signs seemed to be spelled right too, except for one written “Hispanios” - but maybe that was spelled right in another language, which upon checking, it seems to be. So, I am thinking, ‘here lives a literate, concerned southern Christian’.

Then, I noticed signs with racial, connotations including:  “Racism”,  “Negroes”,  “Whites”,  “Mexicans”,  “Guatamalans”,  “Hispanics”,  “Blacks”, “Colored”.  So, now I’m thinking, ‘here lives a literate, concerned southern Christian accepting of many racial types’. . . . .

But, then, I noticed more signs with distinctly racist overtones, like: “Niggers Repent”, and my personal favorite: “White Niggers Serving Hood”.  So, now I’m thinking, ‘here lives some kind of literate, southern Christian person, concerned with racial things, and who is in fact a rabid racist’. . . .

Then, lo and behold, I noticed even more signs with words saying, “God”, and “Queen”.  So, now I’m thinking, ‘here lives a rabid, racist, literate, southern Christian person who also just happens to be an anglophile!’, thinking of course by word association in terms of the phrase ‘God Save The Queen’ . . .


Then, I noticed another sign, far back, sort of behind the house saying “Welcome”.  Somehow, that one just didn’t seem to go with the rest. Now, I didn’t know what in hell to think!  What kind of neighbor was this anyway?

Oh wait!  Might this just be Sarah Palin’s secret southern Tea Party hideaway?  Seems I’ve heard somewhere she doesn’t really like neighbors does she . . .? 

No, no.  That couldn’t be it, since there was also a sign labeled “Tammy”.  Unless of course Tammy might be be Sarah’s rabidly racist literate, southern Christian Anglophilic secret lesbian lover. . . . . ?

No, no, wait . . . no references to guns, abortion or death panels at all, plus, most of those Tea Partiers are some of the most atrocious spellers.  So that can’t be it.

Hmm . . . . Wait!  Wait!  Wait! Ann Coulter's secret southern hideaway without a doubt!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Day I Met Jesus

I wanted to write up my meeting with Jesus.  No, I mean really, I did meet Jesus.  Jesus Christ, the real thing.  I’m not kidding.  I would not kid you about something like that.

It happened at the National Rifle Association convention in Pittsburgh back in early May, 2010.  There he was, standing in the entry, in his purple robes and all, the brilliant corona around his head, the headband, the sandals, the long hair, the beard, the whole mix just like you see in the pictures of him.  It was really something.  But, people were keeping well clear of him, giving him funny looks.  I wondered how he got through the airport dressed like that.

I said, ‘Hey!  You are dressed up just like Jesus.  You look just like him too.  What’d they do, hire you to put on a program or something?’

“No, I’m the real thing.  I’m Jesus Christ himself.” he said with a depreciating smile, then showed me the scars on his hands and his feet.  He pulled up his robe and showed me the wound from a Roman spear.

“Nah,” I said laughing.  “Bullshit! You’re just a great act!”

“Nope.  Sorry, Charlie.” he smiled humbly. “I’m the real deal alright.  What do I have to do to prove it? Turn water into wine or something?”

“That ought to do it.” I said with a mild, sarcastic sneer.

He walked over to a vending machine, twinkled his fingers over the buttons until a plastic bottle of cold water dropped into the bin.  He plucked it out, twisted the top off, handed it to me and asked me to taste it.  It was water for sure.

He took the bottle back, shook it a time or two until some little sparkly things shot through it, and instantly it changed color into something looking very much like wine.  “Taste it.” he said as he handed it back to me.

It was wine, no mistake.  It blew me away.  I dropped to my knees and clasped my hands before my chin.

“No, no, not here.” he laughed quietly as he reached out both hands and lifted me to my feet.  He must have overdone it because I remained there, nervously suspended a few inches above the floor until he noticed and pulled me back down, looking around to make sure no one else saw.  “I just wanted to come and check out the convention and these Tea Party folks.” he said.

“What can I do to help?” I asked in my most worshipful manner. 

“Well, everyone’s avoiding me like the plague and giving me the evil eye. I wanted to ask a few questions to learn about all this.  And, I’d be happy to answer anything I can for you.” he said.  “Can you help me?”

“Are you kidding?” I said fervently.  “After what just happened, what you just did?  Anything you want I can do for you, I’m your man.  Ask away.”

Our interview went something like this:

Jesus:  “Well, first off, just who are all these Tea Party folks?”
Me:  “Near as I can tell, they are a bunch of moronic, dissatisfied people angry and scared about just about everything, and especially taxes.”

Jesus: “Sounds like fertile ground for me.  I do well with stupid, dissatisfied, greedy and insecure folks.“
Me:  “If you don’t mind my asking Jesus, isn’t an NRA convention an odd place for you, Jesus Christ, the man of Peace?  I mean what with all this heavy artillery, guns and all?“

Jesus: “Not at all. I’ve always been a firm believer in ‘Peace Through Military Aggression and Fire Superiority’.  The Romans did damned well with it.  Besides, as you ought to know, it’s the Christian way. That, and swords and fire and brimstone and don’t forget high explosives, chemical weapons and poison.  All just good, standard Christian stuff.“
Me:  “Well, what about all that anti-immigration stuff the Tea Partiers are screaming about?  Aren’t you, Christ, for ‘all the people, black and white, they are precious in his, I mean your, sight?’“

Jesus: “Well, sure.  So long as they are good, white, American Christians, like the ones who founded this great nation.  I mean those illegals are a bunch of Spics and Mex’s, right?  Don’t even talk to me about Islamics or Muslims, raghead folks like those.“
Me:  “But, the Mexicans are mostly all good Catholics too.“

Jesus: “Catholics, Schmatholics. There’s more’n one kind of Catholic you know.  If they ain’t American, don’t speak English and they ain’t white, they don’t count.  I’ve even got my suspicion about those irritating Irish bastards, but I’m withholding judgement since they are white and do speak a mongrelized form of English. Say, would you like some more wine?“
Me:  “Oh, yes, thanks.  But, what about social and economic justice for everyone?“

Jesus: “Glenn Beck says those are just code words for communism.“
Me:  “Glenn Beck?  You listen to Glenn Beck?“

Jesus: “Sure.  I tune in every day. Wouldn’t miss it. He’s a good Christian of the Mormon brand and he’s doing great things for the cause. I hear he’s gonna be here too, along with Sarah Palin and Oliver North.“
Me:  “Sarah Palin?  Do you actually subscribe to her brand of Christianity?  You know, casting out demons, the world is only 6,000 years old, no evolution, all that kind of silly stuff?“

Jesus: “Sure. That gal is spot on.  She may be dumb as a sack of rusty hammers, but man, she’s hot.  For her age and all, I mean.“
Me:  “Hot?  Jesus, aren’t you supposed to be above all that?  I mean utterly chaste and all?“

Jesus: “You kidding? I’m a man, aren’t I?  Where in Hell do you think folks like Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and Ted Haggard learned all their perverted tricks? Not that I go for that man on man stuff. That's not to mention pedophiliac priests, but they are a whole different category.  You don’t think I ought to milk my position and popularity for all it’s worth?  After all, hot is hot . . .“
Me:  “Well sure, I guess, but I never thought  . . .“

Jesus: “Ah, all you lay persons try to think way too much.  Loosen up. Learn to live a little.  You only go around once you know.“
Me:  “But, what about Paradise?“

Jesus: “Oh that.  I ought not to tell you this, but no one would believe you if you said anything, so why not?  Actually, Paradise is just a myth, a big fairy tale.  Like election promises.  It’s to get you to sign up. It’s worked like blazes for centuries too, that and a well orchestrated fear of hell fire.  Only thing is, I wish we’d thought of that 72 virgins stuff like those Muslims.  That’s a sure fire winner there.  They got us on that one.“
Me:  “Muslims?  You mean there’s more than one Heaven?“

Jesus: “Listen, Shit For Brains!  I told you it’s all just a myth!  It is in fact, lot’s of myths!  Stories for the gullible! What thinking, rational person could actually believe all that crock of hooey? We all, all of us in the God business, get together in annual meetings to come up with ways to fool the faithful and get their tithes.  But, we’re having some trouble with those damned fool snake handling idiots in Appalachia.  Lately, they’ve been sending their money to some guy named Graham over in North Carolina.“
Me:  “Gosh, I . . .“

Jesus: “Yeah, I know.  Don’t take it so hard.“
Me:  “But, if there’s no Paradise and no Heaven, where do you and God live?“

Jesus: “Well me, I live in Salt Lake City.  Got six wives there, and four concubines. Pretty decent, huh? God, he lives over in Virginia Beach next door to Pat Robertson.  Helluva damned golfer, that one. Whooee!"   
Me:  “How do you travel?  Do you like vaporize and stuff?  Like teleportation?" 

Jesus: “You’re kidding, right?  Nah, I usually go with Delta.  They’ve got the best mileage plan I think.  Last year I went all the way to Australia and back - didn’t cost me a damned dime.“

Jesus: “Yeah, which reminds me.  I been having one bitch of a time what with wearing these robes and all and dealing with those obtuse, pea-brained TSA people. They must have checked the no-fly list a dozen times before those fools finally let me on today.  Got me confused with some guy named 'Hay-zus Gonzalez' or something.  Do you suppose you could help me get a set of nice casual clothing and maybe some decent shoes?  Nothing fancy, mind you.  I’m a pretty simple guy.“
Me:  “Sure thing, Jesus.  Let me see what I can do.  Now, how’s about some more of that good wine?“

Jesus: “You got it.“

Our American Right to Bear Arms

Beauty and Reddy were returning from a visit to a well-stocked gun shop favored by Reddy.  For his part, Beauty could care less; he went along just for the company and the ride.  He himself had a rifle and shotgun, and even a large calibre pistol in his closet, all unloaded for safety. But, the fact of the matter was he seldom even looked at them and would be hard put to find the ammunition for them. 

Reddy on the other hand, kept loaded weapons of every type scattered all over his house, from the bathroom to the utility closet and laundry room, and literally, behind each and every door.  He even had some stuffed under the sofa cushions.  He never went anywhere without two pistols about his person, one in a concealed belt holster and another smaller one in a leather holster stuffed in a pocket.  Reddy even had names for his pistols.  The smaller one he called “Lord Jesus” and the larger was “Good God Almighty”.  Reddy joked that’s what someone would say if you ever needed to pull one of those loaded pistols out.  Reddy said he’d never actually pulled a weapon in over 50 years of going around armed, each and every day.

“But,you never know when you might need one.” he said.

Beauty was of the opinion anyone so obsessed with weapons, especially loaded ones, was deep down inside, a fearful, insecure person.  Beauty was quietly sympathetic for his friend’s anxieties, but never commented out of respect for his feelings.  And when a person is fearful, they might and should be considered dangerous thought Beauty.  It was a fact for example, that Reddy’s uncle shot and killed his own sister by mistake with a .45 calibre pistol a number of years earlier, and had served time in the penitentiary for it. 

Beauty carried a loaded pistol in his own car for a couple of years after he got out of the Marines, a nickel-plated .44 Magnum Colt.  But, he finally realized a big potential problem was he was very quick to reach for his weapon at the least sign of a perceived  threat - 3 or 4 times over two years, all thankfully without major incident.  And, that was the main reason he no longer carried.  He figured it was only a matter of time and sooner or later his tendency to reach for that pistol would land him in big trouble.  And, after giving up the notion of carrying, he like Reddy, never found himself in a situation where he felt the need for a gun.  Go figure.

“I’m gonna get me one of those 50’s” said Reddy, referring to a long, heavy, wicked looking .50 calibre rifle displayed in the gun shop.  It was the kind of rifle used for long-distance sniper work by the military.

“What the hell for?” asked Beauty.  “Why in hell do you think you would ever need something like that?

“I dunno.  I just always wanted one, and it’s my American right you know.  You never know when something like that could come in handy.  I think I might call it ‘Sweet Jesus’ ‘cause you’d be sending somebody home to Sweet Jesus if you ever used it on them.”

“Christ Almighty, Man!” Beauty snorted.  “What does one of those damned things cost anyway?

“Bout somewhere between $2500 and $3500 for a halfway decent rig.  The bullets are over a dollar each, when you can even get ‘em.”

“Well better you than me.” said Beauty.  “I can think of lot’s better ways to spend three or four thousand dollars, like a week at the beach with my kids and grandkids for example.  How much you figure you got tied up in guns, ammunition and paraphernalia now, anyway?”

“Nearest I can figure somewhere between $150,000 and $250,000 dollars.  That doesn’t count what I’ve shot up in ammunition over the years.”

“Damn man, you could buy a pretty decent house for that.”

“Well, I have been able to offset a lot of the cost by putting meat on the table through hunting of course.” said Reddy.

“How much do you figure?”

“Well, let’s see now.’ replied Reddy.  “I probably average one deer every two years, say over about 45 years.  Call it 25 deer.  Then figure each deer might average about 60-70 pounds of meat.  Let’s call it 70.  That’s about 1750 pounds.  At, figure $10 per pound, that’s over $17,500.  That ain’t too shabby, is it?”

Beauty thought for a minute.  “OK then.  Let’s figure you got an average of let’s see, 35 pounds of meat per year.  That’s $350 per year off your grocery bill if you’re figuring $10 a pound, which you shouldn’t since meat was a lot cheaper 45 years ago.  How much you figure you spend in ammunition each year?”

“Well, no more’n that for sure.  I reload a lot of my own you see.” said Reddy.

“How much do you have in reloading equipment, supplies and whatnot?” asked Beauty.

“I see your point.” said Reddy.  “Let’s just say the meat probably offsets the ammo costs, or pretty damned near anyway.”

“We’ve established your best return would be about 2 or 3 cents on the dollar for your investment so far.  So now, how’s about hunting licenses, clothes, boots, gasoline, wear and tear on your car and all that, not to mention down time from work?”

“Dammit, you just won’t leave it alone, will you?” cried Reddy.  “But hell, everybody needs a hobby.  This is mine.”

“Yeah,” Beauty said.  “Fishing’s mine.  I figure every pound of fish I catch costs me between $100 and $300.  But, I have only about $1000 tied up in my gear.  I have better use for the rest besides a buying guns.”

“Well those fishing rods aren’t gonna help you much if someone’s trying to get in your house.” snorted Reddy. 

“They must have been doing a pretty good job so far since it hasn’t happened for the past 50 years, and for the 50 years before that in my daddy’s house, and 50 years before that in my grand-daddy’s.”

“Well, just you wait and see.  Sooner or later you’re gonna wish you had something besides those fishing rods.  Don’t come crying to me when your ass is all shot or beat to hell.”

The next time Beauty dropped by Reddy’s house he admired and took pictures of Reddy's new .50 calibre sniper rifle.  Reddy said he went for the upgrade, which only cost a total of a little over $7600 not counting taxes. 

“I just couldn’t pass on a deal like that.  It was cheap at half the price.” he said.

Sweet Jesus

Beauty Spirken sat with his friend Reddy Fellowes on a park bench watching the squirrels.  Beauty’s real name was ‘Elspeth’ since his mother had strongly pined for a girl of that name.  He received the nickname when a teacher remarked upon hearing his name for the first time, “Well now, that name's a beauty, isn’t it?”  After that, any other kid calling him ‘Elspeth’ was in for a fight.  Reddy’s given name was Obadiah, but anyone, large or small calling him by that name was sure to be in for a battle too, and instantly.  He was always ‘ready’ as they said.

Reddy scratched the side of his nose and observed, “Look at that ‘un there Beauty.  Now he’s a sight.”

Beauty glanced to where Reddy pointed to see a chubby little boy about six years old.  “What do you mean Reddy?”

“Just you look at the fat little bastard.  When you’n me was that age we didn’t weigh half as much.  I don’t hardly ever see thin kids anymore.  Back in our day there simply weren’t any fat kids around.  No place, no where.  Now, that’s all you see.  They say it’s an obesity epidemic.”

“Yep. And, we didn’t have any McDonalds around back then either, or any other fast food places.  You couldn’t get pizza on every corner, not to mention the grocery store.  They have whole aisles of soft drinks in the store now, and at least thirty different kinds of ice cream.    The sugar lobby has Congress in their pocket and is in complete control.  There’s been some kind of subsidy for sugar since 1812.” 

Both Beauty and Reddy were pushing seventy and had been friends since their first days of school, keeping in sporadic touch throughout their working lives.  Now each retired, they spent a lot of time together even though polar opposites in many ways.  Beauty had been a world traveler throughout his life, and lived in many different places.  Reddy never lived anyplace but the small rural town they grew up in.  Reddy was conservative to fault and Beauty had grown more liberal and progressive over the years.  Nonetheless, each was tolerant of the other and avoided too much detailed political discussion.  The one thing they each heartily agreed upon was the subject of religion:  Just so much goddamned silly folderol and fairy-tale marlarky.  Neither had any use for it and Beauty was downright hostile to it.

“Yeah, I don’t know about a sugar subsidy.  You gotta help out business you know.  But, there’s a lot of other things the fat little turds are hooked on these days.” said Reddy.  “Like computer games and TV.  All they do is sit around on their lard asses with some kind of controller in their fat little hands.”

“My folks never had a TV until after I went off to service.” observed Beauty.

“Me neither.  Only mine were too damned cheap and close with money to buy one.” said Reddy who had never been in service, having been married early and exempt from the draft during his time.  Nonetheless, he was very much more hawkish than Beauty, and was a strong advocate of military action and against perceived enemies of any sort.

“Well, we never had reception where we lived until a few years after I left home.” said Beauty.  “But, I am worried about the kids today.  I’m worried about what it means for the country and for the world.”

Reddy sniffed.  “Me too.  The fat little lazy bastards can’t get out of their own way.  Can’t play sports unless it’s on some kinda Gameboy thingy, and all they do is lay around whining and complaining because their mama won’t buy them the next new kind of digital play thing.  Every one of them over eight years old has to have his own cell phone too, and all they do is sit around texting each other, whatever that is.  They’re just a goddamned nuisance I tell you, Beauty!”

“Texting seems to be some kind of typing and sending a message on the cell phone.” he replied.  “I can’t see why they don’t just talk.  Probably their way to keep things secret.”

“Yeah, and if their folks won’t provide them a cell phone it’s like the end of the world for them.  They will do anything for a cell phone.  That and those Gameboy thingys are about the only thing they will get off their ass for.” observed Reddy.

“But, I do try to keep things in perspective.” said Beauty. “I try to remember what it was like at that age.  I’m sure we were a pain in the ass to our folks too.  In fact, my mother often told me I was.  In between whippings that is.”

“My old man would just bust my ass if I stepped out of line.” replied Reddy.  “‘Course there was a lot of things I hid from him too.  I guess I actually got away with quite a lot.  But, you hit one of your kids these days and they’ll come take them away from you for abuse.”

“If they saw the way my mother used to whip me back then today, they’d heart attack.” said Beauty.   “She beat me so much and so often and for so many different reasons it didn’t matter anymore.  I got immune.  That’s probably why I don’t much give a shit today about authority today.  I got no problem telling the tax man to piss off.  It blows their minds.”

“I was too scared of my daddy to not give a shit.” said Reddy.  “But, he did teach me how to take care of myself though.  He was an amateur boxer you know.”

“Yeah, I remember how everyone gave him lot’s of respect.”

“If you ever saw him move his chaw of tobacco from one side to the other, you better watch out.  You were fixing to get hit.” said Reddy.  “Maybe even shot.”

Yep, times sure were different back then.  I don’t think we’ve made much progress.”