The Candidate From Oz

BenCarsonEvolution

In a discussion group this morning the above dialogue came up. I made note that any high school graduate knows, humans did not evolve from monkeys. One respondent, likely smarter than I am, disputed that point. The most recent common ancestor of humans and monkeys was a monkey, he affirmed. To me it seemed a play on words only. Here’s the primate cladogram:

PrimateCladogram

From openi.nlm.nih.gov

All that aside, my observation is we have a current candidate for President of the United States missing some basic knowledge. The morning’s discussion devolved into an extended discussion of people who should be smart but are not.

This post about The Candidate from Oz, my prior characterization as the Candidate from Mars notwithstanding. I’m giving Dr. Ben Carson a promotion.

What to make of candidate Ben Carson? Surely nothing were he not this day the leading Republican candidate. This human oddity needs deeper exploration.

Ben Carson and the Holocaust

That’s been covered.

Hypocrisy regarding human fetal tissue

Yes, did that already.

Fiscal ineptitude

We find this:

As Tim Worstall of the conservative Adam Smith Institute wrote in Forbes, Carson’s plan flies in the face of “the simplest of logic and mental arithmetic.”

The watchdog group Citizens for Tax Justice ran the numbers on Carson’s Bible-based 10 percent flat tax, and the results were striking. The group found that his proposal “would yield tax revenues of only $1.1 trillion.” Compare that to the country’s current budget outlook, where the government expects to take in approximately $3.5 trillion in tax revenue and spend around $4 trillion. Carson’s proposal would cover just over a quarter of current spending levels.

However, Carson has not revealed where he would find trillions of dollars in cuts to balance the budget, which he would require himself to do through the Balanced Budget Amendment. Instead, Carson would balloon the deficit, which this year sunk to $435 billion, by $3 trillion.

An item posted on CNN Money 10 September provided another observation:

“If you tried to pay that [debt] back at a rate of $10 million a day, it would take you over 5,000 years,” Carson said in his campaign announcement.

His math is basically correct, according to Doug Holtz-Eakin, a former head of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

There’s just one problem: Carson doesn’t really address how he’ll get the debt under control.

Carson wants to change the Constitution with an amendment requiring a balanced budget every year, but he provides little detail on how he’ll cut costs or raise more revenue to reach that goal.

“I’m thrilled that any candidate is concerned about the debt load,” says Holtz-Eakin, now president of the right-leaning American Action Forum. “But you can’t address it unless you talk about what you’re going to do with entitlement programs.”

Ed Brayton writing for Patheos, definitely no friend of Carson’s grandstanding religiosity, has this to say:

And so what would it do to federal revenue if we actually did a 10% flat tax? Again, this math is not hard to do. And it isn’t just that it would drop in half, it would actually drop considerably further than that because the flat tax would not be on every part of the GDP but only on the various forms of personal income that are currently taxed. Citizens for Tax Justice does the math:

Without specific details, Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) Director Bob McIntyre made a generous estimate of how much Carson’s 10 percent flat tax could reasonably raise by simply multiplying total federal adjusted gross income estimated for 2016 ($11.25 trillion) by 0.10. This would yield tax revenues of only $1.1 trillion. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) estimates that the federal government will raise an estimated $3.5 trillion and spend $4 trillion in 2016. In other words, Carson’s plan likely would raise only 32 percent of the revenue of the current tax system and pay for only 28 percent of estimated government spending.

And the result would be a huge shift in tax burden away from the wealthy:

Even if Carson increased the rate of his flat tax, it would still be bad policy for the nation. Flat taxes plans are generally regressive. A CTJ analysis of one revenue-neutral flat tax plan found that it would raise taxes on the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers by an average of $2,887, while cutting them by an average of $209,562 for the richest one percent of taxpayers each year.

Granted that being on the forefront of neurosurgery does not require training as a CPA, the job of President should require some basic knowledge regarding how the economy works. The job also requires a degree of moral integrity.

Loose morals

Yes, that’s a bad one. It was not sufficient that Dr. Ben Carson once shilled for a notorious medical quack:

(CNN)—In Wednesday’s CNBC Republican presidential debate, Ben Carson was asked about his involvement with Mannatech, a dietary supplement maker.

In 2009, Mannatech settled for $7 million following a lawsuit brought by the Texas attorney general over the company’s claims that its products could cure cancer and autism. CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla claimed Carson had a 10-year-long connection with the company and that it continued even after the settlement.

A bit more about Mannatech:

Mannatech came under investigation by the Texas Attorney General on October 27, 2006 for alleged violations of that state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Samuel L. Caster, Mannatech’s founder and chief executive officer at the time, stated: “We walk the fine line of always stating our case appropriately and always training our people: We’re not into the treatment, cure or mitigation of disease. We’re into the improvement of quality of life. Now, who can benefit from good nutrition? Sick people, well people, everybody. Everybody benefits from good nutrition.”

On July 5, 2007, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott formally charged Mannatech, MannaRelief, Sam Caster, and Reginald McDaniel, the company’s medical director, with operating an illegal marketing scheme in violation of state law. A press release stated, “Today’s enforcement action stems from a large-scale investigation by state authorities, who examined Mannatech’s dubious claims about the health benefits of its products.” In response to the civil complaint, Mannatech expanded its compliance department and began to provide periodic reports to the Attorney General’s office to ensure that the marketing efforts of its affiliate network adhere to appropriate guidelines.

Mannatech settled the civil complaint on February 26, 2009 by agreeing to pay $4 million in restitution to clients who purchased products and $2 million to the state to cover its costs in the case. In addition, Sam Caster agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty and steer clear of any type of leadership position or employment relationship with Mannatech for five years. When discussing the settlement at a news conference, Abbot stated, “Bottom line, this is a warning to the general public: Be wary of phony claims of magic cure-all pills or false hope in a bottle. You could be duped into purchasing something that has no real effect and no real value.” Mannatech did not admit wrongdoing; settling was easier than debating Abbott, according to then-CEO Wayne Badovinus. “If they do it again, we will ensure they get put out of business,” Abbott said.

The item from Wikipedia contains links to sources cited. But Dr. Carson’s culpability does not end with his involvement in the fraud. He compounds the sin by way of Commandment number nine, the one regarding false witness:

In 2009, Mannatech settled for $7 million following a lawsuit brought by the Texas attorney general over the company’s claims that its products could cure cancer and autism. CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla claimed Carson had a 10-year-long connection with the company and that it continued even after the settlement.

Carson denied the accusation, saying, “That is total propaganda … I did a couple speeches for them, I do speeches for other people, they were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of relationship with them.”

Carson’s statement directly contradicts promotional material that came from Mannatech, as well as his own business manager Armstrong Williams, who described Carson’s relationship to the company in an interview Thursday on “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

Williams defended his boss, suggesting that while Carson did have a relationship to the company, the retired neurosurgeon didn’t realize all of the details of his endorsement up front and wanted out of the deal.

“He said ‘I don’t believe in this. I’m not going to do it,'” Williams said, recalling negotiations with the company over the endorsement. “When that was over, he made it clear to me, ‘You need to get me out of this, I’m not going to do this again,’ and it was over.'”

The Wall Street Journal this month reported on Carson’s connection with Mannatech, saying Carson has said he has taken the company’s supplements for more than a decade.

The WSJ also cited a 2004 video of Carson speaking at a Mannatech event. In the video, he credited the company’s products for his prostate cancer diagnosis symptoms disappearing. The paper points out that Carson is now “cancer-free after surgery.”

The WSJ reports Carson has appeared in videos that were on Mannatech’s website until earlier this month. The videos were removed soon after the Journal’s reporting. The paper also reported that Carson gave four paid speeches at company events; the most recent was in 2013 for which Carson was paid $42,000.

Denying the obvious is not new to politician Carson. Those previously on the public payroll have been comparably disingenuous. A former President:

I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.

A former governor:

“I was banned from talking about Jeremiah Wright and Obama’s friend, Bill Ayers, the character that he befriended and kicked off his political campaign in the guy’s living room,” Palin said. “Couldn’t talk about that.”

Palin pointed a finger at who she thought was to blame.

“I was not allowed to talk about things like that because those elitists, those who are the brainiacs in the GOP machine running John McCain’s campaign at the time, said that the media would eat us alive if we brought up these things.”

For those who might not remember, Bill Ayers lived in Barack Obama’s Chicago neighborhood and was an early supporter when Obama first ran for the Illinois state Senate. What made Ayers interesting in 2008 was that in the 1960s, he was one of the founders of the Weather Underground, a group that was responsible for bombings at a New York City police station, the Capitol, and the Pentagon. There were no injuries.

Obama’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, brought up Ayers during the primary, but the issue failed to gain much traction.

When Palin said she was banned from mentioning Ayers, we at PolitiFact were a bit surprised. That’s because we fact-checked her claim about Ayers in early October 2008. We had video of Palin talking about him at a rally in Clearwater, Fla. Three days before, the New York Times had carried a front-page story about Obama and Ayers; Palin mentioned the story.

Some politicians have trouble keeping their facts straight. Some just step forward and speak what they know is not true. It could be Dr. Carson qualifies for political office after all.

Dr. Carson is the gift that keeps on giving. He’s in front now, and we can expect to see more. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Bad Joke of the Week

Not yet

Not yet

A little old lady was walking down the street dragging two large plastic garbage bags behind her. One of the bags was ripped and every once in a while a $20 fell out onto the sidewalk.

Noticing this, a policeman stopped her, and said, “Ma’am, there are $20 bills falling out of that bag.”

“Oh, really? Darn it!” said the little old lady. “I’d better go back and see if I can find them. Thanks for telling me officer.”

“Well, now, not so fast,” said the cop. “Where did you get all that money? You didn’t’ steal it, did you?”

“Oh, no, no,” said the old lady. “You see, my back yard is right next to a golf course. A lot of golfers come and pee through a knot hole in my fence, right into my flower garden. It used to really tick me off. Kills the flowers, you know. Then I thought, ‘why not make the best of it?’

“So, now, I stand behind the fence by the knot hole, real quiet, with my hedge clippers. Every time some guy sticks his thing through my fence, I surprise him, grab hold of it and say, ‘O.K., buddy! Give me $20, or off it comes.’”

“Well, that seems only fair,” said the cop, laughing. “O.K. Good luck! Oh, by the way, what’s in the other bag?”

“Not everybody pays,” smiles the old lady.

World War Two – A Summary

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the conclusion of hostilities. The final two principal adversaries capitulated 70 years ago. Nazi Germany threw in the towel (they had any choice?) in May, and the Japanese Empire, facing total annihilation, signed terms of capitulation in September. For history buffs and the history-deprived alike, here is what went on.

From Wikipedia: After the Warsaw Uprising, 85% of the city was deliberately destroyed by the German forces.

From Wikipedia: After the Warsaw Uprising, 85% of the city was deliberately destroyed by the German forces.

Prelude

Germany, as a consequence of its role in initiating and prolonging what is now called World War One, was awarded massive blame and retribution. As a partial consequence of this, there arose between 1918 and 1933 a ground swell of resentment and nationalistic fervor. A result was the coming to power in 1933 of German Chancellor Adolf Hitler at the head of the Nazi party. Little was concealed of his desire for a belligerent Germany renewed and a desire for conquest.

Hitler, Göring und v. Schirach auf Obersalzberg

The Nazi movement took inspiration from the Fascist movement in Italy, inspired and driven by Benito Mussolini, a former journalist and a fiery speaker. In the mean time, a militant faction in the Japanese Empire grew in strength and exerted Japan’s expansionist urgings by way of an invasion of Manchuria and then military attacks on China. Casting an envious eye on the colonial holdings of England, France and the Netherlands in Southeast Asia, the Japanese militarist saw the day they would displace these powers and assert their own authority. Tensions built all around.

Western powers worked to curb Japan’s aggression by initiating an embargo of materials essential to war. An island nation with few natural resources, Japan faced strangulation. Adolf Hitler abrogated the terms of the Versailles Treaty, by which Germany had surrendered so much autonomy. This aroused Germany’s former adversaries, but not so much that they took action. The German-speaking state of Austria was annexed by Germany in a move backed by threats of force. Germany’s naked invasion of the new state of Czechoslovakia drew alarm, but no response.

Opening Moves

England and France drew a line in the sand. They would respond if Poland were attacked. In August 1939 the Nazi government concluded a secret pact with Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union. The two agreed to become partners in aggression. Germany would attack Poland from the west and occupy large parts of the country. The Soviet Union would not interfere and would, in its turn, attack from the east and occupy the remainder.

Seeking to show just cause for war, Nazi agents dressed prisoners in Polish uniforms, and murdered them, placing their bodies at the scene of a supposed cross-border attack. The next morning, on 1 September 1939 German tanks rolled across the border into Poland, and German dive bombers began to pound Polish military forces and also civilian targets. Three days later England and France made good on their threats and declared war on Germany.

In the mean time, dictator Benito Mussolini acted out his fantasy of becoming the 20th century Julius Caesar and invaded Ethiopia. Having inspired Nazism, he now sought to copy its aggression and become a party to the spoils.

In the European war nothing much happened for seven months. England sent a large force across the Channel to reinforce France. Hardly a shot was fired across the German border. Germany’s lightning war was labeled the blitzkrieg. In parallel, this part of the war was given the name “sitzkreig.”

The remainder of European nations declined to participate. The Netherlands and Belgium, sharing borders with Germany, feared getting involved. Likewise Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Diminutive Luxembourg, barely a leaf in the wind, had no voice. Switzerland, considering its mountain defensive position, its holdings in German treasure, and its near lack of consequence in the matter, simply closed its borders and watched from the sidelines. The newly-formed Irish Republic, no friend of England, saw no need to help the Brits in this row and, in fact, showed an undue sympathy toward the Nazi cause. Spain, fresh off a devastating civil war, which war was aided by Nazi Germany, declined to get involved. Portugal, another nation of little consequence, also remained neutral. Finland had no choice. The soviets took the opportunity and attempted to annex Finland, which ultimately sided with the Germans in response. The Baltic states had no choice in the matter, and the Balkan states awaited events that were about to descend on them.

War waged elsewhere, especially at sea. German U-boats struck first, sinking a British merchant vessel within hours of the start of hostilities. In a surprise attack a German U-boat penetrated harbor defenses at Scapa Flow, destroyed the British carrier Oak Royal and escaped unharmed. Prior to hostilities Germany had sent major surface ships out of port. Look at a map. Germany has no path to open water that does not pass under British control. The German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee sailed into the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean and initiated a short career of sinking commercial vessels and taking their crews and cargo. The British Admiralty initiated a full-court press to take the Graf Spee out of action. In December of 1939 three British cruisers encountered the Graf Spee in the South Atlantic and engaged it in a brutal gun duel. German captain Langsdorff, his ship badly damaged in the exchange and deceived into thinking he faced a much larger force, scuttled his ship in the River Platte harbor and later shot himself.

The sitzkrieg ended abruptly with Germany’s simultaneous invasions of Norway and Denmark. The taking down of Denmark consisted of sailing an innocent-looking ship into the harbor in Copenhagen and, at the right moment, disgorging troops into the city. Norway was a tougher nut, with Germany losing a number of ships in the fjords to Norwegian counter punches. Germany was assisted in its conquest by disloyal Norwegian elements, headed by Vidkun Quisling, who at the time had a scant five years to live, but whose name has become a synonym for “traitor.”

England and France braced for the next attack, but their preparations were in vain. In May 1940 German forces struck into Belgium and the Netherlands, quickly overrunning those countries and pushing British and French forces back into France. So great was German success that France was forced to capitulate in June, following a harrowing withdrawal of French and British forces back across the English Channel at Dunkirk.

A zone of German military occupation was established in northern France, and the remainder of France, headquartered at Vichy, was ruled by a government that made peace and showed inordinate loyalty to its new masters. That left England alone against Nazi Germany and now Italy, which threw its lot in with the Germans and attempted an eastern invasion across the common border. The new Prime Minister of England was Winston Churchill, and a more deadly foe Adolf Hitler could hardly imagine.

High Tide

In the summer of 1940, facing England directly across the Channel from its new conquests, Germany offered peace. Churchill was having none of it. Besides the matter of principle, Churchill knew what a German offer of peace was worth. He essentially told Hitler where he could stick his offer of peace. The war was seriously on, but there was little Churchill could do. An attack across the Channel was an absurdity. The German navy was ramping up a program to strangle the British Isles with a campaign of unrestricted U-boat warfare in the North Atlantic.

Few suspected it at the time, but Hitler was all the while plotting an assault on his partner in aggression, the Soviet Union. Before he could face to the east, he needed to deal with the threat from the west. England needed to be knocked out of the war. In this adventure Hitler’s forces faced their first serious setback.

An invasion of England across the Channel would cripple the western threat. The operation was named Sealion. Sealion’s major threat was the Royal Air Force. No invasion across this body of water would have a chance as long as British aircraft were able to harass the invading fleet. British air power had to be neutralized. Thus began the Battle of Britain.

Here, over a few weeks in the summer of 1940, British fighter planes defended their air space and humiliated the German bombers and fighters that came across the Channel to destroy them. By September it was apparent even to Reich Marshal Herman Goering that his Luftwaffe was not up to the job. Sealion was scrapped, and Hitler turned to face the east, leaving Churchill breathing space and an opening to cause additional grief.

There was one place where Churchill could make trouble, and that was North Africa. This was still in the era of British colonialism, and the Brits controlled the Suez Canal and exerted dominion over Egypt. Churchill’s idea was the need to keep Axis forces (Germany and Italy) occupied—to continue to sap their strength at all opportunities.

A succession of military operations accomplished Churchill’s goals nicely. British forces quickly humiliated the Italians in Ethiopia, forcing Hitler to send German troops into North Africa. For the Brits, North Africa was an opportunity that came with thorns. Look at a map. To supply and reinforce its operations in the Eastern Mediterranean, ships had to sail through the narrow Gibraltar Strait (owned by Great Britain) and then through the gauntlet separating Sicily and North Africa. Else the ships would have to sail south around the southern tip of Africa and up through the Suez Canal. British shipping suffered grievously along this Mediterranean corridor but managed to stymie German adventures in the region for a crucial two years.

The initial thinking is that Hitler sent Erwin Rommel’s forces into North Africa to keep his friend Mussolini from being humiliated (much too late for that). In fact, the German defense of North Africa was essential to the Germans. England in command of the southern Mediterranean coast would be an open wound to German operations in Europe. England’s only operations against Germany during this crucial period consisted of night bombing raids and probing attacks on the Channel coast. The British success in North Africa was to prove fatal to Axis ambitions in Europe.

From Wikipedia: German General Erwin Rommel meeting with Italian governor of Libya, General Italo Gariboldi (behind Rommel and to his right side) and other Italian officers in Tripoli, during joint German-Italian military operations against the Allies in North Africa

From Wikipedia: German General Erwin Rommel meeting with Italian governor of Libya, General Italo Gariboldi (behind Rommel and to his right side) and other Italian officers in Tripoli, during joint German-Italian military operations against the Allies in North Africa

In the mean time the other major military power in the world, the United States, sat on the sidelines, recalling their losses during the previous World War and the lack of any long-range benefit. Churchill had a friend in President Franklin Roosevelt, who sought all means, some bordering on the illegal, to assist. However, the American Congress was adamant. Nothing would get American into another European war.

The European war was decided by Hitler’s ultimate folly in June 1941. Catching master schemer Joseph Stalin completely by surprise, Hitler’s forces struck eastward across the frontier on an extended front. Soviet forces reeled, died, and surrendered massively. The Wehrmact gained ground at a breathtaking clip and by November approached the outskirts of Moscow.

But Hitler struck too late. Preparations for his eastward stroke required neutralization of Soviet influence in the Balkan states. He had either to get Yugoslavia, Romania, and Bulgaria on his side or else subdue them. In this the problem was a defiant Serbia. Hitler’s response to this defiance was a vicious attack on Serbia, more laced with vengeance than reasonable consideration. The start of Operation Barbarossa, the attack on the Soviet Union, was delayed critical weeks. As a result, the crushing Russian winter overtook German forces before they could achieve their first-year objectives. This was the death blow to the Nazi regime.

When, in the summer of 1940, Hitler’s war planes came back from England shot up and with dead and wounded crew, or often not at all, Hitler may have felt the first cold fingers of doubt. When his armies were defeated at the gates of Moscow at the end of 1941 it would have been more like an icy dagger thrust toward his heart. None of these compared to the crack in his world that broke that fateful December.

By 1941 the Japanese Empire was feeling the full brunt of the Embargo. The Japanese military was beginning to starve of the goods for war. Stocks of vital petroleum were weeks from depletion. Japan needed to act or die. They acted dramatically and fatally.

America At War

In a supremely-coordinated attack, Japanese carrier planes demolished the United States Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The result was devastating to American sea power in the Pacific, but it was to prove more so for the Axis powers, now including Japan.

Winston Churchill heard the news of the attack while having dinner with American Ambassador Averell Harriman. Despite the tragic nature of the event, it brought no end of joy to the British Prime Minister. England and its dominions were no longer alone in the war against the Axis.

Despite the proclamation of war between Japan and the United States, Germany was under no obligation to engage America. The United States, in fact, did not declare war with Germany until three days later, after Hitler, acknowledging reality perhaps, declared war on the United States. Crippled in the Pacific, America threw its industrial might into the war. American men swarmed recruiting offices to sign up. Some deemed unfit to serve committed suicide.

Into 1942 the Hitler’s deadly embrace with the Soviet Union became a meat grinder, chewing up German lives and resources. In the western Pacific the British, Dutch and United States suffered defeat following defeat as the Japanese Empire set about scooping the region into its domain. With the defeat of American forces in the Philippines the United States suffered its worst ever defeat of arms.

Then, dramatically, the United States struck back in April 1942 with an air attack on the Japanese home islands. Little damage resulted from General James Doolittle’s planes, all of which were lost. But the Japanese reaction was absent the calculation of a winning strategy. Attempting to widen its eastern borders, the Japanese Navy sought to seize Midway Island in June and lost all four aircraft carriers involved. Next the Americans invaded Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands and pushed Japanese forces off the island as the beginning of a long advance that was ultimately to crush the Empire.

Crushing The Dictators

Churchill could see it, American commanders could see it, surely Wehrmact commanders could see it. North Africa was for the taking by Allied forces. Only the Nazi puppet Vichy forces protected Northwest Africa, and in November of 1942 an American force sailed undetected from the East Coast, across the Atlantic, and landed on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. British forces threaded the Gibraltar Strait and landed in two locations on the south shore of the Mediterranean. Initial Vichy resistance was quickly swept aside. The French had not the military wherewithal nor the stomach to stand up for their German masters. Disastrous for German forces, about the same time British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery defeated Erwin Rommel at El Alamein in Egypt and began to push the Germans westward, toward Allied positions in the west. Rommel was doomed. Of all, only Hitler refused to acknowledge the fact.

Further events at the close of 1942 finally thrust the icy dagger into Hitler’s heart. At Stalingrad an entire army under General (later Field Marshal) Friedrich Paulus was cut off by surrounding Soviet troops and completely annihilated. The relentless retreat witnessed by the Japanese Empire was replicated on Germany’s eastern front. Only the exact date of extinction remained in doubt.

By spring of 1943 American and British naval forces accomplished victory in the Battle of the Atlantic. German U-boats, which had grindingly sent millions of tons of Allied shipping to the bottom began to be systematically hunted down and destroyed. By the end of the war the U-boat crew loss was 90% of all involved in the war. Americans began to ship troops and materials of war across the Atlantic to England with impunity, and they built an unmatched invasion force on the island. An invasion of northern Europe was only a matter of time.

The allies first opened up the game by using their occupation of North Africa as a base to strike from the south. The taking of Sicily for the first time pitted American forces in strength against German crack units, and American units proved their worth. With the fall of Sicily the end of the Mussolini regime came on the mainland, and new Italian government made peace with the Allies. Then began a nearly two-years slug fest as American and British forces worked their way up the peninsula.

The Roll Up

Came spring of 1944, and Allied forces in England were ready for the cross-Channel invasion. Operation Overlord was the largest ever such military action, and after weeks of bloody exchanges the Allied forces broke out of the beachhead and quickly pushed to the German border. A German counter attack late in the year stalled the Allied advance until the following year, but when the Allied advance resumed it resumed as a non-stop drive into the German heartland.

GeorgePattonRhine

Meanwhile, Soviet forces were pushing into Germany from the east, eventually taking Berlin. By the first week in May it was all over. Mussolini had been captured and killed by partisan forces in northern Italy, and Hitler had committed suicide. Field Marshal Rommel had already killed himself the previous year, his penalty for guilty knowledge of an attempt to kill Hitler.

German commanders handed over their side arms and took their troops into surrender. The round up of German war criminals began, and American General Dwight Eisenhower reminded the German people they had started this whole mess, and they would receive no assistance cleaning it up. Possibly millions of Germans died post-war.

American and British forces waged war on the Asian continent from the beginning of hostilities, but the observable progress was in the Pacific island campaign. The retaking of the Philippine Islands at the end of 1944 and early 1945 placed an implacable strangle hold on the Japanese Empire. The main islands were effectively blockaded with no war materials going in. Also no food stocks.

Militants in the Japanese government were intransigent until the final days, some proposing to fight an invasion to the last civilian. Despite coming into the possession of a weapon that would enable them to conclude the war in a fortnight, the United States government continued with its war of conquest, the last major battle of the war being the conquest of the Japanese island of Okinawa. It was also the bloodiest single battle for American forces, perhaps matched only by the Battle of the Bulge.

As preparations for a November 1945 invasion were in preparation, a secret Army Air Corps unit made plans to end the war precipitously. Flying out of the captured Japanese island of Tinian, a lone B-29 bomber carried a single atomic bomb, which exploded over Hiroshima, Japan early in the morning of 6 August. The city was mostly destroyed by the explosion and subsequent fires. A second bomb was exploded over Nagasaki three days later, and even the Japanese hardliners saw the futility of continuing. The Japanese Empire sued for peace. American forces of occupation moved into the Japanese mainland in September.

Injured civilian casualties in Hiroshima

Injured civilian casualties in Hiroshima

Aftermath

That was 70 years ago. Few who participated in this deadly conflict remain alive today, and their numbers are rapidly dwindling. There were villains, and there were heroes almost without number. For itself, World War Two left a legacy that endures to this day. New adversaries sprang from the ashes even as former enemies became staunch allies. The Korean War of 1950 to 1953 was an tragic stepchild of the post-war settlement, pitting former ally China against the United States and others who fought against China’s client, North Korea.

The United Nations was born out of World War Two alliances and has endured as an agency of mediation since. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed to counter the continued threat of Soviet aggression following the envelopment of Eastern Europe into the Soviet Empire.

A significant video documentary about the war and its consequences is The World at War, commissioned by Thames Television. It is from this 26-episode series that much of the background for this post was derived.

Bad Movie Wednesday

Another one not available on Turner Classic Movies—I obtained a DVD from Amazon. Images are from screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia. Out of Miramax Films in 1992, it’s Reservoir Dogs. Here’s the cast from Wikipedia:

My guess was the title was representative of the principals involved. They were like reservoir dogs, feral dogs. Not so, apparently. Writer and director Quentin Tarantino had recommended the movie Au revoir les enfants to a customer of the Video Archives store, where he was working at the time. The customer misunderstood it as “reservoir dogs,” and Tarantino took that in.

The plot involves a collection of flash backs by members of a robbery gang, and I’m not going to outline it. The story starts with the gang having lunch at a diner. They really are tough guys—reservoir dogs.

ReservoirDogs-01

The robbers are dressed alike in suits. We can surmise this is a ploy at concealment, making it more difficult to identify the perpetrators following the crime. Two present at the lunch are not in suits. They are ring leaders and don’t participate in the heist. We see everybody leave together. Then the action cuts to after the failed jewel store robbery.

Mr. Orange has been badly wounded, and Mr. White is driving. Apparently Mr. Brown, who fled with them, is already dead, killed by the police. Mr. White takes Mr. Orange to a warehouse, apparently a prearranged meeting place. Mr. Pink arrives. He has the loot from the robbery.

ReservoirDogs-02

Mr. Blonde arrives. He has taken a uniformed police officer hostage while escaping the robbery. The three ambulatory crooks now at the warehouse haul the cop from out of the trunk of Mr. Blonde’s car, and they tie him up and brutalize him in an attempt to learn whether a police informant tipped off the police.

When Pink and White leave Mr. Blonde begins in earnest to torture the cop, first cutting off one ear with a straight razor. He next pours gasoline on the cop and prepares to light it.

ReservoirDogs-03

Gunfire from the bleeding Mr. Orange puts a halt to the attempt and kills Mr. Blonde. Mr. Orange reveals to the cop that he is an undercover cop. A flashback shows the scene where Mr. White, Mr. Orange, and Mr. Brown, fleeing in a car, run into trouble. Mr. White kills two cops in a gun battle. Mr. Brown is killed, and Mr. White and Mr. Orange hijack a civilian’s car.

The driver resists, pulling a pistol from the glove compartment and shooting Mr. Orange, who then shoots the driver. Mr. Orange has slipped completely into his gangster role.

ReservoirDogs-04

Back at the warehouse the father and son ring leaders confront Mr. White. They want to kill Mr. Orange regarding the killing of Mr. Blonde. They have already killed the cop, shooting him out of hand after finding Mr. Blonde dead on the floor.

A three-way Mexican standoff ensues. Mr. White defends Mr. Orange against the two ring leaders. Shots ring out. All three fall to the floor. The two ring leaders are dead. Mr. Pink, who has been hiding in the garage has apparently taken out the ringleader son while Mr. White has done for the father. Mr. Pink skedaddles with the bag of stolen diamonds, but is apparently arrested by police. Cops come in, and the remaining gang members are killed. The end.

ReservoirDogs-05

Main problems with the plot involve certain improbabilities. Mr. Orange is an undercover cop. A flashback from before the robbery shows all the gang, including Mr. Orange, sitting around in the warehouse planning the robbery. Mr. Orange has known the location of the hideout all this time, and the cops are not waiting to pounce when gang members meet following the robbery? Complete absurdity flows from there.

Tarantino originally planned this for a low-budget production in 16 mm black and white for $30,000. Acquisition of a $1.5 million investment enabled a full-blown production. Tarantino went on to similar works, including, notably, Pulp Fiction. I have the disk and will do a review.

Flak Jacket Mentality

GunsObamacare

Last week Tom Boggioni posted an item on Raw Story that mentioned, in part:

So when the owner of a popular Delaware haunted house was quite adamant that nobody — including off-duty cops — pack heat while visiting his attraction, gun nuts reacted as if the amusement park operator dug up Zombie Reagan and dressed him up in a Mao jacket and let people throw poop at him as part of the Halloween hi-jinks.

The story is not so much about the man in Delaware operating a Halloween haunted house, which donated money to leukemia research. It’s also not so much about the operator not allowing people to bring their lawfully-owned and lawfully-carried firearms into the establishment. It’s is neither those nor a host of other possibilities. For me the story turned into one about the comments received from responsible gun owners. Here’s for example:

Aaron Christolph: “@Frightland, I personally find this as a slap in the face to all those who serve. And can say with 100% certainty that you have just lost the business of several hundred families (police, military, and civilian), just here in DE. You can make what ever excuse, that make you feel comfortable, and it is 100% your right to make this as your policy. Just as it is ours to voice our disgust, with it and choose to refrain business with you.”

Here’s another:

John Walczak: “If your not 2A friendly then you will never see a dime from me . Gun free zones are the last place I wanna be and the first place criminals seek.”

And some more:

Jeremiah Miller:  “FZs are not safe zones at all…look how wonderfully they don’t work in schools (family friendly, right?) and private establishments where shootings have occurred. All they do is disarm the law-abiding citizens, not the criminals who’re intent on doing harm to others. I will absolutely speak out against ALL establishments that revoke anyone’s right to be able to defend themselves and their families. Make absolutely no mistake about it, those rules are not in place to ensure the safety of their patrons at all.. they are there to limit any liability and due to insurance reasons for their business. Yeah they may have an inkling of a human concern for the general well-being of their patrons but it is not the driving factor for the rules they put in place.”

Herbert Krebs: “Just don’t bring your constitutional firearm with you or they will hate you and ban you for it. So all law enforcement stay away from this place. Even in an emergency let them fend for themselves. They seem to have it,under control.”

James Chubb: “Was going to visit this year. Your gun free policy has made me change my mind. Thanks for saving me the expense.”

Mike Richardson:  “Another ‘gun free zone’ what could possibly happen there?!? No thanks I’ll spend my money elsewhere where I can protect my family.”

Karen Wood: “Might add, you can get in there many ways, without going through that gate if you know the area and are determined. A nut who wants to create a name for himself, will be thrilled to read this. Hope your perimeter security is armed.”

Rick Williamson: “Yeah, didn’t expect damage control from your B.S anti Second Amendment rules! If you deny us our rights, then you don’t need our money.”

John Craig: “Correct me if Im wrong but arent these shooters targeting ‘Family Establishments’??? Wake TFU!!!!”

By now you have gotten the message. Blogger Boggioni unkindly posted the comments of responsible gun owners for the world’s enjoyment. And the message is…

The message seems to comprise several parts:

  • The presence of guns makes an area safer.
  • A person needs to keep his gun handy at all times to protect his family.
  • Criminals target areas where guns are known to be absent.
  • Anybody who requires visitors leave their guns at home is against the Second Amendment.

There could be more, but these are sufficient. I will review the points. This is Skeptical Analysis, after all. Start with the first—guns make safe.

Who has ever been in the military? Who has ever been in a combat unit? Who has ever been in combat? When you were pulled back from the FLD, besides taking a shower, what was the first thing you did? You turned in your weapon. Military commanders are not stupid. They know that when there is no combat imminent, a gun in the hand represents more of a danger than enemy attack. Examples abound. My own military experience involved being told by drill instructors of deaths by loose firearms. Stephen Ambrose, in his book Band of Brothers, recounts the case of Corporal Hoobler during the siege of Bastogne. Hoobler took a Luger pistol off a dead German officer and killed himself with it before the day was out. This was a combat-hardened soldier in a combat zone, and he shot himself in the leg.

Second item—a person needs a gun to protect his family. A person needs a gun to protect his family, if his family is being attacked by a hoard of Taliban fighters. Otherwise, the gun in the home is more of a danger than outside forces. I tend to side with the conclusions of this observer:

Unfortunately, guns can’t discriminate between criminals and innocent bystanders. Studies have shown that unintentional shootings are four times as common as occurrences of gun use in legitimate home defense situations. 5 You’d actually be more likely, statistically speaking, to shoot someone by accident than you are to shoot a home invader.

My personal experience reinforces this belief. I often cite the example of Dickie Martinettes. I last saw him alive on a Friday evening in 1967. He and his date were headed out for the night. They wound up at his cousin’s house, where the cousin shot him in the forehead when he knocked on the door. The pistol was supposedly not loaded.

Then there is the case of the person I was named after, my father’s father. He was also shot by a cousin, but he lived. Which is why you are reading this post. Besides these, a high school classmate was killed in a shooting accident during a celebration on the town square. I know of two other people who killed themselves with guns—suicides.

The article cited above does not depict scientific research. Here is a link to a more serious discussion:

Data from a US mortality follow-back survey were analyzed to determine whether having a firearm in the home increases the risk of a violent death in the home and whether risk varies by storage practice, type of gun, or number of guns in the home. Those persons with guns in the home were at greater risk than those without guns in the home of dying from a homicide in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 1.9, 95% confidence interval: 1.1, 3.4). They were also at greater risk of dying from a firearm homicide, but risk varied by age and whether the person was living with others at the time of death. The risk of dying from a suicide in the home was greater for males in homes with guns than for males without guns in the home (adjusted odds ratio = 10.4, 95% confidence interval: 5.8, 18.9). Persons with guns in the home were also more likely to have died from suicide committed with a firearm than from one committed by using a different method (adjusted odds ratio = 31.1, 95% confidence interval: 19.5, 49.6). Results show that regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home.

So much for “Your Friend, the Gun.”

Do criminals target areas where guns are present? Not necessarily, of course, unless their object is to steal guns. But do criminals avoid places where people have guns? A quick search seems to confirm criminals avoid gun shows and gun shops. Criminals do not purchase guns legally. Do criminals avoid homes where there are guns? If Fox News is correct they do:

Reformed crooks say the New York newspaper that published a map of names and addresses of gun owners did a great service – to their old cronies in the burglary trade.

The information published online by the Journal-News, a daily paper serving the New York suburbs of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, could be highly useful to thieves in two ways, former burglars told FoxNews.com. Crooks looking to avoid getting shot now know which targets are soft and those who need weapons know where they can steal them.

This good news seems to be double-edged. Gun advocates object to having gun ownership publicized. But if you have a gun in your home, how is the criminal going to know not to come in if he doesn’t know you have a gun? Being facetious, I suggest if you have a gun, then you should post a sign on your door announcing the situation. That way criminals will avoid your house and go to your neighbor next door. Your neighbor will appreciate it. Or you could just get rid of the guns and get yourself the sign.

On a serious side, I have known of houses with guns, and the crooks broke in and stole the guns. That’s where criminals get guns.

Requiring people to leave their guns at home is a violation of the Second Amendment? Does somebody want to read the Second Amendment for me?

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

I can’t be sure, but I think that wording is directed toward the government. People in a free society can do pretty much what they want. The operator of the haunted house has other matters of concern that are ignored by the responsible gun owners who commented on the blog post. He has responsibility for the safety of the people who patronize his operation. Were he to allow guns on the property, and were somebody be killed or injured by an accident or deliberate act involving a gun, then he could face some serious civil action. Absent such precautions, serious consequences have been inflicted:

Parrish was off-duty, but wearing his gun. While Miller was dancing with him that night, the weapon accidentally discharged, puncturing her lung and striking her in the heart. She died after she was taken to a hospital.

Going to a movie? Want to take your gun for self protection? Don’t forget the popcorn:

DADE CITY — In the dark of the theater, Alan Hamilton saw the kernels fly. Then, the muzzle flash and a loud bang.

“I’ll teach you to throw popcorn at me,” an eyewitness recalled the shooter, retired Tampa police Capt. Curtis Reeves, saying.

Yes, there are many sides to this matter. One theme, however, runs throughout. It’s a theme of misplaced paranoia. Disregarding the nuts who think they should be allowed to dress for armed conflict wherever they go, there are serious people who are concerned more with the threat they can see than with the threat they cannot. Vis a conversation I once had:

“You’re going to patrol your neighborhood?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re going to take a gun, right?”

“Absolutely not.”

“What if you’re attacked?”

Who remembers George Zimmerman and the kid who would otherwise be alive today? In jail, maybe, but alive.

I hear another theme. That theme is having a gun on your person for protection in public places. Really? Somebody informed me that nobody could get the drop on him while he was carrying his gun. Somebody has not been reading the news. President Reagan was surrounded by a number of highly-trained bodyguards, all armed to the teeth. John Hinkley got off six rounds from a cheap revolver, wounding the President and two others. The Secret Service operatives subdued Hinkley and took away his gun. They never fired a shot.

Do you feel safer now?

Keep reading.

Update

Steve didn’t comment on this post, but he did comment on Facebook when I linked there to this item. Here is the exchange:

Steve: Think of it like this. Suppose the proprietor of the hh had insisted that everyone entering remove their shoes and socks. If you ask him why, he says it’s for everyone’s safety. You say, well okay, it sounds silly, though. Then you ask where can I put my shoes and socks while I’m inside? He doesn’t have a place for them and doesn’t seem to think he should supply one. So you go back to your car and put your shoes and socks there, then walk back barefoot to the hh. You ask him if he keeps the floor inside really clean because you’ve already stepped on some grit in the parking lot and you even saw some broken glass there. He says yes, it’s clean and hurries you along because others are waiting.

John Blanton: Steve, thanks for reading.

Also, thanks for the likening of shoes and socks to deadly weapons. It makes for good reading. I should have thought of that.

Notice, as well, the post was about selective paranoia. Can I now expect a hoard of responders flooding my comment box, accusing me of endangering lives and violating the Constitution. I can only hope. At an average 150 hits per day, I can use the extra traffic.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Steve: The comparison is more apt than you may realize. CCL holders carry for the same reason they wear shoes — to protect themselves. Firearms are an active defense while shoes are passive, but the principle is the same. The hh owner is probably acting out of a counterfactual belief that the likelihood of a firearms mishap (either an accidental discharge or an illegal shooting) is higher than it really is. There is probably some selective paranoia in that belief.

No additional comment is required.

Quiz Question

I once made a set of dice similar to the ones pictured below. I didn’t make the real dice. I made virtual ones. I did a computer simulation of a set much like these. These dice, there are three of them, have a certain property. It’s a counter intuitive property, but if you investigate them, as I did, you will agree its a real property. And that’s the Quiz Question for this week. What is the property of these dice that is so unexpected.

Die 1 - front and back view

Die 1 – front and back view

Die 2 - front and back view

Die 2 – front and back view

Die 3 - front and back view

Die 3 – front and back view

Post your answer as a comment in the section below. If I receive no correct answers I will post the answer on Friday, along with some explanation.

Update and a hint

Since activity seems to have dried up for this Quiz Question, I have decided to restore interest by providing a hint. Do this:

Take the dice in pairs. Roll one against the other. For example, roll Die 1 against Die 2. Which wins on average. Do this with each of the three pairs. What do you notice? Note that you don’t have to actually make sets of the dice. Just compute the average score when one die is rolled against another. Amazing, isn’t it.

Update: Solution

Apparently the hint was a give-away. John Brandt saw the answer immediately, although there is no indication he actually went through the analysis to verify the answer. Here’s some explanation.

In mathematics a relation ρ defines how two entities relate. For example equal (=) is a relation that shows how two entities relate. Trivially, if two entities A and B are related by =, then there is some sameness that exists between the two. Other familiar relations in mathematics are greater than (>), less than (<), and subset of (⊆). For example A < B means A is less than B.

A relation ρ is said to be transitive if A ρ B and B ρ C implies A ρ C. Else the relation ρ is said to be intransitive.

Dominance can be defined as a relation. Define the relation ρ as “dominance,” then we can say Cowboys ρ Redskins if the Cowboys dominate the Redskins (usually win against the Redskins). Then the relation ρ is transitive if Cowboys ρ Redskins, and Redskins ρ Patriots implies Cowboys ρ Patriots. It’s intuitive to think that football team dominance will always be a transitive relation, but researchers have demonstrated this is not the case.

And that’s the issue with these dice, and a slick operator can make a lot of money off of these, that is until somebody breaks his fingers. Allow the sucker to pick one of the three dice. If the chump picks 1, then pick 3 and roll against him. And so on. An examination of the dice 1, 2 and 3 shows they exhibit the following relation ρ, where ρ is dominance. Then:

1 ρ 2

2 ρ 3

3 ρ 1

John Brandt stated it succinctly. It’s rock, scissors, paper all over again. I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to verify this relation holds and that it is intransitive.

Bad Movie of the Week

What the producers have done is to take a fairly simple Robert Louis Stevenson short story of horror and depredation and turn it into a full-blown feature movie. To do so they had to add some characters and a vast body of plot. They retained the name. It’s The Body Snatcher from 1945 out of RKO and featuring Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi. It’s the last film the two ever made together, and neither survives to the end. Direction is by Robert Wise. But let me get to the story.

Donald Fettes (Russell Wade) is a young medical student of weak finances, unable to continue his studies under Dr. Wolfe MacFarlane. Dr. MacFarlane offers him a job, and with that support young Fettes is back on board. A crisis emerges when Mrs. Marsh (Rita Corday) brings her daughter (Sharyn Moffett) to see the doctor. The daughter has had surgery for a spinal injury but still cannot walk. Dr. MacFarlane has zero bedside manner and sends the woman away. He only teaches and has no time for actual medical practice.

BodySnaatcher-01

As a side issue, we learn that Dr. MacFarlane is secretly married to his housekeeper, Meg Camden (Edith Atwater). Interesting, but nothing at all to do with the plot.

 

BodySnaatcher-02

Fettes pursues the sad case of Mrs. Marsh and her daughter. Additional surgery may be needed, but more study is needed. Dissection of a cadaver will provide the necessary experience, so a cadaver is required. Fettes learns his new job is to take delivery of cadavers brought in by shady cab driver John Gray (Karloff). Fettes is aghast to discover the first delivery is a person he knows to have been just interred. Where is Gray getting these bodies?

BodySnaatcher-03

Gray has some strange hold on Dr. MacFarlane. Gray calls him “Toddy” for reasons not explained. It’s apparent relations between the two are going south fast.

BodySnaatcher-04

We see Gray up to his grisly task. Out of dead bodies, he recruits from the living. There is a blind girl (Donna Lee) who sings in the streets. No more. Gray’s carriage follows her down a darkened street, and the singing stops in mid-chord. Fettes recognizes her corpse next on the dissecting table.

BodySnaatcher-05

Joseph (Lugosi) is Dr. MacFarlane’s man servant. He winkles out the facts about Gray’s grisly business and pays him a visit. Blackmail is on his mind, but not for long. Gray makes his move, and Joseph becomes the next cadaver. It’s the last scene Karloff and Lugosi ever played together.

BodySnaatcher-06

Next MacFarlane pays Gray a visit. He comes off better than Joseph did. It’s Gray’s turn to grace the dissection table. Off to rob a fresh grave, MacFarlane and Fettes take the late Mr. Gray’s carriage. Driving back down a treacherous country road they believe they hear the voice of Gray coming from the sack with the corpse. They see Gray’s corpse where they thought they had the body of a dead woman.

BodySnaatcher-07

The horse bolts, and the carriage, with MacFarlane and the body, plunges off the road. MacFarlane is killed, and a look at the body reveals only the dead woman. It’s the end of the story.

Stephen’s short story is worlds simpler. It starts with men gathered for their nightly round in a pub.

EVERY night in the year, four of us sat in the small parlour of the George at Debenham – the undertaker, and the landlord, and Fettes, and myself. Sometimes there would be more; but blow high, blow low, come rain or snow or frost, we four would be each planted in his own particular arm-chair. Fettes was an old drunken Scotchman, a man of education obviously, and a man of some property, since he lived in idleness. He had come to Debenham years ago, while still young, and by a mere continuance of living had grown to be an adopted townsman. His blue camlet cloak was a local antiquity, like the church-spire. His place in the parlour at the George, his absence from church, his old, crapulous, disreputable vices, were all things of course in Debenham. He had some vague Radical opinions and some fleeting infidelities, which he would now and again set forth and emphasise with tottering slaps upon the table. He drank rum – five glasses regularly every evening; and for the greater portion of his nightly visit to the George sat, with his glass in his right hand, in a state of melancholy alcoholic saturation. We called him the Doctor, for he was supposed to have some special knowledge of medicine, and had been known, upon a pinch, to set a fracture or reduce a dislocation; but beyond these slight particulars, we had no knowledge of his character and antecedents.

Stevenson, Robert Louis (2013-11-07). Robert Louis Stevenson: Complete Collection of 266 Works with analysis and historical background. Including Novels, Stories, Non-Fiction works, Poetry … and Illustrated) (Annotated Classics) (Kindle Locations 70682-70691). Annotated Classics. Kindle Edition.

This little soirée is interrupted by the announcement that a Dr. MacFarlane has come to treat a guest at the inn. Fettes confronts MacFarlane on his leaving, and the narrator later relates the story behind the confrontation.

There is no Mrs. Marsh and her daughter, who play a significant if uncritical role in the movie. There is no marriage to the housekeeper, and there is no Joseph the man servant. We learn that MacFarlane has murdered Gray when he delivers Gray’s body to Fettes in the dissecting room.

Together Fettes and MacFarlane set off on a grim night to rob another grave. An accident disposes of their lantern, and they complete the digging in the dark. They start back to town with the body in a bag between them. The body seems to be more than just the woman they dug up in the pitch black.  The story ends when the two discovered Gray’s body in the bag that was supposed to contain the deceased woman.

It’s all very simple and might be worth as much as an episode of The Twilight Zone. A lot of what writers Philip MacDonald and Val Lewton added is just fluff to make a full length (77 minutes) film.

Bad Joke of the Week

Not yet

Not yet

A woman awakes in the middle of the night to find her husband not in bed. She puts on her robe and goes downstairs to look for him.

She finds him sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of hot cocoa in front of him. He appears to be deep in thought, just staring at the wall. She watches as he wipes away a tear from his eye.

“What’s the matter dear?” she whispers as she steps into the room. “Why are you down here at this time of night?”

The husband looks up from his drink, “It’s the 20th anniversary of the day we met.”

She can’t believe he has remembered. She starts to tear up.

The husband continues solemnly, “Do you remember 20 years ago when we started dating? I was 18 and you were only 15.”

Once again, the wife is touched to tears thinking that her husband is so caring and sensitive.

“Yes, I do,” she replies.

The husband pauses… the words were not coming easily.

“Do you remember when your father caught us in the back seat of my car?”

“Yes, I remember,” said the wife, lowering herself into a chair beside him.

The husband continued.

“Do you remember when he shoved the shotgun in my face and said, ‘Either you marry my daughter or I will make sure you spend the next 20 years in prison?'”

“I remember that too,” she replied softly…

He sighed as he wiped another tear away from his cheek and said, “I would have gotten out today.”

Not Now, Jody

One of a continuing series

JesusRequiresDrugTest

Chapter Fourteen

As mentioned, I’m spending some time reviewing  It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America by Georgia Congressman Jody Hice. Go back to the initial post to get my overview of the book and the lowdown on the front matter. I’m reviewing the book a chapter at a time. These reviews involve taking quotations from the book and providing appropriate comment. This is Chapter Foourteen, titled “Combating a Secular Worldview.” Here’s how it starts:

America is standing at a cultural crossroad and the path she chooses will impact millions of people for generations to come. In fact, the entire world will be unavoidably altered by the choice America makes. Her decision will be finalized in the very near future. This is no small matter; the greatness of our heritage is literally hanging by a thread. At the heart of the decision is a determination of “who are we?” and “where are we going?”

Dr. Jody Hice (2012-01-13). It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America (p. 213). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

What, then, is the chapter going to be about? It’s going to be about an assault on American values, supposedly by the secular left. Congressman Hice gives the example of Senator Lautenberg:

Senator Lautenberg, a strong supporter of the abortion industry proclaimed, “Planned Parenthood is under attack by Tea Party Republicans who have put their extremist ideology above women’s health.” He continued by saying, “These people [referring to the pro-life supporters] don’t deserve the freedoms in the Constitution.”

Dr. Jody Hice (2012-01-13). It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America (p. 214). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

This would have been a great opportunity for the congressman to pounce and score big. He whiffed it.

His words are far beyond being ‘inappropriate.’ Such comments are anti-American and outright, treasonous.

Dr. Jody Hice (2012-01-13). It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America (p. 214). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

Calling the senator’s talk treasonous speaks to a deep misunderstanding of American law. Hopefully the congressman was only being his hyperbolic self.

He asks “Is secularism neutral?” Hopefully he will answer the question:

Why have there been so many court decisions kicking God out of the public square in recent decades? Prayer is no longer permitted in schools, football games or City Council meetings, especially if the name ‘Jesus’ is invoked. Pastors are not allowed to engage in political issues from the pulpit without fear of losing the church’s tax-exempt status. Moral issues are equated as being ‘religious’ and therefore virtually banned from public discussions. Christian businesses are often sued for operating in accordance with their convictions. The legal attitude has shifted from benevolent neutrality to aggressive ‘cleansing’ and protecting the public from religion. Why? The simple answer is because we have been brainwashed into thinking that only secularism is culturally neutral and therefore, it is safe for everyone.

Dr. Jody Hice (2012-01-13). It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America (p. 215). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

A lot of what the congressman is laying on secularism (prohibition of prayer in schools) is better known as civil order. People are now obeying the law. Also, business can’t operate in accordance with religious convictions? Translation: “People can’t use religious conviction to excuse operating their businesses in violation of the law.”

Since this does not involve secularism, we still need to answer whether secularism is culturally neutral. The answer is secularism is not culturally neutral. Secularism is inherently pragmatic. In a truly secular society decisions will be based on fact rather on the current color of angels. Is further explanation needed?

Congressman Hice continues to hammer the matter of secular neutrality, and since I have already surrendered that point I’m not going to recap a load of it here. Three of his points are worth noting:

We have gone from being strongly Christian to heavily leaning upon secular ideology, which eventually leads to socialism or worse.

Dr. Jody Hice (2012-01-13). It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America (p. 217). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

When people stop believing in God they will begin believing in most anything.

Dr. Jody Hice (2012-01-13). It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America (p. 217). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

This is why secularism cannot be neutral; it is a system that replaces God with man.

Dr. Jody Hice (2012-01-13). It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America (p. 217). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

These three expose serious issues with Congressman Hice’s mental process:

  • A secular ideology leads to socialism? It’s a point the congressman will need to labor at to make.
  • If people quit believing in God they will believe almost anything? This is one of those Really moments. Not believing in God will translate into believing odd things, for example a teapot orbiting the planet Xerxes. Again the congressman is going to need to explain this.
  • Secularism replaces God with man. The congressman doesn’t notice this is a big plus for secularism.

Many choice statements by Congressman Hice enlighten the remainder of this chapter, but I’m going to shut it down with a remarkable quote:

“Liberty” as used in the Constitution, must be defined from the perspective of God’s law, from the perspective of a biblical worldview. That is precisely what the Founders did. They never foresaw the Constitution granting people the right to do what God forbade.[266]

Dr. Jody Hice (2012-01-13). It’s Now Or Never: A Call to Reclaim America (p. 220). WestBowPress. Kindle Edition.

He’s quoting activist Ken Fletcher discussing“Libertarianism and Christianity” on the Jody Hice Radio Show. These words originally belonged to Ken Fletcher, but the congressman has quoted them, and now he owns them. To thinking people the idea that the Constitution should conform to the thoughts of an imaginary person is repulsive. It should be for all Americans.

Coming up next is Jody Hice’s remarkably short Chapter Fifteen. I have already printed the entire chapter in the first of this series. I will use Chapter Fifteen to recap the book.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Bye, bye Bachmann

One of an on-going series

BachmannSells

We thought the joy had gone out of our lives. Never despair. Former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann will continue to delight well unto the second coming. The second coming of Jesus, not the second coming of Bachmann. She’s already on her 17th coming. Here’s an echo of joys past:

Well, we need to grow the middle class and what the middle class needs are jobs. That’s really the problem that the president has to explain. It’s tough to blame President Bush for the current economic woes. We have five years of Obama policies and what do we have? We have people who are really suffering because people made more money. If you look at the median income level, people actually made more money seven years ago than they’re making now.

What’s new, then? Interestingly enough Bachmann has gone full scientific. Who would have thought? It’s The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. Here’s the latest:

US turns its back on Israel, disasters following

Jesus Christ! What have we done now? Turn our backs on Israel, and the shit hits the fan. Serves us right. Thanks a lot, Bachmann. Wish we had known sooner. We could have saved some lives and a few billion in destruction. Let us know in advance next time. Unlike before:

Here’s the quote: “Washington, D.C.—you’d think by now they’d get the message. An earthquake. A hurricane. Are you listening? The American people have done everything they possibly can. Now it’s time for an act of God and we’re getting it.”

Bachmann, we got it now. It’s too bad you’re the only one advising us on the dangers of getting cross with the Big JC. Wrong, again. I was forgetting my second favorite presidential candidate, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal:

The AFA implied — in a prayer guide originally distributed in connection with Jindal’s January rally — that there is a direct link between the rising approval of same-sex marriage and abortion in the United States and events like Hurricane Katrina.

The prayer guide — which appeared to be a few years old and outdated — was pulled from The Response’s website Friday (Dec. 12). Before it was taken down, it contained the following language:

“We have watched sin escalate to a proportion the nation has never seen before. We live in the first generation in which the wholesale murder of infants through abortion is not only accepted but protected by law. Homosexuality has been embraced as an alternative lifestyle. Same-sex marriage is legal in six states and Washington, D.C. Pornography is available on-demand through the internet. Biblical signs of apostasy are before our very eyes. While the United States still claims to be a nation ‘under God’ it is obvious that we have greatly strayed from our foundations in Christianity.

“This year we have seen a dramatic increase in tornadoes that have taken the lives of many and crippled entire cities, such as Tuscaloosa, AL & Joplin, MO. And let us not forget that we are only six years from the tragic events of hurricane Katrina, which rendered the entire Gulf Coast powerless.”

I’m sure you’re asking the same question I am: “Did the Governor consult with Bachmann before signing off on this?” It would not do for two upstanding politicians to cross-pontificate on the nature of nature.

Of course, those were not Governor Jindal’s own words shared on the Prayer Guide. Governor Jindal was only a politically influential backer of this wondrous testament to the human intellect. Can we guess Congresswoman Bachmann would have approved, given the opportunity? We can only hope.

God will not disappoint us. There will be more from this fountain of wiseness. Keep reading. And May Jesus have mercy on your soul.