Sunday, July 31, 2016

Government Needs an Occasional Vacation

Every time a Ted Cruz, Mike Lee or Michelle Bachman, Louis Gohmert or Marsha Blackburn dig their heels in on a point of principle (always over budget over-spending) and threaten to shut down the government, the media reacts like Chicken Little, running around proclaiming the imminent falling of the skies. But is the sky about to collapse on us if the government is forced to take a little vay-cay? How much does it hurt us if government takes a little break. It's not like they couldn't send out some social security checks during the interim. They have plenty of our money sitting in the bank with which to do that and computers to release the cash. So what's the big deal if we take a holiday from spending like drunken sailors?

Actually I should apologize to drunken sailors for that one. The government spends at a rate that would make a drunken sailor verklempt. 

I've read the reports in the New York Times and the Huffing and Puffington Post castigating Republicans for the damage their brinksmanship has done to the economy.
They cite a minuscule, six-tenths of a percentage drop in the Federal Reserves anticipated "growth" rate for the economy. Remember, the president can cause that big a drop just by making another one of his speeches and mentioning the word "collective" a couple of times. That economic impact of .6% doesn't mean much more than that a few nervous stock speculators saw their stock prices drop a little because other nervous stock speculators decided they didn't want to pay that much for those over-priced stocks. Some of these financial gamblers lost a little perceived value for their stocks, but if they played it smart and hung on to their stocks, most of these stock prices came back up after a while (see headline below). Standard and Poor meanwhile, worried that the shutdown of 2013 might "weigh on consumer confidence, especially among government workers that were furloughed.”

So, let me get this straight, the government shutdown worried mostly government workers? Standard and Poor tries to bring the rest of us in on it, again weighing in with a moan that, “If people (i.e. government workers) are afraid that the government policy brinkmanship will resurface again, and with it the risk of another shutdown or worse, they’ll remain afraid to open up their checkbooks.”

So, just perhaps, a shutdown might cause people to actually save some of their money instead of spending it, if only for a while. If you are one of those poor simple people who think that everybody being a little frugal and putting some money back for a rainy day is a good thing, you will find that the liberal media finds your attitude unprogressive in the worst way. People sitting on their money is something  the imminent liberal economist, John Maynard Keynes, was always terrified of, as are his progressive acolytes almost a century later. The reason Keynesians like Democrats and even, sad to say, like some Republicans fear a reduction in spending is that Keynesian economic model depends on people spending steadily and paying lots of taxes, so that governments can afford to meddle in the economy, ostensibly to keep the economy stable. If people are left to their own economic devices, Keynes posits that things will be "very bad". Theoretically, a government shutdown should do serious damage to the economy if you buy into Keynesian economics.

Turns out, though, that when the talking heads and government agencies tot up the "damage" caused by the sixteen day 2013 shutdown, they figure it cost the economy around $21 billion. Sounds terrible right?  In describing the impact, however, they mention casually (hoping you don't notice) that during the shutdown, the government didn't spend 10 billion dollars a week. Let's see. Let me add that up in my head. That works out to a little over 1.42 billion per day. Multiply by 16 days and you get around 22.8 billion dollars the government didn't spend. That's a bit more than 21 billion in taxpayer dollars that the government was unable to spend during the shutdown (you can't keep them from spending altogether so they did manage to apparently spend at least 1.8 billion dollars somehow.

And when it was all said and done,  in 2013, right after the terrible 16 day government shutdown in October, the world went on spending and doing business quite well on its own. Some might argue that the economy bounced back nicely, perhaps with even more vigor from having had the government monkey off their back for 16 days.The CNBC (decidedly not a conservative media outlet) led it's 2013  annual year-end report with this headline:

Wall Street closes 2013 at records;
Best year in 16 for Standard and Poor, 18 for Dow

 I think someone on Wall Street should have sent thank you cards to Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Michelle Bachman, Louis Gohmert, Marsha Blackburn and the rest of those terrible Tea Party people.  What do you want to bet that they didn't? So Ronald Reagan seems to have been correct when he told Johnny Carson we could send the government away for 3 weeks and not notice. Of course you don't shut down the essential stuff like the military and the air traffic controllers and such. You only send off the "nonessential" personnel.

Listen to that again. You only send off the "nonessential" personnel and shut down nonessential services during a government shutdown. Apparently those "nonessential" personnel are costing you and me 10 billion dollars a week. Does it occur to anyone else that we might could find a few things to trim from our budget since they are already neatly categorized into the "nonessential" category.

I'm living on a fixed budget, with bad knees and a disabled family member to care for. My personal budget is pretty much limited to essentials these days. I understand about making do without some nonessentials and getting creative with my spending. Shouldn't our government be at least a little more careful about nonessential spending? Doing so doesn't seem to harm our robust, still semi-free market economy. I think we might be able to adapt to a little frugality. We could start by putting the savings back into social security from which the Congress has been stealing for years.

This election cycle we have two candidates for "Dear Leader" lined up, both of whom are very fond of spending ?other people's money" - Clinton the taxpayer's money and Trump* his suckers, uh, investors money.  Hopefully people will at least vote for down ballot conservatives like the Cruz and the rest that I mentioned above. A solid conservative block in Congress would at least have the power to shut the government down, if only for two or three weeks.

I'm with Reagan. Let's send the government on a mandatory three week vacation once in a while, if only to remind some of them that they are, after all, nonessential!

Just sayin'

© 2016 by Tom King

* And before you Trumpians jump on me, you should read Trump's books - especially the part about using other people's money. Trump dearly loves making other people pay for his projects. He used 160 million dollars of George Soros' money to build Trump Towers in Chicago when he ran out of other other people's money.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Tale of Two Snakes

I recently compared the choice between Trump and Clinton as choosing whether to be bitten by a rattler or a cottonmouth. A dear friend chided me for that analogy saying Hillary was a Black Mamba and Trump a corn snake. He, of course, found my unwillingness to choose sides with the corn snake to be unacceptable.

While I respect my friend's right to his opinion, I can find nothing to base the assertion of Trump's relative harmlessness next to Clinton upon. One would have to rely on the naked word of a man who has lied, conned, cheated and bullied his way to the top of his profession for more than four decades. I've watched his career. His "business" career is little different than Hillary's political one
. True, he hasn't killed anyone that we know of yet, but then in 1933, Hitler hadn't killed anyone yet either - the key word being "yet".

My interlocutor argued further that morality was relative because we all have sinned. Unfortunately, if there are levels of danger among snakes, then there must also be levels of morality whereby we can trust another person's trustworthiness. Somehow, the Republican's nominee being a serial adulterer, strip club owner and casino operator and under indictment for racketeering kind of tells me something about his relative morality visa vie his trustworthiness. In his book Trump brags about how many of his friends' wives he's bedded. Conservative Republicans made a lot of noise in the last two presidential elections about "character" being important to the Republican Party and the nation at large. So I watched this guy. He's lied, bullied, manipulated and pandered all the way to the convention.

The man is running four or five propaganda websites that churn out bogus news and disinformation about anyone he sees as standing between him and the White House. He's reversed his positions on almost every issue and done it time and time again. There's not a thing that Trump has said that he hasn't backtracked on or completely reversed himself on if he thought it would win the support of some group or other. Except, oddly enough for conservatives. Them he's ignored and dismissed as irrelevant, preferring to stir up the angry mob. He has no use for thinking conservatives who have left the party in droves upon his nomination. His followers have resorted to threats, bullying and lying against anyone who dares disagree with their own personal Messiah. I've been on the receiving end of plenty of it.

Much as I hate to say it, there is no acceptable choice for president in November. I will vote "none of the above" in the Presidential election. Trump says he doesn't need conservatives like me to get elected. Great. then I don't need to vote for him. I'll vote for every conservative on the ballot whom I think might just have the stones to impeach whichever of these very bad bargains might succeed in getting him or herself elected.

Someone has to stand up to the liberal elites who think it is their natural right to rule over us. They've manipulated the system to give us a choice between Hillary Clinton and a guy who was one of Barak Obama's and Hillary Clinton's biggest supporters. I don't have to choose. It's my constitutional right to find a third option. In 1860, an Illinois lawyer named Lincoln was the third party candidate. It could happen. Who knows?

I was also accused of being on my "high horse" as though that were somehow a bad thing. Hey, I'm from Texas. We prefer our horses kind of high. And we are not afraid to fight battles we know we are going to lose (see the Alamo). Sometimes that's necessary. Sometimes it's not about winning, but about doing the right thing. We are seeing the signs Jesus told would come just before the end. They are appearing on the nightly news almost every day.

In Jesus' day there were two parties vying for power in Judea - the Sadducees and Pharisees. Jesus offended them both. He called them "whited sepulchres". He did not mince words. He even broke up their party in the temple, turning over tables and waving a whip around. They killed Him because He wouldn't cast his support for one or the other group. Had he gone Pharisee, they would have protected him. The Sadducees/Scribes would have done the same. But because he threatened their two party system, they banded together and took Him out.

If Jesus could just say no, I do believe I can. Revelation and Daniel said this stuff would happen. The prophets told us to stand in the breach. Doing that is dangerous. Look at the fate of the disciples. All but one were killed by governments and John was banished, imprisoned and boiled in oil before he died a natural death. The prophets and Jesus Himself never said we wouldn't be persecuted for standing for the truth. Quite the contrary.

The lesser of two evils is still evil. I can't vote for evil. I can vote for someone who is at least trying to do right; someone who asks God for forgiveness if he or she makes a mistake. Trump says he doesn't need to ask for forgiveness. Hillary pretends she doesn't ever do anything wrong. To choose between them is a choice I cannot make in good conscience.

This is not a slander against anyone who feels that God is telling them to vote one way or another. You may be right and I may be wrong, but I don't think so. It's not about winning or losing anyway. It's about how I believe and believing what I do, I think I have a duty to warn my fellow Americans against the dangers represented by both Clinton and Trump - it's a voice crying in the wilderness kind of thing. I have no illusions that I am Elijah or John the Baptist and my choice is not very comfortable for me as choices go. If I wanted to feel warm and fuzzy and supported, I would move over with the angry herd for whom The Donald speaks. But, sadly, there is not a lot of time left for doing the right thing anymore. Time to stand. I can do nothing else.

© 2016 by Tom King

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Do You Hate Trump Enough to Let Hillary Win?

Someone asked this question today. I’m trying to take a day away from talking about “he who must not be elected”, but I cannot let this one pass because it targets my basic moral values and the values of all of us who will vote “none of the above” in November. It has nothing to do with “hate” toward the RNC’s orange-headed champion. It has to do with principle, something fewer and fewer people are even capable of understanding in this secular, got-to-have-it-all society we are busily creating. 
A moral decision not to support, endorse or vote for immoral leaders is not about winning or revenge or even anger that one did not get one’s way. It’s about the whole assumption built into the original question - that one should vote for one candidate because the other one is worse. I have studied Scripture diligently for some 45 years now and nowhere in my Bible does it say, "Thou shalt choose the lesser of two evils." That is, in effect, choosing between wrong and wrong based on degree of wrongness. It’s a false dichotomy. It’s like saying, “Which would you choose - a rattlesnake bite or a water moccasin bite?” Anyone with any brains would choose neither given the choice. And as Americans, our founding fathers did give us a choice. 
We are not forced to choose either/or. The founders knew what rigged systems were like. They had just risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor breaking free from such a rigged system. You dismiss refusing to vote for the Republican nominee as "hating" Trump because you assume we are mad because our guy didn’t win and we’re have a temper fit. That's not it at all. That's how Trump thinks. Winning to Trump supporters is everything - at least that has been the theme of their attacks on people like me. I'm told we have to win so we have to vote for Trump. Like the toadies of a thousand playground bullies, they go along to get along and to avoid being ostracized from the group.

But it is not true. We’re not having a tantrum. We’re making a principled and painful decision. Doing the right thing is everything to some people. I'm a Christian and I was brought up in Texas. We understand that sometimes you stand and fight even when you know you’re going to lose because it’s the right thing to do. We remember the Alamo as our finest hour.

As one Trumpette reminded me, the Texans lost at the Alamo. The comment was revealing, though. Winning to this guy was everything. That's the Trump theme song. He promises we will win so much we'll get sick of winning. Trump appeals to a culture raised on the idea that being a loser is the worst thing in the world. But there are things far worse than defeat lurking out there.

Davy Crockett goes down swingin'.
The young man who said we lost at the Alamo was wrong. We Texans didn't lose that famous battle. The men at the Alamo saved the Republic of Texas at that battle. Our young men gave their lives to buy time so that Sam Houston's army could bring their forces together to destroy the Mexican Army at San Jacinto. The "loss" at the Alamo was the key to victory at San Jacinto. We also remember that the men at Goliad surrendered to the inevitable and Santa Anna slaughtered them anyway. I expect that will happen to Trump's folks too once he has the reins of power.
Refusing to vote for evil people may not win us the election, but it might just win us something that is well worth having - our integrity and self-respect.

If America sells its soul for a pocket full of mumbles, at least some of us will have stood firm and though we may fall, Jesus is coming soon and His approval is all we seek and heaven is the only thing worth winning.
I know Trump’s minions will never understand that, but they don’t have to. We answer to only one Master and it’s not Donald J. Trump.

© 2016 by Tom King

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The TRUMPINATOR 5000. You Too Can Be a Trump Supporter!

Hello friends and neighbors. I'm Newt Gingrich. I'm not a smart man, but I pretend to be one on TV hoping to get a cabinet job if Trump gets elected.

Are you a conservative? 
Hate Hillary Clinton, but having trouble swallowing Donald Trump as the Republican nominee? Well have I got good news for you.

Today, Trumpco Products has the answer for you and don't you want to know what it is?

It's the Trumpinator 5000! 

Yes, the exciting new Trumpinator 5000 is the perfect gift for yourself or, if you are already a Trump supporter, then, for all those of your principled conservative friends who refuse to climb on the Trump Train. 

It's fast, it's easy and it's fun. And let me show you how it works.

First, you place the head of the anti-Trump individual, the Cruzbot or #NEVERTRUMPer between the patented pans like so.

Note: We're using the simulated head of pesky conservative talk show host, Glenn Beck here because no matter how much money we offer him, he won't sell us Trump advertising and he keeps pointing out all the problems with Trump. And besides we never liked him because he doesn't intimidate when the RNC tries to lean on him. And boy would we like to get that melon between the patented pans!

With the head securely in place, simply take the patented Trumpinator 5000 persuader mallet and whack the pans until the individual stops talking and begins to drool. It's just that simple and don't you want to know how you can get one?

Now for just three easy payments to the RNC of $19.95, you can own the ultimate tool for "persuading" your friends or yourself to support Donald Trump with your votes and your money and your blind loyalty.

The Trumpinator 5000!

Get yours today. Don't be left out. Fun for the intellectually vapid and herd beasts of all ages.

Just call 1-800-Trumpinator today.


Order yours today.

© 2016 by Tom King

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Cuckoo's Egg & The Republican Suicide Pact

The Cuckoo is a wily sort of bird. It's name is synonymous with being crazy, but while the cuckoo presents as loud, flamboyant and aggressive, there is an evil method to her madness. The cuckoo is basically a thief. She frightens other birds from their nests with a great display of feathers and noise and then lays an egg in the nest among the other birds' own eggs. She then flies away and leaves her large noisy offspring to be hatched and raised by others. The cuckoo is the original advocate of using "other people's money" to enrich oneself. 

The comparison between the behavior of the cuckoo and the behavior of the presumptive Republican nominee is seriously disturbing. The progressive, socialist, big central government cuckoo has laid it's monstrous egg in the conservative nest. Either we push this foreign egg out of our nest or it will, as the cuckoo chick does, starve and eventually push out the little birds that make up the Republican Party. For those of you not paying attention, that would be bad....very bad!

One of the great problems with building a political party on principles like freeing the slaves, small decentralized government, limited federal responsibilities and strict constitutionalism is that you create a party that thinks independently. We Republicans are historically, not easily controlled by central authority (see Ronald Reagan). Republicans, especially those of the conservative stripe have a nasty tendency to think for themselves. Therefore, we are not easily led by our betters.

This election season the Democrats have brilliantly succeeded in planting a cuckoo's egg in the Republican nest. And just like the cuckoo chick, the Donald is going to push conservatives out of the nest and the Republican leadership is going to find itself feeding the insatiable power hungry Trump until they are exhausted, beaten down and without hope.

We have taken an imposter into our midst and when it's all over we'll be left with an empty nest and government-by-cuckoo.  The Republican primary has been co-opted by Democrats and reality TV fans. They have laid Donald Trump like an egg in our midst and somehow, most of us have not noticed. Instead we are about to nurture and feed a fool and fraud and the only candidate with worse negatives than Hillary as our flag-bearer. 

Pushed out by Cuckoo Donald, a third of the Republican Party at the very least and possibly many more than that, are about to be leave the nest, leaving the Party mama birds with a big fat, angry, hungry mouth to feed, and a mouth with no loyalty to it's parents. Trump has shown himself to be no conservative and has openly stated that he doesn't need conservatives to win. Conservatives will, I promise you, be deserting the party in large numbers. They already are starting to. What is truly incredible is that, out of a field of nearly 20 potential presidential nominees that was, if anything, an embarrassment of riches, we've been suckered into sitting on a proverbial cuckoo's egg and it is about to hatch with devastating consequences to the party and to the nation. 

When principled conservatives said, "Never Trump" we meant it. Most of us are Christians and we cannot find anywhere in Scripture that supports the "lesser of two evils" argument that the Party insists on making. The lesser of two evils is still evil. Should we vote for evil? A lot of us didn't vote for Romney or McCain and they were far more conservative in many ways than Trump.

If Trump is the guest of honor, the Party will not be well attended this November. That's a fact. Anyone who is ignoring the angry voices from the right is self-delusional. We've seen Trump before. He was a socialist and a nationalist and he wore a toothbrush mustache. Angry nationalistic big government socialists whose policies change on a whim have proven, in the past, to be bad for their countries. 

God help us if that awful man is elected.

© 2016 by Tom King

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Trump's Brilliant New Logo............NOT!

Trump's put out a couple of new logos since choosing Mike Pence for his running mate and if he's trying to lose the election he couldn't be going at it with much more enthusiasm. The Republican Party has successfully chosen the only candidate among 17 with more negative polling than Hillary Clinton. Now he's added the only VP candidate I can think of that makes the initials of his campaign identical to something used to wipe poop off of assholes (excuse my French, but you know the Clinton campaign is going to have fun with that one).

And NOBODY missed the fact that the hanging down bit in the Trump "T" was going right through the hole in the Pence "P".  For crying out loud, couldn't the brilliant businessman see the branding problem that this logo was going to create. It's like he's trying to make himself a laughing-stock.

Then there's this gem....

I added the tagline because, well, I personally think that's the sort of thing the TP American flag evokes. TP/flag. All kinds of unfortunate images come to mind - that is "unfortunate" if you don't want Clinton to win. It's a great gift to Hillary. All she's got to do for the rest of the campaign is take a leaf from the Donald Trump campaign and stick him with a negative label. Even more priceless, it's his own label. It's like he's saying we're going to TP the country with the American flag. Having studied Trump's background, this would not surprise me if his campaign doesn't plan to do exactly that.

Who came up with this? Since Trump, as we all know, only hires "the best people", then the only thing I can figure out is that they were hoping he would lose big time!

Please tell me the Republican party isn't going to go through with nominating this clown car campaign to carry the "conservative" banner this November.
There's not enough TP in the world to clean up the crap storm that's coming if we do.

 © 2016 by Tom King

Friday, July 15, 2016

Are We the Jellyfish the "Progressives" Claim We Are

The spectre of an elected American Caesar looms large over us in November.

One pundit argued after the horrific terror attack in Nice, that it is the fault of the French for making Muslim males feel disenfranchised. Well I've shoveled horse manure before and calling it "rose petals" doesn't improve the smell.  The idea that somehow a wily group of smart leaders can tell us all how to behave in such a way as to make Muslim males feel good about themselves so that they will magically become peaceful and cooperative is wishful thinking at best and treats young Muslim males as mere wind-up toys at worst.

Cultures are self-determined as is the response of members of that culture to the challenge of integrating into a new culture to which they have migrated. Some cultures and individuals blend willingly. Others resist, invade and overwhelm the culture of the place they move into. It rather depends on why a group of people move to a new place. Do they wish to become part of their new homeland or to make their new homeland into what the old world was?
America is almost unique in the world in its ability to absorb new cultures and blend their strengths into the fabric of our own. We once described ourselves as a melting pot and for much of our history, for good or ill, we have been that. Some Americans along the way have resisted the influx of new people with their odd customs and strange accents. But we've managed to take them all in and make Americans out of them. With arguably rare exceptions, the young males of those cultures found ways to not become "disenfranchised". The promise of America has been strong enough that every new culture we take in has embraced that promise and, in effect, "enfranchised" itself.
Take the Irish. The Irish were every bit as marginalized, mistreated and abused as any culture except perhaps African Americans, when they migrated in large numbers to the United States as famine and war pushed them out of their homeland. The Irish male had every reason to feel disenfranchised, what with signs everywhere that read "No Irish Need Apply".

The Irish, however, pushed back and refused to allow the American dream to be taken from them and their children. By working hard, winning land for themselves and making themselves fully American, despite the presence of bigots and exploiters who tried to abuse them. They did NOT commit massive acts of terror. Sure they protested. There were strikes and demonstrations. But the Irish also committed acts of patriotism, serving honorably in the nation's armed forces. They committed acts of responsibility by supporting themselves and their families as best they could. They educatedg themselves and their children and became fully American citizens who stood up and claimed for themselves the blessings of liberty.

Jellyfish don't do a lot of swimming. Mostly they drift along on the tides. The thing that makes me so angry at the progressive socialist movement in America is that it treats us like we're all mindless jellyfish. Progressives try so hard to turn us all into passive victims as though we had no concept of inalienable rights, no intelligence, and no minds of our own; as though we are merely the product of manipulation by our genetic betters - those ordained by survival of the fittest to rule over us jellyfish. This attitude is nothing but an attempt to resurrect the old idea of a genetically superior "nobility" - a blight that once plagued the Earth and one that the US Constitution once almost extinguished.

Israel once cried out for a king and God gave them what they desired, much to their detriment. We in America are running two such would-be royals for president in November. God help us, but He may grant us our wish as he did ancient Israel. The results will be the same old string of catastrophes that all-powerful kings and queens have always brought down upon the heads of their people.

President Obama wanted to be king, but enough of us opposed his naked power grab to minimize the damage he tried to bring down upon us. Sadly, the organized opposition appears to have gone over to the dark side and the spectre of an elected American Caesar looms over the land. We are being told by our betters that despite the fact that the two candidates are viewed as unfit for the office by two-thirds of Americans, that we must choose one or the other - the lesser of two evils.

It's time we resurrect that old American revolutionary spirit once more - a spirit that gave us the courage to say no to tyranny whenever and wherever it raised its ugly head. Sadly, whether we survive as a free nation or not may depend on whether or not we can resist the government's attempts to disarm and neuter us. The founding fathers were wise to guarantee our right to bear arms in the Constitution. An armed people will never climb willingly onto the trains to Dachau and Auschwitz. We will not, as Dylan Thomas exhorted us, go gently into that good night. 

I don't know about you but I plan to "rage, rage against the dying of the light.

© 2016 by Tom King

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Problem With Calling Another’s Faith “Chrislam”

Glenn Beck
Wahlid Shoebat, in a recent article, attacked Glenn Beck for saying that he believed most Muslims are peaceful or were at least supposed to be. He accused him of joining something called “Chrislam”. This term gets bandied about in reference to Christians who seem not to hate Muslims as much as they are supposed to. It is an unworthy piece, so I will not link to it from here. It is unkind, judgmental and smacks of conspiracy theory.

Sorry, but I'm with Jesus on this one
. If folk like Glenn Beck are for Him, they are not against us. We may have a debate over doctrine. I personally believe Mormons are dead wrong on a lot of doctrines. But then I believe the majority of Christians habitually break the 4th commandment without realizing it, even though it's spelled out pretty well in the ten commandments and there is no evidence in the New Testament that it was ever changed by Christ. That belief would get me thrown in with the cults by a lot of Christians of the Sister-Bertha-better-than-you sort, to borrow a term from Ray Stevens.

This is what I believe. I believe Beck, like other Christians of all denominations are honestly searching for God. I believe we all find a little piece of God's character in Scripture. Sometimes we only find one bit and we hang onto it for dear life, and miss a lot of other bits in protecting the bit of understand we do have. The Christian life is a long road. In it, none of us arrive at the same closeness to God in our walk with him. God will have to do some cleaning up with all of us when he gives us those new bodies He’s promised. Even though much of what we believe may be wrong, I don’t believe God stands angels at the Pearly Gates to weed out people whose beliefs were mistaken. That’s not the God I met 45 years ago and have walked with ever since.

I see Christian denominations as God's MASH units. They pick you up wherever you are and patch you up. Then begins the long walk. And we all start wherever we are. The road to God is straight and narrow, But, it starts where you are - everyone's road does. But every personal road to finding God ends up in his presence. We find many so-called Christian leaders who demand that you turn your face away from God and look at them - to go sideways off your road to God, if you will, and move over to line up behind them. Only problem with that is, that if you line up behind some charismatic leader or sect, your eyes are on the leader's behind and not upon Christ. If you stay on track, the closer we get to God, the closer we become to each other. That’s how the Maker molds the clay.

Scripture says work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. The disciples once  complained because unapproved persons were preaching the gospel and healing in Christ's name. Jesus said to leave them alone. It turns out that God knows who His children are and finds them wherever they are. We need to be certain that in our zeal to serve him, that we first do not harm to any of his children in the process.

Christ’s harshest words were for the Pharisees and Sadducees who divided the flock and excluded the poor and suffering unless they lined up behind one party or the other.

"Chrislam" is a pejorative, used by unkind Christians to undercut those they disagree with, particularly if they have any kind words for Muslim people. Such an approach to the Christian religion is, I think, an unhappy and dismal path to righteousness - one that seldom arrives at its desired destination. It is not wise to be constantly at war with those who are different from you. If I went to war with every Christian that disagreed with me, I'd do nothing but fight and argue with my fellow Christians all the time. Instead we talk about Christ. I talk with them about Christ's character and our shared hope of Christ's soon coming. 

Wahlid Shoebat
If they want to know what I believe I tell them because I believe that what I have learned from the Bible shows me a better and better picture of the character of God. It shows me a God of love who is not a torturer. A God who may be angry, but is only angry when someone hurts his children. Look at the Old Testament. Every time God is angry it's because someone is doing something evil that hurts the innocent. When God punished the Israelites for worshiping idols it was because at the time the death toll of infants and children was 26,000 a year sacrificed to Molech. Many more thousands of young girls were forced to serve as temple prostitutes to Baal. I want a God who gets angry about stuff like that. He is also a merciful God even to those who disobey. He forces no one to be with Him. Even the eternal hell fire and damnation stuff is found not in Scripture, but in Greek mythology. When God speaks of hell, it is always as an ending, not a beginning of something new and awful.

If you want to obey Christ's command to "go ye therefore....", then you must remember all the other things He told us to do, like treating others as we would be treated and removing the log from your own eye before going after the speck in someone else's. Christ never told us to play the “us vs. them” game. He told us to love our enemies and do good to them that persecute us. We are under orders. He gave us permission to do nothing like the hit piece Mr. Shoebat did. I suspect he needs to spend a little time on his knees talking to Jesus. As to those in other religions, I do not believe Jesus abandons them. I believe He can find His children wherever they are searching for Him, even if its in a Buddhist temple, a mosque, an atheist university, or even one of those big glass super churches the TV evangelists build.   

Remember that Jesus had harsh words for the Pharisees treatment of the Samaritans. The Mormons are Christianity's "Samaritans" and if you'll remember, Jesus did not approve of the Jews shunning Samaritans. He went among them and healed the sick and led prostitutes to the feet of God. One of his parables praised a Samaritan even. Pretty much said the Jews could learn a thing or two from the Good Samaritan. I think we Christian conservatives have plenty of room in the fold, even for Mormons and Samaritans. I think God is great and good enough to find His lost children and lift them up to heaven's gates wherever they start out from. We stand in His way at our peril. He said, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me." We ought to do that.

Someone said I was being judgmental about Mr. Shoebat's hit piece on Beck. Well, Mr. Shoebat's article deserves some judgment. It was a clear attempt to undermine Glenn Beck - a man who has done a lot for Christian conservatives, often against powerful forces. He has been threatened with death for his efforts to unite Christians and other persons of good will, not in subservience to authority as the Pope is currently trying to do, but in service to God, however we know Him.

God has said He is a jealous God, not willing that any be lost who can be saved. Look how long it's taking Him to come back. We're just now at the point where the Word can go out to every corner of the world. We have the means to reach the most remote corners of the planet. We live in exciting times. I do believe Jesus is loading up the buses to come and get us. Just remember, it's a rescue mission not an occupation. Jesus warned us about what a sorry state the world will be in when He comes. All the more reason Christians of every stripe should be sharing our love for God rather than trying to marginalize, criticize and cast out those whom Jesus would have us embrace with love and compassion.

Just sayin'

Tom King © 2016

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Vote for Republicans Because........Gerrymandering

With the gradual takeover of heartland states by Republicans, we've begun to hear a lot of Democrat whining about a process called "gerrymandering". Well given it's origins, all that whining is nothing, if not, disingenuous.  

Gerrymandering, refers to the process of slicing and dicing districts to favor the incumbent party. It's why some congressional districts look like they were designed by chimpanzees. Gerrymandering, as it turns out, is actually named for Massachusetts Governor Eldridge Gerry who, in the early 1800s, famously sliced up one voting district into such a contorted shape that it looked vaguely like a salamander and, of course, favored his own party. A clever pro-Federalist newsman conjured up the term "gerrymandering" for what he viewed as a shady redistricting practice.

Typical gerrymandered congressional district
Eldridge was a member of the fledgling Democratic-Republican party which later became (you guessed it) The Democrat Party. So, the game was actually invented by the Democrats who only cry foul when it's Republicans doing the "gerrymandering". Yahoo news complained a while back because Republicans were, quote, "good at it".

Odd that you don't hear the same complaint from the mainstream media when Democrats are doing it. You can expect to hear more complaints from the media about gerrymandering's unfairness if Republicans do well this fall, even if Donald Trump turns out to be a disaster.  If the Democrats take the field, however, you won't hear nary a word of complaint about the slicing and dicing of voting districts except, of course, from conservative media.

Even if I hate Donald Trump, I'll vote for the down ticket conservatives because whoever wins those contests gets to carve up the districts, whether you think that's fair or not. Neither party will do away with gerrymandering either because it's one of the spoils of victory and both sides are arrogant enough to believe that they will be the victor to whom such spoils will go. Besides a properly gerrymandered district can insure you have a long and rewarding political career - at least for yourself it will be rewarding. For taxpayers, not so much.

© 2016 by Tom King

Friday, July 8, 2016

REXIT! It's Time to Vote With Our Feet

I've been sending letters to the Republican rules committee asking them to support the Unruh proposal which would officially allow delegates to vote just their conscience at the upcoming convention. The only ones who have gotten back to me on it have all said, basically, "Thanks for your opinion, but here's why I'm supporting Trump."  All of the responses so far have pretty much followed the "lesser of two evils" line of reasoning which I've already explained why that's poor reasoning in previous blogs, so I won't bore you with it again. One respondent gave me a justification for leaving the delegates bound to a nominee elected by crossover Democrats, by saying it doesn't matter. We must beat Hillary and our bully is better than their bully. 

Another spoke about respecting the "will of the voters". I reminded her that we are a Republic. The party is even named the Republican Party for crying out loud. Our founding fathers gave us a republic not a group suicide by majority vote government.

If the party leadership insists on following after the biggest bully on the playground, hoping he won't hurt them when he's done with the other bully, then, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, I won't be leaving the party, the party will be leaving me. Courage is a precious and rare commodity in today's political world. I suspect if someone showed up with some and exercised it, we'd have an effective leader by acclamation. I don't know about you guys, but I'm sick of fast-talking, big government, bullies who tell me I have to hold my nose and vote for someone because they say so.

Time for a Declaration of Independence from the two party system. Goodbye and, not only will I not let the door hit me in the ass on the way out, but I might just rip the door off the hinges so other honorable folks can find their way out of the cesspool that collects around Donald Trump.

Besides he doesn't need us. He who must not be elected said so himself.

Just one man's opinion.

Tom King © 2016

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Dear Austin: Smart Cities Are Only As Smart as Cities Act

I read an article today explaining that Austin, Texas, capital of my favorite state in the U.S. of A., shouldn't blame it's having driven out Uber and Lyft for it's failure to win the considerable federal funding represented by the "Smart Cities" Challenge grant. Once again, my friends on the left, bow down to a conventional wisdom about transportation that is dictated by the ideology of progressivism rather than to pragmatic problem-solving of a serious issue. Decisions made in deference to this hallowed political viewpoint must not ever be blamed for the failures of the system it has created. Therefore, Austin's failure to win all that progressive government money is not due to any fault of their ideology, at least according to the anti-Uber crowd.

Primarily the article was about deflecting the charge that Austin's onerous regulation of the two ride-share companies, Uber and Lyft, and their subsequent departure, had something to do with Austin's failure to win the DOT's Smart Cities Challenge - $50 million in federal and private funding pledges for smart city infrastructure investments. Apparently some progressive wags considered Austin something of a shoe-in for that cash, given the sheer "progressiveness" of the city. Such criticism is dismissed as coming from a technologically and economically advantaged elite who use Uber as a kind of upper class taxi service, ostensibly unavailable to the peon class if I read the sneering tone correctly.

Austin (and Houston and parts of the Rio Grande Valley) are where we keep our liberal Democrats, progressive socialists and communists in Texas. We like to keep them bunched up together where we can keep an eye on them. As they are drawn to cities anyway, Austin and Houston were natural corrals. Unfortunately, they've taken to invading Dallas lately and we may have to fence that off for them too. It's a little early to tell.

At any rate, what chapped me about the article was the attempt by the writer to characterize Uber and Lyft as elitist modes of transportation. What a load of balderdash!  The reporter describes Uber and Lyft as the other side of a supposed digital divide where those who can afford on-demand transportation options like Uber and Lyft.are supposedly some sort of privileged technology elite. Dude, I'm officially a member of the below-the-poverty line class and I couldn't get along without Uber. Thanks to Uber, we can manage on our limited budget without undue stress like walking 4 miles to the pharmacy and back on bad knees twice a month.

I'd like to challenge my liberal colleagues in the public transportation advocacy racket on that perception and ask them to reconsider the role of Uber and Lyft in an integrated strategy for public transit.  I can do this from a unique position being myself a transportation challenged person.

My wife is fully disabled and cannot be left unattended while I run off to a traditional out-of-the home job.
So I am forced to work from home (as a writer as it turns out). It's early in my career and not particularly lucrative yet. I live in Western Washington State thanks to a brilliant series of stupid decisions I was more or less forced to make in the interests of survival.  We live in South Hill, a suburb south of Seattle and east of Tacoma. When I came here I was told the Seattle-Tacoma area had perhaps the finest public transportation system in the world. I tried to use it. I really did. I spent hours walking between my home and wherever the bus decided to drop me instead of working at my home office. Shopping for the simplest thing or picking up medications became a daylong affair. We found a low cost garage apartment in a safe neighborhood and with rent and utilities and regular visits to the food bank, we are muddling along. Unfortunately, it is 3 miles from the nearest bus stop. This was the only decent place we could find or afford on our limited income. We are ineligible for paratransit pickup here because of our distance from the bus line, though we were approved based on income (or lack thereof). The lady at the bus company suggested we walk 4 miles to the public library to meet the paratransit bus. Did I mention we are 3 miles from a bus stop? So that "option" was nearly worthless given my wife's condition and my damaged knee.

We had been doing our monthly shopping trip all on one day for a while. I'd ride my bike to the bus stop or walk and take the bus to Walmart, buy our groceries and take a cab ride home at a cost of $20 to $30 one way. The wait for a taxi was anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. The drivers tended to be from central and east African countries and difficult to understand, English not being their primary language. The last two time we took a taxi, the driver shouted at some woman on his cell phone in Farsi all the way home. My wife nearly had a panic attack. She said it felt like being abducted by terrorists.

So, for the cost of just one cab ride, I invested in a smart phone with a prepaid cell phone company and downloaded Uber.
We are not among the technologically advanced elites of the city. We are an older couple, facing disability and on a thoroughly fixed income. We cannot afford a car, insurance and fuel on our very limited budget. I'm saving up for an electric bicycle as a way to handle small errands without having a heart attack on the very steep hills I have to ride on, but even that is a long way off at the rate I'm going.

I was wonderfully surprised by my experience with Uber.
The cars were clean and the drivers friendly to a fault. I've never waited longer than 17 minutes for an Uber car. They give you a choice of sizes of vehicles even. You can get a small car, a mid-sized or a van or limo. With the cab company you got whatever they sent and sometimes they sent the drivers to the wrong cities. I once walked 4 miles to the pharmacy in order to get there before it closed because my taxi took two hours to respond and finally cancelled my trip. I couldn't wait anymore, so I walked.

And my Uber ride costs, in most cases, significantly less than a taxi ride and I give them a substantial tip every time because they are such lovely people. And no, they aren't all white or born in the United States, so before you draw the race card, don't! Uber drivers are, however, very nice people. I've never met an unpleasant Uber driver. Of course, passengers rate their drivers on a star system whenever they finish their rides, so that probably makes a difference. I've never given less than 5 stars. The drivers tend to be seniors making a little extra money, students using the job to pay for their cars and housewives picking up some money while their kids are at school. I have never had a bad ride with Uber. The cab company was 50/50 so far as the quality of the experience goes.

As a source of both transportation and employment for people in the lower middle class/upper lower class income brackets, Uber is a godsend.
I haven't ever ridden Lyft, but I hear good things about them too. A lot of young people, a group that will spend it's food money for a smart phone, don't buy cars anymore because Uber is affordable and reliable and safe. Young people are high-income folk by and large and for them Uber and Lyft aren't a luxury. They are a part of their strategy for getting around town.

When I was doing transportation advocacy full tilt, I always thought the idea was to get people affordable rides to where they needed to go as economically as possible. I didn't know it also had to fit a certain transit ideology. It didn't take long for me to discover that, for many of my colleagues, expanding public transportation was part of a larger political strategy. In that strategy, free market solutions like Uber and Lyft are not welcome apparently.

The thing is though, that Uber and Lyft meet a critical public transportation need that buses, trains and taxis do not. Yeah, I know it's hard on the cab companies to compete with an innovative alternative to a slow, inefficient, but well-armored transportation dinosaur like the taxicab. In protecting their turf, it turns out, the cab companies kind of sewed the seeds of their own demise. Uber's system, with which I have direct experience, is ingenious. It's fast. It uses technology brilliantly. It maximizes driver profits, customer convenience and isn't limited as to service area or range unless short-sighted cities like Austin drive them away. Feedback is two-way between customer and driver. The Uber/Lyft system answers problems in the areas of both transportation and employment for people living on the ragged edge between middle class and poverty, a much-ignored group when leftist ideology considers how to redistribute wealth.

Having an affordable way to get to town is the difference for many of us on fixed incomes between being able to muddle along on our own and being dependent on government welfare. If you work, thanks to Uber you can still get along without a car even if you aren't on a bus line. You can set up a regular ride to work arrangement that gets you to work on time and with remarkable consistency. Every driver is an entrepreneur and works whatever hours he or she wishes and wherever they choose to work.

And yes, drivers may avoid certain neighborhoods that are high risk. They do so of their own choosing. Even those brave souls that choose to work more dangerous neighborhoods have the added safety factor that the company has all the contact information and the debit/credit card number of whoever they pick up. My driver sees my picture when I post for a ride and I see his picture, his car's picture and license plate number show up on my phone before she gets there. It's a wonderful system. If my driver gets lost, she calls me. I always give them a nice tip, and even with the extra tip, the trip cost with my Uber driver is a little more than half what I'd pay a taxi cab for slower, less pleasant service.  I know several local drivers personally now and they grab my pickup request quickly. They get a reliable tip and I get a nice pleasant ride with someone I know and trust.

To eliminate Uber and Lyft from Austin may not have cost them the Smart Cities grant, but it certainly revealed them for a not-so-smart city. Austin has a large tech-savvy population that, had Uber and Lyft been available to them, might just have either not bought cars or left them parked and as I remember, traffic was fast becoming a problem in Austin. The flexibility of Uber could easily have allowed Uber drivers to create regular group ride-share commutes, reduce dead-heading drives by single drivers and vastly reduce the number of drunk drivers on the roads by making ride homes and the next day's ride back to get your car more affordable and encouraged a few more folk to not take the chance.

Austin, which prides itself on being an open, free-wheeling sort of culture, has successfully eliminated the open, free-wheeling sort of transportation option from Austin's famous city limits.
Too bad too, but what do you expect when you bunch up that many ideological liberals in one place.

Just sayin'

Tom King © 2016