Virginia's enlightened progressive Governor Dr. Northam's medical school yearbook photo

Part 1, Milton

We first knew Milton when he was perhaps 5 or 6 years old.  He was a fairly regular attendee at our charity children’s program (breakfast, story time, playtime, lunch, arts and crafts, sports, games, snack, finish up by around 4 pm) near a small village in rural Honduras.  To be honest he wasn’t the brightest of kids, but he was very cute as he sat on the swing and said, “Reid, calame (Reid, swing me).” 

We would open in the morning, often with 20-30 kids, and by the afternoon 40 to 50 wasn’t unusual.  They largely had one thing in common in regards to the following: pretty much none of the parents (mothers) had any idea where their kids were.  There is no tradition of, “Hey mom, I’m heading off to the guarderia, be back around 4:30,” but rather the kids go off to do whatever they do and all is well if they end up back home by dark.  By our “we are right in the latest incarnation of whatever we do in the US at the moment” standard this might sound negligent, but it’s more similar to the way my generation was raised than not, plus our project had a pretty good reputation.  For the most part the mothers in the village sincerely care about their children, fathers typically less so, considering so many of them are absent from their children’s lives, which is pertinent to Milton. 

Briefly, the last full session of the kids’ program was in 2011, for a variety of reasons we did not leave the US in 2012, and beginning in 2013 I (now with my wife staying at home) began spending about two months a year in the village, not doing a program for kids per se but more young adult and adult oriented, especially teaching English, carpentry, and sewing.  Not surprisingly on each trip down there I catch up on the latest, especially asking about how the kids we had gotten to know quite well in past years are doing.  This past March (2019) upon my arrival I inquired as to Milton’s status and learned he had recently gone to los Estados Unidos illegally, which was unexpected.  In learning the details I was told his father had taken him.  I mentioned that to the best of my knowledge his father was never part of his life, and this was confirmed, i.e. Milton simply became a pasaporte for his hitherto absent father.

We are funny in America in regards to children, at least the left is. In any social policy, or political debate, invoking “the children” is supposed to stifle the other side and assure their acquiescence (which unfortunately has often proven to be true, at least in pre-Trump times).  Though the left gleefully ends the lives of children by the boatload under the guise of “women’s rights,” they seem to drip with compassion for non-aborted children as long as it advances their narrative.   This has very much filtered down to the villages in Honduras in the form of, “if you show up at the border with a kid you will get in.” This explains Milton’s father’s newly discovered love for his dear son.  It also explains why 13 year-old Julia’s aunt was planning on returning to the village and drag her with her to the border (“remember Julia, I’m your mother!”).

We hear a good deal about child/human trafficking these days and what I’m describing is at the lower end: certainly the parents aren’t knowingly giving up their children to be sex slaves, and not even selling them per se. There is simply an implicit understanding that “when you get into the US using my son or daughter as your passport, I will expect to be spending time at the Western Union office to receive remittances from you.”

Although I could fill pages talking about immigration, I merely want to end this section with a few thoughts. First, our progressive Democrat policy, which is essentially in effect Trump or no Trump, turns children into commodities, and indeed makes them susceptible to full-blown exploitation.

Second, our policy ignores the most basic and humane (though most difficult) solution, which is to improve the situation in the countries of mass emigration.  This should not mean everyone has to have the American middle-class standard of SUVs, big screen TVs, streaming video, smart phones, wine coolers, and air conditioning, but there are basic modern comforts that, if more universally available, would certainly improve living standard.

Third, a common aspect to the immigration debate is the idea of assimilation, and there seems to be a reluctance to embrace this ideal culturally and linguistically, at least when compared to the widely held narrative pertaining to prior immigrants.  The concept of assimilation simply doesn’t exist in the minds of the current wave from Latin America: there are no tired, huddled masses yearning to breath free.  They are not refugees with legitimate asylum claims planning to assimilate, but rather have seen plenty of Hollywood movies with all the glitter and materialism and say to themselves, “I want that.”  And you can’t really blame them.

Part 2, The Blind Girl

In modern progressive Western culture the most odious creature is the white male Christian conservative, even worse if they are from the South, and even worse if they are credentialed as a Baptist pastor- the horror! I will call him Leonard, and yes, he is all of these things.  Around 15 years ago his fictitious (I am a non-believer) God called him to Honduras to help children, and eventually he, along with his Christian Mexican- American wife (I forgot to mention he is also a dreaded heterosexual), established an orphanage.  It wasn’t your typical orphanage, however, with cottages and hired caregivers, but rather the kids were their kids, and they lived with the kids.  They peaked at perhaps 20-some children, lost a few for a variety of reasons, and now have about 15.  Needless to say, these kids were from the worst situations of neglect, abuse, and abandonment imaginable, for the most part have been with them since infancy, and they are “children of color.” More on this shortly.

About 13 years ago a baby girl was born, named Xiomara who was obviously blind, and there was some concern she had a “syndrome” that would make her mentally retarded, deaf, or what have you.  During the time the baby was a neonate an American physician (OB/Gyn, who traveled on a somewhat tortured road that led her to Honduras, then back to the US) happened to see this baby and declared it would be better off if she were simply left to die.  This did not happen, and shortly she was taken in by Leonard.  She grew and thrived and a couple of years ago she was adopted by, yes, a despicable Christian, conservative heterosexual American couple from, Lord help us, Texas.  I’ve known Xiomara since she was a baby and had the chance to see her this past March (the adoptive parents bring her back to Honduras to visit her siblings, i.e. the kids she grew up with until her adoption), and she was everything wonderful in a child- happy, vibrant, engaging, etc.

Not to long ago the Democrat Governor of Virginia became embroiled in some controversy, especially in terms of a black face/KKK medical school yearbook photo.  Though this has faded away (together with a sexual assault accusation against the Democrat Lt. Gov. it was conceivable a Republican could have ascended to the VA executive office, so the initial progressive outrage had to be quelled), there was a lesser-reported controversy that reminded me of Xiomara.  The Governor, who graduated medical school and is a soft-spoken progressive extremist, was prompted to muse about a bill to end any restrictions on abortion, to include allowing the abortion of baby while the mother was in natural active labor.  In the event the child survived the abortion and continued unwanted by the mother he suggested “comfort care,” in other words putting a blanket over the infant and allowing it to die from dehydration or starvation. He added, “And it's done in cases where there may be severe deformities.”

My primary career was as a medical provider, Physician Assistant (PA), and I worked or associated with many physicians over the years.  I can say some of the finest people I’ve known were physicians, many were of average integrity, and too many were disingenuous reprobates, the kind of people like VA Governor Dr. Northam who couch barbarism- starving and dehydrating babies to death- in feel-good terms such as “comfort care.”  Needless to say, under Dr. Northam’s professional and august guidance, Xiomara would have died an agonizing death.  It’s ironic to note that it would be less cruel to simply use a pipe or hammer and smash the baby’s skull, but with all the blood, bone fragments, and brain tissue it would be less sophisticated and less quaint, and wouldn’t qualify for the soothing term “comfort care.”

The children under the care of Leonard and his wife, their children (the oldest are now 15) are a true joy to know.  They are kids and have all the normal concerns and problems of kids certainly but are pretty well adjusted, enthusiastic, and are also truly fluent in both Spanish and English- and it’s quite a bit of fun to watch them switch back and forth with ease as the situation requires.  Less than two years ago Leonard (known as Papa to the kids), was diagnosed with an adult form of muscular dystrophy and can no longer walk or stand, and is losing the use of his arms.  As much as the left finds solace and satisfaction in ridiculing Christians, Leonard endures and even thrives because of his Lord and Savior and because he believes in something greater than himself.  I doubt very much that those who would call him a racist bigot simply because he’s a Christian could bear riding in his wheelchair: they wouldn’t sacrifice materialistic comfort for a moment to care for “children of color,” no matter how much they claim to love them.

by Reid Fitzsimons

In 2015, when the Supreme Court issued its Obergefell v. Hodges decision legalizing same-sex marriage, Barack Obama ordered the White House be bathed in rainbow colors. This was an immature and inappropriate thing to do considering 10 of millions of Americans opposed the decision, but it was Obama doing what he did so well: divisive in your face activism.  Perfectly compassionate religious people opposed the decision based upon the concept of sin, and otherwise perfectly typical people might have opposed it simply because they viewed the decision as legitimizing what was unnatural or perhaps opening the door to further erosion of traditional mores.  Nevertheless, no reasonable person, no matter how upset, argued that sex between two men or two women approached the level of evil.

Evil has been with us as long as we’ve been in existence.  Perhaps a few groups or cultures have not been perpetrators of evil, but it’s been pretty universal to be on both the receiving and the committing sides, depending on who was on top or at the bottom at the time.  One aspect of evil that has been relatively uncommon has been the overt celebration of one’s atrocities.  Perhaps there were public relations considerations, perhaps strategic, and even maybe some residual sense of right and wrong, but for the most part evil people and entities haven’t been inclined to trumpet their reprehensible accomplishments.

There are, of course, people and philosophies that discount the existence of evil, claiming some are driven to do bad things based only upon extrinsic factors.  Religious people might argue that evil exists as a consequence of Satan.  Personally, as a God disbeliever, I think some people are innately evil.  Whether this reflects some aberration of genetics, or even some evolutionary imperative I’m not sure, but I’ve been around a bit- worked at a prison, been in the military, lived in other (“third-world”) countries and cultures for a number of years- and I’m fairly certain I’ve met some evil people.  And like that storied serial killer living next door, the neighbors inevitably say, “He seemed normal.”

The New York State government gave us something almost unprecedented the other day- an act of not just unadulterated evil but a perverse celebration of it, ordering the spire of the “Freedom Tower” to be illuminated in pink.  It doesn’t take a great moralist or contemplator of ethics or even run of the mill reprobate to understand that dismembering a child just weeks, or even just hours before his or her birth is blatantly evil.  Nevertheless, majorities in both houses of the NY State legislature voted for this latest “health” bill, and the Governor enthusiastically and pompously signed it into law.  One could imagine a legislator from Queens applauding the law and giddy with pleasure, perhaps not even cognizant of their affirmation, “I am evil, and I’m feeling pretty good about it.”

Sadly and historically evil doesn’t occur in a vacuum, but rather it typically finds adherents or enablers willing to rationalize it.  It also encounters those who recognize evil for what it is and, in theory at least, are charged with opposing it.  Sometimes the people and organizations charged with identifying evil and countering it fail to do so, even willingly, and hence are justly tainted by it.  And speaking of the NY Catholic Church establishment (what Trump supporters might refer to as “the Swamp”), no matter how irresistible the sweet love of their Savior Jesus or their veneration of the Blessed Mother, there is something even greater for which to yearn- being a player, no matter how trivial, in secular politics. 

I am a Bishop and I have a staff and mitre to prove it, and by God I’m allowed to utter platitudes of the sanctity of life.  But the Governor, evil incarnate he may be, is a good Catholic, and I can find all sorts of arcane doctrinal and theological arguments of how he should remain in good standing.  My God, if we really did the right thing and disavowed him as one of us, the Cardinal’s calls might not be forwarded to one of the Governor’s administrative assistants, and we would feel diminished.  Besides, what could be more fun than giggling with the Governor at the annual Al Smith dinner?  Yeah, sure I love the Cross, but I love the idea of being accepted by the woke cultural elite even more.

Not too long ago pink was the color the oppressive patriarchy associated with little girls. In short order, however, pink has become the symbolic color of victory over the helpless and innocent; in New York that is a reason for delirious celebration. 

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by Reid Fitzsimons

I find myself making comments on articles at FoxNews.com, a seemingly benign if not necessarily wholesome activity.  Sometimes, or perhaps most of the time, the level of discourse is little above insults and name-calling, but who knows what is real or trolling, whatever that actually means. My comments undoubtedly raise the level of conversation and provide cutting and sophisticated insight (trying to be humorous here), and generally receive a moderate number of “likes,” the standard by which we judge our existences.  Also I often receive replies ranging from thoughtful to pure invective.  Recently (Dec. 21st) I found myself in a prolonged discussion with someone using the screen name Julieplsekbrown responding to a comment I made regarding 20-year Democrat Rep. Luis Guitierrez from Chicago.  Guitierrez, who supposedly once stated, “I have only one loyalty and that's to the immigrant community,” was in the news for a 6-minute harangue of the Secretary of Homeland Security, following which he departed the hearing room without listening to her response.

by Reid Fitzsimons

My wife and I moved from NY to South Alabama in 2008,primarily for reasons related to operating our small charity project in Honduras.  During our almost four years there (about half in Alabama, half in Honduras) I encountered one true died in the wool racist, a relic of about 80 who happened to be our neighbor.  Chatting with him for the first time by the mailbox about lawnmowers he spontaneously declared, “I don’t care much for Afro-Americans (actually he used another word).”  He continued for a bit, talking about the good times when Afro-Americans (actually he used another word) ‘knew their place,” and so on. To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee: Now That’s a Racist!  My wife, who had never met a real racist,wasn’t there at the time so later I introduced her, forewarned.  The old guy didn’t disappoint- it was like going to some museum of bigotry and watching a real time exhibition.

Of course that was 2008, a quaint time before countless millions were declared to be racists by progressive fiat.  What exactly happened in the past 10 years to make so many millions of previously benign Americans become vile hate-filled bigots?  First we need to understand what it means to be a racist in the progressive, post-modern sense, and we can do this metaphorically.  Say an overtired kid has a tantrum when he’s told it’s bedtime and, as part of his personal resistance movement, yells to his mother that that she is a“poopy.”  Dad also tells him it’s bedtime but, seeing a little humor, asks him exactly what is a poopy.  The kid, crying more vigorously now, yells,“You are a poopy too,” but off to bed he goes off and is quickly asleep.

Obviously in this scenario the little tyke couldn’t be expected to explain himself rationally; he was fully controlled by the emotion of the moment.  A “poopy” was simply the creation of an immature mind directed at someone who didn’t give him immediate gratification.  Fortunately his parents didn’t have to worry that their lives would be damaged by a silly and nonsensical accusation from an upset child. It would be a worrisome world indeed if immature and self-centered beings could hurl insults and accusations they couldn’t actually define and truly injure people with them. 

A couple of ideas here should be self-evident.  First, if words don’t have agreed upon meanings or those meanings are constantly in flux, then language ceases to be a means of communication.  Second, the term “racist” is not particularly difficult to define or understand, at least for a grown-up whose intellect is consistent with their chronological age.  However, for people whose age indicates adulthood but emotional functioning is more like our cranky little guy above,then a “racist” simply means a “poopy,” which doesn’t really mean anything at all.

One might ask how did we devolve into this linguistic and emotional chaos?  The answer to this is multi-faceted but certainly the absurd wealth we possess plays a major part.  Never before have so many people been so totally removed from the requirements of sustenance: kids having to getup and feed the chickens or milk the cows before school, as recent as my generation, is as far away as another universe.  Our wealth is such that an endless abundance of food, technology,entertainment, etc is simply “there,” and when something is redundantly ubiquitous one needn’t consider its source. 

Picture, for example, our socialist antifa hero who, after an evening of smashing car windows, peels off his sweaty but stylish balaclava and takes a well-deserved Starbucks break, enjoying a $5 Serious Strawberry Frappuccino.  With satisfaction of as job well done he uses his I-Phone 10 to log-on to the news and hears kudos from the college president and local progressive mayor for standing up for tolerance-another conservative speaker has been run out of town!  Never once does he contemplate the enormous and complex transportation and logistical chain that brought together the components of his tasty beverage and the innovation, built on the back of decades and centuries of prior innovation, that allows for his phone, let alone the auto glass he bravely destroyed.  If someone suggested it all happened because of capitalism and hard work, he’d simply yell, “you are like Hitler” and storm off.

While excessive wealth and its associated elitism is perhaps a foundational basis for the proliferation outrage, hate, and name calling,there are other significant factors as well. Broken families underlie much of our societal dysfunction but this applies largely to the non-elite, keeping in mind that feminist dogma has long rejected the necessity of fathers; feminism is an elitist phenomenon and those that can afford the nannies and parent substitutes can get by just fine.

 I propose it’s the intact progressive minded families and the supporting institutions (i.e.schools and universities, celebritydom of all stripes) that have shifted the paradigm from setting limits for kids, meaningful discipline, and a sense of respect to child- centered, self-esteem driven self-absorption.  Here is a blatant example- I once witnessed  (for real) a boy of perhaps10 hit another child of 12 or so in the chest with a branch.  The mother’s response was, “What a good boy,you could have hit him in head but you only hit him in the chest.”  The mother’s overriding concern was that her child “like” her and, of course, once a parent abrogates their obligation to be a parent as compared to a friend, the chances of the kid growing up to be a respectful and successful adult greatly diminish. 

When wealth is so great it ceases being primarily a means of reasonable comfort and security and becomes frivolous, and frivolity is inconsistent with a deeper or more meaningful significance to life.  In this void we find guilt and indolence, a sense that there must be something more, but to find this would take actual effort, perhaps at the unacceptable expense of our material comfort.  Hence we have found a work-around: Yes,there unfairness, inequality, and suffering in the world and at some level I would like to help, but doing something actually useful would take me out of my comfort zone, and perhaps cost me money, time and effort.  Therefore I can assuage my own inadequacies by feeling, or at least feigning, outrage, and by projecting it at people who don’t possess the enormous compassion and empathy I know is within me.  I am a wonderful and righteous person, and you are a racist, Nazi, bigot, homophobe, transgenderphobe, Islamophobe, misogynist, or Fascist.  By hating you I am absolved of my guilt, now off to the wine-tasting fund raiser for Planned Parenthood, where I know everyone will be wonderful, just like me!

Calling people “racists” is so common these days that it has become meaningless, which is actually a problem because there are true racists who can cause misery for others, but the reality of their malicious beliefs becomes diluted- putting someone who doesn’t embrace illegal immigration at the same level as a Cross-burning Klan member may be satisfying on a transitory basis but at the same time it diminishes the vileness of the Klan.Whatever the reason(s) progressive leftists cannot control their self-righteous anger and angst, the recipients of their vitriol,which presently includes conservatives, Republicans, believing Christians,white males, and white females who aren’t progressive leftists (and, curiously,sometimes non-white people who reject progressivism), can take solace in the knowledge that the social justice activists, whether college students, “antifa”morons, or wealthy Ivy League professors, are simply calling you a “poopy,”which has no significance beyond the emotions of an overtired child.  Unfortunately, while the four year-old kid will wake up happy and refreshed, the “woke” activist will wake up angry and offended, ready to hurl insults at people who don’t agree with them on all matters of life, politics, culture, and philosophy.


by Reid Fitzsimons

Note: The below is an (edited) e-mail I sent to a very accomplished young man (early 30s) who is successful in the higher levels of academia but also in the “real” world, including the military. As I’m writing this the “migrant caravan, largely from Honduras, is a hot topic. I think the e-mail is fairly self-explanatory:

I have a semi-serious question about academics and Dr. XXX, EdD. He and I had a happy and meaningful time together without too much emphasis on politics. While I think it’s bad form to discuss politics in general social settings, I realize leftists especially have a difficult time constraining themselves, and I generally accept this. Hence I’m disinclined to respond to references to “that mad man in the White House” or derogatory references to Trump overall. I see a number of similarities between the most obnoxious of Christians and progressive leftists. Have you ever know someone who constantly says “praise the Lord,” or “thank you Jesus (not including XXX when winning at a casino!)?” If I’m attending the XXX Baptist Church it’s to be expected, but outside such a venue it’s impolite and inappropriate, especially if you don’t know the beliefs of the people you are with or know them to not be Christians.

Anyway, can an uneducated ignoramus such as me have a reasonable expectation that a highly credentialed academic possess the ability to view things dispassionately and objectively? Poor Dr. XXX, EdD, in considering Honduras, seems unable to discuss the topic without mentioning the Standard Fruit Company with great angst. I’m not sure what you know about this but it was an absolutely proto-typical scenario of a capitalist international corporation lining the pockets of willing petty dictators in exchange for favors, sometimes to the detriment of the “masses.” I said to him, “It’s been 120 years, you’ve got to get over it!” So the question is, can a PhD/EdD historian look at the record, however distasteful, and not be overwhelmed with anger and emotion. If not, can the scholarship be trusted?

You probably know some 13 years ago he received a $100,000 grant from the US Dept. of Interior to investigate the feasibility of processing coffee in an environmentally friendly manner in Central America. Ultimately nothing came of it and the money was for naught, but it did finance a two-week trip for him to Honduras and Costa Rica. I think this brief experience profoundly affected him, somehow legitimizing his already established leftist inclinations in his own mind. He said something like, “I did go to a non-tourist village, and they were really welcoming,” as this was of great significance. Despite his being a truly decent and caring person, I see such a strange contrast between him, the academic leftist whose outrage at the injustice of Central America (for example) suffices for action, and the uneducated ignoramus (i.e. conservative) that I am who has spent years, quite a bit of personal effort, and 10s of thousands of dollars down there in hopes of bettering the lives of the impoverished. I fear in the elite worlds of academia and wealth, a sense of righteous indignation offers much greater prestige than actually doing something!

     

by Reid Fitzsimons

I’m pretty sure I’m not a “Gun Nut,” unless progressive lexicologists have recently redefined it to include anyone supportive of the second amendment to any degree. I was certainly not a member of the NRA when, in 2004, I heard a speech by Wayne Lapierre, a major player in the NRA. I assumed it would be similar to Arlo Guthrie’s lyrics in Alice’s Restaurant, when he was talking to the draft board psychiatrist and repeatedly declaring “I want to kill!” Disappointingly, however, it was a low-keyed and well-reasoned talk. Several years ago I did join the NRA and, though my membership has lapsed, the motivating reason was more philosophical/sympathetic than practical (no desire for a hat, t shirt, pocket knife, etc).

In June 2013 Christopher Swindell, a journalism professor at Marshall University in Huntington, W.V., posted a somewhat fanciful op-ed in the Charleston Gazette which included an assertion that “The NRA advocates armed rebellion against the duly elected government of the United States of America. That’s treason, and it’s worthy of the firing squad,” and several other similar pearls. Having been fairly confident the NRA didn’t “advocate armed rebellion” I felt it appropriate to join the NRA; what the heck, if the conservative Heritage Foundation suggested summary executions of ACLU members I might be motivated to sign up with the ACLU.

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by Reid Fitzsimons

Earlier this summer I heard a Public Service Announcement type radio ad (noted to be paid for with Pennsylvania tax dollars) pertaining to the current concern/issue of addiction. One of the themes was that an addict should not be troubled by a sense of shame. “Shame” is very much a subjective concept and I wonder if this assertion is based upon any science, such as “double-blind studies conclusively demonstrate a 35-40% better recovery rate among addicts who don’t feel shame versus those who do.” More likely I suspect it’s something that is more comfortable and marketable to believe, or perhaps one of those precepts that has become embedded in our social psychology without any known or factual basis, such as one should drink 6-8 glasses of water a day or that Public television is commercial free. I can hear too well a refrain from the 1960s, “Don’t lay a guilt trip on me, man!” underlying the shame-free mind-set

A brief amount of research suggests the following (anti-shame) paradigm: addicts are ashamed of their addictions so they therefore continue or increase their drug intake to attenuate their sense of shame. Perhaps there is a certain amount of emotional logic (somewhat incongruous words) here, but shame (and its sibling guilt) can be an enormously powerful factor to inspire people to do the right thing, and this applies to almost all aspects of human interaction. Noting a person without a conscience cannot, by definition, feel shame, active addiction reeks terrible havoc on families and society at large. Addiction cannot and should not be viewed without compassion, but it is unquestionably selfish and deserving of some degree of shame.

Increasingly our cultural dictums have become based on a self-esteem model- everything you do is good and deserving of a trophy. Of course there are some vivid exceptions so this, for example, no amount of shame is too much in regards to cigarettes, and the paradox that expressing an opinion that shame is justified, especially in matters of sexual behavior, is to be viewed as shameful. Excessive exuberance for shame and guilt are likely counterproductive, but the choice need not be between the Scarlet Letter and “everything you do is wonderful.” In general things done in moderation are more successful than things done in extremes, and a moderate amount of shame experienced by an addict is probably more therapeutically effective than none. Perhaps the officials that decide to spend tax money on PSAs should differentiate between what makes people feel good as compared to what is efficacious.

“Jerry, just remember. It's not a lie... if you believe it.”     George Costanza

by Reid Fitzsimons

Sometimes it’s good fun to listen to politicians lying. The idea that, “They all do it,” really does have some basis and certainly isn’t anything new. Does our current President lie? Of course! Anytime he proposes a new program and talks about the many wonderful benefits to be reaped, with never any downside, he’s lying. Did our immediate past President, Obama, lie? Probably even more so than Trump. We know they are lying, of course, and usually they know it too, at least we hope so because if not we’ve elected people who are delusional. Kind of a paradox.

Back in 2008 the voters of California were presented with and approved a proposition for a high-speed rail system between San Diego and San Francisco with an extension to Sacramento- transportation and environmental nirvana for the masses. Promises were made in terms of speed, safety, completion dates, costs, passenger numbers, yada, yada. Of course all he benchmarks have proven elusive- the original 33 billion for the major LA to San Francisco portion has been revised repeatedly and now sits somewhere between 65 billion and 100 billion and completion dates keep slipping, slipping into the future. Did Gov. Jerry Brown and the high-speed rail cheerleaders believe the lies? They are so emotionally and economically vested in this project there is likely no way out, so their only option is to keep consciously lying and perhaps start believing their own BS.

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by Reid Fitzsimons

I have no recollection who spoke at my high school graduation (1976) but I do recall that a former Vice- President, Hubert Humphrey, spoke at my oldest brother’s ceremony (’71) and, if nothing else, I learned that famous and influential people can be exceptionally long-winded and boring.

With that said…have you read Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men?  It’s meaningful if not great, though it is made better because it’s relatively short.  To me the most poignant scene was not the climactic one, where George shot Lenny in the back of the head so that he would be spared the turmoil he was about to endure, but the scene involving the used-up old guy who had nothing left in his life but his equally old dog.  Some of the young ranch hands, with nothing better to do at the moment, began telling the old guy he should put the dog out of his misery, that the dog was smelly and in pain and they would be doing something merciful, notwithstanding that there was really nothing wrong with the dog except being old.  In reality the young guys were just trying to find a moment of cruel entertainment and, having coerced assent from the old man, they walked the dog out of the bunkhouse and the now grieving old man, in tears, heard the shot ring in the distance.

I suggest there are three characteristics most worth aspiring to in life, though I’m not entirely sure how I came up with these.  The first is kindness, of which one requirement, I suppose, is the absence of cruelty.  Though I’m pretty sure I’ve witnessed more suffering than the vast majority of Americans, most of what I know of horrible cruelty people do to others comes from reading and studying- part of a true education is to learn about things you might never experience but nevertheless are able to interpret correctly.  Hence, a truly educated and enlightened person will not, for example, throw out the accusation of “Nazi” every time they encounter someone who disagrees with them, which seems to be a fad these days.

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by Reid Fitzsimons

"We saw one of these while joining  XXX's dad at his church, Spring Mount Mennonite. I'm sorry to learn that support for this sentiment is low among American evangelical Christians. To neighbors from East and Central Africa I would add: Bila kujali ninyi mnatoka wapi, tunafurahi ninyi ni majirani yetu."

Hi XXX:

I’m going to make a long commentary in response to the above brief comment you posted on Facebook regarding a sign you saw at a Mennonite church.

Hebrews 1:5 states: For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? The (unknown) author of Hebrews is referring here to Jesus, and using quotes from the Jewish Bible to establish that the provenance and authenticity of Christ comes from the Jewish fathers and, hence, offers Scriptural reassurance to Jews who had converted to Christianity. Looking at one source of this quote, that being 2 Samuel 7:13-14, we see:  “He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.” Again, this alone could reasonably be interpreted as referring to Christ. However, if the full passage is read we find: 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.[c] Your throne shall be established forever.’”

To me this is clearly a reference to David/Solomon, not Jesus, and even if an argument is made that this passage is foretelling the coming of the Kingdom of Christ, it allows for the imperfection of Christ (“When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men…”). In other words Jesus could, potentially at least, be a sinner, which is doctrinally anathema to most Christians. So is the author of Hebrews attempting to pull a bait and switch, or did he or she truly believe 2 Samuel 7:13-14 pertained to Jesus? I suspect literacy rates at the time were universally very low and access to Scripture extremely limited, so who could disagree with the author of Hebrews 2,000 years ago?

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