San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Friday, March 15, 2013

Attention Men: Stop Looking In The Mirror

I put up the content of today's blog posting about a year ago under the title "Looking Tough".  It received a grand total of one page view.  I think it is a good posting and deserves more than one view so I am putting it up again today.  I believe it is relevant because I hear that the Trayvon Martin trial is about to begin.  Actually, a fellow by the name of Zimmerman is on trial for allegedly murdering Martin.  I do not know how it will turn out nor do I care.  It is none of my business.  What mystifies me is the continuation of a culture that glorifies the appearance of "toughness".  My wife and I went out to dinner the other night and I was practically forced off the sidewalk by a kid that could not have been more than ten years old.  He had his "hoodie" on, pulled way up over his head, and a face drawn up to look as tough as a ten year old boy can.  And, by the way, he was going to make sure that I stepped aside to let him pass (even though I had the "right of way" according to normal sidewalk etiquette).  In an earlier era I would have attributed his behavior to bad manners, bad parenting, or some combination of the two.  Today I know different. Today everybody wants to convey the image of being dangerous.  Even ten year old boys.  What a travesty.  What a waste of time.   Read my old post and see what you think.

Although the killing of Trayvon Martin took place almost a month ago, it has just recently exploded into a media sensation.  The fact that President Obama made the highly political decision to champion the cause of the dead boy has certainly added to the firestorm of media coverage.  I suspect I do not have to recite the details of the story to readers of this blog.  In fact, many of the details of the story are yet to be determined.  As is the case in every dispute, there are two sides to the story.  I do not particularly care about the story.  That is not because I am a cruel and indifferent human being.  About 15,000 people are murdered in the United States every year and I do not ever remember caring about any of them.  I do not see why I should care about this one, if it is indeed a murder, just because the President thinks I should.  Furthermore, I have a very hard time seeing how any of this is my business.  The family of Trayvon Martin, Mr. Zimmerman, the police, and the district attorney have to figure things out.  I suggest that we mind our own business and let them do theirs.
What I am interested in is one of the alleged details in the story.  Apparently Trayvon was dressed in such a way that Mr. Zimmerman subjectively appraised him to be a threat to his personal safety.  Apparently Trayvon was dressed in a "hoodie".  Now let me set some things straight.  I am not a gangster.  I do not know what gangsters look like.  I am not a fashionista.  I have no idea what is cool, hip, or in fashion at this particular point in time.  My fashion sense extends only to utility.  If it is comfortable, I wear it.  If it keeps me warm when it is cold, I wear it.  If it keeps me dry when it is raining, I put it on.  But I am aware that lots of people make decisions about what they will wear based upon how they think their attire will affect the opinions of others about them.  I am also aware that many people like to dress in such a way as to convey the image of being "tough" or "dangerous".  I find that incomprehensible.
I spent a night in Las Vegas last week, walking up and down the "strip".  I ran into the usual assortment of bums, drunks, and people peddling prostitution.  I also ran into a large number of people, both men and women, who were dressed in order to portray the image of being tough. As I examined these folks I wondered to myself.....how much time do these people spend in front of the mirror getting it just right?  I find it impossible to believe that a man would spend more than a few seconds in front of the mirror before going out into public. Some of these guys had to spend hours!  How long does it take to make sure that your hair is combed and nothing is hanging out of your nose?  The amount of time required to do the hair, the makeup, the clothing, the jewelry, the tattoos, and the various fragrances must be staggering.  And I am talking about guys!  These people are trying way too hard.  They need to relax.  They need to realize that nobody is thinking about them anyway.  They need to realize that everybody is thinking about himself and, apparently,  they are all thinking that they look tough and dangerous.
I do not understand why anyone would want to convey the appearance of being dangerous or tough.   When I am out walking, be it a trail or a street, and I come across a single woman, I want to shout out, "Don't worry.  I'm safe.  I am neither tough nor dangerous and you do not have to worry about me."  My goal is to be meek.  My goal is to be unnoticed by those around me.  I know how fragile life is.  I know how fragile my body is.  I know that I could die from a multitude of causes at any time.  Plus, I am not tough.  I whimper like a sad dog whenever I feel the slightest pain.  If I ever decided to throw a punch I am sure that it would only result in my hand being broken.  When things get tough, I run the other way.
Although I live in the Denver metropolitan area, I am not a city boy.  I spend as much time in the mountains as I can.  I often run into other people in the mountains. Almost without exception, when I come across somebody else, either on the trail or off-trail, we will smile, nod our heads, or give a friendly greeting.  Sometimes we will stop and talk for a few minutes.  Nobody is trying to be tough. Nobody is trying to project an image of "don't mess with me because I just might decide to kill you".  What utter nonsense.  How have we come to this place where so many want to be perceived as tough?  How many mental midgets are so influenced by Hollywood movies about tough guys that they dedicate their entire lives to creating an imaginary world in which they become one?  What a waste of a life.  Looking tough may have resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin, I don't know.  What I do know is that trying to look tough is just plain dumb.  Men need to spend a lot less time worrying about their image and a lot more time working on their character.  Men, do yourselves a favor and stop looking in the mirror.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Getting Real About Gun Control Laws

As Colorado legislators have debated seven separate gun control laws this past week one thing has become quite clear.  None of these folks, including those on both sides of the issue, have any conception of relative risk.  One of the speeches delivered in favor of more gun control featured the speaker describing how the shooter in Connecticut needed eleven seconds to reload his weapon.  According to the speaker, eleven children were rescued from death during that eleven second period of time.  According to the speaker, eleven children would have died during that eleven second period if the shooter had had access to a larger capacity magazine.  It all makes for fine theater but it does not have much to do with the world that we live in.
The seven new gun control law proposals are the direct result of the recent spate of mass shootings in the Socialist Democracy of America.   Colorado legislators have a certain sense of privilege because they can claim to be career politicians in a geo-political zone that has experienced both Columbine and the Aurora Theater massacre.  Advocates for the abolition of guns have seized the opportunity created by the Connecticut school massacre to ram through a series of laws specifically designed to curtail freedom of gun ownership.  Even they would admit that the specter of mass shootings is the prime motivation behind their activities. Once again, it makes for fine theater but it does not square with the facts of the world in which we live.
Gun control advocates like to talk about how their new laws will "save lives", especially the lives of children.  I have never understood why the life of a child is deemed to be more valuable than the life of anyone else but it appears to be a common belief among the political class.  Regardless, if legislators are really concerned about "saving lives", they need to turn their attention to real threats to life that exist in our land.  If they really believe that they are little gods who can, with the stroke of a pen, prevent future deaths, they need to do some hard statistical analysis of what causes death and prevent those things from coming into existence.  Consider the following statistical facts:
  • Over the last 15 years the SDA has experienced ~40,000 deaths per year directly related to automobiles.  
  • Over the last 15 years the SDA has experienced ~10,000 deaths per year directly related to guns.
  • Over the last 15 years the SDA has experienced ~15,000 murders/year.  One third of those murders were committed using weapons other than guns.  Other weapons include knives, blunt force objects and strangulation devices.  The majority percentage, by a large margin, of all murders committed were committed by males aged 14-24.  It is beyond dispute that the greatest percentage of murders in the SDA are gang related. 
  • Over the past 30 years the SDA has experienced an average of twenty mass shooting events per year resulting in an average of 100 deaths per year.
  • On average, 700 SDA citizens die in bicycle accidents each year.  
  • There were 758 deaths as a direct result of boating activities last year.
  • The SDA has averaged over 3,800 deaths per year from drowning since 2005.
  • Over the past ten years an average of 170 citizens/year have died by choking on popcorn.
  • Over the last twenty years an average of 51 people/year have died from lightning strikes.
  • In Russia, 100 people/year die from falling ice.
  • 1,200 people/year die in airline accidents around the world.
  • 2,900 people/year die from hippo attacks.
 What, if anything, can we conclude from this admittedly small sample of statistical truths about how people die?  The first thing we must conclude from this brief survey of the ways in which we die is the fact that any career politician who crafts laws to prevent future mass murders by reducing a weapon's magazine capacity is wasting his precious time.  Deaths due to mass murder are so statistically irrelevant they should never consume even a second of time in the mind of a politician.  It therefore follows that laws related to magazine capacity of firearms are meaningless laws if the real intention of the law is to reduce the number of deaths. Only 100 people/year die in mass murder events.  The present emphasis upon the topic of mass murder is clearly not related to the actual incidence of mass murder.  It must be related to something else.  My guess is that it is related to political do-gooders seeking votes and advancing their own anti-gun agendas.
The easiest way to prevent the totally unnecessary deaths of 40,000 SDA citizens each year would be to criminalize the operation of those traveling death machines known as automobiles.  I do not know how many of those 40,000 innocent people are children, but I am sure there is a significant percentage of innocent children being killed annually by car carnage.   Abolishing automobiles would have huge secondary benefits as well.  We would no longer be "dependent upon foreign oil".  We would no longer be pouring "greenhouse gases" into the atmosphere.  We would not longer be experiencing "global warming" or "anthropogenic climate change".  I don't see any downside to a law making all automobiles illegal.  How about it legislators?  Do you have the courage to do it?  Do you really care about saving lives?
More people died by choking while eating popcorn than those who died in the Aurora theater mass shooting.  In fact, more people die from choking on popcorn each year than all people killed in mass shootings in the SDA annually.  Why then are there no laws against the consumption of popcorn?  Does nobody care about the children?  Why are theaters allowed to continue to sell popcorn?  You are at a much greater risk of dying from choking on your popcorn than you are from being shot by a madman when you go to the theater.  Why is that not reflected in the law?
Knives kill thousands of people per year in this country.  Knives kill more people than mass murderers kill every year, by a huge margin.  Why are knives not illegal?  Why are there no laws regulating the size and type of knives?  Why is there no law against assault knives?  Why is there no limit on the number of knives a person can own?  Certainly nobody needs more than two or three small knives.  Why is there no outcry for legal liability laws that will hold knife manufacturers responsible for the actions of the knives they manufacture and sell?  Do our legislators care about our safety or not? 
If Colorado legislators, and their counterparts in other states around the SDA, really want to reduce the rate of gun violence and murder then they must declare war on gangs.  Gang membership should be illegal.  Gangs should be illegal.  Make gang membership illegal and punish it with twenty years in prison.  Make the wearing of gang colors a criminal offense punishable by twenty years in prison.  Make "tagging" by gang members also punishable by twenty years in prison.  The goal is to get as many teenage males as possible through the age of 24 without becoming a gang member.  The best way to ensure that outcome would be to put as many of them as possible into prison.  Police should conduct regular shake-downs of known gang gathering places.  Routine arrests and imprisonment for all teenage males found there would be appropriate.  Put all of them in prison until they reach the age of 25. If the energy and vitriol currently spent on gun regulation could be redirected to preventing gangs, the country would be a much safer place and literally thousands of children's lives would be saved.  If our elected rulers are really serious about making our world a safer place they must cease this senseless attack upon inanimate guns and go after the real problem, gangs.  Oh yes, and they might also want to make cycling, boating, airline travel and hippo watching illegal as well.  It is the only reasonable thing to do to make us safe.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Obama, HIllary And The US Army Are Guilty Of Treason

When King George declared war on a noun ("terror") several years ago, our rulers in the Socialist Democracy of America embarked upon a program of systematic destruction of the Constitution of the United States.  The creation of the falsely named "Patriot Act" granted gross powers to the King to virtually ignore any part of the Constitution he believed was restricting what he wanted to do in the war on terror.  I have commented upon many of those unconstitutional actions in previous blog postings.  Today I have been pondering the doctrine of treason.  Treason is defined in the third Article of the Constitution. It is the only crime that is defined by the Constitution.  Here is what it says, "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."  Treason is quite simply defined as giving aid to the enemy.  Although the Constitution does not specify a punishment for treason, those found guilty of the crime have traditionally been executed.
When the war on terror began we were told that it would be fought against the most evil terrorist organization the world has ever seen.  Of course, that terrorist organization is Al-Qaeda.  Citizens in the SDA were quickly brought up to date about the horrific activities of Al-Qaeda around the world.  Osama bin Laden was its mastermind leader.  Al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack upon the twin towers.  After the attack upon the twin towers we discovered that the Taliban was granting safe harbor to Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.  That was the primary justification for the war against Afghanistan.  King George informed us in a powerful speech that any nation that granted safe quarter to Al-Qaeda was immediately an enemy nation from our perspective.  Hence, Afghanistan and the ruling Talilban class were immediately defined as enemy combatants.  A little later we learned that Sadaam Hussein was sympathetic to Al-Qaeda.  We were told that he was allowing his country to be used as a place for the recruiting and training of Al-Qaeda members.  That, along with the allegation that Hussein was building nuclear weapons, were the reasons we went to war with Iraq.  Meanwhile, King Obama is continually launching drone attacks against Al-Qaeda operatives all around the world.  The primary justification for the morality and constitutionality of these attacks is that the commander in chief is permitted to launch deadly attacks against our enemies.  Clearly Obama believes Al-Qaeda to be our mortal enemy.  Today we are being told that Al-Qaeda has strong support in the Iranian government as well.  Many of our political and military rulers want to go to war with Iran to prevent any future terrorist activities on the part of Al-Qaeda, as well as to also prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons.  The American military's execution of Osama bin Laden without a trial was a direct result of the fact that bin Laden was the leader of an organization against which the SDA is at war.  No trial was required to kill the enemy combatant who also happened to be the one time leader of the enemy forces.  I believe it is fair to say that most SDA citizens believe that we are at war with Al-Qaeda, wherever they may be found.  I also believe it is fair to say that it is the official position of the US government that we are at war with Al-Qaeda, wherever they may be found. Al-Qaeda is our enemy and we are at war with them. Upon that, everyone can agree.
Now this is where things get interesting.  The following information is gleaned from various sources and encapsulated in an article available at http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/09/surreal-clinton-pledges-45-million-in.html.  The title of the article found on this webpage is "Surreal:  Clinton Pledges $45 Million in Aid to Al Qaeda in Syria".  The article is written by Tony Cartalucci and dated September 28, 2012.  Here are his salient points:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the US would be providing an additional $45 million in "non-lethal aid" to the "opposition" in Syria, as reported in the Associated Press.  The Western press chose their words carefully, ensuring that the term "civilian opposition" was repeatedly used to describe the armed terrorist forces attempting to violently overthrow the Syrian government.While the Western media attempts to portray heavily armed foreign terrorists as "Syria's civilian opposition," it has been revealed that entire brigades are led by Libyan terrorists drawn from the ranks of the US State Department, UK Home Office, and the UN-listed terror organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).
The face of Libya's "revolution" was literally Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda's LIFG commander, Abdul Hakim Belhadj, was NATO's point man in Libya and has now redirected his terrorist forces against Syria. LIFG commanders are now literally running entire brigades in Syria with Western diplomatic, logistic, and military support.  LIFG officially merged with Al Qaeda in 2007, but has fought along Al Qaeda since its inception by the US and Saudis in the mountains of Afghanistan in the 1980's. This includes fighting alongside Al Qaeda most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq against US troops while sowing sectarian violence, as covered by the US Army's West Point Combating Terrorism Center in a 2007 report.  The report titled,  "Al-Qaeda's Foreign Fighters in Iraq" stated specifically:  "The apparent surge in Libyan recruits traveling to Iraq may be linked to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group's (LIFG) increasingly cooperative relationship with Al-Qaeda, which culminated in the LIFG officially joining Al-Qaeda on November 3, 2007."     

If the assertions made by Mr. Cartalucci are correct, then we have a very serious problem in the upper levels of our government and military.  It must be admitted that Mr. Cartalucci's assertions have a strong presumption of truth when he quotes the US Army's own documents in support of his position that LIFG and Al-Qaeda are essentially the same organization.  His assertion that the LIFG and Al-Qaeda are fighting in Syria also rings true.  The citizens of the SDA have been repeatedly told that we are at war with a group of terrorists who call themselves Al-Qaeda.  Now we learn that one of the most powerful groups involved in the overthrow of the Libyan government was none other than the new and improved version of Al-Qaeda that was formed when the old Al-Qaeda joined forces with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.  The rebellion in Libya, of course, is old news.  The new news is all about the rebellion in Syria. And, lo and behold, we discover that Al-Qaeda is behind the Syrian uprising as well.  Then, to our ultimate surprise (or maybe not if you have been keeping both eyes open the last several years) we discover that the United States government is sending "aid" to the tune of $45 million dollars to the "freedom fighters" in Syria which just happen to be largely made up of Al-Qaeda members.
Anyone attuned to SDA foreign policy recognize this ploy.  How many times have various groups around the world been our enemy one day, our friend the next, and our enemy once again a day later?  The historical examples are too numerous to count.  Still, the hypocrisy put on display by the Obama administration, the State Department and the US military is egregious even by their own lax standards.  Press reports are strictly controlled so as not to reveal their hypocrisy.  While claiming to be waging war against Al-Qaeda on the one hand, the other hand is sending $45 million of taxpayer dollars to the very group we are allegedly at war with.
The Constitution defines "treason" as "giving aid to the enemy".  If Al-Qaeda is our enemy, and Obama says that they are, and if we are giving monetary aid to Al-Qaeda, and the State department and the US Army admits that we are, then the US government is guilty of treason.  There is no other way to put it.  The President, the State Department and the US military are guilty of treason.  Every single person associated with this travesty should be arrested, tried, found guilty and imprisoned for life.  That includes King Obama, Princess Hillary and every single military officer who is aware of what is going on.  Throw them all in jail for being traitors against the USA.

UPDATE:  April 10, 2013

The Denver Post featured a story today that described King Obama's drone war against Al-Qaeda.  It quoted administration sources as saying that the drone attacks will be taken to wherever Al-Qaeda operatives are found.  Then, a couple of pages later, this headline for a different article greeted my eyes:  "Syrian militant groups unite."  Here is some of the content of the AP article:
"Al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq and the most powerful rebel extremist group in Syria officially have joined ranks against President Bashar Assad...the new group, called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, underscores the growing confidence and muscle of Islamist radicals fighting on the rebel side in Syria's civil war....While the US is concerned about the rising prominence of Islamists among the rebels, the merger is unlikely to prompt a shift in international support....the US and its allies have boosted their support for rebel factions deemed to be more moderate....The US and other countries also have stepped up covert support for rebels on the ground by helping to coordinate shipments of new weapons and training rebels in Jordan..."
So there we have it.  King Obama will issue a drone attack order against any Al-Qaeda operative in the world except those operating in Syria.  Unlike our declared enemies in all other parts of the world, Al-Qaeda operatives in Syria will receive money and weapons from the US in support of their civil war against the existing Syrian government.  Several questions come to my mind:
1.  Why is King Obama not being indicted for treason?
2.  What is the SDA doing supporting a civil war in Syria?
3.  Why does almost  nobody care about any of this?

UPDATE:  April 26, 2013

William Norman Grigg wrote a piece that was posted on LewRockwell.com today describing an event that took place last week that went almost totally unnoticed.  Here are some of the things he wrote:  "While police in Watertown, Massachusetts closed in on the boat in which 19-year-old terrorist suspect Dzhokhr Tsarnev had concealed himself, FBI investigators in Chicago were snapping handcuffs on 18-year-old Abdella Ahmed Tounisi as he attempted to board an airplane bound for Istanbul. He intended to travel to Syria to fight on behalf an Islamic rebel group that seeks to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad....After finding the website (an FBI website designed to trap young Muslims into FBI hatched terror plots, ed), Tounisi made contact with a purported recruiter for the group, who was yet another of the FBI’s seemingly inexhaustible supply of terrorism facilitators. It was the FBI’s asset who made arrangements for Tounisi to travel to Syria, by way of Turkey, to join the U.S.-supported terrorist group....The FBI, whose chief occupation since 2002 has been the manufacture of ersatz terrorism plots, induced Tounisi into an act described as providing material aid to a foreign terrorist group.  If he is convicted, he will be found guilty of carrying out the Obama administration's official policy without official permission."
If Tounisi is found guilty of providing material aid to the enemy, why are Hillary Clinton and King Obama not guilty of the same charge?  There are only two answers to that question.  Answer number one is that Clinton and Obama are guilty of treason.  Answer number two is that Clinton and Obama are our moral superiors and they can do things nobody else is permitted to do.  Furthermore, to even question the actions and motivations of our moral superiors is un-American and hateful.  We simply need to submit to them and obey their decrees.  After all, they know better than us.
 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Eliminate Liability Protection For Government Employees

Bernard Ebbers was found guilty of fraud while serving as the CEO of WorldCom.  He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and he is presently serving out his sentence.  Although his fraud conviction came as a result of his activities as an executive at WorldCom, a barrage of civil suits followed his conviction which eventually resulted in his having to pay over $6 billion in fines to the plaintiffs out of his personal assets.  He is now estimated to have a net worth of approximately $50,000.
Ken Lay was found guilty of fraud while serving as CEO of Enron.  He was looking at many years in prison when he suddenly died of a heart attack prior to his sentencing hearing.  Although the fraud charges against him were related to his activities as CEO of Enron, subsequent civil suits brought against his estate and his wife by the United States Department of Justice sought to confiscate the great majority of his personal assets.  Additional lawsuits were brought against his estate by shareholders and various banks.  Today his wife is living on the income produced by several insurance annuities Ken had purchased for her prior to his trial.  All of the other assets are gone.
In a list of notorious accounting scandals found on the Wikipedia website, Wikipedia reports about another corporate accounting fraud that took place within the Canadian company known as Nortel.  It says, "In 2003, Nortel made a big contribution to this list of scandals by incorrectly reporting a one cent per share earnings directly after their massive layoff period. They used this money to pay the top 43 managers of the company. The SEC and the Ontario securities commission eventually settled civil action with Nortel. However, a separate civil action will be taken up against top Nortel executives including former CEO Frank A. Dunn, Douglas C. Beatty, Michael J. Gollogly and MaryAnne E. Pahapill and Hamilton. These proceedings have been postponed pending criminal proceedings in Canada, which opened in Toronto on January 12, 2012."
What do these three examples of criminal and civil proceedings against corporate executives have in common?  All three are examples of the legal precedent that allows civil judgements against people who were theoretically operating behind the legal liability protection provided by the corporate shell.  In all three cases the limitation of liability associated with the corporate structure was pierced and all three examples ended up with the individual players being personally sued and, in many cases, forced into bankruptcy.  These three high profile examples of this legal behavior are by no means exceptions to the rule.  It is standard procedure in the Socialist Democracy of America to file civil lawsuits against those who have been previously charged with criminal activities, whether they were found guilty or not, and to attack the personal assets of the defendant.  Defendants are often driven into bankruptcy and financial ruin.
The purpose of today's blog posting is not to question the practice of piercing the corporate liability shield and attacking the personal assets of executives who have allegedly defrauded the public.  I bring this issue up only because it appears to me that there is a significant double standard between the way corporate executives are treated when they break the law and the way government employees are treated when they engage in immoral actions as a part of the performance of their government mandated duties. 
I was watching the television this weekend and a show came on about a man in Texas who had been wrongly convicted of a multiple murder.  As it turned out, he was convicted exclusively on the basis of the testimony of the real murderer who implicated him in what turned out to be a vain attempt to shift blame.   The real murderer was convicted of murder and sentenced to die.  The innocent man he implicated was also convicted of murder and sentenced to die.  After the trial the real murderer immediately changed his story and repeatedly told anyone who would listen that he operated alone and he had only implicated the innocent man in an attempt to save himself.  There was no physical evidence against the innocent man.  There was slim circumstantial evidence against the innocent man.  He was convicted almost exclusively upon the false testimony of the real murderer.
On his way to execution the real murderer once again swore out a statement that the other man was innocent.  The local District Attorney and prosecutor ignored all statements that would exonerate the innocent man and he continued to languish on death row.  Through a series of fortuitous circumstances it eventually came out that the man sitting on death row was innocent and, after eleven years on death row, he was released from prison only to be put into the county jail where he waited for a new trial.  He sat in the county prison for an additional four years.  While awaiting trial for the second time the original DA and prosecutor moved on to other positions.  The new DA and prosecutor took one look at the flimsy evidence against the accused man and realized there was no case against him.  In his second trial he was found not guilty and released, after having served a total of fifteen years for a crime he did not commit.  When he was released the new DA asserted that the previous DA should be held criminally liable for his actions in the first trial.  That, of course, did not happen as the law would not allow it.  The innocent man hired a lawyer to sue the government that had wrongfully incarcerated him.  His case was eventually thrown out of court because some paperwork had been filed incorrectly and he received a grand total of no compensation for his fifteen years behind bars. 
The State of Colorado recently passed a new law that entitles wrongfully accused defendants to collect civil damages at the rate of $70,000/year of unjust incarceration with an additional $50,000 for each year spent sitting on death row.  The law was passed, in part, because of the situation with the Texas man.  Colorado legislators wanted to make sure that anyone unjustly incarcerated in Colorado would receive some cash compensation for the years spent in prison cells.  Although it is difficult to see why the taxpayers should be held financially accountable for the unjust actions of the judges, prosecutors and juries, it is impossible to argue against the fact that these wrongly accused individuals deserve cash compensation.  All of this brings me to the point of today's posting.
Why is the precedent that is clearly established in corporate cases  whereby the corporate defendant is held personally liable for his actions not also applied to government employees?  In other words, why are government employees not held personally responsible for the actions they perform while acting as agents of the government?    Simply put, why is the government liability shield not pierced as easily as the corporate liability shield is?  Corporate executives are held personally responsible for their activities as corporate agents but government executives are not held personally responsible for their activities as government agents.  That is a clear double standard.
I propose that all agents of the government be held personally accountable for their actions.  If a judge wrongly sentences a man to prison, that judge should be personally accountable for his actions.  If a prosecutor wrongly imprisons a man after obtaining a false conviction, that prosecutor should be held personally responsible for his actions.   If a cop uses excessive force against a citizen, that cop should be held personally responsible for his actions.  The law should encourage the abused citizen to file a civil lawsuit against the cop and, if successful, drive him into personal bankruptcy.  That is really the most efficient means by which bad cops can be removed from the government payrolls.  If a power seeking District Attorney oversteps his authority and accuses innocent men of crimes in an attempt to advance his career and establish his reputation for being "tough on crime", he should be held personally accountable for his mistakes when he wrongly targets innocent people.  The citizens of the SDA should be able to sue their government oppressors into personal bankruptcy, just like they do to their corporate foes.  The taxpayers should not be on the hook for the malfeasance and unlawful behavior of their government handlers.  Eliminate the double standard.  Hold government employees personally accountable for their sins.  Make them pay.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Don't Bother Watching "The Bible"

I had heard rumors about a show scheduled to run on the History Channel entitled "The Bible".  It is a five part series, each part a two hour episode, chronicling the author's opinion of what constitutes the Bible's high points.  The show has been a surprise success with the History Channel, garnering an amazing 13 million viewers for the first airing of the chronicles of biblical history.  As should be expected given the fact that the show is dealing with the Bible, reviews have run the spectrum from approval to disapproval.  Many reviewers complain about what the show does not contain.  That is always an unfair criticism.  Condensing the entire Bible down into a ten hour television movie is necessarily going to force the editors to eliminate huge sections of the sacred text.  The show should not be criticized for what it does not portray.  Rather, it should be criticized for what it does allege to be an accurate recounting of biblical truth.
Most of the complaints about the show are nit-picky grousing about the level of violence shown on screen.  I guess the folks with that complaint have managed to read the Bible and somehow miss the fact that it is an incredibly violent book.  Other complaints revolve around the portrayals of the miraculous.  Once again I am amazed that people can read the Bible and come away with the impression that miracles do not actually occur.  Still other complaints have been about the ages of the main characters portrayed from biblical history.  Some thought Isaac was too young. Others thought Sarah was too old.  In all cases the critical reviewers dismissed the biblical fact that the patriarchs lived for a much longer period of time than we do today.  I dismiss all of those irrelevant complaints.  I am not concerned about the criticisms of those who do not believe the Bible in the first place.
Far more disappointing to me is the fact that Christians who should know better are writing glowing reviews of the series.  In particular, Reformed Christians should not consider this series to be an accurate portrayal of biblical history.  Sadly a newspaper called Chimes, the official newspaper of Calvin College, had this to say about the show, "But overall, the series did a good job of staying close to the biblical narrative. It is refreshing to see something edifying come out of Hollywood that does not attempt to mock, twist, or distort the sacred scriptures."  Calvin College is a Reformed college and the students found there should be experts in the biblical text.  It is shocking that they could watch the show and come to the conclusion that it "does a good job staying close to the biblical narrative."  The show did not even come close to accurately portraying biblical truth.  Allow me to give you some examples.
One of the most powerful examples of faith in God is seen when Abraham goes to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God.  God has told him to place his son on an altar and kill him.  As Abraham prepares to do so Isaac asks about the whereabouts of the sacrificial lamb.  Abraham tells him that "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering."  Abraham binds Isaac, places him on the altar and prepares to plunge the knife into his chest.  Scripture records that Abraham had no qualms about killing Isaac and most theologians believe that he fully expected that even if he did kill Isaac, God would miraculously raise him from the dead.  Of course we all know how the story ends.  God provides a lamb and Isaac is not killed.  "The Bible", however, provides a bit of extra dialogue unquestionably designed to appeal to today's limp-wristed and weak-faithed evangelical Christian.  As Abraham is binding Isaac he cries out to God, "Haven't I shown You enough faith already?"  Yes, Abraham is angry with God.  Yes, Abraham is confused with God's will for his life.  Yes, Abraham is an emotional wreck.  Oh how evangelicals love that display of "vulnerability".  The questions and accusations that Abraham offers up to God are enough to completely destroy the accurate retelling of the biblical account. The incredible calmness and total commitment evidenced in Abraham's faithful obedience to God's revealed will is lost in the scene.  On the other hand, it makes it possible for the modern believer to "relate" to the "sensitive"Abraham  who was undergoing a "crisis of faith" and that, I suspect, was the intention of the author.
The show is a strange combination of Rambo and the sensitive modern man.  The military scenes are accurately shown as violent struggles in which people are brutally killed.  That is good.  When the biblical characters are involved in killing bad guys like Egyptians, Canaanites, or Philistines, they are heroically portrayed like ancient Rambos.  They run around with their swords killing people with ferocious efficiency.  That too is good.  That is an accurate recounting of the biblical text. After all, it was the Israelites who chanted that "Saul has killed his thousands but David has killed his tens of thousands".  Biblical history is bloody.  The problem is that these same Rambo like warriors become weak willed mystics when it comes time to illustrate their faith in God.  Abraham is portrayed as a blubbering infant in the faith. David is another case in point.
The timing of David's relationship with Bathsheba is all wrong in the movie.  Nevertheless, the movie does accurately show how David took Bathsheba as his mistress, killed her husband and expected to get away with both sins.  Nathan confronts him and David's reaction is totally wrong.  As shown in the movie David  has a very modern reaction to Nathan's accusation.  He gets angry that he has been found out and he yells at Nathan.  He runs away to pout.  Then, when God providentially executes the offspring born of their adulterous affair, David is seen in his palace crying like a little girl and pleading with God to "show me what to do".  What a travesty!  In real life, when Nathan confronted David he responded with a heroic faith that inspires millions of true believers down to this very day.  He immediately takes responsibility for his sins and says, "I have sinned against the Lord".  Scripture records that "David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground."  Psalm 51 records what David said while he was in prayer and fasting before God.  Psalm 51 is arguably the greatest penitential psalm in all of the Bible.  An accurate portrayal of the confrontation between David and Nathan would have shown the incredible faithfulness of David during his time of repentance for the twin sins of murder and adultery. Instead we are treated to an all too modern evangelical version of repentance that mostly consists of lots of crocodile tears and vague pleadings for God to reveal His secret will to the penitent.  The power of Psalm 51 is lost on "The Bible".  When it comes to his faith, in "The Bible", David is a weak and pathetic figure.  That is a great injustice to a man the Bible calls "a man after God's own heart". 
The story of Sampson and Delilah is staggeringly inaccurate.  Sampson was the son of a Danite man and woman.  Despite this fact he is incredibly portrayed in the movie as a black man.  Sampson was a very flawed Judge.  Sampson sinned by ignoring the Law of God and marrying not one, but two Philistine women.  This sin is totally ignored in the movie and the emphasis is put upon an alleged distaste on the part of the Philistines for their women marrying Israelites!  The author gets it exactly backwards.  It is difficult to see the story of Sampson as anything more than a modern tale of inter-racial marriage and the problems that come with intolerance.  That, of course, has nothing whatsoever with the actual tale of Sampson and Delilah.  Just like David and Abraham, Sampson is a Rambo-like killer when he is hunting Philistines.  However, when it comes time to give evidence of his faith, he too is reduced to a weepy eyed sissy pitifully pleading with God and asking that God would somehow mystically show him His secret will. 
I could go on and on.  Practically every scene is historically inaccurate.  Times are shifted.  Places are moved around.  But the one common theme throughout the movie is that these men were terrific warriors and total sissies when it came down to their faith.  They would kill with reckless abandon but they could not address God without being reduced to an infantile state of spiritual development.  Although their portrayal as efficient killers is accurate, the portrayal of their faith is horribly wrong.  I suspect that the author of the movie wanted to create a show that would allow the modern evangelical mystic to feel good about himself.  This movie accomplishes that goal.  Evangelical men can watch this movie and tell themselves that they are just like the heroes of the Bible.  They can watch this movie and convince themselves that they are very good about going into the world and exercising dominion, and that may be true.  They can also watch this movie and convince themselves that their weak, pitiful faith is also consistent with the giant characters of the Bible.  That would be false.
"The Bible" is not disturbing primarily because it is not accurate.  That is very typical for most Hollywood productions that involve the Bible.  What is disturbing about "The Bible" is the fact that so many Christians think it is an accurate rendition of the Bible.  Most disturbing of all however, is the fact that so many Christians think that the portrayal of faith seen in the movie's many characters is accurate.  The faith of most modern evangelicals is nowhere near the faith of the biblical characters.  To reduce their historical faith to the level of the modern evangelical is a disservice that is slanderous at best and blasphemous at worst (can blasphemy be committed against a man?).  Rewriting the Bible to justify and accommodate the infantile or nonexistent faith of the modern evangelical is reprehensible.  The Bible should not be rewritten to allow the modern sissy Christian to feel good about himself because he can ostensibly related to the "faith struggles" of those who have gone before.  If we do not have the faith of Abraham or David we should be ashamed of ourselves and seek to improve our faith.  Dragging those heroes of the faith down to our level is an abominable thing to do.