Candidate Cat is Probably Lying Through His Furry Face

I think it is very important for voters to realize that when Candidate Cat advocates food control for dogs, he is being disingenuous at best, and lying through his furry face at worst. Food rights for dogs has long established that optimal results in satisfaction and productivity are achieved at two meals per day per dog, but Candidate Cat uses the data of dogs who binge-eat to skew the overall data. It is important to note that such data must be placed into the category of statistical outlier with no practical application. If fact, recent research points to the likelihood that two meals a day are actually insufficient, and that three or even more meals per day per dog would result in happier returns.

Candidate Cat, on the campaign trail, tends to speak figuratively, in ways that his advisors would no doubt like to reign him in on. He floats an off the cuff remark that one meal per day per dog is the policy he would like to pursue and his advisors quickly reassure the public that he is still committed to a two meal per day per dog policy. In reality, this tactic serves to distract the voter from his true agenda, which is patterned after his true desire – I am assured by insiders who do not wish to be identified - that there be no meals for dogs at all – per day, per dog, or per anything. He purrs a good game, but the public is catching on to him and I predict he will not succeed.

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Is Not the Election a Godsend for Witnessing?

“Bob Corker...couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, [and] is now fighting Tax Cuts,” Trump tweeted today. Corker shot back with the charge he has made before - that the White House is a day care center in need of better supervision.

Even the circuit overseer last week spoke of what to do if someone tries to draw you into a fight over 'that crazy Trump' - whether he thought Trump was crazy or was just quoting others is unclear. For the most part, our people know nothing of politics and when they weigh in at all, it is to say: "he's bombastic, and I try to be polite."

As far as I am concerned the election is a godsend - and it has nothing to do with Trump himself, but with the catfights it ignites among persons once thought reasonable. It used to be that if you quoted 2 Timothy 3:1-5 about people being 'fierce and unreasonable and not open to any agreement' and your householder did not agree that the verse applied now more than at any other time, there was not much you could do about it.

There still isn't, however the spectacle of supposedly smart people screaming at each other day in and day out makes it less likely they will deny it. Animal-1299573_960_720

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Rocketman

Imagine - calling the other guy Rocketman at the U.N. and getting the whole world to join in the refrain. How can you not give a thumbs-up when a guy does that? And then some kid comes along and photoshops an Elton John concert playing that very song, replacing John's head with Kim's, and inserts the huge video screen backdrop of North Korean rockets wheeling about, the shrill newscaster shrieking, the troops goosestepping - how do you expect any guy with a sense of humor to hold it together? It is as Paul said - the world is a theater.

The only thing that might check your hilarity briefly is the unpleasant thought that a misstep, for starters,  will result in half the planet up in smoke. But that is small potatoes.

Is it reckless? Tillerson certainly seems the more stable of the two, doesn't he? Unless they are both playing good cop/bad cop. And, to be fair, while everyone hopes for diplomacy, the diplomacy that has led straight up to the present situation and will presumably lead up to one where North Korean missiles are parked on your toes, should at least be mentioned as having worked out not that splendidly. Isn't there a Neville someone-or-other who favored negotiations back during another evil time? Or do I misunderstand even that? The trouble with history is that whenever you think you have something figured out, along comes someone from a different perspective to upend all your notions.

Meanwhile, it was Putin - mean, nasty, Chief Officer of Evil, His Wickedness, 'murderer and a thug' Putin - all that remains in the West is to photoshop him with Devil's horns, grinning ear-to-ear at his laptop as he hacks US elections - who supplied a key bit of understanding when he visited China. Sanctions will never work on North Korea, he said - Kim will see every single one of his people starved to death before he will give up on his nukes. Why? Because he knows about Libya and Iraq. Though Saddam swore up and down he had no weapons of mass destruction - which turned out to be exactly correct - that did not stop his enemies from taking him out and killing a family member or two in the process.

Look, he is not my friend - Putin. I mean, he hasn't exactly been nice to my people, Jehovah's Witnesses, lately, has he? But give credit where credit is due. He nailed it. Tellingly, when CNBC or someone covered that Chinese meeting - if Putin so much as tied his shoe there, they reported it - they covered every detail EXCEPT his statement about Saddam, thus allowing perception to stand in the US that Kim is completely unhinged - a perception he does nothing to clear up by his own pontifications - listening to him is not exactly like listening to John Tesh, is it?

Jehovah's Witnesses are neutral in the world's affairs for noble reasons - it is not God's idea for the world to be carved up into scores of squabbling factions ever playing 'King-of-the-Mountain" and he will soon act to  bring about his own kingdom replacement. However, another reason to be neutral - albeit a less noble one - is that it is almost impossible to get the truth on anything - you are forever acting in the dark - for every outlet spins 'truth' their own way according to their own agenda. Even Western media condemnation about calling Kim Rocketman must be weighed against their approval of calling Putin a murderer and a thug, a Senator's description that they picked up on and used freely. Is it wise to taunt him like that? Whenever in my house-to-house ministry I spot a murderer and a thug, I cross over to the other side of the street. Rocketman

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Did He Call the President a Moron? - Why You Can't Watch News Anymore

The reason I cannot watch network news anymore is that they are obsessed over whether Secretary of State Tillerson called Trump a moron or not. It is a huge story.

Yesterday, Tillerson called a news conference. They carried on and on about how unusual it was for a Secretary of State to do such a thing. He called it mostly to scold them, yet they were too stupid to realize it. Despite media reports that the two do nothing but squabble and that he has had it up to here with the President's dumb ways, Tillerson said he has never even once thought about quitting, that he and the President get along just fine, that he regards him as smart and demanding of results, that he envisions foreign policy possibilities that no one else does.

(yeah but, yeah but...did you call him a moron or not?)   'Look, I don't come from this town [Washington], but where I come from we don't have time for such petty nonsense,' he answered. YEAH!

Incredibly, they are not chastened by this rebuke. ...'well...he didn't actually say that he didn't call him a moron, did he?'

He probably did, is my best guess. It is the realization that they think this is meaningful that takes your breath away. I cannot watch anymore, my viewing has steadily decreased over the past few months. When you work closely with someone, he will do or say things that will nettle you sometimes, and you say in passing 'what did that moron do now?' for Trump does speak impulsively at times - sometimes I think it is by design, to see these characters fall all over themselves 'fact-checking' things that everyone else realizes doesn't amount to a hill of beans. They truly think such things are significant in news-land?  I have to go someplace where there are grown-ups.

For crying out loud, he used to run Exxon! He put that aside for what is the role of a lifetime for him, an area in which he thinks he can best bring his talents to bear - and he probably never imagined there would be such a role other than Exxon. How could anyone possibly be so juvenile as to imagine that he spends his days in cat-fights with the President? I've never seen anyone with less political ambition in my life.

You can't even watch the networks for disaster coverage anymore, something at which they were arguably good. All they can talk about is who did comforting and relief better: this President or the one before.

This piece is more political than I like to get, but it is not really political at all. It is a commentary on the media. What a bunch of children they have become.

U.S._Secretary_of_State_Rex_Tillerson_Delivers_Statement_to_the_Press_(34146711015)

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Will Trump Bring in Socialized Healthcare, Beat Dems to the Punch?

I will be very bold and predict that Trump will bring in socialized medicine, though it will not be called that. Even I do not think this likely, but most do not think it possible, so I still come off as being bold, though some will say insane.

Trump is pragmatic and has shown he is not bound by ideologies. I can't imagine how healthcare could work via competition among insurance companies when healthy persons can opt out. Obamacare, though it will surely crash of its own weight, has planted the notion, accepted everywhere else, that everyone deserves access to healthcare. Trump himself seems to embrace the idea. He may take the bull by the horns, figure he can craft a system that incorporates the private sector better than any Democrat can, for they distrust the private sector, and charge ahead.

It will be a very hard sell. He will lose many of his own people, but may gain from the other side. Even then it may be doomed. Americans are used to Cadillac treatment, and while universal health care is universal, its quality goes down. Pharma too, may scream, because they are used to soaking Americans to offset the modest profits they must take elsewhere. They will carry on about 'choking innovation,' and so forth. As it is, they don't bother innovating unless they see a substantial buck in it; that's why there is MRSA with no new antibiotics to fight it. It's hard to be overconfident here, but I can imagine Trump may try tackling it.

Maybe he can still sell it. Overall healthcare quality in America is well above that of any third world country. But among the developed countries, it comes in dead last. I'm tired of playing Russian Roulette with my modest net worth for every sliver I have removed. Perhaps other people are, too.

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Trump and the Populist Homeowner

For several months I have subscribed to The Week Magazine. I like the short synopsis of news stories from around the world. It also has good obituaries. It is as sneeringly liberal as anything I have seen, routinely calling the President an ignoramus, an egomaniac, and a liar, but I figure that's just politics and let it go.

But some things are just too much. Like the Trump/Putin romance meme. See, we've been conditioned, rightly or wrongly, to not like Putin. Therefore, if Putin and Trump can be portrayed as bosom buddies, we will not like Trump either, which has been the object of portraying him that way ever since the election. Usually if you run a thread which consists solely of allegations, with conclusions heralded though no evidence is provided, admin will take down the thread. However, it doesn't work that way in journalism, where the mission, from Day 1, has been to take out Trump.

At any rate, when he carries on as he did in Syria, it clearly shows he is a lover from hell, and more likely, he was never a lover at all. The story line of the past few months that he and Putin were in cahoots was pure fiction, written for the purpose of Trump's elimination. The Week has been foremost in spinning this line.

In light of Syria, do they repent of the rubbish they're written? Not a bit of it. "Blowing up a Bromance" says the cover of the most recent issue, with Trump and Putin portrayed with backs to each other, each holding wilted roses.They are indeed lovers who have just suffered a little lover's spat, that's all.

Therefore, I tend to not like The Week simply for their lack of humility, and their bending the facts to fit their story, rather than the reverse. The reason they do this is that they despise the 'populist' candidate. I'm not sure what is so perjorative about 'populist,' Doesn't following the populist course mean you are doing what is popular with the majority? Isn't this the very purpose of democracy? But there is another view.

Career politicians like to think of themselves as plumbers. (my example, not theirs, theirs will be more pretentious, but the idea is captured with plumbers) When you hire a plumber, you don't tell him how to fix the problem. You hired him because you do not know how to fix the problem. You trust his expertise to figure it out and do what he thinks best. He is not expected to report his every step to you. Career politicians love to see things this way. They are the experts, elected by the dumbbells, to do whatever they want. 

These days, what they want is to push toward a world government. That aspect, in itself is also what we want, but theirs is run by humans, not God, so it is not necessarily an improvement over the 'carved up earth' model. Six to one, half dozen to the other.

This is not the only scenario under which you might hire a plumber - because you have no idea what to do. Some homeowners know exactly what to do, and simply want or need someone else to do the labor. These are the populist homeowners.

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Trump Strikes Syria - How to Read This

Trump bombed Syria and made a lot of people mad. How can you not make them mad when you’ve killed 15 people? He broke a lot of things, too, but he can always say: “Look, Vlad, what’s the big deal? I’m a billionaire. You’re a billionaire. But them some new planes out of your own pocket if it takes that to placate them.” The people are a different matter. But even that is mitigated by pointing out they were all (or almost all?) military people who have signed on to the program.

For some inexplicable reason, I feel I have a read on this guy. I long have. It surprises me to think so few do. Even that is hard to know for sure because in this scenario, as in all others, liars spin the facts this way and that for their own purposes. In the case of a President, the motivation to do so is high.

At any rate, his actions clearly turn a lot of memes on their head. Clearly, he is not a pawn of Putin, as U.S. media has insisted for months. Clearly, he does not hate Muslims, as they have also insisted. It is now spun that he is impulsive and acts from the heart. “Trump said he would not do Syria! No way! No how! Then he saw a picture,” I have heard.

Or perhaps it is all spin. The trouble with conspiracy theories is that, once a few of them prove to be true, you readily swallow the next one coming down the pipe. There are cabals hanging about and they do try to skew things. But these cabals have hated Trump from the beginning. I think it is because he is not one of them and they don’t feel able to control him. We all know that Trump is not a Republican. He took over the Republican party. It might just as well have been the Democratic party. He simply read the tea leaves and saw that, at the moment, the Republican party was easier to commandeer. When he says ‘drain the swamp,’ he is not referring to one party or the other.

Anyone in small business, which I have been, can easily conceive of a businessman who loves his country but thinks the slippery boobs have ruined it, saying: “There!  I built my business. Now let’s see if I can fix the country.” A BIG businessman can easily miss this because he is primarily worried about Trump’s effect on the stock market, but a small businessman doesn’t care, or at least it is not his chief concern. If your experience is something else entirely, you heard the ‘grab them by the you-know-what’ and concluded life around him was a 24/7 brothel. I always thought It was nonsense. I always agreed with him that it was ‘locker room’ talk. I did this because I have been in the locker room and they do not read Plato in there.

He can spin this as I believe it really is. There are some things so barbarous that you cannot go there. Chemical weapons are among them. They are not good, especially when you have just had photos of the victims thrust under your nose.  He did what he did impulsively, from the heart. Yet even that cannot be determined with certainty. Insiders said he leaned on and took options from the military people. He didn’t hastily tell them what to do. He let them tell him, and chose from the choices they presented.

It is easy to conclude that they, however, are swayed by the business model. When BigDefence gets too big, it must keep the profits rolling in. If it does not, the stockholders will bolt for some noble competitor – say, BigPharma. So if the world threatens to get too peaceful, they must stir up the pot. It is the United States, not Russia, that is bombing many countries. It will never be fixed because money drives everything here. You solve nothing by taking out a bad guy. Another bad guy simply sees a fine new career opening. It is the play that must be changed, not the actors in the play, who simply follow the script given them – sometimes begrudgingly, sometimes with gusto. Human reformers can change the actors, but they cannot change the play. Only God’s Kingdom will do that.

In a world where barbarities are commonplace, it is tough to know where to draw the line. “What’s one more slaughter in the greater scheme of things?” is easy to say. Is it preferred for Trump to say: “Ah, well – shit happens?” Obama drew a line in the sand and it was instantly crossed. Perhaps leaders should keep their mouths shut over such things, and not make grandiose remarks about slaughter being ‘unacceptable’ (duh) and how people will ‘be held accountable.’ They won’t be, usually. Why carry on as though they will, except so as not to look like a helpless fool. And don’t carry on about people being ‘cowardly.’ They may be despicable, but surely it is not cowardly to be willing to die for a cause – any cause, from Boy Scout to Barbarians-R-Us. Also, don’t whine on about how the terrorists are trying to change our way of life, but we won’t let that happen. If anything, they want us to maintain our way of life and thereby be easier targets to kill. And even the terrorists will say: “Look, they elect their leaders over there, and the leaders come over and kill all our loved ones. That makes them not so innocent after all.” Victims of massive suffering and evil, many turn into unreasoning animals that must be taken out, like putting down a vicious dog. But that doesn’t mean you must judge them for it; many in the West become unreasoning animals with far less provocation.

A man that recoils at the use of chemical weapons and reacts immediately can be spun as not such a bad thing. He can say to Putin: “Sorry. I lost it. but nothing has changed in the big picture. Let’s work together when it is expedient to fix the world.”

It’s not my cause. I am a neutral Jehovah’s Witness, interested in these things only as ‘current history.’ All human governments will drop the ball; the only question to be answered is upon which toe will if fall. The Kingdom arrangement, as detailed in the Bible, is the only permanent answer. So if you have read these words and said: “Harley is an idiot! I’ll write to tell him so,” please don’t. I will respond by saying: “you forgot to mention that I am also a moron.”

(See the Foreword of No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash - it is in the 30% free preview section)

 

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Nominating Mitt Romney

In circles of humility and modesty, no one cycles higher than Tom Sheepandgoats. Far be it from he to blow his own horn, but....hang it all....if you've nailed something, you've nailed it! Why not trumpet it far and wide throughout the blogosphere?

Several months ago I prophesied that Evengelical Born Agains would vote for a pig in heat before they would vote for a Mormon. Some readers were doubtful, and those of scientific bent still demand a pig should run Porkso as to properly test the hypothesis. But everyone else is convinced, having watched in dismay the unfolding of the 2012 Republican Primary race.

Among GOP (Grand Old Party) operatives, Mitt Romney is the guy they'd like to see as Presidential Candidate to run against Barrack Obama. The other wannabe's carry way too much baggage. They all have starry-eyed bases, to be sure, but that's it. In a general election you can't depend upon them to attract one additional vote. But with Romney you probably can, and thus he might conceivably beat Pres Obama, who is not that strong of an incumbent.

Even Romney doesn't positively thrill them, but he can probably get the job done. Why, oh why, they sigh, can't someone like Mitch O'Connell run? The South Dakota Senator gave the Republican response to the State of the Union and he was so reasonable, so reassuring, so competent, so......yawn....isn't there something on another channel?.....so boring. Only flamboyant cowboys run for President today, because folks can't focus on anyone else.

That's what Sesame Street did to us. 2012 2 16 Strong Musuem of Play 101It made us unable to hold a thought longer than two minutes. We have to be razzle-dazzled, awed by charismatic presence, and candidates in recent decades have had that ability in spades, if nothing else. Sesame Street...brought to us by the best and brightest and most well-intentioned of PBS child development experts. They loused us up, just like Dr Spock loused up the generation before. "We have reared a generation of brats,” he acknowledged toward the end of his life. “.....Of course, we did it with the best of intentions. We didn't realize until it was too late how our know-it-all attitude was undermining the self assurance of parents."

But don't let me stray off topic! We're talking about voters, Mormons, and Evangelicals. Romney does fine in eastern, western and northern states. There, he is watered down only by the Evangelical minorities. In the south, however, where Evangelicals prevail, he gets shellacked. He came in 3rd in Alabama and Mississippi, behind Santorum and Gingrich. Yet Romney outspends them 10 to 1! The reason is painfully obvious, though no one will say it lest it appear politically incorrect: Romney is a Mormon. He thinks.....I almost feel sorry for him.....that surely these folks can be won over, swayed by his reason, charm, and ability. I don't think so.

Do a blogoshere search of “Mormon” and “cult” and your server will crash.  Mormonism is a “cult,” the Evangelicals insist, in the same league with devil worship and Jim Jones. Do you think in your wildest dreams Evangelicals are going to vote a cult member into the Presidency? They're not. As Amy Sullivan writes, “it is nearly impossible to overemphasize the problem evangelicals have with Mormonism.” Only one other significant faith draws the 'cult' label.....Jehovah's Witnesses. Actually, I think JWs draw it more, but I could be wrong.

Now, Mormons don't fit the traditional definition of a cult any more than Jehovah's Witnesses do, but they do fit the new refined definition: faiths we don't like. At any rate, pundits, naïve as can be, suggest the real problem is that Romney may not be conservative enough for Evangelicals. Nonsense. What about how Mormons rammed through Proposition 8 in California that banned gay marriage? Call THAT not conservative? What about when Ron Paul suggested the U.S. ought not go picking fights around the world, and Mitt Romney swore that on his watch American military forces would be second to none? Call THAT not conservative? No, believe me, the problem is that Mitt Romney is a Mormon. Everyone else can adjust and live with that fact. But Evangelicals? From early years they're indoctrinated to think Mormons are a cult, same as JWs. We wouldn't have a prayer either, were we to run. Fortunately, we never have, save only for Dwight D. Eisenhower, who doesn't count, since by the time of his election he'd long outgrown his JW upbringing.

 

Thinking his trouble might be Northernism, not Mormonism, Romney lays a “Mornin' y'all” on a Mississippi audience one recent morning. He started his day off right, he says, with “a biscuit and some cheesy grits.” Sigh....that's cheese grits, laments poor Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post, who  wants to know why can't he just be himself? Because 'himself' is Mormon, that's why,  and he's playing to an audience intent on re-establishing America as a Christian nation, and a Christian nation is not one led by a Mormon.


Be it Republican or Democrat, each primary race lands more spectacular than the one preceding it. The pattern's held for decades. But this current race takes the cake. Already, wannabes have shot like meteors only to vanish into thin air. Who can forget Rick Perry, an Evangelical like Ron Santorum, vowing in debate that he would eliminate three Federal departments...this one, that one, and um...um....uh....he couldn't think of the last one!....Ron Paul had to help him out. I guess it doesn't matter if you're going to ax them anyway, but voters weren't reassured. And Herman Cain, the GodFather Pizza founder....what pure charisma that fellow has! Alas, it turned out that he likes the women.

Romney will likely emerge with the candidacy, but will he emerge strong enough to beat Obama in November? Kathleen Parker offers advice ('be yourself') but it's inapplicable, because Evangelicals know who he is and don't like it. If he listens to me, however, the election is in the bag. And I offer my advice freely. I am not seeking Vice Presidential office, and will not accept it if drafted. The secret lies in registering dead voters. There's a lot of them. It plays to a Mormon strength. Nobody else has thought of it. And dead voters are not about to contradict you.

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Read ‘Tom Irregardless and Me.’    30% free preview

Starting with Prince, a fierce and frolicking defense of Jehovah’s Witnesses. A riotous romp through their way of life. “We have become a theatrical spectacle in the world, and to angels and to men,” the Bible verse says. That being the case, let’s give them some theater! Let’s skewer the liars who slander the Christ! Let’s pull down the house on the axis lords! Let the seed-pickers unite!**********************

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Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

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Love, Marriage, and Politicians

As politicians go, they're popular. As politicians go, they're capable...Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York State. Following notable trainwrecks of governorship, Cuomo has made inroads on the seemingly impossible.... prodding, cajoling, and otherwise leaning upon the notoriously dysfunctional State government to....well....function, at least to a degree. Don't get me wrong. He has a long long way to go. But he's made some progress, whereas predecessors have all broken apart on the unyielding rocks of intransigence.

So imagine my dismay when State Senator (and Pentecostal preacher!) Ruben Diaz blasts Cuomo and Bloomberg on the blogosphere for being “unmarried fornicators!” Wow! Talk about letting your light shine with a flame-thrower! I didn't know anything of their private lives, nor was I curious, but it turns out that  both men live with long-time girlfriends, not wives.ImagesCAOQECS1 “I, for my part, don’t want to offend anyone,” wrote Diaz on a cable show website, “but the Bible, the word of God, calls it fornication to live as husband and wife without having made this union a wedding officially blessed by God and man.”

Now, what are we to make of this? On the one hand.....

Sheesh! Were these two fellows elected to patch roads and herd politicians or teach Sunday School? Can't a guy learn to mind his own business? Whatever happened to 1 Thess 4:17-18, the famous MYOB verse, a verse some of us have learned to wear as a shield:

….make it your aim to live quietly and to mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we ordered you; so that you may be walking decently as regards people outside and not be needing anything. 

Or can we not catch more than a whiff of disapproval in Paul's next letter to that town of busybodies:

For we hear certain ones are walking disorderly among you, not working at all but meddling with what does not concern them.    2 Thess 3:11

John the Baptist pulled a stunt like this, and it cost him his head. Did he come to regret it?

For John had repeatedly said to Herod: “It is not lawful for you to be having the wife of your brother.” But Herodias was nursing a grudge against him and was wanting to kill him, but could not. For Herod stood in fear of John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man; and he was keeping him safe.......But a convenient day came along when Herod spread an evening meal on his birthday for his top-ranking men and the military commanders and the foremost ones of Galilee. And the daughter of this very Herodias came in and danced and pleased Herod and those reclining with him. The king said to the maiden: “Ask me for whatever you want, and I will give it to you.” Yes, he swore to her: “Whatever you ask me for, I will give it to you, up to half my kingdom.....She said:....“I want you to give me right away on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” Although he became deeply grieved, yet the king did not want to disregard her, in view of the oaths and those reclining at the table. So the king immediately dispatched a body guardsman and commanded him to bring his head. And he went off and beheaded him in the prison and brought his head on a platter.     Mark 6:17-28

If Cuomo and Bloomberg are anything like Herod, Senator and Preacher Diaz should watch out. That's one way to look at it.

On the other hand.....

If Sen Diaz is “digging up dirt,” he certainly didn't invent the technique. Since time immemorial, accelerating in recent decades, politicians have gleefully slung mud at each other for pure mean political advantage. The excellent example playing out as I write is the Republican Primary race. (do we conclude anything from the fact that supporters in this contest physically resemble their candidates? I defy you to watch coverage and not be struck with that impression) Diaz, however, makes his charges not for political gain, but out of moral outrage. I respect that. After all, I, Tom Sheepandgoats, well-known in circles of matrimonial bliss for spoiling rotten the fabulously omnipresent Mrs Sheepandgoats, can hardly be expected not to empathize with Diaz, even if he is sticking his nose into what's none of his business.

Or is it indeed none of his business?

The reason Diaz gives for his remarks certainly rings true. “Everyone living in this situation is reinforcing the idea that it is okay to live in common law without being married” I give him credit for inserting common sense into a world that wants no part of it. We are heavily swayed by the example of others. It's so tempting to deny this, because it's a very unflattering truth. The selfish, the over-educated, and the headstrong do deny this, so as to pursue whatever they want to pursue without twinge of guilt or responsibility. But when a new fad appears on the scene, and within ten years we're all doing it....even as we look aghast at our photos 30 years ago....how did we ever think those glasses did anything for us?.....it's so flattering to the ego to think our vulnerability to our surroundings only extends to the trivial. It's so flattering, yet it's also so ridiculous. In matters small and great, we run with the herd. Barn doorSo Sen Diaz is absolutely right to insist public examples exert influence, whether they're meant to or not. Trouble is, isn't it a little late in the game to close the barn door?

I'm reminded again of the Circuit Overseer's remarks: “70* years ago the differences between Jehovah's Witnesses and churchgoers in general were ones of doctrine.” That is, conduct and morality was pretty much the same. Why have we retained traditional morality, whereas most lost it long ago? Because we've internalized Diaz' sentiments within our own organization. Because we have organization that insists upon studying God's sayings and adhering to them. Because we try to choose friends in harmony with that end. Because we realize that bad examples will influence others. Because we have internal discipline to curb bad influences. Believe me, we are roundly chastised for it by those who cherish blowing whichever way does the wind. But it has served to maintain Bible morality among us. Many churches also used to apply discipline to their members. But when they noticed parishioners didn't like it, they gave it up.

(* adjusted for the date spoken)


On the other hand......

The reason John the Baptist could get away with it (if having your head chopped off can be called “getting away with it”), or rather, the reason he could upbraid Herod for his unorthodox marriage without going down in history as a busybody or a template for Senator Diaz, is that Herod claimed to be a Jewish proselyte. He claimed to worship Jehovah. Does Coumo? Does Bloomberg? Not that I'm aware of. So what business are their private lives of mine? It would be like me reaching into the Catholic or Presbyterian church and demanding they make their folks adhere to Bible standards. Why would I do that? It's not my business.

Chalk this up to one of the oldest disputes regarding the role of religion toward the general world. Ought one stay at arms-length from it, keeping “no part of the world” while through a ministry inviting individuals from it to take a stand for God's Kingdom? Or ought one role up one's shirtsleeves, dive in and fix the world, or even convert it, viewing that as your ministry? We think the former, but many church groups think the latter.

If you think the role of Christians is to fix the world, then you have to fix the world with the tools you have. Thus, Senator Diaz' reprimand is entirely appropriate. But from the ranks of folks like him arise those who insist America is a “Christian nation,” and so strive with all their might to impose their standards upon it, (an impossible task, since the very idea of sovereign nations is foreign to God's will) and who might well blow Republican chances this election by ignoring all factors except religious affiliation in the candidates. Thus, Mitt Romney, widely considered the most viable of Republican choices, emerges a weak candidate from the Republican primary race (unless it occurs to his campaign to register dead voters).

But Jehovah's Witnesses view their role toward the world along the lines of 2 Corinthians 5:20:

We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making entreaty through us. As substitutes for Christ we beg: “Become reconciled to God.”

In short, using words of the verse, we invite persons to embrace God's purpose as their own, to become reconciled to him. It's a process that begins with a Bible study, which is how one finds out what God's purpose is. If someone reaches the point of wanting to “reconcile to God,” then, by degrees, he conforms his life to God's standards. But if he doesn't reach that point, if he has no interest in making inquiry, what business is it of ours how he live his lives? None. We don't try to make it such, nosing into his life to tweak this or that practice, let alone blasting him in public. Will there one day be an accounting for rejecting God's purpose and standards? JWs think so....you know they do.....but it won't be at our hands. We fancy ourselves ambassadors of a kingdom, no more. We invite, we don't meddle. It's an important distinction, though perhaps one lost upon someone woken up Saturday morning at 9:30.

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Tom Irregardless and Me     No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Inside Job ....the Movie

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! Matt damonMatt Damon wants to interview me. ME! He'll autograph one of his pictures, and (blush) he'll probably want one of my own. After all, he's reached the top of his field and I've reached the top of mine.
 
 But wait! Matt Damon is interviewer for a movie called Inside Job. Inside Job
About root causes of the 2008 financial collapse! [the one replaying in Europe at this writing] Aren't you worried he may ask embarrassing questions?
 
Nah! He's just a dumb actor. What does he know? I'll razzle-dazzle him. He may be good at pretending to be a successful person, but I'm the real thing! He'll be thrilled to meet me. Not a problem. I'll generously grant him a few minutes of my time.
 
But it turns out that Mr. Damon's not so dumb after all. Plus he's a quick study. Plus he's been coached by the best. It's just my guess, but I think the filmmaker used him as bait, to lure in unsuspecting hotshots. You never see his face, just like in the old days when you never saw a newspersons's face....before they immodestly decided that they themselves were also news and so had to have their mugs on screen. But with Mr. Damon, it's back to the old ways...you never see him, you only hear his voice.
 
And if Glenn Hubbard [chief economic adviser to the Bush administration, and Dean of Columbia Business School] fell for the Damon bait, I've no doubt he's lived to regret it! “This is not a deposition, sir,” the cornered Hubbard huffs, getting hot under Damon's unrelenting questions. “I was polite enough to give you time, foolishly, I now see. But you have three more minutes. Give it your best shot!”
 
I knew he was toast the moment he said it! If only I could have warned him! Words like that don't work. I know, because years ago I used those exact same words on Mrs. Sheepandgoats when she was ragging on about some shortcomings she imagined I had. It's amazing what a woman can do in three minutes!
 
But Mr. Hubbard is not the film's villain. Not by any stretch. He has a role, but it's only a tiny one. He's in a cozy “you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours” society, that's all, which nets him a good chunk of change. ($100,000 to testify in defense of a couple hedge fund managers, who were nonetheless convicted of fraud) But that's very small potatoes compared to the massive misdoings that Inside Job lays bare. All the really big fish were smart enough to lay low...they weren't taken in by any 'oh boy!....lets talk to Matt Damon!' ploy. They have enough dough to buy and sell a hundred Matt Damons.
 
With patient clarity, Inside Job lays out what led up to financial disaster in 2008. “This crisis was not an accident,” the film asserts. “It was caused by an out-of-control industry. Since the 1980s, the rise of the U.S. financial sector has led to a series of increasingly severe financial crises. Each crisis has caused more damage, while the industry has made more and more money.”
 
Back in the day, the film explains, if you wanted to buy a house, you approached a bank for a loan. That's what I did. And then for the next 'what seemed a lifetime' you'd pay off your mortgage. The bank was careful loaning you money, because it was their money. They wouldn't loan it if they thought you might not pay it back. Isn't that simple? It had been that way forever.
 
But starting in the 1980's investment banks went public, raising millions from the stock market, and came up with new ideas to make money. Since Americans had never defaulted on their mortgages....I mean, who wants to lose their home?...even in times of crisis, it was the absolute last expense one would renege on......why not buy those mortgages from whoever wrote them, then sell them to investors in the stock market, reaping a fat commission on the way? Of course, no investor's going to buy a single mortgage, but if you bundled them up several thousand at a time, then it became something people would invest in! Brilliant! Profitable! A win-win! Well.....maybe not that last adjective. Does anyone see the flaw?
 
See, the mortgage writer held that mortgage for only a short time. He sold it to an investment bank straight away, who also held it only a short time. The bank put it on the stock market for individual investors to purchase. So, in time, it occurred to these two middlemen that they needn't worry too much about whether the mortgage could be repaid, so long as they could stick it to some investor further down the line, who was removed from the original translation and might just assume it was sound investment! Especially if outside authorities....call them rating agencies....like Moody's, Fitch, and S&P....assured them that those investments were absolute rock-solid. Rating agencies did just that! After all, they drew their fees from those very same investment banks bundling the mortgages, and money blinds people. If they ever came to have misgivings as the mortgage quality deteriorated, they chose to look the other way. Such investments enjoyed the highest ratings right up until they crashed.
 
And crash they did. Enticed by fat commissions, and over the span of two decades, it became easier and easier to get a mortgage. People could do it with limited income, sometimes even with no income, since it got so that oftentimes nobody bothered to check if the applicant was creditworthy or not. Home prices began rising so quickly that people would buy one, even if they couldn't quite afford it, with the notion that they could flip it for a big profit in just a few months!
 
Here's Alan Sloan, senior editor of Fortune Magazine, interviewed by Inside Job:
 
“A friend of mine, who, who's involved in a company that has a big financial presence, said: Well, it's about time you learned about subprime mortgages. So he set up a session with his trading desk and me; and, and a techie, who, who did all this – gets very excited; runs to his computer; pulls up, in about three seconds, this Goldman Sachs issue of securities. It was a complete disaster. Borrowers had borrowed, on average, 99.3 percent of the price of the house. Which means they have no money in the house. If anything goes wrong, they're gonna walk away from the mortgage. This is not a loan you'd really make, right? You've gotta be crazy. But somehow, you took 8,000 of these loans; and by the time the guys were done at Goldman Sachs and the rating agencies, two-thirds of the loans were rated AAA, which meant they were rated as safe as government securities. It's, it's utterly mad.”
 
They were called CDOs, “collateralized debt obligations.”
 
Didn't I write here back in 2008 about a couple of “douchebags” (not my word) who made a fortune writing “toxic” mortgages like this? Eventually, word got out that, contrary to the theorists, that people were defaulting in droves, and the entire market crashed.
 
But there's more. By 2006, the big investment banks realized the CDOs they sold were risky and might fail, so they began buying insurance, called credit default swaps, (CDS) from AIG Insurance, so that they would reap a profit if the CDO's really did go bust. Obviously, they stopped selling those toxic CDOs, right? Nope. All the while they continued to market CDOs as a high-quality investment! Meanwhile, they continued to buy CDSs till it dawned on them that AIG itself might go bust (which did happen). So they insured against even that! Is it any wonder I launched my ill-fated service presentation about “big-time bankers?”
 
But wait! Could all this possibly happen under the watchful eye of regulators? Again and again, Inside Job reveals how regulators saw all this developing....and did nothing. One such regulator, a former Fed banker, is convulsed with the worse case of the stammers I've ever seen trying to explain his role to Matt Damon:
 
“So, uh, again, I, I don't know the details, in terms of, of, uh, of, um – uh, in fact, I, I just don't – I, I – eh, eh, whatever information he provide, I'm not sure exactly, I, eh, uh – it's, it's actually, to be honest with you, I can't remember the, the, this kind of discussion. But certainly, uh, there, there were issues that were, uh, uh, coming up.”
 
 
 
There's not just bad guys in the film. There's good guys too. And one of the good guys is someone we've long thought was a bad guy, after initially thinking him a good one! Elliot Spitzer! SpitzerI have a whole blog category about him, which I was about to phase out, until this movie hit the screens. He was New York's governor for a short time, the state's potential saviour (and does it ever need one). Almost single-handedly, as New York's attorney general, he took on these defrauders himself. He had to do it almost single-handedly, because nobody else would co-operate. Says he in the film: “The regulators didn't do their job. They, they had the power to do every case that I made when I was state attorney general. They just didn't want to.” It arguably was not even Spitzer's business, or at least not his mainline business, for Wall Street dealings came first under the scrutiny of the Securities and Exchange commission. (SEC) But they so glaringly neglected the job, that Elliot Spitzer stepped in.
 
“There is a sensibility that you don't use people's – uh, personal vices in the context of Wall Street cases, necessarily, to get them to flip. I think maybe it's, after the cataclysms that we've been through, maybe people will reevaluate that. I'm, I'm not the one to pass judgment on that right now.”
 
There's also Kristin Davis, Kristin daviswho ran a prostitution ring from her high rise apartment. She details the “personal vices” of her thousands of Wall St clients, so that we see Mr. Spitzer's carrying on was by no means unusual for the culture he was operating in. But he was the “good guy,” and I suppose you do expect the good guys to be good. Ms Davis also emerges as a good guy, since she spills the beans on the collasol debauchery of the Street.
 
 
The top investment bank execs all steered clear of Matt Damon, correctly smelling a rat, but they couldn't really avoid Congress. The film provides footage of these big-time bankers being grilled by various legislators. Watch em squirm! It's lots of fun. But don't kid yourself. They only squirm to a point. And a little squirming can be endured if you're nonetheless walking off with a personal profit of millions, even billions of dollars.
 
Another aspect of them film which has a curious effect: Whenever you see a picture of some people and one of them is the United States President, and the camera begins to zoom in, you know it's going to zoom in on the President, until presently the other nobodies fall of the frame. Inside Job zooms in on the other guys, all high-powered banking types who, the inference is clear, are really running the show. Here is footage of Ronald Reagan and his Treasury Secretary, former Morgan Stanley CEO Donald Regan, and it is Regan who is the focus. There is Bill Clinton side by side with his Secretary Treasurer, then Goldman Sachs CEO Robert Rubin, and it is Rubin who takes the spotlight. Ditto for George W Bush and later Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson; the same for Barack Obama and Tim Geithner, former President of the New York Federal Reserve branch. Who isn't reminded of Amschel Rothschild's words almost two centuries ago: "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who makes its laws." Democrats in power? Republicans? Doesn't matter. “It's a Wall Street government,” says Robert Gnaizda, former director of the Greenlining Institute, with no reform in sight.
 
 
 
Does the movie really end with a call to arms?
 
“They [the investment bankers] will tell us that we need them, and that what they do is too complicated for us to understand. They will tell us it won't happen again. They will spend billions fighting reform. It won't be easy. But some things are worth fighting for,” the film concludes.
 
…...............................................
 
Fast forward three years later. The investment firm MF Global has just failed, in exactly the same fashion as Lehman, Bear Sterns, etc, demonstrating no one's learned anything since 2008. The movement Occupy Wall Street spreads from it's Manhattan home base to cities the world over, over a thousand at last count.
 
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The movement began only two months ago.
 
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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)