Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Newsweek Article Worth a Read

Palin Is Ready? Please.

McCain says that he always puts country first. In this important case, that is simply not true.

Fareed Zakaria
From the magazine issue dated Oct 6, 2008

Will someone please put Sarah Palin out of her agony? Is it too much to ask that she come to realize that she wants, in that wonderful phrase in American politics, "to spend more time with her family"? Having stayed in purdah for weeks, she finally agreed to a third interview. CBS's Katie Couric questioned her in her trademark sympathetic style. It didn't help. When asked how living in the state closest to Russia gave her foreign-policy experience, Palin responded thus:
"It's very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America. Where—where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to—to our state."
There is, of course, the sheer absurdity of the premise. Two weeks ago I flew to Tokyo, crossing over the North Pole. Does that make me an expert on Santa Claus? (Thanks, Jon Stewart.) But even beyond that, read the rest of her response. "It is from Alaska that we send out those …" What does this mean? This is not an isolated example. Palin has been given a set of talking points by campaign advisers, simple ideological mantras that she repeats and repeats as long as she can. ("We mustn't blink.") But if forced off those rehearsed lines, what she has to say is often, quite frankly, gibberish.
Couric asked her a smart question about the proposed $700 billion bailout of the American financial sector. It was designed to see if Palin understood that the problem in this crisis is that credit and liquidity in the financial system has dried up, and that that's why, in the estimation of Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, the government needs to step in to buy up Wall Street's most toxic liabilities. Here's the entire exchange:
COURIC: Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?
PALIN: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.
This is nonsense—a vapid emptying out of every catchphrase about economics that came into her head. Some commentators, like CNN's Campbell Brown, have argued that it's sexist to keep Sarah Palin under wraps, as if she were a delicate flower who might wilt under the bright lights of the modern media. But the more Palin talks, the more we see that it may not be sexism but common sense that's causing the McCain campaign to treat her like a time bomb.
Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president. She is a feisty, charismatic politician who has done some good things in Alaska. But she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start. The next administration is going to face a set of challenges unlike any in recent memory. There is an ongoing military operation in Iraq that still costs $10 billion a month, a war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan that is not going well and is not easily fixed. Iran, Russia and Venezuela present tough strategic challenges.
Domestically, the bailout and reform of the financial industry will take years and hundreds of billions of dollars. Health-care costs, unless curtailed, will bankrupt the federal government. Social Security, immigration, collapsing infrastructure and education are all going to get much worse if they are not handled soon.
And the American government is stretched to the limit. Between the Bush tax cuts, homeland-security needs, Iraq, Afghanistan and the bailout, the budget is looking bleak. Plus, within a few years, the retirement of the baby boomers begins with its massive and rising costs (in the trillions).
Obviously these are very serious challenges and constraints. In these times, for John McCain to have chosen this person to be his running mate is fundamentally irresponsible. McCain says that he always puts country first. In this important case, it is simply not true.

URL: http://www.newsweek.com/id/161204

Monday, September 1, 2008


This is copied directly (not translated...ahem...) from the Blogger website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (Mormon church)

Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, February 27, 1833. HC 1: 327–329. As a consequence of the early brethren using tobacco in their meetings, the Prophet was led to ponder upon the matter; consequently he inquired of the Lord concerning it. This revelation, known as the Word of Wisdom, was the result. The first three verses were originally written as an inspired introduction and description by the Prophet.
1–9, Use of wine, strong drinks, tobacco, and hot drinks proscribed; 10–17, Herbs, fruits, flesh, and grain are ordained for the use of man and of animals; 18–21, Obedience to gospel law, including the Word of Wisdom, brings temporal and spiritual blessings.

1 A aWord OF Wisdom, for the benefit of the council of high priests, assembled in Kirtland, and the church, and also the saints in Zion—

2 To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the aword of wisdom, showing forth the order and bwill of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days—

3 Given for a principle with apromise, adapted to the capacity of the bweak and the weakest of all csaints, who are or can be called saints.

4 Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of aevils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of bconspiring men in the last days, I have cwarned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—

5 That inasmuch as any man adrinketh bwine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.

6 And, behold, this should be wine, yea, apure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.

7 And, again, astrong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.

8 And again, tobacco is not for the abody, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill.

9 And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

10 And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome aherbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—

11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with aprudence and bthanksgiving.

12 Yea, aflesh also of bbeasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used csparingly;

13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be aused, only in times of winter, or of cold, or bfamine.

14 All agrain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;

15 And athese hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.

16 All grain is good for the afood of man; as also the bfruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—

17 Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

18 And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, ashall receive bhealth in their navel and marrow to their bones;

19 And shall afind bwisdom and great ctreasures of dknowledge, even hidden treasures;

20 And shall arun and not be bweary, and shall walk and not faint.

21 And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the adestroying angel shall bpass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen.
The Official Scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"

I have a problem with this.

Growing up my entire life as a Mormon, it was hammered into my head that drinking, smoking, partaking of tea and any beverage with caffeine in it was a no-no. Doing so would be in violation of The Word of Wisdom.

First of all....what a bitch. What kid doesn't want to pound Dr. Pepper or Coke with their friends at a slumber party? Second of all....what a crock.

I'm assuming that the no caffeine rule is a translation issue because I never have and still do not see that it is prohibited by the Word of Wisdom.

I also see that wine is not prohibited if it's for offering sacrament and is homemade. Whoopee!!! How in the hell did I miss that part?! I guess wine wasn't really on my agenda in middle school yet. I was far too concerned about being banned from drinking all of my favorite soft drinks.

The thing that sticks in my craw the most about religion is the hypocrisy of it all. So...somewhere in there someone determined that caffeine is bad and apparently store bought wine is bad but homemade wine for religious purposes is okie dokie. I know from personal experience that this particular piece of "divine inspiration" is made a big deal of in the Mormon church. But how about the large part of this dictate that talks about not eating meat except in times of winter or famine? I know very few Mormons who are vegetarians. If followed to the letter, one would not drink store bought wine, partake of any sort of tobacco, only eat meat in winter or times of famine and eat grains as the major part of their diet. (I'm still not sure to this day what is meant by "hot" drinks. I see no cross reference of explanation for it so is the reader to assume that hot chocolate and wassail are also prohibited?

It was my understanding growing up that the Word of Wisdom was intended as a guideline to keep help the members of the church live a healthy lifestyle.

In my 30 years of experience in the Mormon church, I found that a large portion of the membership of the church was overweight or obese. Church socials were gorge fests and most of the activities revolved around food. We're not talking about vegetarian fare here. We're talking mayonnaise filled salads, chicken, hamburger, hot dogs, sweets....but no caffeine!

I would be interested to hear a rational and logical explanation as to how one can be 'obedient' to the Word of Wisdom and be obese. According to the Lord, if you're obedient to it, he will bless you that you will be able to run & not be weary and walk and not faint. Apparently, physical fitness and good health is high on the Lord's agenda. If this is indeed the case, then wouldn't he be pretty concerned that a large portion of his followers are fatties? I mean, how many caffeine related deaths and illnesses are there? Now let's count the number of illnesses and deaths directly related to obesity. A rational thinking person might conclude that obesity is a greater sin than drinking a Mountain Dew or even a glass or two of wine now and then. (And how about those reports that scientifically conclude that red wine actually has health benefits?!)

In the Mormon church there is something called a "Temple Recommend". It's basically a pass that you get that allows you to go to a Mormon temple. In order to get that pass, you have to fulfill certain requirements such as being a regular tithe payer, being obedient to the Word of Wisdom, etc. I know firsthand people that have been denied a Recommend because they admitted in their interview with their church leader that they drank beer. I also know dozens upon dozens of fat Mormons who hold those recommends in good standing.


I'm picking on the Mormons here because it's the church I'm most familiar with. The same hypocrisy and worse exists across the board of religious sects.

I'll be the first to stand and say that sometimes I may be hypocritical. The difference is that I don't subscribe to any philosophy that I claim to be a follower of and conduct myself in a contradictory manner to that philosophy.

My mother inspired this rant. She's a die hard Mormon who has had surgery on both knees because she's too heavy and her cartilage has worn out. In her eyes, I'm a heathen because I drink. My lifestyle (a few drinks every now and then) makes her sad because she thinks my soul is damned in the hereafter. Her lifestyle makes me sad because in my eyes, her hypocrisy has already damned her soul in the here and now.