A Brief Glimpse Of Life After The Apocalypse

Armageddon. The Apocalypse. Christians have heard these words occasionally uttered since they were children. Most of them know those words are typically associated with the Book of Revelations. However, prophesies of the end of days can be found in practically every religion.

Even non-religious people (including Hollywood) have some doomsday cataclysmic scenario conceptualized that involve zombies or radioactive mutants, but the common theme of every scenario where life as we currently know it ceases to exist, and we might eventually “devolve” into some primitive, subhuman species. You know, like zombies…or Antifa people. There are a number of scenarios by which the end of the world might come, including nuclear war and natural disasters. After my experiences of the past several days, my personal preference would be that in any apocalyptic scenario, our current location would be the initial point of impact, in order to put my family and me immediately out of our misery. To be brutally honest, we would not make very good doomsday survivors.

Here, this journal written over the past week ought to prove my point…

Day 1 (9/11)

Time: Approximately 2:15 p.m.

Log Entry: We lose (gasp!) electricity and Internet service. It’s okay, though. We’ve lost power before. The longest previous outage in this current house was almost eight hours – to the point we’d begun to get irritable and had to go out for dinner. Oh, well. Could be worse. It could be raining.

Oh yeah, it is raining.

As I like to say, suck it up, buttercup.

Time: Approximately 8:15 p.m.

Log Entry: Still no power. I’ve located every candle, flashlight, and carton of batteries that I can find that were scattered all over the house. Wife figured out how to light gas stove without electric starter (matches) and cooked breakfast for dinner, so at least we don’t go to bed hungry. She also fills the tub with water, so the cat hair floats on the surface. I look at it and decide I’d rather die of thirst. Thank God I keep a supply of bottled water from Costco. Now bored to tears, so time to brush teeth and get ready for bed.

Surely power will come back during the night. Things will be better in the morning.

Surely.

Day 2 (Tuesday 9/12)

Time: 5:00 a.m.

Log Entry: I’m getting tired of repeating the obvious. No electricity sucks. My wife sleeps well, about as hard as I do under anesthesia. I toss and turn, and then start to fidget. I realize that I’m going through withdrawal symptoms, craving my creature comforts. How did people write before we had computers?

Oh yeah, paper and pen. That sounds so…quaint. Well, if I get that desperate, I’ll look for a notebook and pen.

Of course, they’d be much easier to find if I could turn on the lights.

Time: 11:00 a.m.

Log Entry: We had breakfast again for breakfast, before my wife and son went off to work (because their places of employment still had power), leaving me alone with the dogs. Who are all bored, and want to be entertained. So we go for a walk.

The cat was irritable on our return, because she’d been left behind. This cat does not like to be picked up, and only appreciates affection on her terms. You want to try to put a leash on Ms. Blossom and take her for a walk, be my guest. In my opinion, though, it would be a much more productive use of your time to just donate that blood to the Red Cross instead of dripping it all over my living room floor.

Don’t expect me to clean up your blood, either. A man’s got to know his limitations.

Time: 12:10 p.m.

Log Entry: Perhaps divine intervention had kept my phone battery power at 17 percent for hours, in spite of probably up to a dozen text messages, several phone calls, and about 3,000 touches of a button to illuminate the display, for the purposes of checking the current time. It occurs to me that I can recharge the battery in the van while listening to Rush Limbaugh, and at least went back into a dark house with a fully charged battery.

Time: 6:00 p.m.

Log Entry: According to research, the food in our refrigerator is no longer edible. If only I’d listened to Ron Paul and bought one of those freeze-drying machines, I could be eating ice cream right now, instead of Panda Express — dinner is delicious, and contains neither ham, bacon, nor eggs. Yeah!

Time: 8:15 p.m.

Log Entry: I think it might be time to hide the sharp objects from my perpetually cheerful wife, because I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten on her last nerve. Again, for as many nights in recent memory, we go to bed before the sun has set, because without Internet or television, we had nothing else to do. I really want a hot shower.

Time: Approximately 10:00 p.m.

Log Entry: We have power! Rejoicing can be heard throughout the land, or at least from the second floor to the basement in our house. My wife and I both jump out of bed and literally dance to celebrate. I reset the clocks. I turn on the television, and confirm that DirecTV works. I turn on my computer…What? No Internet?

Day 3 (Wednesday)

Time: 12:25 a.m.

Log Entry: Comcast customer service has an undeserved reputation for incompetence, in my estimation. Their representative explains that a major outage occurred due to a damaged transformer that could not be replaced until Thursday. In the interim, we were advised to connect to an Infinity hotspot. After numerous attempts to patiently talk me through the process of connecting to the hotspot, the representative finally realized that I wasn’t a total moron and that there wasn’t a hotspot close enough to the house for us to connect to the Internet.

The technical acronym for this particular issue is S. O. L. However, our problem has been escalated, and we were told that a hotspot expert would contact us later, in retrospect presumably to get us off the phone.

Time: 10:00 a.m.

Log Entry: Using my cell phone I check the Comcast website and discover that the repair originally estimated to be fixed by Thursday was ahead of schedule and should be ready by 6:00 p.m. I’m starting to feel like a junkie going through withdrawal symptoms, but at least I know when I’ll get my next fix. Even better, Comcast promises to send me a text message when the Internet is up and running again.

Time: 5:00 p.m.

Log Entry: Good news! Received the text message.

The bad news? It lied.

Time: 8:25 p.m.

Log Entry: My experience with Comcast customer support reminds me of a favorite joke, which goes like this:

Want to solve the drug problem? Here’s an easy set of steps guaranteed to solve the epidemic of illegal drug use. First, legalize drugs. Second, require all drugs be procured through Comcast customer service.

The following is a reasonably paraphrased version of my conversation with Comcast customer service from memory, but reasonably accurate…that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Me: I’m calling because I received a text message from customer service saying that my service has been restored, but I can’t access the Internet.
Comcast: We’re sorry, sir. Due to damage from the storm, your service won’t be restored until September 14th.
Me: Huh? That’s what they said yesterday. Customer service sent me a text message a little while ago saying that my service had already been restored. You’re saying the message was wrong?
Comcast: Yes.
Me: Darn. (The original “transcript” may have involved stronger language.) Okay. False alarm. So, when we spoke to customer service yesterday, your guy said that he could see there wasn’t a hot spot close enough to our house for us to have temporary access through the cloud. He was going to escalate the creation of a hotspot near enough for us to reach. Can I get an update on the status of that?
Comcast: That can’t happen before September 14th.
Me: Say what? By then I won’t need it. Let’s recap our conversation, if you don’t mind: the text message from customer service was in error, and I’m not going to have my service restored today. Nor was my problem “escalated” to some specialist team to create a hot spot for us. That wasn’t true.
Comcast: Yes.
Me: I know this storm has been challenging, but I hope you realize that’s not very good customer service.
Comcast: Yes. Is there anything else I can do for you today?
Me: (Laughing) No. Well, thanks…for nothing, I guess. Oh, I suppose you were polite when you admitted that your fellow customer service people were prevaricating weasels who just wanted to get me off the phone.

Time: 8:25 p.m.

Log Entry: Tempting though it may be to watch my recording of Georgia/Notre Dame football game for the fourth consecutive time, fatigue is starting to take over. Mr. Sandman is playing me a tune, so I wander off to bed.

Day 4 (Thursday)

Time: 10:00 a.m. 

Log Entry: Writing this article has a somewhat cathartic effect. My friend Bill calls to see how my cousin in Miami, who refused to evacuate, fared in Hurricane Irma. I told him that my cousin never even lost power or his satellite television feed.  Bill marveled that we had suffered more inconvenience in Atlanta than my cousin. In the middle of our conversation, I suddenly realized that emails were downloading.

I had approximately 600 unread email messages. And I deleted about 590 of those messages without even bothering to open them.

Log Final Entry: This experience has taught me a valuable lesson…I’ll need at least $5,000 for a good whole house generator.  There is always a chance that we might initially survive a meteor strike, nuclear bomb, or volcanic eruption, and my wife nor I are cut out to “rough” it.

In fairness, I must confess that the reason we have Internet service from Comcast is because AT&T customer service was even worse. Furthermore, until this incident, they’d actually been pretty good.

Obviously this wasn’t their best effort, but in all honesty, the circumstances were rather extenuating…and now that things are more or less back to normal, my demeanor has greatly improved. So I forgive them…grudgingly.

Looking on the bright side, while we had to throw out all  the food in the refrigerator and freezer, I was able to have it as clean as when we bought it, before power was restored.

So now we just need to restock it with food.

Bacteria and the Origin of Life, by Landon Freeman

Landon Freeman

[Editorial note: Landon Freeman is one of my bright young internet friends. He wrote this very compelling essay on a subject that interests me quite a bit, and gave me permission to share it here.]

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY: Landon Freeman is a native Georgian who currently studies psychology at Georgia Southwestern State University. He has been interested in the creation-evolution debate for several years now and runs the Facebook group “Evidence for Creation”, which discusses a variety of topics related to creationism and evolution. When not discussing the topic of creation online, Landon can usually be found writing, listening to music, or playing video games.

When discussing the hypothesis of abiogenesis, I’m astounded to see that many atheists and evolutionists act as if it’s a given that life evolved through purely naturalistic processes, and that life wouldn’t have much trouble getting started.

There are several issues with abiogenesis, though the one I’m going to discuss is the problem of not only functional, operating organisms arising from non-living matter, but intelligence arising as well. Indeed, even allegedly simple bacteria display intelligence and foresight.

An article from NewScientist states and provides evidence that microbes can communicate with each other, make decisions, form communities, and even accelerate mutations to gain new abilities. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17390-why-microbes-are-smarter-than-you-thought/

The issue here is bacteria have been living since not long after life began. Life allegedly began around at least 3.5 billion years ago, and the earliest bacteria fossils are allegedly, “3.77 billion years or 4.22 billion years — just 340 million years after the formation of the planet.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/01/science/earths-oldest-bacteria-fossils.html

This means that both biological intricacy and intelligence would have to arise within a very short time frame. Bacteria are even able to “see” using an “eye” similar to an animal or human eye, which means the basic workings of these miniature light collectors may not be so different from those of cameras or the human eye, researchers claim.

“The idea that bacteria can see their world in basically the same way that we do is pretty exciting,” study lead author Conrad Mullineaux, a microbiologist at the Queen Mary University of London, said in a statement. “Our observation that bacteria are optical objects is pretty obvious with hindsight, but we never thought of it until we saw it. And no one else noticed it before either, despite the fact that scientists have been looking at bacteria under microscopes for the last 340 years.” https://www.livescience.com/53670-bacterial-slime-can-see.html

Even viruses display intelligence, and they aren’t even considered living organisms by many scientists, though some do consider viruses to be alive. One article states that: “Viruses are very intelligent. They can think. They do things that we do not expect. They adapt to the environment. They change themselves in order to survive,” said Lai, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. “Part of this comes from the ability of viruses to shuffle genes with as much deft as some genetic engineers. Viruses can pick up pieces of cellular genes or incorporate their genes into the cell’s genome. That means that evolution occurs all the time in viruses. It’s a very dynamic process – that’s why I always feel that the viruses are alive.” https://news.usc.edu/9791/researcher-teases-out-secrets-from-surprisingly-intelligent-viruses/

Another study on viruses determined that: “What has confounded the virology community for quite some time is the observation that the cell fate of a bacteria infected by a single virus can be dramatically different than that infected by two viruses,” said Joshua Weitz, an assistant professor in the School of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Our study suggests that viruses can collectively decide whether or not to kill a host, and that individual viruses ‘talk’ to each other as a result of interactions between viral genomes and viral proteins they direct the infected host to produce.” http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu/newsrelease/bacteria-virus.htm

Through analyzing the available evidence, it is very reasonable to conclude that viruses, bacteria, and life in general were not the product of completely naturalistic processes, and that some entity had to be involved in life’s initial creation. Of course, we know this entity as God, the Creator of life and all of the universe.

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory, honor, and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” -Revelation 4:11

Good news and bad news

I always like to get the bad news out of the way first. I’m not going to be writing as often here at my own website, Southern Prose.

However, the good news is that I am still writing online, more than ever — but now I actually get paid something for it.

My new gig is freelance writer for TheResurgent.com, a website owned by conservative radio host Erick Erickson. But don’t blame him for anything I write. They pretty much allow me to just do what I’ve been doing here, without earning income.

If you’re interested, you can find my new articles here.

An open letter to the evolutionary biologist

Asiatic black bear

Dear Mr. or Ms. Evolutionary Biologist,

Thank you in advance for your time, of which I hope not to waste too much. If you happen to be an ursinologist, your assistance will be especially welcome.

Before I start, I think it it is only fair that you know the audience. I should properly identify myself as a Christian, so that you will be aware of the possibility my confirmation bias (which I believe everyone has) could unduly affect my interpretation of published scientific evidence. I also believe in supernatural creation, because I am well aware that life cannot evolve until it exists.

However, I typically describe myself as theist-agnostic. By that, I simply mean that I believe in the Judeo-Christian supernatural creator God called Yahweh, and I also believe that Jesus was the promised, crucified, and resurrected Messiah. That’s the “theist” part of the descriptor. On the other hand, I also realize that I actually don’t know very much when it comes to answering the existential questions. That’s the reason for the “agnostic” qualifier…I can’t even claim that my beliefs constitute knowledge, because sometimes beliefs turn out to be wrong. Pleading agnosticism is admitting to ignorance. My desire to become less ignorant is the reason for writing you this letter.

So without further ado, please allow me to get right to the crux of what I want to know: what special characteristics of any two species of bears makes it necessary for them to be classified as more than one species?  After all, there are five billion or so humans on earth, all properly classified as homo sapiens. What makes bears more special than human beings?

Yesterday morning, in an internet forum I pointed out there are allegedly eight unique species of bears, but only one species of human beings with approximately five billion members, and asked an evolutionary biologist there for an explanation for the definition of species. I asked him to help me understand how the origin of a new species could be determined, and I mentioned that it seemed an inconsistent methodology and use of vague terms by colleagues in his particular field of expertise tended to cause some confusion.

Rather than simply answering my question, this evolutionary biologist ridiculed me for my interest. In a condescending tone he insisted that I had been given this information in the past and told that I should “learn something” for a change. That last suggestion struck me as excellent advice, and I took it.

So thanks for the inspiration, Herman.

First, I confirmed that according to biological classification, there are allegedly eight unique species of bears. Two of these eight unique species are Asiatic black bears and North American black bears. So my question becomes very simple. How, exactly, are Asiatic black bears different from their North American cousins?

According to this website, the Asiatic black bear has slightly longer and softer fur. Yet the most significant difference for the purposes of unique identification is a colored swath of fur on the chest of the Asiatic black bear:

The most obvious difference between the two species is the chest blaze.

Is that it? Seriously? That’s the best, most important reason for identifying these animals as two unique species? A colored patch of chest fur?

Both of these varieties of black bears are excellent tree climbers and prefer a diet that includes plants, fruits, berries, and bees’ nests. Furthermore, the website also claimed that as many as one of every four North American black bears may have the same chest blaze as their Asiatic cousins. In other words, there is a 25 percent chance that a North American black bear might have the same chest blaze. Trying to apply logic here for a moment, if a North American black bear with a chest blaze managed to somehow migrate to Asia, could it be easily distinguished from the native bear species? If so, how? If not, why are Asiatic black bears and North American black bears being classified as two different species?

For the purpose of comparison, also please consider the physical differences between a typical Japanese human and a white European human. Hair color, eye color, and skin color should allow the native Japanese person and a typical white European to be easily differentiated — a person with natural blond hair and blue eyes tends to stand out in a crowded Tokyo bar, but not so much in London.

By the same token, we know that Japanese humans and white European humans can successfully mate and produce fertile offspring. According to any reasonable biological criteria, Japanese people and white Europeans are clearly members of one species, because by sexual reproduction they may participate in the continuation of the species. In fact, it would be silly, and perhaps even racist, to suggest otherwise.

Therefore, I’d like to propose a scientific experiment. Since I’m not an actual scientist and don’t do this sort of thing, I’ll just toss out the idea for public consumption– what about an experiment where a small breeding population of Asiatic black bears might be integrated into a small community of North American black bears? The purpose would be to see if these two allegedly unique species of bears are only classified separate species because they have been physically kept separated, and mating becomes geographically impossible. If the sows fail to conceive, suffers miscarriage, or the offspring is sterile, then we can probably say with some degree of certainty that Asiatic black bears and North American black bears are truly separate and distinct species of bear. Perhaps the Asiatic black bear just has a bummer of a birthmark. (Apologies to Gary Larson of “The Far Side” fame.)

Or is there another reason there are two “species” of black bear? Please tell me that there is something a little more obvious to help the layman understand the difference between the Asiatic and North American varieties of black bear than the interphotoreceptor retinoid binding protein, because then you’re going to have to explain exactly what that means, and its impact on the distinction between two individual species.

We also know bear species that are not as closely related as the two species of black bears have nevertheless successfully produced live offspring — the hybrid descendants of grizzly and polar bears have been encountered in the wild. The only question that remains is whether or not the offspring will be fertile, which means that it becomes part of the breeding population. We should naturally expect the results of our little “experiment” to be viable offspring, because it already happens in the wild. A simple fertility test could finally settle the question of whether or not black bears should be considered more than one species, or if any bear (except the marsupial koala bear) should be classified as a unique species of bear.

It has been my past experience that when I have asked the alleged expert questions like these, and the expert in question feels the question poses a threat to the integrity of his or her profession, the response is often dripping with scorn and ridicule. The logical fallacies that appear to be committed under that scenario are an appeal to authority, or ad hominem personal insults (which I like to call the “shoot the messenger” mistake.)

Always respond to the argument. Don’t merely attack the source.

My questions are most sincere — does a specially colored swath of chest fur truly qualify as a valid reason to classify a specific variety of animal as new species? Should there legitimately be more than one “species” of black bear? Why does there seem to be such an obvious inconsistency in the usage of terminology, considering the fact that humans and bears are both mammals that should share a fairly recent common ancestor, in terms of geological time?

Thank you again for your time. If you choose to take these questions seriously, thank you in advance for your measured and appropriate response.

My reason for asking is simple. Curiosity. I’d like to understand why.

Most Sincerely,

John

 

 

 

 

 

 

GK-PID and the origin of species

Even though most biologists accept Darwin’s theory of natural selection as the explanation for how modern species came to exist, the mystery remains of how complex multicellular plants and animals evolved from far simpler single-celled organisms that rely on asexual reproduction to perpetuate their species. The offspring of single-celled organisms have the genes and DNA from only one parent, requiring no fusion of gametes or changes in the number of chromosomes.

Single-celled organisms are independent creatures. The average human body contains anywhere between 60 and 90 trillion cells that cooperate and work in collaboration to function as bones, organs, and tissue. The biological processes and rules that governs the creation of DNA from two parent organisms are far more complex and require the development of new protein structures which single-celled organism neither have nor need and therefore should not be produced by asexual reproduction. However, recent research and experiments have suggested a protein structure named GK-PID facilitated evolution from ancient, ancestral single-celled organisms into more complex and modern creatures and humans.

Christian beliefs regarding the origin of life vary from young earth creationism with an earth only 6,000 years old to old earth creationism, which finds no conflict between the Big Bang theory as the explanation for the origin of the universe and Genesis 1:3, which reads, “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” Christians may also believe that intelligent design or even theistic evolution best describes how God created the universe. The common denominator in Christian thought is that we know God is responsible for creation, but we may disagree on how God created our universe and the life within.

Scientists must rely on a hypothesis from chemistry called abiogenesis to attempt an explanation for how inanimate matter became alive without any need for divine intervention, using the rationale that no matter how unlikely, the origin of life only had to have happened once. The most successful experiments were conducted by Stanley Miller and Harold Urey in the 1950s and produced a few precursor amino acids, but no living cells, nucleotides or DNA. Still, biologists believe that chemical reactions caused DNA to form and a living cell to be created (which logically must have been a single-celled organism.)

Now the GK-PID molecular carbiner, which binds two partner molecules that work together acting as an anchor and motor combination, has been proposed as an ultimate missing link bridging the gap between single-celled organisms like bacteria, and far more complex creatures like us. Researchers now claim to have sequenced DNA that existed almost a billion years ago and resurrected that DNA in a laboratory in order to perform “molecular time travel” experiments. These experiments allegedly showed how a single, lucky mutation could have caused this ancestral protein to evolve and develop a completely new function that enabled this remarkable transition from single cells into more complex organisms. Because of Darwin’s theory, biologists have assumed that new information can be added by viral insertion into an existing genome and becomes an inherited trait passed down to offspring, eventually culminating in dramatic metamorphosis and a classification as new species. According to current biological rules of sexual reproduction, we know that for mating to result in fertile offspring, both parents must belong to the same species.

What is a species?

Biologist’s use of the term species has become alarmingly inconsistent. There is only one classification of species for humans, homo sapiens. This application of the term is perfectly logical, because no matter where two human beings (male and female) were born, should they meet one day and choose to become parents, they should have no difficulty producing fertile offspring that may perpetuate our species. For example, a person from Sweden where blond hair and blue eyes are dominant characteristics could marry someone from Japan, where dark hair and brown eyes are common, and their children will have a somewhat blended physical appearance due to their unique DNA. There is one species for all dogs, canis lupus familiarus.

An ornithologist will more than likely classify a seagull found in the U.K. as a European herring gull, Larus argentatus. The same gull in America will probably be identified as Larus smithsonianus, an American herring gull. Why are there 28 different species of seagulls in North America alone, each with its own unique Latin name? Why is there only one species of domestic dogs, sub classified into breeds, but eight unique species of bears? Even two varieties of the same fruit fly have been classified into separate species, even though hawthorn fly and apple maggot fly are virtually identical in physical appearance. However, the claim that new species have evolved from existing species is actually contradicted by known, easily observed evidence. Two human beings will always give birth to a human child. Two apes will always produce an ape. Even if apes and humans attempted to mate (they can’t because of the different number and configuration of chromosomes) their offspring would be sterile just like mules, zedonks, and other hybrid animals, because they are not the origin of a new species. The offspring would be a biological dead end. It is only by redefining the meaning of species and applying arbitrary rules to the definition can biologists claim to have observed in both laboratory experiments and in the wild the process known as speciation, or the emergence of new species after changes to an existing species become persistent.

Only by adding time to the equation can the advocates of evolution claim, as Darwin himself famously scribbled in his notebook “monkeys make men.” Of course, modern biologists word it somewhat differently, only claiming that humans and apes share a common ancestor. The problem is these same known biological processes: sexual reproduction, isolation of a breeding population, and time are supposed to explain man’s relationship to the turnip as well as the chimpanzee. As biologist and author Richard Dawkins wrote: “Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eyewitnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips…continue the list as long as desired.” [1]

Does GK-PID bridge a significant evolutionary gap?

It is theoretically possible that GK-PID does play the role researchers have claimed allowing the transition from single-celled organisms as these remarkable experiments have suggested, but it should be noted that these tests should actually be considered examples of intelligent design. DNA evidence that is nearly a billion years old does not exist. Computer simulations produced a theoretical sequence for this ancestral organism based on reasonable expectations, but not scientific evidence.

Even so, researchers were able to synthesize this ancestral DNA and inject the results into bacterial and insect cells by experiment, and then observed the development of new molecular function, according to their published results.

Professor of ecology and evolution Joe Thornton, the leader of the project said, “It’s just coincidence that the two molecules look so similar. But that lucky resemblance is why a simple genetic event could cause the evolution of a molecular partnership that is now essential to the biology of complex animals.” [2]

It is interesting to believe that serendipity could have played such an important role in causing our existence, but if evolution can ever be seen as a replacement for creation, good fortune must have played a vital role. In the GK-PID laboratory experiments, researchers worked backwards using the DNA of known species to reconstruct the prehistoric model on which the experiments were based. But that one minor mutation in single-celled organisms is hardly the only amount of luck necessary to believe this universe came to exist without God as the cause. These experiments utilized highly probable pathways for evolution, but the Big Bang and abiogenesis were definitely not probable events. The Big Bang may be considered solid scientific theory, but it depends on multiverse hypotheses, string theories, or an equally unproven Grand Unified Theory. Abiogenesis has yet to graduate from hypothesis to theory. And biologists have exaggerated the significance of certain scientific evidence.

Is the rationale for mainstream atheism based on belief in some unbelievable good luck?

Are hybrid species really out of the question?

Of course, there have been examples of wild speculation attempting to explain how new species might evolve from existing species. In 1940,Richard Goldschmidt proposed that new species could rarely but suddenly result from profound mutations caused by sexual reproduction, referring to them as “hopeful monsters.”

More recently one respected physicist rather ludicrously suggested that chimpanzees might have successfully mated with pigs in the past, producing human hybrids. Other scientists have proposed that increased consumption of fruit was a significant factor in human-to-ape evolution.

These competing theories and hypotheses have one thing in common — apparently people who don’t believe in a supernatural creator God will believe in just about anything else.

 

[1] Dawkins, Richard. The Greatest Show on Earth: the Evidence for Evolution. Page 8. New York. Free Press. 2009. Print.

[2] Jiang, Kevin. “A single, billion-year-old mutation helped multicellular animals evolve.” Science Life. The University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences. January 7, 2016. Online.

 

 

Racists, Charlottesville, and Republicans

The Ku Klux Klan marching to 1924 Democrat convention in NYC

I could never be a member of the Democratic Party, if only because of their history. If you haven’t already seen this very informative video featuring Professor Carol Swain about the Democratic Party’s long history of racism in America, you should watch it now.

I will never join the Republican Party either, because I can’t abide the stupidity of their current leadership in Congress, or the fact they don’t seem willing to keep their campaign promises. ( see John McCain.)

I love my friends on Facebook. They know me well. Yesterday when I started posting pictures of puppies, kittens, and flowers on Facebook, they recognized the calm before the storm. Some wondered if they’d missed it. Nobody missed anything.

Yesterday, the pot was still simmering. We’ve finally reached a full boil. It’s time for me get it off my chest and toss in my two cents on this recent debacle in Charlottesville. I’ll start with the reasons for both protests, why it became violent, and my opinion on who were the bad guys.

The short answer is, everyone involved.

Charlottesville began when a few politicians decided that some statues of Confederate generals so grievously offended them that they must be removed from public property, announcing their plans in advance. Some might believe the announcement was a necessary public service, but more cynical minds could suspect the Democrat politicians running both the city and the state had schemed to manufacture the crisis to come.

Large numbers of skinheads and neo-Nazi thugs blatantly used the event as an excuse to draw attention to themselves, using unsubtle reminders of their despicable past. Perhaps there were a few peaceful protestors on the side who didn’t want the statues removed, but if they had any sense, when the Nazis showed up they would have left. About the only things missing were hoods and sheets.

When my Yankee friends mention the Civil War I often jokingly ask, “Did you mean the War of Northern Aggression?” but in reality, the Civil War was a necessary evil fought largely in order to end a much greater evil. Yes, there was the issue of state rights versus federal rights, but that issue stemmed from the fact Southern states wanted the right to perpetuate human slavery.

The Republican Party was founded in 1854 to promote freedom, in direct opposition to slavery. Personally, I couldn’t give a rat’s rear-end about a statue of Stonewall Jackson. In fact, I will go as far as admitting that I’m pleased that a statue of a man who deserved no honors, Roger Taney, was recently removed from the Maryland state capitol grounds.

But at the same time I’m very concerned at the direction this is heading, where political correctness allows radicals to purge history. Thomas Jefferson was one of the most important Founding Fathers. He wrote the Declaration of Independence, served as the third President, and founded the Democratic Party. But he also owned slaves, which means that somebody with a thin skin is going to want all the great things he accomplished to be ignored. Al Sharpton has already called for defunding and removing the Jefferson Memorial from Washington, D.C.

While I am a staunch supporter of free speech, I have to wonder at the people the media choose to give a platform. Al Sharpton has no business lecturing anyone about race relations. He has freedom of speech, and I have the right to ignore him. Now we even have moronic local politicians calling to have the carvings sandblasted off Stone Mountain.

I have never owned a Confederate flag and never will. I’m not proud of the fact that once upon a time, America allowed slavery. I’m also not proud of everything I’ve done in my life, either. If we forget our mistakes of the past, we will be doomed to repeat them.

But I don’t have any blood on my hands. On the other hand, Al Sharpton does.

As a human being in the early 21st century, it is hard for me to grasp the idea that a person might own another person, and that once upon a time, a man named Dred Scott was considered a piece of property, not a human being. Then I must remind myself that slavery still exists today, in part because people like me don’t do enough to make it stop.

For the record, David Duke and Al Sharpton are birds of a feather. Both men incite hatred and violence based on the color of skin, not the content of their victim’s character.

One the most hateful and divisive pejorative that someone can call another human being is “Nazi”, but “KKK sympathizer” is a pretty close second. So describing those people as “Trump supporters” is a great way to demonize your intellectual opponent, but it isn’t a very effective way of fostering dialog, if the goal is to reach a common understanding, and maybe even agreement.

Both the KKK and neo-Nazis are deplorable. And so are/were the Socialists and Communists. Nobody (in their right mind) wants to be associated with an ideology willing to murder millions of human beings simply because of their race or their belief in a different god than their God. Yet during World War II over six million Jews were slaughtered like sheep by Hitler and his Nazi scum. There is even a special name for this sordid historical event, called the Holocaust.

It was a special kind of evil. But if anything, the Communists were even worse. While virtually everyone has heard of the Holocaust (a few wackos who don’t deserve mention might deny that it happened, but the evidence is irrefutable, really) not nearly as many are familiar with the Soviet Holomodor in the Ukraine that allegedly killed 20 million people by forced starvation. The one thing Fascists and Communists clearly have shared in common is a willingness to use violence and terror to silence, intimidate, and murder their opposition.

Which takes us back to Charlottesville — on the one side, we had mostly neo-Nazis and on the other, we had mostly Socialists and Communists, or roughly translated, the AntiFa crowd. A few good people might have been on either side, but most of those involved in the protests on both sides were bad actors. Unfortunately, that includes the police and politicians.

Don’t forget, the people in charge here were Democrats. Rahm Emanuel famously said that a crisis was a terrible thing to waste, but I’m not sure that he meant that it was a good idea to create one.  If the police were on-site (as reported) but ordered to stand down and allow the violence to happen, the politicians have blood on their hands. If the police were there and left out of fears for their own personal safety, they aren’t worthy of having the badge and gun. So the Democrats in charge should be firing the police chief or supervisor who was responsible, if they weren’t responsible themselves. In that event, a resignation would be in order. And if the police weren’t there on the scene at all, reporters better stop lying to me…but then again, if the cops weren’t there, where were they?

Democratic mayors in Berkeley and Baltimore allowed rioters to destroy private property, so maybe they thought it would be okay if only property got hurt. This isn’t exactly a new tactic.

However, the AntiFa protestors are violent, intolerant extremist thugs. They name their organizations with acronyms such as BAMN, which stands for “By Any Means Necessary.” Just let the implications of that phrase sink into your mind for a moment.

If you still don’t get the picture, then watch this video as a supporter of Donald Trump not hurting anybody is smashed over the head with a heavy object by a coward wearing a mask, hiding in the crowd.  I don’t understand how “good people” in a crowd could see someone hiding in their midst commit such a despicable act and do nothing, unless they agreed with the tactic.

Recently I’ve seen a lot of people on the internet choosing one side, and in my opinion, they’re choosing the wrong side if they choose either. Any side willing to use violence when their rhetoric fails to persuade is beneath contempt. That includes the neo-Nazis, radical Islamists, BAMN, Black Lives Matter, and any other extremist organization with members willing and eager to injure, maim, or kill those with whom they disagree.  There are none righteous, not even one.

When did the Republicans become a haven for racists and Nazis? The better question might be, when did the Democrats stop? Yes, Democratic President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law in 1965, but he also allegedly claimed to have said he’d “have those n*****s voting Democrat for 200 years.”

If we’re going to destroy the history of Thomas Jefferson, the Democratic Party would be an excellent place to start. If Republicans are perceived as the new home for racism, we can get rid of them, too. Maybe e should start new political parties and get rid of the useless baggage. We could call things what they are: conservative, moderate, or liberal.

For the record, I am a fiscal conservative, and a social moderate. That means as a social moderate/libertarian, I think it’s none of the government’s business what you do inside your own home, even if it’s using heroin. People shouldn’t be arrested for stupidity.  As a fiscal conservative, it is my opinion that I should not be asked by the government to supply your heroin or pay for your rehabilitation. Creating a fund to help the less fortunate and asking for a charitable donation is fine — I’ve been known to be generous with my money in the past. But I’m not accustomed to giving away money that doesn’t belong to me.

Redistributing my income and calling it a tax is not fine. It’s legal theft. There is something wonderful in sharing what you have with those less fortunate according to your own free will, but nothing good or noble about taking money from one person and giving it to another by misusing the power of government to collect taxes.

If you disagree with me, terrific. We can argue about it all day. A very wise man once told me, “All God wants is ten percent.”

Now as a habit, I tell people who get angry and start making personal attacks that they’ve lost the debate, so make sure you don’t lose your temper and start with the labels like “Nazi” or “racist” because you’ll get hammered (verbally, of course.)

Naturally, as a writer, words and reason are my preferred weapon of choice. I’ll never throw the first punch that starts a fist fight. Perhaps my favorite line of all time was from the movie Time After Time, because it echoes my personal philosophy: “The first man to raise a fist is the man who’s run out of ideas.”

I don’t like to fight, and I don’t particularly enjoy arguing with people online, or in person. I haven’t thrown a punch since high school.I’d like to earn income from my novels, and my publisher is afraid that my persona on social media is going to kill future book sales. So I’m wondering if this effort to do something for the common good will hurt me personally.

[This is a brief commercial timeout complete with video, courtesy of Secondhand Sight. It would be very nice if you bought one of my books from Amazon today. If you’ve read them already, buy a book as a gift for a friend. Ebooks are only a few dollars and there are free Kindle readers for the PC. Or, if you’d like a signed copy of a print book or novel, send me a private message and we can work out the details. As you can see, I’m still trying to figure out a way to profit from writing all the time. I need to earn my keep, as they say. Thank you — The Management.]

So I really wish I could be quiet, and just mind my own business while the world goes to hell. I may be a novelist, not be a pugilist, but if someone else throws the first punch, I will finish the fight.

As always, feel free to share this with your friends, if you wish.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

The “smoking gun” evidence for intelligent design

The computer I’m using to create this information is an obvious product of intelligent design. We even know the designer(s) are employees of Apple computers. In fact, “design” does not exist until produced by intelligence, so the term would seem to be slightly redundant. In the absence of intelligence the presence of design, no matter how beguiling it may be, could be assumed to be an illusion.

But is that a safe assumption?

In a way, this article also serves as proof that intelligent design exists. I am choosing my words more carefully than unusual, knowing that the title of the article and subject matter will surely attract the attention of my harshest critics, who also happen to be the intended audience. No typos for you!

Intelligent design has also been described in an online dictionary as “a theory that life, or the universe, cannot have arisen by chance and was designed or created by some intelligent entity.”

Biologist Jerry Coyne, author of the book Why Evolution is True, also wrote a screed titled “THE CASE AGAINST INTELLIGENT DESIGN”, which he neglected to make despite its length. The extraordinarily long essay turned out to be nothing more than an extended defense of evolution, combined with a completely dishonest portrayal of intelligent design as an attempt to reconcile scientific evidence with Young Earth Creationism (YEC).

What evidence do people like Mr. Coyne or Richard Dawkins offer in rebuttal to the idea of intelligent design? Advocates of Darwin’s theory of evolution (or some permutation of it, such as neo-Darwinism) will insist that the evidence of poor design, vestigial organs, and the absence of evidence for the Designer are enough to dismiss any suspicions that Nature might have required help at some point along the way, in the time that has existed since the Big Bang, until now.

Vestigial organs are allegedly useless appendages inherited from some distant ancestor from a completely different kind of organism. Perhaps they are useless. Or, perhaps biologists simply haven’t figured out how the organism uses the appendage in question. Perhaps their innate bias against the idea of a supernatural Creator prohibits them from imagining the actual use. We can save the debate of vestigial organs for another day, should it ever become necessary.

What evidence exists for an argument of poor design? The scientists often like to point at a complex organ, the human eye.

What is the problem with saying the human eye was obviously not designed, because the design was poorly conceived? The words arrogance and stupidity come to mind.

Does the human eye function? Yes. Where is the superior eye, designed by human hands?

Well, it doesn’t exist. Don’t get me wrong — I’m a big fan of science and technology. More than once I’ve been known to say “better living through chemistry,” though it was sometimes made in reference to legal or illegal drug use. So how can we say that something we aren’t capable of making ourselves was not designed, because humans would have done a better job? The author of the article describing the alleged “poor design” of the human eye offers that the most popular criticism of his arguments is that creationists will say the eye is irreducibly complex, and then he immediately concedes that the eye is irreducibly complex! His counterargument is nothing more than a silly assumption — that the eye must have evolved as one unit. I say, forget the eye. Let’s talk about the human body for a moment, and compare it to a computer. Why? For one thing, computers and robots are understood to have been produced by intelligent design, and their designs are modeled to simulate the behavior of the human brain and perform work that humans used to do.

Can a computer made of metal, plastic and silicon legitimately be said to have a superior, intelligent design when it is mimicking an “un-designed” living organism? Why no, it can’t. A machine has severe constraints on its abilities in regard to autonomous behavior. What does that mean? Simple. Turn off your computer, and don’t touch it again until it can turn itself back on.

Or better yet, what about when the computer breaks?

The human immune system is the proverbial “smoking gun” evidence that our bodies were designed, and by a form of intelligence our puny little minds are barely capable of contemplating. Once upon a time, I managed to mangle one of my pinky fingers pretty bad, and I’d become rather attached to it, especially since I am left-handed.

Fortunately, I was asleep for this part.

So a very talented surgeon temporarily placed a pin into the bone to hold it in place while the reparative processes inside my body did their usual thing, though at the time I was prepared to give the doctor all the credit.

And after my recovery, I thanked him for fixing my finger. In reply he downplayed his role by saying something that I’ll never forget, because it is a profound truth: the body wants to heal itself. My body healed the broken bone. He simply put the broken pieces in the right place and let time solve the problem.

The immune system in my body willingly sacrifices individual cells to serve my body as a whole, a design of natural self-defense. Think about that for a moment. It’s pretty altruistic of a white blood cell to give its life to protect my whole body from germs and bacteria. My body…which a biologist would probably argue is all that I am, yet my physical brain wants to do things (and does them) that my conscious mind does not know how to do. Therefore, logic dictates that the human body ought to be considered the product of an intelligent design.

Because guess what?

My computer doesn’t know how to fix itself, either. In fact, it’s dumber than a brick, until it has power. And even then, virtually all of its intelligence comes from its creator(s.) If something breaks, a human being will have to fix it. A computer cannot repair itself. It doesn’t know how.

In that respect, a computer is exactly like a human being.

 

The Hummingbird

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This short story originally appeared in the first edition of the anthology God Makes Lemonade.

It was the first time I received a check for something I wrote. A friend asked where he could find the story, which reminded me that I’ve never shared it on my blog. The story is very personal, emotional, and true. The “baby” in the story is now a gorgeous cheerleader in high school.]

The Hummingbird

Lisa heard a tapping sound but when she checked the front door, no one was there. It wasn’t the first time during the past year she’d thought she might be losing her mind. Given all that had happened, it was understandable.

Her beautiful daughter Stephanie dropped out of high school during her senior year because of excessive absences for a mysterious illness that turned out to be morning sickness. A surreal sequence of events caused a rollercoaster of emotion through the course of her pregnancy. In the end a beautiful baby girl named Ava Grace was born, but months of pain and anguish preceded that happy delivery.

The baby’s father was 21 year old Josh.   Both Lisa and her husband liked the polite young man who seemed to calm their impulsive and unpredictable daughter. Stephanie and Josh met at church. Both families were cautious about their relationship given their age difference because a few years can make a big difference at their age. Although the young couple needed to complete their education, Lisa secretly thought Josh might be the right man for Stephanie one day. His tender and caring nature was demonstrated by the small things he did when he was around, from treating Stephanie’s younger brother like a human being to helping care for the menagerie of animals both inside the house and out. Josh often took care of the hummingbird feeders for Lisa. He took his self appointed task very seriously, religiously checking the feeders, keeping them cleaned and loaded with fresh hummingbird nectar.

Lisa was an avid gardener whose large backyard contained a beautiful lawn surrounded by lush perennial flower beds the local avian population found particularly inviting. Bird feeders were strategically positioned among the flowers and beside a small waterfall that re-circulated water from an underlying pond filled with goldfish.

The centerpiece of the waterfall was a long, flat slab of rock jutting out from the hill bank to form an excellent birdbath. Often Lisa would look out the picture window in her kitchen and marvel at the number of birds lined up waiting impatiently for their turn in the showers. Two or three birds could bathe comfortably and luxuriously in the running water, yet four or five would invariably be waiting their turn, stamping about impatiently on the ground, chirping and scolding those lingering beyond their allotted bath time.

Stephanie and Josh began having trouble in their relationship. Her impetuous free spirit was trying the limits of his practical responsibility. The young lovers decided some time apart would be best and Josh stopped coming around the house where he had come to feel so comfortable.

Only then Stephanie learned she was pregnant. Before deciding to tell Josh, she went to a family counseling service looking for help trying to decide what to do. After choosing to keep the baby, she told Josh.

The young man reacted badly to the news.  He was not eager to marry Stephanie. He felt they were both too young to become parents and pleaded with Stephanie to give the life growing inside her up for adoption. Stephanie adamantly refused, and the distance and bitterness between them grew.

Lisa felt very hurt and great sympathy for her daughter and felt betrayed by her own affection for the young man. Lisa struggled to squelch her feelings of bitterness and resentment. No matter what happened between Josh and Stephanie, he was going to be the father of her first grandchild.

Tensions developed at home between Stephanie and her parents. Her father encouraged her to put the baby up for adoption while Lisa supported Stephanie’s decision to keep the baby.   Despite her failure to finish high school so close to graduation, with no husband, no job prospects or means of support, Stephanie stubbornly insisted she would not give up her baby. Friction built between Lisa and her husband. Both loved their daughter, but Lisa’s maternal instinct to protect her young superseded her concern for her marriage. Their household was constantly on edge.

Stephanie and Josh went to counseling together.   Both families held out faint hopes for reconciliation between them. Failing that all hoped for at least a softening in Josh’s heart toward his unborn child. Although Josh agreed to help pay for his daughter’s care and upbringing, it was clear he wasn’t happy about a sudden lifetime commitment. Josh felt trapped by circumstances and struggled to come to terms with his pending fatherhood.

Three months before the baby’s due date, tragedy struck without warning. Josh lost control of his car late one night coming home from work.  It ran off the road and into the woods. Before leaving work for home, Josh had taken some cold medication that caused him to be disoriented.   Though he was dazed by the accident and the medication, Josh was mostly uninjured. But in his confusion he wandered deeper into the woods that dark and frosty night in February instead of back toward the road.   Before help could find him, Josh died of exposure, only a few miles from the warmth and safety of his parent’s home.

The news was devastating. In addition to the incredible sadness Lisa felt at the loss of such a young, handsome, genuinely goodhearted young man, Lisa felt incredible guilt for the resentment she held about his relationship with Stephanie. Raw emotion magnified and increased as it transformed from anger into grief and turned bitterness into remorse. Lisa alternated happy thoughts and growing anticipation for the pending birth of a new life with mourning the loss of another.

Lisa wallowed in misery, sorry for Josh’s parents, sorry Josh would never see his daughter or be able to demonstrate a change of heart, sorry she hadn’t seen it all coming and done more to prevent it.

The baby came into this world in a birthing room surrounded by mothers and aunts from both families. Eyes that spent months crying for the loss of Josh now wept tears of joy for the birth of his daughter.

After Stephanie and the baby came home from the hospital, Lisa resumed going through the motions of her life.  She took over the maintenance of the hummingbird feeders to honor the memory of Josh. Lisa watered her guilt with her tears like she used to water her flowers before his death, before her world was shattered.

Ava Grace was a magic tonic that initiated the healing process for Lisa. The baby girl was more photogenic than a Gerber baby. Her beauty was only surpassed by her sweet personality. Her thin blond hair gave her an essentially bald appearance that only accentuated her piercing blue eyes.

Seeing Ava Grace at the hospital for the first time, Josh’s mother said she was the spitting image of her father when he was a baby. That proved indisputable after a comparison of their respective baby pictures. Josh had been a beautiful baby as well. The pictures triggered a new flood of sad and sweet memories.

Ava Grace cemented the relationships between all those who loved her. The parents of Josh and Stephanie found common ground in their love for Ava Grace. Josh was sorely missed by all. His death seemed so senseless, so…wrong. It felt like he should suddenly reappear and shout something stupid like “April Fools” and everyone would laugh in an explosion of relief.   But his presence remained only in their memories.

Lisa heard the tapping again. Where was it coming from? She walked back into the kitchen to check on Ava Grace, still asleep in her baby carrier resting on the island countertop.   Lisa looked at the picture window and saw a small red and green hummingbird striking at the glass if was trying to get inside. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Hummingbirds just don’t do that sort of thing.

With all the birds that visited the backyard habitat, it wasn’t the first time a bird tapped at a window. There was one whole summer a bluebird who nested atop one of the columns on the front porch conducted an ongoing war with his reflection, determined to drive the intruder away from his territory. Once in a while a thrush or sparrow would accidentally fly into a window in a desperate attempt to flee the occasional hawk hunting on the premises.

Yet Lisa had never seen a hummingbird behave this way before, and she’d seen a fair number of them in her lifetime. The bird looked perfectly normal, but it certainly was acting strange. She often saw one hummingbird chase another from a feeder and as a result she’d placed one on each end of her backyard, but Lisa had never seen a hummer attack its reflection or try to chase anything but another bird. The hummer persisted, striking repeatedly with its beak against the glass. A quiet whisper of an idea entered Lisa’s mind.

Remembering Josh’s affinity for hummingbirds, she thought “Could it be?”

Almost immediately she dismissed the thought. It was crazy. But apparently so was this hummingbird. It kept striking at the window as if earnestly auditioning for a part in the remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic movie. There was food in the feeders and an abundance of blooming plants that should have attracted the bird. What could the hummer want?

Lisa watched for a moment, fascinated. The bird seemed to have an unusual intelligence considering the miniscule size of its brain, and it seemed to be following some sort of pattern or routine in its approach. Whatever it was trying to accomplish, it obviously wasn’t giving up easily. Again the same quiet whisper flitted through her mind, but this time on instinct she reacted. Lisa turned the baby’s carrier around to face the window, so Ava Grace could see the bird and it could see her.

The bird stopped hitting the window. It darted around as it had before, but no longer struck the glass. Seeing the baby’s face somehow mollified the bird. It flew back and forth, up and down, but it didn’t leave. Lisa picked up the carrier and moved Ava Grace closer to the window.

The bird wasn’t the least bit frightened by her approach. It continued to dart high and low as if searching for the perfect vantage point to see this beautiful baby. A long, indescribable moment passed where the bird seemed to hover in midair, its wings beating so furiously their movement was only a blur. Then as unexpectedly as it came, the bird disappeared in a streak of red and green.

Tears welled in Lisa’s eyes. The floodgates holding her emotions in check burst and she wept for the child who would never know her father and for the young man who never got to know his daughter.

This time her tears of sadness were mixed with tears of joy. She felt a new peace and comfort. Somehow she knew Josh had managed to see his new daughter after all. Lisa didn’t expect she’d ever see the bird again. She also knew she’d never see Josh again in this lifetime. The remarkable encounter she experienced allowed her to say goodbye to the tragedy and finally turn to face the future. She had a daughter to help establish her own life, and a new grandbaby to love.

The federal budget

Do you remember the very end of the movie Animal House? Future U.S. Senator John Blutarsky drives away (presumably toward Washington, D. C.) with his kidnap victim/bride-to-be, toward a career in politics.

The scriptwriters didn’t warn us that the Senator (who flunked out of college with a zero point zero G.P.A.) was going to be given an unrestricted credit card with no limits, or that the American taxpayer will ultimately get stuck with the bill — because that isn’t even remotely funny — but it’s absolutely true.

During the 2016 fiscal year, tax revenue collected by the U.S. Treasury was approximately $2.99 trillion dollars. Even more amazingly, the federal government managed to spend about $3.54 trillion dollars, increasing the national debt by another $500 billion dollars.

What spendthrifts we’ve elected to Congress!

If only we were talking about Monopoly money, the national debt wouldn’t be that big of a deal. However, these are real U.S. dollars we’re talking about. Eventually, that debt will need to be repaid. I believe I read somewhere that every American citizen — every man, woman, and child — would need to come up with more than $60,000 in order to pay their share of the federal debt.

In 2008, at the beginning of President Obama’s first term, the federal debt was roughly $10.7 trillion dollars. As of this writing, the federal debt has grown to more than $19.9 trillion dollars and counting, with no end in sight. How is this even possible?

Part of the problem is that Congress and the federal government have totally divorced themselves from reality. To suggest that Congress blows through money as bad as drunk sailors on shore leave is an insult to drunk sailors. Eventually the sailors must sober up and behave more responsibly as they resume their duties. With Congress, not so much.

The average American taxpayer uses a method known as zero-based budgeting. This means that in every new accounting period, each expense must be justified, with the goal of making sure that expenses don’t exceed income.

As an illustration, let’s pretend that Joe Taxpayer earns $100,000 per year. Based on his withholding information filed with the IRS and the number of dependents declared for his family, Joe’s net pay comes out to be about $3,000 per direct deposit, or a little over $6,000 per month. That translates to an annual net income of $72,000.

Joe never even sees the other $28,000 of gross income. About six percent of his gross income is diverted into a special long-term savings account, the company 401k program, but the other $22,000 was paid directly to the federal  and state government in the form of income tax, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, etc.

As for the Taxpayer family’s expenses, the mortgage payment is about $2,000. Joe had a $500 per month car payment, but recently paid off the auto loan and owns his vehicle free and clear. The household utility bills average another $1,500 per month. Insurance premiums and other miscellaneous expenses run the Taxpayer family another $750, and they usually spend around $200 per month for entertainment. Joe and his wife don’t eat out very much, managing to keep their grocery bill about $800 per month, leaving $250 per month on average for savings. Over a period of several years, Joe has accumulated about $7,000 savings for a rainy day expense.

The Taxpayer family’s monthly budget is heavily influenced by their income. And when the company Joe works for closes the local office, his net pay drops from $100,000 per year to the amount of his unemployment benefits. The family will sacrifice the $200 usually spent on entertainment and take other cost-cutting measures with their monthly budget until Joe finds another job and replaces his lost income. Budget items will be classified as needs or desires and funded accordingly, because the Taxpayers live in the real world.

By comparison, Senator Blutarsky doesn’t need to worry about the constraints and hassles of zero-based budgeting because the federal budget (in the years that Congress bothers to pass one) uses a completely different accounting method known as baseline budgeting. 

Federal spending almost never gets a real cut (to his great credit, the rare exception is President Trump, who has actually proposed a number of real, honest-to-God spending cuts in his 2018 budget, according to CNN.)

If Joe Taxpayer used baseline budgeting to manage his household expenses, he would assume that his family would always have a car payment that would never be less than $500 per month, a payment that would only be expected to increase over time. In other words, logic and fiscal responsibility are mutually exclusive when the conversation turns to the federal budget.

The nonprofit group Citizens Against Government Waste offered this most excellent illustration of baseline budgeting at their website:

For example, if an agency’s budget is projected to grow by $100 million, but only grows by $75 million, according to baseline budgeting, that agency sustained a $25 million cut. That is analogous to a person who expects to gain 100 pounds only gaining 75 pounds, and taking credit for losing 25 pounds. The federal government is the only place this absurd logic is employed.

Washington politicians have an insatiable desire to spend our money, and have even convinced themselves that every U.S. dollar naturally belongs to them — this is why in economic discussions in Washington, D. C., the rhetoric is often centered on how Congress should “pay” for tax cuts for the American people, and not why they waste so many of our tax dollars.

The obvious answer to the question of how to pay for tax cuts would be for Congress and the federal government to learn how to spend less of our money. That would require voters electing politicians of superior intelligence and tremendous personal integrity, politicians who will exercise fiscal responsibility on behalf of the American people while they serve in Congress, and won’t waver on their promises after they get elected.

Unfortunately, maybe only a half-dozen or so members of Congress (out of 535) fit that description. Considering the fact that Congress just betrayed the American people on healthcare reform, we should set our expectations about tax reform low, until we elect politicians we can trust to keep their promises.

 

An open letter to Senator John McCain

Senator John McCain
(official portrait)

Dear Senator McCain,

I’d like to begin by expressing my sincere gratitude for your time spent in military service. You showed remarkable courage under extreme duress, enduring torture by the enemy while refusing an early release, or any special treatment. As a result, you’ve suffered from permanent physical disabilities after six years in captivity. I have enjoyed a lifetime as a free citizen in the greatest nation on the face of the earth, because of brave warriors like you. Thank you for your service, sir. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

Secondly we, the people, recently learned the very serious news about your cancer diagnosis, and I wanted to convey my sympathy to you. Twenty years ago my father died from that exact same disease, a glioblastoma tumor in his brain, so I am well aware of the challenge you face. It was shortly after his retirement that my father began acting uncharacteristically confused and disoriented. He also  complained of a constant headache. An MRI confirmed that he had a large brain tumor,  a glioblastoma. The neurologist diagnosed him on a Tuesday, and he had surgery the following Monday, but never regained consciousness. About two weeks later, his life support was disconnected. I’m glad your surgery was more successful than his, and I wish you the best as you continue to recover.

While I’m fairly confident that a sitting U.S. Senator such as yourself has access to the very best healthcare in the world (probably much better care than a retired serviceman living in Savannah, Georgia would ever get), I do not blame my father’s surgical team for his death. Clearly the tumor killed him, not the operation to remove it. The doctors did their very best, I’m quite sure. It just wasn’t good enough, though I’m not sure any other doctor on earth would have done much better. It was a long time ago, and medical progress in the United States has advanced at an incredible pace during my lifetime.

And we will all die, sooner or later. It’s never been a question of “if”, but “when.” Though my own death should not occur anytime soon, (at least, not as far as I know) I’ve still prepared for that possibility by creating a living will. I’ve even gone as far as planning for my own funeral. When my demise becomes imminent, it won’t matter whether it comes as a surprise or not.

I also don’t blame Big Medicine or Big Government for my father’s death. Dad died years before Barack Obama was elected President and the Affordable Healthcare Act was passed. I would like to say a few words about your vote in opposition to repeal of the ACA, which I will describe from this point forward as “Obamacare.”

Frankly, to describe my feelings as bitter disappointment would be putting it mildly. I’ve read your excuse for voting against repeal, and Senator, I’m very disturbed. You seem to think it’s more important that you redistribute wealth than keeping your primary campaign promise. Only last year you won a difficult campaign for reelection by promising the voters of Arizona that you would repeal Obamacare if given the chance. You just broke that solemn vow with an excuse that is truly pathetic. It is not the responsibility of Congress to provide healthcare insurance to every American.

Obamacare is an abomination of a law that has been doomed to fail from Day One, and the Democrat politicians who crafted the legislation never expected it to work as promised, with lower premiums and better options where you could keep your existing doctors if you liked them. Obamacare was designed with the goal of creating a path to single payer healthcare — in other words, socialized medicine. With a gleeful thumbs-down, you killed the bill.

Senator McCain, does your word mean nothing? How can the American people ever trust you again, if you won’t keep your most important campaign promises?

Your excuse for voting no is that the bill doesn’t offer a replacement for Obamacare, but your first obligation is to repeal the existing law. You promised you would. If the law gets repealed, Democrats will have no choice except to negotiate earnestly in bipartisan fashion, trying to insert the bits and pieces of Obamacare into new healthcare reform legislation, or during the next election cycle they will have to explain to voters why they obstructed reform and wouldn’t cooperate to draft a law that will actually help alleviate the obscenely high cost of healthcare services.

My concerns about Obamacare can be summed up using only two words: Charlie Gard. That poor child in the U.K. died today, after his parents were refused the opportunity to seek treatment here in the U.S. that may have given him a chance. But soulless bureaucrats embedded in a single-payer system wouldn’t let Charlie’s parents take him home. We can never know if that new treatment would have helped, but we can be absolutely certain that refusing to allow the treatment doomed the poor child for sure. His parents had healthcare coverage, but it offered them no choice, and no hope.

Single payer healthcare is also where our healthcare system is headed, unless obstructionists like you will vote for repeal of Obamacare. The most galling aspect of the current law is that you and your fellow members of Congress have exempted yourselves. You don’t have to suffer the consequences of your own vote. And you don’t have to worry like my friend in Georgia, who wrote:

(For a while) I could not get health insurance and when I did, it didn’t help me pay for anything. There is also only one insurer in the market this year in Georgia that many doctors don’t accept, and it was announced this week that their premiums are going up 41% next year.

Another friend who lives in Florida said that she can’t find a doctor who accepts her insurance with an office within a 100 mile radius of her house, and only one insurance provider offers a plan in her state under Obamacare.

What good is insurance coverage, if no doctors within a reasonable distance from home will accept it? My friend is an entrepreneur currently getting zero benefit from her policy, but she has no choice but keep it because Obamacare has practically destroyed the free market, and she needs insurance in the event of a major medical issue. For every friend of mine who previously couldn’t get coverage because of some preexisting condition, a half dozen or more have been adversely affected.

President Obama didn’t keep his promises of lower premiums and better choices to the American people when he shilled for support for this insidious new law, and you have broken your promise to the American people as well, by voting no on its repeal. I have always thought of you as being a man of principle and integrity, making your vote on this crucial issue particularly disappointing.

We are NOT a Socialist country, Senator McCain. The Constitution does not give everyone a right to free healthcare. Nor does it give the government the right to force its citizens to buy a product that isn’t very good.

Our nation thrives on free-market capitalism. I would hope that you realize that millions of Americans are suffering financial hardship trying to pay for expensive, lousy insurance coverage. Obamacare WILL ultimately fail, just as President Trump has predicted. Many people have lost significant income due to Obamacare. Companies have cut back on the maximum number of hours an employee may work per week to avoid being penalized by this horrible law. A law that you promised to repeal, until you decided to change your mind.

I hate to suggest this, sir, but I have to wonder if you have put politics and your personal feelings before your patriotic duty — do you really hate President Trump so much that you would hurt the entire country just to spite him? I’d like to believe you’re a bigger man than that, Senator McCain, because it would be both childish and churlish to put politics before principle at such a critical time for our country. But I’m trying to make sense of your vote contradicting your campaign promise, and at a loss for a logical explanation. Where is your better idea, since you didn’t like this particular repeal law?

We the American people are sick and tired of our politicians lying to us.

Please, either keep your word, or resign immediately.

Sincerely,

A Thoroughly Disgusted American Citizen