Posts for October, 2012
One of the defining movies in my generation is The Matrix. Along with Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and The Mission; The Matrix has had a profound impact on my mind. It had presented a concept that I was forced to wrestle with. I couldn’t just dismiss the movie because I knew that aspects of it were valid to my experiences.
The Matrix is the physical world. Everything in the Matrix can be described in the language of numbers. From the dimensions of objects, to colors, smells, or texture; if it exists, it can be weighed or measured. Every person, place, or thing can be described in numbers thus making this material realm, the matrix.
The over riding theme of the movie is that life is not what it seems. What we consider to be the real world may actually just be the output of other programming. We may be temporary visitors in an illusion known as life. The Matrix reality for most humans is constructed by a computer system, is dependent upon that computer system, and we exist in that reality for the purpose of serving the system's needs.
Reality is in some sense dictated by our beliefs and our environment. There is a differentiation between Truth and Reality. There can be many realities, but there is One Truth. For example, to those who are plugged into the Matrix and not yet aware of it, the Matrix is reality. However, the Truth is that they are serving as a 120V battery in a pod full of green slime. If I am anorexic, then I see myself as overweight; that becomes my reality. The Truth is that I am gradually starving myself to death.
The problem, then, is when my reality is not in accord with the Truth. Either I am unaware of the Truth, or I am ignoring the Truth by conscious effort. To those who cannot see the Truth, whose eyes have never been opened (still in the pod), there is no choice. That is to say, the only choice available is one reality over another, one Matrix or another if you will. Yet there can be an awareness, a searching for the Truth. Planted within each human is the desire for purpose, for meaning; a thirst for the Truth. As Trinity whispered to Neo, "It's the question that drives us."
The Truth, once perceived, may not be to our taste. It may not always be convenient or pleasant. It may require sacrifice and hardship. Was the truth, the real world, what Neo expected at all? If he had known what his first days in the real world were going to be like, would he have still taken the red pill? He admits to Cypher that he would not, "Why didn't I take the blue pill!"
If Neo was to spend the rest of his days eating tasteless glop and running away from sentinels in underground sewers, with no other purpose than to exist as a post-coppertop, he would likely regret his decision each and every day. What kept Neo going was his purpose, his destiny as the One.
When we turn from the Truth and return to pseudo-realities, it is either because we fear the hardships and responsibilities that freedom brings, or we lose sight of the higher purpose we serve as one "unplugged", or we just plain find the truth unpalatable.
Another interest aspect to the Matrix was the anomalies in the program. The program could not account for everything or every possible scenario. The program and science is able to develop enough formulas to explain a good portion of the way things work and provide an outline of methodology in their perceived world. The people within the Matrix "believe", or accept, these formulas because they are TOLD to. Thus, science becomes a virtual representation of reality that prevents "external" perceptions of the Truth. The scientific method: form a hypothesis (a model), perform experimentation and gather data, and evaluate the model against the results. The truth is that "supernatural" events reveal the shortcomings of the model.
In the film, Neo had been searching for Morpheus for a couple of years, while Morpheus had been searching for Neo his whole life. When Morpheus knocks on the door and Neo answers, the invitation is extended to Neo to join the group. When Neo accepts the proposition and swallows the red pill, he awakens to the Truth. Now, as a "free moral agent," he has the choice to accept and live by the Truth, or to follow Cypher and plug back into the Matrix.
Neo lived as both a follower of the system (Thomas, an employee of a respected firm) and as a hacker (in opposition to the system). The quotation by Agent Smith "You seem to be living two lives, Mr. Anderson," is a key to understanding Neo. As Neo pursued his "hacker nature", his true powers as the savior began to manifest themselves.
The Oracle knew that Neo was the One. She predicted his death as Thomas Anderson and resurrection as the One. Why did she seem to imply he was not the One? Consider the scene when Neo breaks the vase. The Oracle could not tell Neo he was the One, for the reason that Neo would then begin to think he was the One and act like he was the One. In doing this he would be distracted from ever KNOWING that he was the One. The truth of his nature had to be self-discovered from within. The significance of the vase was to provide a parallel for this critical point. Because the Oracle told him he would break the vase, he fulfilled the prophecy by breaking the vase, giving him insight into his purpose. The Oracle needed him to BE the One rather than trying to BECOME the One.
The images of people being consumed in order to provide power to that world are among the most powerful and disturbing scenes of the Matrix. The world of sensation seems so true that most people in that world are unable to break away, to see beyond it to what is real and lasting. They are lost in sleep, in a destructive dreamland that will destroy them. We do not question our reality. We tend not to question what we see, hear, and feel. We toil away for purposes that sometimes are counter to our truest selves.
The Matrix is not a religious movie, it is philosophical. It deals with the same concepts of philosophy that have been discussed for thousands of years. Neo most closely resembles a man released from Plato’s cave to experience the sun, trees, birds and life. In Plato’s cave people are held in bondage and forced to stare at a wall on which the shadows of reality are projected. For those in the chains, the shadows appear to be reality, but they aren't. Anyone who is able to break free and reach the outside is ridiculed when they return and try to explain truth to their former comrades.
Despite its philosophical overtones, I can draw parallels between the movie and my life as a Christian (I really don’t know the intentions of producer or writer, nor do I care). Up to a point in my life, I truly believed that all that there was to this life was the material realm. Then, in a miraculous chain of events, I was awakened to the spiritual realm. I have been finding that the spiritual realm drives Truth and that the material realm is only an output created from within the spiritual realm. My red pill moment is when I willingly surrendered my will, hopes, dreams, fears, etc to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
In the early phase in my awakened state of living I tried to act the part of a Christian rather than being a Christian. When I tried to do what I thought I should do, Christianity became to me a lifeless system of rules and regulations. In being, I found a relationship of love and purpose intermingled with a grueling battle.
I can’t explain the spiritual realm to those who are not awakened to it. Despite an awareness of Truth, we are unable through our own powers of intellect to know or accept the Truth.
Now I live two lives; one in the system as an engineer and one fighting the system. My fight against the system supersedes politics and material values by an incredibly large margin. Of course, I dabble in those things, but only with the mindset of a temporary resident in the system. Those things are of secondary importance, at best.
Most importantly, my mindset has changed from a short term temporal perspective to an eternal perspective. I have had a vague glimpse of what I should be but I am not close to attaining it, thus the struggle continues.
It was never my intention to publish this to a wider audience. Primarily, because I would expect the feedback to this article to be that I have completely lost control of my mental faculties…that I am crazy and need to be institutionalized. I know it, because that was my response to this type of belief before my red pill moment. That was also the response to those of similar faith before me.
This article builds on the crime in Sheboygan blog in which I presented the material realm vs the non-material realm. And also in the sheep and wolves article, I use two methods of observation to discern the sheep from the wolves dressed as sheep; observation in the material realm and observation in the spiritual realm. Without being awakened to the spiritual realm, the extra data point is not available.
The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism/progressivism is the equal sharing of miseries.
—Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
As I watched the first presidential debate between Obama and Romney, I was asked a question on where I thought Obama was going to take the country, "If Obama had complete power and authority, what systems would he put into place and how would the country be structured politically and economically?" Frankly, I didn't have an answer. But I thought the question would make for a good debate on this blog.
When Obama and US liberalism has reached its final objective, what will it look like? Will it be the police state of Cuba? Will it represent the ‘soft socialism’ of Europe? Will it look like the complex Chinese model with a capitalist/control economy but with very limited personal liberties?
I have never seen a clear statement of objectives and defined outcomes from the liberal politicians and organizations. I have seen general statements of disconnected ideas of objectives. But a document was never produced on what the goal is and how to get there.
Publicly stated objectives of past Liberals
The Johnson administration launched the ‘war against poverty’ with the goal of creating a social contract in which all people in the US will not need to worry about food or housing regardless of their employment status. Government will supply the safety net to prevent anyone from falling too far.
According to Gloria Steinem the goal of social liberalism is to remove the stigma of moral choices; “…must remove the concept that one lifestyle or birth control choice is better or worse than any other.”
Senator Edward Kennedy has stated that the Democratic Party would create an economic environment in which the economic standing of all people will be equalized; ie, all US citizens will roughly have the same access to material goods.
“The democratic liberal tradition then, as expressed through the 'Objective' aims for real democracy, in the sphere of the economy, the state, and broader civil society as opposed to the rule of wealth. It seeks to abolish poverty and social injustice, and to precipitate a more just, compassionate and humane order based upon dignity, autonomy and human solidarity.” Fabian Society
Friedrich Nitzsche said that the objective of progressivism and socialism is to elevate the state over the individual. The liberties of the individual must be curbed for the benefit of the state, because unbridled individual liberties are inconsistent with a progressive economy. The state has the power to enact the greater good over the ability of the individual.
The concept of a social utopia is easy to sell. Everyone wants a society of equality and peace. Everyone wants to escape the consequences of their own decisions; particularly the bad decisions. The idea of government saving us from ourselves has appeal.
The theme of ‘the greater good’ is often repeated in some form as the objective of liberalism.
But what would this ‘greater good’ look like? Is it possible to achieve a greater good? The attempt to create a greater good is extremely expensive as we are finding out…as demonstrated in Ireland, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, etc. And in many countries the ‘greater good’ has been abandoned in favor of remaining solvent.
I give liberal politicians the benefit of the doubt and I believe that in general, their concepts of liberalism are theoretically nice. But the idea that they fail to grasp is that man is too corrupt to be trusted with the power necessary to take liberalism to its end-game.
In the liberal utopia, what will restrain the evil vices of man?
Statements in opposition to liberal ideals
“The search for a liberal Nirvana, like the search for Utopia or the end of history or the classless society, is ultimately a futile and dangerous one. It involves, if it does not necessitate, the sleep of reason. There is no escape from anxiety and struggle.” Christopher Hitchens
Friedrich Hayek, in his book, ‘The road to serfdom’ used this phrase to sum up progressivism: "What has always made a progressive country a hell on earth has been precisely that social re-distribution has tried to make it our heaven."
Similarly, Milton Friedman, “In our attempts to create heaven, we have created hell.” “Do gooderism is the root of all evil not covered by greed.”
President Reagan said that liberalism will not work because everyone is not created the same; some have more ambition, some are better actors, some are better athletes and some have a more keen mind. The cream will rise despite the best efforts of the liberals to keep mixing.
There are two books that provide startling parallels to the American experiment; “The History of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire” by Edward Gibbon and “The History of the Later Roman Empire”, by John Bury. Gibbon paints are great picture of the prominence and then fall of an empire.
Essentially, the Roman Empire decayed from within and a small push from the outside caused the whole thing to collapse. The elements of decay were:
- Corruption in politics and business
- Corruption in the court system (people routinely bribed judges and the judicial system)
- Moral rot in the citizens
- Dependence on government
- Economic bankruptcy (governmental and private)
- Class system of people (plebeians, slaves and patricians)
- Citizens found that they could vote themselves money from the Treasury
- A significant portion of the work force could no longer work because of drunkenness, lead poisoning or laziness.
- Love of violence
- Large portion of foreigners living in Rome, joined forces with the invading armies
- Division between citizens and groups of citizens
- People flaunting their ‘deviant’ behavior in the public square; bestiality, child molestation and other sexual perversions
- Protected classes of people; Praetorian Guard
- There were 26 emperors in a 49-year period, a signal of political instability
- No self-discipline (given to every excess imaginable)
- Disappearance of the middle class
- A consolidation of power by the emperors
- Outsourced everything, including the defense of Rome
- lack of procreation, decline of the traditional family unit
I don’t necessarily agree with all of Gibbon elements of decay; namely Christianity, but I agree with his overall thesis.
Regarding Christianity being a factor in the fall of Rome, Gibbon claims that Christians could be put into two camps in their contribution to the fall. He claims that Christians were either very pacifist and refused to defend the empire or they thought the empire was so corrupt that it deserved to fall and did nothing to defend Rome. “The clergy successfully preached the doctrines of patience and pusillanimity; the active virtues of society were discouraged; and the last remains of military spirit were buried in the cloister: a large portion of public and private wealth was consecrated to the specious demands of charity and devotion. The sacred indolence of the monks was devoutly embraced by a servile and effeminate age; but if superstition had not afforded a decent retreat, the same vices would have tempted the unworthy Romans to desert, from baser motives, the standard of the republic.”
John Bury disagreed with Gibbon’s contention that Christianity played a role in the Empire’s fall, “there is no reason to suppose that Christian teaching had the practical effect of making men less loyal to the Empire or less ready to defend it.”
Below are areas in which both Gibbon and Bury are in agreement.
Rome began buying votes by handing out cheap food and entertainment, what came to be known as “bread and circuses.” But Rome didn’t have the money to do this and so they developed the ingenious plan of reducing the silver content of their silver coins, the denarius.
Although the denarius remained the backbone of the Roman economy from its introduction in 211 BC until it ceased to be normally minted in the middle of the third century, the purity of the coin decreased. The problem of debasement in the Roman economy appears to be pervasive and often paralleled the strength or weakness of the Empire. When introduced, the denarius contained nearly pure silver at a theoretical weight of approximately 4.5 grams. Nero, in 64 AD, reduced the silver content of the denarius to 3 grams. By the time of Claudius II Gothicus (268-270 A.D.) the amount of silver in a silver denarius was only .02% and it was considered to be worthless.
Inflation was rampant and price controls were imposed in an attempt to stabilize the rate of inflation. Diocletian issued an Edict on Maximum Prices in 301, which attempted to establish the legal maximum prices that could be charged for goods and services. The attempt to establish maximum prices was an exercise in futility as maximum prices were impossible to enforce. Vendors either refused to sell items or bartered for other items of equal value.
Decay of Morals
The Roman Empire was known to support pleasures of the body through prostitution and violence. Roman Emperors Caligula and Nero encouraged tens of thousands of prostitutes to occupy Rome by providing them with food and benefits. During PaxRomana there were 32,000 prostitutes in Rome. These emperors were well known for having lavish parties where guests were allowed to eat and drink until they were sick and engage in orgies.
At the Coliseum, gladiators fought for sport and the poor were brought in to fight each other or face lions for no other reason than so the crowds could enjoy watching their deaths.
One contest after another was staged in the course of a single day. Should the ground become so soaked with blood that the coliseum was essentially a pool, it was covered over with a fresh layer of sand and the performances went on.
Failed business model
Rome grew in wealth and prestige utilizing two primary factors; ingenuity and conquest. Their ingenuity allowed them to build road, aqueducts, weapons and metal fabrications that were far superior to those of surrounding countries. Conquest was extremely lucrative in that much gold and treasures were brought back from the conquered regions.
A great deal of gold and treasure were needed to maintain the spending habits in Rome. As the conquest diminished, Rome began taxing the citizens heavily to make up for the lack of looted treasure. Although Rome had ceased conquering new lands by the third century, the military expenditures grew rapidly. Additional troops were needed to defend the empire against the ever increasing raids by barbarians. This forced Rome to again increase the taxation. As a result, many citizens, especially the wealthy, left Rome in search of a lower cost of living. Eventually Rome was vacated with the exception of the military, those who lived on government handouts, politicians and those who served the politicians.
The Goths had been kept north of the Danube, but were being increasingly attacked and weakened by the Huns, and also were being attacked from the east by the Tartars. The Goths asked the Romans for help and the Emperor Valen negotiated a settlement with them. The Goths agreed to fight for and cooperate with Rome if they could seek refuge within the Empire, south of the Danube. There were 100,000 men, and including women and children, more than 200,000 refugees. They were required to give up their weapons, which distressed them since they were warriors, give some of their adults as slaves and their children were taken from them and placed with families throughout the Empire. After agreeing to all this, they were confined to camps where there was no food. The two Roman generals in charge were greedy and lined their pockets by taking bribes and selling something for nothing in return. The markets sold dogs and diseased meat for food.
Driven to desperation, the Goths rebelled and rode off to Syria. Led by Aleric they gained strength, acquiring foodstuffs and weapons. The Goths attacked the Empire with great fury near Hadrianapolis, destroying about 2/3 of the Roman troops.
Rome was forced then to create alliances with the Gauls and Huns to fight against the Goths. But then broke these alliances as well.
Rome used a large amount of lead in their tools, pottery, utensils and water delivery. Roman women were noted for their use of cosmetics, which were laced with lead. Lead was also used as a contraceptive.
Sickness and death caused by lead poisoning was rampant. War and disease caused many regions to experience negative growth rates.
Scarcity of food
The farming was done on large estates that were owned by wealthy men who used slave labor. A small farmer who had to pay workmen could not produce goods as cheaply as the slave owner. Many small farmers could not compete with these low prices and lost or sold their farms. This not only undermined the citizen farmer, but also filled the cities with unemployed people. These people were not only a burden but also had little to do but cause trouble and contribute to an ever increasing crime rate.
Food became scarce because of drought, insects and other environmental calamities. But poor farming techniques also added to the scarcity. The wealthy land owners had no background in farming. And their slaves received no benefit from the harvest or lack of it and were unmotivated to change farming practices.
By the third century most of the farm land was rendered useless.
To cope with the lack of domestic production, the food had to be imported. At one time, the emperor was importing grain to feed more than 100,000 people in Rome alone. The trade imbalance became severe with most of the silver and gold leaving the empire in exchange for food.
The decline of Rome started in 27 BC when Augustus Caesar declared himself Emperor and gave himself vast powers. Thus Rome, which was once ruled by its people, spiraled downward into the rule by power desperate tyrants. These tyrants were synonymous with arrogance, violence, decadence and insanity. The citizens grew to despise their rulers and resisted every mandate by their rulers.
Numerous factors, including the attacks by barbaric hordes, economic instability, environmental disasters, such as drought, corruption and moral decay all brought about an end to an empire that started as a Republic with people who were inventive, ingenious, self-disciplined and moral.
Shakespeare in “The Tragedy of Coriolanus” tackles the Fall of Rome. Rome was destined for ruin; it was attacked from without and decayed from within. Seemingly, even nature itself seemed to turn against Rome. Coriolanus is a principled and virtuous general who leads his army to attack and purge Rome of evil and thereby restore the order of all things. “Your dishonor,” he tells Brutus, “Mangles true judgment, and bereaves the state of that integrity which should become it.” Coriolanus claims that Rome had violated nature, God and it’s fellow man and that God’s masterwork convulses in order to set things right again. However, Coriolanus was killed in an evil scheme by those who had benefited from corruption and as a result Rome couldn’t be saved from itself.
I believe that God blesses a country that promotes moral principles and Biblical ideas for living. As the country degenerated into moral bankruptcy God removed his hand of blessing. All efforts during the third century to prolong the empire failed, not because they weren’t as smart as earlier generations, but because they lacked virtue God no longer blessed it.
"The decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the cause of the destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident and removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of the ruin is simple and obvious: and instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed we should rather be surprised that it has subsisted for so long." Gibbon
In comments to a previous posting, GeorgeDubyaBush made several remarks about the teachings of Jesus and the behavior of His followers. There seems to be much debate over who Jesus was and what he represented.
I will attempt to present Jesus based on descriptions from the book of Isaiah and the gospels.
The purpose and mission statements of Jesus from His own words;
- Reveal truth
- Seek and to save the lost
- Be the sacrificial lamb to pay the penalty of sin
- Preach repentance for sins
- Reveal the inner evil and sin in human nature (separation from God)
- Through miraculous signs, opened man to a universe beyond the material
- Fulfill the law of the prophets and Ten Commandments
- Become the mediator between God and man
- Be an intercessor for man
- Demonstrate the love of God; willing die for His creation
- To be His follower means death to self and complete surrender
- Warn us of hell fire and destruction
- Promise of heaven to those believe, obey and live by faith
- Be a shepherd to His flock
- Warn us of future events (people will come-claiming to be Jesus or God’s representative – don’t believe it)
He was primarily a man acquainted with grief and sorrow. The repeated theme is that Jesus was scorned, ridiculed, mocked, spit on and misunderstood. The low point was when his family (Mary and brothers) came to get him because he had become an embarrassment; a subject of much ridicule. He was denied, betrayed, rejected and died alone.
Jesus was not eloquent of speech or good looking. He did not draw people by his good looks or charm. Isaiah stated that there was nothing about him physically or verbally that anyone would find appealing. But He spoke with authority; an undeniable power to His words.
The priests, religious leaders and political leaders were offended by the Truth that Jesus spoke to them. Instead of debating the message, they ridiculed the messenger.
Compassion defined Jesus. The things he did and the places that he went were based on compassion or a passion for people. He hurt with those who hurt.
His friends were ‘sinners’; tax collectors, thieves, down trodden, the sick, prostitutes. The chief priest thought that Jesus wasn’t smart or intuitive otherwise he would know the type of people that he had befriended.
Despised by the religious leaders; Jesus created a comparison between himself and the leaders, which the leaders hated. They knew that they fell short of the example provided by Jesus and wanted to eliminate the comparison.
Never plain spoken; Spoke in parables with hidden meanings. He hid his identity, purpose and plan from the leaders. He was clear, however, in his condemnation of the leaders.
Loved by children; Jesus drew crowds of children when walking down the street.
Unafraid: able to look crucifixion and death in the face without flinching.
Gracious: quick to forgive, love and show mercy to the humble and down trodden of any transgression.
Light of the world: But humanity will reject the light because they prefer darkness.
Man of action: picked up a whip a drove the vendors and money changers out of the temple and place of worship.
Supernatural: He lived in the natural, but had supernatural command and authority.
Preached that a spiritual life is counter-intuitive to a secular life
Jesus said, “The greatest among you must be a servant. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The world tells you that success is found in fame, fortune and power, while Jesus says that success is found in humble surrender to the will of God.
The world tells you that happiness is found in fun, food, frivolity and parties, while Jesus says “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.”
The world tells you that comfort is found in surrounding yourself with material things and having people speak kind works to you. Jesus says that comfort is found through mourning and repentance.
The world tells you that contentment is found in a fulfilling career, wealth, health and relationships. Jesus says that contentment is found in a desperate search for justice and righteousness.
Made outrageous statements:
- “I am the only way, the only truth and the only life; there is none apart from me.”
- “My kingdom is of another realm, if it were of this realm, I would have asked my followers to fight for me.”
- “I have not come to bring peace, but to bring the sword…to bring division.”
- “My purpose is to bare witness of the Truth.”
- “If you want to be my disciple you must deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me.”
- “If a person sees me, he sees my Father (God).”
- “I and my Father (God) are One.”
- “I AM” (the same reference to Himself that God made to Moses)
- “Only if I set you free, can you be truly free.”
- “Unless you drink my blood and eat my fresh, you can not be my disciple.”
- “Those who want to worship Me must worship in Spirit and Truth.”
- “I am the bread of life that has come down from heaven…the person that comes to Me to eat will never go hungry. Who ever eats of this bread will live forever.”
Other quotes with context:
The crowd of priests, solders and guard came at night to arrest Jesus.
Matthew 26 55 Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. 56 But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Jesus told his disciples that he was going to Jerusalem to suffer at the hands of the priests, teachers and elders.
Matthew 16 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.
Jesus saw that the people struggled to fulfill the requirement of Judaic law.
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew chapter 25 is one a great beat-downs of all time in which Jesus puts on the brass knuckles to pound the religious and political leaders of his day.
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Snakes! Sons of vipers! How will you escape the judgment of hell?
The Truth is that Jesus was complex, but He could only be one of possible things; 1)God (as he claimed), 2) a lunatic who spouted strange doctrines, or 3) a liar.
The Truth also is that although I work at it daily, I am a poor reflection of the original.
After watching the Senatorial debate last week, I decided to find out who Tammy Baldwin is and what she believes.
Tammy Baldwin voting record
Baldwin was elected in to the 2nd congressional district in1998 and has a solid record of voting for socially liberal policies; abortion, gun rights, welfare, immigration and marriage. She has voted against military funding and military actions, voted against sanctions against Iran four times, voted for major expansions of government, voted against trade resolutions and has a mixed record on oil drilling. Needless to say, she will not get the endorsement of the NRA, National Right to Life or conservative Tax policy groups.
I had noticed a shift in Baldwin’s voting record in 2010. From 1999 to early 2010, she voted with Judy Chu, D-Calif., Linda Sanchez, D-Calif. and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. In mid 2010 she began voting with the Democratic Party mainstream at a higher rate. Coincidentally, the change in voting pattern happened about the same time that Senator Kohl announced that he would not seek re-election.
Dan Bice of the Journal/Sentinel recently noted that Baldwin had received $60, 000 in campaign donations from a Pro-Iranian group, Council for a Livable World. This might explain her opposition to even the mildest sanctions proposed by President Obama in 2011.
Other unique positions:
Baldwin voted against honoring the 9/11 victims. The vote was meaningless, but it did put her in the national spotlight for a few weeks.
She co-sponsored a bill to remove funding for the defensive armament and medical care of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This affected items such as Kevlar vests and helmets.
She voted against the Bush tax cuts and subsequent middle class tax relief.
I have reviewed Tammy’s voting record since 1999 and I have placed all of the votes into three categories; votes on inane bills, votes for the positions on which I agree and votes against positions on which I agree. I will not address the votes on the inane bills. I really don’t care if she did or didn’t vote to make the daffodil the national flower.
A few of the major Bills on which Baldwin and I disagree (listing all of the bills is not practical):
HR 1691, July 15, 1999 Religious Liberty Protection Act
H Amdt 142, June 8, 1999, Prohibition of Chemically induced abortion
H Con Res 180, Sept 9, 1999, Puerto Rican Nationals resolution
HR 2990, Oct 6, 1999, Patient Bill of Rights
HR 4810, July 20, 2000, Marriage Tax Relief Bill
HR 2975, Oct 12, 2001, Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 (Tools to monitor terrorist activity on the heels of the World Trade Center attack)
HR 5, March 13, 2003, Malpractice Liability Caps
HR 4, Feb 13, 2003, Welfare Reform Bill
HR 1528, June 19, 2003, Taxpayer protection Act
HR 660, June 19, 2003, Small Business Healthcare Act
HR 3660 and S 3, Oct 2, 2003, Prohibit Partial Birth/Late Term abortions
HR 2028, Sept 23, 2004, Pledge of Allegiance Protection Bill
S 397, Oct 20, 2005, Firearms Manufacturer Protection Bill
H Amdt, 272, June 15, 2005, Marijuana legalization Act
HR 2454, June 26, 2009, Energy and Environmental Law Amendments, “Cap and Trade”
HR 3435, July 31, 2009, Appropriations for the “Cash for Clunker” program
HR 4173, Dec 11, 2009, Regulation and Oversight of the Financial system, did not vote
HR 3534, July 30, 2010, Offshore Drilling regulations
HR 2965, Dec 15, 2010, Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Act
HR 5281, Dec 8, 2010, Dream Act
HR 3590, March 21, 2010, Patient protection and Affordable Care Act
H Amdt 95, Feb 19, 2011, Prohibiting Use of Federal funds for Planned Parenthood
HR 471, March 30, 2011, School Vouchers for Washington DC
HR 1230, May 5, 2011, Offshore Leasing Act
HR 1249, June 23, 2011, Patent Law amendment
HR 2417, July 12, 2011, Repeal Energy efficiency standards for the light bult
HR 2278, June 24, 2011, Limits the Use of Funds in Support of NATO in Libya
HR 2560, July 19, 2011, Repeal the Cap and Balance Act of 2011
HR 2587, Sept 15, 2011, National Labor Relations Boards Prohibition
HR 358, Oct 13, 2011, “Stupak Amendment” to the Affordable Care Act
Numerous trade agreements with South American and African countries
Voted against every military appropriations bill, except one
Voted against every sanction against Iran, except HR 1954 which was more of a generic sanction against nations that sponsor terrorism.
Voted for over 45,000 “earmarks”
These are the votes on major bills that Tammy and I agree on:
H Res 292, June 3 2011, Ground Forces in Libya. She voted against using troops or getting involved in the Libyan civil war.
H Amdt 72, April 20, 2005, Arctic National wildlife Drilling amendment. She voted to drill in ANWAR
HR 339, March 10, 2004, Food Industry Obesity Act “Cheeseburger Bill”. Tammy believes that people have no right to sue a food establishment if they become obese, “Don’t blame anyone else for the abdication of your own responsibilities.”
H Con Res 42, March 11, 1999, Kosovo Peacekeeping Operations. No troops to Kosovo
Member, American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin (ACLU)
Member, International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials
Member, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Member, National Organization for Women
Member, Wisconsin Citizen Action
Clearly, Tammy and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Tammy has voted against her party many times; showing independence. She has clashed with Pelosi on more than one occasion. As a result she is not the chairperson on any major committee despite her long tenure in the House.
She did not vote with Democrats on numerous bills because she is well to the left of mainstream Democratic thought.
Baldwin was very outspoken against the Affordable Care Act as were all of the Republicans…but for different reasons. She did not think the Affordable Care Act went far enough. In the end, she voted for it because she thought it was a step in the right direction.
While she voted against holding fast food establishments responsible for the obesity of its patrons, she voted for holding the gun manufacturers responsible for the firearm crimes. I think that this is a bit hypocritical.
Baldwin employs David Stacy, a registered lobbyist, on her staff, yet she condemns the lobbying activities by Thompson. Baldwin has also received many donations from multiple lobbying groups; $216,743 from EMILY’s list, $54,865 from the JStreetPAC, $65,800 from Democracy Engine, etc. If she opposes lobbyists and lobby groups, she should return the money that she had received from lobby groups.
Her vote against honoring the victims of 9/11 (H Res. 994) is odd and she attempted to explain her “no” vote by decrying what she called the endorsement of “highly controversial measures.”
H. Res. 994 is outlined below;
“extends its deepest sympathies to the spouses, children, mothers, fathers, and other loved ones of the victims of September 11, 2001;
“honors the heroic actions of first responders, law enforcement personnel, State and local officials, volunteers, and others who aided the innocent victims and bravely risked their own lives and health following the September 11, 2001 attacks;
“extends its deepest gratitude to military, intelligence and law enforcement personnel serving both at home and abroad in the global war on terrorism and for the sacrifices of their families and loved ones;”
I can’t imagine what is controversial in the measures listed.
While I am not a big fan of Tommy Thompson, I think he will do less damage than Tammy Baldwin.
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