Saturday, September 02, 2006

Where's the Beef?

Dear Indigna,

I recently witnessed a rather remarkable confrontation at the local bowling alley. A Lutheran lady mentioned that her church was planning a celebration of Martin Luther King Day, and a Baptist lady objected violently on the grounds . . . well, on grounds that a well-bred Southern lady wouldn't repeat except that it had to do with the gentleman's . . . uh . . . features and uh . . . certain issues that riled up the local community in the 1960's. Not to mention the 1860's. Well now, I heard those Lutheran ladies explain their position to the Baptist gentlewoman, but she remained unrepentant in her views that one ought not to celebrate the person who caused her to lose her low-cost washing woman. Who was right?

Magnolia Flower
Live Oak, FL

Dear Overprotected Flora,

Look, Martin Luther King Day has nothing whatsoever to do with Martin Luther, who nailed some "95 Theses" on the door of a church in Wittenberg, instigated the Reformation and the foundation of the Protestant Church, and eventually inspired Lutheranism. That Luther was apparently later sentenced to a "Diet of Worms," which could not have been pleasant.

Fortunately, our Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in the land of extremely pleasant food, the Deep South, specifically Atlanta, Georgia. Think cornbread, peach pie, cheese grits, hush puppies, succotash, okra, fried mush and pig pickin's. See, that's just about as far as you can get from "Wittenberg," which sounds suspiciously vegan. Hamburg, yes. "Wittenberg"--well, that just sounds too much like "Wit' no burg (er)."

What does this have to do with the low-cost washing woman? Well, Martin Luther King, Jr. instigated the movement that culminated in the Civil Rights Act, which ensured equal rights to employment, education and justice to people of all races, ethnicities, religions and national origins. That means the low-cost washing woman was free to get a much higher paying job in food service. I understand that she went on to establish a fast-food restaurant empire that she named, in homage to her historical inspiration, "Wittenburger King."

Friday, September 01, 2006

Baby Love

Dear Indigna,

I understand that some soccer players are storing their newborn children's stem cells as a hedge against future injury or illness, not for their children, but for themselves. Shades of people having children for the purpose of transplanting their organs or bone marrow into an older sibling! Does anyone care about children as the little miracle of creation that they are anymore?

Grannie, KY

Dear Disillusioned,

In a word, no. Modern children are valuable to grownups primarily for utilitarian and scientific uses ("Did they cut this dope with laxative? Let's find out!") Some parents also like the security of having available their children's "redundant" organs (extra kidney, extra testicle, extra lung, extra cornea, etc.), which could prove invaluable in case either parent or a sibling should come to need them in future. If not, parents can pay off credit card bills or provide their family with college tuition, a new car or a really great vacation by auctioning off these excess organs to the highest bidder--perhaps to a rich guy from Texas whose eye was shot out by the Vice President of the United States.

In any case, what a loving thing to do for your child! Such children will know that their life has meaning without having to expend any effort whatsoever (other than that required to sustain life with only one kidney, lung, testicle and cornea). Plus, their parents have also given these kids a guaranteed spot in pretty much any prestigious university not only on the basis of the child's selfless sacrifice, but for his or her disability as well. What could say "love" more clearly that that?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Very Frightening Proposition

Dear Indigna,

Recently, Florida Congresswoman Katherine Harris made some astonishing public remarks. Some of her key points in an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness include:
  • separation of church and state is "a lie we have been told"
  • "if you're not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin"
  • "a nation of secular laws" is "not what our founding fathers intended and . . . certainly isn't what God intended"
  • "Average citizens who are not Christians . . . don't know better"
  • "God is the one who chooses our rulers"
In her defense, Ms. Harris told the Orlando Sentinel, "I look at how the law originated, even from Moses, the 10 Commandments. . . . That's how all of our laws originated in the United States, period. I think that's the basis of our rule of law"

Is it all true? I have a number of questions:
  • If the First Amendment does not separate church and state and make America "a nation of secular laws," why is it in the Constitution? Why not just leave it out?
  • Since I am not a Christian, does that mean I have to resign my Senate seat to avoid the sin of "legislating sin"? And, as a Jew, am I still an American, or am I considered a Brooklyn-born-and-bred Israeli ex-pat who has never been to his "native country"?
  • I have a Ph.D., MD. and J.D. from Yale. How can I "not know better"? As I am still not a Christian, should I sue my esteemed institution for academic misconduct? Or "failure to educate"?
  • If God chooses our rulers, why did He choose that anti-Semite Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to lead Iran? Does that mean we Jews are no longer His Chosen People?
  • Finally, is it true that Moses became an American Christian and a member of the Constitutional Congress? How long did that dude live, anyway?
Senator Name-Withheld
Washington, D.C.

Dear Senator,

I will take your questions one at a time.
  • It's common knowledge that the First Amendment is commonly misunderstood. It says "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." It doesn't say God or Moses or the President can't establish a national religion.
  • As you freely admit that you are not a Christian, you must resign your Senate seat so that a Christian can have it. As for your national identity, why would you want to be an American when you are not a Christian? Wouldn't you rather live among your fellow damned?
  • I think it's clear that you do "know better" yet still persist in not being a Christian. You cannot blame your own willful refusal to be a Christian on your educational institution, although I do not understand why they granted you your degrees when you so openly failed (to be a Christian).
  • Iranian people tend not to be Christian, so God doesn't care who leads them since the whole country is doomed to hell anyway.
  • Yes, Moses founded the American judicial system, but you don't have to make it sound like it was some kind of miracle or something.
Ms. Harris' main point in her Florida Baptist Witness interview was that, in Florida's gubernatorial race, "no other candidate can beat [rival] Bill Nelson except for me" and "if Bill Nelson wins, it's going to be a very frightening proposition in 2008 in the presidential elections because whoever wins Florida will win the presidency."

Apparently, Ms. Harris has made some kind of high-stakes deal with God that whoever becomes the governor of Florida automatically becomes President in 2008. A very frightening proposition indeed!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How to Start a Revolution

Dear Indigna,

It's common knowledge that the Bush Administration expected the Iraqis to embrace our troops as "liberators" and thought the fall of Saddam would spur a spontaneous outbreak of American-style democracy. Instead, as it turned out, the Iraqi people are acting as if they view the U.S. as an occupying force and are uniting against us. Similarly, it seems that Israel thought its carpet bombing of Lebanese civilian infrastructure would cause the Lebanese to rise up against Hezbollah, and has been surprised that instead the people have turned against Israel. Does the Bush Administration still expect a bombing campaign against a civilian population in, say, another large and powerful Mid-East nation, to cause those people to support the attackers?

Same Strategy, Different Result?
Classified APO

Dear "Same,"

Well of course they do! It strains credulity that things have not gone the way that Cheney and Rumsfeld anticipated. The only reason there wasn't a great uprising against the American government after the Pearl Harbor bombing was because Japanese is so freakishly hard to learn! The bombing of the Oklahoma City Murrah Building would doubtless have caused a massive embrace of Branch Davidianism if only it hadn't been, frankly, a kinda weird and creepy religion. And 9/11 certainly put this "Stockholm Syndrome"-type theory to the test, didn't it, resulting in mass protests against the U.S. government and its policies across the world (though not, apparently, in the U.S. itself).

So it seems clear the problem rests with the American populace. We set the tone, people! To counteract the language problem that short-circuited a Pearl-Harbor inspired revolution, we should step up to the plate and parachute thousands of English language teachers into the "problem areas" of the Middle East. Once those Iraqis and others feel confident that they can speak American I'm sure they'll instantly embrace everything about our great United States.

As for our religion, that should be no barrier. Unlike Branch Davidianism, Christianity isn't the slightest bit weird and creepy. We know for a fact, from years of evangelizing experience, that the very moment that the infidels hear the word of God's son, Jesus Christ, they will immediately see the Light and the Way and embrace our non-creepy religion, especially the part about transsubstantiation.

As for the failure of democracy to take root instantly like a massively invasive non-native plant that kills everything else and that you can never, ever eradicate from your yard, it's clearly the fault of a lack of education about democracy in these backward countries and their primitive schools. We need to send in political scientists who can teach the people about American-style democracy. Once they grasp the beauty of our pure and efficient system, in contrast to whatever kind of "government" they've managed to cobble together, they will clearly favor our measured debate-and-vote, checked-and-balanced, reasoned and non-contentious Republican form of oligarchy. I mean democracy.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Heart and Soul

Dear Indigna,

I read a headline recently: "Prison Loses Its Heart and Soul." It was about the retirement of some dude from San Quentin. My question is, can a prison have a "heart," not to mention a "soul"?

Devout Law Abider
Normal, IL

Dear Tight-Ass,

It wasn't the executioner, was it? That guy is such a sweet-heart. And sweet soul.

If it wasn't him, it was probably this guy who comforted the death-row prisoners with his rendition of the famous "Heart and Soul" piano ditty. You know: do do-mi-sol la la-do-mi fa fa-la-do do do-mi-sol etc. ad infinitum. He would play this song, amplified to about 80 decibels to ensure that all could enjoy it, continuously during his twelve-hour shifts. During his twelve-hour down time he arranged to have the music continued on an infinite loop tape, so that the prisoners could enjoy his "heart and soul" 24 hours a day. Now, that speaks volumes, my friend. This fellow poured his "heart" into his musical ministry, and his "soul" lives on in the minds of those inmates who could not help but listen to his performance day in and day out for years at a time. No doubt some of the prisoners whose "hearts" failed during that time were simply overwhelmed by the solid-gold "Soul" of the music they came to know so intimately. The San Quentin Prison has truly lost its "Heart and Soul" with the retirement of this fellow, who will in years to come no doubt be symbolically memorialized--in random, even spree fashion--through the actions of any of "his" inmates who are released.