Archive for October, 2009

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IF MONEY WAS NO OBJECT

October 7, 2009

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I take it back.

I know I said that I would consider buying an American manufacturer’s car again, once I knew the reliability of their cars was as good as the reliability of my Toyota Avalon.

Then I saw these pictures.

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This is the new Lexus LS Hybrid.

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It has a 438hp V-8 that gets 35 miles per gallon.

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It can parallel park itself.

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It has a sound system that allows you to record and store your favorite music on a 10GB hard drive. 

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The “Executive Seating” in the rear has a swing-out table and a completely separate rear sound system and temperature controls.

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The rear seats automatically adjust to an individual’s body temperature…

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… and recline – with foot rests.

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A drop-down DVD screen.

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A 19 speaker audio system.

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The most advanced hybrid technology available.

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Superior styling…

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… that sits on 19-inch wheels.

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If money was no object, my Avalon would be a trade-in, today.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – The price tag for this new Lexus? $106,000.

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JESUS WAS TOO LIBERAL?

October 7, 2009

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King James is surely spinning somewhere.

Just when I thought Christian Fundamentalists couldn’t further propagate their extremist agendas, I learn there is a project underway to re-write the Bible in an attempt to eliminate its “liberal bias.” I never knew the Bible was conservative or liberal. How is it that after nearly four hundred years, the King James Version of the Bible is suddenly not written properly?

I first came across this information at HuffingtonPost.com. I thought, “Surely, this is just one of those articles whose headline is more interesting than the actual story.”

Not so.

Here’s some of what you’ll find on the home page of Conservapedia.com.

“Conservapedia is a clean and concise resource for those seeking the truth. We do not allow liberal bias to deceive and distort here.”

“No other encyclopedic resource on the internet is free of corruption by liberal untruths.”

Directly from the project’s webpage, The Conservative Bible Project, you see these lines:

Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations. There are three sources of errors in conveying biblical meaning:

  • lack of precision in the original language, such as terms underdeveloped to convey new concepts introduced by Christ
  • lack of precision in modern language
  • translation bias in converting the original language to the modern one

Here’s are samples of what this project wants to re-write.

Liberal Falsehood:

The earliest, most authentic manuscripts lack this verse set forth at Luke 23:34:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Is this a liberal corruption of the original? This does not appear in any other Gospel, and the simple fact is that some of the persecutors of Jesus did know what they were doing. This quotation is a favorite of liberals but should not appear in a conservative Bible.

Socialism:

Socialistic terminology permeates English translations of the Bible, without justification. This improperly encourages the “social justice” movement among Christians. For example, the conservative word “volunteer” is mentioned only once in the ESV, yet the socialistic word “comrade” is used three times, “laborer(s)” is used 13 times, “labored” 15 times, and “fellow” (as in “fellow worker”) is used 55 times.

Thank God there are level-headed religious conservatives.

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Rod Dreher, of BeliefNet.org, certainly a conservative on both politics and religion says,”…the insane hubris of this really staggers the mind. These right-wing ideologues know better than the early church councils that canonized Scripture? They really think it’s wise to force the word of God to conform to a 21st-century American idea of what constitutes conservatism? These jokers don’t worship God. They worship ideology.” Here’s the rest of his post.

 

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Mark Shea, a writer and devout Catholic, writes, “Right wing dementia marches on apace. Some of this has a grain of sense to it, as ideological madness always does. For instance, the dumb attempts to feminize Scripture are pernicious and need to stop. But seriously: the story of the woman taken in adultery is “liberal”? Free market as Sacred tradition? Liberal wordiness?” More from Mark here.

Assimilating scripture to fit an agenda will not feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and otherwise help the least among us, as Jesus taught us to do.

We would do well to adhere to His teachings, rather than re-write them.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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FROM BILL TO LAW

October 1, 2009

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I’m starting to understand the frustration that our President must feel when he hears some of the uneducated, and even stupid comments coming from congressional members on healthcare. And if you believe some of the punditry, you would think the healthcare bill will be law next week. It’s understandable how lay-persons can be swayed to believe some of this gibberish.

As I watch all of the back and forth, it occurs to me that very few understand how a bill becomes law. Before anyone can discuss the very complicated issue of healthcare and the needed changes, one must first know the process. It’s exhaustive, especially when there is so much political opposition to changing the way we currently distribute healthcare in this country.

As of today, October 1st, we are far away from a healthcare bill. When you hear people say the bill includes this and doesn’t include that, they’re wrong. There is no single bill – only drafts of committee bills.

Here’s how a final healthcare bill (or any bill) moves through congress, step by step. First: all the steps.

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There are five committees looking at healthcare reform. Three in the House and two in the Senate. This is where we are right now. (Please note: I found these charts early in September. The deadline set by Sen. Baucus came and went, and the current draft did not include the co-ops seen on the chart.)

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The 23-member Baucus Committee ran a couple of what I’ll call “trial” votes earlier this week to “take a pulse” on the public option within his committee. The first vote resulted in an 8-15 vote against the draft. Five Democrats voted against it. An amendment was added, “softening” the public option, and another vote was taken. This time, it was 10-13 against. The draft gained two more Democrats. No Republicans voted for either draft.

None of these preliminary votes mean anything. We are still four big steps away from a bill reaching the President’s desk.

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So take a deep breath, fans of the public option. As I said in Strategy Over Blather, we will prevail.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

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TOO MUCH PLURIBUS, NOT ENOUGH UNUM

October 1, 2009

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It’s time for a “Rant” with no “Observation.”

Featured on the front of the Great Seal of the United States of America are the words “E Pluribus Unum.” “Pluribus” is related to the English word “plural” and “Unum” is related to the English word “unit.” The direct translation of the term is “Out of many, one.”

Apparently, many of our elected leaders have forgotten (or don’t know) what this means. Their exploitation of cultural issues is an attempt to keep us divided for their personal gain. Politicizing these issues is a disservice to our country and is certainly not in step with the ideals they have been elected to uphold. Those who suppress, intimidate, belittle or dismiss portions of our citizenship because of race, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or income level have failed to grasp the concept of “E Pluribus Unum.”

We are called the “United” States of America, not the “Divided” States of America. We’ve already had our Civil War, and those who no longer wanted to enslave human beings, won, with much blood and treasure expended. Yet, it seems there are those who would like nothing better than to reverse that outcome.

They are not accepting of anyone who looks or believes differently than them. They’re right and everyone else is wrong. Theirs is the only accurate interpretation of The Constitution. Theirs is the only way to “run” this country. Theirs is the only way to believe in God or be a good Christian. They say they are tolerant, but tolerance is not acceptance. If it were up to them, we would go back to the days of white supremacy with all people of color being only “two-thirds human.”

Now that we have our first black President, those supportive of the lunacy we’ve seen since his election are being exposed. I couldn’t be happier. Let them make asses out of themselves for the nation – and the world – to see. Once they’re embarrassed enough, they’ll retreat to privacy, and those with constructive ideas for moving our country forward will engage with the ideals set forth in our Great Seal.

We’ve had enough “Pluribus.” It’s time for some “Unum.”

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com