Thursday, April 29, 2004

Why we went to war...

If I understood the president, he talks to God and God talks back to the president.

That’s why the president has no doubts about taking us into war or anything else.
Bush is not the only one who talks to God. Take me, for instance.
Actually, don’t take me, because I don’t want to tell you that I talk to God and have you think I am either (1) crazy or (2) lying. So forget about me.

A president, apparently, can say he has two-way conversations with God and nobody will think bad things about him.

I will tell you that I worked at Bellevue psychiatric hospital in New York City during a summer vacation from school. Many of the patients there told me that they conversed regularly with God. They seemed pleased about it and thought they enjoyed a special relationship with God and a privileged status with Him.
So, I am accustomed to people telling me about these divine conversations and I have learned not to express any doubt.

Perhaps, the best-known case of a human talking to God was in the Bible story of Moses and the Burning Bush (No pun here.). In that story, God talked to Moses from within a bush that was on fire for some reason not explained. God promised Moses that He would deliver Israel, Moses’ tribe, from the Pharaoh.
As Moses focused on the burning bush, according to the story, the bush became a light leading the way to freedom.

This took place over there in the desert not too far from Baghdad. It was a long time ago.

Another Bible person who had a conversation with God was Abram who was ninety-nine years old when God appeared to him. God changed the old man’s name to Abraham. He told Abraham to have a son with his 90-year-old wife, Sarah. God said the new son should be named Isaac. Abraham discussed it a little, but he was smart enough not to argue with God.

That conversation goes way back in history, too, and took place in the geographical area not far from what we know today as Iraq.

Certainly there are precedents for humans (1) having conversations with God and (2) God giving people instructions about actions to be taken and the people do as they’re told.

Now, I don’t know if Bush has tapped into the same kind of dialogue with the deity that Moses and Abraham had, but you have to admit, it’s possible.

Maybe now, you can understand why Bush has no doubts about sending our children over there to the Holy Land neighborhood to fight and die.

... kenmatthews@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Tough weeks at home and abroad

In case you missed some of the recent news events, you might like to know that the president was vacationing down in Texas during the couple of weeks when more than 85 Americans died in Iraq.
I am guessing that he might decide to start going to funerals rather than to fund-raisers for his reelection campaign. That would make some grieving moms and dads feel a little better. I’ll bet John and Lori Witmer of Wisconsin, who sent off three of their daughters to the fight in Iraq, would like to hear from him.
The last few weeks also was the time when the president’s National Security Advisor and other top brass were trying to tell us how in the dickens the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, happened.
A report from the Texas White House said that the president called Advisor Condoleezza Rice from his pickup truck and told her she had done well.
His principal activity on that day was to meet with representatives of hunters’ organizations, including the National Rifle Association.
The hunting and fishing and gun-toting groups Bush was showing around his spread were described by the White House as "wildlife conservation organizations" and included Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, the Safari Club International, the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and the NRA.
The Sportsmen’s group says on its Web site that it "provides direct lobbying and grassroots coalition support to protect and advance the rights of hunters, fishermen, trappers and scientific wildlife management professionals."
The Safari Club members like to kill large animals in other countries or in this country where the animals are contained in big pens and can’t get too far away.
The visitors also were meeting with James Connaughton, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Bush is an avid fisherman and duck shooter and apparently picked up the activity from his father, the former president and most celebrated member of Ducks Unlimited.
The Vice President, Dick Cheney, and U. S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, like to hunt ducks, too. They went on a hunting trip together not long ago. A legal case involving Cheney will be heard by the Supreme Court soon and Scalia will be one of the nine justices to hear it.
Also during the recent tough weeks, the president attended Easter church services at Fort Hood, a military installation not far from his ranch in Crawford. He said he pinned some Purple Heart medals on wounded service personnel in the hospital at Fort Hood.
Bush’s daughters went to church with him.
Bush’s daughters, Barbara and Jenna, are university students and about the age of Michelle Witmer of Wisconsin, a university student before she was sent to Iraq with her Army National Guard unit. She was killed in action.
I guess the President will send Michelle’s Purple Heart to her parents.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004


Every weekend, I am amazed to see a great number of people riding big, expensive, noisy motorcycles. About half of them are taking advantage of the change in the law that used to require riders to wear helmets. A new study seems to show that since they don’t have to wear helmets, they are breaking their heads more.
And the cost of putting the imprudent riders back together again may be borne by you and me.
I think most of the riders are daddies and mommies with jobs and families. They dress up in Hell Angels’ costumes because that is their cultural uniform, but they seem to me to be nice, ordinary people, for the most part.
The study found that the state's motorcycle fatalities rose by about 42 percent after lawmakers repealed the law requiring riders to wear helmets.
The study also found injuries have become more serious and more expensive to treat now that helmets are worn by only about half the riders. The average hospital costs for non-helmeted riders are much, much more than the $10,000 insurance the cyclists are required to carry.
One doctor who frequently treats motorcycle crash victims has said that "The $10,000 is used up in the first 30 minutes of life-threatening trauma care."
Hospitals around the state reported the average cost of treatment for riders without helmets was $34,021 to $55,055, according to an University of South Florida study.
In the 18 months before the repeal of the helmet law on July 1, 2000, there were 284 fatalities resulting from 7,077 motorcycle crashes.
In the 18 months after repeal, there were 404 fatalities in 8,215 crashes.
Now, let’s stop for a minute to think about this.
The deaths of all these people engaged in macho-man behavior primarily as a recreation activity is very sad. But, if you’re like me, you have to think: How much is this stupidity taking out of my pocket? The guy has $10,00 in insurance and his bill is $50,000. Go figure.
We know that if a person is poor and has some horrible physical thing happen to him and he goes to the hospital and gets treated, the hospital is required to take care of him even though the hospital knows the patient can’t pay. We are told about this all the time as a factor that jacks up the high cost of healthcare for everybody. Those who can pay have to absorb the costs – one way or the other – incurred by those who can’t or don’t pay. That’s what the hospital authorities tell us.
So, if a motorcycle rider ignores prudence by electing not to take a reasonable precaution –a helmet – against injury, is the community at large obliged to pay his expenses when he gets hurt? When he can’t work anymore? When he can’t support his family? When he has to have long periods of rehabilitation?
The answer in our society is in the affirmative. We will pay.
But I have to remember that we have that expense because he thought it would be cool to have the wind in his hair, but he got his brains battered instead.


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