Wednesday, May 25, 2011

This WILL Affect You

Health Care Act aside, the real issue at this moment is Medicare. Medicare is the government provided health plan that most Americans rely on once they attain the age of 65 or become disabled. Medicare is a monolithic program that simply cannot maintain it's course. It will Not be sustainable much longer.

Rather than use it as a political sword, politicians on both sides of the aisle must either put politics aside and deal with this, or play their stupid games and watch as real people get hurt when the system collapses.

The following video (less than 5 minutes long) describes what Medicare looks like today, and presents a proposal to fix the problem. If you prefer, the text of the video can be found here.


Bill Clinton told Paul Ryan that he hopes Democrats don't use the win in NY-26 "as an excuse to do nothing" on Medicare.
Mr Clinton, with some passion, returned to the topic at the end of an hour long interview (read in it's entirety here). "I think the Democrats are going to have to be willing to give up, maybe, some short-term political gain by whipping up fears on some of these things - if it's a reasonable Social Security proposal, a reasonable Medicare proposal. We've got to deal with these things. You cannot have health care devour the economy."

If we are to have intelligent discussion on the subject, then all parties must be informed on the subject. Watch or read this, then let's chat.

Hat tip to Nat'l Review and The House Budget Committee.

Friday, February 25, 2011

King Obama and His Big Breeches

President Obama just unilaterally declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and instructed the Department of Justice not to defend the statute in court. Well, I'll be.

The funny thing about that, is that the President of the United States doesn't have the authority to decide what laws are constitutional or not. That is not a power afforded the Executive Branch.

On January 19th, the White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, told reporters, ''We can't declare the law unconstitutional ... We ... have to represent the viewpoint of the defendant.'' Obama's flip flop on policy and sudden misunderstanding of the law in such a short time is more than a little scary.

He very much wants to be, wishes he were, wants to be King of America, but the President isn't a king. He doesn't get to make decrees. He is the chief executive with the responsibility to enforce existing laws - even laws he doesn't like.

Does anyone remember Obama calling himself a former constitutional professor? I think someone needs a remedial course in American constitutional law and to be reminded that no one, not even the President King is above the law. He does not have the authority, the permission of our constitution, to arbitrarily choose which laws his Administration will or will not enforce.

The legislative, executive, and judicial branches have their purposes and divisions of power that are very deliberate. The President and his Department of Justice have an obligation to defend every law unless the Supreme Court of the United States declares it unconstitutional. Obama doesn't get to make that determination.

A President is not a king who can unilaterally decide what our laws are, and Obama cannot choose which laws his Administration will and will not enforce. The rule of law must prevail and that might require you to find your voice. Don't run and hide like the Democrat flee-baggers of Wisconsin, shirking their responsibilities. This is real life and running and hiding won't make the bad stuff go away.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shame On You Wisconsin Teachers, Doctors, & Dem Politicians

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has been an open book as a politician his entire career. He has never tried to disguise his stance on the issues, and it has been said many times that “unions have always been his piƱata”. Cheeseheads can hardly be taken by surprise by his stance on unions in general, or on public sector unions in particular.

Because of this stance, the voters of Wisconsin elected him Governor in 2010, with a 6%, 124,000+ vote margin. The electorate not only elected Walker, they endorsed his views that he has always made clear throughout his political career.

If Democrats want to oppose his views, that is their right, but it is downright sleazy to ditch the state senate, the capital, and the state, in order to try to frustrate the process. This behavior amounts to open defiance of the will of the voters. It seeks to frustrate government via temper tantrum. The private economy (America) has tightened their belts and many citizens are unemployed as a result. Public employees (existing to serve Americans) have not felt this level of economic downsizing and we are now seeing the result of an honest politician trying to do his part to ensure equality.

The teachers, following the bad example set by their elected officials, are striking by "sick out", fraudulently obtaining "sick notes" from doctors committing malpractice. Where is Ronald Reagan or any other strong President when you need him? The cheating teachers, the criminal doctors, the sleazy politicians gaming the system, should all be fired and replaced by people who want the jobs.

"But we'll never find enough qualified air traffic controllers to fill those important seats!"

Trust me, there are plenty of qualified teachers, doctors, and politicians to replace those that put their own well-being before their responsibilities. If Wisconsin's voters said ""no", then the answer is ""no". Make your voice heard and vote again next time. This is America. The systems are in place to do it without cheating.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Liberals Give Less To Charity Than Conservatives and Chimps

I am constantly seeing liberals spewing socialist agendas that center on redistribution of wealth and it makes me sick. First of all, when did socialism become acceptable in this country? Shame on you if you have forgotten all of histories failed societies based on this form of government.

Socialism is a lie told to people who want a life of ease. Socialism promises prosperity, security and equality, but no matter what those in charge deliver at first, the only result possible is poverty, tyranny and misery. It simply doesn't work. Socialism does not work because it is not consistent with fundamental principles of human behavior, it is a system that ignores incentives.

Capitalism is based on the theory that incentives matter. Work is rewarded. Intelligence is rewarded. Laziness and non-productivity are penalized. Human nature is satisfied with this. The evidence of history overwhelmingly favors capitalism as the greatest wealth-producing economic system available for a society as a whole.

Because socialist countries fail to promote and nurture the potential of their people through incentives, socialist countries where wealth is taken from those that earned it and given to those that haven't, the human spirit is deprived of full development. Socialism fails because it kills and destroys the human spirit. The people leaving Cuba in homemade rafts and boats will tell you.

Socialized medicine, welfare, social security, and minimum wage laws will always appeal to us because on the surface they appear to be expedient and beneficial. Unfortunately, like all socialist programs, they will fail because in the long run they rely on someone paying for other's services. The government tries to give the appearance of being the generous donor but in fact, they are taking credit for money donated (at gunpoint) from others, who had to work to earn it.

Barbie's measurements (if she were life-size): 39-23-33 and Coca-cola was originally green.
The belief that liberals care more about the poor may scratch a partisan or ideological itch, but the facts are hostile witnesses. I love that quote from Don Willett of the Texas Supreme Court.

Arthur C. Brooks, an independent and a professor at Syracuse University, published "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism."
The surprise is that liberals are markedly less charitable than conservatives.

-- Although liberal families' incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600 per year vs. $1,227).

-- Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood.

-- Residents of the states that voted for John Kerry in 2004 gave smaller percentages of their incomes to charity than did residents of states that voted for George Bush.

-- Bush carried 24 of the 25 states where charitable giving was above average.

-- In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was 3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent, donated just 1.9 percent.

-- People who reject the idea that "government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality" give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition.


The notion that they are being generous by forcing the wealthy to involuntarily donate their money, is a fallacy. The facts from Brooks' book make the liberals look downright wrong in their thinking, not to mention greedy and uncaring; the exact thing they accuse conservatives of being. Facts are an inconvenient burden.

The single biggest predictor of someone's likeliness to be generous with his or her time and money is religion. The percentage of registered Democrats who say they have 'no religion' is more than four times what it was in the early 1970s." America is largely divided between religious givers and secular non-givers. The religious givers are disproportionately conservative.

Maybe it is time for the left to take a good look at themselves and realize that it is up to Them, not the government, to take care of those in need and that socialism is a losing proposition and it's time to go to work making the world a better place.

hat tip to: Arthur C Brooks

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Beanbag

I am fond of saying, "Politics ain't beanbag." As soon as the words escape my lips I invariably realize that the person to whom my statement was addressed has no idea what I'm saying (blank stares, glazed eyes, etc.). So let me elucidate.

Finley Peter Dunne was an author who wrote primarily about political and social issues in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His most famous quote is the one I spout, but I've shortened it. Here's the whole thing: "Politics ain't beanbag: 'tis a man's game, and women, children 'n' pro-hy-bitionists had best stay out of it."

In other words (and in more modern terms), politics is a full-contact sport. It's about life and money and religion and even sex, and when something touches upon every area that means the most to us passions are going to be inflamed. It has always, always been this way. Things are arguably better now than at any time in our nation's history. Don't believe me? I'll give you some examples.

In the presidential campaign of 1800, Jefferson and his supporters described Adams as "a hideous, hermaphroditical character," accused him of "importing mistresses from Europe," called him "blind, bald, crippled, toothless," and announced that he was guilty of wanting to start a war with France. Jefferson secretly bought a newspaper in order to better control some of the lies that were printed about Adams.

On the Adams' side of the ledger readers were warned that "murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest [would] be openly taught and practiced" if Jefferson were to win the election. "The soil will be red with blood and the nation black with crimes." Images of "children writhing on a pike" and "dwellings in flames" were written about and would no doubt have been broadcast had the technology been available. Adams, like Jefferson, was able to get personal, too: "Jefferson is the son of a half-breed Indian squaw raised on hoecakes." Adams took a swipe at Hamilton while he was at it: "Hamilton is the Creole bastard brat of a Scotch peddler."

The election of 1828 was not any better. The incumbent, John Quincy Adams, and the ultimate victor, Andrew Jackson, accused each other of murder, adultery, corruption, and the "procuring of women." Jackson's wife, Rachel, died shortly after the election and he forever blamed the ugliness of the campaign for her early demise.

I could go on, but I want to make another point (or maybe two). The first is that the cure for political speech that we hate is always MORE political speech. Attempts to quash or control or even sanitize speech are Constitutionally questionable at best and ultimately futile. We can bemoan the coarsening of the culture or the lack of civility in today's politics, but it behooves us to keep some perspective. Andrew Jackson killed a man in a duel (and participated in several others). We've come a long way, baby.

I am a pragmatic person when it comes to politics. Principles are all well and good, but someone who holds too fast to his principles will never change the world (because he'll never be elected). Politics, to use another well-worn quote (this one by Otto von Bismarck), is the art of the possible. One must know when to stand fast, when to compromise, when to be aggressive and when to retreat. I understand (but have no sympathy for) those who would cast a vote for a candidate destined to lose; no one will ever convince me that we are better off with "bearded socialist" Christopher Coons in the Senate than we would have been with a squish like Mike Castle. A vote for Christine O'Donnell was self indulgent. She had no chance to win and Castle would have been handed the office, but because he didn't fill the fantasies of the far right he was jettisoned. I am firmly in the camp of those formerly headed by Bill Buckley who believe that you vote for the most conservative electable candidate. (Yes, I know that sometimes that choice is not clear. In the election to which I just referred, it was.)

I have been dragged far off track. My original point was that if you don't like listening to heated political rhetoric you should turn down (or better yet, off) your televisions. And radios. It has always been with us. It will always be with us as long as we are a democracy. And that homes in on the real key, doesn't it? You know where there's NOT a lot of heated political rhetoric? In dictatorships. Go figger.

I realize that as sure as the locusts return to Capistrano (you thought it was swallows? marketing ploy) every time there is a crime committed by someone who may possibly have once worn a red baseball cap (and thereby labeled himself a Republican) we will have these overwrought examine-the-rhetoric orgies. I prefer to pass. My pragmatism alarm rings loud and long--I have no time for attempts to immanentize the eschaton (look that one up). There is work to be done and all I can do is focus on my own behavior (which I hope to keep civil).

More later...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Truth About Islam Continues (Unexpectedly)

One door slams shut and another swings wide open. After the very surprising tantrum thrown by the thin-skinned, intolerant Catholic Wife (see the last two posts to The Doerbitter Dispatch) I thought my foray into the unknown (to me) world of Islam might have reached the end of the road for now. God had other plans. I never cease to be awed by God. I have always been the type that needs to be hit in the head with a brick to see things clearly. God never lets me down.

When CW inaccurately interpreted my post as derogatory, or perhaps without the reverence and seriousness guaranteed to put most readers to sleep, she saw fit to end any communication between us. I'm not sure of the source of her insecurity and it just doesn't matter to this discussion. Frankly, I didn't think she was the main point of contact anyway, but I digress.

Today, unexpectedly, without an appointment, without warning of any sort, an old friend walked into my office. As a prominent physician, good friend, and valued client, she is always welcome but it had literally been a good two years since I had seen her. What made her visit a clear sign from God, is that she is Muslim. Born in an eastern country. Lifelong, still toting the accent, first generation immigrant, Muslim. The Only Muslim that I know. (That I know of). Strolling in through my front door today. After what has been happening in my quest for understanding of Islam in Omaha. God amazes me. No, I am not surprised, but I am totally surprised. Of course He Can do things like this but He Did do it. I'm tickled.

Doctor X (my friend's real name) lowered herself into the chair on the far side of my desk and said, "Hi".

OK, Doctor X isn't her real name. As I said "hi" back, I realized this might be an interesting opportunity to discuss Islam from a woman's perspective. I was not disappointed. She immediately spoke of the radicals giving Islam a bad name. She said they are an embarrasment to Islam. I easily saw her point about the radicals being impoverished and uneducated, making them easy recruits and that as long as education is not provided, there will continue to be the murdering variety of Muslim.

Because Doctor X is a long time friend, I could speak much more frankly. She knows my motivation is pure and that I am a fair man and I trust her not to lie to me. As the Imam stated last week, as far as Taqiyya, there is no way to tell if someone is lying to you, you must simply look into their heart. With Dr X, I am positive I was not being lied to in any way. That helps a LOT when trying to obtain truth in a situation where lying is allowed.

We also spoke openly about the treatment of women. Many Muslim men do think that the proper way to treat women is to treat them as lesser beings. Even in marriage, the man must be Muslim. If a Muslim woman in the U.S. wishes to marry, her groom must already be Muslim, or must convert to Islam. Doctor X's husband was very dominating, abusive to her and the children, and extremely self-centered. As her ex-husband, he is still very self-centered and doesn't seem to understand that his behavior is deviant in any way. I suspect second generation American Muslims might assimilate into America a little more smoothly.

Doctor X wasn't familiar with abrogation, so it didn't make a lot of sense to spend a great deal of time mulling that point. At the very end of our almost two hour visit, she mentioned her affiliation with the same group the Imam is working with to establish a mosque (a mile from my house). It Shouldn't have surprised me but it did. After all, there are only two other mosques in Omaha and they are small.

Having known Dr X for over fifteen years, I have never thought of her as a Muslim. She was just Doctor X and her kids. To come to the realization that God brought her to my doorstep at just this moment in my life, gave me one more push into Jesus' arms, gave me a little more faith in mankind in general and Muslims in particular.

I believed my friend as she spoke of her religious mandate to take care of the forty neighbors to the left and the forty neighbors to the right. I have always believed that her friendship is genuine and I still do. I am a pretty good judge of people and there was no hint of taqiyya. Normal people are not good enough actors to pull off a fifteen year friendship and be faking the whole time.

Her embarrassment over the actions of the twenty six million poor and uneducated radicals was genuine. Her description of a peace-loving religion seemed to truly come from her heart. I was able to easily envision the embarrassment I would feel if it were poor and uneducated Christians acting like barbarians in the name of Jesus.

I am a little embarrassed now, at my statements to the City Planning Board a few weeks ago. I boldly proclaimed that mosques were recruiting and training grounds for terrorists because that is what I have read over and over again. Reading something that many times from so many sources means it has to be accurate, right? We-e-e-ell, maybe not. Maybe next time I will talk to real people, do my own fact checking, make sure right is on my side before yelling "fire" in a crowded theater.

I look forward to viewing the world from a slightly different perspective tomorrow. Tonight, I can fall asleep secure in the knowledge that fanatical Muslims will not descend on me like ninja monkeys in the night. I'm not quite as secure about the Catholic wives of Muslim sons.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Unexpected Muslim Response OR Buh Bye From A Bad Catholic

If you read my previous post, "Fear of Islam", then you know I have come across vast oceans to come to the place where I don't condemn all Muslims for being savages and murderers, all bad, all the time. I gave Islam a chance to talk to me. Some good Muslim folks. Peace loving people. People with normal lives just like you and me. Interesting and fun to spend time with. BUT.

I made the mistake of thinking that the ultra-liberal Catholic wife of the son had a sense of humor, that she had developed a little thicker skin because of the challenges faced by a Catholic married to a Muslim. I was wrong unfortunately, that she could not recognize when progress was being made for her own cause, that sometimes handling a serious subject with levity helps cooler heads prevail, keeps the hotheads in the game. Apparently, when someone takes themselves a little too seriously, real learning and real growth and real advancement of tolerance takes a back seat.

Catholic Wife evidently read this blog and rather than see it as a significant step toward understanding, instead fired off this short missive:
"Ward, I am sorry that you continue to feel and think the way that you do......Catholic Wife"

My response was intended to be gracious, apologetic, and to convey what I had learned and what I wanted further clarification on. Those of you who know me, know I would no more put down another person than stab myself in the foot with a fork, but alas, Catholic Wife does not know me. My response and sincere apology were clearly not good enough. CW's surprising response was:

"Ward, If we are to take on the ever so precious and great responsibility of informing others about things such as this, then I feel it should be done with sacredness, respect and honesty. Not as a comedic outlet. People are dying all over the world over these religious issues, misunderstandings and ignorance. On so many levels your postings and blog were disrespectful. I would have only hoped you would use your gift of writing and communication for good. Please do not contact me again. I wish you all the best. CW"

"People are dying all over the world over these religious issues..."

I really wish CW hadn't slammed the door so hard because I would have loved to have asked her why she thinks Muslims are killing people all over the world and why I shouldn't think that is a problem that deserves a good hard look and an honest answer. Because the door was slammed shut, I must assume that peaceful, loving Muslims here in my tiny corner of the world simply have no answer to the problem created by their less educated, murdering brethren and when asked the hard questions, their answer is to bury their head in the snow and hide, claiming that they were offended.

Poor politically correct debutante. So sensitive. I know I am burying that fork all the way up to the handle in my foot, but too bad. I am a little miffed that someone would initiate dialogue, then cut it off because she was offended? Puhlease. Is there any wonder in the world why people are still out there killing each other over stupid things? Even the teachers are ignorant.

My educated friends realize that by calling local Muslims, "bad Muslims" that I am actually speaking from the vantage point of radical Muslims and that my true meaning is that they are the kind of Muslim we would embrace in our community. I refuse to dumb down my writing. I will not do it. If someone of the Islamic (or Catholic) faith reads that and misunderstands and thinks that it is an insult, then they simply misunderstand and don't gain the benefit of the compliment.

"Please do not contact me again."

When the going gets tough, some just run away and feel righteous and end productive dialogue. Yes, dear, save it for people that already agree with you. Those who need to be shown are a much tougher audience, one that you appear unready to handle. A shame. I was interested to learn. Oh, I will still learn, am always learning, even learning from you at this moment. (You haven't helped your cause this day.)

The mischievous and secular side of me couldn't help but look a little harder at the thin skinned CW and realized that she isn't even a good Catholic! LOL! The Bible is clear about several things, young lady, and some of the causes you support are clearly supporting behavior that is an abomination in the eyes of God. Catholic or Muslim. For those of you in the nosebleed section, this is not an instance of me calling someone a bad Catholic, really meaning good Catholic. I wish you all the best, Bubbles.

Who am I kidding. No I don't. Bubbles, you played this one wrong. You had an opportunity to do some good but instead you chose to play the victim. I hope you continue to learn as you get older. I can tell you are still very young. Have a marvelous day. :-)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fear of Islam

I had family members worried that I would cause my own premature death by provoking, then accepting an invitation to lunch today. Perhaps it was too late; I had already set the wheels in motion. Dead man walking.

I went to a city planning board meeting some weeks ago to protest two things. One was that a proposed residential and commercial development adjacent to my neighborhood would drain traffic from the once beautiful golf course into my quiet neighborhood. The other was that one of the proposed developments included a Muslim mosque as part of a Tri-Faith Initiative.

Because I had learned of this development only one night before the city planning meeting, I was somewhat less than eloquent when I proclaimed to God and country that a mosque, one mile from my home was unacceptable because mosques are known recruiting and training grounds for terrorists.

Listen, I never claimed to be that smart. Immediately after the meeting, I approached a gentleman who had been identified as a representative of the Tri-Faith Initiative. A more Jewish looking man I have never before seen. He wasted no time identifying my comments as coming from ignorance and bigotry. It turns out the Rabbi is also a high speed attorney here in town but he was only half correct. I am not a bigot. Not even a tiny bit. I just didn't like Muslims because of their religious beliefs and their murderous behavior.

I gave him my card and suggested he educate me sometime. I never expected to hear from him again. Last week, I received a call from a very pleasant woman, inviting me to lunch with the Imam (the head dude) from the mosque, at the Omaha Press Club. I like the Omaha Press Club, so I said sure.

When I hung up the phone, I was thrilled. Thrilled as in a little excited, a little ready to pee my pants, a little scared, a little more scared. Not of death, well, yes of death but I'm not really afraid of death, so not really of death, although I prefer not to die yet. I was scared by the fact that I had just committed to meet with someone that was probably going to be smarter than I, more eloquent on the topic, maybe have goons gathering information on me, ready to blow me up the next time I was wandering the outdoor market. Except that I don't know where any outdoor markets are. Anyway, I thought all of this really fast.

Now, I'm going to stop here for a second. I read a lot of newsy stuff, mostly online, where news of Islam is generally that of people stoning people to death, or hanging people to death, or marrying nine year olds, or beating their wives and daughters. Or ramming loaded airliners into giant buildings. This wasn't all yesterday. This is over a long time. All bad, all the time.

I knew the night before the meeting, that I should be sharp and up on my Islam "stuff". My Islamaledge. So naturally, I stayed up too late and dinked around on facebook and read unrelated (but interesting) "other stuff".

I got up in the morning, got to work five seconds late, then held my morning appointments at the office. Glancing at the clock, I dashed out the door for my drive downtown without so much as writing down one single item in my notebook of intelligently prepared, well thought out questions. I took care of that right before feeding the meter.

If nothing else, I have learned to trust God when I need him. He always seems to give me the words I need. I met Sharon in the lobby then confidently got on the wrong elevator and rode up six floors before realizing this elevator had no 22nd floor button. As we stepped out onto the sixth floor, I quickly realized this was the bellydancing lessons floor, so we stepped just as quickly onto a different elevator that did happen to have a button with "22" next to it. Phew. This is getting long and I haven't even started the topic yet.

Sharon and I got to the lobby-like, living room-like, entryway to the Press Club, said a quick prayer, then prepared to die. At least, until the hundred and twelve year old midget walked in and asked if I was Ward. Sorry, little person. But he wasn't really. He was just old and not very big. And as it turns out, he's also the Chief of Cardiology at a major hospital in town. I kind of scowled when I found out that little nugget of information. I was going to be murdered by the Chief of Cardiology? Things just weren't adding up.

As we were being led to our table, we were joined by a much taller man, probably in his thirties, who was introduced as the Imam's son. Ah. Surely the assassin. Nope. IT guy it turns out. He does computer networking stuff. Nice guy. But there's one more chair at the table. I'm thinking mean Jewish Rabbi guy, or... assassin. Nope. Son's Catholic wife. Oy. And she was as effervescent as an Altoids in a 7-Up bottle.

The conversation was quite interesting. The Imam spoke softly and with a strong Kentucky accent, so we had to lean across the table to hear him speak. Maybe the accent was from some Arab land. I bet that was it. Probably not Kentucky at all. Other than that, I think we all understood each other pretty well.

I made it clear that I was there to be educated. I think he was expecting a hostile opponent based on what angry Rabbi attorney guy had told him, but I quickly explained the situation leading up to our meeting and the Imam visibly relaxed. Effervescent wife bubbled over with happiness so I told the waiter to bring her chicken and rice with extra butter. I thought for sure the slightly decreased diameter of her arteries would slow her down some but it didn't. Yes, they really brought her plate flooded with butter. I apologized to her for not making it clear to the waiter that I was just joking, but she didn't really seem to mind all that much.

After we ordered, we got down to business. One topic flowed very nicely into the next. God did, indeed, give me the words I needed. I asked him about Shariah Law and Shariah courts. He explained that Shariah courts never exceed, or ask for, or expect judgements that violate the law of the land. For instance, a Shariah court in the UK would be for inheritance or handling property disputes but could never be used to order the execution of a wife for adultery.

The Imam and his son seemed like genuinely nice people but they also seemed a little uncomfortable when I spoke of their less peaceful brethren. Imam stated that Gallup had done a global survey that resulted in the conclusion that only 2% of the 1.3 billion Muslims in the world actually were extremists. I wanted to feel relieved that only twenty six million Muslims wanted me dead, but that relieved feeling was hard to hang onto.

He explained that, like Christianity has Catholics, and Episcopalians, and Baptists, etc, that Muslims also have many different sorts, as well as customs and practices and beliefs that vary based also on geographic location. I kind of knew that already, but hearing him say it made it sink in and make sense.

But then we turned the discussion to moderates versus extremists. I mentioned the murder that occurred the other day, of Salman Taseer in Pakistan for blasphemy because he supported a Christian woman who had offered water to some farmers who refused because as a Christian, she was unclean. You can read about that here. There was celebration among moderate Muslims for this murder.

When I asked him about this, he responded that there were different definitions of what a moderate Muslim is. This after he had repeatedly referred to himself as a moderate Muslim. He also said that there were many Muslims that interpreted the Quran to suit their needs, much as Pastor Terry Jones did in Florida when he planned to burn Qurans, or as Fred Phelps does when he protests soldiers' funerals in the name of God.

I pointed out that in most Arab countries, that his son and his daughter-in-law would be put to death because of their marriage, if I understood correctly, and that his son would be considered a bad Muslim. He readily agreed.

A very unsatisfying answer that I received was when he tried to explain away radical Muslims in the United States as Timothy McVeighs or Columbine killers. Unsatisfying because neither the kids at Columbine, nor Timothy McVeigh committed their acts in the name of Jesus. The lone wacko defense was also what he used when I asked why peace loving Muslims didn't speak out against the extremists. That, and that the US press is biased and won't print loud objection by Muslims to Muslim terrorist acts. He claimed that much information received even by NPR is heavily redacted.

When I pointed out that after 9/11, there was a resounding cheer from the Muslim population heard the planet over, he stated that many moderate Muslims also protested, saying that good Muslims would never do that, but that the extremists were given the mouthpiece of the press, but the moderates were not.

I also asked about abrogation. The first part of the Quran is peaceful, when Muhammad was a preacher. The second part is much more violent, when Muhammad was a politician. It states in the Quran, that when there is a contradiction in the Quran, that anything that comes after, abrogates, or replaces, anything that comes earlier, thus eliminating any contradiction. The Imam's response to that was that the entire book is Holy. To me, that sounded like a sidestep. But he was very pleasant as he did it.

Of course, my questions regarding the widespread pedophilia and polygamy found in Islam, as well as wife and daughter abuse, were taken care of by his answer to my questions about Shariah Law.

Remember, this conversation happened over a meal, with uber-effervescent wife, and a small group that kind of liked one another. When I asked the Imam directly about Taqiyya, knowing of its existence, how could I know if everything he said wasn't a lie, he responded simply, "You can't."

His explanation of taqiyya is that a Muslim can deny his religion if that is required to save his life. My understanding has been that a Muslim can lie to further his religion, even if that is lying so he can plant bombs to kill those that he can't convert.

All in all, I enjoyed a very pleasant luncheon with a highly educated surgeon, his information systems worker son, my friend Sharon, and the ever bubbling, butter filled wife of the son. Imam and son think that Jesus was a prophet. Sharon and Bubbles and I know that Jesus is the Son of God, sacrificed on the Cross so that our sins can be forgiven so that we can have everlasting Life.

Bubbles did mention that she thought we all had to perform good works to earn our way into Heaven but we agreed to disagree for the time being on that one, and I said that we would pray that she sees the light.

I think we will probably meet again. I can see being friends with these folks because by the standards I have learned from my news sources over the past decade or so, these are terrible Muslims, but nice folks. Besides, you never know when you're going to need an experienced Muslim heart surgeon with a buttery daughter-in-law.