If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em

The State of Illinois is proposing a solution to its carp problem.

To some folks, it might sound like a fishy version of making lemonade out of lemons. Frankly, I think it is a fishy plan.

But before we discuss the proposal, we should describe the problem, which has been growing for nearly 50 years. It started in the 1970s when Asian Carp were introduced to ponds in the United States to keep them clean. Carp, you see, are voracious eaters and voracious reproducers. (By the way, there are actually four species lumped into the “Asian” category: bighead, silver, black, and grass.)

The carp weren’t a problem until the 1990s when floods in the Mississippi basin covered many of the carp-dwelling ponds and released the hungry fish into rivers where nobody wanted them. They soon became a threat to indigenous fish by eating their food sources and, in some cases, their eggs and young.

Soon, places I’ve been known to cast a line with a hook were teaming with the invasive carp; The Mississippi River, Rock River, and Illinois River are full of the swimming critters. In fact, if you are fishing on the Rock River in Illinois and put a line in the water with a worm on a hook, it is difficult NOT to catch an Asian Carp. And because the Silver Carp like to jump out of the water, you best pay attention when driving a boat or you can get fish-smacked in the face.

Needless to say, Asian Carp have become a problem in Illinois. The government even built an electric barrier on the Illinois River to keep the fish out of Lake Michigan. Sadly, carp appear to be smarter than government experts and continue to multiply and invade.

This is where the new proposal comes in; give carp a new name and convince people they are good to eat. If diners go ga-ga for carp, the other fish will be spared.

The new name is Copi, derived from copious.

“Copi is a great name: Short, crisp, and easy to say. What diner won’t be intrigued when they read Copi tacos or Copi burgers on a menu?” Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan said in a statement. “It’s a tasty fish that’s easy to work with in the kitchen and it plates beautifully. Every time we’ve offered samples during the Illinois State Fair, people have walked away floored by how delicious it is.”

Perhaps if you cook a Copi just right, it will be tasty. But to torture Shakespeare, a carp by any other name is still a carp. I have serious doubts that gourmets will flock to the fish counter at Caputo’s and demand Copi.

But I could be wrong. There is a history of success in making a fish palatable by giving it a trendy name. You may have enjoyed a meal of Chilean Sea Bass at one of your favorite fine-dining establishments. However, what you are eating is actually a Patagonian Toothfish.

Of course, the two situations are not identical.  In the case of the fishermen of Chile, they have a really delicious fish that had a bad name. In Illinois, we have a not-so-tasty fish with a name that suggests it should be avoided.

It is going to be interesting to see if Copi turns up on menus across Chicago. Maybe someone will open a chain of Copi Cafes.

If this happens, I have a few other suggestions for renaming bothersome things in Illinois.

  • People spend a fortune every summer trying to eradicate dandelions from their lawns. Let’s change their name to Salad Saints and encourage homeowners to take out the tasteless grass and plant the Salad Saints food crop.
  • Thistles are a thorn in the side of every gardener. Let’s change the name to Purple Pleasure and hold flowers and give prizes for the prickliest Purple Pleasure plants.
  • Coyotes have started to roam the Chicago suburbs. People are afraid they will attack small dogs, perhaps even children. But they also help reduce the population of garden-eating rabbits. So, let’s give the coyote a new name: Native Hare Hound.
  • Mosquitos are universally hated and are the target of a wide range of eradication programs. But no matter what we do, they persist. They really need a new name: Summer Hummer.

Rebranding can be successful. It can even lead to multiple uses of an existing item.

For example, baking soda was created for, logically, baking. However, it can be used to deodorize your refrigerator, clean your oven, or refresh your tennis shoes.

Listerine is a popular mouthwash. But it originally was developed as a surgical antiseptic. It also functioned as a floor cleaner and, later, a cure for bad breath.

Clearly, a new name and improved image can make for a better fate for all sorts of things, even a fish. Time will tell if people think a Copi tastes better than a carp.

As for me, I’ll be happy to catch ‘em but I won’t eat ‘em.

Stop Horsing Around

Once upon a time, the primary mode of transportation in the United States was the horse. It was relatively inexpensive and ran on hay, oats, and water.

Early in the 20th century, smart people came up with the automobile, which was much more powerful and faster than the horse. It ran on gasoline, a remarkable liquid that could store vast energy and release it in a controlled explosion in the internal combustion engine. Some called it a miracle.

Over the course of roughly 50 years, vehicles powered by the internal combustion engine replaced vehicles powered by horses. This happened first in cities, then in suburbs, then small towns, and finally, in rural areas.

The change happened gradually, the product of supply and demand, basic economics, and technical advances.

The government didn’t make it happen. People chose cars over horses because it made practical, economic sense.

Of course, the government functions differently these days. There is a green agenda pushing for the demise of the internal combustion engine and the gasoline or oil it runs on. The preferred solution seems to be the electric car, despite the fact that a huge share of electricity is produced using the same “fossil fuels” that non-electric cars require.

It makes me wonder what would have happed in the first half of the 20th century if the government had managed the evolution from horse to car. I expect the process would have gone something like this:

  1. A major speech by the President decrying the evil characteristics of the horse: they can run out of control and trample people, create lots of stinky waste, require food and water that could be given to the starving residents of rural India, and make hoof marks that make paths unstable for joggers and bicyclists.
  2. Impose a huge tax on hay and oats that are used to feed horses.
  3. Limit the amount of water allotted to horses.
  4. Triple the property tax on the facilities of blacksmiths.
  5. Require monthly health and safety inspections of all horses. (This will require hiring 100,00 federal horse inspectors at taxpayer expense.)
  6. Require monthly health and safety inspections of all blacksmith shops and horse stables. (This will require hiring 100,00 federal equine facility inspectors at taxpayer expense.)
  7. Make it illegal to park a horse on a city street – anywhere.
  8. Provide federal funding for the construction of gasoline filling stations across the country.
  9. Provide a $5,000 tax credit for each car purchased.
  10. Create tough regulations that make it impossible to open a new blacksmith shop or stable.

Ridiculous, you say.  But that is pretty much how the government is FORCING a transition to what it says (but doesn’t prove) is “green” energy.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m sure that in 1920 there were people who didn’t want to trade their horse for a car. But unlike today, the government didn’t tell them they had to make the change because Uncle Sam was going to ban horse ownership.

In fact, horses are still in use in many parts of the world, even in the good old USA. There are some things horses do better than cars.

And there are things a powerful gasoline-fueled car can to better than an electric car, at least for the foreseeable future. If you don’t believe me, try getting your kicks on Route 66 in a Tesla.

Victims of Bad Design

These scissors are, I am grateful to say, a good design.

Remarkable inventions make life easier and more enjoyable.

I think of the miracles I use each day:

  • A climate-control system keeps my house warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
  • A tiny computer connects via the internet to people all over the world, as well as endless sources of news, information, and entertainment.
  • Local stores provide me with a broad choice of food and drink… or I can go to a restaurant of various cuisines.
  • A have machines to prepare my food and clean my clothes.
  • I can order virtually anything I need online and have it on my doorstep in a day or two.
  • I have a car that is reliable and fuel-efficient beyond anything my parents or grandparents could have imagined.

I could go on but you get the point; like most Americans, I benefit from all sorts of great stuff.

That reality makes what I am about to say all the more disturbing. It pains and confuses me to say it. However, some really, really, bad produce designs persist in our otherwise brilliant modern world.

I offer some examples:

  • The traditional glass ketchup bottle. Although various squeeze bottles have become popular, the old tapered glass bottle was designed better to keep the ketchup in than let it out. You no doubt have had the experience of tapping it on the bottom, shaking it, then smacking it will all your might, and, finally, having the contents splatter out on your food and well beyond.
  • The olive oil can. You can buy this wonderful oil in a bottle, but the larger size (and thus more economical) comes in a tall, rectangular metal “box”. The box has a spout in the top that pops up just far enough from the edge of the box that it is impossible to pour out the olive oil without spilling a large amount on the top of the box. It is messy to clean up and usually drips onto the kitchen counter. All sorts of methods for preventing a spill have been developed – none of them effective.
  • Paper towel dispensers. This is a problem in public washrooms. My experience is only with men’s rooms but I am confident the same problem haunts women’s rooms. Many dispensers are silvery boxes hanging on the wall with a slot on the bottom to dispense paper towels. In a world of ideal design, you would tug on the paper towel and one would come out. But these dispensers are designed to force you to pull very have on the towel, causing more than you need to fall out, with no way to return the unused towels to the dispenser.
  • Plastic cases for all sorts of products. I’m sure it would be easier to break out of some jails than it is to break into much plastic packaging. I recently bought a new pair of scissors. They came encased in plastic wrapping nearly the thickness of the hood of my car. It required a good deal of cutting with my sharpest pocketknife to free the scissors. I might have been able to get them out if I had a pair of decent scissors, but I didn’t, which is why I order a new pair.

I am sure there is a reason why each of these products is designed as it is. I also am sure the reasons are not good enough to offset the annoyance caused.

And then there is the situation of Amazon sending me a six-inch product in a three-foot box…

What Are You Willing to Die For?

How would you like to be a martyr?

I don’t mean some minor suffering like not having cream for your coffee or having your cable go out during a big football game.

I’m talking about agony and death and suffering in pain that you fear you could never tolerate. Interested? Me neither.

What always has amazed me is that that are thousands of people throughout history who have been willing to die because they believed in the one true God.

In the 7th chapter of Second Maccabees, you can read about seven brothers who could have spared themselves a horrible death by simply eating a little pork (forbidden by their religion).

St. Stephen was the first Christian martyr. He refused to deny Christ before the Rabbinic court in Jerusalem and was stoned to death.

Thomas More sided with the Church rather than the state and lost his head as a result.

You may be thinking that these events happened long, long ago and we live in modern times. Unfortunately, we still live in a world where people must be willing to die for the faith. There are numerous cases of Christians being killed for refusing to convert to Islam

I got to thinking about this a few days ago when I was watching an old movie about the persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire just before the time of Constantine. In the movie, suspected Christians would be dragged before a Roman official and asked to pledge their loyalty to the Roman gods rather than the one true God. If they made a tip of the hat to Apollo, Jupiter, and Mars, they could go free. If they refused, they got a date in the coliseum with the lions, tigers, and bears.

Talk about a moment of truth. And as we know, many chose to die in the arena, firm in the belief that God would give them strength and they would be rewarded in Heaven.

I don’t know anyone personally who has ever faced such a choice. I certainly have not.

However, I have known people who made extreme career sacrifices because they refused to go along with something they didn’t think was moral or ethical. And I see the government of the United States – and its collaborators in social media and news media – becoming more like Roman magistrates all the time. We’re just more subtle about how we create martyrs.

Let’s suppose you are going for a job interview that would advance your career and give your family financial security. You are a nice Christian person and have all the qualifications. You are having a great interview and it seems like the job is a sure thing. Then you are asked if you support abortion – the company it turns out is a big supporter of Planned Parenthood. How you answer will certainly determine whether you get the job. Do you stand up for the truth or finesse your way through – or simply lie.

Let’s suppose you live a couple thousand miles from your grandchildren and have not seen them for more than a year. You try to make an airline reservation but are asked to show proof of vaccination, which you don’t have because you have moral objections to the vaccine. Do you run out and get vaccinated? Do you find someone to make you a counterfeit vaccine card? Do you accept not seeing your grandkids?

If you are a doctor and advocate for the use of Wuhan virus treatments other than what the government recommends, you won’t be dragged into Yankee Stadium and fed to snarling dogs.  But you will be fired from your hospital job, have your liability insurance canceled, and lose your medical license.

A 20-year Navy chaplain recent asked for a religious exception to getting the
Wuhan vaccine and was told he will be discharged from the service and have his pension denied.

In other words, people are having their lives destroyed because they didn’t give some bureaucrat the approved answer to a question that probably should not be asked in the first place.

We now face a virus worse than Wuhan, a virus of condemnation for what you think or believe. Maybe you have yet to be put to the test but I guarantee your time will come. This appears to be a universal virus.

It Was a Dull and Inspiring Morning

NPS Photo by Michael Quinn

I had a rather dull morning. Still, it was inspiring.

That requires some explanation. I spent the morning sitting in the juror lounge at the Henry Hyde Judicial Office Facility, Wheaton, Illinois, home of the 18th Judicial Court.

No, I was not in trouble; I was called to jury duty.

Some folks fear being called to serve on a jury. The timing is uncertain and nobody who works wants to be away from the job days or even weeks.

However, I thought it might be interesting. Visions of old Perry Mason episodes ran through my mind and I imagined having to weigh complicated evidence and be part of a wise decision.

That wasn’t how it worked out. I went through something similar to airport security, reported to the juror lounge, received a badge with my official number on it, and was told to wait.

The juror lounge was quite comfortable (my tax dollars at work).  It had big comfortable chairs, tables with outlets for phone and computer chargers, free WIFI and free coffee. (I really should say the WIFI and coffee were taxpayer-funded; nothing you get from the government is free.)

I settled down in a comfy corner, turned on my computer, and went to work on the things I usually do in the morning. At any moment, I expected to be called to serve the needs of the nation. But after about three hours, a pleasant voice came on the intercom and announced that no jurors would be needed today and everyone could leave. (There were several dozen of us waiting.)

So… I picked up my juror pay (a check for $16.48) and departed.

I think that covers the dull part of my morning.

As for the inspiring part… that had to do with being reminded that I am a citizen of the United States of America. That reminder came in the form of the nicely produced video they showed all the potential jurors telling us how noble it is to serve on a jury.

OK. I know. That sounds really corny. So be it.

No… someone should not be able to just wander across the border and declare themselves an American – and a voter.

Officially, there are two ways to be a citizen. I am a citizen because I was born and raised in the USA

The video talked about the history of the American judicial system, the right to a fair trial, and lots of good things mentioned in that often-misquoted document, the Constitution of the United States. It reminded me that serving on a jury is a responsibility not offered to people in most countries of this world. And because you have to be a citizen to be a juror, I was reminded that citizenship has – and should have – requirements.

The other way is to come from another country (legally, please) and go through the 10 steps to become a naturalized American citizen:

Step 1. Determine if you are already a U.S. citizen

Step 2. Determine if you are eligible to become a U.S. citizen

Step 3. Prepare your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization

Step 4. Submit your Form N-400 and pay your fees

Step 5. Go to your biometrics appointment, if applicable

Step 6. Complete the interview

Step 7. Receive a decision from USCIS on your Form N-400

Step 8. Receive a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance

Step 9. Take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States

Step 10. Understanding U.S. citizenship

I know several people who came to the United States from other nations and went through the long process of becoming citizens. When they got to the finish line, it was a day of gratitude and celebration.

Today, I’m thinking about how grateful I am to be an American… about the men and women who sacrificed to make this country free… to the people who died fighting for us in some of the most desolate corners of the planet.

I’m also thinking of the debates going on over voting rights, immigration rights, and the many government benefits Americans enjoy. We have to take seriously the meaning of citizenship, its responsibilities, and its value.

This morning, I had to prove with an official picture ID that I am who I say I am – even though I was summoned to jury duty by the court. I believe the same proof must be required to vote, drive a car, adopt a child, take out a loan at a bank, or collect mail at the post office.

If an American isn’t required to prove his identity and citizenship, the value of citizenship is lost – and so is America.

The United States is NOT a Democracy

No, the United States is not a democracy. And that is a good thing.

The nation has been in a bit of a political pickle of late and it would be much worse were we a democracy.

I expect this requires some explanation. You see, our nation is a republic. A democracy and a republic are different animals, and the founding fathers of America had the sense to pick the right animal.

In a democracy, the majority rules. Decisions are made by everyone voting and believing the majority will make correct decisions – or at least the decisions the most people agree with.

Ancient Greece is often pointed to as an example of pure democracy. It was one man, one vote, and majority rules. Notice that it was only men. And it also was only men of certain propertied status. In reality, it was a rather narrow version of democracy.

Another example of “pure” democracy is the old New England town hall meeting. Everyone in a quaint little village would gather in the town hall (or perhaps the church, I hate to tell you) and vote on the important issues of the day.

That would seem to be democracy at its best. In fact, the closer to the people a decision is being made, the better democracy works. So, folks in a little village can decide on which day to have the annual pumpkin festival or whether to pool their money to put a new coat of paint on city hall.

This isn’t to say that democracy can’t go bad locally. The majority of the village could vote to take farmer Green’s land because they want to make a park and his land has the prettiest trees – in addition to most people not liking farmer Green because he is mean and grumpy.

When expanded to a state or national level, democracy gets dangerous, which is why the smart guys in the beginning of America designed the country as a republic.  A republic is different because the people in various districts choose people to represent them. They choose people they believe will represent their interests and make wise decisions.

Voters trust those representatives because there is built into the US Constitution a system of checks and balances. There are three branches of government, and each requires the cooperation of the other: executive, legislative, judicial.

The executive branch (the President and about a million people who work for him) requires consent to its actions of the other branches or it becomes a dictatorship. We have seen some ugly hints of dictatorship in recent months.

The legislative branch is charged with making laws to benefit the people. The House is, as least theoretically, the closest to the people and generates most of the effort to tax and spend. The Senate, originally elected by state legislators, does an immense amount of debating and, at least theoretically, makes sure the rights of the states are not trampled.

The founders didn’t want the most populous states to lord it over the small states. And to be honest, that remains a threat today. I, for one, do not want New York, California, Illinois, and Michigan to determine whether I can raise chickens in my backyard.

The judicial branch at the highest level makes sure the other two branches don’t do anything that violates the Constitution. As we have seen, what does and does not violate the Constitution can be open to a good deal of interpretation.

The system looks a bit complicated and is not the speediest way to get things done. THAT IS THE POINT!

Legislation is supposed to face a long and difficult path with heaps of analysis and examination of all possible plusses and minuses. If Congress wants to revamp the health care system or spend multi-trillion dollars on green energy initiatives, it ought to take a long time and receive plenty of input from everyone who is likely to gain or lose. At a minimum, legislators and citizens alike should have ample time to read and analyze a proposed law – especially if it is hundreds of pages long and might contain a bit of partisan mischief.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about a national emergency that really, truly, requires immediate action. An example would be missiles on the way from China or a zombie apocalypse. Other than that, most problems we face are things there is time to talk about.

I often hear some version of “we live in a democracy and the majority should rule.” Well… not exactly. In such a world, 51 percent of the people could vote to take all the wealth of the other 49 percent. Such an action would violate a host of Biblical and natural laws.

That’s why America’s founders wrote a Constitution based on law, with a good deal of common sense thrown in. It is a Constitution designed to protect the people from a tyrannical government, not a roadmap of what the people should do to serve the state.

You may sometimes feel frustrated that the government isn’t getting more done. Perhaps you should be grateful.

Hollywood Welcomes Woke

No Time to Die opens in theaters this week.

It is the latest James Bond movie and the last of the genre in which Daniel Craig will portray 007.

The release of a new Bond gets lots of folks excited. But what may be more stimulating is the debate over who will be the NEXT James Bond, in light of Craig’s decision to park his Aston Martin.

It also will inspire debates over which actor was the best and worse Bond. I’m torn between Craig and Roger Moore.

In today’s Woke world, we’re seeing demands for the next James Bond to be a more divers, inclusive character.  Put another way, some people want him to be something different that a white, male, Brit, woman-chasing, alcoholic, smoker. That leaves me shaken, not stirred.

So… making him something else, say an Asian, lesbian, vegetarian contradicts his character.  That isn’t to say that Hollywood couldn’t make a movie about an Asian, lesbian, vegetarian secret-service agent – just not James Bond.

Daniel Craig appears to agree with my viewpoint but who knows what will happen. However, if they change James Bond into Jessica Bond, they will have to do many more character-altering movies.

I offer a few suggestions:

  • Riana Hood, Princess of Thieves.
  • Juliana and Juliette.
  • Sleeping Handsome.
  • Sam Black and the Seven Pixies.
  • Andy of a Thousand Days.
  • All the President’s Persons.
  • The Princely Diaries.
  • Harry Poppins.
  • Joey of Arc.
  • The Legend of Daisy Crochet.

I know, these all sound ridiculous. My concern is Hollywood might make them and be rewarded with Academy Awards.

Down With Drag

Let me admit at the start that I have trouble thinking of anything sillier than a reading at the school or library by a drag queen.

I know, I know… I’m an old-fashioned guy in some respects. I would never consider dressing up as a woman unless it was as a joke.

I remember attending a comedy play a few years ago that featured a character who played several characters, some of whom were women.  When he played a female character, he put a mop on his head. It was funny.A guy dressing up like a woman and reading to little kids is, well, rather disgusting. I assume the library and school officials who host this sort of nonsense believe they are striking an enlightening blow for gender fluidity. It seems there are many folks today who believe a child should not be labeled male or female at birth but be allowed to make a choice later… and apparently some parents are OK with this.

I’m both a dad and a grandparent and have considerably experience changing diapers and giving baths. I never had any trouble determining whether the child I was caring for was a boy or a girl. A DNA test will prove it beyond any doubt, but I didn’t need advanced chemistry to see that my son is a boy and my daughter is a girl.

But there are lunatics that bring in the drag queens, not for a laugh but to show kids that they have options.

This is just plain stupid. But if it is going to continue, I think there are other groups that should demand equal opportunity to read to little one. To shorten the list of possibilities, I’ll limit myself to groups that dress up for work or pleasure.

  • Dads who have been married to the same woman for at least 10 years and have at least two children.
  • The league champions of Irish Hurling.
  • The toughest Hell’s Angels male bikers available.
  • Irish priests who remind you of Bing Crosby in Bells of St. Mary’s.
  • Old, smelly, fishermen wearing vests and caps advertising bait or tackle.
  • Traffic cops from Alabama and Georgia with crew cuts and mirror sunglasses.
  • Burly Chicago firemen in full gear.
  • Marine drill sergeants with voices like Sam Elliott.
  • Cowboy for whom John Wayne is the role model.
  • Strongly heterosexual Navy Seals.

I could go on. The important thing is if we are going to bring in readers who are at least somewhat confused about their gender identity, we need to bring in folks who have a clear vision of who they are.

As far as I’m concerned, if a school or library is going to hold up some guy in lipstick and pantyhose as an option, the kids ought to see a real man as well.

What is Work?

Photo – US Department of Labor

This question came to mind recently and seems like an appropriate question for today, which is Labor Day 2021.

The question came to mind when my wife and I had some long-overdue landscaping work done in our backyard.  Three men, younger than I but not kids by any definition, spent several days changing the contours of the yard, taking out scraggly old bushes and putting in lush new ones, laying sod, mulching, planting groundcover, and building a semi-massive retaining wall with BIG rocks.

I work from home on a table in the corner of the bedroom and could easily observe what they were doing and the stress and sweat involved. What those guys were doing more than met my old-fashioned definition of work: lots of muscle and a day ending with dirty clothes, tired muscles, and a sense of having accomplished something.

I was jolted by the contrast a couple days ago when I searched Google Images for a picture representing “work” to accompany a story I was writing. Apparently, the Google definition of work involves one or more of the following:

  • Sitting in front of a computer screen.
  • Sitting with several people in a room of cubicles with everyone sitting in front of a computer screen.
  • Sitting around a table in a meeting in which everyone is sitting in front of a computer screen.
  • An exhausted “worker” passed out in front of a computer screen.

OK. As someone who spends most of his day in front of a computer screen, I’m not going to say using a computer can’t be work. But honestly, it ain’t work like those guys were doing in my backyard. And I wonder how much computer “work” people actually do that qualifies as real work.

As I said above, Labor Day reminded me of the men working in my yard. I expect most people (at least those who graduated from public school in the past 30 years) know little more about Labor Day than that it is the unofficial end of summer, relatives come over to cook hot dogs on the grill, government offices are closed, you don’t get mail, and there is no school. (When I was a boy – as old geezers like to say – school started AFTER Labor Day. Today it starts at least a week earlier, which I believe is because today’s kids need more time to learn less than my generation.)

The US Department of Labor has this to say about the holiday:

Observed the first Monday in September, Labor Day is an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers. The holiday is rooted in the late nineteenth century, when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.

Let me translate: Unions and social activists wanted Labor Day to emphasize their demands for less work and more pay and politicians agreed in order to placate labor leaders and attract votes. This is all part of the sometimes delicate, sometimes violent, dance between labor and management.

But at the risk of sounding hopelessly un-WOKE, belonging to a union or any aspect of the labor force doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing any real work. It seems to me that a huge percentage of the labor force is pushing papers around, shuffling files, checking the checkers, and generally getting paid for doing very little.

Woody Allen may be someone with many personal faults but he was spot on when he said that “90 percent of life is showing up.”

We all have worked with people who did little more than show up. On one occasion, a journalist asked Pope John XXIII how many people worked in the Vatican

“About half,” the Pope responded. That line generated quite a laugh, but it really isn’t funny. It is far too true in many organizations include, from my personal observations, the Catholic Church.

I like to think that I work hard and contribute to the world being a better place. I’m blessed to be able to see the fruits of my labor published in a place where many people can read what I have to say.

But when it comes to good, old-fashioned hard work, I have those landscapers in my mind’s eye. I hope they have the day off on Labor Day.

Chasing the Big Lie

Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,[a] knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

Genesis 3: 1-7

The serpent was the first to deliver the “big lie.” He was hardly the last.

Rome’s Emperor Nero us the technique. When Rome was burning, he blamed the fire on the Christians. That rumor got repeated over and over until people believed it (for a time).

Hitler and his communications expert, Joseph Goebbels, described the big lie like this:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Today, politicians are the unchallenged champions of the big lie. Examples are easy to recall:

  • Read my lips, no new taxes.
  • If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.
  • Peace is at hand (Vietnam).
  • Mission Accomplished (Iraq).

Most recently, we’ve heard President Biden spew a string of big lies:

  • There is no way the Taliban will overrun Kabul anytime soon.
  • We will get every American out of Afghanistan.
  • We managed the greatest airlift in history.
  • The war is over.

Our government is pouring the big lie on us in every press conference and through a compliant, lazy news media.

The President (or whoever is pulling his strings) has abandoned scores of Americans and those who served the cause of freedom in Afghanistan. They even left the dogs behind.

They left somewhere between $20 billion and $80 billion worth of high-tech military equipment behind, making the Taliban one of the best-equipped fighting forces on earth.

Trustworthy sources report murder, torture, and rape as the business of the day in the new Islamic paradise of Afghanistan. Christians likely will be offered a simple, clear, choice: convert to Islam or die.

But the Biden bunch tell us everything is just great, and that they did a dandy job managing the situation. They are going to keep telling us that as long as they think we are buying the big lie.

Eve bought the Big Lie and passed it on to Adam and we humans have been passing it on ever since. At the lie’s core is the idea that we should depend on something other than God.

Many have looked to themselves. The liars leading our country want us to look to government.

How dare you.