The State of Israel is a small country that is dependent on the U.S.A. for its existence despite having achieved one of the strongest and most secure economies in the world. The United States pays 3.15 billion dollars in direct military aid to Israel each year, almost one quarter of Israel's annual defense budget. Israel receives millions of additional dollars in indirect aide. One quarter of that military aide has been used to build one of the strongest military weapon industries in the world. The only benefit that Israel offers to the United States is a strategic location and a stable sympathetic government in an unstable region. It is a right and good thing that we support a secure country for Jews after the horrors inflicted on them during WWII. I support that right and good thing. But giving Israel political input into our foreign policy has no basis in reason. There is even less basis in reason for Prime Minister Netanyahu to appear before Congress to speak. It was Prime Minister Netanyahu who testified before Congress in 2002, enthusiastically exhorting the Congress to approve the invasion of Iraq, based on what turned out to be gross misinformation. He also predicted that it would not be a difficult or long mission. That turned out well. A reasonable argument can be made that the horrors that plague that region today are a result of that faulty reasoning he shared with American leaders at the time. Netanyahu is a politician who is in trouble in an election at home in two weeks and desperately needs help. And who can blame him for thinking that he can turn to America for help in his personal campaign. I suppose some think that the State of Israel is the same as the nation of Israel in the Bible. I do not. No more than I believe that my client Jesus' is the son of God. I believe the State of Israel is not unlike most countries, seeking security and prosperity for itself, doing some good, and some bad along the way to achieve those goals. Again, I am in favor of supporting Israel. But this irrational, romantic, intellectually baseless attitude that the State of Israel and its leader Prime Minister Netanyahu know what's best regarding the United States foreign policy is sad at best, and very dangerous at worst.
On a related note, what is the deal with some Americans need to idolize foreign leaders? First Putin, now Bebe. (I did once have a crush on Princess Grace of Monaco, but that was different) Putin is considered a terribly scary yet comical bare chested buffoon by the rest of the world. Netanyahu is not really considered much at all. As opposed to President Obama, who is a reasoned, intelligent, even-keeled leader who speaks of and exhibits Christian values as he struggles to lead American forward in unprecedented treacherous international times. He is also probably the most respected leader in the world. A serious, smart, Christian guy. America reminds me of the girls in high school. Always falling for the bad boys. It is true. We'll be sorry in a few years after the bad boy gets fat and lays around all day and won't get a job. The serious, smart, Christian guy will be looking pretty good then. At least that's what my mother used to say.
President Obama's Iran strategy is the best chance to control the nuclear advancement of Iran. It has been moderately successful so far and is at a delicate and critical stage in negotiation. The most significant threat to that success has been Congress pressing for more sanctions on Iran and now the State of Israel Prime Minister pressing for what appears to be a military option, with the United States taking the lead. He offers no other option. Perhaps I just do not understand. If someone can explain to me how any military threat or even sanctions that stop the negotiations from proceeding are going to effectively prevent Iran from producing a nuclear weapon, I hope you chime in. Actually I always hope folks chime in.
What part of "judge not lest you be judged," "cast the first stone, if you think you're good enough," or "do not look for the speck in another's eye until you remove the plank from your own," do we not understand? I'm talking about us Christians now, so those unaffected can skip down if you wish. It is not my job as a Christian to name someone else's sin. It is not yours either. Take the LGBT issue that consumes so much of the time and energy of the institutional church these days. I do not believe being LGBT is a sin. But it really doesn't matter what I believe. And it doesn't matter what you believe. At least in the Christian spirituality sense. God is the judge of all such things. Jesus was pretty clear, abundantly clear, that we are not to judge. Stones and planks. Judging is more often the sin that Jesus spoke of in such situations. Strangely he scolded the accusers and not so much the accused. I don't want to be scolded by Jesus. So if I err, I pray that it will be on the side of too much grace. I can't judge anyone else about this judging issue I suppose. I am obviously failing miserable tonight. A real double bind. But I do believe that the decline of the institutional church is not what we are being told. The decline is caused by us, the Body of Christ, wasting God's time on gathering stones that should never be thrown. Let's don't judge. It's a sin. Let's go, follow, love. serve. forgive. pray. That should burn up all our time and energy. If we finish all that up, maybe then we can judge. Or maybe just leave that up to God.
The Death Penalty cannot be justified.
Health care for everyone is a good thing. Medical insurance for all is a way to accomplish this. Why is this not a worthy national goal? If Obamacare is not perfect, why do away with it? Why not fix it, unless we don't care whether everyone has quality medical care. Why celebrate the possibility that millions of people who have obtained medical insurance will lose it? Again, this next note is for Christians. Jesus said, "heal the sick," "tend to the poor." If that is not being done for everyone, we are responsible. And for me, that failure is a sin. Check the goats and sheep story of Matthew 25 one more time. It is instructive on these things, but really, really scary.
What is the big deal about the Keystone Pipeline? It's construction has required and is still requiring the government to come in and force some landowners to sell some of their land to private business. That does not sound like something the tea party conservative or the libertarian would be supportive of. It poses a risk to the environment. Maybe there could be a positive economic impact. But it might well be an expensive investment in a dying technology. But really, it's just not as big deal to our country as someone is making it. And certainly not big enough to outweigh the rights of the private landowners and the risk to the environment.
Why do we in the State of Alabama insist on doing silly, stupid, mean things that keep the rest of the country and world from knowing what a great place we live in, with great, kind, loving people, with great creativity and talent and intelligence and abilities. Why do we celebrate ignorance? We are so much different and better and smarter than that. When are we going to admit it?
A good way to begin would be to end the tax system which is overtly regressive and cruelly oppressive to the poor among us.
Yea, that would do it.
Let's do it this year.
Thanks for listening. I feel better.