I can honestly say I have been to Hell and back.  In 2005, I took a Caribbean cruise with my family and one of the day tours we took at a stop in the Grand Caymans was the town of Hell.  It is basically a tourist attraction named for the razor-sharp rock formation that looks like what Satan’s fiery den can be imagined to look when the sun casts a reddish hue on the rocks.  Basically, we ate ice cream and mailed post cards from Hell’s post office so our friends and family could say the received post cards from Hell.  But this quaint little rest stop in the Grand Cayman is simply a way to build more memoires on a Caribbean cruise.  The real Hell on Earth is much closer to home.  You cannot experience Hell on Earth until and unless you visit Centralia, Pennsylvania.

 

Razor sharp rock formations found in the town of Hell, Grand Caymans.  They take on a reddish glow like the Devil’s den when the sun hits them just right.

I’ll give you a disclaimer, I personally have not visited Centralia and quite frankly, I am a little deterred from doing such as the toxic gases emanate from the ground and the ground can give way and suck you down to your death at any time.  To anyone who visits Centralia, it could be the last place you go and the last thing you do.  Much of what I base this is another blogger who actually made the trip.  I was curious about what the lowest zip code in the nation is and I had learned that Centralia, PA had their zip code revoked.  The once thriving coal-mining town has been reduced to a borough of Ashland, PA and mail to any remaining Centralia resident must now be addressed GENERAL DELIVERY, ASHLAND, PA 17921 for what’s left of the Centralia fire department to pick up and deliver to those die-hards.  (The town applied for zip code 00000 and can be used for packages handled by UPS or Fedex).The pictures alone freak me out and make me think hard of what the Books of Revelations have in-store for us.  Was what happened in Centralia a living harbinger for the rest of us Americans to pay heed?

Pennsylvania State Road 61 aka Locust Street, Centralia, PA circa 1959, when it was a town with people and local businesses such a store, a saloon, and a gas station, just down the hill known as Silent Hill en route to the residential neighborhoods.  Once a booming mining town for anthracite coal.

The town was founded in 1866 as a coal-mining town and had close to 1000 residents.  On May 27, 1962, in attempt to clean up for a Memorial Day parade (before the Monday Holiday Bill in 1973, Memorial Day formerly Decoration Day was celebrated on May 30th regardless of day of the week), trash was hauled to a landfill on the west side and set on fire (before recycling and the environmentalist movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, incineration was the most popular way to get rid of rubbish).  The landfill dump was very close to an abandoned mine and the fire from the dump seeped underground and ignited some anthracite coal below the ground and started a chain reaction resulting in an underground fire that to this day, burns below the entire town of Centralia and is expected to continue to burn for another 250 years.  While anthracite coal is harder to ignite then regular black coal, once ignited, it is even harder to extinguish.

Abandoned houses in Centralia when they were still standing.

When you think of the term ghost town, this is what you usually imagine.  Abandoned buildings, houses, general stores, saloons, sheriff’s offices and jails, railroad stations, etc. still intact as though the town could still function if the people returned and the eerie feeling of ghosts haunting the place trying to scare you out of their valhallas and let them rest in peace.  Centralia is now the exact opposite; most of the buildings, all of the town center is gone, razed over the last 30-40 years, and yet some people, seven (7) to be exact, still live in Centralia.  This makes it even eerier.

What the main drag looks like now with no buildings and hot steam rising on ground so hot it will light a match on contact.  Some of the tree trunks are bleached white in color due to the hydrogen sulfide and other toxic gases.

 

What Route

What Route 61 looks like now.  A big crack in the middle as heat below the groundcaused the pavement to shift.  Adolescents typically spray paint graffiti along what is left of the pavement.  Photo courtesy of  Jason Frank Rotherberg.

When you think of Hell and try to imagine what it would look like based on how described by a priest or minister at a Sunday sermon you once attended, you think of people crying, mashing of teeth, and being completely engulfed in flames 4000oF and being tortured by Satan for eternity.  Man-o-man am I glad I got saved and spend a day, let alone an eternity, in a place described by those God-fearing preachers.  But Centralia is more of a Purgatorial hell with the flames below, the cellars of the remaining residents’ homes so warm furnaces are not required for winter heat, and the appearance of eternal loneliness of a place abandoned.  Taking a trip through Centralia, even through pictures, and you have a working preview of Armageddon.

Vent pipes have been installed to relieve the town of toxic gases and prevent it from getting so hot below ground that would cause the town to be sucked under like the world’s largest sinkhole in history.

I mentioned seven people still live here.  Many people left in the mid 1960s and 1970s but there were still close to 100 people there in 1981, when a young boy was visiting his grandparents, among the last of the hardy Centralians, and almost fell into a sinkhole in the backyard.  With the carbon dioxide smoke bellowing out from this hole, the boy would have died if it weren’t for the fact that another child was able to pull him out just in time.  The smoke from the sinkhole was so thick and dense, it could be seen miles away from drivers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  That same year, the town’s last mayor who lived above the gas station died when overcome by toxic gas from a vent pipe nearby in his sleep.  The state of Pennsylvania decided Centralia has become uninhabitable and ordered an evacuation of all residents.  By 1984, most of the remaining residents did leave, but a few insisted on staying upset by the state’s possible ulterior motive.  The state proposed to dig a huge trench and pump mega-gallons of water into the trench in a last-ditch effort to put out the fire at the cost of $660 Million with no guarantee.  The remaining residents believed that the state no longer cared about Centralia but after the fire was out, excavate all the remaining coal and make huge profits with no intention to replenish the strip-mined land because the town was dead.  A court settlement resulted in the remaining residents being allowed to live out their lives in Centralia and once the last member of a certain household is dead, the house will be immediately bulldozed.  Once the last resident is dead, the town will be completely condemned and closed off.

The sinkhole Todd Dombrosky fell into and would have died if another child wasn’t there to pull him out.

Signage warning people not to enter Centrailia.

A nasty letter to Governor Corbett by remaining Centralia residents on how the state government makes draconian budget cuts but spends money to force out remaining residents.  As the late Speaker Thomas Patrick O’Neill once said—all politics is local.

The real mystery to me is why these seven people insist on staying in a place that is beyond a ghost town, but an entrance to Hell.  They have all lived in Centralia before that fatal day on May 27, 1962 and have family histories dating back almost a century before.  They cannot drive anywhere.  Mail, food, and supplies have to be picked up and delivered by the fire department.  They won the right to stay in their homes but they are trapped in their homes.  They almost never leave town and if they do, the fire department has to escort them out and back in as all roads leading into Centralia are blocked off.  Why not live somewhere else?  Perhaps they are protesting the government’s plan for the coal and want to make them put it off as long as possible—a strange type of sacrifice.  Perhaps they fact that they are exempt from paying any taxes of any kind for the rest of their lives.  Or perhaps they supported the dump fire to clean up the town and feel they should remain in this Hell on Earth to pay for their sins.

Today, all that remains standing are the homes the seven people still reside, a general store used as a supply hut, and the St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, now boarded up, but a religious shrine to the town that once was.

St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, the final vestige of God’s omnipresence in Centralia, PA.  Boarded up and not used by the remaining seven residents as they have no priest.

One of the last inhabited homes in Centralia.  Brick buttresses had to be erected on both sides to ensure it will withstand as it is no longer stable on its foundation.  Christmas and other lawn decorations that nobody really sees, a rusted out mailbox not used since mail has to be brought in by the fire department, and a red fire hydrant.  You think there is nothing wrong until you go in the backyard and look straight ahead at the creepy steam rising from the ground.

The Oddfellows Cemetery where many deceased Centralians are buried.  An eerie place as smoke rises from the tombstones at times symbolic of the death of Centralia.  Some flags placed on gravesites still wave as little to nobody visits these graves.

A time capsule was buried in 1966 after the town’s 100th birthday.  Families of relocated and departed Centralia residents will be returning on May 27, 2016 to open the capsule after 50 years.  Coal mining equipment, books, oil lamps, and other family heir looms are in this capsule.

I see Centralia as a time capsule of the American Dream from the time it was born to the time became unimportant to most Americans. Centralia is a microcosm of what the entire world can become if we are not careful.  We need to educate a generation to survive limited government intervention, take it upon themselves to respect Mother Earth and be its good stewards, and live purpose-driven lives without government entitlements.  The coming of Christ or any messiah you may believe in is imminent, guaranteed, and I hope lessons can be learned by studying Centralia, PA.

FlagBaseballIt has been a long time since the game of baseball had a good story to relay to its fans.  There was Jackie Roosevelt Robinson breaking the color line in 1947.  There was Roger Maris hitting #61 in 1961 breaking Babe Ruth’s record for home runs in a season and thirteen years later in 1974, Hank Aaron’s 715 breaking the storied lifetime record not tainted by steroids or other PEDs.  There was Willie Mays’s catch off the bat of Vic Wertz in game one of the 1954 World Series at the Polo Grounds and the 1969 Miracle Mets led by Tom “Terrific” (Seaver).  Overexpansion and PEDs have severely hampered good news in the national pastime.  I will always be a fan because I remember how it used to be.  Today in October, regular season football gets better TV ratings than the World Series.  Now most fans of all teams boo and hiss at the new rule for catchers blocking the plate and those challenges leading to video reviews lengthening games that are already too long.  But in August of 2014, some good news found its way through.

To find this news, you do not look at the Major Leagues, or even the minors, or college or high school.  You look toward the Little League World Series at a thirteen year old pitcher named Mo’ne Davis.  Davis throws 70 mph (a thirteen year old is not expected to throw 90), and has a curveball major league pitchers compare to their own.  But what makes the Mo’ne Davis story interesting is that Mo’ne is a thirteen year old girl.

Mo’ne Ikea Davis is from Philadelphia, PA and played for the Taney Dragons, making it to the Little League World Series played in Williamsport, PA.  In a regional LLWS game, she shut out her opponent from Nashville, TN 4-0 and pitched to a complete game victory.  A phenomenal feat for a girl in a sport that has permitted girls since the mid 1970s, but few have actually enrolled and even fewer have even achieved to this level.

Though anything speculated about a thirteen year old little leaguer ever comes to fruition, such speculation can make the aforementioned problems of the game seem secondary for a while.  Three years from now on April 15, 2017 will mark the seventieth anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line.  As sports fans resistant to change, we never think about the gender line.  But if a woman were to play Major League baseball someday, wouldn’t it be fitting if Mo’ne Davis would be that player when she is in her twenties.  She has an unforgettable name and current major leaguers are complimenting her on her stuff.  I personally am not optimistic I would see a woman ballplayer in my lifetime and I am not sure how I would feel about a game I would like to see back to its roots with the abolition of the designated hitter and video review, but on the other hand, it is just what the game is hungry for to renew fan interest and restore the pastime to its lofty status.  I do believe if it is going to happen, the first female ballplayer would be a starting pitcher.  While position players and closers have to suit up and play or be ready to play every day, a starting pitcher only has to do so every fourth day.  A woman cannot share a locker room or a shower with men—accommodations would have to be made outside the clubhouse and a special are where the men would have to be fully dressed would have to be established for team meetings.  It will be easier if to make the accommodations only every fourth day—especially on the road where the franchises are not obligated.  But I believe fans would root for Mo’ne to succeed.

Jackie Robinson played in the Negro Leagues before Branch Rickey signed him to a contract to play with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The Negro Leagues were not minor leagues; they were the major leagues for players who could not play in THE Major leagues due to skin color restrictions dating back to 1900.  Currently, there are no women’s professional baseball leagues in existence so unlike Robinson, Davis would require more nurturing in the minor leagues.  At age thirteen, she would be starting eighth grade and that would be about five years to graduate high school.  Her parents want her to go to college and she is interested in attending the University of Connecticut in Storrs (my al ma matter) which has become a big women’s basketball school.  With no women’s baseball program in existence in the NCAA, not sure where she could play.  The Cape Cod may allow her to play, but is a two month season enough to nurture a premier pitcher?  And signing her right out of high school is very unlikely.  Even AAA all stars are not guaranteed to be good enough to play in the show, and the odds of an owner taking a chance on a woman with no place to play baseball after age 18 are slim at best.  Several baseball circuits would have to break their gender lines before MLB.

The only major sport fully integrated with respect to gender in America is professional basketball, but women do not play on NBA teams; the NBA created a subsidiary called the WNBA where women play on the men’s courts in the summer when the men are between seasons.  Those of us caught in the fairy tale would like to see her strike out the likes of Mike Trout, Mark Textiera, and David Ortiz; or whoever replaces them in the next decade.  That is the only way for such a move to give the game of baseball the kick in the butt to make the news and get fans from all over the country to fill MLB ballparks even if their local teams are not in contention.

If she finds a way to stick with baseball, Mo’ne Davis would be the perfect one to break the gender line with her repertoire of pitches and clean living, as far as we know.  Let us keep Mo’ne in our thoughts whenever the news on the national pastime is negative and where the game is going in the future.

ctMy home state of Connecticut will be having a Republican gubernatorial primary this coming Tuesday, August 12, to determine who will challenge Democrat incumbent Dannel Malloy.  Mr. Malloy cannot say no to taxes and has not made any improvements on the deficit, job creation, or the state economy since he was elected four years ago.

The race includes the favorite; a man named Tom Foley, whose spotty past and lack of political experience cost him an election against Malloy four years ago.  The dark horse is State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, the son of the late Stew McKinney, a well-respected U.S. Congressman for two decades.  As of right now, the Quinnipiac University poll shows that Foley could defeat Malloy, but that McKinney falls short.  John McKinney and his preferred Lieutenant Governor choice David Walker, a CPA who has served as Comptroller General of the United States, bring something to the table that could drastically change the mood of the Nutmeg State voter if they can get the word out.  They want to repeal the state income tax for individuals and families making less than $75,000 per year.

In 1991, I fought our independent governor, the former Senator Lowell Weicker, who continued to bully both branches of the General Assembly to put through a state income tax and he eventually won the battle.  The same state income tax that cost 1970 Republican candidate Wallace Barnes, who my grandfather believed was the best choice for governor that year, the nomination over Thomas Meskill, who served one term as governor from 1971-75.  Barnes promised to abolish the sales tax in return for this income tax, but the people were skeptical and feared we would pay both taxes.  They were right.  Connecticut reduced its sales tax from 8% to 6% when the income tax became the law of the land, but began applying it to more things such as labor on auto repairs (not just parts as before), shipping and delivery charges on mail order goods, and car washes.  Three years ago, the state sales tax was increased from 6% to 6.35% and Connecticut still has the highest per capita debt in the U.S.  A similar ordeal took place in California when they implemented a state income tax in the mid 1960s prior to the election of Ronald Reagan.  They income tax went through and California sales tax was raised from 6% to 6 ½%  I have to say I admire Mr. McKinney’s initiative.  But I do have some questions.

First of all, why stop at $75,000?  When it comes to states and their finances, Connecticut is way off the bell curve.  Families with combined husband and wife incomes just over $100,000 are struggling as prices on the so called gold cost are higher than ever.  Leading into the second of all, why not just completely abolish the state income tax?  It obviously did not keep our ink black in the post-Weicker era; proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that no taxation plan can keep the ink black if spending is out of control.  I know the 1% will benefit just as much as the 99% with no income tax at all, but the 1% can give more to charities and wealthy business owners can create both blue collar and white collar jobs.  Third of all, Peter Paul Candy and Colt Fire Arms are not coming back and Connecticut will never be the career Mecca it was in the 1980s.  I have said over and over again, Connecticut needs to be small-business friendly and give incentives equivocal to what New York State is doing to allure start-up businesses.  Those who graduate college in a field of choice should be able to do what they set out to do in their own small business if they cannot hook up with corporations who were driven out.  Being a small business owner in Connecticut sounds a lot more appealing than living in North Dakota, which is where talk show host Sean Hanity claims the tech jobs will be in the next ten years.  Alas, where is the small business incentive on the McKinney-Walker plan?

I have not made up my mind as of this blog entry.  I may very well make the bold move and vote for Mr. McKinney this coming Tuesday.  I would just like a better understanding of his concept of the New American Dream versus mine.  Even if we don’t match, I may still consider him the best man in the race.  I just want a little more exposure and disclosure.

FlagBaseballThe designated hitter was just the beginning. Thank God I am a National League fan and get to watch the final remnants of the bygone era of a strategy-minded thinking man’s game where critical decisions have to be made when the pitcher is due to bat—just let him swing and make the best of it, sacrifice bunt with less than two out or suicide squeeze with a runner on third and less than two outs, or pinch hit even though he is pitching a good game just to get a tying or go-ahead run across the plate. Likewise, to let a tiring pitcher due to bat first, second, or third in the order next inning to pitch on fumes just a little longer so that you can pinch hit for him next inning; or pull a double-switch to allow a pitching change that changes the batting order so the new pitcher is not due to bat next inning. I would like to argue for the abolition of the designated hitter and have the NL protocol be the law of the land in both leagues—especially now that you have fifteen teams in each league and a minimum of one interleague game virtually every day is now a necessary evil in order to complete a 162 game schedule in six months. The younger generation may prefer the added offense of a DH in both leagues. But there are much deeper blows to the aorta of baseball purity right now.
A far more radical change in the game is giving the manager the option to challenge the umpire’s call and using video in some control room in Manhattan to possibly overturn the umpire’s call. Bill Klem, Tom Gorman, and Doug Harvey—going along the generation continuum, would never surrender their power to rule the game with an iron hand and allow video cameras overturn their calls which were once almighty even when a mistake is made—the so called human element of officiating. This generation of umpires does not want to rule the game; after all, the challenge-review rule was their idea. Truth be told, umpires made just as many mistakes in yesteryear as they do today; before high def television and other technology, many went undetected. A fan sitting in the upper deck at old Shea Stadium, closer to the airplanes than the field, or around the Pesky pole at Fenway Park with a grandstand column obstructing their view could not always find such a miscue. Neither could a snowy black-and-white TV running on rabbit ears or a first generation Zenith Chromocolor with a screen the shape of an eye-ball. This generation of umpires, many of them who resigned on September 1st, 1999 to protest the suspension of Tom Hallion and for some reason were allowed to come back the following year, chose the white flag over the black suit and now it takes four hours to complete a 3-2 nine-inning game.
The Internationalization of the game is another big difference between then and now. I commend the players and owners in 2002 for not going on strike and working out the revenue-sharing via payroll tax to give small-market teams a fair shake. One of the big differences is the Yankees cannot buy a championship as easily because the payroll tax keeps enough money in the pockets of most of the other owners to retain their star players. This is another generational shift because there was a time when the best players in the game would do whatever it took, even a small pay cut, to wear the pinstripes and play for the most storied sports franchise in the history of the world. This generation of players will stay with their teams as long as their current teams offer them the most money. The loophole Hal Steinbrenner has chosen to answer the retirements of Mariano Riviera and Derek Jeter and the aging team is to look overseas for superstars in other countries such as Masahiro Tanaka and populate the roster with the best foreign lands have to offer. As much as I hate it when the Yankees buy championships, I give Hal credit for the idea and if I were playing his chess pieces, it is a good move on the board. The biggest problems are (1) he was one of the few owners that can afford to pay the fees required to raid foreign rosters such as Japan and (2) if foreign players outnumber natural-born American players on the roster, is baseball still our national pastime? I don’t want to sound stogy because somebody had to do something daring to break the color-line in effect from 1900-46 as was the case with Branch Rickey signing Jackie Roosevelt Robinson; duly noted however, Jackie was a natural-born American. The fact that today’s players are more interested in making as much money as they can rather than a World Series ring or playing in New York, the baseball capital of the world, which once allured many players to the Big Apple either to the Yankees or one of three New York National League clubs over two centuries (Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers, and now the Mets).
I’m afraid the times, they are a changing. Let’s just hope the game can still be the pastime God intended for America.

Republican ElephantWhen I first launched The 7 Train, my first blog entry was on the flat tax. Since then, conservative talk show and advocate Sean Hannity talks about the movement to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution which gives the federal government the right to tax income. The first income tax was enacted in 1913 and was a flat tax. Replacing the federal income tax would be what is called a consumption tax, which would work like a national sales tax but would involved higher percent rates on more expensive items. One would pay a higher consumption tax on a Mercedes Benz than on a Chevy Cruise. While both tax reform options offer similar advantages to the American people, the consumption tax is a little more problematic.
The main advantage to going either direction is that you could shut down the IRS. This is a big victory to those of us who want to see a balanced budget in our lifetime without putting people out on the street, metaphorically speaking. Before one considers making cuts to Social Security and Medicare, which will hurt a lot of Americans too ill or too late in life to start over and build an American Dream, or cutting Big Bird, which will not generate enough revenue savings to make a dent in the debt in a $17T deficit, you eliminate the IRS instead; the one government agency nobody likes; Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, rich, poor, or middle class. The complete absence of an income tax would make the IRS completely superfluous and the same is true with a flat tax since everybody’s withholdings could be set the tax flat rate, say 9%.
While the consumption tax and the concept of Americans keeping every hard-earned penny without sharing it with the federal government is an easier sell for a political sales representative, as it were, it operates under the assumption that Americans will always consume at a predictable rate. The main reason I prefer a sales tax engine of revenue over an income tax at the state level is it gives the taxpayer more elasticity in the event of hard times, such as a layoff or a need to give up a job to stay home and take care of an ill or elderly relative, or for a woman to have a baby and be a stay at home mom. Such a taxpayer can buy less, including affordable items that are purely wants and not needs. A Subaru Outback station wagon to cart the kids around in bad weather where all wheel drive is desirable instead of an Audi A4, Lincoln Navigator or BMW X-5—you get the idea. But if the federal [national] government goes that route, America becomes prone to more recessions and deeper ones that take longer to get out from under.
The number one source of consumption in the United States of America is retail sales. The number one retailer in the United States right now is Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart is currently reporting a decline in sales. As long as Wal-Mart exists and the middle class outnumber the rich, it is fair to postulate an axiom stating as Wal-Mart goes, so goes the nation. The logical conclusion is we are headed toward another recession, not predicted to be as bad as The Great Recession of 2008. Although it will not significantly affect the buying habits of the top one percent or even the top twenty percent following the old 80-20 rule, the global decline in consumption will adversely affect revenue from a national consumption tax. It will also mean more frequent recessions because it will deter consumer spending, even in good economies.
As much as I loathe the concept of taxing earned income and as much as I want to see the return of The American Dream in my lifetime, I think the flat tax is the better alternative. I like the 9% figure because it is one percent less than a tithe so it keeps the federal government and all corrupt politicians who make it up from ever putting themselves ahead of God. Ultimately, the recovery of America as a great nation and the revival of The American Dream are in God’s hands and he cannot allow either one to take place as long as he sees the necessity for American to be punished for its sins, consistent with the Book of Deuteronomy. Simply withhold 9%, no more, no less, from every American’s paycheck and wire it directly to the Treasury Department and you do not need the IRS. It is simple and with the wealthy paying 9% of a bigger number than the middle class, and with a more limited government, I believe it will put America on the road to recovery.

American-Flag1 It’s the VETERAN, not the preacher,
who has given us freedom or religion.
It’s the VETERAN, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.
It’s the VETERAN, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.
It’s the VETERAN, not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.
It’s the VETERAN, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It’s the VETERAN, not the politician,
who has given us the right to vote.
It’s the VETERAN,
who salutes the flag,
who serves under the flag,
ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD,
AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE ON THEM.

Republican ElephantOn a recent interview with CBS News correspondent Nora O’Donnell, Cardinal Timothy Dolan made reference to how he admires Pope Francis and what he intends to achieve for the Catholic Church.  Although it is unlikely the Catholic Church would ever anoint an American as Pope, many people feel Dolan would be a logical choice and could do the job.  One of the highlights of the interview is he gave a quasi-endorsement to Jeb Bush, should Jeb choose to run.

I must give a disclaimer that I am not an expert in the finer nuances that separate Catholism from other sects of Christianity other than those that get the most attention such as their stand on divorce.  So on Easter Sunday 2014, I am posing a question that I will only attempt to answer and hope it will satisfy both supporters and critics.  The question is: Did the cardinal violate the principle of separation of church and state by his “endorsement” of Jeb Bush for President?

First of all, cardinals and other high clergy are human beings just like the rest of us.  They are not immune to temptation and even if they make it to Sainthood, will still fall short of complete glorification of God and still need their commitment to the Lord and Savior if they want to go to Heaven.   Dolan spoke of how Jesus says we must forgive even our worst enemies and although he does, he finds it hard with some people.  Forgiving Adolph Hitler or Osama bin Laden?  I can see his point.  And we have all been victims on the local level of somebody doing something unforgivable to us.  But scripture clearly says if we do not forgive our enemies for their sins against us, we have no right to forgive God to forgive us for our sins (against others and against HIM).  So if a cardinal of the Catholic Church has difficulty with this fundamental principle in the Book of Matthew, imagine how it is for the rest of us.

Second, Cardinal Dolan is also in American citizen.  He is within his rights to have opinions although he may be restricted on acting on some of them.  Answering questions on an interview is merely taking the talk; not walking the walk.  Nobody will actually see the ballot he casts as he will not see ours.  However, God is watching when we are in that privacy booth with our ballot and I would hope we would all cast a vote for Godly candidates if there are any on the ballot.  Dante said in The Inferno, The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who remain neutral in troubled times…  The give his eminence credit for wanting to show up at the polls on Election Day and cast a vote for the candidate he thinks is best suited for solving the problems.

Finally, as I have said on many communications in the past, few Americans really know the true definition of separation of church and state.  Many people think it means religion and government are never supposed to cross paths.  That is as far from the truth as you can get.  If that were the case, why does every session of Congress start with a non-denominational prayer?  For those of you who missed it, Separation of Church and State is by definition the prohibition of any local, state, or the federal government to establish any one religion as the local, state, or national religion, because The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.  It does not in any way state that government at any level must operate devoid of religion or religious beliefs.  It is bad enough government is filled with believers who sin and who instigate sinful policies; the last thing anyone wants is for our towns, cities, states, and this great nation to be run by atheists.  Therefore, Cardinal Dolan did nothing wrong in expressing his opinions and stating Jeb Bush is his first choice for the next person to lead the secular government of the greatest nation God allowed to inhabit Planet Earth.  Just remember, when you are all alone in the privacy booth at your polling place, God is still watching you.

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