Thursday, August 30, 2012

Republicans Celibate Labor Day Weekend

Good thing working people have the Republican Party looking out for them, as demonstrated by recent speeches and the Republican Party Platform.

Working people, defined as the people who don't have the initative to inherit wealth or the personality to risk what little they have on starting a small (let's be honest quantum-microscopic) business, need jobs to go to. They need bosses, and they need rich people to invest their money in setting up bosses in businesses.
The lack of jobs in America can be directly attributed to government regulations and the fact that rich people are not rich enough.

The Republican Party already controls the Supreme Court and House of Representatives. If you just vote for their candidates they can control the Senate and the Presidency, then no one can stop their job creation program.

First, they are going to lower the minimum wage, maybe even abolish it if they can get the support of moderate Republican politicians. Then retail chains and other minimum wage employers will be able to hire twice as many hamburger flippers and check-out clerks to serve you, without increasing their budgets. Or better still, since they already have an adequate number of workers, they can pay them a lot less and make a lot more profit. Which is good for working people because it will make rich people richer, which will create more jobs.

Then, they are going to deregulate the healthcare system. This is the main reason I am voting Republican this year. This will create a lot of jobs because you will not longer need to go to medical school to become a doctor, or to nursing school to become a nurse, or to junior college to become a licensed technician. I have my shingle ready to hang out the moment the law is changed. I am stocking up on herbal remedies and aspirin dyed to look like real drugs and hope to do a good business. I will cure the sick for much less than one of those government-licensed doctors. And who needs the Food and Drug Administration when we've got Free Markets to deliver quality food and drugs?

Which is a good thing for the elderly people near my future office in Point Arena, California, because the Republicans are going to Save Medicare. They are going to do this by privatizing it. So seniors will get vouchers to buy medical insurance. I have already told my Republican friends who own medical insurance companies how much money I can save them with their future Republican Care policy holders. They are keen on Hope and Real Change, in particular deregulation allowing me to kickback some of my income stream to them. Which will make the rich richer, which will create more jobs.

The Bush Tax cuts to the Rich will stay in place. Workers of the world, cheer! This will make the rich richer, which will create jobs. It will also mean less government safety net types of stuff, which will encourage you to take three of four new jobs to make ends meet.

Paul Ryan is a particular favorite of mine. He has a lot of experience in private industry: he mowed lawns for neighbors when he was a teenager. After that he went into government and stayed there for decades, reading Ayn Rand novels and fighting to get high profit margins for military contractors so they could create jobs for you and me.

The list of Republican reforms that will help working people is much longer, dear blog readers, but I know you don't want me to get into wonky details. But there is one more important reform we can look forward to with eager anticipation.

No Inheritance Tax! This is even cooler than eliminating the Capital Gains Tax (don't ask me, its a rich people thing). No matter how much you save up from your mowing lawns and other unregulated, non-minimum wage jobs, your children can inherit it all. More important, children of the rich can inherit every honest untaxed penny their parents have earned. Then they will be able to create more jobs for the rest of us.

What a wonderful place America will be,
Filled with Love and Liberty,
Vote for Paul Ryan and Romney too,
Vote for Jobs, red white and blue.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Park Geun-hye, Queen Elizabeth, and King James

Park Geun-hye may be the next president of South Korea. Sixty years old this year, she has devoted her life to serving her country, and has never married. She sees herself as a conscious imitator of Queen Elizabeth of England, the famous Virgin Queen. Given that Korea is currently divided into northern and southern nation-states, another historical analogy jumps to mind.

When Elizabeth was Queen of England, Scotland, of north Britain if you will, was an independent nation. When she died in 1603 James VI was King of Scots. His mother, Mary Queen of Scots, had hoped to displace Elizabeth as Queen of England, and instead lost her head. James was distantly related to Elizabeth, and she was his godmother. She left James the English monarchy in her will, and so he became James I of England. Later Scotland and England were officially united as Great Britain.

South Korea was divided from North Korea after the defeat of Japan in World War II. A united Korean nation has been difficult to achieve over the ages. Korea is blessed and cursed by its position between China and Japan. This has helped Korea be one of the leading nations in technology and culture for most of its history. It has also made it a prize highly desired by both the Chinese (including their non-Han Chinese ruling groups, the Mongols and the Manchu) and the Japanese. In addition, it is mountainous, so it has always been easy to break up the country into rival regimes.

At least twice in history the Chinese tried to invade Japan from Korea. In 1905 the Japanese cut a deal with the U.S.: they would not meddle in our colony the Philippines, and we would assent to their incorporating Korea into imperial Japan.

While Koreans during the Japanese colonial period differed on what kind of government they would like to have, and who would head it, they all agreed that Korea should be independent. They knew that after World War I U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had called for the self-governance (national self-determination) of white (race) countries (hence Poland was created out of parts of Germany and Russia), but he did not push for decolonization, or even grant independence to the Philippines or Puerto Rico.

Nevertheless, as the Japanese started to lose World War II, plans were made for a united Korea (other European colonies in Asia had pretty much the same idea). American rhetoric seemed to favor those plans. But Harry Truman and his advisors did not trust the Japanese enemy, our Russian ally, or the Korean people. Rather than allowing the Japanese soldiers in Korea to ship back to Japan and let the Koreans set up a government, the U.S. decided to encourage the Russians to occupy northern Korea, to make sure the Japanese there were disarmed, while the U.S. did its best to occupy southern Korea and disarm the Japanese who had surrendered there. Frankly, the commonly told U.S. Fairy Tale is not believable. Clearly the Japanese troops in Korea intended to obey their Emperor and abandon Korea; neither U.S. nor Soviet troops were necessary.

Although Koreans almost managed to unite themselves in 1950, through a civil war which the U.S. backed South Korean regime lost, by the end of the Korean War the world again had to recognize two governments in the peninsula.

U.S. troops still occupy South Korea. North Korea is somewhat allied with China. Normally that would encourage an alliance between South Korea and Japan, but the U.S. alliance has replaced.

Park Geun-hye will need to find a James I to reunite the Koreas. Outside forces will pressure her against this. While officially China, Japan, Russia and the United States favor Korean reunification, in reality none of the these nations wants a strong, united Korea for a rival. While the population of a united Korea would only be about 73 million, with 48 million currently in the south and 25 million in the north. That is a tiny number of people compared to China, Japan, Russia, or the U.S., but considerably more than the 60 million of Britain. And Britain used to rule the world, not long ago.

Strangely, to the modern political viewpoint, an arranged marriage might be the best solution for reuniting Korea. Someone from the Park family would marry someone from the Kim family, and the offspring would represent the new united Korea. South Korea has had the benefit of at least a semblance of democratic elections, and the north Korean elite would have to learn the old trick of granting the appearance of self-government without surrendering real power.

I look to a united Korea as splendid member of the family of nations. Both North and South have excellent science establishments. They have the usual human issues to attend to, but they have proven they can contribute to the world. Getting U.S. troops out would help cut the U.S. federal budget deficit, provided they are decommissioned rather than redeployed. While Korea would probably want some sort of self-defense force, the only real defense would be good relations with neighbors.

See also Park Geun-hye at Wikipedia

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mitt Romney's Satanic Voter Problem

Who will Satan's followers vote for in September? If you are a Republican, chance are you expect Barack Obama to sweep the Satanist vote.

If you are Mitt Romney, you have a problem on your hands. You need those Satan votes in November. And you can get them only if you keep a very dark secret, and I don't mean about your tax returns.

By happenstance a friend of mine has been thinking of converting to Mormonism, or more specifically to the the largest of the Mormon sects, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headquartered in Utah.
Reporting on her occasional doubts about converting, she said she was told, by a group of young Mormon priests, that anyone who discouraged her conversion was "speaking for Satan."

Um, let's see, who would be likely to discourage a friend or family member, or even just someone reading their blog, from joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?

Certainly Roman Catholics would. Baptists would. Methodists would. I am pretty sure no Protestant Christian sect would encourage anyone to convert to Mormonism. Neither would Jews, Hindus, Moslems, or even atheists. I suppose agnostics, if you asked them if you should convert, would say "I don't know." I keep hoping agnostics will revive the American Party, more commonly known as the Know-Nothing Party.

I have nothing personal against any branch of the Mormons. The people I know who seem to dislike the Latter Day Saints the most are—former Mormons. Most people don't know much about Mormonism except that the Church was founded by an American, Joseph Smith, was run out of practically every state in the Union. After he died most of his followers settled in Utah, and used to be polygamists, although they mostly dropped that back in the late 1800's. We know more about the tiny polygamist sects because we've seen Big Love on TV.

So, with a Mormon looking like a potential President, with control of the world's largest army, economy, drone fleet and nuclear weapons, like most political bloggers I have been learning more about Mormon beliefs of late. At the same time the Church itself and cooperative corporate media outlets have been trying to paint a pretty picture of the self-styled Saints.

What kind of people would become followers of Joseph Smith, who claimed to be The Prophet and headed towards being God? Joseph Smith was killed by a mob, consisting largely of former followers, who were angry because he had been raping virgins and marrying other men's wives, running down Jesus as a second-rate demigod, and uttering nonsense that was supposed to be new Sacred Scripture.

Smith's religion was not a variation within Christianity, but an unorthodox form of Islam [See Four Pillars of Mormonism and Islam].

On the plus side, most seriously religious people believe that anyone who does not share their faith is a heretic, satanist, or atheist. Mormonism has no monopoly there. For the record, while I believe in religious toleration [See my Tolerance Statement], I don't think much of any religious sect.

I doubt Mitt Romney, who after all is really French, thinks that all the non-Mormons he works with are Satanists. That mode of operation might help pressure a weak, single woman into converting, but it is detrimental to the larger picture of trying to bring every single person in the world into the Church of Latter Day Saints. By now most people know that even converting every living person is not enough for the Mormons. They have a constant ritual going that baptizes dead people into the Church. Dead people can't say No. They can't hear Satan whispering doubts.

Mitt must win over voters that don't worship the One True Prophet Joseph Smith. He must keep hidden the fact that that his Church believes all those voters are Satanists. If he were as smart as he pretends to be, he would have left the Mormons years ago and joined a larger denomination. What attracts him to Joseph Smith? The bank scandal with Smith at its center? The ability to convince people to believe in nonsense, like the Republican Party Platform?

Right-wing nutcases have engaged in a long-running smear campaign against President Obama, claiming he was not born in the U.S. and, despite his long attendance at Christian Churches, claiming he is really a Muslim.

It is only right that the American people should understand what Mitt Romney's honest religious beliefs are. If we get nothing else from the Romney run, hopefully we will get a wider understanding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

When Drought Becomes Famine

As far as I know, the only famines among white settlers in the United States occurred back in the 1600's. The availability of land (just steal it from natives, or buy a parcel from someone who did) and the agricultural techniques available even in the 18th century meant that food was usually abundant and limited only by one's wallet. There were crop failures on a local scale, and lean times, and disruptions from the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, and even the Dust Bowl, but they did not amount to national famines.

That could change, and sooner than you think, if you crunch the numbers. The current drought, spreading over much of the nation, makes it worth thinking about.

The United States is no longer an agricultural nation. The human population is currently around 315 million. Over the last decade the dollar value of U.S. food imports and exports, while fluctuating year to year, has drifted from a surplus of exports to a surplus of imports. While our nation ships a lot of grain to China and other countries, we import a lot of food too, mainly from Mexico and Canada.

This year's drought has hit the corn crop particularly hard. Still, the current estimate is that corn production will be around 10.8 billion bushels. That sounds like a lot, but it is less than 4 bushels per person (a bushel is 8 gallons, or 56 pounds of shelled corn). Usually 40% goes to producing ethanol. Much of the rest goes to feed for meat animals, including exports to China. But a lot goes straight to feed humans in the United States everything from corn chips to corn syrup.

The key figure to watch is ending inventories. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's report on August 10, the ending inventory this year will be about 650 million bushels. That is down over 500 million bushels in a single year.

Now suppose the same thing happens to corn next year. Subtract another 500 million bushels from this years' inventory of 650 million bushels. That would leave an inventory of 150 million bushels. A third year straight of crop failure would mean famine.

Corn is not the only major crop, but drought is not the only problem. Higher temperatures can also lead to higher losses from superweeds (the ones that Monsanto helped create be killing their weaker ancestors), insects, and an assortment of plant diseases.

2012 will, hopefully, go down in history as a particularly bad year, not to be repeated anytime soon. We can't count on that.

Given how fat many Americans are, and that our diet is quite varied, you might still want to discount the risk of famine. After all, under the scenario above, even during the third year of disaster we could get 10 to 11 billion bushels of corn. We might produce less ethanol, and feed corn directly to hungry people, instead of to pigs, chickens, and cows. Maybe Canada, Russia, or Brazil will have a bumper year, and we'll just import corn for our tortillas. Maybe the President will proclaim that gluten-free diets are nonsense and people should eat more wheat products again.

Maybe the relatively affluent, the top 30% or 20% or so, will keep eating meat. Maybe the ethanol producers will put their profit first and not give up their share of corn.

Maybe production of corn will be even lower next year, and wheat will decline too. Why? Because the soil will be dry going into the new year, and irrigation sources will be depleted. And maybe the fat people will take no pity on those who are already lean: maybe they will be strong enough to shove the starving aside when the delivery trucks pull up to the supermarkets.

As the population of the U.S.and the globe increases, and as weather gets more erratic and generally warmer, it might seem like a good idea to have a plan to cope with ugly scenarios. The Free Market won't magically make food appear out of parched fields.

Barack Obama, as usual, is sucking his thumb, moistening it in case he needs to measure the political wind. Instead of turning off the ethanol machine and creating a rational plan to prevent famine in the long run (like: more birth control), he is worrying about getting re-elected. Ditto for Congress. If I had not studied American history I would say this lot is the worst bunch of idiots ever. In fact they are typical mediocrities.
Our only hope is that rains will return, and it will keep on raining until at least 2016, when we might get some better nominees for Congress and the Presidency.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Phony Fiscal Cliff

Cliff ahead! Turn left! Turn right! Dig in your heals! Don't stampede over it like a bunch of cattle!

Here on Highway 1 in Northern California cars going over cliffs is a too common occurrence, right up there with drowning while trying to pick "free" abalone out of the ocean. Most of us have seen cowboy movies where cattle stampede over a cliff. We know cliffs are bad news.

For a couple of months now there has been a new scare tactic with the American economy: the Fiscal Cliff. Whether it is real or not, enough yodeling about it has already been done to cause some business people to restrain their hiring and purchasing. This hurts the economy immediately, lowers tax collections and raises government expenses, and may cost Barack Obama enough swing voters to make him a former President come 2013.

The fiscal cliff is a sham, but it is a sham that serves the purpose of a number of special interest groups. They want to turn the fiscal cliff into a bridge to their own profits, at the expense of everyone else.

The fiscal cliff is supposed to have two real components. One is the end of the Bush (President George W. Bush) tax cuts. This will increase federal income taxes for most citizens who pay those taxes. The biggest tax increases would be for those making over $250,000 per year, because they got the biggest cuts under the Bush tax plan. The theory is that this class of people, justifiably called the Ruling Class, will have less money to spend and invest if their taxes go up. They might hire less new workers, or even fire some current workers, in order to keep up their expensive habits like high-class prostitutes, coke allowances (trust funds) for their children, and designer boots. Or they could keep the workers and cut their luxury spending, thus destroying millions of jobs in China and Italy.

The argument is that increasing taxes on the rich will hurt the economy, and therefore everyone. The problems with that idea are numerous. The Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich did not help the economy, so why should restoring the taxes hurt the economy? In fact, if you have had the bad fortune to be around rich people much, you know most of them have poor judgment with money. If they have less income each year due to taxes, and therefore need to think more carefully about investing and spending, that might actually improve the overall economy.

The secondary argument is that the extra taxes on those making under $250,000 will also hurt the economy.
Strangely, the same pundits (and I use that term with sarcasm) who are bewailing the possible tax increases on January 1, 2013, were screaming about the federal deficit for the past four years. According to their (probably true) economic theories, creating a huge federal debt will eventually sink the American economy. It is better for the economy to have a balanced budget, or even to start paying down the debt.

They argue that this is so important, we should toss government dependents and the poor and even the working class to the wolves, because it will be good for all of us in the long run. So they want to keep the Bush Tax Cuts and cut federal funding of just about everything that helps ordinary people: Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, unemployment insurance, and aid to public education.

But those federal spending cuts would also decrease demand, just like when the rich spend less. So they seem to be arguing that when the rich spend money it is good for the economy, even if it increases the national debt, but when the poor spend money, it is bad for the economy. In fact, that is exactly what their argument amounts to. And what we should do about it is drag them out into the streets, kick the shit out of them, redistribute the clothes and jewelry they are wearing, then donate their organs to someone who might put them to better use. But being a polite and perhaps cowardly lot, we will instead work peacefully through the political system to try to tax them at a rate that still leaves them far wealthier than they deserve to be.

The second branch of the Fiscal Cliff Scare is the mandatory budget cuts that were negotiated by Congress just last year. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Again, the greater danger that was sold to us, mostly by Tea Party zealots, was a larger federal deficit. I don't have an argument with that: the deficit really has gotten out of hand since Bill Clinton was in the White House. The question was not whether to slightly cut the federal budget, but where to cut. The negotiated cuts supposedly affect the military budget and the domestic budget about equally.

You can tell we are being sold a pile of bullshit by the current right-wing zealot demands: they still want to cut the domestic side of the budget. They are willing to let seniors and the unemployed sleep in the street if that would balance the budget.

But not their precious military. Oh no, every penny spent by the Defense Department is needed to defend the nation against Islamic Terror. Some turbaned dudes paddling a rowboat stuffed with Kalashnikovs and lighter fluid might slip by if we had one less nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and burn Washington to the ground, like the British did in the War of 1812.

The key swing group in this tempest in a national-sized tea cup is those Democratic Party members of Congress who, for whatever reason, support the Pentagon's mindset or are afraid they are going to be droned out of existence if they don't march in line to the Pentagon's marching band. [Note to self: these run on sentences are beyond the attention span of the home-schooled. Try to avoid them in the future.]

Allow me to be explicit. I think that letting all the Bush Tax Cuts expire, including those on the $50,000 to $250,000 per year crowd [which includes me in a good year, the last of which was 2008], will be good for the U.S. economy in the long run. I think cutting the Defense Budget is good for the U.S. economy in both the short and long run.

I think the economy would mend a lot quicker if the Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate would stick to their so-called principles and cut the federal budget where it can be cut, where that won't hurt people, which is mainly in the Defense Budget.

Realistically, the best case scenario is inaction by Congress. The Fiscal Cliff is really green pasture. If Apple Computer and other Republican fat-cat cash hoarders would just pay their workers in the United States more, and hire more workers, the economy would start chugging along nicely. People would be able to pay a bit more in taxes to help reduce the federal deficit. A growing economy would mean more workers paying into unemployment funds, Social Security, Medicare, and income taxes.

If you care about your nation, now is the time to start looking at your choices for Congress this November. Remember, voting is not enough. Say what you think. Speaking up about politics and economics may be impolite, but it is better than the other option. If you have never given money to a politician before, you might want to try it. He (or she) might even take your calls after that.

"Young men and women, educated very carefully to be apolitical, to be technicians who thought they disliked politics, making them putty in the hands of their rulers, just like always." — Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Four Pillars of Mormonism and Islam

The resemblance between the Latter Day Saints sects, or Mormonism, and Islam are not just a coincidence. Before examining the Islamic roots of Mormon in later articles, I want to illuminate the relationship by exhibiting four pillars that unite Islam and Mormonism and distinguish the these religions from orthodox Christianity.

I. The Prophets

Both Joseph Smith and Muhammad claimed the role of Prophet. Each saw themselves, and were seen by their followers, as being in the line of the great Jewish prophets like Noah, Moses, Ishmael, and Isaac. The Koran names Jesus of Nazareth as a prophet. The Mormon view of Jesus will be discussed below. It is notable that during his lifetime his followers referred to Joseph Smith, in writing, as The Prophet, which was how Muhammad has always been referred to by the Islamic faithful.

The Koran (or Quran) says at 4:163-165:

163 Lo! We inspire thee (Muhammad) as We inspired Noah and the prophets after him, as We inspired Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and as we imparted unto David the Psalms;
164 And messengers We have mentioned unto thee before and messengers We have not mentioned unto thee; and Allah spake directly unto Moses;
165 Messengers of good cheer and of warning, in order that mankind might have no argument against Allah after the messengers. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise.
II. Polygamy

The Koran says limits polygamous marriage to four wives [4:3]:
... marry other women of your choice: two, three, or four. But if you fear that you will not be able to maintain justice between your wives, then marry only one.
Joseph Smith endorsed unlimited polygamy. According to former church members writing in 1844 shortly before Smith died, he and other church elders recruited maidens from Europe, who arriving in the United States were deflowered and given no choice except to become one of many wives.

The two largest modern Mormon denominations now both officially rejected polygamy in order to avoid further prosecution for a practice that was unlawful in the United States. However, fundamentalist Mormon sects still practice polygamy, reports of its being practiced in secret by mainstream Mormons have been abundant, and it is hard to reconcile monogamy with Joseph Smith's status as The Prophet. In fact in the Doctrine and Covenants any man aspiring to priesthood is encouraged to take multiple wives [D&C 132:61-62]:
61. And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified.
The emphasis on the virginity of multiple wives is why teenage women have been the main target of Mormon missionaries from the time of Joseph Smith until the present. Joseph Smith is reputed to have had over thirty wives at the time of his death in 1844.

III. Rejection of Jesus Christ as the One True God

Muhammad lived from 570 to 632 A.D. At this time the orthodox Christian church (only later splitting into Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox branches) had dominated the people's around the Mediterranean for over two centuries. Yet many Jewish and non-orthodox Christian communities still had not been stamped out, and in Arabia itself various forms of pagan worship survived.

While given as a revealed truth from Allah, Muhammad's belief that Jesus of Nazareth was a prophet, not a resurrected god, was supported by historical evidence. Jews in the area, of course, rejected Jesus as both God and Messiah. More important were the Christian Jews whose religion was in line with the original teachings of Jesus. Their historic memory was that Jesus did not claim to be God and was not resurrected after crucifixion. Those ideas were formed decades after Jesus's death, as is reflected in the differences between the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, in which Jesus does not claim divinity, and in John, where he makes it very clear he thinks he is one with God.

Muhammad, in the Koran, quotes Jesus against the Christians, avoiding the Gospel of John and instead interpreting Jesus as having said there is only one, undivided God, Allah, and that no man could be God. Which is the position of Islam.

Despite his demotion to Prophet, Jesus (Isa) and his mother, Mary (Maryam) play a major role in the Koran, even aside from preaching against Christianity.

As with Islam, which developed over the course of the life of Muhammad, the relationship of the Latter Day Saints to Jesus of Nazareth is complicated by the temporal development of the revelations of Joseph Smith. In the Book of Mormon Jesus is pretty much the Jesus of the Christians except, unbeknownst to them, after his Ascension Jesus is said to have visited the Americas.

Later, as the power of being himself treated as a Prophet and having a lot of young wives went to his head, Joseph Smith deviated increasingly from Christian doctrine in his Doctrine and Covenants. While not explicitly rejecting the Trinity, Joseph Smith described an elaborate cosmology which would allow him and his male followers to become godlike, and Jesus-like, themselves. Even God the Father, our planetary god, was reduced to an advanced and glorified man. Quoting those who left the church just before Smith's death [Nauvoo Expositor, June 7, 1844]:
"Among the many items of false doctrine that are taught the Church, is the doctrine of many Gods, one of the most direful in its effects that has characterized the world for many centuries ... It is contended that there are innumerable Gods as much above the God that presides over this universe, as he is above us; and if he varies from the law unto which he is subjected, he, with all his creatures, will be cast down as was Lucifer."
IV. Rejection of alcohol
While it may seem to be only of practical importance, the rejection of alcohol by Islam, and later by Joseph Smith and his followers, is of the deepest symbolic and theological importance.
Wine plays a role in two key sacraments of Christianity, marriage and communion. Jesus is believed by Christians to have turned water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana [Bible, John 2:1-11], his first miracle in John (but missing from the three earlier gospels).

By rejecting wine both Muhammad and Joseph Smith rejected the Christian rule of monogamy. They also both recognized divorce, which Jesus outlaws for Christians in Matthew 19:3-9.

According to his followers, Jesus is not a Prophet, or the Messiah, but a true, resurrected God. Wine represented, in his times, the transubstantiation from of an ordinary food, the grape, into an intoxicant. Earlier religions in which a man-god was killed or sacrificed and then rose from the dead, showing the glory of God, were closely tied to celebrating events with wine. Notably the Greek god Dionysus and the Egyptian god Osiris had large cult followings throughout the Roman Empire that had many doctrines that were adopted by non-Jewish Christians at some point in the history of the early Church.

By rejecting the drinking of alcoholic beverages, Joseph Smith brought his church more closely to conformity with orthodox Islam and differentiated it from orthodox Christianity.
"That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good." [Doctrine and Covenants. 89:5 by Joseph Smith the Prophet at Kirtland, Ohio, February 27, 1833] 
"Satan desires to stir up enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants and gambling, to prevent you from the remembrance of Allah and prayers. Will you not abstain?" [Muhammad the Prophet, Koran, 5:91]