RACE- RELIGION AND POLITICS [2-12- B]
 THIS ROCK
A few weeks ago I mentioned how I want to try and cover the Sunday Mass readings every now and then. I watch the Mass every Sunday [as well as hold a Protestant meeting- home meeting] and I wanted to hit on the verses so my Catholic friends can get a little more into bible study.
Last week one of the readings was from Isaiah 56- the week before chapter 55. These chapters sort of cover one of the main themes that I spoke about during our overview of the letters of the N.T.
If you remember- one of the ‘mysteries’ we spoke about was the truth that in Christ- all ethnic groups are now one in Christ. This was spoken about in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. In Isaiah we read about God bringing all nations to Christ ‘you will call a nation that you do not know- and nations that do not know you will come running to you’ ‘My fathers house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’- Jesus quotes this verse when he throws out the Money Changers from the temple. Another one ‘whoever is thirsty- come- drink of this water freely’ the themes of these 2 chapters is God is inviting all groups- they can come and make this Covenant with God.
God is opening the door for all groups to make it in!
On my site- a while back I made some friends from various countries- Muslim countries. I actually did a teaching on Islam- in a positive way- not to ‘trick’ Muslims to convert- but because I felt the anti Muslim feeling in the West- with the world facing so many geo political problems- that we needed to take some positions as Christians that were more gracious to people in general.
Now- I know I too ‘hit hard’ on my site- sure. But I do believe God wants us to live peaceably with ‘all men’. That friends from other religious backgrounds- if they are going through very hard times- then we need to do what we can to help them.
Every conversation with a young Muslim person- who might be struggling with the problems taking place in their nation- we need to also be able to do ‘justly’ see that many of their nations have been oppressive- and all the young people in these nations are not radical Muslims.
Many are women who have been treated badly by the leaders- because the leaders are strict Muslims. So for these people- we need to say ‘yes we see your situation- we are praying for you’ we can’t simply think all the problems will be solved if we only preach to them- without also acting justly- seeing their plight and being concerned and speaking out.
Okay- that’s the main reason I connected with some of these friends. At the same time- obviously I teach the bible- and I hope lots of these friends from various groups [Jews, Muslims, etc..] that they can see that Christianity is not based on the West- or a certain view of Christianity- but its Gods free offering to all men/women ‘come- drink- accept the free gift- it’s for you!’
So of course I want all my friends to feel free to take the benefits that God has given to us- while also respecting them if they choose to worship their own way.
So- this week we saw that in the N.T. the death and resurrection of Christ was Gods way of saying ‘whoever wants to come- come!’. Christ died for everyone- we can all get in.
The prophet Isaiah said this years ago- that God would bring all nations and ethnic groups to ‘his holy mountain’ [kingdom] he would make them joyful- he will accept their gifts [prayers and thanks] and that he is doing all these things for the benefit of all nations- not just one.
As we close the week- go and read these chapters- to my Catholic friends – see what chapters will be in the Mass this Sunday- when you get home after the Mass- read them.
The bible says Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone of the spiritual building called ‘the church’. The bible says many people stumbled over this stone- they were offended at him.
Jesus asked once ‘Who do men say that I am’- Peter said ‘You are the Christ- the Son of the blessed’. Jesus says ‘Blessed are you Peter- flesh and blood did not reveal this to you- but my Father who is in heaven’ and Jesus went on to say ‘Upon this Rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’
Later on in Peters letter’s- he says we are spiritual stones in this spiritual temple- and Jesus is the main Rock. All the bible hinges on him- we must see everything as it relates to ‘This Rock’.
God made provisions for all people thru his Son- he said ‘whoever wants to drink- drink- come freely- without charge- it’s for you too’.
A few months back as I was sitting in my lawyer’s office- I noticed he had a painting of the great Christian martyr- Thomas Moore. I mentioned ‘Oh- Thomas Moore’ and I went on to overview his great life- and his convictions to not deny what he believed to be true- even at the point of death.
I figured my lawyer- who was a former JAG officer- would at least have some idea who the man was- he did have an expensive painting of the man on his wall- but to my surprise he had no idea who/what I was talking about.
Moore got caught up in the English reformation fights- King Henry would break with Rome and there was lots of political maneuvering going back and forth. Ultimately Thomas would get caught in the thing and he was executed because he would not deny Papal authority and accept the Kings new belief that he was the head of the English church.
Moore was also famous for his book- Utopia. It was a fictional account of this land where everyone shared and they did not live for gain- a kind of Marxist idea- centuries before Marx.
Lest do a little Utopian Redux. Say if this past year I were to tell you that this land existed on the other side of the world. It was made up of Perry’s, Bachman’s- Jerry Falwell types- you know the whole 9 yards.
In this land they hated gays- I mean all they do all day is talk about anti gay stuff! Let’s says they also are so right winged- that they have taught all the little Black kids to take up arms against their govt.
They also spread rumors that when the other countries try to come and help us- that they are secretly trying to poison us. So the kids refuse the vaccines that the developed nations are offering free of charge.
Let’s says Christianland also is experiencing one of the worst famines in history- I mean thousands of children have died- and many more thousands are on the verge of dying.
But the Christians in Christianland are so bad- that they have even used their radical religious beliefs to fight the food aid coming into the country- and because of this many of the little Black kids are dying- on a huge scale.
Do you think a story like this would get attention?
Actually this story is real- it is happening right now as I write- except ‘Christianland’ is really Somalia- and the Christians are really radical Muslims. Yes- this is the present situation in Somalia today.
Now- how has the media reported this story? Have they really covered the radical religious beliefs of this group- Al Shabab- I mean have they spent days and weeks and months harping on the sad religious angle of the story?
The vice president’s wife went there a few days ago- she came back to report on why the aid is not getting through. She spoke of the West’s responsibility to do what we can to help- but she made no mention of the fact that the religious radicals are indeed causing much of the problem.
Yet as I watched the talking heads all week- they can’t stop doing shows on Christian parents beating their kids to death [one case- Anderson Cooper is covering it like there were hundreds of thousands of cases- and he is implicating all Christians who have ever disciplined their kids with spanking].
They are consumed with any past statements from Bachman on Homosexuality- I mean they can’t stop!
Last night Christine O’Donnell [Remember- I am not a witch?] walked off the Peirs Morgan show because he just couldn’t resist drilling her on masturbation.
Let’s say if every time a gay rights advocate- who was not gay- who just supported gay marriage- say if we asked them all the time ‘so you advocate for anal sex’ and we made this the most notable thing- we talked about the actual act- described it in detail. And then said ‘well this is relevant- because you believe in gay marriage’.
And last but not least- yes- these wonderful open minded news folk- these non tea party reasonable people- yes it was only a matter of time before they would pull out their favorite card- you know- the race card.
On MSNBC Matthews [who has himself spoken about a sort of masturbation feeling he gets when he listens to the president- ‘a tingle goes up my leg’ is he describing foreplay?] had on 2 Texas politicos. They were on a split screen- top and bottom. The guy on the bottom was Jim Hightower- he used to be in the Texas political scene years ago- I guess he now has a radio show.
The other guy was a liberal from Dallas.
Matthews is engaging in his usual un informed speech- and as he is mocking the Texan [Perry]- even saying ‘the all hat and no cattle guy’ it’s hard not to laugh- seeing Hightower sitting there- with his Stetson beaming high!
And here it comes- the Dallas reporter quoted the words of Perry from a recent prayer rally- he said how Perry spoke about a 'Dark Cloud’ hanging over the nation- and that Perry believes he is the White hope that will get rid of this ‘Dark cloud’.
You know- when the left does this- purposefully injects race into the game- when we all know the real meaning of Perry’s words were not about race- then the left destroys the dialogue- they make it impossible to engage in enlightened speech.
A few weeks ago- during one of the Repub debates- CNN had on a regular Dem. Guest. His name is Cornell Belcher [he is Black]. As John King was asking them how they thought the debate went- Belcher- innocently kept using a phrase that I knew made King jump out of his boots.
Remember- John King- after the Gifford’s shooting- when the media publicly blamed Sarah Palin for the 6 deaths- King and others critiqued the right for using violent speech. King even went so far- I think honestly- that he rebuked one of his guests for saying ‘target’ or something like that.
So as he’s talking to Belcher- Belcher says that Pawlenty blew it- because he wasn’t tough enough on Romney. He then said- repeatedly ‘in these debates you have to cut the man- and make him bleed’.
Now- I saw King- I knew he was uncomfortable- but he let it slide. Then sure enough- Belcher again says ‘no- you can’t just slice the man- he must bleed too’.
He obviously was saying Pawlenty needed to not just go after Romney- but score some points. Look- I know what the guy was saying- and I did not hear any right winger rake the man over the coals- but the left were able to use the term ‘Dark Cloud’ and insinuate that Perry- and all the other right wing- anti gay- anti masturbation- child killing advocates- that they are the main cause of all the ills in the world- that if they would stop being the way they are- that the world would become a modern day Utopia- sort of like Obama spoke about in the early days of his presidency.
But no- we have a real world religious radical group- directly responsible for the deaths of many thousands of little Black kids- and this groups radical views are causing the parents of these kids to reject the free vaccinations- and their kids are dying by the thousands because of this- yet the media for some reason doesn’t see this as a major right wing religious problem- no- they want to air Bachman’s church recordings where she prays for gays- they want to go back 15 years and see why Christine does not like masturbation.
They want to find a phrase in Perry's prayer- that they can use to say ‘they hate Black folk’ yes the media are doing such a great job- I just wish I could find some place to hide- to go away from all these talking heads- maybe a place called Utopia.
 WHO’S THE DODO BIRD NOW?
Let’s try and get a few things in today.
First- the overview of the last couple of days- I think stuff like that is important. I have lots of friends from different religious backgrounds and nations. Some are Muslim, some are Jewish- others hold to eastern religions.
I want everyone to have a grasp on what the message of Christianity is- it often gets lost in the debates that rage between nations and various political stances- yet the main message of the bible is that Christ died to pay for the sins of all mankind- and God saves/receives people on the grounds of his Son having died for us.
The Old Covenant [the law] was based on man trying real hard to be good- he could never live up to the standard. Then the New Covenant was established- which was based on this free gift of eternal life- Jesus paid the price- we receive salvation as a gift- not as a matter of works.
I’ll do more on the basics the next few weeks- but I wanted to at least hit these truths for a few days.
Okay- as a Texan I stated a while ago that I’m not particularly a fan of Rick Perry. In many ways I do not fit the political mold of ‘the right’ or the left. I also realized that if Perry jumped into the fray- well the left would use that with all their might to play on the divisions of the country.
MSNBC has showed no shame in saying that the Evangelical Protestants are nuts- and the Catholics [Lawrence O’Donnell says this a lot] are the stable folk. Now- as a Christian- I see myself more and more as a composite of all the great historic faiths.
Anyone who has read my blog for a while can easily see that. I have actually had to correct Catholic news guys- quite often- when they misrepresent their own church. So I think the lefts agenda to feed into this divide- for purely political purposes- is bad.
Last night I was channel surfing and I hit Gore’s station- current T.V. They had Shuster filling in for Olbermann. He was teasing a segment on Perry- you know- saying now that he’s in the race- well damn it- we are not gonna let him get away with his lies!
So Shuster kept saying ‘Perry’s misleading you about the job growth in Texas- we’ll uncover his lies in a moment’. Okay- I’m fair-minded- not really a Perry guy- I’ll listen.
He goes on and plays a clip where Perry states- carefully- that since June of 2009- over 40 % of the new jobs created in the country came from Texas.
Now- the last few weeks I have heard various pundits use this figure- sometimes they would exaggerate and say around 50 %.
So I figured Shuster and the crew had something on the man- they did report- as news- that he lied.
Then Shuster gave the scoop- he said first of all- many new people have moved to the state of Texas [okay- listening] and that many of the new jobs created in the state were service related—restaurants- etc. [okay- still listening] and that many of these jobs are not high paying- and therefore Perry lied.
Well someone lied for sure- but it wasn’t Perry.
Then I caught a clip of the channels owner [Gore] going off the rails. This past week was bad news for the global warming crowd [I’m not an absolute denier by the way]. I saw/heard the clip a couple of times- Gore was at some meeting and he freaked out- he was saying ‘those who say the earth is not warming- bull s^%$t. Those who deny this/that- bull s---t.’ I mean it sounded like one of my posts on a bad day.
I guess the pressure got to him- lots of folk are rejecting the science behind global warming. Let me say- I have never deeply looked into it- but as a big news guy I hear both sides. The other day I read a news article- it was a small article hidden in the paper- but it said that we now have scientific proof that the pollution trapped under the ozone layer- is in fact contributing to the COOLING of the planet.
The article explained the actual pollution particles do act as a sort of sun block- and they block some of the sun’s rays from getting in- thus cooling the planet.
Now- this report was not on Fox- or Rush- it was in a plane Jane news paper. I mean even as a casual reader of the subject- I had to laugh. I mean this is the exact opposite argument that Gore has made.
Then- for the first time ever- I watched Gores global warming flick. It came on after the news show I watch on his station. Sure enough- he shows a sort of cartoon graphic that shows the sun- and the rays of the sun penetrating thru the ozone layer surrounding the planet. And then the cartoon shows the ray bouncing off the earth- but when it gets back up to the ozone layer- well the ray gets stuck inside- it can’t get out.
He then went on to explain that the pollution [co2] is causing this effect- and that’s why the globe is melting.
Now- I had just read the news article- and it was obvious to ask ‘well Mr. Gore- how come when you show the graphic- the rays have no problem getting in- the pollution does not block anything from getting in- yet when the same ray wants to bounce back out- it can’t’.
I mean it wasn’t that hard to see that there were real problems with his idea- and I guess the world is finding out a little faster than he wished.
The other day I read an article on Evolution. It showed one of the most famous ‘proofs’ for evolution. Those who have read the pros and cons on the thing- well we all know about the famous bird/dinosaur fossil that was found around 150 years ago.
This fossil has been used as proof for the theory- for 150 years. Now- this extinct looking bird does look like it came from the pre historic world. But I have heard- for 20 years at least- the creationists say that this fossil is not a bird fossil at all- that is simply a flying dinosaur.
Now- there are ways scientists can tell this stuff from fossils- it would take too long to try and explain the whole thing [plus- I don’t know the whole thing!]. But we know in our day that birds have completely different body structures than dinosaurs. Birds do not have lungs- they have hollow bones and when they fly the air goes thru their body- and that’s how they oxygenate their bodies.
That’s why you never see a bird breathing heavy- or breathing at all after it lands- they don’t breathe like animals who have lungs.
Okay- for various reasons the evolutionary community needed to show that they found a bird/dinosaur fossil- it was needed to fill in the blank between dinosaurs turning into birds- which is part of evolutionary theory.
I have heard scientists argue- time and again- that the creationists were doing fake science when they claimed this fossil was really a dinosaur- not a bird [Flying dinosaur- but a dinosaur never the less]. And these scientists would say all true science has proven- beyond a Shadow of a doubt- that this particular fossil was indeed a bird.
Okay- the article I just read said ‘surprise- Chinese scientists have just discovered that the so called bird- well it’s a dinosaur’!
You know- you hear things all the time- from sources of media- people who sware they are telling the truth ‘Perry is lying about creating 40 % of the nations jobs’ and then when you look at the numbers- well the news guy was lying.
Yet these same advocates- who it was already leaked that they were going to do a smear campaign- they want to tell us how they are so smart- and the rest of the country are a bunch of duped Tea Partiers. Yeah- that’s the smart crowd- the ones who were worshipping at the foot of a 150 year old bird for past century and a half- and Walla- they were really worshipping a dinosaur instead.
The apostle Paul said [Romans] that people loved and served the creation- rather than the creator. And as a judgment God have them up to become like the thing they worshipped. Wow- can’t get better than then- can it?
 RICK PERRY- HE NEEDS HELP- BAD!
Okay- just a little politics- then some bible stuff.
Last night I watched the Repub debate- nothing real impressive- everyone played their angle. I also saw a few minutes of Maddow [MSNBC]. Okay- I have mentioned Maddow before- I mentioned that she is a lesbian- openly so. Fine [I don’t approve of the thing- but that’s her business] I want to simply give you an example of inconsistent thinking that people often engage in- and they don’t know it.
A few days ago a report slipped out- some insider leaked the fact that Obama [and his re election team] have made the decision to smear Perry. Now- I know both sides do it- but this was a leak and Obama and his team were mad about the leak.
Then- like clockwork- MSNBC began a week of smearing Perry- I mean it was ‘funny’ to see the sycophants- I mean they were like Pavlov’s dogs ‘jump- drool’ the whole 9 yards. First- they did a critique of the ‘Houston prayer and fasting’ thing- Perry announced a prayer day- had a bunch of preachers [who I actually disagree with theologically] at the event- and Maddow [Rachel Maddow- host of a news show] did an ‘in depth’ critique of all the ‘crazies’ that Perry was aligned with.
She misrepresented the whole group of preachers- even though I do not hold to many of their views- she said they were part of the evangelical movements ‘theocratic’ wing. Theocracy is the belief that religion should actually be a govt./state function- many in the Islamic world hold to this view.
Okay- the actual name for Christians who believe this is Reconstructionism- these Christians do hold to this view- they are a very small minority- and the group Perry was hanging with- they are in no way Reconstructionists.
Second- Maddow critiqued ‘religion’ as she has in the past- and said her only problem with people like Perry- is they want to impose their values on others.
If Rachel were a smart apologist [one who argues this point- but is smart] she would realize that all persons- especially her- do argue- all the time- from a natural law perspective. That is they- even though they deny it- are making the point- all the time- that their particular view of morality- whether it be gay marriage- or anti polygamy- or any other host of moral ideals- they all argue for the ‘legislation of morality’ legislation [the passing of law] is by definition the legislation of morality.
Now- if that law is simply ‘can't drive 70 in a 60 MPH zone’ this is the legislation of morality. The moral principle is ‘don’t drive this speed- it might kill you- and me’ and then we pass a law that legislates that moral belief. Pretty simple.
Okay- what Maddow is mad about- is the legislation of morality that effects her particular lifestyle. Now- she might say ‘well- we believe that consenting adults should be free to do what they want in the bedroom’ okay- got ya.
Would you agree to 2 adults- lets say a brother and sister- who have no ability to have kids- should we let them marry?
Most would rightfully say no- the point is- you are now defining what’s ‘right or wrong’ and it’s not simply a matter of what 2 adults want- it’s truly a matter of ‘right or wrong’.
I could go on- ad infinitum- with these examples- the point is Maddow- like Perry- like the left- the right- they all have some sense of ethics- where they derive that ideal from- well that’s another point- but they have their own ‘morality’ and they do in fact want to impose it- all the time- on other people.
So let’s at least be honest about the thing. Okay she finished her show last night with an image- she said that the true insiders- who know Perry- they will ALL tell you that they are concerned about Perry- they actually feel his is ‘dumb’.
She explained that these insiders- they all knew Bush was really smart [wow- never heard you say that before] yet they all think Perry is actually mentally challenged [I kid you not- she went down this road] and that these Repub insiders- they actually fear for the country- that a dangerous loose cannon like this might take the reins.
Okay- Maddow- who I’m sure would not appreciate us giving images of the things she does- or how ‘smart’ she is- she left us with the mental image that Perry is actually mentally challenged. The same image of Palin, Bachman, ETC.
What’s wrong with this picture? Even though she claims ‘the insiders all said Bush was a genius’ yet her network- they ran with the story that Bush was actually dyslexic- yeah- I remember. Look- I’ll admit I’m no saint here- yeah I too have made jokes about Bush’s brain.
Sure- I would say ‘hey- you critics of Bush- who said- look at the man- after the planes hit the towers- Bush sat- dumbfounded for around 7 minutes- sitting in that classroom- just looking confused’ Okay- I’ll admit I would quip ‘you guys are misreading it- he wasn’t confused about the response- he was sitting in a 3rd grade class- he was struggling with the curriculum’. Okay- I fess up.
But Maddow left us with that ugly picture- the seed of thinking ‘geez- I never knew others viewed Perry that way’ and even I couldn’t shake the mental image- now thinking that he might really be what she said.
They slandered him just as bad as the right has slandered their guys- they should just report the policies and leave this type of character assassination at home.
Okay- I didn’t’ really do any bible stuff- but I covered a little on the moral law and ethics- which fits in with theology. So for now I’ll leave it at that.
Don’t forget- to all my friends who read these posts- pray for one another. I just finished a prayer time and prayed for a bunch of my friends [and those in other nations] who are connected with us in some way- many are going through tough times- and it helps if others are also praying for each other. Pray for everyone on these sites- others who you see when going thru the site- you see a name- or a post that might indicate a friend is in trouble- then try and pray for them that day- stuff like this helps.
And of course pray for Texas- we need it bad- I just found out that our governor is actually an ignoramus- I mean not just of low intellect- but so challenged that all the insiders fear for the safety of the free world if he gets elected. The source?- The same people who said ‘we believe that Obama is possibly the smartest person to ever hold the office of the president- he more than likely has the highest I.Q. than any other office holder in the history of the nation’. The other reporter asked ‘do you know what the number is’ the first guy said ‘no- but I know its very high- higher than any other president’. This was an actual on air discourse between 2 reporters during the inauguration celebration of president Obama.
Yeah- these are just the type of folk I need telling me about Perry’s I.Q.- yeah- they sure know their stuff.
 MINING FOR GOLD? [the Obama way- Warning- this one might be a little crude for some of my readers- had a tough week]
Okay- this week has been a roller coaster to say the least. The market went down- up- and down again. I think it closed at around 10,700 last night. I’m not in the market- I got out years ago- yet I still follow the stuff.
We also had the recall election in Wisconsin- out of the 6 Repub senators who were up for a recall- only 2 lost. The Dems spent around 30 million- hoping to maybe knock out all 6- they didn’t do as well as they wanted. I find it funny that all the liberal news coverage- they never mentioned that 2 Dems are up for recall next week- they just tell you what they think you need to hear.
A few weeks back- during the heat of the debt ceiling vote- one of the major sticking points was a vote for a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. Now- there are pros and cons to the thing- but wouldn’t you think that they might do a poll on the thing?
I mean you had news guys asking ‘are the Tea Partiers terrorists’ and other stuff like that. How bout one poll on ‘do you favor a balanced budget amendment’. Then I heard some talking heads say ‘and why do we [We?] not want a balanced budget amendment’? And the other talking head said ‘well- if you do that- then if the country faces another crisis- we wouldn’t be able to do another stimulus’.
Gee- that just might be good- don’t you think? The way they were talking- I knew something was up- they had that condescending attitude that said ‘you know- the American people are to stupid to know these things’.
Sure enough- CNN did do a poll- and it was around 70 % of the people who wanted a balanced budget amendment. They did not report the poll on the air- you know- that would take away too much time from the real story- that the Tea Partiers are Hobbits- so they stuck the poll on their on line page.
Years ago- at the Fire Dept. we used to have ‘snake oil salesman’ come by every now and again. They were either selling insurance or some other type of investment scheme to get the guys in. I was mad that these guys would buddy up to the chief- and then all the guys were ‘told’ to listen to the sales pitch. And of course- the pro’s- well they have a way of selling stuff- things that people don’t need.
One year we had some guy selling life insurance- boy was he good. I think he was a Jersey brother [like me!]. Boy- he talked just like the preacher in the movie Elmer Gantry. Anyway- he went on about the need for the insurance- and at the end- he made it sound like he was signing up the guys for some city insurance thing- like when you sign your actual health care every year. He would walk up to the ones who didn’t sign and say ‘you need to sign the paperwork- you didn’t sign yet’.
Man- was I pissed. He walks over to me- gives me the line- I raked him over the coals. I told him first of all- he was selling a bad product. He was selling what’s called Whole Life- your really better off buying Term- and if you want to invest- then take the cost difference and just stick it in your 401 k [or the bank!].
I blew his cover- it was too bad he already signed most of the guys.
So this is what I see going on right now- lots of miss information- news people lying- on the left and right- and both sides thinking ‘geez- those other guys are all bastards’. The truth is- they are all doing it- not just the side you don’t like.
One day I caught a show on CSPAN- there was no editorializing- just the facts. They had on some Democrat governor [I think from Washington State]. A reporter asked her why her story- about her state solving their fiscal problems- with cuts and other ‘austerity’ measures- why she wasn’t getting the coverage like Wisconsin.
She innocently [?] replied that the media weren’t covering her because her state wasn’t in turmoil- it wasn’t the same political theatre like ‘those Repub governors fighting the working folk’.
Actually- the real reason you have not seen coverage on all the Dem states that have balanced their budgets- is because all of those states- bar none- have done the same things that the evil Repub governors did- they made cuts- balanced their books [tried] and they did the same things that the media are trying to portray as evil Repub measures.
So- how can the media run with the narrative that says ‘evil Repub governors- are killing the unions’ when the Dems are doing the same basic thing?
What’s the problem then? Well when the media decides to be in the tank like this- then even if they win the argument- and recall every Repub governor in the country- then the Dems will still have to try and balance their books- and the only way to did it is through these austerity measures- or just don’t get elected and keep using it as a tool to re elect Obama.
Yeah- just like the insurance salesman- they think the average person is simply a fish waiting to jump on the hook- and sad to say- we do!
Okay- I really wanted to try and get back to some bible teaching- and actually overview some of the New Testament- but that will have to wait for now.
What should you do now? If you stayed in the market- and took another huge hit [like a few years ago] then there’s not a whole lot that you can do. Will the market go down another 1000 points- who knows? 12,500 was way too high- and I said that all year long. I even heard a financial guys fess up on national TV- he said ‘look- us insiders- we all knew that the dow was over priced at around 20 %- this was no surprise’ well heck- that’s a surprise to all your customers! The ones you’ve been telling to stay in the market this past year- even though it was just too high.
At this point [today- 8-11] it’s probably not good to sell- maybe if we get another surge up [to like 11,500?] maybe that might be a spot to take some losses- if you can’t sleep at night- and get out. But right now- you would be locking in around a 20 % loss- thats a lot.
I had a another talk with my ultra liberal friend the other night- we have a mutual friend who is very rich [okay] but this friend is always on the bandwagon about ‘I am on the side of the working stiff [geez- that would be me] and those darn Repubs are on the side of the rich [which this person is- but whose keeping count?]
This person- the rich mutual friend- is in her 70’s [married couple] and they have fought very hard against any changes to Medicare. They are in the AARP lobbying group [one of the strongest lobbying groups around] and any time any one mentions a change in Medicare- they go ballistic.
Now as rich folk- who got into the system at the start- they probably paid a few thousand dollars into the system- and have used a few hundred thousand [that’s the average for folk their age]. That is the system overpromised- and the older rich folk- who keep lobbying against change- if the truth be told- they are screwing their kids and grandkids- but why tell the truth?
So I explained to my friend- that I have paid a few hundred thousand into our entitlement programs [yeah- I have the paperwork on it] and I can’t even get disability for real injuries- documented- [bad back discs, permanent nerve damage to my right leg, and a host of other non related things that popped up right after I lost health coverage]. I told my friend ‘I’m a retired firefighter- who was told to leave that field because of real medical problems- my only real employment field- and I have paid a ton of money into these systems- and yet our rich friend- who says they are for the poor- they lobby like mad men to not even make a 50 cent change in their Medicare payment- so they can keep getting the deal of a lifetime- while the younger generation is paying out the nose to fund them’.
And to top it all off- I’m now looking at a $700- 1000 fine- yes a fine- because I don’t have health care- and because of the pre existing conditions- I will never get any [I know the public thinks Obama fixed it- he didn’t- my only option is ‘pay the fine’ they lied to you- and me]. My friend simply said ‘Oh- I never knew this’. I figured that out years ago.
We all have a tendency to see the point of view of ‘our side’ while really thinking the other side are truly demons. Yet both sides have demons- not just the ‘other’ side.
My friend then told me a funny story- which I wasn’t sure how to tell- but I’ll give it a shot. Our mutual rich friend said she had some pain in her mouth one day and she told her husband ‘can you look in my mouth- I think my gold filling fell out’. Sure enough it did- and she swallowed it!
She went to the dentist/doctor and he said ‘well- if you want- you can go through your stool over the next few days- you might find the gold filling’.
I ended our conversation with ‘hey- when you talk to so and so- say ‘yeah- John said he knows about this procedure- it’s in the Obama stimulus plan- Its one of the ways their encouraging people to go out and see if they can strike gold- because you won’t be able to increase your wealth any other way in this economy’. I hope I’m wrong- but I fear I’m not.
 THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA
I was gonna wait till next week to post- but there has been some important news stuff going on- and last night S&P actually downgraded our rating [from AAA to AA+]. So let’s do some today.
Of course last week we finally raised the debt ceiling- our debt will now hit around 17 trillion [wow] until the next raise. I found it interesting to see how the media try’s to tell the public what they think is best- and they actually lie quite a bit.
A few weeks back CNN started a new show with Fahreed Zakariah- I thought I would like it- Fahreed is somewhat of an intellectual and I have heard him in debates before. The only drawback I saw [in the past] was he seemed to take one position- and defend it vigorously- and then take the other side at another time- and sware that this time he was right.
Okay- during the debt ceiling debate- many on the left described the ‘Tea Party’ as nuts- terrorists, psycho’s- the whole deal. It did get a little ridiculous after a while. I saw Fahreed- you know- the smart guy- he tried to give an in intellectual argument to why the Tea Party was ‘subverting the constitution- and actually bringing down the Democracy’ what? Yes- he explained how our govt. has 3 branches- and when one party [Dems] hold 2 [Pres, Senate] that if a minority of the 3rd branch [Tea Part- minority in the house] ‘take hostage’ the country- then they have actually subverted the Republic.
He then went on to attack the whole Tea Party mantra- their idea of cuts without taxes- everything. He then explained that the entire world has compared us to Europe [now it gets bad] and that even Europe looks good compared to us- he said that the Europeans have actually ‘shown the world’ that they are very reasonable compared to the U.S. in their dealing responsibly with their debt crisis.
Now- the very next day- because of European fears [no matter what anyone says- they have not solved their debt problem- it has actually spread this week- Italy is on the edge right now] we began to see the market collapse [dow went to 11,300 from a high of 12,500]. There are many reasons that this happened- but one of the main ones is the fear that the European debt crisis might spread to the globe.
So- the night before Fahreed said the world compared us to Europe- and the reasons we are in trouble is because we did not act responsibly- like Europe.
Then when asked ‘overall- is it at least good that we made the deal and avoided default’ he said no- and then made the actual Tea Party case to defend his position. He said that the deal only cuts a few billion in the beginning years [which he has advocated before!] and then he said- the way congress spends- ‘there’s no guarantee that they will ever stick to the cuts’. This is the exact argument the Tea Party made- to the tee!
That’s why they fought for a constitutional amendment- which Fahreed does not want.
Okay- then MSNBC had on an addiction specialist [I kid you not] to analyze the mental health of the tea party. Martin Bashir asked this guy to explain the danger of the Tea Party. The shrink went on to explain that when addicts have unrealistic expectations [Tea Party- cuts and no taxes= want dugs to make me happy] that they will resort to any means to get what they want [Heroin addict- give me your money or I’ll shoot. Tea Party- do the cuts or well not vote for a debt increase] when addicts do not see the danger of their unrealistic expectations- then yes- you get Oslo, Norway. You must be kidding- they had a guy on the air- comparing the position of the right to the guy who killed 80 people in Norway- and he [like Fahreed] tried to make it sound respectable.
On the news last night- before the downgrade- the jobs numbers came out for July. Now- news addicts like myself watch these things closely. The ‘left’ wants real bad to have some good news for the average folk. If the numbers are bad [under 200,000 new jobs is bad] then that doesn’t help. But there was no way the numbers would be above 200 thousand- I mean no one predicted that. They were hoping that they would at least be around 100,000- and not like the last report- where they hoped for 100 thousand and got around 18,000.
So as I perused the talking heads [ABC, CBS, NBC] of course they talked about the ‘number’ of unemployment dropping to 9.1 from 9.2- the number that I was waiting to see was the actual jobs number- how many new jobs were created last month?
Instead- I saw a screen graphic [you know- Lemmings like graphics- they think if they show the public anything- well they will never know] and it showed 230,000 new jobs [what!] and the unemployment dropping to 9.1 [from 9.2].
I immediately new they were lying- they were gonna show what they wanted to show you- and if they can tell you their story- any way they can- they will.
So- the small print [under the 230,000 jobs number] was the total manufacturing jobs gained- get this- since 12-09. What? Why take one sector- and go back to Dec. of 2009- and then add it up and show on the screen ‘230,000’ new jobs. Well, that’s the only jobs number [230,000- for total jobs from July] that would fit with the picture ‘unemployment went down to 9.1’. [Note- the reason 130,000 new jobs does not lower the overall rate is because that does not even keep up with the population growth of the country- we get over 100,000 new people seeking jobs every month]
No other jobs number would work. So they simply lied- they gave you a picture- false- and thought ‘you know- the average folk- we tell them what we think they should hear’.
So how did the unemployment number drop to 9.1? There are various factors that make up the number- some months you have natural weather disasters [snow storms] and people simply don’t go looking for work- that skews the number. Other months- people have been out of work so long- they give up- that skews the number.
But if the total jobs were only 130,000- then you know for a fact- that the real number didn’t drop a decimal Point- cant happen.
So more than likely some people didn’t go job shopping last month- and that skewed the number. But- the media knew they needed you to see the headline ‘230,000 new jobs’ and ‘unemployment down- 9.2 to 9.1’ and by golly- they found a way to make that happen.
Now- I hate to say [well actually I don’t hate it] ‘I told you so’ but heck- I did! If you go back and read/check the last months posts- somewhere in there I said ‘people must be nuts to be in the stock market right now’ now- I gave the caveat ‘I’m not telling you to get out’ but I then went on and said ‘if you’re smart- get out’.
Every media financial guy that was on the air- bar none- said ‘to the average investor- don’t panic- stay in the market’. Yet- in the past few weeks- 98% of trades that were done by these professional fund managers- who manage 401 k’s- 98 % were trades fleeing the stocks and going into bonds. Why? The Dow was at 12,500 [too high in my view] and we were facing all types of bad news. The Greek debt crisis [now more than Greece] the entire U.S. housing market is still a mess- and will be for a long time. The jobs numbers are terrible- and every indicator tells me these next few years are not going to be good.
So- if the odds of the economy getting worse are very high- then why take the risk of staying in right on the verge of a possible collapse? I know we can’t ‘time the market’- but heck- all those fund managers thought you could. Look- there was [is] no chance that the market was gonna hit 13,000 in the next few weeks- and a very great chance that it would collapse- then get your money out for the danger week/month- and if the sky doesn’t fall- then you can get back in- there was no chance you were going to miss a bull market- none.
But all the guys on the news said ‘stay in- hang in there’ and at the same time they- and all the professional funds they managed- they all jumped ship- left the stocks and fled for safety- while telling you ‘you can’t time the market’ yes- we are the lemmings.
Okay- then last night- well the S&P downgraded us- for the first time ever. Why? Well besides all the stuff I just mentioned- they felt the debt deal did not go far enough- that we needed to at least cut 4 trillion in spending over 10 years- we did about half that.
The defenders of the president were out in numbers- blaming the S&P for bad math [yeah- they did make a mistake- but that doesn’t change the overall picture one iota] and the reality is- the global economy is in trouble. Now- when you downgrade an entity [state, city, nation- bank, etc.] that means that entity has to pay you more interest if you buy their debt [treasury bonds]. But the last few weeks we have seen all the professional money fleeing stocks- and yes- going into U.S. bonds. Look- these investors know the scoop- S&P didn’t reveal anything that we didn’t already know- so the fact is- yeah it’s bad that we got downgraded- but the other investment options are so bad- that at the end of the day- people are still buying U.S. debt.
In high school I had a teacher- Mr. Steinberg. Mr. Steinberg was not ‘cool’ as a matter of fact- he seemed a little nerdy. He was Jewish- and at times wore a Star of David necklace- it was big- it was like he was asking for the persecution.
I liked Mr. Steinberg- and respected him for not being ashamed of his faith. It was in his class [English] that I was introduced to the great classics. Grapes of Wrath, Old man and the sea- all the classics. After we covered a book- he would check the TV Guide and when the made for TV movie was on- he assigned us to watch it.
Both of the above books/movies became favorites of mine- till this day I’ll watch them when they pop up on the classic channel. I actually have the Grapes of Wrath book sitting right here.
But the movie- Old man and the Sea- enthralled me. The struggle of the old man- his fight with the great fish- his arm wrestling bouts with the younger guys- the whole mystique was my thing.
The author- Hemingway- was himself a ‘mans man’ he lived large- took in all the experiences of life- and embraced a philosophy of life called Nihilism. This world view was popularized by men like Sartre, Camus and Freud. It basically is atheistic and says ‘there is no real meaning to life- man is a ‘useless passion’- he exists, only for the purpose of experiencing life- when the pain exceeds the pleasure- that the responsible thing to do is check out’. Yes- this philosophy advocates suicide.
Sartre [John Paul Sartre] actually said that the only philosophical question left is suicide- that we need to ask ourselves- as a society- should we allow ourselves to check out- for the good of the whole- when the pain exceeds the pleasure.
Another great work of Hemingway is titled ‘the Sun also rises’. He took the title from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes- written by Solomon [you know- to everything there is a season]. Solomon also embraces a sort of nihilistic view in this book- though it is in the bible- it is a form of literature called ‘pessimistic wisdom literature’. Sort of the philosophy Hemingway embraced.
Hemingway spoke about this view all thru out his life- though he was a brilliant writer- he had no hope ‘in the world’ [Apostle Paul]. One night, after he went to bed with his wife- he woke up- went downstairs and rigged up his favorite hunting rifle- and blew his head off. His daughter followed him a few years later.
I don’t know what’s down the road for our world right now- there are many people feeling hopeless today because they have lost- yes once again- a big portion of their wealth. As Christians we can say ‘yes- life is hard- we struggle at times- but in the end our struggles are working out a higher purpose- we have meaning in life’ but the atheist/nihilist- to them there is no redemptive purpose to the struggle- when the pain exceeds the pleasure- well yes- they check out.
Over the next few weeks- wherever you are at- think for yourself. If all the professional investors take their money out of stocks- and at the same time they advise you different- then stop listening to them. If your mad at the right [or left] then don’t keep watching people who are coming up with diagnosis’ that say the country is being run by actual Oslo killers- that’s just not true- no matter how much you might hate their point of view.
And at the end of the day- we as believers- we do have hope in the world. Mr. Steinberg wore that star of David- proudly. And in a recent post [Last?] I spoke about the promise that God made to king David- that he would raise up one of his sons and this Son would rule on the throne for ever. Yes- today this promise has been fulfilled through Christ- who sits at the right hand of God.
I don’t know- maybe I’ll rent the Old man and the Sea later [I tried in the past but couldn’t find it] and I’ll see the struggle of the old man [played excellently by Spencer Tracy] but instead of embracing his creators view [that is his earthly creator- Hemingway] I’ll ‘give’ my sufferings up- as the Catholics say- I’ll offer them to the Lord. Hemingway took the cowards way out- at the end of the day- he wasn’t the man we thought he was- he copped out.
 DON THE DUD
Well this morning I was at least hoping for some wind- got nada. For those of you who have never lived in the gulf- or a hurricane area- every year the local [and national] media have a tendency to ‘hype’ any type of disturbance in the gulf.
As Don developed into a tropical storm the other day- our local media began the regular routine of tracking the storm- ‘will it hit here- what are the tracking routes showing’ as I watched I said to myself ‘self- they don’t realize that the graphics they are using- the whole cone of danger- look exactly like the graphics they use for a cat. 4 hurricane’.
I realized that even though the actual satellite imagery is obviously different- yet the ‘narrative’ surrounding the entire event stays the same- and to the average grandma- glimpsing the local weather report- well yes- it looks like a hurricane is on the way!
Last night I watched the stupidity of the media- the Repubs passed their bill- finally- and it was off to the Senate- and of course the Senate has already said it would be dead on arrival. As I listened to the media- many Dems were sort of treated like they were the enlightened folk- and the reporters were like ‘and when will the Tea Party quit holding the whole country hostage- and purposefully stop trying to destroy the country’.
And the Dems would say ‘okay- they played their little game- in the House- and when will they stop playing these games- and really come to a solution’.
I began to realize that the Dems were really not presenting a totally honest picture- and with the help of the media- were actually positioning themselves for going past the Aug. 2 deadline.
Now- I’m not a tea partier- in any way, shape or form- I’m talking narrative here [remember Don] the story they are trying to tell- is not really as bad as they are making it sound like. I’m not saying the threat of default is not bad- it is very bad. I’m saying the story behind why the Dems [and Obama] won’t actually sign any of these Repub bills is not what they’re making it sound like.
The Repubs in the house have passed 2 bills- and sent them to the Senate. Both of these bills have cuts to go along with the increase in the debt limit- they also- now- have included a future vote on a constitutional amendment to have a federal balanced budget.
These bills have one more thing- the Repub bills have the House and Senate revisiting the whole thing again- in 6-9 months.
This is the main thing the pres. does not want. Why? The hard right says it’s for purely political reasons- the pres. does not want to have this fight again in the midst of a re-election campaign. The left say a 6 month plan would cause the rating agencies to drop our rating- because they think we will be on the brink again soon.
Both of these have some truth to them. But the facts right now- on the ground- are the Dems in the senate have already agreed to just about everything the Repubs have said- the Reid bill cuts 2.2 trillion- along with a debt limit increase- but it takes you past the election.
So now- why are Peirs Morgan- and Fahreed- and all the other talking heads saying ‘the tea partiers are driving us over the cliff- its Armageddon’ why? A bill with a promise [not an actual mandate] to have a future vote on a fed. Balanced budget is not the end of the world. Geez- it would take 2/3rds of the house and senate to pass it- then it would be sent to the states to get ratified [probably would never pass].
49 states already have it [and it doesn’t work so great- California is one of them]. So- why not appease the 80 tea party ‘nut jobs’ and sign the thing? I mean you already agree to the whole concept- because that’s the same basic plan that Reid has put out- except the Repub bill makes you do this again before the election.
Now- for the media to be saying ‘why have the tea party terrorists taken us to the precipice- why!’ geez- why not ask Obama- heck- we know you tried to compromise- and you did take some heat from the left- but geez- are you going to let the nation default- mainly because you don’t want to have to do this again in the middle of an election’?
I mean- the bills on the ‘table’ are very close- swallow the promised future vote on a fed. balanced budget- and ‘save the world’.
The media has simply decided to run with ‘the tea partiers are destroying the country with their proposals’ actually- the proposals are conservative- I’ll grant you that- but there are really no big differences- certainly not big enough to cause a default- to threaten a veto.
I saw a story one day- whenever I see something on evolution- I like reading it. You usually can see the bias right at the start. The story was about this new potential missing link. They found this ‘monkey’ tribe that mastered the use of tools- they made hammers and chisels and used them regularly in these caves. Wow! What a find.
The story showed how these caves had these monkey bones [skulls only] and these caves had these make shift tools in them. The skulls were all in a pile- and the tools around some table like device [these monkeys were obviously very skilled in the building trade].
The article said that this was scientific evidence for evolution. After all- who can deny that the skulls and chisels are real! I found it interesting- that the skulls were all in a pile- that there were no other bones- just skulls. Okay- according to the article- I have to believe that these advanced monkeys- either were all killed at one time- while huddling in the corner- or as they aged- they had a strange tradition- as they felt the big one coming on [you know- Fred Sanford- I’m coming home Elizabeth] they ran to the corner of the cave- laid down just in the right spot- placing their head over grandpa- and died.
Or could there be another narrative- another view of the actual evidence- don’t deny the evidence- just quit adding ‘your narrative’ and telling everyone it’s the only real way to see it.
In many parts of the world- the indigenous tribes do in fact eat monkey brain. These tribes make chisels/hammers to crack the heads open. Is it possible that they were simply getting the monkey heads- one or 2 at a time- having a ‘man cave’ moment- watching the super bowl- and after a fun night of monkey brains and beer- they tossed the skulls into a pile. That’s why you have skulls only.
The other view has some dogs coming into the cave- taking all the other bones- and not touching the skulls- okay- 2 views. I like to crab- after we have a crab boil- I guarantee you- you will find a bunch of crab shells in one spot- did they all naturally die in that spot- and did they actually craft the nut cracker and the table that it sits on- come on.
So as we close the week- the media is warning ‘Armageddon is here- the tea partiers have driven us over the edge- the end is near’ I guess the only person that comes out looking like a rose is sitting in some hotel on the left coast- listening to all these warnings and saying ‘see- I told you so’ you sure did Harold- you sure did [Camping].
The week is winding down- and as far as I know- as of last night the president and congress have not been able to reach an agreement on the debt crisis. I do think the president has put himself in somewhat of a corner. In his speech he continued his argument that the deal needs to be balanced with ‘revenue increases’ [which I agree with] and he spoke about the ‘rich’ having to pay their fair share [though they do already pay for most of the taxes in the country- the big corp. loopholes are another matter].
Yet the 2 plans on the table right now- Reid and Boehner- neither one has tax increases. Reid’s is around 2.2 trillion in cuts [over 10 years] with the corresponding debt limit increase. And Boehner’s is 1 trillion- with the same basic plan. Reid's takes you past the next election- Boehner’s doesn’t. Can the president really say ‘I rejected the plan- the country defaulted- all because I wanted a 13 month plan- instead of a 6 month one’.
That just seems untenable to me.
Okay- what about compromise- is it a bad thing? Let me try and tie this in with some comments I made in the last post. In the last post I spoke about the difference between ‘Sola scriptura’ and ‘Solo scriptura’. Sola was the Reformation belief that when the Protestants and the Catholics couldn’t come to an agreement- then at the end of the day- the bible ‘alone’ settles the matter. That’s what Sola [alone] scriptura [scriptures] meant.
Over the centuries many Protestants began to embrace a view of Christianity that said ‘we don’t need/listen to what the traditional churches have to say- or what the Christian church fathers have to say- we have the bible alone to tell us’.
And even though the bible does give us instruction on all areas of life that are pertinent to the Christian experience- yet the bible actually contains within it stories about how the church should regard ‘tradition’ or how they should look to both scripture- and past history- when trying to come to solutions to problems.
In Acts chapter 15 we have the record of how the early church dealt with the problem of Gentile believers coming into the church. The first believers were all Jewish- so when they accepted Jesus as the Messiah- they also kept their Jewish heritage and their observance of the law.
Yet when the gospel started going out to the Gentiles [Acts 13] initially there was no need for converting fully to Judaism in order to be considered part of the church. Yet at the main church in Jerusalem [Acts 15] many Jewish leaders insisted on the Gentiles having to become circumcised and fully put themselves under the entire law.
So Paul and Barnabus- who were the main missionaries that worked with the Gentile believers at the time- they disagreed with the leaders coming out of Jerusalem- and determined that they would all go up to Jerusalem [from the city of Antioch- where these gentile believers were living at the time] and they would bring the question before the leaders- Peter, James and John.
During this discussion [which is the first church council] they listened to Peter’s experience where God showed him to not judge the gentile believers- but to accept them the way they are- as fellow believers in the Lord.
Peter had this experience in Acts chapter 10- God showed him a vision and taught him not to reject the gentile believers.
Then James [who seems to have been the main leader at the Jerusalem church] quotes form ‘the bible’ [the bible they had at this point was the Old Testament] and he quotes a passage from the prophet Amos that seems to go along with what Peter said- that God would raise up gentile believers too.
So after the discussion- James stands up and makes the final decision- with the agreement of the other leaders- and they write a letter and send it back to the gentile believers at Antioch- and they tell them they don’t need to fully convert to Judaism- but simply keep a few important commandments- don’t eat blood- don’t commit sexual sin- and a couple of things like this.
So at the end of the day they came to a position of compromise- they listened to all sides- and didn’t simply rely on the ‘bible alone’ that is they sought guidance from the book of Amos- and added that in with the other things that God was showing them at the time.
They were a community of people who were flexible enough to leave room for others who were not exactly like them- yet they did insist on belief in Jesus as the Messiah as the important thing.
As I watch the current debate- I see stubbornness with some- and I see political posturing with others- no one side is totally right- while the other totally wrong.
Last night I saw a shameful thing on the news- Lawrence O’Donnell showed a clip of a teenage girl who had killed herself because she was picked on for being gay. As I watched the story I of course felt sad for the girl’s mom who was talking about the bullying that her daughter endured- and of course it’s wrong to make fun of people- or bully them in any way.
Then they put up a quote from the mother- who said her daughter killed herself because of the ‘conservative’ district she had lived in. At the bottom of the quote- it said ‘Michele Bachman’s district’. This is no longer reporting- unbiased journalism- its people who have agendas that they are so attached too- that they can’t even see how doing this- associating the tragic death of this girl- with a presidential candidate- is so out of line.
The other day I heard a male ‘progressive’ news person talk about Bristol Palin getting ‘knocked up- [like a little slut]- while drunk on wine coolers’. Now- this girl is 20 years old- this happened when she was 16. Can you imagine any news person- speaking publicly like this- about the presidents beautiful daughters in a year or 2 from now- when they are the same age?
When we only see one side as the enemy- when we demonize peoples kids- accuse people of murdering gay kids- simply because they lived in your district- when we get this low- then compromise seems impossible- because you now view the opposing side as the real enemy.
I hope and pray we can get a compromise- for the sake of our country. I hope we can be open to what others are saying- people who have been around longer than us- ‘spiritual’ fathers if you will. Even though we seek God- have the bible- and do our best to determine what’s best- yet it’s also important to respect the opinions of others- don’t demonize everyone who is not just like you [or me] at the end of the day we need each other- even the ones who don’t fit our mold.
 THE DEBT CEILING
Last night the president spoke about the looming crisis of default. He tried to explain why we are at the precipice- and he gave what he felt was a balanced approach to the problem. Let me just hit a few high points of this debate- and try and clear up some confusion I see in the media on how they are reporting the story.
First- lots of news guys are saying ‘the Tea Party Repubs are voting for a default’. Is this true? Actually no. Now- their actions might very well lead to a default- but to say they are outright voting for one- that’s not true.
Technically a default would be if the U.S. govt. did not make good on its payments to those who hold our debt. When bonds/treasuries mature- and when the interest is due- if the govt. did not meet these obligations- on time- then that’s a default.
Are the Repubs voting for that? No. So why is the media [and the pres. last night] saying this? The tea party guys are saying ‘look- we got elected by people who wanted the out of control spending to stop, that was the main promise we made to them- and we will not vote for a debt ceiling increase- unless we cut an equal [or more] amount of spending to go along with it’.
This has left the Dems and the Repubs bargaining over these last few months. There are legitimate differences between the 2 sides- and they are at a stalemate. Now- the reason we need to raise the debt ceiling is because the govt. cannot ‘rack up debt’ [by actually paying the monthly bills] without congressional approval. In August we will bring in around 170 billion dollars- the bills are around 230 billion- and the interest payments and maturing bonds come to around 25 billion [estimates].
To not raise the debt ceiling- as a strictly financial decision- does not mean your voting for default. The govt. can pay the 25 billion first [which the constitution demands] and then would have to deal with what gets paid next.
Is it responsible to try and make up the difference in one month like this. No. It’s just too much to cut in one month. Yet technically voting against a debt ceiling increase is not the same as voting for default.
Next- was the president totally ‘honest’ in the speech last night? No. What? Are you calling the president a liar! Look- like everyone else- he fibs every now and again. In the speech he really hedged his bets. He said the reason he’s against a short term increase in the ceiling [6-9 months] is because the credit rating agencies [Moody’s, S& P] would more than likely drop our credit rating if we don’t do a long term ceiling limit lift- just long enough to get the president past the next election.
If you follow the story closely- and listen to the non biased financial gurus- they are saying that the rating agencies have already told the insiders that in 6 months the rating will drop. So Geithner and all the president’s men already know this. So when the president says ‘look you Repubs- if you don’t raise it in one shot- into 2013- then the rating drop is your fault’ ah- the games people play.
And of course both sides play the game- most of the time.
Now- the Repubs floated a few budgets over the last year- different plans- put down on paper- that hung them out to dry. Basically Harry Reid has been not doing his job as majority leader [last year he was asked ‘why don’t you raise the debt ceiling before the election- and the Repubs get in?’ He replied- ‘let them do it and get the blame- not us’. He basically has done this with every important issue- even though the majority party are the ones responsible to float budgets and raise ceilings and everything else- he blatantly admits that he wants the other side to do it- so he can blame them] and has said ‘let the Repubs go on record’ then like a bunch of novices- that’s what the Repubs did!
They took the heat- floated a very unpopular plan [Ryan] and the Dems attacked- all out- grandma over the cliff- the whole 9 yards.
Okay- what did this signal to the credit rating agencies? It told them that yes- indeed- the congress more than likely will not deal with the debt problem [not just raising the ceiling] and because of this fear- they realize now that they might have to drop the rating.
All the European nations who have lost their good ratings [Greece] and who are in trouble [Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland] are in trouble by the rating agencies- not because of a false debt ceiling- but because of the actual debt..
The rating agencies are not going to drop our rating simply because the ceiling won’t get raised- they have said this. They are going to drop it because they think the govt. is not really going to deal with the structural problems of the debt.
Reid’s recent plan says he will cut around 2.7 trillion of debt over 10 years. No new taxes- and the ceiling gets raised till 2013. Problem? He’s claiming that 1 trillion of it are cuts to the wars winding down over the next 10 years. Geez- are we really that simple? [these are cuts that are going to made anyway]
Gimmicks like this are why the rating agencies are going to drop our rating- not just a debt ceiling vote of no.
If the final plan- no matter whose it is- if it doesn’t deal with Medicare in a structural way- then it’s not dealing with the debt. Medicare means well- but is has the govt. on the hook to cover the expenses of a private industry- the health care industry. This industry- for whatever reason- is going up in cost at an astronomical pace- and that’s the biggest future problem of our debt.
Social Security simply takes in present money- and then gives it out on a monthly basis- overall that plan can be made whole- not like Medicare. So to overlook the real problems [like Reid's recent plan] will also contribute to a credit rating drop.
So yes- the president is also hedging his bets- saying ‘look- if you don’t extend the ceiling beyond next year- then it’s your fault if the rating falls!’ Ah- he knows the rating is going to fall- they have been told this. And he knows it’s because of all these other things [he’s a smart man]. So he is ‘counting on’ not getting a long term deal- he sees the writing on the wall- and he’s told the country- ‘see- I told you what the Repubs are going to do will hurt our rating’ and sure enough- the rating is going to go down.
Political posturing- by whoever- is not problem solving. I do not side with the hard right- or left- on this issue- and I think not raising the ceiling- right now- is not good. But both sides have to make some hard choices- when the pres did recognize that real changes do need to be made to entitlements- he took heat from his left.
And when Boehner was left standing at the altar [or walked away- depending on how you lean] after agreeing to 800 billion in new tax revenue- he took some heat. But at the end of the day we will need to put politics aside and deal with this very real problem. Make no mistake about it- not raising the ceiling by August would be a mistake- but it’s not an outright vote for default- and when the credit rating drops- it will be because of a lot of reasons- not just because they did a short term deal.
 WHAT MATTERS?
The other day I mentioned how believers have a habit of getting caught up in certain ‘religious’ views [tithing was the example I gave] and over time these views develop to a point where they take precedence over the things Jesus actually placed real value on.
In the 1st century when Jesus showed up on the scene- the religious practices of Gods people were centered around religious meetings [holy days] prayer, fasting and tithing- mainly to be seen of men- that is religion digressed to a point where what seemed to be the most important thing- was actually not important.
So how did Jesus respond? He spends the 3 very public years of ministry- healing the sick, telling the poor they are the blessed ones who will inherit Gods kingdom- and blasting the rich- and those in power- by telling them that their day was coming too.
In essence Jesus was the ultimate prophet- he followed the long line of Jewish prophets who took these same positions. The prophet Isaiah told the people ‘God is tired of all your religious activities- your church meetings- your special ‘sacrificial’ offerings- these things are a stench in his nose!’ then he would go on and say that God wanted justice for the poor and widow.
Amos also rebuked the rich and defended the poor- Ezekiel said the shepherds [religious leaders] were fleecing the sheep- they were leaders who were making a financial killing off of the people.
All of these things- in today’s world of ‘ministry’ are making a comeback- it’s just we don’t see it because they are dressed in a different way. But at the end of the day- for the most part- American style Christianity is usually measured by how much money you give [or take in] how faithful your are to attend religious meetings- and how famous your ministry is- are you a really gifted speaker? Or do you give a great ‘stage’ performance.
And in the mind of the average Christian- if you ask them ‘when was the last time you gave of your goods to your neighbor- reached out to the poor- showed your Christianity thru charity’? Often times they will answer that that is not ‘their ministry’ or that their giving to some Christian organization/church is their role- and it’s up to ‘the church’ to actually help the poor.
But these responses miss the main point- Jesus [and the prophets] were saying that’s the mistake- thinking that ‘religion’ consists in these outward religious acts- which are really for show- while the true acts of mercy and love are all too often neglected. People today have made the same mistake as the religious observers of Jesus day.
The letter of James- written by the brother [half] of Jesus- tells us that Pure religion- is to keep yourself unspotted form the world- and to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction. That’s it. No mention of religious holy days? No. No mention of special tithes/offerings? No. But what does he have to say about the modern religious view of the accumulation of wealth? Let’s not even go there [believe me- it’s pretty bad- go read the letter- its short].
This week in Somalia the estimates are 11 million people are on the verge of starvation- 2 to 3 million are kids. The world at large has had a hard time getting the food/resources in- because the country [like many other African nations] is in a sort of civil war.
The militant Islamic group fighting the govt. [Al Shabbab- I think that’s the name?] are made up of children. Yes- the kids have taken up an armed resistance against the leaders- and they are killing each other. I saw a news report on Mosaic world news- and the kids were in the streets- sort of like any kids on a block- but they had guns.
One young kid [10?] was pulling on the rifle of an older boy [15?] and the older boy got mad- like some school yard thing. The older boy just pulled away- and pointed the gun at the ‘opposing kids’- at the same time- they were playing in the street- throwing rocks and waving sticks- and pointing loaded guns at each other- it was like it was a game- they were used to shooting each other if they had to.
There are many things happening in our world today- things that matter to God. Many Christians- though they mean well- seem to leave these other things up to others. They feel that if they can just make it through another week- attend religious meeting on Sunday- put in the tithe- that if they live up to these outward religious standards- that they have done well.
Jesus taught a different way- the apostles tried to follow in his way. The apostle John said ‘if you see your fellow man in need- and don’t actually help him- do what needs to be done to defend them- then how can you say Gods love is in you’ [my paraphrase].
The apostle Paul wrote the Colossians- he said ‘I’m worried about you- you are observing days and times and other outward religious rites- I’m afraid you are falling away from the true faith’.
There was always a danger that Christians would fall into this rut- this thing where they unconsciously make the least important things- the most important. When the religious leaders of Jesus day were conspiring to kill Jesus- they had a problem- if they killed him on the wrong day- it would mess up their religious festival going on at the time. If they had to deal with the dead body- on the wrong day- they would be technically unclean according to Jewish law- and it would throw off their game.
So they worked it out where they would kill Jesus- and leave the body alone on the Sabbath- and they had it all worked out. One problem- they were violating the most important commandment of all- given to them by their most important law giver [Moses] that said ‘thou shalt not kill’ but somehow- over a period of time- they saw these things as the most important- their special observances of holy days- keeping themselves ceremonially clean- not ‘unspotted from the world’ as James said- but religiously clean- so they could put on a good public show.
I just finished praying for a bunch of stuff- of course I prayed for the kids in Somalia- those dying and those killing. Yes- I also send money every month to the starving kids- but these things are not enough. I [we] need to also engage those around us- those hurting and dying and struggling in real ways. We need to make the most important things- important again.
 WALKING IN MEMPHIS-
I have part of the famous speech of M.L.K. jr. written here on my wall. He gave the speech the day before his death- and he said that God permitted him to go so far along the journey- allowed him to see the beginning of ‘the end’ and he came to peace with the fact that he himself would not make it all the way.
He said ‘I have been to the mountain..and I might not make it into the Promised Land with you..but I don’t mind.. because I have seen the land- and we- as a people- are going to make it’ [paraphrase].
After King’s death we heard stories about his personal failures in life- things he struggled with- yet he also tried his best to finish the course that God destined him for.
I often wonder if this is what King saw- if he realized he had kind of passed a personal point of no return- and he came to peace with it. That he was at least privileged to see the ‘promised land’ though he himself would not make it in.
This story comes from the bible. It’s the life story of another great man of God- Moses. God called Moses [Like Rick Perry?] when he was young and gung ho- Moses initial start was rocky- he got mad and killed a man in anger.
Moses fled to the wilderness for 40 years and God showed him a burning bush- it was time to go back home. The next 40 years were really not that much better. Sure we had the Red Sea incident- and Moses had one of the great actors of all time play him- Hesston.
Yet the next 40 years were spent in the desert- with a bunch of people [who initially voted for the guy!] and they whined about the journey all the time. Moses did his best- he led them through some tough stuff- and at the end of the 40 years [the real journey should have only taken a few days- the maps show us that they walked in circles for those 40 years] God says to Moses ‘Son- you’re not going in’.
What? God told Moses that he blew it one too many times with the temper thing- and that for that reason he could not go into the promised land. However- Moses was permitted to go up ‘to the mountain’ and look in. Yes- this was the mountain that King was referring to the day before he died ‘I have been up to the mountain- I have seen the promised land- I might not make it in with you- and I’m okay with that because I know now that you guys will m make it in’.
I think King- like Moses- came to terms with his own failures- no excuses- just the reality that he went a little too long down some bad roads- and it just wouldn’t be right for him to have gone all the way.
Yet- how could King [and Moses] be okay with it? There’s a theme that runs all thru out scripture that deals with God using you thru out your life to ‘reach’ a certain generation of people. You might never see these people in the flesh- you might not have any influence in their lives for most of the journey- yet you knew from the start that this was indeed part of the mission.
So you do your best with the other parts of the mission- always hoping and praying that the future day will arrive before you ‘call it a day’. There will be many times during this ‘wandering’ that you will deal with issues- real life failures and successes- and at times- during the hard times- you fear that you might have gone too far this time- and will never ‘see the promised land’ you might never fulfill what you knew from the beginning was a big part of the plan.
Then one day [year] you see a bush- some type of sign that comes from God- and he’s saying ‘lets give it one more shot’ at that part of the journey your usually too tired to go for it- you often think ‘geez- why now?’ Yet you’ve been around long enough to know you really have no option- just do the thing.
King [and Moses] went through stages where it looked like they might never see the promised land- never mind enter in to the thing. And God did them a favor- he said ‘son- go ahead up- look over into the finished product- it’s going to happen one day- know that for sure’. They seemed to be able to be grateful that they made it far enough to look in- to see that they did indeed make it far enough down the road that after they departed- the vision would live on.
These last few weeks- as an avid news junkie- a strange thing has happened [those of you who read these posts can pick up on it]. I have come to side in a way for an underdog- a hated man- yet an underdog never the less. As I watch Gadhaffi- day after day- stand on the tower/building overlooking Green square- I see him defying the nations of the world- saying ‘bring it on- you will never kill me’ in one of the speeches he said ‘you can never kill me- I live forever in the hearts of millions of people’.
Now- whether this be true or not- I have no idea- but the principle is biblical. Ultimately your ‘promised land’ is the generation of people that you have planted Gods word into throughout your life. The privilege God gave you to affect people- for good- during the journey. Gadhaffi was saying that you might kill him- but his ideals would live on beyond his life- this is true for all of us.
After the death of King we heard a lot about his personal failures- things that some people knew about- but not everyone. When we all learned about them- then took a second look at the Memphis speech- we can see that King was grateful for the ‘Moses moment’ that God was gracious enough to let him make it up to the mountain- to a point in the journey where he now knew that his destiny was sealed.
I’m sure he felt some sadness over the reality that he alone knew- that he did indeed go too far down some wrong paths for too long- but God was gracious enough to let him make it to the mountain- I do thank God for that.
 THEATER OF THE ABSURD
The last few days the media has inundated us with stories- so called ‘news stories’ that border on the absurd. First- we heard the reports on Michele Bachman’s husband’s clinic. He apparently has this business- where he does outpatient treatment. Okay- I guess these types of treatment clinics are a dime a dozen.
As an evangelical- he obviously gets patients who want to overcome what they feel are addictive personality traits. So he has Christians come in- who feel like they are struggling with homosexual tendencies- and because of their own choice- they are seeking ‘treatment’.
Now- this ‘reparative’ therapy has come under criticism- and there are questions over whether or not this type of therapy can hurt someone. Either way- for something like this- to have made it into the top news story- on the major networks- is ludicrous.
Then yesterday you had the media running with the migraine headache thing- yes- some insider leaked the story that Bachman has migraines. I heard Anderson Cooper [I think it was him- they all ran with it] ask ‘can a person run the country if they are incapacitated for days on end’?
Sounded like Mubarak’s lawyer- like the lady goes in and out of comas every few days. Ridiculous.
We have a real story- a story that should be covered- but gets very little coverage on the major networks- because it can hurt the president. It’s the scandal of our Justice Dept. - along with the ATF- selling guns to drug runners in Mexico- then finding these guns at the scene of murdered Border Patrol agents. Mexico actually suspected us of this in the past- and asked if we were indeed selling guns to drug cartel guys.
Our govt. - under president Obama- said no. We lied- we sold the guns- these guns killed many people- including our own law enforcement officials- and this is deemed an unworthy news story. These stories are things that bring down officials- things that rank so bad on the scale of ‘news’ worthy- that every news network should be covering it.
Yet we get migraines and ‘pray the gay away’ coverage- and no time for coverage of our justice dept being in the illegal gun running trade- and these guns actually having killed our own guys- it’s hard to believe- but believe it you can
I read a small report- hidden in the back pages of the paper. Human rights watch has been reporting that the Libyan Rebels- who we support- have been going into cities- with our air support- and killing civilians- Raiding homes- burning them down- looting businesses- of citizens who are on the side of Gadhaffi. These are not soldiers of Gadhaffi- these are actual citizens who do not support the Rebels.
How can we be supporting these Rebels- while they are doing this- and at the same time be accusing Gadhaffi of war crimes? Out of all the foreign countries that have fought the U.S. in the various fields of war we are engaged in- the number 1 country that sent Al Qaeda fighters to fight against us- came from Libya.
These fighters were not coming from Gadhaffi- he hates them- these Al Qaeda were coming from the same group of Rebels that we are supporting. The Rebels who are killing civilians- looting their shops and burning down the homes of civilians- these Rebels who we just recognized as the new ruling govt. of Libya.
Have you heard this story? No- it would take away too much time from the migraine scandal.
Why are we enamored with the absurd- the stuff that does not matter one iota- and yet the real injustices going on- many of them being perpetrated by our own govt. these things get little attention? I don’t know what the final outcome will be over the ‘gun running’ story- but someone needs to be fired- if not prosecuted over this.
If there are human rights groups- telling us that the Rebels we are supporting- are actually engaging in war crimes- then we need to stop supporting them- now.
I read a report on why the Arab league voted to remove Gadhaffi- they never liked the guy- he was a loner. So when the Arab league met- they figured they would vote for his expulsion- at no cost to them- and they would manipulate the U.S. into being ‘mercenaries’ who would go in and be the puppets of the world.
The report also said that they would not take a stand like this against other oppressive Arab rulers- because those rulers were deemed needed. They mentioned Assad of Syria as one example. Sure enough- last week the U.S. came out and took a hard stand against Assad- they attacked our embassy in Syria.
The Arab league responded by saying no country [the U.S.] has the right to say whether or not another countries leader is legitimate. The Arab league played us like puppets- got us to go to war against an Arab leader they didn’t support- and then told us ‘Hands off’ when we tried to criticize another one who is just as bad- if not worse.
These things are important- we don’t want to side against people- while supporting Rebels that are committing possible war crimes. We don’t want our guys being manipulated into being mercenaries- at no cost to the Arab League- because we got tricked into acting.
As a people- we should be informed about the important stuff- we should be aware- so we can make informed decisions- so we can know the facts on the ground. But instead we are treated to the secret recording of Michele Bachmann’s husband telling a fake gay patient that he can help him overcome what he thinks is a problem- no wonder the woman has migraines.
 GREAT EXPECTATIONS? Warning- this post is graphic
The other week we celebrated Fathers day. I was getting ready to buy a new computer and figured- wait- let me just tell my daughters  that instead of getting me different stuff I don’t need, just by me the PC.
They kinda scoffed at the idea- my wife said ‘John- computers are expensive’ I said ‘Okay- I’ll pay the balance- whatever they want- they can put down- I’ll cover the rest’. I really wasn’t expecting a free computer- I just thought it was a good idea. I even told them ‘hey- my birthdays coming up- just count this as a combination present’ look- I tried my best.
So as the week wore on- I would drop hints- you know- trying to see if they made the purchase. I am notorious at this kind of stuff. Every year around Christmas time I would always trick my girls into confessing what my wife bought me. I mean I would do what needed to be done- as crass as ‘hey Debbie- want to make 10 bucks’ yes- I go low.
Of course my wife would get mad ‘I’m gonna bring the presents back if you keep doing this!’ I swore my scheming days were over. Then one year they asked what I wanted- I said ‘I know- get me a BB gun’ what? Yeah- I want the classic kids toy- that toy that kids from all cultures and races covet- the toy little Ralphie shot his eye out with- yeah- that’s the one.
So the weeks went by- I tried my best to get the girls to confess- their older now [around 10 years ago] they know how to spot my tricks. So after weeks of doing my best bargaining- I gave up.
Then my wife comes home from work- and as soon as she walks in the door- I say ‘They told me you got me the BB gun’ boy was she mad- she looked at them [and me] and said ‘I told you not to tell him!’ They replied- ‘we didn’t’ ah yes- I still had the skill.
So as Fathers day approached- they wouldn’t budge- the day arrived and I even gave them directions on where I wanted to set it up in the study- I spent a couple of days running the cord and all.
As the day wore on- I realized that this time it was no game- they simply decided to not get me a gift. I kidded them about it [one of the girls did by me a nice plant] and we really never do stuff for Father’s day to be honest- I don’t like doing birthdays [for me] or stuff like that. Sure- maybe order out for dinner- nothing big.
My girls were kind of feeling a little guilty- far be it for me to put a guilt trip on them. Becky asks ‘hey dad- what do you want for your birthday’. I said ‘I know- do they sell any type of medication at the store- maybe some natural home health remedy- something that can help a person overcome a feeling of depression- the type you feel when you get nothing for Father’s day’.
Yes- the schemer still lives.
Okay- let me try and cover a few things. Last week I was talking to my homeless buddy Henry- we got into a discussion about the buzz on Perry possibly running for Pres. I told him I really wasn’t too excited about it- I can see it now- the media portraying him as a whacky evangelical- and Obama of course is the candidate that you should never question about his church beliefs.
Sure enough the talk has started. The MSNBC crowd has already said they think Perry is a Marjoe [the story of the fake boy evangelist] and of course Bachman’s ‘pray the gay away’ clinic has made it to prime time news.
These stupid arguments usually leave carnage on the floor. Stephen Tyler’s [Aerosmith] bio has been on the best seller list for a few weeks now. He tells the story of going to an abortion clinic with his 5 month pregnant girl friend. As they go in for the procedure- he thinks it’s a simple procedure that makes the pregnancy just go away. You know- this is a woman’s right!
As she lies on the table- the doctor sticks a needle into her. She begins going into forced labor- and the baby comes out- alive and screaming. Tyler stands in shock as he sees this tiny human- this person that he thought was just a blob of cells- crying for help- love- life.
They all stand there- seeing this beautiful 5 month old preemie struggling for life. Eventually the baby goes silent- the damage done. Tyler’s friends will later say that he became a different person after that- much more violent and angry. The story is simply the true telling of the life of a rocker- and Tyler has no behind the scenes agenda- he just told the truth- the shock and feeling of disgust over what happened.
The reason I’m leery about possibility of the ‘Texas Evangelical’ versus the ‘enlightened liberal’ is because these real life tragedies get lost in the debate. One time former senator Rick Santorum showed a picture of an unborn child- around the same age as Tyler’s kid. He was on the floor of congress and had it up there. I mean there is no way you could deny that what was on the screen was human. He asked Senator Barbara Boxer if what she saw was a baby or not. Boxer replied that it was beyond her pay grade to make that decision- that she did not see it as her responsibility to judge whether or not her consent to the killing of these babies was humane.
Yet this same congress can judge ‘crimes against humanity’ when a leader on the other side of the globe threatens to go after those who have raised up an armed insurgency against him- a civil war.
Sometimes our expectations are too high- we expect more from others than what we get. As these debates move forward this coming year- we need the integrity to do what’s right- not what’s politically expedient- but what’s right. I have never- ever- been able to justify the deaths of these preemies- after seeing the actual pictures of the babies- real little babies- being mutilated- this act is atrocious- it is equal to the slaughter of the innocents under Hitler’s regime- yes- it’s that bad.
I don’t expect too much out of our leaders- but I at least would hope that when they see the body of a beautiful little baby- perfectly formed- lying on a table- screaming for its life while the mother and father and doctor watch- that we can at least say that this is no surgical procedure- no ‘right to privacy’ being carried out- this my friends is murder- pure and simple.
 TRUTH IN REPORTING
Yesterday I saw the news- I caught Mitch McConnell on cspan- floating some convoluted plan that would allow the pres. to raise the debt ceiling in 3 separate steps. As I listened- it seemed like he was saying [giving room] for the tea party guys to vote no on taxes- while giving the pres veto power to push it through.
McConnell said- in frustration- that after working with the White House for the past 2-3 years- that he wonders whether or not they will ever get a real budget with this administration. He said it in a way like ‘I don’t think he’s serious about putting out a budget’. Do you know when our govt. last worked under one?
It was April- 2009. Yes- over 2 years now. It is surprising that a majority party [Whoever it be] who held the house, senate and presidency would fail to pass one- but they did.
Then I watched the new CBS guy- Pelley- do an interview with the pres. He mentioned- over and over again- that Mitch McConnell [the minority leader in the senate- Repub] said- quote ‘we will never pass a budget as long as this man is pres.’ He kept making it sound like a threat- a promise that he would never allow the pres. to pass one. Now- I know McConnell has said in the past that he wants to make the pres. fail- but in this serious time- during talks where it actually seems like McConnell is floating a plan because he wants Obama to be able to raise the ceiling- its times like this where we don’t need ‘advocacy journalism’.
You know- like when Dan Rather saw fit to float a fake military report about Bush. The average college student realized the document was fake- and even after Rather finally got the boot- he still said ‘whether it was fake or not is irrelevant- the point is Bush probably got special treatment’.
The other night CNN spoke about Palin/Bachman as- quote- ‘MILFs’- for those of you who don’t know what this means- it’s a slang way of saying they are ‘mothers that they would love to have intercourse with’. On CNN.
I’m beginning to wonder whether or not we are really heading for a national calamity.
Okay- let me talk about Sudan a little. In feb. of this year Sudan had a referendum that passed- it officially split the nation in 2. Sudan is a nation on the continent of Africa that has had brutal civil wars- and has engaged in acts of genocide- real genocide [not like the Libya thing] for a long time.
This past week the 2 nation deal went into effect- and the majority Muslim/Arab north has in fact engaged in aggression against the south. The history of Sudan is one in which the Muslim north has slaughtered the Christian south for decades. Some estimates are over 2 million have died in these ‘civil conflicts’. Now- the southern Sudanese are primarily Christian- and Black.
That’s where the genocide charge comes in- they were killing Blacks- because they were Black.
Now- in another infamous spot- Darfur [western Sudan] the majority non Black Muslim leaders of the north- are killing once again- but this time they are killing fellow Muslims. Why?
The Muslims in Darfur are Black. There is simply a racial hatred that has existed on the continent for decades- and non blacks have killed Blacks- because of their skin color. Also in the Nuba mountain region- Blacks are being killed.
Why is this important for us to know? Right now we are engaged on the African continent- siding with the Rebels who are in a civil war with Gadhaffi. As I have written before- Gadhaffi has embraced the Black Africans for 40 years- He has chosen to help them- and they actually love the guy- for real.
Many of the mercenaries who are fighting on Gadhaffi’s side are Black fighters coming from the Sub Sahara- when reporters ask them ‘why are you doing this’ they will freely admit that Gadhaffi has helped them a lot- even though other non black Arab leaders have killed them- yet as a non Black leader- Gadhaffi has supported them. Now- I’m sure he had ulterior motives- but the point is the Blacks support the man. [Like Trump says ‘I get along with the Blacks, they love me’. Seth Meyers said ‘I can believe that- that is if ‘the Blacks’ are the last names of the white family living down the road!’]
So today we find ourselves- engaged on the African continent- supposedly doing a noble thing- preventing ‘genocide’ from taking place. Even though Gadhaffi has a history of not siding with other Arab leaders who hate and kill Blacks- others who are doing it right now in Sudan- yet he has been targeted as the genocidal risk that must be taken out.
This is why- right now- you have Black leaders in our country- who hate the pres. They have actually said he will not fire a bullet at Black haters- yet he will kill those who have helped the Blacks- these are political insiders who know the scoop.
I don’t know what role the U.S. should play in these conflicts- we obviously can’t go into Sudan in a military way- that would be a huge mistake. But we can try and at least get the accusation right- if we choose to ‘oust’ a leader- a leader who does indeed have the support of Black Africans- whose enemies are killing Black supporters of the man. Then let’s not pretend we are engaged in some type of effort to prevent ‘crimes against humanity’ crimes that were not committed- but had the ‘potential’ of being committed. Why engage in the prevention of possible future ‘crimes against humanity’ when you have another nation [Sudan] actually doing the stuff?
 CRAZY TRAIN and squirrel busters
Here in Corpus our local paper has been having a field day with a ‘story of interest’. You have this couple, living in a small neighboring city- who are being harassed by the church of scientology.
I have read about this ‘church’ years ago- their founder is the late L. Ron Hubbard [Dianetics] and from what I remember they are basically a metaphysical cult. Some ‘cult watchers’ don’t even classify them as a religion- they lack the basic ‘Christian like’ structure of the other cults.
Anyway the husband left the group- sort of- he is a dissenter who still believes in the basic principles, but rejects the ‘church’ oversight. So the church deals with these people by harassing them- they have a team follow them around and video tape them under the guise that they are filming a documentary- and they post the videos to the net and say they are ‘busting Squirrels’.
Last night I caught a quick few minutes of Bill Maher on Piers Morgan- he is still on this ‘high speed’ fantasy of high speed rail. He also espoused the liberal economic argument that the Fed. Govt. is the ‘spender of last resort’. This idea says that during times of extreme financial stress- recession/depression- that the only ‘person’ at the table- with money- is the govt. That all the other’s ‘at the table’ have run out of money. The hard working union folk, the small business owners, the corps, etc. That because no one else has money- and those who do don’t want to spend it [the big corps, according to this theory] that the Fed. Govt. can step in and spend tons of money.
Thus the high speed rail thing keeps coming back ‘Geez- if we could just build the high speed trains- think of all the jobs it would provide’. I heard one ‘analyst’ explain- as soon as the train tracks get laid, that all types of businesses are just waiting to build along these tracks- McDonalds, Malls. High Speed Rail clothing stores [okay- I made this last one up].
These folk seem to believe that the actual rail itself- regardless of the overall business environment- will produce jobs. They then compare us to China [Maher] ‘geez- China has invested over 300 billion into it- why can’t we raise 8 billion’! [Actually- Obama mentioned around 40 billion in his speech- but whose counting].
Why has China been so successful at this? Because they are an economic powerhouse- that has this population explosion in their main cities- and they need the rail- not as some type of stand alone ‘job producer’ but as a necessity for a red hot economy [like the subway system in N.Y.- it’s not there as some type of wonderful job producer- people riding the thing for fun- it’s there because N.Y.C., like China- has this huge population center- and people need the trains as transportation- its simply meeting a need- for people to get to their jobs. It’s not an end in itself]
I think we should invest the 40 billion- let’s build a great rail- you know- with the old time ‘boarding station’ and the whole 9 yards. Lets invite Maher, Krugmann [N.Y. times] and all the other liberal economists who keep raising the hopes of high speed rail. Let's put them on the maiden voyage ‘all aboard’ but as the train leaves the station- instead of ‘I took the last train to Boston’ playing over the loud speakers- lets have Ozzies ‘going off the rails on a crazy train’ blasting.
Then instead of heading East- it turns West- yes right into the Pacific. ‘Now brother- your going too far’ Okay- let’s not dump them into the ocean- lets have them exit on a Gilligan’s Island type spot- and they can live out their days glorying over high speed rail.
Look- I know these guys are trying their best- and Maher was all for the Krugmann idea of the govt. spending trillions more- the only person at the table with money. But they don’t seem to realize that the govt is using the other ‘players’ money when it spends.
The govt. does not have a separate bank account- that gets this ‘unused cash’ to put on the table. THEY EITHER SPEND ‘THE OTHER PLAYERS MONEY’ OR THEY PRINT IT.
Now- one of the reasons the big corporations are not spending their money- is because the govt. has created an environment that scares them. When the govt. prints the money- like we did a few months back- 600 billion- the result is all the other money on the table counts for less.
So if the big spenders are afraid that the govt. will do this again- they will just wait- they don’t want to spend their more expensive dollars now- in a game where the boss might just throw a few more billion on the table. So this dream of the fed being the spender of last resort might actually hurt- not help.
Okay- I wanted to do a little more on Sudan, maybe tomorrow. I’m not mad at Maher- or Krugmann- it’s just that we tried this idea- we threw a ton of money on the table- and it did not work. Most of the president’s economic team who bought into this idea- they are gone now [Christine Rohmer, Austin Goolsbee, etc.] and the plan didn’t work.
I don’t hate these people- as a matter of fact I want to bless them- contribute to their future- I know- How bout we all chip in and buy them some tickets to the ‘crazy train’ yeah- they’ll love that.
Yesterday some bad employment numbers came out- to everyone’s shock the jobs gain was only 18,000 jobs- many were hoping for at least 100,000. This caused the unemployment number to tick up to 9.2%
I heard a Dem pundit say ‘if you want to risk not raising the debt ceiling- and seeing the Dow drop 800 points- go ahead!’ A few years ago the Dow went down- get this- 5 thousand points- yes- don’t you remember when it dropped to around 6 thousand?
The world did not end. If all we had to worry about was 800 points- geez- that’s a cake walk.
The European union states [28-or 27 nation states that hold the common Euro currency] are in no way agreed to bailing out failing states. The stock market goes up and down hundreds of points a week- based on ‘ Greece might get a deal- no wait- Germany is fidgeting’ I mean the reality of the situation is all these nations who are in financial straits are there because of too generous retirement/entitlement programs.
These politicians willingly made much too generous promises that were unsustainable. The reality is they need to look at the numbers and make the changes- yet the citizens are saying no!
Pelosi and the Dems are saying ‘don’t lower the debt on the backs of the poor’ okay- I hear you. But when you do not realistically look at the numbers- then you’re doing like Greece. You’re saying stuff that later will ruin the nation.
All the ideas on ‘fixing’ Medicare or social security are not ‘on the backs of the poor’. Many people are saying let’s do means testing- if your Warren Buffet [I’ll get to him in a sec] then you need to pay more s.s. taxes on your income- and get a less generous Medicare plan.
Buffet- and all the other billionaires- only pay S.S. taxes up to around 106,000 dollars of their income. That is we only tax a person up to a limited amount of income. So if we said ‘hey- the system has overpromised- many present retired folk- who paid very little into the system- are living off of their kids and grandkids income- and when the grandkids need it- it won’t be there for them’. [Let’s leave everyone else alone after the 100,000 mark- but once you reach the millionaire/billionaire mark- your get hit with a huge tax]
So in theory- making the rich pay more [Buffet types] is not ‘balancing the budget on the backs of the poor’ so Pelosi is wrong. Yes- I understand the point- lets also get rid of these tax loopholes for big corps- but to do means testing is not hurting the poor- it helps them. It makes the billionaires pay more- so the ‘poor’ can stay in the system.
Okay- Buffet. One of the reasons why the E.U. is on the verge of a financial disaster is because the well to do nations- like Germany- are not in debt like the less well to do nations [Greece]. Greece has gotten partial bailouts already- and every time their leaders want to enact ‘austerity’ changes [dealing with their own Medicare- S.S. problems] the people rise up in the streets and simply say no.
Now in Germany- the people have saved- they work until their in their 70’s, and they do not over promise benefits to their people. In Greece you retire in your 50’s- with full govt. benefits. The citizens are catching on to what’s going on and are saying ‘hell no- we are not going to pay for your retirement-at 50- when we are working into our 70’s to support you’.
Germanys Angela Merkel wants private investors- who took the risk- to bare some of the burden. As of now- the only people paying for these bailouts are the average citizens- the rich ‘wall street fat cats’ actually made out like bandits. They invested in these countries- investment banks bought up their treasuries- and then when the countries are on the verge of default- the Buffets keep their money- and the poor tax payers are paying for the whole thing.
Ah- now you see- the Germans are not idiots- they are saying ‘you want a free lunch- well; we are not going to pay for the thing’ and to be honest- I don’t blame them one bit.
Now- Warren Buffet [Berkshire Hathaway- and a great friend of Obama] was/is a supporter of Obama. When Obama came into office- both Bush and Obama did the bailouts. They spent 800 billion to prevent the big investment banks and Wall Street fat cats from taking the loss. Now- even though much of this was paid back- yet it was emergency bailout money that did indeed cost the average man lots of money. Many of these average folk lost their homes- jobs- everything- yet they had no special bailout.
Would it not have been wise to have made the Buffets of the world- who took the risk to invest in these shaky deals- for them to have indeed taken a loss? We- like the Germans- paid for the bad financial choices of others- and the ones who made the bad choices- they took no loss.
Buffet prides himself in saying ‘Yes- I too think the rich are s.o.b’s [wow- he’s just like us- the average guy!] and the rich should pay more- and the Dems are great- and..on and on’ One bit of advice.
There are many examples of people who were rich- and they did feel guilty about it- and they walked away from their wealth and became true servants of the poor. Mr. Buffet- instead of telling us- over and over again how bad the rich are- while we are the schleps who bailed you out- on our dime. Why don’t you give us all your money- and quit talking about what a deal you’re getting on your taxes?
Okay- 9.2 was bad- real bad. Will we sign a debt deal by August 2nd- I’m beginning to seriously wonder. If the markets rattle- so be it. I have watched the market go up to around 12,500 these past few weeks- and I think to myself ‘these people have to be nuts’.
Look- I’m not telling you to get out of the market- but if you think the economy is doing okay- you’re not facing reality.
Whatever deal we make on the debt. Or whatever bailouts hurting nations get- we must realize that those who made these bad financial decisions [like Fannie and Freddie- and Barney Frank and others who resisted Bush’s oversight and denied the house of cards that was being built] when these bad decisions are made- then the citizens of whatever nation- they should not be the ones to bail the rich investors out.
These institutions and their investors need to pay- the Fannie and Freddie disaster was another scam where they sold these bum mortgages- packaged them in bundles- and told the investors ‘look- even if they fail- the U.S. taxpayers are on the hook to cover the losses’ and they indeed were right- and these bundles did fail- and yes- once again- we paid for the loss.
Okay- enough for now. I do not wish for a debt default- and I see how both sides are playing to their base- but we need to not let those in power [whether it be Obama listening to Buffet or Paulson- men who had tremendous personal loss/gain to be made by their ‘advice’] scare us into paying for others to not take a loss.
If the rich investment bankers might be afraid of a loss- or the wall streeters might fear their Dow losing 800 points- then so be it. I know the danger of a default- I do think doing it would be bad- but the August 2nd date is not a ‘set in stone’ date- and the govt. still brings in much more than it owes on the debt- yes- they would have to pay the interest on the debt first- and cut lots of stuff if they don’t raise the ceiling- in some peoples minds- this might just be the medicine we need.
 NOT GUILTY!
These last few days have been hell for news addicts like myself. On holidays [4th] you can’t get hard news. I mean all you can find is serial killers, lock up, Casey Anthony highlights- and a bunch of stuff like that. And yesterday was consumed with the Casey trial. The only channel that showed some real news was Link T.V. - yes- Al Jazeera and Mosaic saved the day.
Even though I’m an avid news watcher/reader- yet I found little [to no] interest in the Casey show. Now- I have caught a few minutes by reason of my incessant channel surfing- and for that reason [alone] I am a little familiar with the case.
Over the weeks I have had friends ask me about the case- knowing I’m a news person. I would explain that I was not up on it- but for what it’s worth here’s my view. I was surprised to see a few followers of the case had some questions on her guilt.
I too have questions- but for the most part thought it was pretty clear that she either accidently killed the girl- or did it on purpose. I told these inquirers that there was really no other explanation to why a mother would be telling family/friends ‘Oh, my daughters with the nanny’ or ‘oh, she’s at the house’ when all along the girl was missing.
And the interaction between the parents and the daughter [whether or not there was sexual abuse] seemed to indicate that the dad really had no idea where the girl was.
If Casey and the dad found her drowned in the pool- then she would have told that story all along. And you don’t bury someone and hide the death- if it was a drowning accident.
So I basically did feel the girl was guilty. But- there was more than enough reasonable doubt- in my mind- to acquit the girl. The meter reader did do some questionable things [calling a month before- then accidently going out into the woods to take a leak- and once again you see something? He was probably looking for a payday- reward].
And the ‘forensics’ of air testing- taking air samples and claiming that’s some type of atmospheric DNA – geez- we already have enough prosecutors faking forensic stuff- we don’t need air samples!
So yeah- I think it was reasonable to not find the girl guilty- especially on a death penalty case- when you had this type of evidence.
Was I glad to see her get off? Not really- yet I was not mad either. One of the main teachings in the New Testament is what we call Justification by Faith. Even though this is a major doctrine in the bible- I find that many nominal church goers are not really as aware of it as they should be.
There is a verse in the book of Romans that says ‘God is just- and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus’. This discourse [chapters 2-4] explains that because all people are sinful before God- that God hatched a plan that would ‘allow’ him to let people off the hook- while at the same time righteously dealing with sin- and the just punishment that it requires.
This ‘plan’ was the Cross. That God would become a man [Jesus] and in this Divine mystery- he would take the place of all sinful men and die on the Cross for the sins of the world. This act allowed God [the Father] to stand in judgment over God [the Son] and for the Son to bear the righteous judgment that the sin deserved. Isaiah says ‘it pleased the Lord to bruise him’ [chapter 53].
This teaching is vital for the Christian to understand- that because of Christ’s death and resurrection- we now freely receive forgiveness from God- it’s not a matter of trying to become just by keeping the 10 commandments- or going to church- or just being an overall good guy.
It’s a matter of righteous justice- God’s Son died for the sins of the world- God made a deal with his Son- if the Son would do this- then it would only be just for God to forgive man because the Son died for them.
Yes- the bible says ‘God is just- and the justifier of those who believe in Jesus’. This is a great truth- this is the basis of us being forgiven. The only thing that prevents people from benefiting from this- is like Daltry sang [the Who] ‘I don’t need to be forgiven’ yes- to benefit from this great work of redemption- man needs to admit that he is guilty- that he [she] like everyone else who has ever walked the planet- yes- we are all guilty before God ‘there is none righteous- no not one’ [Romans].
In a way I’m happy for Casey- I hope she can see the seriousness of what happened- and if she did indeed do this- that she can also be forgiven by God. But Casey seems to struggle with something- she- like us- makes up too many excuses- too many stories to get around the reality of the situation.
Casey- like the rest of us- will first need to admit the truth- the reality that we have all sinned. Receiving forgiveness can be a hard thing- not being able to forgive yourself. Yet at the end of the day- that’s what grace is all about. Yes- God is just- and the justifier of those who will believe.
 A GLASS OF WINE ON THE HOUSE?
Henry’s been coming around a lot these last few days. I didn’t realize that he probably was feeling a little guilty/worried. A few weeks ago I gave Henry some money- wrote him a check for around 25 dollars.
I was supposed to do a few things with Henry- and I would always miss him. Last week I hit the grocery store and bought a bunch of good BBQ- we were going to head to Bishop for a fellowship- I went to pick up Henry at the boat dock where he works, and he wasn’t there.
I asked one of the kids if he knew where Henry was- he told me he had jury duty. What! Yeah, the week before he did get a notice to show up- it was legit. The homeless guys use various ministry addresses for their home address. I guess they found Henry because he votes.
They use the voting info for our local juries. I will admit I got a laugh out of it- I thought there was no way they would pick him. So anyway he comes by a few days later and he tells me the scoop. He made it through the first round and went back a few times as they trimmed the field.
He was telling me that it was a local corruption case against the cops. Now- I will admit, I have had my run in’s with the local cops. Over the years they really have harassed a lot of my homeless buddies. Lots of the guys live in various camps around this area.
I live in a sort of beach area- and there are lots of transients that set up temporary tents as their spots. One time I bought a nice tent for some friends- a big tent. A husband and wife couple used it. They were so grateful to get the thing. It only cost me around 100 bucks- well worth the sacrifice.
The next time I saw them they told me the cops came through and cut the tent. Our local cops do this because they get lots of complaints about the ‘bums’. Then one time I’m helping a homeless guy move from a camp. As were driving away some ‘cop’ walks up to my truck [he had a shirt on that said Corpus Christi Police] and starts questioning me- why I was in the area and all.
I had 2 of my buddies with me [Henry was one of them] and they are used to getting harassed. But as the ‘cop’ is talking to me I realize he’s an auxiliary cop [rent a cop type guy]. Now- I have worked with volunteer firefighters for years- and they are good guys- but sometimes we had a problem with them walking around town wearing our Fire Dept. shirts.
They were allowed to have them- but they were not supposed to be acting like they were the ‘real deal’. It would get the real guys [like me] in trouble. So I discerned that this cop was like that- plus he’s practically interrogating me.
I had it- I told him ‘I’m pulling over right here and getting out’. I did- he made sure he was back on his property- fast.
It’s just a long term thing- dealing with the cops harassing the guys. So Henry’s telling me his court ordeal- and when he tells me it’s a cop case- it was funny. He says they asked him ‘do you have any relationships with the local force’ [being it’s a corruption case]. I kid Henry and say- ‘did you tell them- well kind of- I hold a special affinity for the local police chief- I see him as a surrogate Father figure’ Henry just started cracking up.
He was finally kicked off the jury- I think they realized Henry might have been a loose cannon.
Okay- Back to the top- when Henry came by he wanted me to know that he ‘lost’ the check I gave him- and he said he signed it. I kind of picked up the feeling that Henry might have bought a bottle of wine- and he might have thought I found out and was mad at him.
Now- Henry is not a drunk- I have never seen him drink. But I do know that he likes to drink a glass of wine every so often. Even though I’m not a tee totaler- yet I have told the guys not to buy alcohol with any money I give them.
It’s just the principle of the thing- too many guys are alcoholics and I didn’t want to contribute to that it any way. So I think Henry might have used some of the money for a bottle. Okay- if so I would not be mad- water under the bridge.
But lots of people do get mad- they will cut guys off for stuff like this- and I think that was playing on Henrys mind. So he asks me if I could check on ‘the check’ to see if maybe someone cashed it- with his name on it of course.
So at about this time I’m beginning to catch on- and I tell Henry ‘you know Henry- my bank called and told me that someone did cash it- they asked me to come down and check the video’ okay- Henry’s kinda sweating at this point- I go on ‘and I went down to the bank and sure enough- I see a church van leaving the parking lot- it was brother Rey!’
Rey is a local street preacher who Henry works with- he’s had some tuff times recently so I fibbed a bit. Henry realized I was letting him off the hook- that it wasn’t a big deal to me- even if he had a glass of wine on the house.
I have noticed- many times- that people who do help the guys- if they feel the guys might have swindled them- or if the guys are not as grateful as they should be- some people leave- for good. I think true friendships should be able to ride this stuff out- Plus- I need to stay on good terms with the homeless guys- you never know- they might be my jury one day?
 DEAD MEN WALKING?
I read a case this past week, it was the story of Randal Addams. He sat on Texas death row for 12 years. He was convicted of the murder of a Dallas cop based on the testimony of another man. Later on it was found that the person who testified against him was the true killer.
This case was documented in the movie ‘Thin Blue Line’. The original intent of the film maker was to expose how Texas was using the faulty findings of a psychiatrist to say that certain offenders would ‘kill again’ if released. So in Randall’s case- not only was he wrongly convicted- but the system swore ‘he will kill again’ though he never killed in the 1st place.
Randal was 3 days away from being executed in Huntsville and former governor Clemmons stayed the execution- not because he thought he was innocent- but on other findings that showed that the prosecutor lied about evidence.
Eventually they would find him not guilty of the crime- but heck- he was a real pain about the thing. I mean don’t you know that these prosecutors have lives to live! Going to the ball games with their kids- enjoying a night with the wife. Damn- why don’t these criminals just shut up and take it like a man.
After Randall was released- he did not qualify for the compensation that we now give to wrongly convicted persons. As a matter of fact- Texas didn’t even give him the 200 dollars that you’re supposed to get upon release- yeah they showed him.
Randall died last year in Ohio- he had a job for a while in Texas and when his employer found out about his record he was fired. Texas lied to convict him- they lied about him being a ‘future murderer’ if released. And they wanted him to die- just go away!
Right now my governor is making news about being a potential candidate for the presidency. He is embroiled somewhat in his own death penalty case. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed a few years ago- convicted of setting his house on fire and killing his kids.
Todd maintained his innocence thru out the years. What has come under scrutiny is the fire ‘science’ used to determine he set the fire. Here in Texas we have a state fire marshal’s office- as a retired fire fighter I recall using them many times over the years.
I worked at a small city dept. - 30,000 people- we had around 30 guys on the dept. Many times we would call the state fire marshal to come down [their guys] and make a determination for a case. Often times these were cases that included lots of loss- cases that insurance companies might contest.
So to play it safe we called down the big boys. Now- I maintained a Fire Inspectors license for 25 years with the dept. To be honest- it was kind of a fluke. When I got hired the city was holding a course for fire inspectors- and one of the requirements for new recruits was you must attend any schools the city is sponsoring for your first year.
So I attended and became a ‘fire investigator’. Sure- I learned a few things- and of course as a fire fighter you gain experience as the years go by. But I was a little shocked to realize that the state actually used the arson findings that the state fire marshals office determined in order to put Willingham to death.
Though the state does their best to make these determinations- yet the science is not an exact science. You do use a lot of ‘guess work’ in these findings. Over the past few years I have seen/read about the controversy. At times I wonder whether or not the governors accusations are true- he has accused the anti death penalty people of trying to use this case as a cause célèbre for their side.
Supposedly the top arson guy- from the North East- who has sided with the anti death penalty people- supposedly he is a little ‘gung ho’ about the ‘new science’ and the governor deemed him a little off the beaten path.
I did listen to this fire expert one day- and I did kind of get that feeling too. He was talking about the case- and how at the time the fire science was not as advanced as it is today [I can believe that]. But he went on to explain [maybe a lawyer was talking at this point?] that the ‘so called’ evidence of arson had other reasonable explanations. In the room where the kids were- there were signs of accelerant all over the floor.
When someone sprays/pours gas or some other flammable on the floor to set a fire- the floor will leave marks long after the fire is extinguished. So apparently in this case there were these marks all over the floor- even Todd’s defense attorney admits till this day that he believes his client was indeed guilty.
The fire investigator who sides with the defense [who Perry claims is a little gung ho] explained it this way. He said that in back draft situations [you remember the movie don’t you? Actually Hollywood is very unrealistic in its portrayals of fires. The movie showed Back draft situations where the fire was this creeping type thing- and the fire fighters are all walking around in structures with clear view. In reality you can’t see a thing in these house fires- they are full of smoke!] the room/space is Oxygen deprived- and when Oxygen is introduced into the room- like by a broken window- that this creates a sort of back draft situation- and the reason you had the marks of accelerant on the floor- they were really the marks of the air being introduced into the room and the flame followed the path towards the windows [you had marks going all different directions on the floor].
Okay- I do understand the science somewhat- but I have never seen this happen before. Usually- when you have marks like this on the floor- they are sure sings of an accelerant being used.
Either way Todd was executed and his case is getting national attention. I can go on and talk about all the guys who were on death row- who were later found to be innocent. Texas actually has a history of using faulty findings to convict people.
Obviously there are many cases of guilty persons being put to death- and many of these guys do claim to be innocent- when they are not. But we have to question a system that puts people on death row with such weak evidence- or using ‘science’ that is questionable.
Even though we do our best in the fire service to make these determinations- yet I would never allow a determination like this to be used to condemn a man to death- and it might just be that we did indeed kill an innocent man.
 WHAT DEBT CRISIS?
I read an article the other day- the headline read ‘Bachman sees no crisis in U.S. debt’. It was by the associated press- so I knew they were more than likely lying. As I read the article- I was right. As a matter of fact- the tea partiers who are against raising the debt limit- they are against it because they see the debt as the major problem.
So the headline should have read ‘Bachman sees extreme crisis in U.S. debt’ and that’s why she does not want to raise the debt limit. Now- I have been reading stories like this for years- and the thing that bothers me is when people see/hear only one side- they then see the opposing team as the major problem. I very rarely [if ever] have read something like this that slandered the left- though you do see biased ‘reporting’ thru radio hosts. So this works both ways. We as Americans need to be able to read between the lines- to not simply swallow what’s spoon fed to us.
This past week- the world court [in the Netherlands] indicted Gadhafi on ‘crimes against humanity’. Okay- do we sit back and believe everything we read? The oppressive ruler of Syria- Assad- has killed children these past few weeks- has massacred his people openly- their fleeing into Turkey, and even the Turkish leader has turned against him.
In Bahrain- the ruling autocracy has been trying doctors and medical workers on crimes against the state. Giving them life sentences. What’s’ the crime? They treated the protestors when they were shot and wounded. Yet these despots get good treatment from the U.S. - we sit down with them- and Gadhafi has committed crimes against humanity?
Saudi Arabia imprisons women for driving- they took a reporter who wrote a critical article against the energy company- they whipped him with ‘50 lashes’ in front of the energy building- just to teach him a lesson.
We live in a day where real injustices are taking place- we are in need of honest reporting- not biased journalism that purposefully misleads the public for political purposes.
I had a conversation a while back with a liberal- good person- I too hold to some of their views. Yet the person was railing against Sarah Palin ‘she should not even be running for office- she has children!’ Now- I knew the person only watched liberal news outlets- and they very rarely were exposed to the opposing view.
I reminded the person that Nancy Pelosi also had children- should she also leave politics? When we grasp hold of seeing others as the enemy- we are unable to really see clearly.
Right now the debate is raging over whether to raise the debt ceiling or not. Some Repubs really do not want to do anything on the tax side- and they want to only cut spending.
The Dems counter that we need to do both. Now- for those libs out there- who think I’m only anti lib- I think we should do what the Dems want. Why?
I know both sides- and the supply side economic argument says ‘the lower taxes go- the higher the finances are that come in to the fed. Govt’. This argument is the classic Repub argument- but it really is limited. Why?
Some who make this argument fail to realize that even if taxes go lower- and the result is businesses do better- yet the main way the govt gets funded- even if the businesses are doing better- is thru the tax code.
The govt only gets funded this way [besides a few pennies of royalties]. So the point is- without taxes- the govt does not get funded- at all.
So to simply demonize all taxes as regressive- well that’s just not an honest argument. In the last century there were decades of real growth -40’s-60’s- that coincided with high taxes. And there were also decades of lower taxes [Reagan, Bush, Clinton] that coincided with sluggish growth. So higher taxes on ‘the rich’ do not always mean slow growth.
Okay- the simple point I’m making is when the media purposely skews the argument- giving headlines that they know are false- then they do a disservice to the country. The bible speaks about this as ‘uneven scales’. I think the answer to the current crisis is we should raise the debt ceiling- with a real plan to reduce the debt over the next 10 years.
Both the president and the Repubs have already agreed in principle to cutting around 4 trillion over the next 10-12 years.
The world economy wants to see that the U.S. has a credible plan in place to manage our debt. They are not expecting us to eliminate it overnight- nor would it be responsible to drastically try to deal with it- on an August deadline.
Yes- both sides see a real crisis looming- because of the debt. Some think it’s so bad- they don’t want to raise the debt ceiling at all. Others think it’s so bad- that we need to raise the ceiling to prevent a major short term disaster.
Whatever side you agree with- it’s simply wrong to say ‘this side does not see a debt crisis’ that’s biased journalism- journalism that knows they are lying to you- but they don’t respect you enough to think you will spot it. We just did.
 THE SMARTEST PEOPLE IN THE ROOM?
Okay- the current media obsession is with Bachman- they have covered her misstatements with a fine tooth comb [more like a plow!]. I mean the main news outlets are going at it. Sure- I realize that calling John Addams a founding father is a bit much [more like a founding son] but why the obsession?
I remember when Newt got into the race- NBC [not their hack political arm- MSNBC] introduced him like this ‘he has been married 3 times- how successful he’ll be with the religious base- we don’t know’- wow- his intro mind you!
What happened to the Chris Matthews rant of no religious test? He went on for months about it- using it- wrongly- to say you can’t question/make your choice of a candidate because you don’t like his particular religious views. Yet the media has recently done polls on ‘would you vote for a Mormon’.
They laud the Broadway play ‘the book of Mormon’ which openly mocks Mormons. Can you imagine a play where you had Muhammad being mocked?
Yet now their fascinated with Bachman’s revisionist history. Okay- I’ll admit that Christians do run into trouble at times with the whole founding father argument. I often hear preachers say ‘the constitution says- we hold these truths to be self-evident’ and then they will argue their point from the ‘moral law’ theory we find in Paul's letter to the Romans- chapter 1.
The apostle does say ‘all men are without excuse- God has revealed himself to us- he has made his truth known’. See- self evident. Actually the language used in the constitution was the ‘anti-Christian’ strain coming out of the European enlightenment.
The Enlightenment [sometimes called the age of reason] came off of the Reformation/Scientific revolutions of the 16-17th centuries. Many of the men I have been studying these last few years were major thinkers in the movement. Right around the 18th century you had a feeling of ‘modern man’ will eventually cast off all these religious restraints and we will enter this new age where the human intellect will rule.
Most of these thinkers did not reject a belief in God- they simply rejected the institutional view of religion. They fell into the category of Deism.
Now- Deism argued that we do not need Christianity- the church- the bible- to know right and wrong. But that enlightened man knew these truths by nature [that’s where the Romans 1 argument comes in]. But when the deist made this argument- he was in fact approaching it from an anti-Christian viewpoint.
Jefferson actually wanted the language to read ‘we hold these truths to be sacred’ but Franklin prided himself in interjecting ‘non-Christian’ [pro deist] language instead- and Walla- we have ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident’.
Okay- so you can see we all have a little bit of revisionism in us.
I’m not a fan of Bachman- to be honest about it. But it’s too early to be flooding the airwaves with such obvious vitriol against the woman. Geez- cover her ideas.
I’m an ex-Navy Corpsman- as a defense of Bachman many right wingers have been showing the infamous speech of the president- where he called the guys ‘corpse men’ around 3 times [you know- that monitor does not sound the words out for you]. And of course the right has to go thru the record and show all the instances where the media actually covers up the faults of their favorite guy.
Yes- to be honest- they do stuff like this- all the time. But I wish we could simply debate the various sides- be honest about our view- and then move on from there. The left always accuse the right of being partisan- yet I think they are just as bad- and just as misinformed on many issues, its pride that makes them think they are truly above everyone else.
Let me finish with an example. One day I was hanging out with the homeless guys- sure- a few drunks- a few dope heads- the usual crowd. And a new guy shows up. He claims to be an ex professor that taught at Berkeley in the past.
As the conversation grew- he began ‘teaching’ the course that he taught at Berkeley. It was a course on ANE myths [ancient near east myths]. He went on to cover the fact that other societies had their own versions of biblical stories. They had flood stories [Noah] creation accounts [Genesis] and stuff like that.
Now- I usually do not ‘do theology’ when hanging in the streets- but I couldn’t resist. So- as luck would have it [bad?] I just happened to be familiar with ANE myths- and the apologetic rebuttal to the argument- so I jumped into the fray.
I went on to tell the professor that I too was familiar with his course- and I went down the list- point by point- refuting his ideas.
I explained that just because these other stories do exist- that in no way means the biblical account is fake- as a matter of fact- if these things did actually occur- you would expect other societies to have their own versions. I gave him a few more basic points like this- and left it alone [you know- when you do street apologetics like this- things can get rough- almost as dangerous as a Wisconsin Supreme court justice meeting].
As this enlightened liberal professor sat there- listening to what looked to be his last rung on the ladder being kicked out from under him [lost his home- wife- everything- the only thing left was his superior intellect over the average idiot- one of those types of mindsets].
He realized that he was being thoroughly refuted [for the 1st time?] by some homeless bum from Texas [I play the part well]. I mean- a homeless ‘redneck’ no less.
He simply stared straight ahead- the smell of alcohol [and various drugs] wafting thru the air- and he looked up and said ‘I am going to leave now- and go put a bullet in my head’ [his head- not mine].
Now- whether or not he carried out his mission- I don’t know. But he was the classic example of a person- who seemed educated- who prided himself in not being like the rest of the ‘idiots’ of the world- and it was difficult for him to realize that his view- no matter how sincerely held- was only one view. It is possible in life for us to be wrong- or for us to be as misinformed as the other person.
I have no idea how long the current media fascination will last with Bachman- I’m sure they’ll find another thing to fasten upon- of course when their side calls a bunch of servicemen ‘dead men- corpse men’ well- something as egregious as that- that will never make it to the air. But go ahead- another round of the Book of Mormon- watching the clip air- making the ‘Mormon/Christian’ look like an absolute idiot- and saying it openly- well the media has plenty of time for that.
 ARE YOU A FLAKE?
This past Sunday Chris Wallace hosted Michele Bachman on his morning show [Fox] he had just come off a previous Sunday show controversy- he had on Jon Stewart and it got a little heated. Overall I think Stewart ‘blew it’ but I think Wallace blew it with Michele.
The present controversy was him asking Bachman ‘are you a flake’. Bachman responded well- but began with ‘first of all, that question is insulting’. She was right. She went on to explain her credentials- and what Wallace thought might be a cringing, defensive woman- turned out to be a capable, smart woman- who treated Wallace like he was a defense witness.
Then a strange thing happened- MSNBC ran with the story- they covered it with the righteous indignation of a prophet [false?] Oh they tore into Fox ‘how could they dare be so demeaning to such a wonderful woman- smart- cunning- savvy- they should be ashamed of themselves!’
Sounds good, the only problem was they are the network that spent the last year publicly demeaning the woman- day after day- relentlessly. They had a photo of the woman- you know some smart camera angle- it made her look like a wild eyed demon- they showed that photo like the N.Y. press covered Weiner.
They then did the most on air offensive thing I have ever seen. During the Repubs election [congress] they interviewed Bachman. She showed up- just like a liberal might show up with a Fox reporter. Basically you treat the guest well- even if you go hard on the person [a skill Lawrence O’Donnell has yet to learn]. As Chris Matthews is talking with the woman- he asks her a question- she does what lots of folk do- she basically used her time to get her talking points across- and avoided the question.
Now- what the interviewer normally does is asks it one or 2 more times- and if no response- just move on. But Matthews says [paraphrasing here] ‘are you hypnotized- has someone hypnotized you- maybe an alien ship?’ he went on to demean her in a way I have never seen a reporter do. And in the background you heard Eugene Robinson [a regular on the show] openly laughing in mockery.
So after portraying the woman as an idiot- publicly- for at least a year- they then decide to critique Fox for Wallace’s disrespect to the woman- these guys are shameless.
But- that gets me into a guest host they had on the other night. Ron Reagan Jr. He did alright- I’m not a big fan of his dad- though he has become an Icon in some circles. Somehow Reagan got into the Evolution/Creationism debate. Now- most times when these guys try this- they fall flat. I have critiqued MSNBC guys before- Catholics- who have slandered their own church. They say ‘the Catholic church teaches this’ and they mislead their own Catholic listeners- and I try and write on it and give the actual Catholic view [being I study all Christian theologies]. So little Reagan goes into this thing on Evolution- he says ‘look- I don’t care what people want to believe- they can believe the moon [or earth?] is made out of cheese with a giant turtle on top- but don’t bring that into the science room’.
Most of these guys have no idea about the debate. The other day my 2nd oldest came over to show me her degree- she finally finished and got her degree in Biology. Over the years I would have good discussions with her- on a fairly good level- about biology. I have read and studied Biology, Physics, History- lots of subjects over the years- and it helps when you’re conversing with others in their respective fields.
And the talks I have had were in no way controversial- my daughter actually learned stuff- things that she was familiar with- yet she realized the points I was making- were indeed factual. Yet these points- as obvious as they were- were indeed left out of her courses- she saw that. [Noah Feldman calls this the ‘secularization of the public schools’- the fear that the public school system has when dealing with religion- or even covering it fairly when teaching history- or the impact of religious thought on science. The fact is that both Evolutionary Theory- and ‘Creationism’ [more preferably Intelligent Design] have religious aspects to them- they both espouse ultimate causes that cannot be seen with the naked eye].
Now- I wasn’t talking ‘cheese with a turtle on it’ you must be quite the ignoramus to think that the debate between intelligent design and Darwin’s theory is still at that stage. I mean there are many scientists- unbelievers- who are ready to reject the full idea of Darwin. Why?
There are lots of things that we could go into on these subjects- but a few major points are these;
When Darwin [Charles Darwin- popularized modern Evolutionary theory- lived in the 1800's] espoused his theory- he thought that it was possible that all life came from one ‘common ancestor’. He came up with the idea [it was around before actually] because of his observation of the Finch’s [birds] he observed on his famous trip to the Galapagos Islands.
Darwin realized- and stated in his books [On the Origin of the Species, the Descent of Man] that eventually science would advance to the point where he would either be proven right or wrong- I think that day has arrived- and so do many scientists.
I read an article/quote by one of the Leaky daughters [from the famous Leaky family who have done much in the area of Evolution] and she basically said ‘we have to admit that the obvious lack of evidence is leading us to re think the theory’.
Basically science has shown us- that the foundational plank to Darwin’s theory- has absolutely no scientific proof. For Darwin’s theory to be true- you need the cells of one living thing to eventually ‘evolve’ into the cells of another living thing. Not only has this phenomenon never been observed to happen in the natural environment- they can’t even make it happen in the controlled environment- in the lab.
Millions of man hours and dollars have been spent in trying to cause the cell of one thing to ‘evolve’ into the cell of another thing [basically they do these experiments with fruit flies because they breed rapidly] and one of the most provable, observable facts of modern biology is the fact that the cells of living things don’t do this- ever- never- not once!
So what Miss Leakey was saying was- if we have spent so much time and effort in trying to show that this does happen- and after all of the years of observable study [true science] this has never been observed to have happened, we need to admit that science is showing us that this does not occur.
Basically the criticism of Darwin is the fact that the most basic plank of the theory- has indeed been shown to be ‘un observable’ science is unable to make- or observe this happening.
Okay- there’s a lot more that can be said on this- and there have been many good things that have come down to us from Darwin’s ideas- indeed Natural Selection does take place- but it’s limited to the particular species- it doesn’t ‘cross over’ from one species to another. So we do credit the man for some good things.
But then- for anyone to think this debate is still on the level of ‘a cheese planet with a turtle on top’ geez- even Bachman knows better than that!
 IS IT MORALLY WRONG TO TEACH MORALS?
The other night N.Y. passed gay marriage [or marriage equality]. They are not the 1st state to do this- but some in the media hailed it as a great advance for civil rights. I spoke to a Catholic friend who lives in the area- he’s an older brother- and he was really upset about it.
I think I caught him off guard by telling him it really didn’t ‘upset’ me- not like I lost a battle [right winger] of some sort. I told him I obviously have a different position than Governor Cuomo- but I’m not real mad about the thing.
I understand why some people are- and I also told my friend that my position is basically the same position that his church holds- I think homosexuality is ‘a sin’ [like many other heterosexual sins!] but I think the ‘right versus the left’ approach does no good- it seems to just alienate people
A few months ago our local high school made it to CNN because of a debate between some girl who wanted to start a straight/gay club on campus. You had the school say no- even though they did allow a Christian club to meet. The ACLU got involved and before you knew it they were all picketing for/against the club.
As I watched the thing on the tube I saw some local preachers standing out there- a few feet away from the kids- holding signs and shouting ‘it’s an abomination’.
Then you saw the gay kids- who also had the support of some liberal preachers- they were holding signs that said ‘God loves everyone’. It just seemed ‘non Jesus like’ to see the older men- railing against the young girl [the lesbian girl] and shouting in the streets about her being an abomination.
The point being we need to tell people the truth about what is in the bible- and what the church [predominantly] teaches- and then avoid ‘going to war’ with people.
As I’m continuing to read different works on philosophy and modernity- I recently came across Daniel Dennet- a contemporary atheist/thinker. Dennet questions the ‘morality’ of teaching morals [religion] to kids. He espouses the question of the whole idea of religious teaching/tradition. Is it ‘right’ to teach ‘what’s right’?
Okay- I’m sure he is a smart man [they tell me so] but he of course is falling into the classic mistake of thinking he can argue from a foundation of ‘oughtness’ while claiming we should not have these types of foundations.
Basically you can’t argue a moral position [is something right- wrong] if you reject the reality of morality itself. This mistake is easily refuted in the field of apologetics. Sam Harris [another contemporary atheist] makes these same arguments.
I found it interesting to hear Governor Cuomo and other supporters of the law- they were oozing with moral language ‘we are proud to be part of the struggle for the rights of all people’ and other language like this. I’m sure these well meaning folk don’t realize they are contradicting their core argument ‘who is society- the church- to say what’s right or wrong!’ And then they say ‘it’s wrong for them to think that way’.
Okay- I hope you see the point. Immanuel Kant saw this some 300 years ago when the ‘age of reason’ was just taking off. Many thinkers of his day began questioning the wisdom of having religion/morality as part of the fabric of society. Kant recognized the need for the basic idea of right and wrong [What he called ‘oughtness’ you know what you ought to do] and even though he disagreed with Descartes’- he did not believe you could ultimately prove God through reason- yet he saw the need for ‘God’ to exist in the fabric of human society- in his mind there had to be an ultimate judge who could carry out justice- and there had to exist a basic idea of what you should and should not do.
These debates are long and can go on forever.
In Matthew 13 Jesus gave us a story about Gods kingdom. He said it’s like a field. A farmer goes out and plants good seed. Then when everyone was sleeping- an enemy went out and planted ‘bad seed’.
When the plants came up- his workers asked if they should go out and pull all the bad crop out. The boss said no- just leave them alone- in the final harvest he will deal with them- but it wasn’t their job to go pull them out prematurely.
Sometimes we [the church] are like the workers- we see ‘bad seed’ things that we recognize are not healthy for the field- we think ‘let’s go dig them out’. But God says ‘I’ll deal with the bad seed in my time- if you think it’s your job to go around pulling up all the bad weeds- you might hurt some good wheat too’.
I in no way ‘rejoice’ over the N.Y. vote- but I feel no urge to go ‘pull the bad seed out’ some of what we think is bad- might turn out to be good in the end.
 ADULTS IN THE ROOM?
This week the ‘raise the debt ceiling’ talks broke down. Eric Cantor- the repubs top negotiator- walked out of the talks in frustration. The Dems want to raise taxes [actually cut certain tax breaks] and the Repubs want to only cut spending.
We [govt] have a 14.3 trillion ‘limit’ on the national credit card and in August we hit the limit. Some say if we don’t raise the limit it will be catastrophic- others say raising it would be.
I do hold to the more liberal view- that we should probably raise the thing- but make sure we also get real cuts- not fake stuff.
When Cantor walked out of the talks the Repubs said ‘look- we are negotiating for something you [Dems and pres] should have taken care of over a year ago’ [present a budget]. The Repubs said ‘do your job- present your side’!
Are they right? Yes. The reason the president and Dems have not presented a budget [going into 2 full years without one!] is because they really did not want to bite the bullet and make choices that would get people mad. So as they waited and waited- the Repubs did a daring [some say stupid] thing and in the house they presented the Ryan plan.
Before Paul Ryan presented the plan some said ‘no- don’t do it- we are in the minority [the Repubs don’t hold the executive office or the senate] and it’s really not our responsibility to present something’. Some conservatives said if you present one- the left will only use it to attack the Repubs and will not present their own plan.
The president actually gave a speech a year or so ago that warned of this- he said we have to deal with debt in a serious way- and if both sides play games- accuse the other side of wanting to kill grandma- then the country will suffer.
So Ryan put the plan out- and within days the commercials ran- they found a Ryan lookalike and they showed you him wheeling grandma over the cliff. What was the president’s response to this childishness? He was the lead ‘child’ [a child shall lead them?]
Yes- the president went on the air and railed against the Repubs plan- he said they want to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly and the poor.
Fine- I personally think Ryan did go too far- and I think we should do both- tax ‘increases’ and cuts. But Cantor saw the writing on the wall- that it is indeed the president’s job to do a budget- they didn’t do one- the Dems stalled- endlessly on the thing.
And instead of using the Ryan plan as an excuse to do some cuts and say ‘look- Ryan forced me’ instead- the president resorted to the thing he warned against- he did use it as a political tool to help his cause in the upcoming election.
Now- this is what makes me seriously wonder whether or not we will avoid a real Greek style debt crisis. Those in the know [on both sides] realize that the biggest expense that the country can’t afford- is actually the projected rise in Medicare costs down the road. It’s going to eventually ‘eat up the entire economy’ [Bill Clinton].
So if the Dems decide to simply use this as a political tool [which they have done] then the only way we will ever deal with it is for the Repubs to force something thru- while the Dems say ‘those darn baby/grandma killers- they made us do it’.
But the Repubs said ‘hell- you know what- every time you make us take the fall- we get the blame- and you [Mr. pres] are acting like you’re in the minority- you and the Dems are not presenting any budget- going on 2 years- and getting away with making us do the dirty work- and then blaming us all the way- while we are really saving your skin!’
I see their point. So- we have about a month to go- and after Cantor walked out- I thought here might be some hope- you know- both sides cooling off some- another round of golf? How did the left describe Cantors frustration- quote ‘the cry baby wet his pants and ran home to mommy’- Ah- we could analyze this statement- try and read some hope into it- maybe they were concerned about Cantors family life? Well heck- I give up- I mean they didn’t even use the word mother. The globes future depends on the ‘adults in the room’ I didn’t know adults wet their pants and run home to mommy?
 PREACH THE GOSPEL?
Let’s talk some about the role of the church in society. Many years ago I had a friend who was a preacher/pastor- at the time some people kindly told him ‘brother- I know Jesus is the answer- but you need to also teach- you can’t just say ‘Jesus is the way’ all the time’.
Were they right? In a way- yes. Let me explain. In the book of Isaiah we read about the purpose of Jesus [chapter 11]. Jesus came to preach the gospel [good news] to the poor- set captives free- to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
The book of Amos [a prophet in the Old Testament] shows Amos railing against the rich- the powerful- as he defends the poor in society. Part of ‘the gospel’ is speaking out against injustices in society- telling those in power ‘your day is coming- you have trampled down the innocent- abused the immigrant- and God hears their cry’.
Yes- a part of the ministry of the church is to address these abuses in society. Now- what happens when the church casts off this job? It gets picked up by any/all others who are willing to run with it. So you have ‘the media’ or even a comic like Jon Stewart- anyone else who is willing to speak out against injustices- uneven scales- these will fill the void if Gods people won’t.
If you read the ministry of Jesus- the things he did and said- he often came up against religious forms of holiness. Those in society who thought their purpose was to- well be ‘religious’. That is they made a special class out of religion. They often engaged in public displays of it [prayer- fasting to be seen of men].
They valued their own religious experience as the primary thing- when they perceived man getting in the way of their expression of religion- they were willing to ‘sacrifice him’ [literally] in order for their own religious cause to gain influence [they said of Jesus- if he keeps doing this we will lose our position of power and influence].
At the end of the day- these religious folk saw their own view of religion as the primary thing- it took precedence over all other things- even people themselves.
Now- when the church reduces her mission to ‘religious speech’ that is when they refuse to engage in society- to do what the prophets did in the bible- defend the poor- rail against injustice- when Gods people leave this part of ‘preaching the gospel’ out- then they unknowingly have given in to the temptation to see their practice of religion- as simply a ‘religious thing’.
In a way- they have become like the religious folk of Jesus day- so busy carrying out their religious tasks- that the voiceless of society have no one to advocate for them.
We are living in a day where many major upheavals are taking place- I think the ‘average person’ does not fully understand the seriousness of what’s going on in the world today. It is quite possible that the U.S. will default on her debt. And that we will face a credit crisis equal to that of Greece- where the politicians have pandered to the people to a point where the people are rising up in the streets because they refuse to see the reality of the situation.
There are threads of this taking place right now in this country- at the current rate we are going- our debt will equal our GDP in 10 years- that’s really bad.
As we have these debates- we must remember that the poor and impoverished of the world count to God- the cause of the illegal alien means a lot to God- these issues are not just nationalistic- they are of concern to God.
As we move down this treacherous road over these next few years- lets not forsake that part of the gospel that calls us to speak up for the poor- to speak truth to power- and to expose injustice wherever we see it- not just on the opposing team.
 TRUTH TO POWER?
Last night the president gave his speech on the war- he will withdraw 10,000 troops this year- another 20,000 by September of next year. That leaves around 60,000 going into 2013.
When the president came into office there were 30,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan- he doubled it to a little over 60- then did a 30,000 man surge [West Point speech].
Many anti war folk [like me] were not happy with the 60- never mind the surge. Yet we are staring at 90,000 for the next year- then down to 60- and they are talking about leaving 20-25 thousand forever!
Last week I caught a CNN special called Wiki Wars- they covered the Julian Assange case. Assange is the ‘Omega man’ looking Australian who has shaken the world with his on line ‘leaking’ factory [Wiki Leaks]. The show covered his nomadic upbringing- his mission to change the world- and his determination to expose corruption wherever he finds it.
His work has been recognized by Amnesty International [for exposing corrupt leaders who slaughtered innocents] and overall his mission has been very noble.
Eventually he would come into possession of thousands of leaked on line documents that would expose many hidden discussions of our military. He also released the now [in] famous video called ‘Collateral Murder’.
The video shows our guys hovering over a vehicle in Iraq [I think it’s Iraq?] and the audio allows you to hear the conversation. As we watch the enemy walking back and forth- seemingly oblivious to the chopper watching them [strange?] our guys radio communication is describing their contact with their commander.
As they wait for the go ahead to shoot- they finally get the o.k. They then show the video of our helicopter shooting the men. Most of the guys are killed quickly- others run. One guy is wounded and laying in the street- another vehicle pulls up and tries to help him- we then blow the hell out of him too.
Then something happens- one of the guys starts running from the first vehicle with a young child in his arms- our guys say ‘wow- he has a kid with him- that’s what he gets for being so stupid to bring his kid with him’ [our guys think they are enemy combatants].
The scene looks terrible- especially when we later find out that all these guys were reporters- mostly working for Reuter’s news service.
As the CNN host questions the military commander who is watching the video with him- the commander explains that our guys did ‘what they were supposed to do’. That these reporters should not have been in a hot zone- walking around with their camera equipment- which was mistaken for a rocket launcher.
This military leader actually justified our actions. Then as the show progressed- they got into the Wiki Leaks founder who released these videos. He gave the standard U.S. govt. line that the leaking of these videos/emails was unjust- that it might cause harm to people- and therefore our govt. is justified to go after Assange and the soldier [Bradley Manning] who supposedly leaked the stuff.
I found it strange to see this commander ‘justify’ our killing of the reporters- while at the same time condemning the person who uncovered this act.
This week NATO bombed another civilian house in Libya- killed a couple of kids [one a baby] and a few civilians. Once again- they released another statement saying ‘this house was a command and control operations base’ which means they thought Gadhaffi [or his men] might be there. Now- they have done this before- they kill innocent people, kids- then they justify the action.
I was wondering how long it would take before the Western media got off the Obama bandwagon and reported the truth- stop simply regurgitating the words of NATO and report the facts on the ground.
Surprisingly, as I read the article- the report said that as the journalists arrived at the home that was bombed- there were other Libyans who immediately starting saying ‘Gadhaffi blew up this house to blame it on NATO’.
These reporters have been fed this before- and simply believed it. This time as they investigated- they indeed found out that we and NATO simply blew the hell out of a civilian home- and killed a new born along with another child.
The home was a political supporter’s residence. Now- I certainly realize that these actions are not meant to kill innocent people- and I know our guys did not mean to kill reporters. But when we as a nation lie about this stuff- cover it up to a degree- and then actually seek the execution of those who leaked the evidence- then we are doing unjust things.
I heard the reasoning behind why when this type of info is leaked in a traditional way [N.Y. times, etc.] that these leaks are considered very noble- uncovering the secret agenda’s of the powerful. But then the person being queried said when the leaks are being released ‘on line- without actual ink and paper’ then yes- we are justified in seeking the execution of the leakers.
It’s amazing that we accept this type of reasoning without question.
I’m glad we are starting to draw down our troops- right now in Afghanistan we are spending a couple of billion every week- we are facing a fiscal crisis at home that might eventually ruin this entire nation. And China is digging copper out of the Afghanistan ground- making deals with the corrupt Afghan govt.- and we are footing the bill for the security so China can enrich themselves and the leaders of Afghanistan- all at the same time when we are about to default on our debt- to China!
There just seems to be too many things wrong with this picture. I in no way blame our brave fighting men and women for these atrocious acts that do take place during times of war- but I do blame those in power, those who know about these acts- who seek to cover them up- and then after they are leaked- our govt. goes after them- seeking to raise the level of these leaks to the crime of treason- so we can execute the leakers. These things are unjust- and we need to recognize this fact.
 NIGGERS, WHITE DEVILS, SLUTS AND HYMIE-TOWN
I figured today I would just share my true feelings with you guys- what about it?
These last few days there has been somewhat of a firestorm over the comments made by the radio personality Neil Bortz. First off- I want to admit that I do not like the guy- at all. He is the only radio person who I actually called in to complain about with the local station who airs him.
I do not like his talk about Blacks- and I also cringe when listening to Rush do the same stuff at times. To be honest- I have not heard/read the controversial statement- maybe it’s better that I didn’t, so you can check me out on a theory.
I was watching the Ed Shultz show and they were discussing the comments Bortz made about arriving in Atlanta. They said Bortz made a statement that encouraged Whites to arm themselves and go out and shoot Black people- ‘fill the streets with bodies’. As much as I dislike Bortz- for the life of me I can’t believe the man said this.
Second- he had 2 Black guys on the show- and they of course condemned the statement from Bortz and did go on to rightfully critique other racially tinged language that Bortz has indeed used in the past. As the show progressed they attacked Bortz over a statistical number he gave about crime in the Black community.
They simply said ‘can you believe Bortz teaches that the DNA of Black people is predisposed to crime’? Again another accusation- highly charged- that seems to be wrong on the face of it [to state a crime rate among any community- or the high percentage of Blacks in the prison system, which I have spoken out against as a failure of both the system and the Black leaders- to state factual numbers- if they are true- is not saying you believe that Blacks have crime built into their DNA- and to accuse anyone of this- whether they be left or right- is highly inflammable and wrong- just as wrong as the actual other racial statements Bortz has made in the past].
Now- when I see these same shows host Sharpton- or Jackson- or even Farrakhan from time to time [I saw him on a panel in Chicago]. I ask myself ‘self- why do these same media folk- who rage at the right- have on people from the left who are just as racist’?
Sharpton is accepted freely on many channels- though he has incited murder, hatred and has used nonstop racial rhetoric throughout his life.
He incited violence in calling non Black businesses in Black areas as being ‘interlopers’. He has accused white people of raping Black girls- even after the facts showed the poor girl was lying [Tawanna Brawley] and till this day- he still will not admit the thing was a hoax.
Jackson has called Jewish areas ‘Hymie town’. And of course Farrakhan is nonstop in his hatred for the white man. Former senator Byrd spoke of ‘Niggers’ [the late senator who used to be a leader in the KKK and fought hard against civil rights- he was a Democrat].
Ed Shultz himself was pulled off the air for a few weeks for calling Laura Ingram a ‘Slut’. She is a right wing radio host. And of course Harry Reid said he thought Obama had a chance- he was a ‘light skinned Black man- who didn’t speak like a Black man- only when he wanted to’.
Of course the hypocrisy of one side seeing prejudice only in the other is blatant.
In all these cases- I regret having to use the language that I just did. Some of you read this post because you thought 'damn- I knew John would go over the cliff sooner or later’ and you thought today was that day!
Others read because this shock language has that effect- if you have a choice between reading a post with the words NIGGER- well that draws more attention than more enlightened speech.
We all have our demons- we all battle racial attitudes in life. And if we want to critique a person for their wrong speech [which I do think Bortz uses!] then we need to be careful that we don’t falsely accuse the man of something so racially charged that it might actually incite real violence in the streets.
For MSNBC once again to have allowed one of their guys to go on the air and to charge that another person called for the shooting of Blacks in the streets- or who said that this person believed that crime was built into the DNA of Blacks- if Bortz did not say this- then Shultz needs to take another leave of absence- for good.
This week the congress began putting pressure on the president over Libya. Traditionally presidents go to the congress for consultation when hostilities are involved. Bush consulted congress over the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
When the speaker of the house- John Boehner- lead the majority of congress in rejecting the tougher position of Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich’s bill- that would demand the president pull out of Libya- Boehner instead asked for an explanation of why the president simply is not following the war powers resolution [having to go to congress after 60-90 days of hostilities in a foreign land]. To the surprise of just about every legal analyst- including many Democrats- the president made a case that what was happening in Libya did not amount to ‘hostilities’.
Now- Boehner is a longtime insider- he knows the way Washington works. He could not believe that the office of legal counsel would have agreed to this. The president purposefully avoided answering that specific question.
Finally- some insiders- more than likely Democrats- could not believe the president did indeed reject the office of legal counsels advice- and instead claimed to make the call based on his own legal opinion [to just about every legal analyst- this is going rogue].
Finally the truth leaked out- and it was revealed that the president took the unprecedented step in trying to define air warfare as 'non hostile action’.
As I read the news stories- and listened to both sides- I could not understand why the president did this. While it is true that most presidents reject the war powers resolution [the act itself] yet they usually follow the advice of their office of legal counsel.
That is the executive branch’s legal arm that gets the advice of both the Pentagon lawyers as well as the Justice dept. It just seemed to be the decision of a man who tries to present himself in public as a reasonable man- but behind the scenes he is a very different person.
I also saw this in the president’s ‘pettiness’ with political enemies. As a retired Texas firefighter- when we have had bad wild land fires- we always- in every case I know of- got federal aid when meeting the criteria of a natural disaster. To my shock- this past year the president- for the first time ever [as long back as I remember] told Texas ‘screw you’ yes- our guys- the ones who got hurt- the ones who paid out of pocket to go to the scene- driving miles from home in their personal vehicles- for the first time ever were told ‘no’. The president told Texas Fire Fighters [and its Repub governor] no!
The majority of these firefighters are union guys whose dues go primarily to Democrat causes. I was shocked that a sitting U.S. president would do this.
Then came the school funding issue. My oldest daughter recently got a teaching job with the public schools. During last year’s political wars- Texas was the only state that the president withheld federal funding to. There were some political games begin played- but at the end of the day Texas was the only state that the president denied funding to. Eventually it got passed- against the president’s wishes- when it was slipped in under the Continuing Resolution to fund the govt.
I could go on and on about stuff like this- examples that I have never before seen- cases where this president has gone after political enemies to an extreme- where even other Democrats have said ‘you must be mad’. There have been ‘leakers’ during this administration- like all others. This president has been the only one [in recent memory] who has tried to raise the level of the leak to ‘treason’ and thus making it a federal crime punishable by death. It’s almost unbelievable that he has actually used his office like this.
As we as a nation try and move forward- there will always be 2 sides to these debates- what troubles me is it seems to me that for whatever reason- maybe the president did not realize the pressures involved with the job- but for whatever reason he really has done some really bad stuff- I mean the firefighter decision was a real eye opener to me- showing me that he is not mature in these decisions- too petty to have done these types of things to get back at a political enemy.
Hopefully we can get beyond these things as a country- but for my friends to have been turned down federal aid- while risking their lives- that’s being petty at the edge of danger- that’s like going after the leakers- and seeking their death- that’s real bad.
NOTE- Over the last few years I heard reports that Senator Obama did indeed do politics this way in Chicago- that Rham Emanuel and other political cronies threatened people- with physical harm. I never really believed these stories- but after seeing all these examples above- I began thinking that these stories were probably true [putting a dead fish in an opponent’s bed/ room- just like the mafia movie!]. These examples are bad- I could have given the story of a Texas political blogger- yikes! - Who was just interviewed on national TV. He was stalked- the F.B.I. went thru his trash- videotaped his family from a secret camera planted across the street- and it was revealed that the administration contacted the I.R.S to go after him. This U.S. citizen was targeted- and his family- because he was on the other side of the political isle. Stuff like this would have never passed under other administrations- never.
 THERE THEY GO AGAIN!
Let me give this one last shot [on Face book- to all my blog readers- of course I will keep posting there!]. Since I’ve been on face book I have enjoyed posting/commenting with old friends. Every so often I would get notices that said ‘so and so asked this question’ or stuff like that- little apps [games] that I know nothing about. Sometimes the questions seemed a little ‘weird’ to say the least.
Look- I’m an adult- heard it all [and have messed up in life many times- not just the on line games- but the real thing- yes- like most every one else in life]. So anyway these stupid things didn’t ‘offend’ me- I just felt they weren’t where I wanted to go on the site.
So at first I would just block that particular game- not the person [by the way- this was more than one person]. Then they would use another game. A few times the thing showed up on my main page- and I couldn’t delete the thing!
So finally I just blocked [or blocked their posts] from my page. Then one ingenious person waited till a mutual friend posted- and they used their post [which was on my page] to give me a wonderful ‘F—K YOU’ note- wow- it just made my day.
Look- if you are a ‘friend’ on my page- and you let people post things to me like that- I’m gonna block you- sorry. You want to tell me that in a personal email- where my kids don’t have to see it- fine- but ‘friends’ letting their friends do that- sorry- your blocked.
Okay- why the anti liberal stuff? As a political blogger- I listen to all sides. I listen to Rush- Hannity- Olbermann [he starts Monday on current t.v.] Maddow- the whole crew.
I have found it amazing that the ‘ultra liberals’ are just as bad as the hard right. But for the most part they carry a belief that they are way above the average man- I rarely see this with the hard right.
So it takes patience to deal with the libs- much more than the right [I consider myself neither]. So a few weeks ago I noticed something- MSNBC decided they were going to show the shirtless picture of the Republican congressman who quit right after he was caught trying to pick up girls on line.
Okay- he messed up. But all of a sudden MSNBC began showing the pic. Every day. Even during primetime. They laughed- smirked- they were obviously going to run with this picture right up until the election of next year.
Then what happened? The Weiner story broke and it just seemed stupid for them to follow this strategy. Their main network [NBC- Brian Williams] received criticism for not even covering the story at first- I applauded Williams at the time because I felt the story did not deserve the coverage it got.
I saw Williams report ‘he was forced from office because of semi nude pictures’ an outright lie- he was fully nude- erect- and possibly doing it with kids. Now- in the real world you do not call this ‘a sexless sex scandal’ the A.P. reported it this way- many commentators did too. I even saw an editorial comic that showed Weiner getting in trouble- the comic said ‘shirtless photos’ on his suit case.
Smart- huh- giving the impression that all he did was take off his shirt- just like the repub! Now- I didn’t rejoice over Weiner- I prayed for the man [for real!] but the ultra libs rejoiced over the repub- they were running primetime with the pic months after the event. These guys are insufferable!
Then I read an A.P. [Associated Press] story on how the Obama recovery was being ‘drug down’ by those darn states! Yes- the report said the recovery was working on ‘the federal level’ but the states [aha- those new Repub. Governors] they were dragging the recovery down by their bad economies- I mean they must think the general public are complete idiots- that’s what the left thinks- and they show this all the time.
I mean what are the states? They are 50 pieces of the whole country- there is no such thing as a ‘federal recovery’ being dragged down by the states- please- we are not all that dumb.
But it’s stuff like this that makes it hard to deal with the real problems we [and the global economy] are facing. If both sides do not come to some type of agreement- which will include dealing with the rocketing cost of healthcare [yes- Medicare will need to be dealt with- maybe not the Ryan plan- but more than just making a political statement- like Bill Clinton said- we cant let Medicare eat up the entire U.S. economy].
Greece is on the verge of default- I don’t know if Germany is gonna keep footing the bill. And their bond rating is 3 points below junk status! That’s bad- a nation defaulting like that. Those of you who watch this stuff- our own nation is going back into another recession [some feel it never recovered in the first place].
If the media keep playing the games that they have- then they are just adding to the problem. Did Obama’s stimulus work? Not the way he hoped- but most of the 800 billion simply staved off the job losses at the state and local level. The money was spent to prop up the states until a recovery happened. That was the real plan- it didn’t work.
Austin Goolsbee jumped ship while there was still time- and Paul Krugman [liberal N.Y. times economist] is running with the story that the stimulus should have been around 2 trillion- yes he’s also covering his back side.
All in all we need to come to the table and work as one- MSNBC [and NBC] should be ashamed at their continued gloating- months after the downfall of a human being- deciding to run his picture night after night- and then lying about ‘their guy’ saying he too was shirtless- they played the game and pretended they were above the ‘average guy’ you know- the viewing public- the ones who they think believe that the ‘darn states are ruining the recovery’- yeah- that bunch.
 IN DEFENSE OF LIBERATION THEOLOGY
I’ve been wanting to get back to some of our studies- but the news cycle has been hot these last few weeks [not just Weiner!] and I have been sidetracked somewhat. One of the other important news stories was the going away speech by defense secy. Gates.
He tore into NATO and raked them over the coals for their willingness to vote Yes on intervention- then letting the U.S. do the majority of the work. There are 28 nations that make up the alliance [North Atlantic Treaty Organization]. Yet in Afghanistan there are a total of around 140 thousand troops. The media constantly report ‘NATO troops were killed- or accidently hit a civilian house’. We get desensitized- we think these are actually troops from NATO- like these other 28 nations are doing this stuff. Out of the 140,000 troops- 100 thousand are U.S. troops. I mean 28 other nations?
In Libya- once again the entire alliance voted to go in [or abstain- though ‘going in’ meant different things to different nations] and after a few weeks of ‘going in’ once again we are pulling 70 percent of the load. Gates blasted the alliance- saying with all these nations’ troops- they have a hard time standing up 25-40 thousand troops. These other 27 nations can’t even supply a regular fighting force of 25 thousand troops!
Hillary Clinton spoke out [rightfully] against a new resurgence of ‘colonialism’ taking place on the African continent. Colonialism is the abuse of 1st world nations stripping 3rd world nations of their vital natural resources and doing this with the consent of ‘paid off’ higher ups in these ‘stripped’ nations [this definition obviously doesn’t speak about plain colonialism- but in modern public speak that’s what they are talking about].
In Africa, China has been doing this now for a number of years- they have been ‘investing’ heavily in buying up the worlds natural resources- and the civilian populace living in these nations are extremely poor. If other nations want to partner in trade and investment with poorer countries- that’s fine. But don’t take the resources from these countries while the people living there are dying from poverty.
Around the turn of the 20th century you had the rise of what’s commonly called ‘the social gospel’. This Christian movement concerned itself with the broader mandate of the gospel that deals with bringing justice to the poor and hurting people of the world. Dealing not just with ‘saving souls’ but also with creating a more just society on the planet right now.
While this movement had its critics- it did not go as far as the later development of Liberation Theology. Now- once again in our ‘reductionist’ news media- we have managed to simplify our understanding of Liberation theology- and have basically presented it as some satanic movement that simply wishes to implement Marxist ideology into the American experience.
Glenn Beck got a hold of a few books [articles?] that showed the church’s criticism of Liberation theology- and it cemented in his mind that all liberation theologians were ‘the enemy’. It did no good to realize that- yes indeed- Obama’s church is a theological offshoot of Liberation theology.
Yes- the good ole Reverend Wright is a Black Liberation theologian and darn proud of it! Liberation theology took the concern of the social gospel a step further- it sought to implement social justice policies by mixing Christian teaching in with political structures. In a way it was a form of Marxism- without Marx’s penchant against religion. To the contrary the Liberation adherents saw this approach as a mandate from Jesus himself.
Liberation theology arose in the last half of the 20th century primarily as a result of what the Catholic church saw taking place in Latin American nations. Once again a type of Colonialism was taking place in this 3rd world region of the world [though they are obviously doing much better today]. And the Catholic church in the region developed a Liberating theology that would deal with these social injustices through political means.
The very influential Catholic bishop of El Salvador- Oscar Romero- would be the lead visionary of the movement at the time. Romero said some very important- and true things at the time. It would be wrong to totally reject all Liberation theologies as ‘satanic’. Romero taught that true theology- true learning and growing in our understanding of God should take place in ‘Base Christian Communities’ as opposed to the ‘institution’. This concept is actually taught in the bible [in my view].
His ideas would give birth to what is known as Feminist theology [Catholic female authors like Fiorenza of Germany or Mary Daly from America] these women were writing in what they saw as institutional oppression from the church against women- that in their view the church has historically repressed women- and they drew from the stream of Liberation theology that sought to ‘free people from oppressive regimes’ it’s just the regime they were speaking about was the church itself!
And yes- the Black liberation theologians would manage to tweak Liberation theology and make it fit their particular struggle for what they saw as a continued repression of the Black race.
All in all liberation theology was a very influential movement- that does indeed have many strains of truth within it.
Then why did the Catholic church have to officially distance itself from the movement? Bishop Romero [who would eventually become the arch Bishop of San Salvador] gained so much influence within the Latin American church- that the Vatican had to finally come out and distance itself from the movement.
Liberation theology was in fact a strange mixture of Marxist ideas- though they were taken from Jesus and the gospels. In the 20th century- right around the same time of Romero's great influence- you had another very influential Catholic leader by the name of Pope John Paul the 2nd. John Paul would eventually become one of the greatest and most influential Popes of all time [that is saying a lot].
One of John Paul’s great achievements was his vital role in the pulling down of the Soviet Union and his stance against communism- especially seen in his own resistance to communism in his home country of Poland.
Now- how could the church be lead by one of the greatest heroes of anti communism of all time- and at the same time have such an influential Arch Bishop operating out of Latin America- who was in fact espousing a form of Communism?
So this page has been written in the books and we have what we have.
Today I think we all need to take a second look at the things we deem [or have heard] are wrong- or satanic. Though I have many disagreements with our president and this current administration- yet I agree with what Hillary said in her warning about the African continent. I also do not think it right to demonize the president because he did indeed attend a Black Liberation church- many of these congregations fully embrace redemption through Christ- and their ‘zeal’ to extend that redemption through the social justice arm of political govt. is not totally wrong- the bible speaks much about human govt. being a tool for social justice in a just society!
But we in America are fixated on more important things- like when the next picture of congressman Weiner will come out- yeah who has time for all this social justice talk anyway.
 YOU MUST BE KIDDING!
I caught a few minutes of Hal Lindsey last night- I very rarely watch ‘religious TV’ any more [with the exception of EWTN] and Lindsey was covering the Rapture and some stuff in Revelation. He did Rev. Chapter 6- the 4 horseman of the Apocalypse. He covered the standard Evangelical view that the 1st horse [rider on the white horse] is the anti-christ.
There is one other reference in Revelation to a rider on a white horse [chapter 19] everyone agrees that this rider is Jesus- yet many evangelicals have developed an interesting view that has the rider on the white horse in chapter 6 as the anti- christ.
The reason? They say look what follows- ‘war, famine, judgment’. But does this chapter [or Revelation] ever describe these judgments as ‘the judgments of anti christ’? No. As a matter of fact- the last few verses of this chapter actually describe the judgments as coming from him who sits on the throne and from the Lamb.
In chapter 19 the reference [of Jesus on the white horse] says he goes forth to ‘make war’. And if you read about these horses in the Old Testament prophets- they talk about God’s Spirit carrying out the judgment.
I don’t want to do a whole thing on who the rider is- after looking at all these verses in context I would say its not anti christ- but Christ [by the way- others do hold to this view- but the majority of ‘prophecy preachers’ USA do not]. The point is we assume stuff- then preach it like that particular view is the only ‘correct one’.
Okay- last night Weiner was being investigated for having contact with young girls on line- minors. The cops were at the house of the girl. Weiner seems to be admitting that yes- I regularly had on line contact with young girls. But during those contacts I was not fully naked and ‘excited’. But then when he clicked over to the 20 year olds- well yes- naked and out there.
Okay- he also said he cant be sure that during all these on line talks that he hadn’t exposed himself to young girls ‘maybe yes- maybe no’. Okay.
Yet at the same time the reason we all found out about this is because he ‘accidently’ posted a crotch picture to 50 thousand strangers on his twitter page. So we have a sitting U.S. congressman who has many experiences with woman on line- he has already sent these pic’s to 50 thousand people.
He also admits contact with underage girls.
And MSNBC [Lawrence O’Donnell] says ‘I don’t see why he cant be the mayor of N.Y.- and I would invite him on tomorrow and not ask a single question about his on line exploits’ none of our business!
Yet these same media folk spent yesterday going through 24,000 emails of Sarah Palin- actually enlisting the publics help ‘come join us America- lets all go through these emails and see what we can find’ [N.Y. Times, Washington Post].
The MSNBC political hacks were drooling at the mouth. Has the media ever done something like this before? Have you ever heard of any public figure [including Obama] who the media said ‘hey world- lets go through 24,ooo emails and see what we can find’. The woman is not even officially running for office right now- some of these emails are to her kids.
Yet you have a sitting Democrat congressman- admittedly sending nude shots of himself to anyone- possible young girls [15?] and MSNBC says ‘that’s none of our darn business’.
A few years ago a right winger put out a book- I think it was titled ‘liberalism is a mental disease’. I’m beginning to wonder.
 THE PROBLEM IS WE ARE MUCH SMARTER THAN THE AVERAGE PERSON!
These last few days I have found it amusing to listen to the various media networks deal with the Weiner scandal. Some have tried to actually justify the fact that ‘he didn’t commit a crime’. True- but if after a few weeks of chatting with young girls who join your site because you are a representative- if after a few weeks you are sending fully nude ‘excited’ photos of yourself to these young girls- geez- you need to go- and fast!
But the interesting thing was to see the elitist mindset at work. One show discussed why this happens to smart politicos- they surmised that the mind of highly advanced politicians [mainly liberal Democrats] functions at such a higher level than the ‘average’ person- that because of this they need multiple outlets for this highly functioning intellect.
I actually have heard this argument used a few times in trying to come up with an explanation of why Obama’s numbers are low- or why the public does not fully support his ideas at times. The reporters would say ‘the average person is not able to fully digest the advanced intellect of the president- he functions almost at the level of a genius [not kidding] and because of this it’s like Einstein trying to explain physics to a 3rd grader’.
Now- pride is one of those sins that comes out- and you don’t know its there- I have it- you have it- yes we all have it. But I find these elite news men humorous- they really seem to struggle, and believe, that they are so far ahead of the ‘gun toting southern idiots’ that their viewers cant see the idiocy of their arguments.
A few weeks ago on MSNBC Rachel Maddow was covering the oil situation. She explained that those who blame Obama for the high gas prices are wrong [to a degree she is right- but when prices went up under Bush- no one dared do an entire show at trying to explain this Phenomenon!]. She then went on to explain that if we drill more in the U.S. that the simple fact that the U.S. is drilling- that does not mean that all the ‘U.S.’ oil goes to us.
She explained- rightfully- that the oil produced here goes into this ‘global market’ and then it simply sells on the global shelf. The problem was at the time she was arguing against those who were saying that the lack of U.S. production could hurt in times of global war- when other oil producing nations go to war. Her defense was ‘either way- U.S. production just goes on a global market’ but the mistake she made was she was arguing economics- when the question at hand was logistics- supply.
It indeed is true that during times of national war and upheaval- enemy nations might well say ‘no more oil for you’. And if our own production is low [even though it might be a foreign company- B.P.] then we are in trouble. During times of crisis our country has the ability to ‘take over’ the actual resource [oil, etc.] and if there are limited regional resources to ‘take over’ then in fact we would be in trouble.
Point? Maddow was arguing economics- when the question at hand was logistics. Okay- I can live with that. But at the same time this network [MSNBC] is the main instigator of the argument ‘we [liberals in general] function on such a higher plane than the average citizen- that’s why Obama’s numbers are low’. It really is a sad thing.
I hope Weiner can in some way redeem himself and his family. Comparing him to Vitter, Foley, Clinton- etc. It really is a waste of time for me. The fact that these incidents happened so recently- with many young women who he just knew for a few weeks- no shirtless pic's- but the Full Monty. I mean it just seems like it would be best for everybody if he took some other job for now- restore his marriage and maybe some day he can come back and be productive. Elliot Spitzer actually is doing a great job at CNN- as an analyst he is really good- very fair.
Instead of trying to explain the foibles of ‘the left’ by coming up with arguments that say ‘we function at such a higher level than the rest of the country’ just swallow the crow and take some time off- please- the country really needs a break.
Let's talk about war. These past few days NATO has bombed Tripoli really hard. Reporters on the ground have said that the compound that Gadhaffi lives in has been leveled- to the point where it makes no sense- sort of like turning the place into a post nuclear looking wasteland.
Supposedly we [Brits, French and U.S.] were trying to penetrate any hidden bunkers, using the famous Bunker Busting bombs. It seems so surreal- when was the last time you saw/heard daily reports of the British and French doing routine air raids?
I can’t think of the last time- it must have been WW2. You say ‘now brother- I know the British were brave under Churchill- but the French?’ Okay- as least they were industrious- do you know how many white flags that country produced during the war? [To my French readers- I’m sorry]
So we have chosen to bomb- Libya had an ambassador go to the Hague and to the French this week, they filed war crimes charges against them. This past week the former Serbian general who was on the run for years- Slobodan Milosevic- was finally captured and taken to the ‘world court’ on charges of genocide.
You remember that back during the Clinton years we got involved because the Serbian Christians were fighting the Muslims and the charges were that the Serbs were carrying out genocide against the Muslims.
Why did we engage there? It’s possible that tens of thousands died- do you know how many Blacks died on the continent of Africa? Many of them Christians- killed by Muslims? Sudan, Darfur, Congo? Some say the numbers are over a million. Do you know how many Iraqi’s died since our invasion? Some estimates say around a million civilians have died since the war started.
The U.S. does not keep records of civilian deaths. So why Serbia and not Africa? Do you remember who the secretary of state was at the time? Madeline Albright. She came from this part of the world- she actually made statements saying she would not sit back and see ‘her’ people killed like this.
Problem? Did we allow the ethnic roots of a secretary of state dictate where and when we would get involved? Jesse Jackson brought this up at the time- he asked ‘why intervene when it’s your homeland- and let millions die when it’s in Africa’? Hate to admit it- but the man was right.
Now Libya. There are reports coming out that the western backed rebels [the guys we are backing] have tortured and killed Blacks. Why? Do you remember when Nelson Mandela was released from prison- he went to Libya and personally thanked Gadhaffi for his support- called him his brother. Many in the west cringed at the time.
Why did he do this? In Africa you have Black Africans and non Blacks. Some hate the Black skinned Africans and have been pro slavery. Others have a long history of supporting the Black skinned Africans- Gadhaffi is one of those who have been on the side of the Blacks for many years.
Right now in Libya you have many Blacks who have come from the Sub Sahara and these are fighting on the side of Gadhaffi. The western media reports this- but they always say these Blacks are just hired guns. While this is partially true- yet when these fighters are asked ‘why are you helping Gadhaffi’ they will tell you- just like Mandela- that he has supported them for decades- when no one else cared- including us.
There is an ex Black congresswoman in Libya right now- she has reported that the rebels have been lynching the Blacks- just having Black skin identifies you as being on Gadhaffi’s side- No wonder Farrakhan said ‘who the hell are you [Obama] telling him he must go!’.
Many Blacks see Gadhaffi as one of their own- he has earned their support. Now do you see why so many Blacks can’t understand why America’s first Black president might be the one to topple the man- and at the same time supporting the rebels- you know- the lynchers!
What a tangled web we weave. I do not know what position we should take in all these wars and uprisings- but we need to be very slow at pulling the trigger and getting comfortable with seeing our country daily bombing another country.
The congress just tried to pass something that would have forced us to leave Libya in 15 days. The 60 day mark has passed [the deadline for the president going to the congress for support] and the president has yet to go to the congress. Instead congress passed something that demanded the president give some more answers on why we are bombing Libya- non stop.
It seems to me that the so called ‘no fly zone’ has been implemented- obviously we want to kill the man. Problem? We have no right to kill the guy- no matter what the Arab league- the U.N. - Nato- no matter what they agree on- the U.S. is not allowed to assassinate foreign heads of state- and that’s that.
So today we got a lesson on why we sometimes intervene- and sometimes not. Why we let millions of Africans die on the continent- and intervene for thousands in Serbia. Yes- we are a fickle crowd. And all this at the expense of our young men and women.
I heard Beck one day- he had a guest on. The guest quoted the words of Lincoln ‘a nation divided against itself can not stand’. Beck was quick to correct the man- Beck told him that Lincoln did not coin this phrase- but he got it from another politico who lived before him. Beck then mentioned the ‘originator’ it was some guy who lived a few hundred years before Lincoln.
To my surprise both of these men got it wrong. The words come from the lips of Jesus in the New Testament. Yes Jesus himself said it.
As I look at the political landscape today- upcoming elections where its popular to be ‘pro war’- I hope we as a people can be honest about the things we are doing- be willing to ‘cut and run’ when we realize that the political end game might not be much better then before we went in [Iraq and Afghanistan] and return to the original purpose of our fighting men and women- to protect the homeland.
As much as I want freedom for the Iraqi’s- to see the Afghan women freed from oppressive regimes like the Taliban- as good and right as these things are [or to prevent a ‘genocide’ in Libya] as good as these things are- our men and women did not join the military for this- that’s not a reason for them to die. We need to think long and hard before we spill the blood of our kids on foreign soil- we do not want them to die in vain.
 ANTHONY WEINER [AND PAUL REVERE]
These last few weeks I have been reading a few key passages from the book of Daniel. I have found lots of practical stuff that you can apply to ministry and the journey we all take in life. Daniel was stuck in Babylon- he was seeking God- praying about his situation and the people he had responsibility for.
The book says he understood from the beginning what God’s purpose was- both for him and the people he would eventually influence- yet the men who were with him- the helpers- they did not have the same insight that he had. The bible says these men ‘hid in fear’.
Daniel also knew that the appointed time was long- that the things he was waiting for would take a lifetime to see. Daniel saw that the walls and temple would be rebuilt in 'troublous times’. That even though he was commanded to pray and intercede for the people- yet there would be much difficulty involved- he would have to persevere much. He prays ‘God- do these things- help your people- not because of my righteousness- but because of your mercy’.
You can read about the actual rebuilding of the city and temple in the books of Nehemiah and Ezra.
This past week we have had some important news, lots of stuff that meant something. The economic numbers were disastrous. The Middle East situation grew worse. The president of Afghanistan said ‘no more bombing of civilian homes’ NATO killed 12 civilians- all women and children- can you blame the man?
And of course we were all treated to the daily voyeuristic fix of seeing Weiner’s pics slowly trickle out- day after day.
Truly the wall is being built- but we are also in very troublous times. I must admit that the media has scored very low on the scale of responsible journalism. I do credit Brian Williams [NBC] for not even covering the Weiner story- he was right in the fact that it was not a slow news week- and it was hard to justify the coverage that the story got.
At the same time- their cable branch- MSNBC- was shameful. They not only reported as news the fake alibi of Weiner [Brietbart did it!] but they spent the whole week as shameful political hacks.
Last night Lawrence O’Donnell actually covered the admission of the congressman and concluded ‘the only victim [ONLY!] was Weiner’s wife’. Now- the congressman just admitted that he sent many pictures of himself to many women- he could not rule out whether some of them were minors- whether they were unsolicited- yet O’Donnell does not see these women as 'victims’ to the contrary- some of the ‘liberal’ media began hinting at the possibility that these women might be in cahoots with Brietbart- yeah- way to go- blame the women.
I have come to the conclusion that MSNBC is a vast waste of airtime. O’Donnell said he could still see Weiner as the mayor of Gotham City- and he would invite him on the show and not ask a single question about the scandal. This from the network that as recently as a few days ago was headlining their news with the shirtless pic of the Republican congressman who has been gone for months.
So the world is in turmoil- Yemen’s president was hurt badly when the protestors bombed the presidential palace. He was flown to Saudi Arabia and he might not make it back. Yemen is a very dangerous country- Al Qaeda is strong there- and they might actually take over the country.
Syria has decided to cross their border with Israel [The Golan Heights]. And Israel killed 20 protestors/invaders- Assad [Syria’s leader] is obviously taking the strategy of starting something with Israel to get the heat off of his murderous regime.
Yes- troublous times indeed.
You know- right about now I know how Paul Revere must have felt- jumping on his horse- riding his famous ride- ringing those bells and proclaiming ‘hey you Brits- you better not try and take our guns’ yeah- I know the feeling for sure.
 ALL HOPE IS GONE!
The last few days have been quite an indictment on the American media. The right has played the Anthony Weiner story hard- the left actually report the alibi [he claims his Twitter account was hacked] though as the days go by the story seems to be legit. And all the while the madman of Syria [Assad] released the tortured mutilated body of a 13 year old boy- his Genitals cut off- and this is the same man that our president offered ‘lead or get out of the way’ so very sad.
As I peruse the various media outlets- sometimes I have some hope for unbiased journalism- then something might happen that causes doubt. Last night I watched Rachel Maddow a little. Now- I don’t like Rachel a whole lot- but I think she tries to be honest at times. I must confess that when I first found her show- there were a few hints that caused me to ask myself ‘gee- I wonder if she’s gay’. And I scolded myself for being judgmental- then sure enough her web site talks about her female partner and the N.Y. Times ran a story about her and her partner.
Fine- as a Christian I have a different opinion- but I won’t judge the girl- the various pictures of Rachel when she’s not doing her show look a little ‘tomboyish’ but it would be wrong for me to speak about her being- well manly.
So to my surprise- out of all the people who might do a critique of another woman as being ‘too manly’ Rachel did a segment on Vladimir Putin- the former leader of Russia. She showed pics of him with no shirt- doing all sorts of Alpha male stuff- and then said ‘do we in America have a politician like this’ and she then went to a bunch of ‘manly’ Palin pics- and yes- she critiqued Palin for being ‘too butch’.
The problem with our media is the left/right do not hold the opposing team to the same standards. A few days ago I was channel surfing- and it was primetime- all the news shows were covering something serious [Tornado?] but as I clicked to the MSNBC guy- the screen simply blared the picture of the disgraced Republican congressman who was shirtless [he sent a pic of himself to a girl thru Facebook- trying to pick the girl up- he’s married]
Now the guy resigned a few months ago- I remember Lawrence O’Donnell saying how he forgives him and will not drag him thru the mud over it- yet he and the crowd at MSNBC did just that- to the point where months later- when no one else is even covering it- MSNBC sees it as their moral duty to humiliate the man in front of his wife and daughters [as the lead story during primetime!]
These stories- covering Weiner or the other guy- these things are not ‘newsworthy’ like the other serious stuff. Now- if a senator or congressman lies about sending a lewd pic to a girl- well yes- he should not be able to get away with it. But these things should not take up important time- time that could be used to cover real stories.
As I watched the various shows- I flipped to CNN and I felt like they were being balanced [though they are the network pushing hard on Weiner]. Their legal guy- Jeff Tobin- is asked what his legal opinion is about Weiner. Tobin says ‘it's making a mountain out of a molehill- I’m sure he just wants it to go away- whether he did it or not’ geez- I guess you could say this about the shirtless Repub- or Clinton and Monica- I guess you could say they all ‘just want it to go away’ thanks for the great legal analysis.
And MSNBC reported that the real instigator- Andrew Brietbart- has been known to do fake videos of conservatives. They made it sound like Weiner was set up. Actually- if you listen carefully to Weiner- he’s using speech that tells you it's probably a picture of him- and maybe he [or a mad wife!] posted the thing.
Fine- don’t kill the man- but don’t actually report a probable lie [that some conservative faked the pic] more than likely Weiner messed up- and if you made the Repub quit because he had no shirt- than Weiner must go because he had no pants.
So as I watched Anderson Cooper I felt there was some hope- he seemed to be doing well. The only blemish on Cooper is he has a history of wearing the short sleeve T shirts at times- and he’s been accused of showing his biceps a little too much.
So as he’s doing the show they flip to a shot of him at some parade- he was on some float and yes- the guns are out. The female reporter says ‘wow Anderson- those are some nice guns’ yes- she started making lots of noise about the biceps. Cooper tried to play it down at first- and as the segment ends he says ‘next time I’ll have to charge you for the gun show’.
Yes- it was a rough few days for the media- I felt like there was some hope- maybe a chance for redemption, just a glimmer of hope. After Cooper’s gun show comment I now realize all hope is gone- so very sad.
NOTE- For those of you who don’t watch the news- Weiner is a Democrat from N.Y. who possibly sent a picture of himself with no pants on to a 21 year old girl who he follows on Twitter. The picture was only up for a few minutes and it came down fast. He posted a follow up note that said he was hacked. But as the days go by it seems like he is lying about it. It looks like he either posted it or someone else who was on his account.
 MEMORIAL DAY
First I want to honor our men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country [and other countries]. This past week I have read/watched lots of stuff about the things our guys go thru when they come back from the field. A sad story of a vet who survived a viscous attack- only to later deal with survivor guilt.
Upon returning to the states he volunteered to work with wounded vets. They showed you him helping guys who lost their limbs- doing activities with them. Some wounded vets. testified to his concern and seeming balanced way he dealt with his experiences in war. Yet this young man chose to take his life- the guilt of him surviving ‘whole’ while others did not- it was eating him up alive.
I read an article written by a commander who had charge of many troops in the various fields of war we are actively involved in. He spoke against our continued presence in Afghanistan. He was by no means a pacifist- he was a realist. He saw many of his men lose their lives- others their limbs. And he saw the political reality on the ground- that basically our continued presence in the field [Afghanistan] would not change the outcome if we are saying we will be pulling out in a few more months.
His view was the leaders and the Taliban will probably wind up making a deal anyway- so why waste another life? If we are just finishing up a political promise that we will stay until a certain date, and yet the last few months up until that date will change nothing- then why let the guys die for that?
All these types of conversations get lost in the American media- we have the left- who act just as ridiculous as the right- and it’s hard to really see what’s going on. These past few weeks our country [along with NATO] has stepped up ‘kinetic’ action in Libya. Libya began much like the other North African countries- protestors rose up and demanded change.
Libya is a big nation- yet 90 % of the population live right off of the coast. The eastern half of the nation are the primary Rebels [from Benghazi] and the west is ‘pro Kaddafi’ [Tripoli being the capital]. A few weeks ago I saw video of Tripoli [before the bombing] the merchant shops and the fresh goods from the fertile Mediterranean Sea made the streets of Tripoli look like some ancient city that was flourishing during the time of Christ.
While its hard to measure the actual numbers- there are many people who live in the western half of the nation who do not want the eastern rebels to win. Okay- we entered the picture because we said we were going to prevent a possible humanitarian disaster- fine. NATO approved action for purely humanitarian reasons- a no fly zone to protect civilians. What are we doing now? We have been bombing the hell out of beautiful Tripoli- chasing Gadhaffi wherever we can find him- bombing his son’s home- killing his son and his 3 grandkids. Gadhaffi's wife has publicly said she wished she died with those kids- she’s putting pressure on her husband to ‘end this thing’ [she was the one who after Bush killed Saddam- she talked her husband into giving up the Nuke plans and making peace with Bush. The story was that she was deathly afraid that Bush would do to her children what he did with Saddam's sons- kill them].
So the wife’s worst nightmare has happened- but instead of Bush being the aggressor- Its France, Britain and the good ole U.S. of A. What’s the problem? The problem is we started this action saying it’s purely a ‘no fly zone’ now we have the leader [being urged by his wife- hoping to save her sons and grandkids] making multiple offers for a cease fire- I think the man is serious.
We respond ‘the offer is not credible’ what are we saying? We have the man between a rock and a hard place- we keep saying ‘cease fire’ and when ever he does- the rebels press forward- we keep bombing and he says ‘how in the hell can I do a cease fire like that’ the man is right.
Look- if we leave these leaders- corrupt as they are- with the only option being ‘we are gonna blow you and your family up’ then we are not playing smart. Today we celebrate the lives of our men and women who laid their lives down in battle- many came home with broken bodies [and minds]. Many are taking their lives because of the reality of being in situations where they had to take other lives. These things are very serious things to live with- I just wish we as a country took these decisions more seriously.
If we are asking so much of our men and women- then let’s be honest and upfront about the cost. Sure its makes good political fare to say ‘I believe in a strong military’ or to say you are ‘for the wars’. But I will go with the commander who looked at the reality- and he said if we are letting our boy’s die- just to ride out some political promise of staying until a certain date- then that’s tragic. Yes- honor our boy’s today- and let’s do what we can to prevent the loss of any more.
 THE PRESIDENT’S SPEECH
The president gave his speech yesterday on the Middle East- many observers were waiting to hear what he was going to say. Some conservatives are upset- they felt he ‘thru Israel’ under the bus. Basically the administrations 2 year effort to establish a path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians- under George Mitchell- ended abruptly the other day when Mitchell announced he was done dealing with it.
So you have some advisers who want to take a pro Israel stance- others are more pro Palestinian. Obama went a little more pro Palestinian and he publicly stated that the talks need to start from the pre 1967 borders. This was a bit much for the pro Israel lobby- and even Netanyahu publicly called for the president to reaffirm the 2004 accord agreed to under former president Bush.
So things are a little hot right now. He also dealt with the protests in the Middle East/North Africa. He said to Assad [Syria’s leader] that you either ‘lead- or get out of the way’. To be frank this language confuses me- lead? The man has slaughtered many innocents- we have treated the Libyan leader like a war criminal for this very thing- actively trying to kill him- and in the process have killed his son and 3 grandkids- all justified under the so called NATO agreement.
Now- for us to be targeting him for death- though we deny it- yet as NATO keeps bombing spots where we think he is- after each assassination attempt- NATO says ‘we targeted that spot because it was being used to organize aggression against civilians’. They are basically justifying the assassination attempts by saying ‘wherever he is- that spot is a danger to civilians- so in our agreement to ‘protect civilians’ we can bomb that spot’. Okay- fine- Nato/U.S. wants to kill the guy- but please stop telling us that we are not targeting those spots because we think he’s there- don’t lie about the thing.
So Assad actually gets another chance to lead- or ‘get out of the way’ while the other guy gets chased by bombs. Just seems too inconsistent. Saudi Arabia? No mention about them at all.
I do realize it’s hard to ‘be consistent’ when the whole region is in turmoil- but heck- cant we at least try?
As I watched the media response to the speech- it was interesting to see both sides of the political aisle give their views. FahreedZacharia- a very knowledgeable CNN personality- he seemed to put every one of the president’s points in the best possible light. It recently slipped out that he actually advises the president on certain world issues. No wonder. And Beck and the conservatives said Obama abandoned Israel and that if Israel falls that’s the end of the western world as we know it because Israel is the cornerstone of the U.S.
I think an honest evaluation can find both good and bad out of the speech. I find it difficult to believe a reporter can really be non biased- especially if his advice is what the president used to make the speech. And I feel that to take the position that any nation is the key part- that to do anything that might seem negative towards them- that to describe it as the possible collapse of the West- well that too is a little much.
I do feel that the NATO thing needs a lot more scrutiny- if we are now going to allow NATO- and our guys- to engage in a stealth assassination attempt of any world leader. That is for our troops [pilots] being actively involved in the obvious targeting of a leader- evil yes- but if we are saying ‘no- we are not trying kill him’ and it’s obvious we are- then who’s next? The whole NATO operation needs to be more clear- if we are not targeting him- then stop trying to kill the guy. If we are targeting him- then quit saying we are not. Our guys deserve better than that.
 THE BIBLE IS NOT 6 THOUSAND YEARS OLD!
I should start an entire blog section called ‘THE CRITIQUE OF MSNBC’, but then maybe that would be giving them a little too much free advertising. Okay- let’s start off with the other night- Chris Matthews was in L.A. and they were covering politics. He goes into this rant on Sarah Palin- saying she has made no efforts to get a simple education. That if she was a serious candidate for higher office then she should at least have spent the last few years reading papers- or getting some basic elementary school type education; history, geography, etc.
He was dead serious. He then interviews a woman liberal- who even though she seems to be on the same side of the aisle as Matthews- even the look on her face was ‘I can’t believe this guy gets away with stuff like this on national T.V.’.
First- I am no fan of Palin. I don’t think she should run for president- nor would I vote for her. But for a male TV personality to regularly accuse the woman of being an uneducated ignoramus- to the point where he actually portrays her in such a demeaning way- it’s unbelievable.
Sarah Palin became the governor of Alaska and held an executive position that was noble. She did indeed drop out- which did make her look bad- but to portray her in a light that says she does not possess an elementary knowledge of anything- it’s totally demeaning- and I think liberal women should at least tell the guy that his demeaning, never ending portrayals of her should end.
Okay- in the rant of Matthews- he mentioned her Christian belief [evangelical, who attended an Assembly of God church for a while] how she [along with all others of this stripe] are actually idiots- because they believe the bible- they reject ‘science’ [evolution] and they believe- quote- the ‘bible is 6 thousand years old’. He said this multiple times.
Now- as much as I defend Catholics on my site- I have had to correct the Catholic misinterpretations of MSNBC hosts on a number of occasions. Do Evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants- Orthodox Christians believe ‘the bible is 6 thousand years old’? No. So what in the heck is he talking about? He is trying to say that some fundamentalist Christians think the EARTH and the history of man is 6 thousand years old. Big difference.
Most Christians agree that the first 5 books of the bible [Pentateuch, Torah] were written by Moses [big debate in theological circles- but most believe Mosaic authorship]. Now- Moses lived around 12- 1400 years before Christ. Some real liberal scholars date the authorship of Genesis around 1- 3 hundred years before Christ. This view holds to the idea that the Jewish people ‘made up’ the history of the Old Testament as a sort of cultural way to deal with their captivity [ under Babylon, Rome, etc.] and that the Old Testament was written at that time.
Most serious scholars reject this idea. So anyway if Moses is generally believed to have written the first 5 books- that would mean that most Christians [including Palin’s brand] believe the bible is around 32-34 hundred years old- not 6 thousand.
I want to be careful here- I grew up in N.J. and over the years have come to appreciate the area of my youth more and more. Why? After studying world [and U.S.] history for many years- you see the North East as being at the heart of the American heritage.
One of the first history books I bought after moving to Corpus Christi [a cheap book sale in one of our malls] was on the Puritans- and after reading all the history taking place in my old stomping grounds- I became a lifelong student of the area.
Okay- one of the problems I see with my old area- is there can be an elitist mindset among some intellectuals [even fake intellectuals]. The mindset often expresses itself in the way liberals speak about other ‘less informed’ folk. I had a conversation one time with a person who was mocking Palin- the person said ‘she is such an idiot- she said you could see Russia from her house’. Now- as a big political watcher myself- I knew this actual quote was wrong.
Palin actually said ‘did you know you can see certain parts of Russia from Alaska’. The person I was talking to absolutely denied this- she said that she personally heard her say it. I informed the person that this actually has become a modern urban myth- that the Tina Fey skit on SNL was where the fake quote came from- that the real quote was the Russia being seen from Alaska quote- not ‘my house’. So- as most liberals [and yes- conservatives too] we are usually not willing to admit that we are wrong- especially during a tirade of exposing the other side as ignoramuses.
So we left it at that. In all of our learning in life- it’s important to try and view the opposing side as favorably as possible. I not only do not believe the ‘bible is 6 thousand years old’ but I also do not believe the earth is 6 thousand years old. I believe Dinosaurs are real [were!]. I believe that there are certain aspects of Evolution that are indeed true- for instance the ‘survival of the fittest’ is indeed a true scientific fact.
The reality is that species do change and adapt over time- yet the ‘other reality’ is we have never- not once- been able to verify this happening between species of living things. That is the theory of Darwin says this is how all the species arrived on the planet- from one common living cell. Science does not show this to have happened- either in the natural environment- or in the laboratory.
So science shows us that Natural Selection does indeed happen- but it does not happen [as far as science goes] between species. As a matter of fact- if a person just went with the current understanding of time and matter commonly held by most scientists- you would not at all have the picture that Darwin painted. Modern science says the earth is a little over 4 billion years old. For the first 3.5 billion years we have no record [Fossil] of complex structures being on the earth.
Our geologic history says complex life structures appeared during the Cambrian era [500 million years ago- referred to as the Cambrian Explosion] and that even according to the Evolutionary scientists- 500 million years is not enough time for Evolution to have happened.
You basically would have needed the Evolutionary process to have started during the first few hundred million years of earth’s history- not the last.
But the average ‘mocker of evangelicals’ has no idea about any of this- he just says ‘they think the bible is 6 thousand years old’. So it would do us all some good if we came to the table with a little more humility. Christianity has a long and deep heritage of wisdom.
Much of this heritage comes to us from the Catholic Church [of which Matthews is a member]. There are many believers who have made great strides in our understanding of creation and existence. Even many fundamentalists accept the idea that the earth is billions- not thousands of years old. So let’s try and have an honest conversation in this country- if I disagree with your politics- then let me make my case and you make yours. But if I degrade you- either by doubting your birth certificate- or by constantly portraying you as an idiot- who lacks a grade school education- well that gets us nowhere.
 ANTI COLONIAL REDO
Let me try to cover a few current events. This week we had a few presidential hopefuls drop out of the race- and a few announce. Newt Gingrich did his first Sunday news interview since officially getting into the race.
David Gregory- Tim Russert’s replacement on NBC- did an okay interview- but he did raise the question of racism [so soon!]. Yes- he questioned Newt’s speech where he mentioned that Obama is the ‘food stamp president’. That is Newt criticized the economic policies of this administration and said how we have over 40 million people on food stamps. That the lack of the president’s ability to create jobs is seen in the food stamp [and welfare] rates rising.
Gregory questioned whether or not this played into the race game. Now- MSNBC and one of the most biased news people in the media today [Chris Matthews] had on 2 liberal minded men. He got right into the race card- he played it hard and long. To my surprise- both of the liberals he interviewed disagreed with him. They distanced themselves from the race card.
One of the men- Richard Wolfe- is an Obama insider. He has lots of access to the inner workings of the White House. He has written books on the president and he is close to the real sources. I had to ask myself why both of these liberal minded men agreed with me- that to use the race card on something like this is shameful.
I realized that as ‘true insiders’ they know that this type of accusation surely does not play well in Rio Linda. That is the majority of voters- especially white independents- they might not say it- but this stuff does not gain votes.
As smart politicos- these Obama supporters knew this- and for the welfare of the president, whom they support- they did the right thing. Matthews- well he’s a lost cause.
One of the things that gets raised with the Newt debate is the accusation that our president is ‘anti- colonial’ or that he is an ‘anti colonial Kenyan’. In the past I have defended the president against this accusation- yet at the same time others who have defended the president against this accusation have seemed to not know what they are talking about [Matthews again].
These last few years Newt Gingrich has positioned himself for a possible run for the White House. One of the things he has done is he has converted to Catholicism. Now- I do not question his conversion- as a matter of fact if you realize that Newt is an intellectual- than the conversion to a Christian denomination that has the greatest intellectual heritage of them all- well that just makes sense.
As a new convert Newt is obviously going to read the books of other Catholic intellectuals. And a top seller during this time was a book by Dinesh Desouza. A Catholic intellectual himself. The book critiqued the development of the political/social thought of the president. It covered the presidents own journey as he grew up and later learned more about his father’s struggle- and the black mans struggle in general. The president wrote about this in his book Dreams of my Father.
Part of the critique that Dinesh mentioned is that the presidents father- like many Kenyans and other foreign ethnic groups- had what you would describe as an ‘anti colonial’ mindset. What’s that? Our world has gone thru many stages of growth and development. Some stages were good- other times bad [the Hitler stage!] After the great breakthroughs in science and technology that occurred during the 18th-19th centuries- you had European [western] world powers colonizing other parts of the world. Africa [Kenya] as well as other Arab nations became colonies of the west.
The famous struggle of Gandhi was all about India breaking away from Britain’s rule over them. They indeed were ‘anti colonial’. Now- in this conversation many can’t believe [Matthews] that anyone would ever even venture to say that the president might be ‘anti colonial’ as in if this is a bad thing. Geez- America is ANTI COLONIAL for heaven’s sake. We revolted against the English king and became a nation of our own.
So the anti colonial mindset-in itself- is not so terrible. Yet some of the president’s accusers do use the accusation as saying the president buys into the whole spirit of anti colonialism- which in many parts of the world does come with an anti American attitude- why? Well they resent our political influence in their nations.
The present protests going on in the Arab world also play strongly into this feeling. Many in the western media have simplified the reasons for the Arab protests. Some [Beck] simply see a radical world uprising that wants to take over the world. Others are a little more thoughtful- they see the actual religious divisions in these countries [between Sunni and Shii] and they tell the story of one sect of Islam fighting the other sect. But this too is ‘too’ simple.
I read an article a while back- written by a Muslim woman who lives in Bahrain. She said that when the west views the protests in her country as simply a Shiite majority population protesting a Sunni minority dynasty- that this narrative misses the point. She explained how in the Arab world there is a strong undercurrent running thru the unrest- and that this undercurrent is anti colonial in nature.
She explained how many of the younger generation Muslim/Arabs are seeing their leaders as sell outs- that their rulers have a sort of unwritten colonial pact with the west- and that this unspoken agreement says ‘if you work with us in fighting the radicals among you- we in turn will support you- even if you treat your people badly’. Thus you had the uprising in Egypt that ousted the long term president. Mubarak was indeed America’s strongest ally in the Arab world- he had maintained a cold peace with Israel for 30 years- and the west loved it.
So in essence the protests are not really about the religious divide within Islam [The divide itself dates back to the 7th century under the founder Mohammad. After Mohammed’s death he was replaced by another top organizational leader- who was not related by blood to Mohammed. This passing of of the leadership- by ability as opposed to blood- this is called Sunna- the example of the prophet spoken about in the Hadith.
Those who describe themselves as Sunni adhere to this example. The other side- Shii [partisan] broke away from this idea and instead believed that the leadership should pass thru those who have blood relations to the former leader. This division has existed till this day and that’s why in some nations you have the Sunni in charge- and in others the Shii.
In Bahrain- when they repressed the protestors- they appealed to another Sunni led nation- Saudi Arabia- and they sent their soldiers into Bahrain to put down the uprising. On the other side of the coin you have Iran [Shii leadership] backing Assad in Syria because he too adheres to their division.
So some in the western media have played this up as the main cause of the protests- when in reality it plays a smaller role than you would think.
Okay- all that to say this. If the defenders of the president want to defend him against ‘anti colonial’ accusations- then have some background into what’s going on. If you want to criticize Newt for the accusation- realize that it’s not totally unfounded- and it’s not wrong to be anti colonial. All our founding fathers were.
‘PRESIDENT OBAMA IS THE WORST PRESIDENT- EVER!’ Trump. ‘WE JUST KILLED BIN LADEN’ The President. ‘TRUMP APPEARS ON FOX [news] AND HE WEARS ONE ON HIS HEAD’ Seth Meyers- S.N.L fame, at the White House Press dinner. Conclusion? Trump- your fired.
These last few days have been news worthy- Obama released the birth ceritificate [though you still have doubters]. NATO [and the U.S.] killed Gadhafi’s son –Saif [not the famous son by the same name- this one was younger and not as heavily involved with the regime] and his 3 grandkids- all under the banner of ‘protecting civilians’ [how killing 3 kids protects civilians is beyond me]. And of course we all rejoice in the justice brought to Bin Laden.
I found it fascinating how the left/right even use stuff like this to simply play petty games. Michael Issikoff [MSNBC] was criticizing Lynn Cheney because some of the Intel. we used to get Bin Laden came for K.S.M. [Kaliek Sheik Mohammed] during our interrogation of the guy. So those on the right said ‘see- water boarding does work- it got us the info’. And the left said ‘hold your horses Lynn’.
Issikoff said ‘we water boarded the guy 180 something times- and all we got was the nickname of the person connected to Bin Laden- geez- we didn’t even get the full name’. Are you kidding me? If someone was out to kill your family- and you ‘interrogated’ an accomplice- and he said ‘it’s the mailman’ but didn’t give you the proper name- would that not be what is called actionable intelligence?
In point of fact the left and the right are both wrong on this. The way we got the info was not during a water boarding session- it was during normal questioning. At one point the C.I.A. asked him ‘and who is so and so’ and they gave the famous nickname. K.S.M. said ‘I don’t know his name’. The C.I.A. knew that he did know- that tipped us off that the person was a valuable target- and it lead to Bin Laden [he was the courier- mailman- for Bin Laden].
All in all I’m glad they got the guy- but the pettiness of these politico’s- these guys are ruining the country- Jon Stewart is right when he calls them out for what they are. And Michael Issikoff- he should be the last person to talk about ‘valuable- non valuable’ Intel. He is famous for writing an article stating that our soldiers flushed a Koran down the toilet at Gitmo. This article instigated worldwide Muslim uprisings that killed innocent people and put our soldiers at risk. When Pastor Terry Jones burns a Koran and it leads to innocent deaths- we rightfully condemn it. When a MSNBC hack does it- with false information [we never burned a Koran- it was misinformation that the terrorists themselves put out- and Issikoff took the bait- and well you know the rest of the story] we let it slide.
O.K. all in all there’s been a lot going on. I don’t want to demean the importance of the Bin Laden killing- our boys [Seals] did one heck of a job- and they did it in Pakistan- a few hundred yards from a military facility [and they didn’t know he was there? Please]. And we did it without informing the Pakistani Govt. that we were going in- sounds just like an Israeli undercover op. great job. But I am concerned about the way NATO has targeted civilian areas in Tripoli- saying ‘we are not targeting Gadhafi’ baloney. We are indeed targeting him- and we killed his 3 grandkids at the same time. No- killing kids is not acceptable- no matter whose grandkids they are.
They say you should never talk about religion and politics, I guess I’m a glutton for punishment!As you go down you will find posts that sound very liberal- others very conservative- I consider myself neither- so before you get too mad [at either side] just realize I am an equal opportunity offender.
 MEET THE NEW CHAMP- HE’S THE SAME AS THE OLD CHAMP-
It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my buddies at the fire house- so let me add a post to the legend.
Like I’ve said before- at the fire house we had a majority Hispanic group- as a White boy I was in the minority. Yet many of my best buddies were Mexican- and to be honest the fights/disagreements were hardly ever race based- we would joke about race- but when there were disagreements it was political [union stuff].
But yes- we would joke- lots. One day I was working with a white brother at the substation [called station 2]. There were only 2 of us on duty at that station- my friend has a white sounding name- he was a Yankee like myself who came south when his family moved here as a boy. I hear him on the phone one day- he was calling back to check up on a free credit card offer that some company kept calling him about.
You could tell that he really didn’t care that much about the offer- but they kept calling him [or writing?] to offer the thing. So as he’s on the phone I hear him giving his last name- he starts getting mad- you can hear it in his voice. He’s telling them ‘no- that’s not how you say my name- it’s $#@% not %$@#!’. They obviously mistook him for being Mexican- they were pronouncing his very white last name with a Hispanic slant.
Well, as he hung up the phone- you could see he was mad. I asked him ‘what’s up’ he of course knew it was too late to cover the incident up- so he tells me that the offer was only for Mexicans- even though they personally hounded him for months. I mean it was funny- I couldn’t stop laughing.
One more- Over the years at the fire house you do stuff to kill the monotony. So one year the guys got into doing arm wrestling competitions. Now- as a younger kid- in the earlier days at the fire house- I got into all sorts of competitions- pushups, chin ups, etc. One day one of the young guys comes up and says out of the blue ‘John- I heard you hold the dept. record for chin ups’. I mean I must have been around 45- I guess the record went back 20 years- I had no idea who held the record! But these legends pass down [I think I did 19 chin ups- according to the Lore].
So the younger guys are all competing with each other with the arm wrestling. Now I’m about 45 at the time and I really don’t want to enter the arena at this age- you know- like a George Foreman thing. But I’m finally persuaded and for some reason I wind up beating the top guy and get the title- it was funny- I would just show up to work and some young kid from another shift would just be there- waiting to challenge. I had a friend who would get a kick out of how the guys wanted to just challenge me out of the blue.
One day I walk in- and the other guy is just there- with his arm in the challenge position- like he was waiting all night for the big show. So as my buddy starts laughing ‘hey John- you got another challenger’ I walk over to the counter- and in about 2 seconds he goes down- I mean it was shameful to be honest. Even his buddy that put him up to it was mad ‘Darn Joe- you went down like a woman!’
So after a while the former champ- Mike- who was a top competitor- Mike weighed about 225, young kid, all muscle. He actually beat me a few times- and me him. It’s just the last time I won I would never give him a rematch. I mean he would beg for just ‘one more chance’. I would say ‘hey Mike- true champs don’t rematch at the drop of the dime’ and I would blow it off.
So one day- out of the blue- me and Mike are working at the sub station- and for some reason I walk into the dorm and say ‘Mike- today’s your day- let’s get it on’. I mean you could see the unbelievable joy in his face [which would soon turn to extreme sadness!] as he thought ‘here’s my chance to redeem myself’. So we sit down at the table and the match is on. Some days you have good days- others bad. So we get into this long match- maybe 20 minutes- and I finally do the surge- and I guess it was that 5th cup of coffee- but I could feel Mike going down. As he begins to give in- it was like slow motion- I look at Mike- and he has this extreme look of unbelief on his face- like after all these months of wanting the re match- he cant believe he’s blowing it- he just looks up and with a complete look of desperations says ‘OH NOO!’ And he goes down.
I felt bad for old Mikie- he waited a long time to redeem himself- and no redemption came. I of course gave Mike the same offer that I did with a few other buddies- I said ‘Now Mike- you know the guys are gonna have to find out sooner or later- either I tell them- and if I tell them- they will hear the whole story- the desperation in your eyes as you went down- the whole 9 yards- or you make the call to the main station and fess up over the loudspeaker’.
Mike saw the writing on the wall- in a way it was sad to sit there at the sub station- to hear Mikes voice over the loudspeaker ‘Guys- Mike’s calling from station 2- he has something to say’ and to hear the confession. Geez- if someone walked in off the street they must have thought ‘what does ‘John beat me again’ mean’? Yes- I must admit I enjoyed the thrill of victory- Mike of course would never challenge again- after a while all the challenges went away- it was me ‘the old guy’ holding the title once again- after all those years.
It was still funny to get the challenges from out of nowhere- guys you thought would never even care. One day I’m sitting in the captain’s office with the captain- a good 15 years my elder. I’m in there with my other buddy- the one who cracked up over seeing the challenges come from nowhere. We were laughing about the whole thing- how the younger guys were distraught over their losses- it was funny. All of a sudden- my captain- who has been hearing the stories for months- looks at me with a serious face- and says ‘you know John- I used to be a pretty good arm wrestler back in the day’ yes- I saw this look before- the look of courage- someone who has heard all the war stories and he thinks to himself ‘I know I can beat John’ Yes- I often saw this look- right before the arm went down.
 THE ARAB SPRING-
This week the president took some criticism for identifying the struggle going on in the Arab/Muslim world with the struggle for freedom that the Jewish people experienced- and commemorate during this Passover season. The president- who celebrates the Passover meal- said that the present Arab struggle for freedom- what is sometimes referred to as The Arab Spring, is much like what the Jews went thru when they too felt oppressed by their leaders many years ago. I actually just did an entire study along these same lines [Insights from a Revolution].
The president’s critics tore into him ‘how dare he compare a radical Muslim terror campaign with the honest struggle of the Jewish people’. Beck had John Hagee [the famous Pastor out of San Antonio] on his show- as well as a Rabbi and another Israeli official- they discussed the subject of God being on the side of the geopolitical decisions of Israel- and how the Arab/Muslim world just want to ‘kill everybody else’.
Hagee offered his friendship to the Rabbi- stating ‘though we disagree on who the Messiah is [no small disagreement!] yet we can still overlook our differences and work together’. Now- I would simply ask- why not take this position with the Muslim/Arab world too? The difference that Hagee was willing to ‘gloss over’ with his Jewish friends is quite a leap- though I too agree with it- that is even though our Jewish friends do not embrace Jesus as the Messiah- yet we should love them as Jesus commanded- and fight for their rights as a people.
We should also extend this hand of friendship- as much as possible- to the Arab world. ‘What- are you nuts- don’t you know the Koran has verses in it that are incompatible with Christian doctrine’- actually I do know this- but that 'incompatibility’ is just as severe- doctrinally- as saying Jesus is not the Messiah. According to the Apostle John- this denial is the worst doctrinal denial one can make [Johns 1st letter found in the New Testament ‘if anyone denies that Jesus Christ is the Messiah- come in the flesh- he is anti Christ’].
Okay- the point? Why couldn’t Beck, Hagee, and the other multitudes simply give this same benefit of the doubt to the Muslim world? In Genesis chapter 16 we read the actual history of the Arab/Muslim world- yes it’s in our bibles. Sarah [Abraham’s wife] tells her husband to sleep with her maid Hagar and have a son. Sarah was barren and this was an acceptable thing at the time to do- sort of like a surrogate mother type thing. After the maid gets pregnant there arises tension and jealousy in the home and Abraham says ‘look- she’s your maid- do what you want’ and Sarah kicks her out and the maid winds up crying in the wilderness..
God sends an angel to talk with her and God promises her that her son- Ishmael [the father of the Arab/Muslim people- who is also the son of Abraham- the father of the Jewish people!] will become a great people and that the son- Ishmael- will be a wild man and he will be at war with all the nations around him and all the nations will fight with him. Now- does this history sound accurate to you? Does the Christian bible say God is the one who multiplied this group of people? If these things are true- and recorded in our Christian bibles- why not at least give them the same chance as our Jewish brothers?
Look- I am not advocating glossing over the serious doctrinal differences between Islam and Christianity- but the Evangelical community- for the most part- has managed to ‘gloss over’ a pretty major doctrinal difference with our Jewish friends- why not with Muslims? I mean as people who live together on the same planet- as people whom God said ‘I am the one who increased them’ surely we can take these same verses and use them as a bridge- to bridge some serious gaps for sure- but a possible bridge that God has given us- in our bibles- that states that God himself is concerned with the Arab world and the present ‘war’ between Ishmael and all the nations around him- well that too was recorded in God’s plan.
 WILL RUSSIA INVADE ISRAEL?-
I remember one of the first sermons I preached as a young kid who recently started reading the bible and learning all there was to learn. The message was on the ‘Future invasion of Israel by Russia’. I had heard some radio preacher offer a book on the subject and I ordered/read the book and I became familiar with the words ‘GOG- MAGOG’ that were recorded in the old testament book of Ezekiel.
The reference is to a region- north of Israel- where a future invasion will come down and wipe out [attempt] Israel. So as a sincere kid preacher [maybe 20 years old?] I preached with all the gusto I had- I referenced all the passages- till this day I’ll never forget that was the 1st time I looked on a world map and noticed that Moscow was indeed directly north of the land of Israel.
I covered all the passages well for a new kid on the block- my Pastor [a great and good man by the way] complemented me on the study that went into the message and for the most part I covered the classic view of dispensational theology that predicts a future natural kingdom on earth- run out of Jerusalem- where Jesus will literally sit on a throne and head up natural Israel [just a note- I too believe in the literal return of Christ- the 2nd coming].
These last few months we have seen some shakeup in the world of Liberal versus Conservative cable wars. First we saw the sudden departure of Keith Olberman [my favorite Liberal] and then- like a major earthquake- Beck announced he will be leaving Fox news at the end of the year. I was surprised to see Beck go.
On one of the last shows he did, before he had a fill in take over this last week [or maybe more?] Beck was doing one of his blackboard scenarios and he managed to get to the verse about Gog and Magog [my famous sermon!]. He hit it fast- mentioned the reference found in the book of Revelation [my reference was the one in Ezekiel] and he of course said how Russia was more than likely presently aligning itself for this future biblical event.
Since the early days of my becoming a reader of the bible- I have grown in my understanding of these various portions of the bible. While there are still many sincere bible Christians who read these passages as a future event- most scholars see them thru an historical framework. For instance in the Old Testament it is true that on more than one occasion the nation of Israel was attacked by invaders from the north- and these were seen as judgments from God on a rebellious nation. The language of ‘invaders from the north’ came to be understood as a reference to Gods judgment. Like today when you see ‘the south’ [confederate] versus the ‘north’- when dealing with the American civil war- you see it means more than just those who now live in the North or South- it’s talking about ideology- the politics of a situation- not just a geographical region.
So you could very well read these passages in this way- that is the invasion Ezekiel spoke about can refer to one of the many that did occur during Israel’s past history- and today it speaks more about Gods judgment on nations/people who disobey- and less about a geopolitical struggle that is still to play itself out on the map- got it?
When covering these issues it is important to realize that when we read the bible we need to read it in context- it’s not totally loony to take these verses the way Beck does- many bible believers do- but I think the approach I just gave you is more than likely the best approach [though it’s not the most popular as measured by the end times books that are best sellers in the present day].
Everybody has a point of view- it’s important to try our best to frame these passages of scripture in keeping with the broader themes of mercy and Gods love for mankind- as seen in scripture- while doing our best to interpret the broader meaning of these passages. We live in a day where many ancient cultures are in turmoil- some of the names of these nation states are mentioned in the bible [Syria, Egypt, Israel, etc.] this makes it all the more important that we try our best NOT to simply associate all the present people groups who live in these nations with the actual militaristic prophecies about them in scripture- often times the biblical references are speaking about historical events that already took place on the battlefields of the past- and they are not necessarily speaking about these people groups who live in the land today. The gospel of Jesus rises above the ethnic/geographical divisions of the past- all people are made one in Christ.
The previous chapter in Ezekiel [37- GOG is in 38] gives a wonderful picture of Ezekiel holding a stick in his hand- God tells him to write the names of Israel and Judah on the stick [these were the divided tribes of Israel at the time] and God says they will become one in the prophets hand- God will gather them together and set his tabernacle in their midst and they will be reconciled before God as one ‘new man’. This is the language used by the apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians- Paul says in Christ the ethnic/national divisions are broken down and we become one new man in Christ.
In truth these verses are really speaking about the ultimate purpose of God in reconciling all humanity thru the Cross- thru Jesus Christ- it’s sad that many have used them [including myself] to cause division.
 THE SOCIAL STUFF- During the recent debates about the budget the whole issue of funding for abortion came up. Some said it should have been dealt with others said put it off for now. I was in the camp that said let’s not try and add it on right now- our military people were facing the loss of their checks and I felt like we really needed to just pass something without getting into the whole abortion debate.
Now- having said this- I am without a doubt ‘Pro-life’. Whenever we have these types of debates everyone seems to get really pissed- almost as in if the Pro Lifers want to strip women of their ‘reproductive rights’. Last night one of the news shows presented it as the pro lifers were just as dangerous as Al Qaeda. While it is true that there have been extreme groups who advocated for the justifiable killing of abortion doctors- the majority of Christians [like in the upper 99 %] do not hold to this view.
One time while having a discussion with a liberal pro abortion person- the person argued for their position- as they became heated they began using language about disabled people that went like this ‘how dare those conservatives force women to have mentally retarded children- the mom has to put up with the crap of dealing with that person their whole life- the mom has no life- just taking care of this mentally retarded person..’ the person went on describing the ‘mentally retarded’ person as a ‘non human’. I said just listen to the way you are speaking about the person- I’m sure the mother of that child loves that child- does not view the child as some type of animal that they are forever condemned of taking care of because of the conservatives.
When these debates are held in our country we need to understand that we are always talking about human life- if people want to debate when that life starts- fine. Or if they feel the quality of the life of the person might be less than a fully healthy child- fine. But understand that no one should have the right to take another human life- even if that life seems less valuable then what you deem worthy of life.
I heard a story a few weeks ago about a famous French scientist- I believe he was the one who discovered the gene that causes Down Syndrome- either way he was a leader in the field. He was a personal friend of Pope John Paul the 2nd and it was a time in the world where many nations were dealing with the whole issue of legalizing abortion. Because of the doctors work in the field- he had lots of patients who suffered from the disability. At one point there was a video put out advising doctors to let their patients know whether or not they want to take the test to see if their child [unborn] has the disease. The video advised strongly for doing the test so the woman could abort the less than desirable child. Somehow one of his child patients saw the video. On his next visit to the doctor he jumped into the doctors arms [young boy] and said ‘please help us- they want to kill us’. The doctor made it his goal to defend the rights of these innocent victims- people who do have value- who understood what the real issues were. The child pleaded for this adult to protect him and all others who shared his disability.
As this debate will continue to rage in our country- I hope we can all at least view people as human beings- people who do have value- even if we deem their value less than a fully healthy person [which I do not agree with!] These are not things we are talking about- a simple ‘reproductive right’ of a woman. While I’m glad that there are free clinics and other outlets for women to find health care- and yes- reproductive health care does matter. It’s just not right to categorize another human life as a simple matter of a woman’s reproductive right- that child [in many cases a young girl] has rights too.
 WHAT DO WE WANT?
The other night I saw Hillary Clinton respond to the letter that Gadhafi sent to the president- the media are still baffled about the way Gadhafi speaks to Obama ‘why does he speak to him like he knows him? He refers to him as one of his own- a son’. Why are they so befuddled about this strange phenomenon? Please- the London papers have already published full-page copies of the speech Gadhafi gave after Obama won- he praised him. The Chicago media have a history of the regional politicians and their connections with Gadhafi- it’s a well known fact that the president, along with Farrakhan and Rev. Wright [Obama’s pastor] had a strong friendship with the man. So it’s funny to see the media so exasperated over Gadhafi’s delusional statements that Obama is a friend.
Its stuff like this- obvious bias towards a high political figure who the media support- that makes the media less than credible when they report the news. Now- Clinton said ‘Gadhafi knows what’s expected of him- he must cease fire!’ Okay- is that really what we want the guy to do- cease fire. A couple weeks back as I was watching the coverage- Nick Robertson [CNN- loves Obama- not just a supporter- but sort of like Chris Matthews infatuation with the man]. Robertson is standing in Tripoli and he’s reporting on this strange thing- he reports that for some unknown reason Gadhafi has decided to stop firing on the rebels- yes- he has ceased all military attacks and the only bombs landing are the NATO [U.S.] ones. The rebels are also advancing in the outlying cities- full speed ahead- and the war rages on- against Gadhafi. Now- Robertson is again befuddled about the situation- maybe it’s a strategic move- yeah that’s it- Gadhafi is hiding his equipment so it doesn’t get blown up. Maybe his men are tired? For whatever reason- Gadhafi seems to have ‘ceased fire’ and the other side continues to fight.
Okay- are there any reporters- any one- who after hearing the U.S say over and over again ‘He must cease fire’ and Gadhafi has also said ‘the cease fire must apply to all sides’ are there any non biased reporters who might ask the question ‘Hey- maybe Gadhafi has ceased firing’. No, that would be too much to ask wouldn’t it.
Look- I’m not here to defend Gadhafi- but when you have s serious situation where people are indeed dying- we need reporting that is honest- non biased. If Bush/Cheney just so happened to have been good friends with some foreign leader- to the point where Bush’s own pastor was really buddies with the guy- do you think there might be a story about it- like ‘geez- Bush and all his men were really close to the guy- maybe that’s why the guy [Gadhafi] keeps talking like he knows the guy’ geez- you think maybe the media would report something like that?
We are still in lots of turmoil in the world- and the Libya thing is turning into a disaster- the ‘rebels’ are speaking out against NATO [you think? They attacked them a few times already- NATO bombed a tank the other day and said ‘we didn’t know the rebels had tanks’ the pictures have been on U-TUBE for weeks- way to go boys]. To be fair- the rebels want NATO to be their air force- NATO has rightfully said they are not the air force for the rebels- they are simply there to protect civilians- and every now and then accidently bomb a rebel tank.
I’m glad the president did the right thing in bringing together the Dems and Repubs this last week- he did do what was right. He also was more non partisan that Bill Clinton during his showdown with Gingrich. I praise the president for this- but when your secretary of state says publicly ‘Gadhafi knows what we want- we want him to cease fire’ I don’t think he has any idea of what we want [half the world has no idea- we have been making confusing statements about Libya since day one]. And the media- if we are saying we want him to cease fire- if by mere chance he stops firing- you think you might report that? Instead they say ‘geez- it so strange that Gadhafi has stopped firing- maybe a strategic move’ and then they joyfully report the U.S. sorties and the rebels advance and the wonderful Torpedo planes from France as they blow the hell out of Gadhafi’s forces. If the media can’t even get that straight- there aint a chance in Hades that they will get anything else right in this giant mess.
 DONALD TRUMP’S VIOLENT TORPEDO OF TRUTH?
Okay- I begin this post with another confession- I am not, never meant to be a birther. I have written posts ‘debunking’ birthers in the past. I am not Tea Partier- in many ways I’m actually a progressive [in other ways not]. So let’s talk about the birth certificate thing.
For the first time I decided to actually read all the various sides of this issue. I went on-line- not to the conservative type sites- but to actual legitimate sites [sites you know are legit- Real Clear Politics, Salon, Huffington, etc.- as well as some conservative ones] and I read up on the issue. One thing that becomes pretty clear from the start is it really is highly unlikely that the president has an actual birth certificate on record in Hawaii. Now- why this is I don’t know. I always knew there was some political calculation that was being made by the Obama campaign to not release it- I just thought it was politics- I really never thought the man did not have one. After reading the best defense that the media finally came up with to prove the president was born in Hawaii- that the grandparents put a notice in the paper that he was born- I began to realize we had a very real problem.
First- there are many people- including presidents and presidential hopefuls who have indeed released their original records- this is not hard to do- I have my originals from Hoboken N.J. here in my file drawer. There are Democratic workers who were in Hawaii at the time of the campaign who were inundated with media requests for the president’s birth certificate- it became a hot issue during the campaign and media outlets flooded Hawaii with requests. At first some of these Democrats [one particularly on record] thought it would be easy to simply get proof that the birth certificate was indeed in Hawaii- he went thru a few channels and found out [he swares] that for some reason Obama did not have one [lost- whatever- he did not have one]. So because the issue was so hot they went through a few routine things and they were really surprised that there seemed to be real doubt about this thing. Now- these people were not birthers- they were Dems.
Obviously the Dem’s- who viewed the ‘birthers’ as enemies decided they needed to step into action- so there were a series of news releases- the governor’s office stated they had a person go down and personally review the thing- then the media tried to pin the person down [it’s not illegal to lie- unless in court] they backed down [question? why do this- why not actually just release the thing- it’s not that hard- takes a few minutes]. Then they had the various releases of the thing most people have seen- the certificate of live birth- and the defenders of the president have spent much time going back and forth over all the conspiracies of where the thing has a raised seal and all sorts of stuff- and the defenders [non- birthers] spent many hundreds of man hours doing this- instead of simply getting permission form Obama to go and take a gazillion photo copies of the actual thing- which is easy to do- takes only a few minutes.
Then the race card came out- all types of theories on why questioning the birth is actually a civil rights issue that dates back to the days of slavery- many thousands of hours on why the grandmother said he was born in Kenya- the defenders of the president have documented the phone call made by some preacher- how she did say he was born in Kenya- but during the conversation she back tracked- they printed each word of the interview- the whole thing- many hundreds of hours went into this- I have an idea- why not release the original birth certificate- you know it only takes a few minutes- it’s done all the time- I have my original right here- Trump released his- McCain released his- lots of candidates released theirs- not really hard to do?
Then a few weeks ago the new Democratic governor of Alaska- who is a personal friend of the presidents parents- went all out and did a full media release that as soon as he got in office he would personally go down and release the thing- Chris Matthews from MSNBC jumped on the bandwagon and the liberal media began asking for it. A day or 2 later they dropped the entire matter.
For the first time in my life- I think it’s highly probable that the president does not have one on record- his campaign did indeed spend a couple of million dollars fighting the ‘release’ of the record. Why? It only takes a few minutes to release the thing. Why all the stories of people testifying that they spotted it- like NOAH’S ark- or a U.F.O. sighting- only to find out later that they made the story up? This really isn’t that hard to figure out- you can spot the truth by reading the defenders- the ‘non birthers’- the best evidence they have is Obama’s grandparents put an announcement in the paper [many question the on line picture of the announcement- others have fibbed with on line documents- it’s not a crime- politicians know how to do stuff like this. I’ll just say it’s possible that the grandparents did indeed put this in the paper- they were proud of their grandsons birth- you can do this even if you son was born in another state- this happens all the time].
I have never found a reason to even read up on this- why the president more than likely does not have one- I have no idea! Normally the press covers these stories in a legitimate way- instead of going through thousands of man hours investigating the backgrounds of people [like the Democrat who initially found out he didn’t have one] the media could have found out in a single day whether or not he actually had an original- it does indeed seem like he does not have one.
The reason this is sad is because it might now become a real issue- instead of spending all these man hours in questioning Trumps motives- or investigating the actual words of the interpreter who was on the phone call with the grandma from Kenya- I mean the media has spent hundreds of thousands of hours on this- why not just ask the question- how bout we go down to the records place- you know it only takes a few minutes- and release the thing? I don’t know why- do you?
NOTE- Let me say, with this issue- like all issues- people have a tendency to take sides- to want to win- fight the opposing team. There are actual defenders of the president who think that even if he was not born in the U.S. that even if this were true- that to question it is still racist. When the media- who by reading some of this stuff- decide to go to great lengths to provide support for a candidate/later president- when they do this instead of honestly reporting facts- no story like this should be settled by saying ‘we looked into the matter and found out that the grandparents put an announcement in the paper’. This type of question demands much higher type proof- like getting an actual photo copy of the real thing- which is very easy to do- some have made it sound like getting a copy is like breaking into Fort Knox.
Yesterday there were a few very serious incidents that took place around the world. In Iraq the U.S. backed govt. shot and killed around 30 innocent civilians in cold blood- there are reports that our soldiers were right there- either way- these killings took place under the Iraqi regime- they killed Iranian refuges who have been living in an Iraqi refugee camp for a while now. These refugees fled Iran and are in opposition to the current Iranian regime
The current Iraqi regime- who we are close allies with- are actually friends of Iran- Iran cant believe the fact that the U.S. has spent lives and money and prestige- all in order to set up a pro Iranian regime in Iraq- this story is not commonly known/reported in the media.
So yesterday the pro Iraqi govt. who has our backing and support- decided to finally kill a bunch of the Iranian rebels who have opposed Iran’s current leader- the Iraqi govt. is friends with the Iranian leader- and he killed the Iranian leaders ‘protestors’ in cold blood- while we stood by and allowed this to happen. Now- why is this terrible? These are the same types of actions that we deemed worthy of calling for the overthrow of other leaders in other countries- we called for Egypt’s president to step down for things much less severe than this. Syria and Yemen are also killing their people in cold blood. Saudi Arabia has made contact with China and Russia and has decided that the U.S. govt. cannot be trusted anymore.
Look- these are real issues- things that rise to the level of possible war crimes. If our guys were on the ground and witnessed the slaughter of these Iranian civilians- then in the ‘good ole days’ the media would have been calling for war crimes tribunals- for Bush and Cheney! I think the ‘Birther’ stuff is time wasted- yes the media let a very big thing slip through- but it’s their inability to cover these very serious stories- our guys being implicated in being on the ground during a humanitarian war crime- though our govt. is not being blamed for the deaths- just the fact that the killers were our allies- soldiers that we train and back and support- and they killed political enemies of the Iranian leader who now has close ties to the leaders of the soldiers in Iraq- this is very bad.
That’s why when the media goes in the tank for any one person- Black, White- Democrat- Republican- I don’t care what side there on- when the media is willing to overlook a crime committed under one administrations watch- while much lesser offenses [water-boarding terrorists] were deemed worthy for trying a U.S. president in The Hague for- well that’s when we know we have real problems.
 ANOTHER STRANGE INCIDENT and the budget showdown –
Okay, should I do this? To be honest with you guys, I usually try to avoid this- but I felt I needed to do it. In the mornings when I get up- very early- today I woke at 1 am and just finished a long prayer time [its 4:50 right now]. I walk in my yard and it’s real windy and you get the sense of being by a river. The bay is only a few hundred yards from my house- but it feels like being on a river for some reason. I usually get ideas on what to talk about in the morning- sometimes the night before. So the other day for some strange reason I ‘felt’ the Lord wanted me to talk about the possibility of another major earthquake- sometimes you get those feelings and you need to be careful about whether you think it’s from God or not. The feeling was pretty strong- I actually felt like it was going to be California- anyway I shook it off and the next morning wrote something else. Sure enough within a couple of hours of writing the post a 7.1 earthquake hit Japan, this was not considered an aftershock. So maybe the thought was from God.
Of course I could be making the whole thing up- but to be honest I get nothing out of doing all this stuff- I pay for the radio programs out of pocket [not cheap!] I take no offerings for any of this- ever. Don’t do preaching engagements [no offerings there either] so I really get nothing from the whole deal- so it would be pathetic to make it up- especially if you get nothing out of the thing!
One time I got a letter from a radio listener- the guy was a ‘preacher’ and he said he liked my show- said he was Gods ‘last day prophet’ [okay- a little spooky] but I went with it for a few weeks- trying to discern whether it was a real person who I should be patient with- or a nut job. Finally he sent me the ‘word from God’ how I was required to send a specific amount of holy cash to him- as a special sacrifice. I simply spoke about it on the air- saying I hoped he was a scam artist- because if he really believed this stuff he is without a doubt a false prophet. So you see doing the ‘I heard from God thing’ can be very manipulative- especially in the area of money.
Okay- last I saw the govt. might still shut down tonight [unless they signed something last night- I didn’t catch the late news]. Either way- let’s talk a little about how both politicians and the media can be- well ‘full of it’. First- they have been doing a real job with all the various numbers- they know people can’t keep track so they float stuff for the sound bites. First- the new Tea Party Repubs promised- if elected- that they would slash 100 billion from this year’s spending. After they got in- Boehner and the more moderate Repubs were going to agree to around 30 billion- this got the Tea Partiers hot and they changed the number to around 60 billion. The Dems said no way and countered with a few billion in cuts.
Now- all these numbers are only talking about the current year’s budget- which ends in September of this year. So as they went back and forth the Repubs managed to shave off around 10 billion by doing these 2 week extensions [called C.R.’s- continuing resolutions]. So the Repubs have already managed to get around 10 billion cut- fine. The last deal they were going to offer was right at around 38 billion, the Dem’s were actually going to agree to around 30 billion. To be fair- the Dems moved a lot farther then they wanted. They did seem willing to compromise. Yet they are just as crooked as the Repub’s. Why? How many lists have you seen on the news about all the programs the Dems want to cut? Not one. How many lists from the evil Repubs? Lots. Why are there no lists about the evil Dem cuts- I mean not one- and night after night we hear the Dems saying the Repubs want to kill grandma- go after the kids- on and on. The reason is the Dems, after all the stalling on actually committing to cuts, still have not said what they are willing to cut. They say ‘we want to tax the oil industry more’ fine- but that’s not a cut. Instead they agreed ‘in principle’ to the 30 billion.
Now, you really can’t negotiate in good faith like this- because you get one side saying ‘we will cut this’ and the other side goes out and says ‘they want you to breathe dirty air- they want to kill grandma’- [you know, the Medicare thing]. Wait- you too want cuts- you said you did- you claim to want them- what programs are the Repubs saying about you ‘you want to do such and such’ none. Look- you can’t bargain like this. Yes- I think the Tea Partiers are too stubborn and should have dropped the social issues from the 1 week, 12 billion dollar cut which would fund the military for the rest of the year. But I heard Al Franken [okay- don’t like the guy] say ‘the Repubs are shooting us in the head- they are asking us to undo things [abortion funding] that have been in place for 40 years’ Really? There are 2 ‘Riders’ [yes- only 2!] in the current bill- to extend the C.R. 1 week and to fully fund the military for the rest of the fiscal year. The 2 riders [add on’s] are undoing the federal funding for abortions in Washington D.C. and stopping the E.P.A. from regulating carbon emissions- both of these things are new- they were recently passed by congress and signed by Obama- these are not undoing anything to be honest- they are simply going back to what we have been doing for the past 40 years- not undoing 40 years of stuff- like Franken said.
Well John, I saw them talking about cutting Planned Parenthood and all these other programs too. Yes- but that’s not in the 1 week extension that cuts 12 billion- that’s in the rest of the year extension that cuts 30 billion [and some of the stuff the Dems are screaming about is in Ryan’s ‘budget’ proposal- I mean his proposal is not even a real bill!] confusing- I know. I think the Repubs should drop the 2 minor ‘riders’ that are on today’s offer- drop the things- there small things- the Dems are making it sound like today’s bill will end abortion funding for everyone- just drop them. The Dems should be willing to say ‘yes- these are the things we will cut’. You can’t keep leaving it up to the minority party [the Repubs only hold the House- the Dems have the Senate and the Presidency] to present stuff. Paul Ryan released his 10 year- 4-6 trillion dollar cut in spending plan- of course the Dems went nuts and started the whole blame game. Look- if the Dems are not going to present an honest budget- which till this day they still haven’t done- then they can’t keep saying the Repubs want to kill grandma- geez- they need to present a budget. They hold the darn presidency; they hold the senate- pass a darn budget- do your jobs!
Look- I don’t agree with the Ryan plan- all cuts and no dealing with huge corporate welfare stuff- yet the Dems are hopelessly afraid of going on the record with anything- they are failing to do their job. I hope today they can sign the 1 week, 12 billion dollar bill- this bill is not the one that will cut Planned Parenthood funding, N.P.R. etc.- this one has the 2 small things I mentioned above- stuff that we have had for years. I wish the Repubs would drop these 2 little things- but if not- I think the Dems should still pass it for the sake of our military people and quit making it sound like this bill- today’s offer- will undo 40 years of abortion rights- if all these guys would simply stop lying all the time maybe that would also help. Maybe?
 HE QUOTES SHAKESPEAR!
A few years ago my city appointed a new police chief- he was a local guy who rose through the ranks and made it to the top. Lots of times the city hires out of towners who apply- but this time they went with a local. At the time the news was ‘He quotes Shakespeare’ I mean over and over again. Our local news is funny- all 3 major networks do a local news format 3 times a day- each. They run a show at 5 p.m. - 6 and 10. They run the exact same show [each channel does their own show- but the repeats are exactly the same]. So for some reason the big story at the time was the police chief quotes Shakespeare. I mean I heard the story- 3 times a day [actually 9] all day. Read it in the paper- saw the news ads about the ‘news at 10’ the thing was everywhere- I was tempted to write a letter to the editor of the paper- the headline being ‘NO MORE SHAKESPEAR- PLEASE!!’ Anyway the chief eventually became embroiled in a few scandals and he quit/was fired.
The reason the Shakespeare thing was popular was because in our day we have a tendency to neglect the ‘more refined’ things in life. I know there's always a danger of doing stuff just so others can think your more refined- Jesus did warn against it [don’t pray, fast and do charity just to make a show of it] yet at the same time we do want to be wise- to become informed about stuff. A while back I took my computer to a friend who offered to help me with the web site- I was/am a total amateur at web stuff- I know I write a lot- but I didn’t even have an email account until the last 5 years or so. Anyway as an amateur I try and seek wisdom from others who have been at this longer than me. So my buddy indicated he was a computer whiz and he offered to show me how the system works [it was when I first set up the blog]. As I was explaining to him that all I’m trying to do is have a site where people can click a link and read the books/studies separately [at the time everything was just one long scroll] he mistook what I was asking- he thought I wanted to do a PDF type file so people could download the materials. As he told me that this is what I wanted [which I really didn’t want] I tried to humbly say ‘I’m sorry, I must not be too clear- what I really mean to ask is this’ and I tried to say I don’t need what he’s telling me. He got silent- he stared at the screen and said ‘this is what you mean’- he was mad. Now- I didn’t want to get my friend mad- he was doing this for free- as a favor- but I began to realize he really was not much wiser than me on some of this stuff. At one point- being perturbed- he explained to me that the blog/web site only exists on my lap-top. That there is no ‘viral realm’ where the site exists. He was trying to say if I dumped the laptop in the bay- that the web site would be no more. Now- even as an amateur I realized my friend was not as wise as he made himself out to be- obviously a web site continues to exist- even if your laptop takes a drink in the bay.
Sometimes we simply need to check the source- a person might mean well- but not be capable of the task at hand. Fine- they meant well- but they didn’t have the capability to do the job. When the local news were enamored with the new top cop- they mistook ‘quoting Shakespeare’ with the ability to do the job. It’s good to be refined- to learn the classics- to have a grasp on world events- to be well rounded in your education- but at the end of the day if you can’t do the job- all the Shakespeare quoting in the world doesn’t help.
 3rd PILLAR- ZAKAT.
As I was debating whether or not to continue my study on Islam [today] the spot I stopped at last was the 3rd pillar. Sure enough yesterday [and the rerun at 1 a.m.] Beck did an interesting show on Zakat. He had on a few experts- who are known to not be sympathetic to Islam- and they covered the subject of non violent Jihad- those who advocate for an Islamic society thru non violent means. Now- I know some Beck supporters have been upset with me in the past because I criticize Beck- it’s not that I don’t think he actually brings up things that other networks don’t- sometimes he does reveal stuff that the other networks don’t because they are so ‘in the tank’ for the president. I never thought I’d see the day where a news host actually would describe his ‘feelings’ that come over him when he hears the president speak- he actually used sexual connotations to describe it [a tingle goes up my leg]. Now- I’m not saying this to be cute [okay- maybe a little] but to say I have never in my life seen the media- the so called 4th estate- so one sided. So Beck [Fox] does serve a purpose. Now- Beck covered the groups that raise money under the banner of ‘charity’ and yet they have ties to radical Islam, and they discussed the ancient Islamic practice of Zakat [or Tithe].
In the Muslim community Zakat is giving a portion [2.5%] of both goods and finances for the sole purpose of providing for the poor. In Muslim communities the Zakat is like social security. The word literally means purification. The word itself is not a terrorist term- nor the practice. It is important for Beck and others to cover stories about the use of Zakat given to charitable groups for radical purposes- yet most Americans have probably not heard of the term before- and their first introduction to it was seen thru an association to terror.
Years ago I had a chance meeting with a Muslim- I’m sure he didn’t realize he ran into some nut who studies just about everything a person can study [I was working at the fire house and on duty]. He was a devout Muslim- dressed in Muslim garb an all. As we talked I gave him the biblical history of Abraham and his 2 sons Isaac and Ishmael. I traced the lineage of Christians and Jews from Isaacs’s line, and the genealogy of Muslims [Arabs] thru Ishmael. I spoke about the coming of Jesus in the 1st century of the Common Era as the promised offspring that God originally told Abraham about. I explained the purpose of the Messiah [Jesus] as being the predestined one sent by God to unite all people and tribes under one new nation- the Kingdom of God. I explained to my friend that Christianity teaches that Jesus was not simply a prophet- but one who died for the sins of the world and rose again as the final sacrifice that would ever need to be made for the sins of men. I was surprised to see my Muslim friend hearing the whole story- for the 1st time. He told me he was not familiar at all with the history [even though it is both biblical history and Islamic- the part about Ishmael which is found in the book of Genesis]. He seemed so grateful to have heard it thru ‘this angle’ not from the angle of the Crusades- or of Western Colonialism- but from the angle of the grace of God that has come to all tribes and races thru Jesus Christ.
As I watch the media day after day- seeing more unrest in the Middle East than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. Seeing the growing strain between Christians and Muslims and Jews [the Fla. Pastor went and burned a Koran and Muslim demonstrators in Afghanistan attacked the U.N. building and killed and beheaded some workers]. As I see the lines being drawn in the sand- I come back to the story of my Muslim friend- who obviously was dedicated to his faith [wearing the robe and all] yet he never clearly heard the gospel- which actually means Good News. The bible commands us [Christians] to live in peace with ALL MEN- to love our neighbor as our self- to even love those who hate us- to pray for those who persecute us and to do good [a type of Zakat] to our fellow man. While I make no excuses for the killing and beheading of the U.N. people- yet to burn the holy book of another religion is also not living peaceably with all men.
I believe the Islamic practice of Zakat is closer to actual biblical teaching than what most Christians practice today. The majority of Christian giving- often wrongfully referred to as the Tithe- goes to the function of media ministry- church buildings- salaries- etc. under 10 percent goes to meeting the needs of the poor. Yet in the teachings of Jesus and in the New Testament the majority teaching on giving is in context of giving to meet the needs of the poor [go read my books under the Feb- 2010 posts- and also the study called ‘what in the world is the church’ under the Feb posts]. So in a very real way I do think the Islamic Zakat is closer to the biblical practice than what most 21st century Christians practice.
I will obviously have many things I will not embrace about Islam in future posts- I will try and cover those differences as respectfully as I possibly can- without being a biased defender of Islam [as my current instructor on the course seems to be]. And I will make the case for Christ as well. At the end of the day hopefully we can learn more about our various beliefs- try and have respect for those who differ- and root for the moderates among us. I reject the Koran burning pastor in Fla. And I hope most Muslims will also reject the radical elements within their ranks. The history of the 3rd Pillar of Islam is a good one- a practice that centers around the teachings of Christ- it’s a shame that some in the Muslim community have hijacked it for violent Jihad.
 ALL IN ALL IT’S JUST ANOTHER BRICK [OR HOLE?] IN THE WALL-
Yesterday the president gave an outline of his future plans on energy- lots of the same stuff, trying to use clean sources of fuel- says he really is a big oil type guy- though his critics deny it. He even brought up a familiar refrain from the campaign trail- that the oil companies already have huge land leases that they ‘refuse’ to drill on. Is this really true? Yes and no. This argument became popular during the campaign as an ideological defense [not practical truth] against the conservative ‘drill baby drill’ mantra. The argument says the oil companies don’t really need ANWAR or more off shore drilling permits- that they have all the drilling spots they need- they just won’t use it! I have a died in the wool liberal friend who I engage with every so often- as a middle of the road independent I often see/take up different sides. One day this person was using this argument- saying the people who say Obama is not for oil drilling are all liars- because the companies secretly refuse to drill on all the land the govt. has already given to them. I asked the person why they think the companies- who in their opinion are all ‘b-stards’ wont drill. The person really had no answer- except that they felt they did it on purpose to get Obama. I said these companies- according to your view- care nothing at all about anything but profits [maybe so] if they really could care less about anything else but profits- then why are they cutting their own throats by not making money on land that you say has all this oil? The reality is the leases that Obama is speaking about are areas where most of the oil experts think really has no oil- if they thought the land was rich in oil- they would drill it. This argument shows you how even though it seems reasonable to come to the obvious conclusion- yet because you see the opposing side as all ‘b-stards’ you can’t even think clearly.
This same person has told me that those who oppose the president’s health care reform are also racists- that the only logical conclusion to the opposition is racism- this theme is often promoted on MSNBC. I explained my story to the person. After I retired from the fire dept. I lost my insurance- it would have cost me around $6-700 a month to keep it- I couldn’t afford the darn thing to be honest. So as things go in life- right after my warranty was up- things started to break. I mean the month I dropped my insurance. I had various back injuries from doing my type of work but these would be covered under the workman’s comp. stuff- but I had a few other things that I needed to go to a doctor for- one trip costs around $150.00 and if you have to keep going back to renew prescription meds- then that’s a lot. So instead I opted for ‘Ojohna-care’- I went on-line- typed in the name of the med I’m supposed to be on and found some non- prescription stuff. It still costs money- but it’s all I can really do- honestly. Doing it like this is not recommended- you don’t see a doctor who monitors stuff- but you do what you got to do. Now- as someone who has actually paid for insurance my whole life- who now pays out of pocket for my own health care- the way Obama care has affected my family is I will now be paying an extra $700- 1000 dollars a year to cover other peoples insurance. My son in-law- who owns his own carpet laying business will also pay the fines [it’s too much to get full coverage- the fines are the only real option] one of my daughters [or actually 3- depending on the school situation] will also pay the fines. So all in all my family is out an extra 4 thousand or so a year- without getting coverage for ourselves. At the same time the person I was explaining this to- who accused us all of being racists because we didn’t support the plan- this person has never once paid for insurance- they have had free coverage and have also used Medicaid and Medicare. So in the real world- this person’s only experience is seen thru other people paying for their insurance- they never really saw the reality of a situation like mine- real people who because of real fines will have less real money to buy their own ins/medicine. Now- it would be nice if the person who was getting the free coverage at my expense- while I’m actually needing it worse than them- it would be nice for them to appreciate my family taking up the extra cost for them- but instead this person sees me as a racist- because to them that’s the only real reason why someone would be against Obama care.
Yesterday I put up a shelf- I went thru the procedure of finding the stud in the wall to hammer the nail into. I figured I would do the free style thing first- you know try and simply guess. One here- one there- no results. Okay- I’ll do the 1 nail every inch- still nothing! Geez- does the wall have studs or what? So after putting quite a large amount of nail holes in the wall- I finally hit oil- I mean sure- it looked like I left the front door open and some local gang did a drive by shooting- but dang it- I found that darn stud!
As our country goes thru real rough times- times where we demonize the other side because we can’t see things clearly- let’s try and be open to listening to both sides. We hear the argument that the oil people don’t want to drill because they simply want to bring the president down- they hate Black people. The fact is they don’t want to be drilling for nonexistent studs in the wall- doing stuff that they know won’t work. Many people oppose Obama care because it really affects them- in a very negative way. And when others who are getting insurance for free- at my expense- call me and my kids racists because we oppose it- well it’s makes me want to go cool off somewhere, a relaxing way to get my mind off the whole thing- I know what, let me go try and hang another shelf.
 MUSLIM IN AMERICA- THE PRESIDENTS SPEECH AND OTHER MUSINGS.
Last night the president finally spoke to the nation in defense of our military action in Libya. He made the case that there are times when the U.S. can/should act if we feel we can avert a humanitarian disaster- he also said we can’t always intervene in every conflict. I guess for the most part this makes some sense- it’s just the way he handled it [going on vacation- congress in recess]. There are still lots of questions to be asked/answered. Today the rebels are on the outskirts of a western city that is ‘pro Gadhafi’. The city is called Sirte and like other cities in the west they favor Gadhafi more so than the rebels. The question is; how do we justify the bombing of Gadhafi’s military- in order to protect civilians- while the rebels are getting ready to overthrow a civilian population- with force- against the majority of the will of the people? We have indeed enabled the rebels to advance this far west, and we are basically on the side of the rebels- in this case- against the populace.
The other night I watched a CNN special on Muslim discrimination in America- most of you who read my posts [blog] know I try and take the more moderate position of not branding all Muslims as radical. I do think there are times when Muslims are discriminated against wrongfully because of their faith. Yet at the same time the media often show their bias. The show did a good job at revealing how Muslims face discrimination in America- the host- Soledad O’Brien- kind of showed the ‘ignorant’ Christians versus the moderate Muslims. The town was Murphysboro Tenn. [yes- they picked a spot that would be a little more redneck than usual] and they interviewed a few American Muslim women whose sole experience of Islam comes from an American perspective. These women, as sympathetic as their causes are- do not even begin to breech the absolute discrimination and oppression that many Muslim women experience around the globe on a daily basis- it was just unfair for CNN to portray Muslim women as victims of Christian discrimination while overlooking the real problem- expressed by many women who have chosen to speak out- against the oppression women face when living in countries that have Sharia law as the law of the land.
As I continue to teach the study on Islam [so far have only done 1 post on it] I want to try and approach the strained relationship that exists between Western society and Islam- yet I don’t want to be an apologist for Islam. I’m currently going thru a course on Islam that is taught by the official govt. teacher on the subject. I believe he was sitting in the second row of the president’s speech last night. Over the years I have studied on lots of subjects- years of utilizing the public library system, buying university level books [not pop culture Christian stuff on how to ‘get what you want’] and I have also ordered courses [C.D. and book] from the top professors of the universities of the world. These course are not cheap- yet they are cheaper than actually getting credits for the courses [you can take the same courses as extension courses from the universities and get credit- but that’s way too expensive- especially if done thru the elite universities- Harvard, etc.] So instead I simply purchase the courses and do them on my own. Now- the reason I say this is to explain a ‘funny thing’ that happened on my study of Islam. When I first ordered the course I noticed the ratings were not that great. Most courses are rated in the 80-90 percentile- from others who have done the course- this one was in the 60’s. I hesitated to get it- but the other courses that dealt with Islam also dealt with other religions- and I didn’t want to do an entire comparative religion study at this time. So these courses are taught by the top tier professors in the world [these professors are peer reviewed and deemed to be in the top 10 %]. This one on Islam is taught by the person who teaches Islam to the incoming govt. employees under president Obama. As I’m going thru the course- there are times where I feel like the teacher is too defensive of Islam- sort of like the CNN special. At one point the professor defends Muhammad as a religious leader who freed women from oppression and instituted an open and liberal society for all people- especially women. Geez- stuff like this is very problematic- I know enough about the current world nations that have Islam as the official religion of the nation- these nations are without a doubt very oppressive to women.
Like many things in life- we all try and do our best to give people the benefit of the doubt- and as someone who has disagreed with the president and been openly critical of him- yet I try not to be so biased that I find fault with everything he does. The media has far left defenders- who never find anything wrong with the man- and far right critics who never find anything right. At this time- the revolts in North Africa and the Middle East are really getting out of hand- the Christians in Egypt- an ancient Christian church [Coptic] have lived there since the early days of Christianity- they have just voted in Egypt to recognize Sharia law as the official law of the land- this referendum was passed by 70 % of the population- and the Muslim Brotherhood showed their organizational abilities by gaining a majority of the vote for the things they wanted. So now the Christians in Egypt might face the same fate as those in Pakistan- being put to death for blaspheming Islam [which often means witnessing for Christ]. The rebels who we are fighting for in Libya are much more radical than Gadhafi- yes Gadhafi was/is a madman- yet the rebels have more Al Qaeda influence than Gadhafi- they have been enemies in Libya for years. Do we really want our people dying for the Rebels?
There are still lots of questions to be answered- I am uncomfortable that the course I’m going thru on Islam is so skewed to the point of defending Islam as a great liberator of women and their rights- I was even more troubled to have seen ‘my instructor’ sitting in the 2nd row at the president’s speech.
 WHAT A MESS! Okay, it’s time to talk. First- as you know we have been bombing Libya for a few days now- what started as a ‘no fly zone’ is now being called ‘Kinetic military action’ [war]. Of course the left and the right are doing their best to simply win their side of the argument- the left wing media are just as bad as the right- don’t let anyone fool you. What do I mean? What’s the ‘real’ story behind our action? The real story is we really have no control over what’s happening in the Arab world right now. These last few days have seen other major developments- bad stuff. In Egypt the military and the Muslim Brotherhood have indeed formed a sort of coalition and they passed a referendum that the majority of the original Democratic protestors did not want. There have also been reports of the military brutally repressing former protestors. In Yemen and Syria and Bahrain things are really getting out of hand. Many leaders have chosen to simply shoot the protestors- outright. In Libya we had a situation where Gadhafi was on the outskirts of Benghazi and he was sending out warnings ‘flee the city- once we take it we will show no mercy’ now- the president and the media have said he was threatening to carry out a genocide and the media have actually said we stopped a genocide. How they know this for sure- to report as fact- is beyond me. It would be like reporting Bush’s ‘kinetic’ action in Iraq as ‘we averted nuclear war’- now, maybe some people really believe this, but you can’t report it as fact. Second- what exactly was Gadhafi saying? Remember what has happened over the last few weeks. In Libya- you have the major city in the east, Ben Ghazi, as the second largest Libyan city [behind the capitol Tripoli] and when the protests first started they were treated just about as badly as they were in Yemen, Syria, etc. After a few days the rebels in Libya took up arms- captured some military equipment and basically started a real civil war. The rebels marched westward towards the capitol and took city after city- thru military action. They were on the outskirts of Tripoli and they were threatening to take over the country. Gadhafi got his troops together and he fought back- he then went from city to city on the trek back east- towards the rebels capitol- Ben Ghazi. So far France is the only country to recognize the rebels in Ben Ghazi as a legitimate govt. So Gadhafi is on the outskirts of the city and he makes the threat. Obama -being convinced By Susan Rice, Samantha Powers [2 women who strongly believe that the U.S. should use force for humanitarian purposes] and eventually Hillary Clinton- he gives the go ahead. Now- whether you agree with the action or not- the actual handling of the matter was less than competent. There is a lot of spin about the president gaining world support and all [NATO, Arab League, etc.] but in reality secretary Gates got it right when he said ‘we did it on the fly’. The obvious squabbling of the so called coalition shows that we didn’t do our homework. Okay- the right wingers say the president is a total incompetent failure- Beck even designed another conspiracy involving Cass Sunstein! The left are saying the president is doing a great job. Of course the reality is he probably was talked into taking action- his military men were obviously against it- he was being told ‘look- the mad man is going to commit genocide’ and he had Kerry and McCain making the rounds [Lieberman too] calling for action. Was Gadhafi threatening genocide [the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians] probably not. How do we know? In every ‘rebel’ held city he took back on the road east- he did not carry out a genocide in any of them. Did he kill people? Yes. Have the Rebels killed people? Yes. We need to distinguish between peaceful protestors and a civil war- what we now have in Libya is a civil war. Both sides have taken up arms against each other- this is very different than shooting unarmed protestors in the streets. So now we are in- it is really silly to make it sound like NATO or any other coalition has the real ability to take command of the mission. Even if NATO ‘takes command’ it’s us doing the majority of the work. It was a mistake for the president to have not gone to the congress- and to have left the country right before the bombing began. Yes- he should have canceled the Latin American trip and called the key congressional leaders back for an emergency meeting. The congress felt dissed- both sides are angry- and it was a result of a degree of incompetence- learning on the fly type of action. Yes- you don’t need to subscribe to Becks theory- but please- you can’t see this as having been done competently. Now- are the media biased? In Latin America the resident guaranteed Brazil a few billion dollars of aid to promote their off shore oil drilling. The company [which actually has been invested in by major Democrat donars- George Soros] will be drilling in THE GULF OF MEXICO [well actually the South Atlantic is not in the gulf- it is below it- sorry!]- and they will also be using some of the money to look into building underwater oil storage tanks in the Gulf. How the media can’t be covering this is a joke. I mean we have just come off of the biggest oil spill in the history of the world- we implemented many restrictions on U.S. drillers in the gulf- and on the trip the president guarantees ‘seed money’ for another nations oil industry to drill in the gulf- this is crazy. In Germany the papers have printed the atrocious pictures taken by some of our soldiers of the dead civilians they killed in Afghanistan [I wrote on this case before- some rogue soldiers did indeed have a group of guys who targeted civilians for ‘fun’]. Now- the German paper- Der Spiegel- has printed the photos. They look horrible- our guys have the bodies propped up- its bad. Why has the U.S. media not covered this like the scandal during Bush’s presidency? Most of us have the images of the abuse of Gitmo prisoners engrained in our minds. The famous photos of the prisoners with the hoods on their heads and all. At the time the defense secretary tried to not have the photos published- the media reported it as a major criminal cover up- possibly to the point of the president and his top men having committed war crimes- and they showed those pictures day after day- all over the place. In the current trial of the soldiers- the media has not only not covered the story [U.S. media] but they have refused to show the pictures. Why? The military has actually said they don’t want the pictures getting out. Now- why is there no media criticism of this happening under a Democratic president? In Gitmo the actions were wrong- but they were embarrassing actions done against actual enemy prisoners- still wrong- but no one was killed. In the current scandal these are dead innocent civilians in the pictures- it’s so much more worse. If the media has chosen to ‘not cover it’ because it could cause harm to our guys- fine- but that’s the exact argument this same media said was covering up war crimes under Bush. If we want the American people to reject the conspiracies of Beck- then they can’t at the same time be so biased in their reporting. This week- the events in Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Libya- there is no doubt that things have really turned for the worse. I heard one analyst- usually an excellent commentator- say the U.S. needs to begin planning a possible takeover of the Saudi Oil fields if the nation falls- this is bad my friends. I think the president meant well in Libya- I think he has lost control of the entire Middle East situation- the former Prime Minister of Israel [current Defense minister] Ehud Barak was on the Charlie Rose show- he was asked about how the area views Obama- he honestly said they are confused. He goes soft on the hard dictators and hard on the soft ones. I heard a report on NPR [NPR MIND YOU!] they asked the person how the military views the president [the guy was an insider] he said they view him as disconnected, uninterested and as someone who really doesn’t want to be bothered with military stuff- I can’t believe this was on NPR. So even though the president was stuck between a rock and a hard place- he still has made some terrible blunders. I just hope this is the last Muslim country we engage in like this- we need to get out of the previous 2 already- we can’t afford any more.
 CATHOLIC VERSUS MORMON AND OTHER STUFF. Okay- as an avid news watcher, these last few weeks we have seen a sort of shift in the Liberal versus Conservative media. Lawrence O’Donnell [MSNBC] has decided to deride Beck [FOX] on the air. Now- O’Donnell is smart- he does realize that the ratings for MSNBC are truly dismal- so he’s trying to get Beck to engage so he can get some free advertising. Of course the classic way of getting better ratings has been abandoned by MSNBC years ago [you know- the old ‘unbiased reporting of news’ scheme]. So anyway Beck has gone for the bait a few times and O’Donnell keeps casting out the line. First- O’Donnell is Catholic and Beck is Mormon- and Lawrence is using this as a hook. He is also taking it upon himself to ‘instruct’ his audience in Catholic doctrine. Now- I like these guys [well not really] but as an outside observer let me try and help some of the viewers a bit. Lawrence- as a ‘good’ [let's say well meaning] Catholic does not speak for his church- that is as a Protestant believer- I have studied lots of Catholic history and Doctrine- and I consider the Catholic Church part of the broader Body of Christ- and the facts are- Lawrence does not know ‘the facts’. He challenged Beck on some recent end times musings- he says the majority of Catholics have modernized and don’t believe the ‘old stuff’ anymore; burning witches, putting kids to death for cursing their parents, anti homosexual relationships- Lawrence says the church has advanced and Catholics really don’t believe the old stuff anymore. Now- Doctrinally the church has rejected many of these Old Testament commandments [burning witches] just like most Protestant denominations. Yet the church does not ‘not believe’ the book of Revelation anymore, which is what he lumped it all in with. The official teaching of the church- dating back to the 16th century Council of Trent [you know- little details that I like to refer to as facts] is that the bible is- quote ‘the words that the Holy Spirit dictated’. Now- the language used at Trent was so strong- that the church actually holds to a less literal belief than what the words imply. Most believers do not believe in the idea of a mechanical inspiration of the bible- that is that God actually spoke all the words of the bible to the authors [with the exception of portions of scripture that do record God speaking- 10 commandments, etc.] So, the official teaching of the Church- set down at Trent- is the bible is the ‘word of God’. Yes indeed, the Catholic Church still believes in the book of Revelation. Now- Lawrence says ‘well- not literally’ and he quoted a verse or 2 about Dragons pouring out water from their mouth and the woman fleeing and… well- I’m familiar with the verse- and it is symbolic. I don’t know of anyone- including Beck- that takes this verse ‘literally’. Now- Does Lawrence even know what ‘literal’ means? When Christians use the term ‘taking the bible literally’ this term does not mean that all the verses in the bible are actually literal. For instance the book of Psalms says ‘the hills skipped and danced for joy’ the verse from Revelation that I just mentioned is prophetic language. You have figures of speech also used- the apostle John says ‘there are many other works that Jesus did that are not recorded in this book [John’s gospel] and I suppose if all the works were written down that all the world could not contain the books that would be written’ now- should we read this language ‘literally’ or was John using a common figure of speech to make a point? When the bible uses poetry, prophecy, symbol, etc.. when these passages are read- taking them literally means reading them in context. So when you read about dragons- or hills jumping for joy, or other portions like that- well they are meant to be read in their context. The Catholic Church does indeed still believe in the book of Revelation- literally. I think Lawrence has actually made some good points- I am not a defender of Beck- nor do I hold to the end time views of Beck. My ‘end times’ theology is basically Catholic. I would recommend Scott Hahn’s book ‘The Lambs Supper’ which is an excellent Catholic teaching on the book of Revelation- Hahn is an A-1 Catholic scholar- he teaches Catholic doctrine- real Catholic doctrine. And Hahn does an excellent job at showing us how the book of Revelation is centered around Christ and the reality of the church and the kingdom of God. I am not totally throwing O’Donnell under the bus- I think he has said some good stuff about this not being ‘the end of the world’ and other things- but it’s not good to have a Catholic news man say ‘this is what Catholics believe’ when he obviously does not know what Catholics believe. Yes, Beck does need to be reigned in a bit- but don’t do it at the expense of confusing people about the church. A persons personal view is fine- but don’t tell people what the church does or does not believe- especially if you’re not familiar with the material- o well- I forgot- being misinformed about the facts has never really mattered that much at MSNBC- I’m sorry.
Just a note- The Catholic Church has ‘modernized’ since the famous Council at Trent- Vatican Council 2 [1962-65] did indeed try and bring the church more into modern times. And there have been statements made that say the reading/teaching of the bible should not be taken in a way that rejects the modern advances of science. But the official belief of the bible being the Word of God is still official Catholic doctrine. Many Protestants confuse the Catholic belief by thinking the church accepts Tradition over the bible- this is actually not so. The official belief of the Catholic Church is that the voice/teaching of God comes to us thru both Tradition and the Bible- they do not say Tradition is over the Bible. There are lots of common misconceptions that Protestants and Catholics have made about each other over the years- I don’t think it will do either side any service for MSNBC and FOX to get into this type of debate on the air. It takes more time than a few sound bites to teach it right- it would be better to just leave it be.
 PILLARS 1-2.
As the Libya story unfolds- you have some sincere critics of the president [Dick Lugar] and others who just want to find fault. Now- one of the debates going on is who will eventually take over the command of the ‘no fly zone’ [war]. The Arab league- though initially in support of the action, has since said what they signed up for [protect innocent civilians] is not what happened [bombing the country]. Vladimir Putin [Russian P.M.] said ‘it’s a crusade’ Yikes! The Russian president [who I thought was supposed to be a puppet] Medvedev rebuked the words publicly. Before we hit Libya- I started asking a few questions- things like ‘look- I know the leader seems like a nut, but I’m beginning to wonder if there might be some truth to his charge that the Rebels are Al Qaeda’. Sure enough there have been lots of reports that do say the radical element in these protests are larger than what we saw in the other nations [Tunisia, Egypt]. Richard Engel- a top NBC [NOT FOX!] reporter said that 1 in 5 of the rebels are fighting because they want to kill Gadhafi ‘the Jew’. So as we debate when/where the U.S. should take action- we need to also keep in mind that the alternatives to the toppling of leaders might be just as bad- or worse- than the actual leader. Okay- why was the word ‘crusade’ so charged? It plays into the world history of the western nations fighting against the Muslim world. Many in the Arab league are not comfortable with NATO taking charge because of this history. The last few weeks the song ‘from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli’ have gone thru my mind. I remember the old Abbot and Costello shows on the foreign legion and stuff like that. What war is the song describing? It speaks about the wars that the U.S. engaged in- yes- with Libya- many years ago. After the American colonies broke away from England we continued to conduct world trade by the use of ships. At one point [1800’s] the Mediterranean became a flash point [like today] you had pirates and countries who retaliated by disrupting the water ways. America of course fought back- and the Libyans were actually called ‘the Mujahedeen’ yes- the same term used for the Rebels who we supported in toppling the Russian influence in Afghanistan. These were the Barbary wars- Barbary Coast. So- we need to be careful that our actions don’t play into the idea that the U.S. is actually waging a 21st century crusade [this is also why it was unbelievable that Bush actually used the term crusade during his term].
Okay- let me do a little more on Islam [the teaching series I started in the last post]. Islam has 5 Pillars- basic tenets that all Muslims hold to;
1- The declaration of their faith ‘There is no god but God [Allah] and Muhammad is the messenger of God’. To become a Muslim- one simply has to accept/confess this statement. Muslims believe that the final/complete revelation of God to man has come thru the prophet- by way of the Quran. As Christians accept Jesus as God’s final prophet/Messiah to mankind- so Muslims see Muhammad as the final and complete authority.
2- The second Pillar is Salat [prayer]. Muslims pray 5 times a day while facing Mecca- the holy city where the Kabba is [Kabba- the house of God believed to have been built by Abraham and his son Ishmael]. Once a week on Friday Muslims pray corporately at noon in the local mosque or Islamic center.
The next few days I’ll try and cover the other 3 pillars- I actually think the 3rd pillar is more in keeping with the teachings of Jesus and the bible than what most Christians practice- it deals with the Muslim practice of giving to meet the needs of the poor. For today that should cover it- remember- the reason we are covering Islam as a religion is so we can have a better grasp on what Muslims believe. Too many of us are only familiar with the more radical elements that the media focus on when an attack takes place. At the same time there are also prejudices in Islam as well- many young Muslims are taught a radical hatred for the Jew- these wrong ideas are formed in their minds as young people- and they too need to reject these anti- Semitic ideas. As the U.S. begins engaging in the 3rd Muslim country in the last 11 years- we need to be very careful that we are not playing into the hands of those who embrace radicalism- there is a very real extreme element in Libya. Al Qaeda has operated out of the nation for many years- we need to be careful that we are not being ‘useful idiots’.
[1625 WE ARE IN- As you know the U.S. and our allies have begun enforcing the ‘no fly zone’- in actuality the stated mission is more than a no fly zone, it’s a mission that is too open ended- basically it says we can do anything we need to do to protect the civilian population of Libya- geez- too broad. Now- is this the same type of resolution that Bush had for his 2 wars? No- president Obama has NO resolution from the congress- nada. He’s operating under U.N. and Arab league language- kind of a problem- don’t you think? I heard a major news person say Obama is operating the same way Bush did- without congressional approval. The news broadcaster explained that Bush did not go to congress for Afghanistan or Iraq. Actually Bush went to congress in 2001 for Afghanistan- and 2002 for Iraq. Though the internal debate [now made public] was that the president did not need to go to congress- yet they did anyway. Those defending Obama’s recent action say ‘yeah- but Clinton didn’t get congressional approval for Kosovo- Serbia’ true. Either way- we are there now. If you go back and read my posts on Libya- I was not a hawk on the matter- someone who advocated U.S. military action. But I felt some of the statements from the president [Gadhafi must go] kinda put us on the hook to do something. Though the defense secretary did not want to engage in another Muslim country [not Arab!] yet it seems as if the secretary of state changed her view and Obama decided for limited action. The U.S. will do the early work- and do a quick hand off to France [Britain]. The problem is we never seem to be able to do the darn handoffs! So let’s pray and try and do our best.
As I mentioned above- the media often simply report stuff wrong. It does not help that most of us hold a view of that part of the world thru what we see/hear in the media- a media that gets stuff wrong [not just Fox]. The majority of Arab people are indeed Muslim- but that makes up only 20 % of the entire Muslim world. The most populous Muslim states range from North Africa to Southeast Asia- Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion- and the world’s 2nd largest [around 1.2 billion followers]. Islam also holds huge minority followings in the Western world [Europe and the U.S.]. Most Americans associate Islam with radical Islam- though most of today’s terrorists have come from the radical sect of Islam- all Muslims are not radicals. There is an internal debate in Islam on how to deal with modernity- some scholars teach that true Islam is Patriarchal in nature and the role of women is subordinate. These hold to the idea that a true Islamic adherent seeks for a true Islamic state- ruled by Sharia law. Others believe in a type of separation of Mosque and state- they hold to the view that Islam’s survival depends on its ability to ‘liberalize’ and adjust- like Christianity has done thru the centuries [most Christians are not seeking a theocratic state- though at one time the world was literally governed by the church]. Islam was founded in the 7th century under the prophet Muhammad, and within a hundred years after his death spread into a vast empire [under the Umayyad and Abbasid empires]. Islam also has a sect within her that could kind of be described as Mystical- that is like the Christian Mystics of church history. This branch is called Sufism. So you could say the 2 great institutions of Islam are Islamic law [Sharia] and Sufism [the mystical expression that seeks a more romanticized experience with God- like Christian Pietism].
As an avid boxing fan- I was watching a fight one night- and the official bell ringer ‘rung’ the bell after only 2minutes into the round [rounds are 3 minutes]. At first the ringside announcers- who are not paying attention to the clock- picked it up by simply feeling like the round was short. Sure enough during the break they were told the bell ringer- whose sole job is to ring the bell- messed up. As I watch the coverage unfold over the next weeks/months- and yes- years- I want to try and do my best to stick with the facts as much as possible. I understand it’s not easy to keep all the facts straight [the official bell ringers do at times mess up] and the distinction between the Arab/Muslim world is at times hard to see- I’m sure we will hear lots of reports confusing the 2- but being we are living in a real dangerous time- a time of change thru out the world that we cannot stop [I didn’t even mention the recent events in Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia- major events- Yemen ‘snipers’ killed 50 protestor in cold blood- shot in the head/neck. Bahrain cracked down brutally on her protestors- and Syria is beginning to see more of an uprising]. So as we become more familiar with this part of the world- we want to get our facts as straight as possible. In this post I’m just beginning to cover Islam as a religion- over the coming months I want to do some posts strictly on the actual history of Islam- what Islam believes and teaches- and what Islam does not teach. The purpose is not to give a defense to the religion- but to inform each other about a religion that most westerners see only thru a lens of radicalism- thru news reports that fixate on the extreme elements of Islam. Part of our responsibility in the West is to know the subject/people we are dealing with- and for today one of the facts that should help form the coming posts is all Muslims are not Arabs- and all Arabs are not Muslim- the majority of nations that are ‘majority’ Muslim [around 53] are indeed African and Asian. And the latest one that we just engaged in- militarily- is smack dab in the middle of the North African rim that has been on fire- first to its left in Tunisia- and then to its right with Egypt- and we are ‘stuck in the middle with you’.
 GREASEBALL! Okay- to all my Italian buddies- this one’s for you! [Greaseball is a slang term for us Italians]. Yesterday the U.N. approved action against Libya- 10 nations voted for the ‘no fly zone’ [and more] and 5 abstained [Obama’s favorite position when Illinois senator]. Yes, Russia and China did not vote no- a surprise. The Libyan Rebels rejoiced- hooray- the West is coming! Not so fast. Obama gave a speech ‘Gadhafi must step down- or else!’ and yet again he slaughters the folks- and it actually seems like he stepped up the slaughter- after all Obama said ‘you better not’. And then- in the same speech mind you- he also said the U.S. will not be putting in troops- or heading up the no fly zone. It’s utterly amazing that a U.S. president continues to give very public ultimatums- and then states the reality that he will not act. As the reports came in from the streets of Libya- they said ‘he is still killing civilians’. Now- if we as a nation are already too stretched because of two 10 year wars in Muslim countries- and if our official policy is ‘we can’t afford to keep doing these types of ventures at the sole expense of U.S. blood and money’ [a position that does make lots of sense by the way] If that’s going to be our ‘default’ setting- then we can’t be making public statements and saying ‘if you don’t stop now- there will be consequences’- both of these things at the same time are actually worse. It makes the dictator think ‘geez- better kill em while I still have the chance’ and the statement from the president still awaits another meeting [in Paris today] to set up the actual logistics of the plan. It’s just simply too late to still be making ‘long range plans’ and at the same time publicly saying ‘no more chances’.
Okay- When I was a boy growing up in Jersey I had a bunch of good old Italian buddies- and my family was 100% liberal Democrat- I mean my grandfather bought into the line that the U.S. was the most dangerous nation on the planet. So one day he’s down the block talking to some Italian neighbor- they must have been talking politics. I heard gramps raise his voice. So when he gets back to the house we ask ‘what were you talking to Mr. so and so about? Answer- ‘that f---ingGreaseball’. WHAT? I mean grandpa was a Greaseball too- we were/are all Greaseballs! Right now in the news once again you have the left and the right running with their agenda’s and the truth usually gets lost in between. The other night I watched Chris Matthews defend the president- he went on to deride Huckabee, Palin, Newt, etc. he said how their framing of the president was all wrong- That they say he has liberal ‘anti colonial’ instincts- that they paint him as something other than a classic American boy- raised with basketball and hot dogs and the rest. Then Matthews launched into a familiar rant- he said something to the effect of ‘what do you right wing, racist, tea party bastards want? He has done everything you asked for- he has grown up and been a responsible black man- he has a wife and kids and doesn’t sell coke- you know- he has lived up to the white man’s requirements’. Now- I have heard Matthews say this before- he actually looks like he’s gonna pull a Boehner when he does this [cry]. What he doesn’t realize- is he thinks he is on the side of the minority when he says this- sort of like the classic liberal defense of ‘the back man’ yet to the black man- this is actually quite racist. It plays into the stereotypes of racism- to say ‘he has lived up to our expectations- what we want from the Black man’ yes- he sounds just like grandpa calling his fellow Italian a Greaseball- the classic inability of the liberal minded ‘non bigoted’ person- who reveals his bigotry in ways that he does not fully realize.
When working at the Fire Dept. over the years- It was actually a Texas joke to see how the North East [MSNBC crowd] thinks about Texas as ‘Cowboy country’. I was sitting in the station one day with my captain [a died in the wool Democrat- liberal among liberals- he was also my union president] and the secretary rings the office- ‘it’s Cheney’s people on the line’ every year or so Dick Cheney [and also Bush one and 2] would come to an area where we worked and they would hunt bird [Quail, Dove] so they would set up our ambulance guys to station themselves right at the gate of the ranch just in case Cheney shot another one of his buddies. So I’d laugh ‘hey Cap- the V.P. wants to talk’ and he would respond with some vulgar word. So the real scoop is here in Texas we have a whole world of lib’s- my V.P. [union] was also a lifelong Democrat- openly gay- would travel to Austin a lot [an ultra liberal haven] and he would laugh at the Chris Matthews types who fall for the ‘guns and cowboy hats’ image of Texas. Yes- Matthews had Tom Delay on the other day- asked him about some Texas stuff- and tried to be nice- and said ‘well I know that’s the way you Texans are- carrying your 6-guns and all’ yes- he fits in well with the classic liberal mindset- thinks he’s real progressive- liberal- and the rest of the liberals in Texas think you’re a jack ass.
I actually had friends that would don the cowboy hat during spring break- why? They would ‘pick up’ girls visiting for the break- and some of them would say ‘wow- a real cowboy- I heard about people like you [probably watches MSNBC] but I never thought I would meet one’ well honey- you didn’t! So when we are trying to get to the real story- we need non biased journalists to tell it- you can’t get it from the left or the right alone. A few weeks ago a major London newspaper ran the entire speech given by Gadhafi after Obama was elected- in the speech he openly praised Obama as ‘one of us’ he said how the U.S. is now being lead by someone ‘like us’. Now- is Gadhafi falling for the propaganda of Beck? Come on- how about the London paper- are they Fox sycophants? Obama does have a history of liberal political allies that date back to his days in Chicago [fine] and in that circle- which included Rev. Wright and Louis Farrakhan- they made some trips to Libya and began having close ties to the Libyan leader. Now- did they have ties like this with the leaders of Egypt- or Yemen- or any other Arab/Persian nation? No. But because of the political atmosphere at the time- Gadhafi made it into the circle. Now- for the left wing media to not even mention it- or when they do mention it- to portray it as a Fox conspiracy- well that’s classic liberal ignorance. Yes- admit the fact of the thing- and then report on whether or not you think it means anything [I personally don’t- I don’t think he has made policy decisions based on this past affiliation- but geez- to simply ignore the thing is not journalism!] So as we watch events unfold- there obviously has been some major mistakes made. Whether you support the president or not- mistakes are being made—that cost lives. And if you present yourself as this wonderfully open- non biased liberal person- you know- not like the Texas gun toters- than don’t go down the block and call the Italian guy a Greaseball!
 CHRIST CHURCH? A few weeks back I was going to write a post from the words of St. Peter found in the New Testament ‘The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God [Christ’s church= house of God] and if it starts there- what will the outcome be for the rest of the world?’ [paraphrased it]. Right after the ‘thought’ the major events off the coast of Japan hit and we have this trilogy of disasters to deal with [Earthquake, Tsunami, Nuclear meltdown]. I did find it ‘strange’ that the recent events started with Christ Church New Zealand- and seemed to spread from there. I heard a Geologist the other night- he had previously predicted the earthquake that hit Ca. during the World Series a few years ago. He said the sign of the dead fish recently washing up in Ca. was not a coincidence- he said the fish can sense a change in the earth’s magnetic field [prior to an earthquake] and that in Japan these fish kills are actually called ‘earthquake fish’. Wow. You do hear lots of talking heads during these types of events- yet it would be nice to know the truth on these types of things. The last year or 2 we had earthquakes along the Pacific Rim; Chile, New Zealand and of course Japan. If you look on a map you see the Pacific Ocean and you can draw a circle around the perimeter- the part that affects us is the West coast- so they already have a run on Iodide pills [fear of the radiation crossing the Pacific from Japan] and some are predicting an earthquake. The other night I caught a quick news flash of Saudi Arabia sending troops into Bahrain to fight back against the protestors- as it flashed by quickly- I said ‘geez- this is a major event- and it’s getting lost in the media frenzy’. Then O’Reilly spent 15 minutes on a real important life changing story- a stripper who works with a snake- the snake bit the woman on her breast- the snake died from the silicone from the breast implant. Another news show spent almost the whole hour on sports- even the president did another March madness prediction- at a time when the world has protestors in the streets- who thought we would help them [Libya] and they are actually saying ‘Obama- where are you- where’s Bush?’ Now- whatever your view is on intervening [no fly zone- etc.] the fact is if the feeling around the globe is that we are not taking these things seriously enough- then the image of the president doing March Madness picks does not look good. So what do we make of it all? When Peter said ‘judgment must 1st start at Gods house’ he of course was not directly talking about the city of Christ Church, New Zealand. Yet in a prophetic sort of way- these types of things can be signs of what’s to come. One of the important developments has been the fact that the Arab/Persian nations have indeed chosen to ignore the pleas from the U.S. to go easy on the protestors- and they simply have said ‘screw you- look at what you did to Egypt- we are gonna go the Gadhafi route’ [to a degree]. Saudi Arabia crossing into Bahrain- a small Persian Gulf nation where we have lot of troops stationed [and the 5th fleet docked] is a major development. The markets [both Asian and U.S.] have fallen over the fears that the Nuke disaster is already as bad as Chernobyl- and the unrest in the Middle East and Africa is not getting better. So we pray- we show the world that we don’t just throw our hands up and say ‘the end of the world is here’ but we also recognize it is in mans nature to deny the reality of judgment- the reality that mankind faces times where things build up and the planet suffers for it. In the 19th century there was a movement in Christian theology called ‘Liberal theology’- not liberal in politics- but a whole genre of teaching/thought that challenged a lot of the ‘old time’ beliefs [like original sin] and focused on the ability of modern man to rise above the ignorance of the past [even in religious thought] and man was on the road to a true Utopian society that would never fail. This belief was strong- both in the universities of Germany as well as in the politics of the Western world. Then you had the world wars- 8 million people killed in the first one- and 50 million in the 2nd one. Men like Karl Barth [a Swiss theologian- teacher] would challenge the liberal view of mans ‘inner divinity’ and he would blast the Christian world with his famous ‘the epistle to the Romans’ his commentary on Paul’s famous treatise- released in 1918. Though Barth is what some describe as 'Neo- Orthodox’ [the strong Reformed teachers don’t appreciate Barth very much] yet he did bring the church back to the biblical doctrines of original sin and mans inability to ‘save himself’. Barth saw the reality of the WW1 and rejected the Utopian belief that man was so advanced that he would reach for the sky- and grab it! Today we see lots of shaking in the world- some are focused on March madness- some find it profitable to do a story on a stripper- we need to keep our eyes [and bibles] open- mankind is in need of God- man has gone thru stages where he thought the ‘old belief’ in God would fall away- to the contrary- the govt’s of man [apart from God] seem to be the thing that’s falling away.
 JAPAN- As of last night, the disaster in Japan is far greater than originally thought. The building surrounding the nuclear reactor blew up in dramatic fashion- the leaders were claiming that the steel casing around the reactor was intact. It seems like the leaders might be covering something up- or maybe they don’t know everything that’s going on inside. The death toll is sure to climb, though they talk about the numbers as in the hundreds- or right around 1800 hundred, yet they say ‘9,000’ are missing [which means swept out to sea]. Now- what does all this mean? The U.S. economy [and govt.] rely heavily on 2 nations that serve as our ‘bank’. Japan used to be our number one borrower- they bought our debt. China just recently surpassed Japan as our number one buyer of debt. So Japan is our 2nd biggest ‘bank’ [both nations hold right around 900 billion of U.S. debt- other nations also hold our debt- own our credit cards- yet Japan and China are our biggest banks].Okay- this past year we have made trips to the region- have had our debates over fiscal policy [with China] and we have done our best to keep a fairly good relationship going [even willing to overlook real human rights abuses- with China] in order to keep the cash flowing. So what now? Well look at it as if your number 2 credit card co. just went under- that’s what has happened. Japan is in no position to keep buying our debt- and they will not be in that position again for a long time. Now Japan too is in debt- but most of their debt has been bought by private investors who are Japanese- they are not dependant like us on a foreign nation [s]. So we just lost a very important bank. It’s not the end of the world for us- but not good at a time when we thought we were going to really come out of this recessionary stagnation- our country actually showed some good financial signs in recent weeks- yet this confluence of events [Arab unrest, Revolts, Libya- earthquakes, etc.] is sure to put a hold on any real strong economic growth. Now- the president gave a speech the other day- and surprisingly his number one concern was to convince the public that he is not at fault for high gas/oil prices. It was very strange for him to have focused so much on not wanting the blame. He gave some numbers- all in all he was not being totally honest with us. There are presidents who are ‘pro big oil’ [Bush] and others who simply are not. It’s not to say the more environmentally minded presidents are bad [Teddy Roosevelt did a great thing by preserving our natural habitat] but it’s deceiving to be on the less ‘big oil’ side- and then say you are one of the biggest proponents of big oil to ever be on the scene. Overall our country currently produces 7 million barrels of oil a day. We use around 20 million barrels daily. So we import the difference. Our country used to produce 10-11 million barrels a day- do the math- it’s not hard to figure this thing out. Now- why did oil prices drop recently? Japan is the 3rd biggest economy in the world [behind the U.S. and China]. The facts on the ground are Japan will not be using the large amounts of oil that they were expected to use- because they obviously will be struggling for quite some time to get back up and running again. So the demand for oil on the world market has just gone down. Overall this Japan disaster will affect the global economy in a much greater way than the unrest in Libya- Libya is important mainly because they produce oil- but their overall economy is in shambles- and has been for years. Japan is/was an economic powerhouse- a major player on the world stage. For them to have suffered such a ,major disaster- this is really devastating- if you add up all the things going on in the word right now- we haven’t been this ‘shaky’ in years- probably since the world wars. I’m not saying that will happen- I’m saying we have not seen this type of global upheaval since that time. Yes other events have happened that were big- Vietnam- 911- etc. But the totality of recent events is huge. Pray for the Japanese people- pray for Libya [Gadhafi is taking advantage of the worlds eyes being on Japan] and put your trust in God- there are many in the media who are not being upfront about the real dangers we are now facing- they do not want to cause people to panic- yet anyone who follows the events realizes we are in a very dangerous time- don’t fear- but recognize the time we are in.
 EARTHQUAKE- Of course you know by now that right off the coast of Japan there was a major earthquake- 8.9 on the Richter scale. The worst recorded one to ever hit Japan. The 5th largest on record [in at least the last 100 years] and the damage is great. As I watched the coverage- saw all the pictures of the devastation- my daughter just walked in the door. I told how big this event is- a major event- she saw the pictures and I did say we don’t know how bad all the damage is yet- and that the West coast is being hit by the wave right now. I guess she thought it was worse than I knew it to be, she said ‘well dad, is there anything we can do to survive it’? She is 19, and she was not kidding. I of course told her that the wave she was seeing was not going to hit us- but still she had some doubts. I guess it didn’t help when I got up to walk away- ‘where you going dad’ I’ll be sitting in the Kayak in the garage. Okay- how should we respond? Do these events mean anything? You bet they do. First- I’m not a ‘birther’ when it comes to end times stuff- I do not teach or believe many of the Armageddon scenarios that you see in the books and movies of prophecy preachers- yet I do very much believe the bible. What did Jesus say about this stuff? In Matthew 24 Jesus says there will be signs of the end of the ‘world’ [Greek word means age- a set period of time]. The signs would include wars and lawlessness. You would have people’s hearts failing them for fear- seeing all these things. And yes- there would be an increase in earthquakes and natural disasters. I have been saying for the last few months that I believe most people do not really see the seriousness of many present world situations- the unrest on the North African continent- the very serious debt problem that plagued Europe [and still does] and the fact that other countries and even companies that rate debt risk [like Moody’s] have played with the idea that the U.S. govt. might lose its credit rating. Our debt- nearing 15 trillion- is a major risk for our economy- and if other countries begin to see us as a serious debt risk- we will indeed be in lots of trouble. Why is our govt. doing these 2 week extensions on our budget? Near the end of last year the President should have done a budget- at the time the Democrats held the House, Senate and executive branch [Like Chuck Schumer likes to say ‘all 3 branches of govt.’! Inside joke- on a Sunday talk show he did refer to these as the 3 branches of govt. obviously the 3 branches are Executive, Judicial and Legislative- not Executive, House and Senate]. The Dem’s did not do a budget. Why? It was the 1st time in years that one party controlled the Presidency, House and Senate- why not just do one? Every news person knew why- they did not want to have to face the voting public with just presenting a budget with/without cuts- they simply did not do their job- to be honest. Now, they just came off a tough health care vote- the House was also forced to vote on a disastrous ‘Energy’ bill- which thank God did not pass- especially with our present gas prices- and they felt like [They=Dem’s] they already took too many tough votes for Obama- and they did not want to do any more. So what happened? Well the Repub’s took control of the House [with a bunch of freshman Tea Partier’s] and the Dems held the Senate. Okay- will you pass one now? Actually- the best way to describe what happened is the line that Keith Olberman began running with before he quit his job at MSNBC- he immediately began saying ‘Okay Boehner- you guys are now in charge- where are the jobs’ yes- night after night this was the new message. One question- the Dem’s still held the Senate and the Executive branch- are you kidding me! But that is exactly the strategy that the President has run with- he indeed has chosen- along with the Dem’s in the Senate- to leave the cuts up to the Repub’s. They were obviously told by the insiders ‘look- we know we really need to address the debt problem- but lets ignore the thing- give no serious cut proposals- and the new Tea Party nut jobs will force the more moderate Repub’s to bite the bullet for us- and we will eventually vote for it- like our hands were tied behind our backs- and they will get the blame’. Now- will this strategy work? Probably to a degree- but the fact is it really is a total failure on the part of the president and the Dem’s- they should have passed a budget last year. Now we are in the new year- and some are saying ‘well Repub’s- the ball is in your court’. They are still the majority for heaven’s sake- present something with at least 30 billion dollars of cuts [which would be half of what the Repub’s are offering in cuts] and be serious about it. Even Joe Manchin- the new Dem. Senator has said this is exactly what the president is doing- he purposely is not presenting a real proposal [ any proposal!] and at the same time is taking the attitude of Olberman ‘you guys are in charge-you do it’. This is bad- very bad. So anyway I see all the events taking place in the world- the continued unrest with the protests [called lawlessness by Jesus in the above chapter] the earthquakes and wars and economic unrest- and in the midst of it all Jesus also said ‘when you see all this taking place- all these signs- don’t get too worried- for all these things must come to pass’. As believers we go thru stuff- the world shakes and ‘tribulates’ the Tea Bags are selling like Hot Cakes- yet we trust in God. We pray for the Japanese [it really is such a tragedy- of course their country has already experienced the worst radiation fallout in world history- thanks to the good old U.S. of A. and they are in danger of another one with their Nuclear Reactors cooling problems] and we know that we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken- we are part of the great Kingdom of God- one that will endure for eternity [even if you get tempted every now and then to go sit in the Kayak in the garage].
 I DID WHAT YOU ASKED- Today we close our brief study from Exodus ‘Insights from a Revolution’. In chapter 40 Moses finally completes the vision God gave him [vision- purpose] for the Tabernacle- he completes it 9 months after they arrived at Sinai [it took some time to establish order!] Just a short re-cap; when God delivered his people out of Egypt- he gave them this tent system where you had the Tabernacle [small building] you had this fence around it- you had the ‘outer courts’ and the area inside the courts. You had the Ark of the Testimony, the box that held the 10 commandments- a sample portion of Manna [the bread God gave them every morning for 40 years] and Aaron’s rod/stick that ‘budded’- a story we didn’t cover, it was a sign God gave the people that he was choosing the Aronic priesthood to be the priests. They took sticks from different tribes and the stick that would miraculously bud was the tribe that God chose. So you had this whole system set up as an example from God that would eventually be fulfilled thru Christ. This tent system became the Temple of Jewish history- and in Jesus day they had this system expanded on a huge scale at the Temple in Jerusalem. It’s sometimes referred to as the 2nd Temple- the one that was rebuilt after the children of Israel returned from captivity [a few hundred years B.C.] but it was rebuilt again- a 3rd time- under Herod, the Roman ruler who ruled right before Jesus was born [you also had another Herod- the title was passed on- during Jesus day]. This Temple was eventually destroyed under the Roman general- Titus- in a.d. 70. There has not been a Jewish temple since- the actual spot where the temple was- that spot is the same spot of this huge Muslim Mosque in the city of Jerusalem today. If you ever see an air view of Jerusalem you will see this huge mosque in the center of the city- that’s the same spot where the last Temple sat. So today there are lots of end times teachers with all types of views about the rebuilding of a 3rd [or 4th] Temple- scenarios of a re instituting of the sacrificial system- a view of a person called the anti Christ who will establish a covenant with Israel and 3.5 years into the 7 year peace treaty he breaks the treaty. All these scenarios are simply speculation- they do come from a sort of montage of verses scattered thru out the bible [Daniel, Matthew, Thessalonians, Revelation, etc.] but they are only one point of view- most bible scholars do not hold to this view- often referred to as dispensationalism- too long to get into it now. The main point I want to make is God used this whole system to show mankind that the only way he could dwell with man- was thru some sort of system that showed the sinfulness of man and the holiness of God- and that man can only approach God thru a sacrifice- the animals and blood were only a symbol of the future day when Jesus would come and die for the sins of the whole world [Hebrews- the book in the New Testament says this]. This whole story points to Jesus and Gods desire to redeem all mankind- regardless of ethnic/social status- to save men and rescue them thru the death and resurrection of His Son. Jesus truly is the sacrifice that saves man- he died for our sins. God gave Moses and the people this system of govt. that would follow them thru the rest of their history. Moses finished the work God gave him to do- and today this prophetic picture lives on in both the bible and on the Hollywood screen- most of us have seen some portrayal of it on the big screen [like Charlton Hesston in the classic movie- the 10 commandments]. Some of you might have learned a new thing as we did this brief study- maybe the purpose of the lid on the box, the Mercy Seat. Maybe some other thing stuck in your mind- that’s good- we want everybody to get an interest in this stuff- most people think the bible is a book that is boring- hard to understand. Yet it’s meant to capture your mind thru stuff like this- to see that the bible stories are actual historical events- events that still have meaning for our day- and they all point to God’s mercy and love for all mankind- not a story where God is some Western deity who takes sides in military ventures- that’s not the message of the gospel. God has made a way for all people to get in on this- he’s not advocating a certain type of religion- he’s saying he has already given his Son to die for the whole world- Jesus said on the Cross ‘It is finished’ the book of Hebrews says Moses was faithful to finish building the earthly house [tabernacle] that God told him to build- he finished the job. Hebrews also says Jesus was faithful in his house- in completing the mission and in completing it he too is building a house- the house of God- the church. This ‘building’ is open to everyone 24 hours a day- a spiritual temple made without human hands. John the apostle said ‘whoever hears this- let him come and take of the water of life freely’ [Revelation] Have you heard?
 WISCONSIN- I’m just about to finish our short study in Exodus- will of course continue to comment on the protests going on in the world- but will probably do one more post on the Exodus thing. I am going to start a study on Islam- yes- we will be getting into areas that are confrontational, talking about the rise of radicalism- are all Muslims radical? Stuff like that. Today, Peter King- the rep. from N.Y. begins hearings on the subject. Some are calling him a modern day Joe McCarthy- others see him as a sort of hero. So we will be trying to teach what Muslims actually believe- and whether or not Islam even has one monolithic voice.
Okay- let’s see if we can discuss the current mood in the country and maybe try and mix it in with our Modernity study [yes- I still have that study to finish too]. Last night the governor of Wisconsin pulled a ‘fast one’. The state house has been in disarray for weeks- the Dems walked out- denying the quorum needed for the Repub’s to vote on the budget- and to ‘strip’ the workers of their ‘rights’. So after a few weeks of waiting, the Republicans did an end run and separated the Collective Bargaining language from the rest of the bill and passed it on a party line vote- 18 to 1. The fugitive Democrats [hiding out in Illinois] came racing back to the state and the protestors were ransacking the state house late last night. MSNBC reported that the governor single-handedly stripped the workers of 50 years of their rights. Rachel Maddow reported that the rights he took away- Collective Bargaining- had nothing to do with money or costs to the state- but they were only ‘workers rights’ [sort of like safe working conditions and stuff like that]. And the Right wingers reported it as a victory for the American taxpayer. Who’s right? Okay- my firefighter union brothers might get mad- but let me let you in on a secret. For 25 years I was involved with bargaining for our ‘rights’ [we never say we are bargaining for money- we always say ‘for the safety of the people’] over the years we mastered the procedure. Our contract with the city had ‘automatic overtime’ at one time we worked out a deal where the city had to pay us overtime- automatically- for every 2 out of 3 checks. It was a complicated change in state law that said employees working more than 40 hours a week had to get paid overtime. Well we worked 24 hours on- 48 off. We averaged 56 hours a week- and the 2 pay periods that racked up 120 hours on the time card gave us ‘automatic overtime’- one check would have 96 hours of pay- so we actually had to work a few hours at straight pay before we would even get overtime. Now- every so often a new commissioner would get elected- he would see this [as well as other deals we had made with previous commissioners] and he would want to ‘correct it’. Go ahead- try your best buddy! We would send our team down to bargain [remember- we had collective bargaining] and the city would send their team. O yeah- we were bargaining with them to reduce overtime- and if ‘our team’ were on duty that day- well yes- we called in overtime to cover the shift because we were short handed- you know- bargaining with the city. Hey- this would drag on for months- years- heck it was getting us more overtime! Well, eventually the novice councilman would catch on- realize it was no skin off our back [or money from our pockets] and he would call it a day- smart man. We also ‘bargained’ for paid holidays- the way that worked was every year the city gave their employees 7 paid days off- you know, Christmas, new years- etc. So we of course had to work those days [1 shift out of 3 would always be on duty one of those days] so we got the city to pay us overtime for that day. Even though we weren’t actually working ‘overtime’ yet we bargained for it and they paid us. Now- when you work a 24 hour shift- getting overtime would add around 5-700 hundred extra- just for that day! You say ‘what a deal’ we’ll wait. We also bargained for ‘the right’ to sell back that same holiday- yes- even if you worked the day, got paid the overtime- you could still sell the day- and get another 24 hours of overtime- for the same day. Every now and then a city leader would catch on- see the deals that were made- and they would think ‘darn it- we must change this’ okay- lets go back to ‘the bargaining table’ and O yea- more overtime!
Now- when Rachel Maddow- or Michael Moore go on national T.V. - telling the world ‘these people are just trying to hold on to their rights’ we do indeed like that. Look- all deals are not like the ones I just showed you- but many times it’s stuff like this that the management has worked with for years [like Walker’s past dealings with negotiating] and they sincerely do want to get rid of bargaining- as well as ‘bust the union’. So you have both sides doing their best to portray it in the best possible light.
A few points to keep in mind. What Walker and the Repub’s did was really not the end of the world- to be fair. Some states do not have collective bargaining [Virginia]. The public sector workers in those states do just about as well as the sates with it. Just recently, president Obama ‘arbitrarily’ froze the pay of federal employees- how could he do that! The law does not allow federal workers to have collective bargaining- so Obama did what MSNBC calls dictatorial- one man rule- a Nazi! Yes- the president did not bargain for the freeze- something that would have never passed if the workers had collective bargaining- the president had the ‘right’ to freeze their pay- the same thing that Walker wants to do in Wisconsin- have the ability to ‘freeze pay’ without having to bargain with us- you know- the overtime kings! Now do you see a little more? Now- say if Walker stripped the whole sate of collective bargaining [like other states have done] say if he even outlawed unions! What would the public sector workers have left? Would they simply be like the average Joe in the private sector- basically if you don’t like the job- leave. No- we still have what’s called ‘Civil Service protection’ what? Yes- as a firefighter- even if I had no Union- no collective bargaining- the city still couldn’t just up and fire me- I could appeal to the Civil service commission and they would hold a hearing on my case and I would either win or lose. Now- in Wisconsin you have the Civil Service protections- you have the Unions- and you still have collective bargaining [even for those who just got stripped of it- they still retain a portion of it for wages]. To describe this as some sort of outrageous overthrow of the rights of people is a bit much- but heck- if the governors/leaders want a fight- by golly we will fight- to the end! O- and we might need some overtime to do it. [we’ll do the modernity thing later].
 EXODUS 34- This chapter is real important- God tells Moses to come back up into the mountain to receive the 2nd set of the 10 commandments. Moses actually broke the 1st set- when he came down from the mountain the 1st time with the 2 tablets- he saw the people rebelling [the story of worshipping the golden calf and all] and when he saw it he flipped out [yes- Moses had an anger problem- it eventually kept him from going into the promised land] and broke the tablets. So in this chapter he goes up for the 2nd time and God writes on the tablets again. I see this as a spiritual symbol of Jesus and the New Covenant. Jesus is called the mediator of the New Covenant- a 2nd covenant that is better than the 1st [Hebrews] so this ‘2nd set’ of commandments can be a type of the 2nd law. Now Moses speaks to the people- and he doesn’t realize that his face is shining. So after he speaks with the people- he puts a veil on his face until he goes to meet with God again. Each time he meets with God- he comes back- talks with the people- and puts the veil on. In 2nd Corinthians chapter 3 the apostle Paul says this is an example of the blindness of natural Israel- that is they don’t fully see Jesus as the Messiah. As a Jew himself- Paul wanted his fellow Jews to also believe in the messiah [Romans 9-10] and he did all he could to argue for the reality of Jesus as being the Messiah [read the sermons in the book of Act’s] so Paul says the Jewish people [his own nation/people] have a sort of spiritual veil over their faces [actually it covers Moses face- a type of Jesus. Meaning Jesus is right there- in front of them, but they see a figure- but are unable to truly see his identity- sort of like a man wearing a veil]. So Paul uses this story to preach Christ. Just like the Manna, just like the Ark, the Tabernacle- as we read Exodus we are really seeing an unveiling of the person and work of Christ.
Okay- as we finish this short study over the next day or 2- let me also try and tie up a few lose ends. Those of you who have been reading this site for a while realize I was in the middle of a few other studies before I jumped into this series- which I will call ‘Insights from a Revolution’. The reason being the Asian/Persian world is on fire- Revolutions- civil wars [Libya] lots of stuff came up. I also finished the Christopher Hitchens book [god is not great- Hitchens is an atheist and I have been reproving him]. For the sake of not wanting to give him any more ‘air time’ than I had to- I stopped correcting his many mistakes [yes- Many!]. I plan on reviewing and critiquing the other ‘new atheists’ in the coming months- Hitchens is considered the smartest of the bunch [Dawkins, Harris, etc.] so I figured if we ‘throw him under the bus’ then we would have taken down the top dog. Let me finish Hitchens by saying the guy is outright mean- calls Mother Theresa ‘a troll’- refers to princess Dianna as a ‘land mine’ [she was known for her international work with getting rid of land mines]. Why? He says ‘there easy to lay- and cause lots of damage’. Hitchens is not a man that anyone should look up to. I felt he was a liar- conniver- snake oil salesman. One last example- he mentions the bible story of the graves of people opening up by an earthquake the day Jesus was crucified- the bible does indeed say this- I have read this many times over the years [in the gospel]. The bible says that AFTER Jesus rose from the dead [3 days later] that the bodies of believers who were in these open graves rose too- a sort of ‘first fruits’ resurrection. The apostle Paul says [1st Corinthians 15] that Jesus resurrection was the ‘first fruits’ you could include this small group of dead saints in with this group [called the 1st fruits]. These believers eventually died again- and will receive their new resurrected bodies at the 2nd coming. Now- why get into this? Hitchens uses this story- and says ‘see- the bible says these saints rose before Jesus- the day he was crucified- this challenges the whole theory that Jesus rose from the dead 1st’. Now- like I said before- Hitchens claims to be a regular bible student- and its stuff like this that causes an alarm bell to go off in my head when I read it. The man is obviously lying- lying for money [a crass seller of books! You know- the same complaint atheists make all the time against believers, money grubbers]. And he uses this actual story- more than once- to prove a point- that is wrong!
There was something else that happened on the day Christ died. In the story of Exodus- when Moses builds the actual tabernacle- he puts this huge veil over a room called ‘the holy of holies’. The tabernacle [little church like structure that held the Ark and stuff] had 2 rooms in it- the 1st room- called the ‘1st room’ [Hebrews 9-10] or the holy place- had the table of showbread, the candlestick- a few other things. Then you had this huge veil covering the 2nd room- called the holy of holies. That’s the room that contained the box [ark] with the 10 commandments in it [I wrote about this in the previous post called ‘don’t look in the box!’]. This room was divided from the 1st room by the veil. So eventually King David would start building the temple- and his son Solomon would finish it. Over the centuries the temple took the place of the tabernacle system. In the temple of Jesus day- built by Herod- it was a magnificent structure- the central place of worship and religion for the Jewish people. In this huge temple there was actually a huge veil- a veil that divided the holy of holies from the 1st room- just like the original tabernacle built by Moses some 1400 years before. The day Jesus died- the bible says ‘the veil of the temple was ripped from the top to the bottom’. God did a miracle [maybe the same earthquake that broke open the graves shook the building and it separated the veil?] and the veil was ripped apart- signifying the reality that because of Jesus death on the Cross we now have open access to God- no more veil. This event is recorded in the history books of Jesus day- Paul says there is coming a time when ‘the veil’ [spiritual blindness of people] will be removed- and people will say ‘wow- now I see it- I never saw it before- but now it makes sense’. Are you still wearing a veil?
 EXODUS 33- The Lord tells his people that they must get up from the place they are at- Mount Sinai- and move on to the new place he has promised to them- Canaan [the Promised Land]. Okay- symbolically what does this mean? Sinai represents law, promised land= the Cross, the ‘new land’ of grace and freedom found in Christ. In the New testament- this is the way all the apostles dealt with these promises [Hebrews, Galatians, Peter’s sermons in Acts]. It is vital for Christians [especially T.V. preachers!] to get this right. The message to the Muslim/Arab world is not ‘God is taking sides in a land war in Israel/Palestine’ but the message is ‘in Jesus, all nations/ethnic groups are welcome- leave Sinai [the old law mentality of seeing God thru the lens of a strict judge who wants to get you] and come to the ‘new land’ this land of grace where Jesus took upon him the sins of the whole world and bore the punishment for us’ this is really the message of Christianity- many people see Christianity/Christendom thru a 2 thousand year history [okay to do- I too am a historian] but they look at the mistakes- the Crusades- the Christian hatred of Jews that existed- the Muslim/Christian battles- many people do not really see the true message of the Cross- the new land of grace and acceptance thru Jesus- they are stuck at Sinai [a mountain that we already saw was fearful, people trembled- were scared- strict judgment] and can’t seem to get to the next mountain.
Also the Lord tells the people ‘take off your costume jewelry’ they wore the celebratory stuff- sort of like Mardi Gra stuff- when they sinned while worshipping their idols. God says ‘it’s not a performance- your service to me, your worship- take the fake stuff off’. In Matthews gospel- chapters 6-7, Jesus says ‘this thing is not theatre- how to perform and gain an audience’ I mean you can’t get stronger than that. Jesus also says ‘prayer is not mastering some type of formula to get what you want- create lots of wealth’ I mean he really takes to task the majority of American Christianity- a huge percentage of it is really performance- seeing ‘church’ as a place where we go once a week and actually watch a stage/theatre performance- ouch! God told the people ‘get rid of the costume jewelry- I have more important stuff for you’. Right now there is a lot of stuff happening in the world- the voice of the church needs to be a voice for justice in the earth. I watched an interview on Fox news this weekend- the host described our wars as just- and the Muslim/Arab side as terrorism. I had just read a news article describing the accidental killings of the 9 Afghan boys who were gathering fire wood while our attack helicopters killed them. The boys were between 5 and 11 years old. One boy- the only survivor, named Hamed- said as they were in the field they heard the chopper coming. Of course it’s a scary sight for little boys. Then as the chopper left- it came back again- like stalking them. They stood still- until the first boy was mowed down. They ran in all different directions- the chopper methodically hunted the boys down- one by one. This boy survived because a tree fell on him and hid him. I know our side thought the boys were enemy combatants- I know we did not intend for this to happen. But to excuse our actions- to say ‘we are just’ and the other side- some who are simply fighting for the Taliban because they need the job- to say they are immoral- and we are moral- seems like a joke after hearing about the deaths of these boys. May God have mercy on all of us.
 THE NEW POLICE CHIEF? - Over the last few months I have read lots of news articles on the uptick in local arrests. Just read a story on the cars auctioned that were towed during the recent road blocks- the local police blockaded various roads in town and towed lots of vehicles- the owners did indeed violate the law- they had no insurance. Many of these violators are not ‘out right’ law breakers- like all the guys I have worked with thru our ministry [I’m the director of Corpus Christi Outreach Ministries] some are just mom and pop types who live week to week on their paycheck- yet they couldn’t afford the tow fee and fine- and they lost their vehicles. And the ‘straw’ that broke the camel’s back- yesterday I saw a story about the increase in arrests on the crime of auto theft- a very serious offense. They showed how over the last few years they have sent many ‘car thieves’ to prison- for many years. The story went on to explain how the local cops have taken advantage of a program where you use dummy cars- cars that are left with the keys in them- or with goods out in the open to see- and they catch unsuspecting ‘criminals’ and after they take the car [sometimes a college kid on a prank joy ride!] then the car shuts down- the doors lock- and everything is caught on video. Yes- another criminal sent to prison for many years. I have friends who have shot people dead. Stabbed and murdered people in cold blood. Some have already done prison time and are out. Some have simply gotten away with it [they didn’t confess- all the locals know ‘so and so killed so and so’ and they realize the cops are too busy with all these other projects]. O, I forgot- the reason the D.U.I. arrests are up- is because the new chief started stationing the patrol cars at the club parking lots on the weekends- yes- you can increase the D.U.I arrests by doing this- it’s really not that hard. The question has to be asked- is the new chief really cracking down on crime [like the guys who are actually getting away with murder- because the word on the street is ‘you can kill someone- just make sure you have proof of insurance’!] We need to ask the question, have we sent some stupid college spring break kids to prison- because they saw a car with the keys in it and took it [a prank- yes wrong- yet something I did myself 35 years ago- with an old buddy- in another state]. If we have all the cops spending their time doing these types of things- yet at the same time serious murders are not being solved- then there might be a real problem here. As a retired Firefighter- I know what it’s like when a new chief comes to town [whether fire or police]. They realize their job depends on the increase in arrests and so forth- so it’s obvious to me that this new chief has mastered the game. But is he just padding his resume? I have a tremendous problem with the entrapment game with the cars. If the cops are leaving vehicles all over the place- saying ‘go ahead- try it’ then you might simply be putting college pranksters in prison- sure they ‘did it’- but geez- people have killed people- for real- and the word on the street is- the cops are too busy towing grandpas vehicle [or grandmas!] and all the time others are getting away with murder.
NOTE- I have no personal knowledge/proof of unsolved murders. Some have simply not been prosecuted- they were arrested for murder- yet they never were prosecuted. Others have done time- and other cases are ‘word of mouth’ type things- yet the ‘feeling’ is these guys are getting away with murder. We have local cases of cars pulling up- in public during the day- to other vehicles and killing the driver. These cases are all going unsolved. If the police are unable to stop these types of crimes- or solve them- then are they really cracking down on crime by doing all these other things? That’s the question that needs to be asked.
 DEBT/DEFICIT - Okay- another big news week. Let’s talk a little about the debt/deficit. First, these 2 things are not the same, though in the media they sometimes get confused. This week the ‘left wing’ media has decided to fight against the ‘right wing’ and they had a few talking heads saying ‘there is no debt problem in the country- or in Wisconsin’. And of course the right shot back ‘are you nuts!’ Right now our govt. budget is around 3.5 trillion dollars [what we will spend this year as a govt.- not G.D.P. which is a number we use when talking about the trade deficit- which also gets confused with the govt. deficit- they are also 2 different things] so, we plan on spending 3.5 trillion. We bring in [thru taxes] around 2.4 trillion a year. So we are over budgeted by 1.1 trillion- we will borrow the money to pay the bill. Our debt- the amount that gets put on the credit card- the principle that we borrow- is now 15 trillion dollars. No matter what anybody says- that’s way too much. Why? When Bush took office [G.W.] the debt was 5 trillion- in all the years of the existence of our country- it never went over that number- and it took many years to get there. In 8 years of Bush [and 2 wars] the number hit 10 trillion. It doubled in 8 years. At the time many economists saw a real problem- but being the economy was doing okay- we kinda thought we would pay off the debt [credit card balance] as time went by. Then we had some major financial problems- some thought the world economy was on the brink of disaster- another depression. So we did bailouts- stimulus- things that were debated but cost lots of money. So in 2 years- what has happened to our credit card balance? It went up to 15 trillion. So it took hundreds of years to get to 5 trillion- 8 years under Bush to add another 5 trillion to the card, and then in 2 years we went up another 5 trillion. Too much- too fast. So what about the argument being made by some progressive news folks? The argument makes some sense. For instance all debt is not bad- lets change the above numbers to dollars- if you were making 3,500 a month, and your credit card balance was 15 thousand, and your expenses were 2,400- then in that scenario the debt would be okay- and it would be silly to take all your income to pay off the card- no- you need to use some for the car payment, the house payment- etc. That’s the argument being made right now from the left- but when the income is 2,400- the expenses 3,500- and you’re adding 1,100 to the credit card [actually every year- but you get the picture] then the debt problem is severe. So the truth is we have a big problem- yes it would be foolish to try and use all the income to pay off the card- but it’s also silly to say there’s really no problem [like some are now saying- Paul krugman from the N.Y. times espouses this idea and MSNBC has chosen to run with it]. So that’s why the congress is haggling over these Continuing Resolutions- basically extended the budget by 2 weeks at a time- cutting around 4 billion dollars every 2 weeks. In the long run they want to cut this years spending by 60 billion- some say that’s too much for one chunk. It would be like cutting the 3,500 a month spending [in the above scenario] to 3,440- really not that much in the big picture- because that hardly brings the long term debt down. So in my mind this is a real problem- and we as a country have not dealt with it yet. So that’s the scoop- is all debt bad debt? No. Is our current situation bad? Yes. Once again, this is a story that both sides like to tell- but they usually make their argument sound the best- while making the other side look like liars.
 BEHOLD, I AM MAKING A COVENANT. BEFORE ALLYOUR PEOPLE I WILL DO MARVELS- SO AS HAVE NOT BEEN CREATED IN ALL THE EARTH OR IN ANY NATION, AND ALL THE PEOPLE AMONG WHO YOU ARE SHALL SEE THE WORK OF THE LORD- FOR IT IS AN AWESOME THING THAT I WILL DO WITH YOU. OBSERVE WHAT I COMMAND YOU THIS DAY- EX. 34:10.
In our Exodus study we are actually in chapter 23, but these past few weeks I have been reading thru some key passages and before we get too far in the study I want to make sure we hit them. In the above verse God is telling the people that this deliverance- an actual historical event that took place around 1400 years B.C.- that this Divine change taking place- was a world changing event that had greater implications than what they presently understood. In chapter 23 the Lord tells the people that he is sending his messenger [angel] before them- and they need to pay close attention to the words he is speaking. In the bible [especially the Old Testament] the angel of God at times is associated with God himself. In the book of Revelation God is communicating a prophetic vision to the apostle John thru angels [messengers]. Basically God is telling his people that they need to stay on message- and that the message needs to be in line with his character [my messenger- the things I have/will say]. In another chapter we will hear God tell Moses ‘put the words/law I give you into the box’. God tells Moses to put the 2 tablets of the 10 commandments into the Ark of the covenant- as opposed to what Moses might say or think. The point being all of us [Christian ministers, Jewish leaders, Imams] we need to make sure we are speaking the words of God, not man.
At this time [as I write] I have friends reading these posts from all over the spectrum. Many have been reading straight from the blog site- others from various other spots where these posts show up. As a Christian- I of course hold to the biblical teaching that Jesus is the Messiah- the ‘Son of God’ who came to redeem man and died and rose again for the sins of man. Now- why the emphasis on the term ‘Son of God’. In Islam- many good Muslim people are taught- from their youth- that to even read/say this term is blasphemous. Why? In Islam many believe that using this term means that God ‘had sexual relations’ with the Virgin Mary- and many good Muslims sincerely will not listen to a Christian teacher because they are taught that to even hear the term is wrong. So as Christians we need to explain that in Christian teaching this term does not mean that- the Christian faith teaches that the Holy Spirit did a miracle with the Virgin Mary and Mary became pregnant with Jesus- not by a sexual act- but by a Divine miracle. So some bible versions- in an effort to overcome the obstacle that Muslims have about the term ‘Son of God’ [because they see this term in a different way than Christians] have substituted the words ‘Son of God’ with ‘the one who originates from God’. There is a debate among Christians on whether or not this is right [many Christians do not think this interpretation is acceptable] but it seems to be an honest effort among Christian missionaries to introduce the bible to the Muslim people in a way that allows them to get past the first obstacle- of not even wanting to read the words ‘Son of God’. Okay- said all that to say this- in this study of Exodus- we are reading a real biblical account of what took place in time- an account that Christians, Muslims and Jews all believe in. So as much as I want to continue to make the case for the reality of Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah- yet at the same time I want to also teach the biblical account in a way that all 3 faiths can learn from. And I want to be able to be a voice of moderation in the conversation
Often time’s radical voices from all 3 of the above religions are the voices that seem to get the most notice. Last night I caught an interview with the lawyer who went to the Supreme Court and won the case for the Christian church to protest at the funerals of dead soldiers. Here in the U.S. we have this Baptist church [Westboro Baptist church] that has been holding up picket signs at the funerals of soldiers that say mean- offensive things ‘God hates fags’ and stuff that should not be said. Yet they won their case because it is a free speech issue- and on the program I watched, they let this lawyer- who is also a family member of the preacher of the church- she went on and shared her view about God and the bible- and to be frank it is a very ignorant view- a bigoted idea of God and the bible, yet it is a view that prevails among many Christians [not the ‘God hates fags’ view- but other separatist ideas] and it leaves no room for having a moderate conversation among the other religions of the world. So as we progress in this study- we see the importance of the word of God- the commands and character of God. We see that God is up to something that is bigger- more important than the people understand at the time- and we see that things take time. At the end of the chapter God says as he brings the people into the land- they will not take all the land at once- lest the wild beats take over the land- but he will gave them a little land at a time, just enough territory to establish a functioning society- before gaining new ground.
I think we all need to re evaluate and take a look at the present landscape [both symbolically and geographically] and give things some time to settle in- to establish rule and order before we take too much area at once. Right now in Libya- there seems to be a standoff between the protestors [rebels- they don’t like this term] and Gadhafi. The country- though big in geographical terms- is relatively small in population [compared to Egypt- 80 million people]. Libya has 6 million people- 90 % live right off the Mediterranean coast- and the forces in the east [major city- Ben Ghazi] are up against Gadhafi’s stronghold in the west- Tripoli. As I watch all the reports we need to be careful that we don’t misread the situation—even though there were reports of civilian deaths- it does not look like Gadhafi has opened up his air force on the civilian population- not in a way it was reported at first. So even though we [the west] condemn the deaths that have taken place- I’m not sure that we are seeing what some have described as a Genocide [which I too said in the beginning]. So maybe the Middle East, Africa- and even parts of Asia- maybe it’s time to sit back and regroup some. I’m speaking to those who are wanting freedom- NON VIOLENT protestors who are protesting to gain human rights- I’m not talking military strategy here! And in today’s chapter [and the verse I quoted at the top] God is saying to the people ‘I am doing an awesome work in the world right now- obey me- listen to my words- I will give you bread [instruction] every morning [the Manna on the ground] I have given you my words [WORDS THAT HAVE SAID- DON’T KILL! TO ALL SIDES] make sure you organize your new found freedom around these things- don’t use this freedom for a chance to sin- to release anarchy/lawlessness [read Galatians chapter 5] but instead use this new freedom to serve God and love your fellow man’.
 EXODUS 20- God gives the people his law- the famous ’10 commandments’. In Greek it is Decalogue [meaning 10 words] and these laws are actually in the form of an ancient treaty type document- in essence God was not just saying ‘do this- don’t do that’ but he was telling them if they wanted to survive as a people, a society- then they needed law, just principles from which to govern themselves by- and also to hold each other accountable to their government and God.
As I continue to write and post about current world affairs- I also do lots of actual scholarly studying- I try and ‘mix’ world events in with historical perspective and keep my thinking in line with others who have gone on before us- stable thinkers, people who represent a broad range of thought. It’s too easy [and dangerous!] to view all things from a limited perspective- and then to see your view confirmed by your limited reading of the events. I saw a minister on one of the history channel shows speaking about his view of the ‘end of the world’. It was obvious that the program was allowing him to share his view- not because they thought it to be accurate- but because they wanted to show how people can see their beliefs confirmed by world events- if that’s what they want to see. Now- let me give you an example; during WW2 the church in Germany was divided- some wanted to work in accord with the state [Hitler] and others said they wanted no type of ungodly alliances with the state. Men like Dietrich Bonheoffer would reject Hitler’s ideals and be part of ‘the confessing church’ [those evangelicals who would not work with Hitler]. Another very famous theologian [scholar] would sign his name to an important document that stated the same idea of not condoning Hitler’s regime- his name was Karl Barth [considered by many to be the most influential theologian of the 20th century] the document was called The Barmen Declaration. In these cases the church felt she needed to speak out about world events- to side with those who were being oppressed- and to condemn those who were oppressing.
As I write this morning- we come off a day where our forces accidentally killed 9 Afghan boys who were out collecting wood for fire. Gen. Petraeus publicly apologized. Hamid Karzai is livid [rightfully so] and we are rapidly losing the support of the people [and I don’t blame them]. Yemen's president gave a very revealing speech- he told his country that he was going to ‘reveal a secret’. He said there is a secret operations room in Tel Aviv [Israel] and the purpose for it is to conspire against the Arab world and that the U.S. and Israel regularly meet to plan the overthrow of the Arab world. He obviously feels the heat [like all these other nations- he has protestors in the streets] but the fact that these leaders are actually speaking like this openly- our ties to these Arab nations are over. At the airport in Germany- a Muslim employee opened fire on 4 people- killing 2 American soldiers. Reports are he shouted ‘Allah Akbar’ [God is great] while firing his weapon.
In the media there are 2 narratives you can see; some ‘news organizations’ have made the top stories about Rumsfeld and any past mistakes/possible crimes committed under the Bush administration. Now- I guess there is a proper time for this- but not during the same day when the current administration and U.S. forces are involved in so many real-time scenarios, actual things that can change our world for years to come. Other news channels focus on the worst case scenarios- seeming to leave no room for any hope at all. I think both of these extremes are dangerous for our country- and we need to be realistic about the very real dangers- including our countries financial problems [there is talk in the world about dropping the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency- and some analysts believe that China and others will stop buying our debt- financing us] These are very real dangers that we face as a country.
So what should the church do? First- I believe the ongoing killing of civilians [even by mistake!] is something that has to stop. Many Americans see the shooting of our soldiers at the German base as ‘terrorism’ and view the accidental killing of the 9 boys as ‘collateral damage’. We must understand- that the mothers of these boys don’t see it like that- and the rest of the Arab world as well. When God gave the people the ‘10 laws’ he was telling them there are some very fundamental rules that all nations will need to abide by if they want to survive. Most of us are familiar with them- and most of us know what the big one is ‘thou shalt not kill’- I think too many of us have stepped over this line one too many times.
 BIG OIL? A few years ago I remember the controversy that arose when gas went up to 3 dollars a gallon. Many blamed Bush for not having an effective energy policy in place- yet many of these same dissenters were also responsible for stopping the drilling for oil off of our coasts- places like Alaska were deemed off limits, not just off the coast, but on land as well. While these issues are highly volatile- many on both sides once again seem to only see their side of the argument- yet we do need to seriously look at our countries long term strategy when debating this issue. The other day I caught an interview between two governors- Montana’s and Indiana’s. They were discussing the effectiveness of their fiscal policies [Montana Dem- Indiana Repub] and the Montana gov. defended the union side of the uproar in Wisconsin. He shared how he has worked within the collective bargaining system and has still kept his state in good fiscal condition. I did find it ‘less than honest’ that one of the main reasons the economies of Montana’s area [Northern, central part of the country] are experiencing a sort of boon is because of- well yes- big oil! You know- that smelly disgusting man made product- O wait- I forgot- it actually is not some chemical product of man- it actually is a ‘natural resource’ yes- did you ever think about the fact that oil [unrefined] is in the same category of sand, water, air- yes- it comes from the earth- not from a factory! When we were seeing the B.P. disaster play out on screen- did you [do you now?] see it as some type of 1970’s chemical spill that used to regularly take place in our country? You know the factories used to get away with pouring their chemicals into the rivers and oceans- thanks to environmentalists action- these things have stopped. Yet when we all sat in awe, day after day, watching the B.P. oil spill [yes- it was as fixating as the present Medias obsession with Charlie Sheen] we simply ‘saw it’ as a factory type spill- not an actual natural- earth produced resource- spilling into the gulf. Now- I do understand that man had a hand in the thing- for instance it’s not natural to stick a pipe into the ocean floor and then spill millions of barrels of it into the gulf- yes that was bad- a ‘pollutant’ in the sense of it being a man caused disaster- yet the ingredient itself- oil- is a natural thing- like all other natural resources. So- in the governor’s debate- they never mentioned that the only 2 states that are not facing budget deficits are Montana and North Dakota [they sit side by side on the U.S. Canadian border]. Why? I heard a report the other day on North Dakota- it was an interesting story about the unemployment rate in the state- a little over 3 percent. The report noted how many of the towns can’t keep the shelves of the stores stocked fast enough- people are buying goods left and right- some workers are complaining that after work there are not enough women in town to go out on dates with- the male workers are outnumbering the women by huge majorities. Why? Over the last few years the oil field companies have developed a new way to dig for oil- and this new engineering [not high speed rail!] is creating thousands of jobs in digging for oil. That’s the reason for the boon- for the good fiscal condition of these 2 northern states- its creating jobs- helping our country to not be so dependent on foreign sources- and it’s natural! Yes- the refineries ‘refine’ it- but it’s still a wonderful product. It has been estimated that if we opened up the Alaskan waters for drilling- it would create around 55 thousand jobs- and the oil that we would get would replace the entire amount of oil that might be lost if Libya goes under as an oil producer. The point is we need to be responsible [yes- burning oil is not natural- from vehicles and factories and wherever, and this process does indeed cause air pollution that does contribute to global warming] we need to have policies in place that protect the environment- which is a very valuable natural resource- we don’t want to destroy our land. Yet we also want to look at the reality on the ground- our economy is simply not ready for a massive switch from oil to other products- T. Boone Pickens invested millions into wind mills, made a serious effort at the thing. He has since said it was a huge mistake- why? Because he now realizes that the country does not have the infrastructure to switch over. Some company invested millions into solar roof panels- the same thing happened- they were too expensive and many people simply did not want them. So until we get further down the road in transitioning into a society that uses clean fuels- we’re stuck with oil- you know- that wonderful, natural, earth produced good. I’d rather drill for it off our coasts, then have our kids die for it off Tripoli’s.
 ‘DID YOU SEE HOW FAST EGYPT FELL?’ God. In Exodus 19 the Lord brings the people to mount Sinai and his first instructions- before giving them the 10 commandments- is he tells them ‘You yourselves have seen what I did in Egypt- and how I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession above all people- for all the earth is mine’. Those of you following these posts- especially you guys from the ‘DAYS OF RAGE’ Facebook pages- it is interesting that these instructions were given to the people in the beginning of the 3rd month [bible calendar time] yet as I’m teaching this the 1st time around- by ‘accident’ it just so happens that today is the beginning of the 3rd month [March 1st 2011]. During the current day revolts taking place in the world- Egypt’s rapid fall was indeed a catalyst for the present day revolts. Now in this chapter God uses the reality of what happened in Egypt as an encouragement to bring the people to himself. He says ‘did you not see the quick deliverance in Egypt? Realize I’m at work in this thing- obey my voice- seek me at this time’. As of this morning Libya still hasn’t fallen- yet Gadhafi is the first leader to actually fight his revolt with arms. Many world observers are asking questions ‘has the U.S. responded right? Is Obama doing a good job’ some are calling for a no fly zone- others are wanting to air drop in humanitarian aid- all in all this is one of those decisions that both the current vice president [Biden] and secretary of state [Clinton] said they sincerely felt candidate senator Obama was not ready for. During the campaign I listened carefully to these 2 individuals sincerely make this claim- Biden would say stuff like ‘look- Barak is a good man- with lots of future potential- I do like him- but to be honest- not critical- he just is not ready for the job- he will be tested because of this and I sincerely do not feel he is ready’ the problem with politicians is after they get put on the team they change their tune- say ‘sure we said that- we are all politicians’ well now we need leaders- not a bunch of ‘bull’ [to put it mildly]. Okay- we were naïve to think that all future revolutions would go as smoothly as Egypt- Libya is a tough nut to crack. If the U.S. takes the lead- goes in and takes the man out- what message will it send? Will all the other protestors in ‘friendly’ countries take it as a sign that if things get out of hand- if they put themselves in situations where they get fired on- then we will be forced to intervene? Yes, these are all tough questions- the job of president is tough- thank God we don’t have a bunch of Harry Reid's and John Kerry’s who went around the country accusing the opposing president of being a murderer who purposely tricked us into war and who is an abysmal failure [note- I am against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan- yet the opposing party felt it their duty to speak like this in their criticism of Bush- thank God there are no Republicans who are openly saying this about Obama- behind the scenes- yes- but not in public- yet]. So the choice is tough- our European allies have all been faster and stronger in their condemnations and the present administrations excuse was ‘we had people on the ground’ but now that they’re out [ferried to the island of Malta in the Mediterranean sea] just ‘watch’. Well, I have been watching- there is nothing to see! God willing this administration will get their act together. While I do not advocate an all out invasion- yet when true humanitarian crimes are being committed- you act- remember Bosnia? Another event the Democrats used to criticize the Repub’s for ‘look- we Dem’s use force- we’re not scared’. Just wish people would do their jobs and quit comparing everything to the opposing side. It’s time to act- act.
Note- sanctions and freezing bank accounts and all these types of things are useless when dealing with a real time humanitarian crisis- a possible genocide. These other tools are not the things you use when dealing with crimes of this nature.
Okay- in this chapter [Exodus 19] we see Mount Sinai, a mountain that represents the first covenant God made with man- the 10 Commandments. In Galatians and Hebrews [chapters 5 and 12 respectively] the bible tells us that we today are at a ‘new mountain’ we have come to a heavenly city- the mountain that represents the New Covenant, called mount Zion- not a physical location any more- but a spiritual community of people- made up of all nations and races- Jews, Arabs, Muslims, everyone is welcome to enjoy the freedom and grace that this new city affords. The New Testament says this city [the church-people of God] has gates that are open all the time- that is people are ‘coming in’ and ‘going out’ 24-7. It is not bound by earthly boundaries- the shaking of nations will not affect it- yet the nations themselves will shake and fall [yes- this actual wording is used in the bible] so today we are seeing a shaking of many nations- people are afraid of radical expressions of Islam- others in the West struggle over the approach- should we quake and fear and give in to worst case scenarios ‘LOOK- THE MUSLIMS ARE TAKING OVER’. The answer is all nations and peoples are going to shake- the govts. of the world are all temporary- yes even the great old U.S. of A. At these times we find stability and freedom in the mountain of God- not Sinai- some old expression of govt. that represented bondage and pain [read Galatians chapter 5!] but we have come to mount Zion- a great assembly of people- from all nations- who are yearning for freedom from oppression- seeking justice and righteousness- rejecting the way of the sword and the gun- yes this new mountain is greater than all the mountains of the earth [Ezekiel, Daniel] and in the last days all the mountains [which represent governments in the bible] of the world will collapse- and the mountain of the Lord will be the only one left standing- flee to that mountain- fast!
Just a note to my Muslim readers- we all have prejudices we need to overcome- even while writing the above post I debated on using the biblical language of Zion. The reason is obvious. Yet in the bible the meaning, as used by the New Testament writers- is not speaking about modern Zionism [a geopolitical view of the world and the present situation in Israel/Palestine] but it speaks about a new reality- that thru Jesus Christ all nations can find peace and harmony thru him. At the end of the day the answer is not going to be found in overthrowing one human govt. for another- but the answer will ultimately be found in Gods government- which is a spiritual kingdom called the kingdom of God [read the gospel of John chapter 3].
 LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL [and maybe buy some stock in Nescafe?]
Okay- it’s been a busy news week- I haven’t really commented on the Union situation in Wisconsin and want to cover it some. First- much of the world has been in protest mode for the last year. Originally the problem was the austerity measures that Europe was trying to put in place in order to deal with their debt, and just this week we saw more riots on the streets of Greece- setting a cop on fire. The protests in Wisconsin [and spreading to Ohio and other states] are in nature the same as the European protests [though not as severe] that is the unions [teachers] are protesting the states attempts to abolish collective bargaining, except for the ability to bargain for salaries. The Europeans are mad about changes in their retirement age and stuff like that- protests that are different than what we are seeing in the Middle East and North Africa. Now- who’s right in this situation? The newly elected Republican governor[s] are trying to get rid of the Cadillac benefits plans that many of the Northern states have for their public sector employees. As a retired firefighter in the south I do not get near what retired firefighters in the North get. I have no benefits except a monthly retirement check- I’m hoping I don’t get sick- I still have 12 years to go before I am eligible for Medicare. So why do the northern retirees have better packages? Over time unions have managed to gain lots of political power- and when people run for public office- they have learned that if you want the cops and firefighters [and teachers- etc.] to support you- you promise them stuff. After a while some of the northern states simply gave away too much- and they put the cost into the future [Cadillac benefit plans] and now the chicks are coming home to roost. That’s really the nuts and bolts of the thing. Okay- are the unions/teachers bad? No. The system just got out of control and politicians worked the system by putting off the costs to a day when they would not be around anymore [Like Obama’s recent budget- not dealing at all with the debt.]. So after the recent elections lots of Republicans got in and yes indeed they do want to get rid of the system. Why? Well here's where the ‘rest of the story’ comes in. While it is true that the elimination of these rights would make it easier for states to get their budgets in order- it’s also true that these unions usually support Democratic candidates around 95 % of the time [if not 100]. So these Republicans got elected despite the unions spending all they had on keeping them from getting in. Once they got in- with new majorities in their state houses- they saw the chance to not only get rid of a system that has strapped state budgets- but also a way to finally get rid of the number 1 funding mechanism for the opposing party. So do these governors have the right to do this? Yes indeed they do- that’s part of the game. Do the Democratic senators have ‘the right’ to flee to other states? Well they have ‘the right’ but in the long run the way democracies work is you try you hardest to elect people who will support your side, and if those who don’t support your side get elected- then that’s the way the ball bounces. You might disagree with Governor Walker- and think his hard-line tactic of going for broke is too much- yet he has the right to do it. And if we as a country start walking out of the states [or Washington] because we feel that’s the only way to stop the other side from voting- well that in the long run will not work. My personal view is I think the teachers have tried to do their best to say ‘we will give up more benefits- pay more into the system- we just don’t want to lose collective bargaining’ hey- I hear you. But as a firefighter there were a few times when our city threatened to do away with our contract- we fought back [not by striking] and we won- but the reality was- if we lost- we would have lost fair and square. So ultimately if these new governors/state houses have gone Republican- and they get rid of collective bargaining- then the public sector employees simply need to regroup for the next election and try and get new people in- that’s the way Democracy works- to simply leave the state is not how democracy works [just a note- F.D.R. the father of modern entitlements- said that the public sector was no place for collective bargaining. When private workers bargain for wages and benefits- they are going up against the company they work for- in the end the owners/management and the workers come to a deal with their own money- the money the co. makes and the money the people earn. When you carry this into the state/federal arena- you are bargaining with other people’s money, tax payers. After a while- when tax payers are losing homes- making much less pay- no benefits like the public workers are getting, then these taxpayers only resource to even things out is to elect new leaders who will cut benefits. If at that point the representatives of the union’s walk off the job- then they are no longer truly representing all the people in their area- they are representing a sector that supports them- and this is not fair to all the people. Both private sector tax payers- who are footing the bill- and the union workers should have their voices heard]. I do realize that the union workers pay taxes too.
And now to the stock advice; as the tragedy unfolds in Libya, it is surreal to see the Libyan leader giving these disoriented speeches from atop a building on Green Square in Tripoli. He is telling the people ‘sing- dance- be happy- we are people of the revolution’ it truly seems like the man has lost his mind. At one point he said ‘Bin Laden is behind all this- he is spiking the Nescafe [instant coffee] with drugs’. I had a picture in my mind of Bin Laden sitting in some cave in Pakistan- eating his Pakistani Menudo and saying ‘What? I have enough worries without this other madman blaming all this on me!’ The ‘funny’ thing about these guys is we in the west have been fearing an Islamic Caliphate- we seem to think all these radicals/terrorists are plotting in unison to get us. While I’m sure they want to get us- I never realized how inept they were at even controlling their own people- I mean one tyrant blaming a terrorist for the revolt in his kingdom- and telling the world he’s spiking the Nescafe! If the company is smart- they should come out with a new slogan ‘Nescafe- the coffee that tyrants hate’ hey- that’s what I call the capitalist’s dream.