Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jesus Is Alive And Well

Jesus Christ is alive and well and living in Fort Worth, Texas!

That was an opening line of a sermon I heard in 1979.  The only difference was that I was sitting in the base chapel at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, so the chaplain said Jesus was living at the Air Force Academy instead of in Fort Worth.  Thirty-four years later I still remember him saying that.  Think it made an impression? 

Jesus has followed me around the country and the world my entire life.  I began following Him at about age 14 but He was there with me from the beginning.  Funny thing – He never got tired of moving from place to place following me around.  As long as I turned to Him for everything, he was happy to be there.  And even if I didn’t turn to Him, He was right there, waiting patiently.

Tomorrow is Easter.  Over 2000 years ago, it was the day our Lord rose from the dead after sacrificing Himself for all of mankind - taking all the sins of the world onto His shoulders and becoming the lamb slaughtered on the alter to forgive us of our sins, even today.  He did that long before He knew me but He did it for me.  And for you.  And because of Him we shall live.

“Greater love hath no man than this - that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  - John 15:13.

The Bible assures us that believing in Jesus Christ as our savior will bring us life eternal.  The death of our earthly bodies will be the beginning of our spiritual life everlasting.  The Christian celebration of Easter is our reminder of that promise and the reminder of the intense suffering and pain he endured to ensure that salvation.  No man should ever have to suffer as Jesus did, yet He did it voluntarily as the Son of God.

On this Holy day of celebration may we reflect on His sacrifice and what it means for each of us.  God came to Earth as a man to give His children eternal life.  We didn’t deserve it and we certainly don’t deserve it today.  But if we believe, if we accept His sacrifice for us, we will one day live with Him in paradise.  Imagine the stories He can tell and the answers we can get to things we’ve always wondered.  I always find it fascinating to talk to elderly people and listen to their stories.  Can you imagine having a conversation with God?

On this glorious and triumphant Easter Sunday let us all rejoice and remember - Jesus Christ is alive and well and living in (fill in your town if He’s there with you)_!!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Easter Special - A Medical Version of the Crucifixion

Thursday, March 28, 2013, is the anniversary date of our Lord's last supper and the night he was taken into custody, tortured and crucified the next day.  I try to post this every year to let people know the true suffering that Jesus Christ endured for our salvation.  It's graphic and gruesome, and I hope everyone will read and understand the text.  May God bless all of you this Easter season and allow you to understand the true meaning of the holiday.

I was in the U.S. Air Force for eight years, from June 1977 until September, 1985. My Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC), or job code, was 902 – medic. I became proficient at my duties and took extra training so I was able to function as a paramedic, working much of those eight years in the Emergency Room.

I tell these details of my life because of the article I’m going to post today. As Easter approaches I am reminded of an article I read during my Emergency Room days. I found it fascinating not only because of my medical training but also because, as a believing Christian, it gave me true insight into the actual suffering of Jesus Christ during the days just before, and up to, His crucifixion. Never had I heard such blatant, descriptive details nor the medical explanations for the things that happened to Him in those terrible (for Him) and wonderful (for us) days.

The following is a transcription of a lecture given by Dr. Keith Maxwell, an Orthopedic Surgeon in Asheville, N.C. There have been several studies and article offered by various medical experts around the world and this is but one. Mostly, of the ones I’ve read, they agree.

This article is approached from the perspective of how a physician would assess the injuries of Jesus if he were there to see the actual physical trauma He experienced. Dr. Maxwell speaks plainly, with as little medical jargon as possible. His development of this topic began to evolve one night when Dr. Maxwell, in the emergency room, thought to himself, "If they brought the Lord in here, exactly what would His physical injuries be like?"

Dr. Maxwell hopes through this article to reveal some things that will make us meditate on the actual suffering Jesus experienced in the last hours of his life. In the notes that follow are his conclusions concerning the death of Jesus based on his research, experience as a trauma physician and his understanding of scripture.

In “The Passion Of The Christ”, Mel Gibson did a tremendous job of illustrating, on film, the brutality that Jesus suffered at the hands of the Roman soldiers. However, I think you’ll agree after reading this that Gibson’s movie, as graphic as it was, didn’t come near to reality. I doubt they could do justice to the real thing.

**A warning – this article is very descriptive and graphic. It can be difficult to read if you have a weak stomach and/or a vivid imagination. It’s also a bit long but it’s well worth the read.**

You may or may not have thought of some of the things I'll point out to you tonight, but I hope I can share some things with you that will make the life and death of our Savior a little bit more precious.

By the time He was crucified, Jesus had been up about thirty-six hours without any sleep. We know from Biblical accounts that Jesus was an early riser. There are several places in the gospels where He arose early and went and prayed. We have no reason to believe He did anything other than that the day He had his last meal with his disciples. He likely arose early that morning, spent his day, and subsequently had dinner with the disciples that night - the last supper in the upper room. He was then taken prisoner in the garden of Gethsemane, was led all about the old city of Jerusalem and was tried at least twice. The next day at about daybreak He was actually hung on the cross, and hung there throughout that day. Between the time He arose and the time He actually died on the cross, a period of about thirty-six hours had passed, with no sleep or rest.

Something else you may not have thought of was how far Jesus actually walked about in the old city of Jerusalem. We know He was led about from the chief priest's house to Herod's to Pilate's during the time that He was being tried, and we know He was led all about the old city of Jerusalem. If you add it up, He walked about two and one half miles that last night. Also, as best we can ascertain from historical accounts, Jesus carried His cross about a third of a mile before He collapsed and wasn't able to carry it anymore. These are some physical exertions that added up, place stress on a person.

The next thing I want to talk about is a phenomenon called hemathidrosis. Hemathidrosis is a very rare medical phenomenon that's been reported about twelve to fourteen times in world medical literature and is only seen in people who are under tremendous stress and agony. In hemathidrosis, a person actually exudes blood from every sweat gland in their body. Each sweat gland has a small capillary that surrounds it, and in hemathidrosis, that small capillary ruptures. As it bursts, a person actually bleeds into their sweat glands. Instead of perspiring sweat, if you will, they actually perspire blood. The Bible gives an excellent description of this phenomenon, saying that the Lord's sweat became as great drops of blood. Indeed, every pore of Jesus' body oozed and drained blood.

Now, I believe that Christ was a man just as much as any one of us. But at the same time, I believe that Christ was God and knew the terrible fate that lay ahead of Him. He knew the job He had come to this earth to do, the mission He had to fulfill, and I believe the man part of Christ dreaded this agonizing death and torture that lay a few hours ahead of Him just as much as anyone of us would. We know He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, saying 'Father, if it be your will, let this cup pass from me.' But He submitted His will to his Father's. There in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was under about as much anxiety and physical stress from an emotional standpoint that a human could experience, knowing that in a few hours He would be delivered into one of the most agonizing and brutal deaths ever recorded in history.

Why didn't the Lord bleed to death if he bled out of every sweat gland in His body? If you've been to Israel, as I have, you know that this time of year you have warm days and cool nights. It was this cool night air that probably caused the Lord's damp skin, covered with sweat and blood, to chill, causing the capillaries to constrict and stop the bleeding. This same chilling in the cold night air has kept many a drunk and hoodlum who I've seen shot or stabbed and who's then lain in a ditch all night, from dying. It causes the blood vessels to constrict and causes the blood loss to be minimal. But by the time Jesus was taken by the soldiers from the garden of Gethsemane, He probably had a mixture of sweat and blood over His entire body surface. I can imagine this was some sight to behold.

Let's talk about the scourging. Scourging was such a horrible torture that Roman citizens were forbade to be scourged - only slaves and traders could be scourged. It was one of the worst punishments the Romans had to inflict on a human body. Typically, the victim was stripped completely naked and tied by his wrists to a post or wall with his back exposed. He was then whipped from the back of his arms, down his shoulders and back, across his bare buttocks, down the back of his legs and calves, all the way down to his heels by two Roman legionnaires, one on either side, alternating blows.

The historical accounts tell us that the traditional scourging consisted of thirty-nine lashes. If you can, imagine two large, strong, burly Roman legionnaires (someone that we would equate to say, a pro football player today) with a wooden handled whip about eighteen inches long that had nine leather thongs, something akin to what we would call a cat-o-nine tails. The nine leather thongs were about six to seven feet long, and at the end of each thong was some lead shot, like a sinker you'd use to go fishing. Attached to the lead shot were pieces of sheep and cattle bone. The idea of those small pieces of bone was that, as the Roman legionnaire would beat his victim, snapping his wrist would cause the weight of the metal shod to dig into the back, while the sheep/cattle bone cut the skin.

As the sheep/cattle bone lacerated the skin and actually dug in under the surface of the skin, the skilled and trained legionnaire could whip his wrist and literally lift small shards of skeletal muscle out through the skin, leaving small ribbons of muscle, about two inches long, hanging through the skin.

"When I was working on this, I looked in the cadaver lab and did some dissection, trying to figure out what one blow like this would mean to you and me. As best I could tell, and from some of the information I was able to gather from the Shroud of Turin exhibit, one lash with this whip - one thong - would make a cut about two inches long and about three quarters to an inch deep. To put that into medical terms, that's a cut that takes about twenty stitches to close. So with one lash, one swing of the whip, a total of nine lacerations could be inflicted on the victim, each laceration two inches long and three quarters to one inch deep.

With one blow, one Roman legionnaire could inflict enough wounds to take one hundred eighty stitches to close. If you multiply that times thirty-nine, those two Roman legionnaires inflicted enough lacerations to take about 2,000 stitches to close. I've seen people who've gone through the windshield of a car or wrecked a motorcycle into a barbed wire fence, and I've still never seen anyone that tattered up in any of my medical experience. This gives you an idea of the amount of the physical trauma that was inflicted upon Jesus just from the scourging.

Again you'd ask why Jesus didn't bleed to death. And again, you have to remember that this was done in the cold night air, the very thing that caused His blood vessels and capillaries to constrict and actually cause the blood loss from this beating to be minimal.

As mentioned, the idea of the lead weight was to lift the skeletal muscle out. Imagine having a cut on your skin with an inch of muscle pulled out through the cut, exposed to the night air. We see this sometimes in stab wounds or when people are stabbed with sharp objects like sticks and the muscles are pulled back through the skin. The purpose this served in the scourging was that as the victim hung on the cross in the heat of the day, birds could light on him and actually peck and pull at these pieces of muscle, just like a robin trying to pull a worm out of the ground.

Frequently, how long a person actually survived on the cross during the crucifixion was determined by how severely he was scourged. Sometimes they would beat a man nearly to death before they put him on the cross and he would only live a few hours. Most of the time, though, the scourging was intended for public humiliation and embarrassment, because it was such an inhumane method of torture.

Another thing you may not have considered.... TV has done a real injustice to trauma, depicting men in bar room fights who take blows to the face or head and jump up and beat up three or four men. I can tell you that it's really not that way in real life. If I took any one of the men here, tied his hands behind him and then let any other man of average size and build beat him in the face with his fists open and closed, I cannot begin to tell you the amount of trauma this would inflict on him.

We know that Jesus was beaten in the face and head as He was mocked. I can assure you with all confidence that by the time the Lord was crucified after His beatings, it's almost certain that both of His eyes were swollen shut and no doubt his nose was pouring blood. I can also tell you that when people are struck in the mouth with a fist, the first thing that happens is that the lower teeth come right through the lip. I've taken care of many people in the emergency room who've come in beaten up in fights with their teeth sticking through their lips, both upper and lower sides. If Jesus was tied and held and beaten in the face by these strong legionnaires, I don't think there's any doubt that His lips were tattered like paper and some of His teeth were knocked loose or maybe even knocked out. You might ask if his jaw bones were broken. Normally they would be, but not in Jesus' case; and I'll tell you why in a few minutes.

During Jesus' trials and humiliation we also know that a crown of thorns was plaited and placed on His head. In Christ's case this was done to mock Him as being King of the Jews. Some of you have been to Israel and have seen these thorns. They're about an inch and one half to two inches long, and they're as sharp as an ice pick. The custom was to take a small three or four foot long reed and slap the thorns on top of the head of the victim in order to drive the thorns into the skull. Those thorns laid upon someone's head and then tapped down with a reed were hard enough to penetrate the outer table or the outer bone of the skull. Imagine the bleeding from three or four hundred puncture wounds in the scalp and around the forehead from these thorns.

So, before Jesus' crucifixion ever begins, His face has been beaten to a pulp, no doubt His eyes were swollen shut, His nose is bloodied, and I remind you that every pore in His skin has wept and oozed blood. Every visible surface on the good Lord Jesus, I am confident, was covered and caked with dried blood. And His back and his arms and His buttocks and the back of His legs were literally torn to shreds from the scourging. This was the shape Jesus was in before they ever gave Him His cross to head out to Calvary.

Now, one of the things I take issue with from agnostics who I've heard debate this - I do not think the Lord died from shock secondary to blood loss. There is nothing that Jesus said on the cross and nothing in the description of the crucifixion in any of the gospels that gives us any idea that Jesus was in shock before He died. How do I know that? When someone is shot or hit by a car and comes to the emergency room, they're not sitting up talking to you. Their eyes are glassy, their color is pale, their blood pressure is about sixty over nothing and they're barely conscious, if conscious at all. Jesus never lost consciousness. There's nothing in the description of His trials, His scourging or His time on the cross that tells us He was incoherent mentally or lost consciousness.

Something else, physical stress - everything the Bible tells us about the life of Jesus is that He was a healthy, early thirties male who lived a rough life. He didn't have a home, He probably slept outside, and He walked everywhere He went. He was probably, as we would say, as tough as a pine knot. I think Jesus was a hardy young man, very strong and stout physically, and that there was nothing weak or puny about Him from a medical standpoint, prior to the crucifixion. As far as emotional stress, I don't think Jesus had any kind of nervous breakdown. He was certainly under stress in the garden of Gethsemane, but nothing that He said on the cross gave any indication whatsoever that He was decompensating mentally, even during His gravest hours on the cross.

I've also heard cardiac arrhythmia debated as a cause of Jesus' death. When people go into cardiac arrhythmia, if it's ventricular tachycardia or some of the other types of cardiac arrhythmia's, one of the first things that happens is that the heart, even though it beats fast or funny, doesn't function very well as a pump. When it doesn't function well as a pump, your blood pressure drops, and you lose consciousness. Again, nowhere in the gospels do we have an account where Jesus ever lost consciousness until he died.

Let's talk about the cross for just a minute. We know from Corinthian and Roman history that the crosses were usually in two parts. First, the cross bar, that from very good historical accounts can be estimated to have a weight of 125 to 150 pounds, and to be about the size of a cross tie.

Many of us have stacked or used cross ties at one time or another or have certainly seen what they look like on the railroad tracks. I want to remind you that this was a rough, unplanned, unfinished piece of wood with splinters and spikes and rough places in it, just like you would expect to see in a railroad cross tie. When the victim's final trial and condemnation had taken place, to maximize the shame and suffering, the custom was to tie the cross bar to the victim, and have him carry it through the city from his point of condemnation to his point of execution.

Part of the custom was that many times these people would be forced to stagger through the streets after being scourged and beaten, with the cross bar tied to their arms, and to add to the ultimate humiliation, the victim had to bear the cross naked. Imagine how humiliating that would be in this day and time, much less how humiliating and agonizing it must have been for Jesus.

The other part of the cross was an upright part, which is just like a post in the ground. Every major city at that time had an area outside their gates where they performed crucifixions. It was really not only a form of execution, but of entertainment as well. Many of the major cities had areas outside their walls where they would have three or four of these upright posts that were permanent fixtures. Someone condemned to crucifixion would bear the cross bar through the streets to the point of crucifixion, and once there, would be thrown onto the ground. Nails would then be driven through their hands into the cross bar. Then two forks, something similar to pitch forks, would be placed around each end of the cross bar, and they would be boosted up and the cross bar hung on top of the upright post. Once they were braced on the upright post, both feet would then be nailed to the foot piece.

The nail wounds.... The Romans practiced crucifixion for hundreds of years, and they perfected the art of pain and suffering. How could a man have spikes driven through his hands and feet and not bleed to death? The Romans figured out that if they drove the spike through a man's wrist right at the middle, they could avoid hitting any arteries or veins. If you go back and look at the Hebrew word for hand, it's inclusive from the fingertips to about where your wristwatch crosses your wrist. So the hand didn't necessarily mean the palm, and I can tell you, from having been a hand surgeon at one time and from dissecting cadavers to try to see if the muscle was strong enough to hold the body weight, it's not. You can not drive a spike through a man's palm and hang him by it without it pulling right out between his fingers. It is an accepted medical fact that the muscle in your palm is not strong enough to support your body weight.

In order to be able to drive spikes through the Lord's hands, they had to drive them through at the wrists. There, there's a very strong ligament, called the traverse carpal ligament, that's strong enough to support the body weight. The Romans figured out that if they came about where the crease in the wrist is and drove the spike through this area, they would miss the radial artery (the artery people cut when they try to kill themselves by cutting their wrist - right where the doctor takes your pulse), and they would also miss what we call the ulnar artery over on the little finger side. What they would do though, is drive the nail right through the biggest nerve in the hand, called the median nerve. If any of y'all have ever had carpal tunnel syndrome, you know how uncomfortable any inflammation or irritation to that median nerve can be.

When the median nerve is transected, it gives about the sensation of having an electric cattle prod stuck to your wrist and a constant electrical shock going through your hand, and causes the fingers to claw. In essence, the Romans devised a way they could drive a spike through a man's hand and not lose one drop of blood, while maximizing the amount of pain and suffering that man would endure.

The Romans did the same thing with the feet. They calculated where they could drive a spike through both a man's feet and not cause blood loss that would cause the victim to bleed to death. The spike would have been placed between the first and second metatarsal bones, missing the dorals pedis artery. There again, they drove the spike through the feet with no blood loss. The spike misses the artery, but does hit the plantar nerves, thereby causing that same horrible shock sensation.

Let's talk now about Jesus hanging on the cross. When hanging by their arms, as a crucifixion victim's body weight sags down, their diaphragm functions like a billows. As the diaphragm drops into the abdomen it pulls in air, so someone hanging on the cross had no difficulty whatsoever pulling air into their lungs. The tough part for people hanging on the cross was breathing out.

In order for a crucifixion victim to exhale, they would have to pull up against the spikes with their hands, and push up against the spikes with their feet. I want to remind you - here's Jesus hanging on the cross, probably naked in front of the whole city of Jerusalem. I've already described His back to you.

Every time He took a breath, that tattered, lacerated and riddled back was drug and scraped across the splinters and the rough knobs and spikes protruding from the cross. Each time He breathed out, each time He uttered a word, He would have to pull up with His arms and push up with His legs. That's why I want to remind you just how precious Jesus' words from the cross were. That's why He couldn't say more than three or four words at a time. Because when you talk, you only talk as you breathe out, not as you breathe in. Every word Jesus spoke on the cross was spoken as He was pulling up against the nails and dragging His back across the cross.

That's why what the Lord tells us - what He spoke from the cross - is very precious to me, because I know what it cost Him and how badly it hurt Him. Every time I give this talk it reminds me how He died for us and just how every word hurt and how He suffered just to give us every word. What did He say? He said, 'Behold your son." And then He said 'Behold your mother.' Jesus knew He had just about finished His job and done everything that He'd come into this world to fulfill and do. Finally, when He had done all of that He said, 'It is finished.' And when He said 'It is finished", that's the last time He pulled up with His hands and pushed up with His feet, dragging His back across the cross as He hung there naked before the city of Jerusalem in total shame and humiliation. Convicted and tortured and condemned for something of which He was not guilty.

If you go back and look at historical accounts, you find that people actually lived on the cross, crucified, for up to six days. If you can, imagine a man hanging on a cross outside the gates of a city with the birds pecking at his eyes and roosting on his head, as he hangs there naked as a spectacle for the whole city. That was the point of this. It was part of the shame and humiliation that a man hang there so people could come by for a day or two and stand and mock and jeer and shout accusations and railings and blasphemy at him. The idea was to make him suffer as much as possible. Crucifixion was never intended to kill anybody.

*Crucifixion was never intended to kill anybody.* It was only intended to make a human being suffer as much as could be inflicted upon him before killing him by breaking his legs. But I don't believe Jesus died from crucifracture or from exhaustion asphyxia either.

Crucifracture is what they would do when they simply grew tired of watching this agony and suffering or when they had something better to do and wanted to end a crucifixion. They would take a spear and swing it like a ball bat and hit the victim in the shins to break his shin bones. They'd break the tibula and the fibula bone. Many times they would have to beat the legs for five or ten minutes until they finally could break the shin bones - it takes a lot of force to break your shin bone. With the shin bone broken, the victim could no longer push up to breathe.

Why didn't they break Jesus' legs? If you go back to the Psalms - I believe the 34th chapter - it says "Not a bone of His body was broken." This is why Jesus' nose and jaws and cheekbones should have been broken but couldn't have been. The 34th chapter of Psalms wouldn't let that take place. And that's why the Roman centurion didn't break His legs, because the Bible says "Not a bone of his body was broken."

That was totally uncharacteristic of the crucifixion, because that's how crucifixion victims died. When they grew tired of you and got bored with the situation they'd break your legs and in about four to six minutes you'd smother to death, because you could no longer push up with your legs. You laid there sagging, unable to breathe out, and you were asphyxiated in about four to six minutes. That's how the two thieves died. But Jesus was dead already.

Let's go back to the 19th chapter of John. What happened? What did they do when they went to the first thief? The Roman centurion broke his legs. What did he do when he went to the second thief? He broke his legs. But when the centurion went to Jesus, the Bible says He was dead already.

Now why would a young, strapping, healthy man be dead after being on the cross for six hours? There's absolutely no medical explanation for it at all. Excuse my interpretation here, but the Lord had no business being dead. He should have been alive just like the other two. He wasn't beaten to the point of death, His blood loss was minimal and we know He wasn't in shock, because everything He told us from the cross made sense. He identified His mother standing at some distance from the foot of the cross. He was able to see enough to identify her and to identify one of the disciples. And everything He said was coherent. He was not out of His mind and He was not having a nervous breakdown, and He wasn't even in shock from blood loss. The Lord was perfectly coherent and sane up to the moment he died."

"The spear wound to the Lord's side was not the cause of his death either. When the centurion saw that Jesus was dead already, he thrust a spear into Jesus' side. The Bible says in Zachariah that they may look upon Him who they've pierced. The spear thrust was biblical prophecy fulfilled. That was one of the reasons why Jesus was already dead; God had a plan that we were to look upon the one they had pierced - Zachariah had to be fulfilled.

Roman centurions were trained killers. They were taught how to deliver death blows that would take a man's life in a matter of seconds. I've taken care of many gunshot victims to the chest. A person can take a .22 through the left side of the heart and likely come in sitting up talking to you. However, if you're stabbed or shot on the right side of the heart, where the inferior and superior vena cava are emptying into the right side of the heart, you're unconscious and pretty close to dead in about twenty to thirty seconds.

This blow to Jesus was no doubt delivered from the right side through the right lung into the heart and on into the spine. It would have penetrated somewhere between the seventh and eighth intercostal space probably on the right. But the Bible says that blood and water came out of Jesus' side after the spear was thrust in. Now if you take a unit of blood, drain it out of a human being's body, put it in a quart jar and set it on top of a desk, in about thirty minutes the red blood cells begin to settle out and the plasma rises to the top. The plasma separates from the red blood cells. When the soldier thrust the spear into the Lord's side, Jesus had already been dead for thirty or forty-five minutes. Maybe you've never thought about that. The spear wound did not take the life of the Lord Jesus; He was dead already when they thrust the spear into His side.

So let me conjecture a little about what I think. I think there's a very good description of the crucifixion in the Bible and there's very good medical evidence that can be pulled out of that description that tells us that the Lord did not die in the manner that most crucifixion victims die. When the Roman centurion went to him to break His legs, he was dead already. They couldn't break His legs because the Bible said in Psalms, "Not a bone of His body shall be broken." Why then would the soldier thrust a spear into His side? Because Zachariah told us hundreds of years before that we'd look upon Him that we'd pierced. And what came out? Blood and water - I think there's enough medical evidence there that the Lord was dead at least a half an hour.

So what took the Lord's life? No man did. No man, no Roman centurion, no cross took Jesus' life. He was able to do something I've never seen another human being do - He laid down his life. When it was finished and with a loud voice, He gave up the ghost. Jesus gave his life."

"The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life - only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." (NIV) John 10:17,18

I'm deeply blessed ... Our Lord conquers death and gives life... Amen!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Miracle That Is St. Paul's Chapel

On April 30, 1789, George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States on the second floor balcony of Federal Hall in New York City.  Immediately following the ceremony he went inside the building and delivered his first Presidential address to Congress.

Following the address, President Washington led the entire Senate and House of Representatives several blocks away to St. Paul’s Chapel where they would gather for prayer to commit the future of our nation into God’s hands.  It was recorded in the Annals of Congress as part of the first-ever joint session of Congress.  The inauguration of the newly formed United States of America began with a gathering of our elected officials before God.

In his inaugural address, Washington acknowledged God’s hand at work in the nation and asked for his blessings on the country.  “Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge.  In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either.  No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.”

In 1789, St. Paul’s Chapel, which sits between what is now Broadway and Church Street at Fulton.  The entrance in 1789 was on the Church Street side and at that time the church owned the large field that was between it and the bay.  Interestingly, that field in the early 70s became the sight of the World Trade Center.  

On September 11, 2001, when the twin towers and several other buildings were brought down by terrorists, St. Paul’s Chapel survived without so much as a broken window.  (The church’s organ was damaged by dust and smoke but has since been restored.)  It is believed that the church was protected from damage by a “miracle” sycamore tree that sat on the corner of the property between the twin towers and the church.  The tree was destroyed by debris and has since been replaced by a cedar tree which, many believe, is the modern day fulfillment of Isaiah 9:10 following the Assyrians’ attack on Israel.  In fact, some believe the attack on the World Trade Center and was a warning from God to turn away from its ungodly ways and seek God in all things, also according to Isaiah.

“The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.”  Isaiah 9:10

(Several years after the attack a cornerstone – a dressed stone - was laid in place at the base of where the new tower was to be erected.)

Whatever the reason, the very place where our first official government met to ask God’s favor on our nation miraculously survived the destruction of the World Trade Center that occurred literally in its back yard.  And it survived virtually unscathed.  One could call it a coincidence, I suppose, but I believe God’s hand protected the little chapel for a reason.  Call me crazy.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stepping On Jesus Part 2

It seems sometimes people and/or organizations do the right thing.
On Saturday, I posted an article about a student at Florida Atlantic University who was suspended from a class for refusing to participate in a class exercise in which students were instructed by the professor to write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper, put it on the floor and step on it.  Ryan Rotela, a devout Mormon, found the assignment offensive, refused to participate and later reported his concerns to the professor’s supervisor.  Later in the day he learned he had been suspended from the class and faced possible expulsion from school.

After a national outcry, FAU has issued a formal apology to Rotela saying they realize the exercise was offensive to many students and that they are “deeply sorry” for events as they happened.  Rotela will be able to finish the class with a different instructor.

“First and foremost, we are deeply sorry for any hurt regarding this incident, any insensitivity that may have been seen by the community and the greater community at large,” said Corey King, Dean of Students. “We are deeply sorry.”

In my post the other day I said I doubted an assignment like that would have been in the actual course curriculum but I may be wrong about that.  According to an article I read today, the assignment may have come straight from the book.

“Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper,” the lesson reads. “Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”

It seems to me if the professor didn’t use Rotela’s refusal to step on the paper to begin a discussion then she failed at using the lesson properly. 

King said it was obvious the lesson caused “hurt and pain” within the community and within the university’s population.

“As a result, we feel it’s necessary to no longer offer this assignment or activity,” he said. “We did not anticipate the hurt and pain it would cause in the community.

Score one for religious freedom at a university…

Monday, March 25, 2013

Truth About Benghazi....?

I got this in an e-mail the other day and while I can’t verify its author, what the article says makes sense.

This is a rare window looking into behind the scenes about Benghazi.  Sooner or later the whole truth about that tragedy will come out.

The text was supposedly written by a retired Navy Captain who lives in Hawaii.  The author's explanation and analysis of the Benghazi events seem plausible to me.  I can’t verify or deny whether or not it’s true but I believe others will find this of interest.

The Benghazi debacle boils down to a single key factor - the granting or withholding of "cross-border authority." This opinion is informed by my experience as a Navy SEAL officer who took a NavSpecWar Detachment to Beirut.

Once the alarm is sent - in this case, from the consulate in Benghazi - dozens of HQs are notified and are in the planning loop in real time, including AFRICOM and EURCOM, both located in Stuttgart, Germany. Without waiting for specific orders from Washington, they begin planning and executing rescue operations, including moving personnel, ships, and aircraft forward toward the location of the crisis. However, there is one thing they can't do without explicit orders from the president: cross an international border on a hostile mission.

That is the clear "red line" in this type of a crisis situation. No administration wants to stumble into a war because a jet jockey in hot pursuit (or a mixed-up SEAL squad in a rubber boat) strays into hostile territory. Because of this, only the president can give the order for our military to cross a nation's border without that nation's permission. For the Osama bin Laden mission, President Obama granted CBA for our forces to enter Pakistani airspace.

On the other side of the CBA coin: in order to prevent a military rescue in Benghazi, all the President of the United States "(POTUS)" has to do is not grant cross-border authority. If he does not, the entire rescue mission (already in progress) must stop in its tracks. Ships can loiter on station, but airplanes fall out of the sky, so they must be redirected to an air base (Sigonella, in Sicily) to await the POTUS decision on granting CBA. If the decision to grant CBA never comes, the besieged diplomatic outpost in Benghazi can rely only on assets already "in country" in Libya - such as the Tripoli quick reaction force, Predator drones and the Navy SEAL members already in Benghazi. These assets can be put into action on the independent authority of the acting ambassador or CIA station chief in Tripoli. They are already "in country," so CBA rules do not apply to them.

How might this process have played out in the White House? If, at the 5:00 p.m. Oval Office meeting with Defense Secretary Panetta and Vice President Biden, President Obama said about Benghazi: "I think we should not go the military action route," meaning that no CBA will be granted, then that is it. Case closed.

Another possibility is that the president might have said: "We should do what we can to help them, but no military intervention from outside of Libya." Those words then constitute "standing orders" all the way down the chain of command, via Panetta and General Dempsey to General Ham and the subordinate commanders who are already gearing up to rescue the besieged outpost. When that meeting took place, it may have seemed as if the consulate attack was over, so President Obama might have thought the situation would stabilize on its own from that point forward. If he then goes upstairs to the family quarters, or otherwise makes himself "unavailable," then his last standing orders will continue to stand until he changes them, even if he goes to sleep until the morning of September 12.

Nobody in the chain of command below President Obama can countermand his "standing orders" not to send outside military forces into Libyan air space. Nobody. Not Leon Panetta, not Hillary Clinton, not General Dempsey, and not General Ham at 7th Army Headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, who is in charge of the forces staging in Sigonella.

Perhaps the president left "no outside military intervention, no cross-border authority" standing orders, and then made himself scarce to those below him seeking further guidance, clarification, or modified orders. Or perhaps he was in the 'Situation Room'  watching the Predator videos in live time 
for all seven hours. We don't yet know where the president was hour by hour.

But this is 100 percent sure: Panetta and Dempsey would have executed a rescue mission order if the president had given those orders. And like the former SEALs in Benghazi, General Ham and all of the troops under him would have been straining forward in their harnesses, ready to go into battle to save American lives.

The execute orders would be given verbally to General Ham at AFRICOM in Stuttgart, but they would immediately be backed up in official message traffic for the official record. That is why cross-border authority is the King Arthur's Sword for understanding Benghazi. The POTUS and only the POTUS can pull out that sword.

We can be 100% certain that cross-border authority was never given. How do I know this? Because if CBA was granted and the rescue mission execute orders were handed down, irrefutable records exist today in at least a dozen involved component commands, and probably many more. No general or admiral will risk being hung out to dry for undertaking a mission-gone-wrong that the POTUS later disavows ordering, and instead blames on "loose cannons" or "rogue officers" exceeding their authority. No general or admiral will order U.S. armed forces to cross an international border on a hostile mission unless and until he is certain that the National Command Authority, in the person of the POTUS and his chain of command, has clearly and explicitly given that order: verbally at the outset, but thereafter in written orders and official messages. If they exist, they could be produced today.

When it comes to granting cross-border authority, there are no presidential mumblings or musings to paraphrase or decipher. If you hear confusion over parsed statements given as an excuse for Benghazi, then you are hearing lies. I am sure that hundreds of active-duty military officers know all about the Benghazi execute orders (or the lack thereof), and I am impatiently waiting for one of them to come forward to risk his career and pension as a whistleblower.

Leon Panetta is falling on his sword for President Obama with his absurd-on-its-face, "the U.S. military doesn't do risky things"-defense of his shameful no-rescue policy. Panetta is utterly destroying his reputation. General Dempsey joins Panetta on the same sword with his tacit agreement by silence. But why? How far does loyalty extend when it comes to covering up gross dereliction of duty by the president?

General Petraeus, however, has indirectly blown the whistle. He was probably "used" in some way early in the cover-up with the purported CIA intel link to the ohammed video, and now he feels burned. So he conclusively said, via his public affairs officer, that the stand-down order did not come from the CIA. Well - what outranks the CIA? Only the national security team at the White House. That means President Obama, and nobody else. Petraeus is naming Obama without naming him. If that is not quite as courageous as blowing a whistle, it is far better than the disgraceful behavior of Panetta and Dempsey.

We do not know the facts for certain, but we do know that the rescue mission stand-down issue revolves around the granting or withholding of cross-border authority, which belongs only to President Obama. More than one hundred gung-ho Force Recon Marines were waiting on the tarmac in Sigonella and the same at probably three other bases in southern Europe.  Sigonelal was just two hours away for the launch order that never came.  But why no CBA order never came when over 45 American lives were at stake in Benghazi at the time!

Was it because the attack of the Libyan consulate was tied neither to a video or terrorism, but a botched kidnapping of Ambassador Stevens.  That Barack Obama had arranged with the Muslim Brotherhood to kidnap the Ambassador, and through Obama's supposed affinity with the Muslim world, Obama would save the day and get the ambassador released prior to the November presidential election.

But the Muslim Brotherhood wanted something in return; their beloved Blind Sheik who was in prison for the first bombing of the World Trade Centers in New York.
The truth will be known!

Due to the attack on Benghazi, General Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa command in Stuttgart, Germany and Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette, commander of the aircraft carrier strike group USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) were both relieved of their commands for defying orders to stand down, and attempting to send US forces to the assistance of Ambassador Stevens, two former Navy SEALS and approximately 35 CIA personnel.  Both Commanders took early retirement from their branch of service.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Even RINOs Can Get It Right Once In A While....

Any of you who have read my rantings over the last 30 months or so have figured out by now that I’m not a big fan of Lindsay Graham, “Republican” Senator from South Carolina and seemingly new BFF of John McCain.  I think they’re both mostly RINOs, “Republicans In Name Only”, because of some of their views.  But last week, on Greta Van Susteren’s show, Graham said something about Benghazi that hit home and about which I agree with him.

Senator Graham made the following statement:  “If Benghazi had been a good news story (for Obama) you'd have seen the survivors by now.  The fact that we haven’t seen them says a lot about this story.”

I have said from the beginning that the survivors of the Benghazi attack should be testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Congress.  They are the ones who know what really happened, first hand.  Yet it seems they have been barred from talking about it.  Some are in hospitals under assumed names.  The others are being hidden and when Senators and Congressmen ask for their names and locations so they, the politicians, can talk to them, they are denied.  Why would that happen unless there is something to hide?

The entire Benghazi incident has been a fiasco for the Obama administration since day one.  They paraded Susan Rice on the weekend talk shows to give false information to the American people.  She ultimately lost her chance of becoming Secretary of State because she was set up to take the fall.  I truly hope she got something worthwhile out of it.  (In the Clinton administration she’d have probably been dead by now.  Just sayin’….)

The Obama administration has yet to answer questions about Benghazi.  Investigations have shown that the entire incident was not only handled badly by the administration but it could also include weapons being supplied to rebel forces by the United States.  And gee…  that would be a good reason for a cover-up, would it not?

Has the President ever acknowledged publicly that Benghazi was a terrorist attack?  He blamed the video for so long – even after the rest of the world (including his own administration) knew the truth and talked openly about it.  I’m not sure I ever heard Obama “Of course it was a terrorist attack.”  It could be that I simply missed it but I don’t think I’ve heard him say it out loud.
One thing I will give Lindsay Graham credit for is for his doggedness on the Benghazi issue.  He hasn’t given up trying to get answers from the administration.  Even after Hillary Clinton, testifying as the Secretary of State, said “What difference does it make at this point?”  I hope people remember that question when she starts her campaign in 2015.  But she’s Hillary Clinton.  She’ll probably get a pass.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Stepping On Jesus...

A junior at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, says he was unfairly suspended from an Intercultural Communications class for refusing to participate in a class exercise in which the professor told each student to write “Jesus” on a piece of paper, put it on the floor and step on it.

The student, a deeply religious Mormon, said he was insulted by the assignment and picked the paper up and placed it on the table.  “Anytime you step on something it shows that you believe that something has no value.  So if you were to step on the word Jesus, it says that the word has no value,” the student told CBS News.  His religious beliefs would not allow him to participate in the exercise.  He also said he was not disrespectful to the professor in any way but told her he was offended by the exercise and refused to participate.

The student said he voiced his concerns to the professor’s supervisor and later learned he had been suspended from the class.  Sounds to me like that may not be a bad thing.

FAU said that the professor “was conducting a classroom exercise from a textbook entitled “Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition” and released this statement to CBS:  ”Faculty and students at academic institutions pursue knowledge and engage in open discourse.  While at times the topics discussed may be sensitive, a university environment is a venue for such dialogue and debate.”

While that statement is true, isn’t the student’s refusal not to step on Jesus a part of that open discourse and debate?  It seems to me the professor should have used his refusal to participate to begin the dialogue rather than suspend him from the class.

The school has not said whether or not the professor will face any disciplinary action but I don’t think there should be.  Her idea for a class exercise is her own, whether or not other people agree with her.  (I can’t imagine the textbook spells out that specific exercise.  I guess I could be wrong.)  But with a controversial topic such as this she should absolutely allow those who disagree to not only decline participation but to voice their opposition freely.  Isn’t that what discussion is all about?  If not then it’s not discussion – it’s dictating.

What needs to happen now is the student should be readmitted to the class (if he wants to be), and the professor needs to apologize to him.  If she’s truly trying to open dialogue she needs to allow disagreement and even dissent.  If she doesn’t she’s not following a teaching curriculum – she’s following her own agenda.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Raising A Generation Of Pansies

No, I'm not talking about flowers.  I wish I was.

On the radio yesterday I heard a story about a middle school in Ipswich, Massachusetts that is cancelling a traditional evening event where students are honored for exceptional performance during the school year.  The reason given, according to the radio story, was that the special event is only for honor students and their families and that the rest of the student body is not invited.  The principal says that the majority of students who are not invited can feel badly about themselves because they aren’t getting an award.

Parents of the honor students are upset and disappointed because their children worked hard for the honors and won’t have a special event for it.  As I listened to the story I was inclined to agree.  As I read an article about it this morning I began changing my mind.

"The honors night, which can be a great sense of pride for the recipients' families, can also be devastating to a child who has worked extremely hard in a difficult class but who, despite growth, has not been able to maintain a high grade point average," Principal David Fabrizio wrote in a letter to the parents.

I completely disagree with this way of thinking.  Children need to learn how to deal with disappointment and the fact that they may or may not live up to the same level of achievement as someone else.  Many children’s sports programs are going to the “no winner, no loser” concept to “protect children’s self-esteem.”  They don’t want the team that loses to feel that loss (and learn to deal with disappointment) so they don’t keep score and make them all winners no matter how badly some play.  Then they give the same award/trophy to all the kids and don’t make any effort to reward the more accomplished ones.  It’s ridiculous.  How does a kid ever learn to deal with losing and move on if he’s not allowed to lose?  It’s a ball game, for God’s sake.

What they left out of the radio story that was included in the printed article was this:  "We took it from an exclusive nighttime ceremony where only honors students were invited and rolled it into our end-of-the-year assembly," Fabrizio said. "That way, everybody can celebrate their and their peers' achievements.

"Now see – this I can agree with, although I don’t understand how he thinks giving honors to students in their own private celebration will somehow be more devastating to that child (who worked hard but didn’t quite get there) than it will be when that same child actually watches others get the awards and he/she doesn’t get one.  I believe that's how it should be - honor the outstanding achievers in front of their peers, not to make their peers feel badly but to inspire their peers to try harder so next time they get the award.  And yes, there will always be some who can't do it.  But regardless of what some people want you to believe, life has never been and will never be fair.  Maybe the Principal is simply going to give honors to all of the kids to protect their fragile self-esteems and make them all feel better about themselves.

When did children’s egos get so fragile that they can’t be allowed to lose a baseball game?  Children are the most resilient of all humans.  We are raising a generation of pansies who will never make it in the real world because they won’t learn at an early age how to deal with frustration and failure.  Then, when they fail at something as adults, they’ll be devastated.  I guess anyone interested in Psychology has a great future in this country.  Of course, professional sports teams will be losing big money because without competition in their younger years there will be less kids interested in playing sports as adults.  That, in and of itself, may not be a bad thing.  But that's a topic for another day....

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Federal Employees Owe Over $1 Billion In Back Taxes....??

Being a retired federal employee, who was told from Day 1 of employment that if I failed to pay my just debts (including my taxes) I risked losing my job, it really irritates me to know how many current federal employees aren’t paying their taxes.  According to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, there are over 100,000 federal employees who owe over $1 billion in taxes for 2012.  In addition, employees of the House and Senate currently owe over $10 million.  And while records of our elected officials’ (and appointed officials’) back taxes aren’t easy to find, they are out there.  Charlie Rangel had tax problems a couple of years ago.  As did Tom Daschle and our former Treasury Secretary, Tim “Turbo Tax” Geithner.  The only one it really hurt was Daschle.

As I said – I was told from Day 1 that if I didn’t pay my debts, including my taxes, I could lose my job.  Of course, working in a prison, a debt could easily be a liability that could lead to being compromised.  But it was more than that.  It was about integrity.  And it should be that way for all federal employees who are working for the people and being paid by the people.

Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R), Utah, has introduced the Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act, which basically says if you’re a federal employee and don’t pay your taxes you can be fired.  (According to what I’ve read, the only federal agency who has that specific rule at the present time is the IRS.  In law enforcement it falls under “just debts” and doesn’t specifically say “taxes”.)  In a TV interview last night Congressman Chaffetz said “If someone is actively working to pay their back taxes this won’t affect them.  But if they’re not they will be fired.” 

And rightly so, in my humble opinion.

Chaffetz went on.  "The very least an individual on the federal payroll can do is pay their taxes," he said in a news release. "If you are thumbing your nose up at the American taxpayer by not paying your taxes, you should be fired or not awarded a federal contract."

The bill would require individuals applying for federal employment to "submit certification that such person does not have any seriously delinquent tax debt."

I say it’s about time.  Anyone who is being paid by the American people (about half of us, at least) should be required to maintain their tax status current or risk losing their position of public trust.  Sure, anyone can get behind due to a little mismanagement and/or not having the correct withholding amount on your W-4.  But if you have the government take the right amount from the beginning you never have to worry about it.  So I really don’t understand how there could be so many people owing so much money.  How does that happen?

Maybe I sound cold hearted about this, wanting federal employees to lose their jobs.  But I expect all federal employees to live up to the same standards that were required of me, particularly if I pay their salaries.  If I no longer paid taxes maybe I wouldn’t worry about it.  No, that’s not true.  We’re talking $1 billion in funds which could easily pay the bill for starting the White House tours up again, or keep a multitude of federal employees from being furloughed.  And they’ll probably save over $1 million more if they fire the 100,000 who aren’t paying those taxes.  Then they can go after them anyway.

Bottom line – if you’re going to accept a position of trust with the government then you have a responsibility to follow the laws of the land.  You have that same responsibility regardless of where you work but federal employees are supposed to be honest and have integrity.  It’s part of every federal position.  Is it too much to ask that it be enforced for all? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ICE Director Hammered in Congress While Harry Reid Says Something Stupid... Again

In the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, Congressman Trey Gowdy, (R), South Carolina, grilled ICE Director John Morton and some other DHS officials about the release of about 2600 illegal aliens from detention including several Level 1 offenders, who are classified as aggravated felons.  Gowdy, a former prosecutor, pointed out how inexpensive the actual detention costs were, at about $600 a day for all of those released.  He demanded to know why ICE didn’t try to save money elsewhere to avoid putting the general public at risk. 

Director Morton took offense to one of Gowdy’s statements and tried to correct it (to his own way of thinking) to which Gowdy responded “You can use your own time to talk about that but not mine.  Answer my question.”  Clearly Congressman Gowdy was upset at the actions of ICE, which ICE blames on sequestration cuts, even though most of those releases happened before the sequestration took effect.

In a news report last evening Congressman Gowdy stated that ICE received more funding from Congress in their 2013 budget than they had requested to run the agency for the year.  Then, when the sequestration cut 2.4% from that already oversized budget, they released 2600 detainees blaming the sequestration cuts.

The actions of ICE in this matter are merely more evidence that the Obama administration is trying to make the impact of the sequestration as painful and draw as much adverse attention as possible.  There is e-mail evidence that this is the intention.  Unfortunately for the President – the American public is not blaming solely Republicans for the problems.  They’re blaming Congress in general.  Unfortunately for the American people – they’re not blaming the President, who is as much at fault as anyone.

In other news, Harry Reid made a speech yesterday that insinuated the deaths of 8 Marines in Northern Nevada Monday night by a prematurely exploding mortar round was because of cuts in training due to the sequestration.  He didn’t come right out and say it.  Instead he indicated that this type of thing could become more frequent due to the sequestration cuts.  The last major statement Harry Reid made was that Mitt Romney hasn’t paid taxes in over 10 years – which was also nonsense. 

Several times a year Harry Reid has to say something really stupid for reasons known only to him.  Sadly, the people of Nevada continue to re-elect him.  Maybe it’s something in the water.  Reid is an idiot, straight up.  I will never understand how he became a Senator in the first place, let alone gets re-elected.  But people in California keep re-electing Nancy Pelosi too.  So there you go.

I’m truly glad I’m not a liberal or a Democrat voter because I would be very embarrassed by the people in office today.  Certainly there are Republicans who embarrass me…  (Lindsay Graham comes to mind), and I criticize them as well.  But give me a good conservative anytime.  At least most of them still exhibit some common sense.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

When Doom And Gloom Doesn't Work - Make Jokes

“If you have chairs, please…. sit down. I’m sorry.  I thought maybe it was the result of the sequestration - you didn’t have chairs.”

Those words were the President’s the other day in Argonne, Illinois as he delivered a speech on clean energy (one of his dramatically failed policies.)  The President was making jokes about the sequester.

Just a week and a half ago he was telling all of us that the sequester was nearly the end of the world.  He spent days telling us that firefighters, police and even teachers would be laid off.  He said the borders would be less safe because agents would have their hours cut.  And he said that U.S. Attorneys would have to dismiss cases and release criminals.  What he didn’t say (but what actually happened) was that ICE released several thousand illegal Democrat…  I mean aliens, citing sequester cuts – before the sequester even happened!

Then, when the sequester did happen and the world as we know it didn’t come to an end, he said “We can work through it.”  Interesting, huh?  Now, when the President didn’t get his new tax increases and the Republicans didn’t cave in to him, we can work through it.

And now his exaggeration of the impact has become apparent and there is evidence to show he and his cabinet are working to make it as painful as possible for the average American to turn the people against the Republicans, he’s making jokes about it to try to steer public opinion away from his failures.  And sadly, for most liberals, it’s working.

In keeping with his liberal beliefs, the President does not believe in fiscal conservatism or spending cuts.  His actions and statements indicate he truly does not care about the national debt or deficit which, if unchecked, will bankrupt the USA in a few years.  His debt right now is projected by the CBO to be over $20 trillion by 2016.  Can we afford four more years?

President Obama has stated more than once in the last few weeks that we “do not have a spending problem.”  He’s correct.  We don’t have a spending problem.  Our government is really good at spending and borrowing and spending more.  So it’s not a problem.  Except for our children and grandchildren who will have to either pay back the debt or see their nation fall into poverty and failure.  But Obama won’t be President by then… unless he decides to declare martial law and take over the country, as has been hinted.  Of course, liberals said that about George W. Bush too.  And that didn’t happen.  In fact, Bush has been far more gracious and respectful of Obama than Obama has been to him.  I guess that shows you the difference in class and character between the two.

Jay Carney was recently asked by one brave reporter in the White House Press Corps (he’s probably gone by now) if Obama was going to cut back on tax-payer funded vacations since the American people have seen their household income drop and have had to cut back on vacations, food, luxury items, etc.  Carney’s response was “The President has made jobs and the economy his number one priority.”  He talked for about two minutes and didn’t say anything more than that.  And he never did answer the question.  Apparently the President does enjoy the “It’s good to be the king” philosophy.  Golf lessons with Tiger Woods while his family goes to Aspen certainly indicates that sentiment.

Now, I know some of you will say “The President deserves his vacations.  He works hard under a lot of stress.”  And you know what?  I’d agree with you.  I too believe he deserves vacations.  But his last vacation involved him going to Florida to play golf with Tiger Woods and his family going to Aspen to ski – both of which cost the taxpayers millions of dollars.  He has invited several celebrities (including Beyonce) to the White House for Michelle’s birthday celebration.  Again – I have no problem with that – as long as I’m not paying for it.  If he’s spending taxpayer money for it then I object.  But if the White House can’t afford to pay a few tour guides how can they afford to pay for the extra security for Michelle’s big bash?

Not that my objection would make a difference.  The President does what he wants.  George W. Bush took vacations.  He went to his ranch in Texas.  The cost was less than half what the Obama’s pay for their vacations to Hawaii, Martha’s Vineyard, etc.  Bush even quit playing golf because he felt it wasn’t right for him to be on the golf course while our soldiers were dying on the battlefield.  And even after the sequester, President Obama not only keeps playing golf and taking those expensive vacations.  I guess it’s true… it’s good to be the king.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Taking This Medication Could Cause....

I like to listen to the disclaimers during drug advertisements on TV to hear the risks of taking a particular medication.  Most will go through a line of various ailments or conditions that can be brought on by taking the medication.  I particularly like the ones that say “Some deaths have been associated with taking this medication.”  That really instills confidence in the person who may be interested in taking it, right?

Last night I heard one that caught my attention.  I can’t remember which drug it is but the disclaimer is “If you experience mood changes, rage, depression or suicidal thoughts while taking or after stopping this medication consult your doctor.”  Great.  Not only can you experience these symptoms while taking the medication but you can also experience them after you stop taking it.  Maybe they should say “If you take this medication there is a chance you could experience side effects that last for the rest of your life.”

Several years ago companies were making diet pills and fat burners and various other weight loss supplements designed to block fat from foods from being absorbed into your body.  These were the ones that said you could “eat anything you want and still lose weight.”  I remember one of the disclaimers that said “This product may cause gas with oily discharge.”  In other words, this could cause you to fart and mess up your pants.  But you’ll lose weight.  Now who wouldn’t want to take that pill??!

I’m not sure what caused drug companies to start putting disclaimers in their commercials but I’m guessing it has something to do with a lawsuit.  Every day you see more and more advertisements from attorneys’ offices saying “If you take (or took) this drug you may be eligible for damages.”  One law firm’s number is 1-800-BAD-DRUG.  They make their entire business about suing drug companies.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not an advocate for pharmaceutical companies.  I think what they charge for some medications is outrageous.  They are, however, in business not to be the saviors of all the sick people in the world but to make money.  Saving sick people is a lucrative business and I don’t begrudge them their profits.  Let’s not forget that a large portion of those profits goes to research that has brought us more cancer fighting, AIDS fighting, leukemia fighting drugs, etc. 

Anyway – I got off track.  Just about every product advertised on TV these days has some type of disclaimer attached to it.  Exercise equipment tells you not to begin using their product without approval from your doctor.  Why?  They don’t want to get sued if you have a heart attack while using their equipment.  But hey – at least it doesn’t say you could have a heart attack while using or after stopping use of their product!  Of course, once they get sued after someone has a heart attack AFTER they walk half an hour on the treadmill that will happen.

I won’t even mention the “tags for stupid people” they now put on small appliances and electronic devices.  You know – the one on your hair dryer that says “Do not immerse in water.”  Those tags are a subject for another day.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Presidential Luncheon That Really Wasn't....

Last night I watched a report about President Obama’s food taster.  That’s correct – his food taster. Apparently, Senator Susan Collins, (R), of Maine, hosted a hill luncheon for President Obama but the President didn’t eat anything.  Collins spoke of it later:

“University of Maine recipe for healthy lobster salad — I pointed that out to the president in keeping with the first lady’s initiatives, and Fox Family Potato Chips made in Aroostook County where I’m from, and wild blueberry pie full of anti-oxidants.  See this was a healthy lunch as well. We did have a little ice cream on the pie too, also made in Maine, Gifford’s Ice Cream.  So in all seriousness this was well received,” Collins told reporters on Thursday after the meeting at the Capitol.

“Unfortunately, you know, the president can’t,” said Collins when asked if Obama ate at the lunch meeting.
“He looked longingly at it,” Collins continued. “He honestly did look longingly at it, but apparently he has to have essentially a taster, and I pointed out to him that we were all tasters for him, that if the food had been poisoned all of us would have keeled over so…  But he did look longingly at it and he remarked that we have far better food than the Democrats do.  And I said that was because I was hosting.”

Really?  The President has a food taster?  Is this something that all U.S. Presidents do or just him?  An article I read about it says the Secret Service will not confirm or deny that the President of the United States has a food taster.  If it’s something they all do then hey – who am I to question it?  If it’s something unique to this President then I would wonder why he thinks it’s necessary.  Especially for food served to all of the Senators.

The President ate at the luncheon served after his inauguration.  It was on national television.  And that meal was also served in the Capitol building.  So what was the difference between this luncheon and that one?  Was it because it was hosted by a Republican, perhaps?  Or did the taster take care of his duties while the President was giving his inaugural address?  Why wasn’t he there for this one?  Is he a furlough victim of the sequester, maybe?

I have other questions as well.  First…  how long do you have to wait after someone tastes your food to be sure it’s safe?  A few minutes?  An hour?  A couple of days?  Poison only works immediately in the movies.  OK – I could be wrong about that.  I guess there could be something out there that is instantaneous.  So how long does he have to wait?

Second…  and equally important – is this job a Presidential appointment, a General Schedule job or what?  What does it pay?  Does the taster get hazardous duty pay on top of his salary?  Or would it simply be the luck of the draw for some unlucky Secret Service agent?  I can hear him telling his wife….  “Baby – for the next three months my life will truly be in danger.  I’ve got Food Taster duties this quarter.” 

I don’t really begrudge President Obama having a food taster, if this story is true.  God knows there are enough people in this world who would want to harm him or see him harmed.  I am not one of those.  I believe the repercussions from someone hurting or killing the President would be devastating to the country.  So even though I disagree with him politically on just about everything, I don’t want anyone to do anything to him. 

Again, I can’t help but wonder if all Presidents have had food tasters.  I’ve never read or heard anything about it and you’d think it would come out sooner or later.  Maybe it just did.  And maybe Mel Brooks was wrong.  When you have to pass up fresh Maine lobster salad - maybe it's not so good to be the king.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Question Dianne Feinstein? How Dare You!

A couple of days ago, during one of her anti-gun hearings, Dianne Feinstein got angry at freshman Senator Ted Cruz for questioning her using factual information from the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Senator Cruz asked her if the second amendment could be regulated to allow some guns but not all, could the first and fourth amendment also be modified according to the will of Congress.  Senator Cruz was not disrespectful, nor did he belittle Senator Feinstein in any way.  His questions were as follows:

“The question that I would pose to the senior Senator from California is:  Would she deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights for Congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing with the Second Amendment in the context of the First or Fourth Amendment? Namely, would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?

“Likewise, would she think that the Fourth Amendment’s protection against searches and seizures could properly apply only to the following specified individuals and not to the individuals that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?”

Senator Feinstein took immediate offense to Cruz’s questions and made herself look petty.  Rather than answer the questions posed, she became condescending and arrogant, trying to treat Senator Cruz like a young school boy.  Because of her age and experience in politics she apparently believes she is above questioning.  It appeared that since she did not have an intelligent answer to Senator Cruz’s questions she attacked him.

“I’m not a sixth grader,” said responded. “Senator, I’ve been on this committee for 20 years. I was a mayor for nine years. I walked in, I saw people shot. I’ve looked at bodies that have been shot with these weapons. I’ve seen the bullets that implode. In Sandy Hook, youngsters were dismembered. Look, there are other weapons.”

“I’ve been up — I’m not a lawyer, but after 20 years I’ve been up close and personal to the Constitution. I have great respect for it.  This doesn’t mean weapons of war and the Heller decision clearly points out three exceptions, two of which are pertinent here.”

“And so I — you know, it’s fine you want to lecture me on the Constitution. I appreciate it.  Just know I’ve been here for a long time.  I’ve passed on a number of bills.  I’ve studied the Constitution myself. I am reasonably well educated, and I thank you for the lecture,” she added.

Feinstein later was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer and said Cruz was patronizing and arrogant toward her – something I certainly didn’t see.  I’m sure it bothered a woman of her stature to be directly questioned by a freshman Senator, even if that freshman Senator happens to be an accomplished attorney who has argued cases before the Supreme Court of the United States and knows the law very well. 

Of course, liberals think Feinstein’s answer was not only a good one but that she put Cruz in his place.  Unfortunately for them, Senator Feinstein knew she was wrong and apologized later to Cruz, saying he had gotten her dander up. 

Feinstein reminded me of John McCain and Lindsey Graham ranting about Rand Paul’s filibuster over the drone program.  McCain, another dinosaur in the Senate, chastised the freshman Senator in a statement that clearly said “You don’t have enough time here to be doing something like that, kid.  Leave that to those of us with more experience.”

I would offer this warning to some of the old dinosaurs in both houses.  There are new, young, intelligent and knowledgeable conservatives up and coming in the Republican Party.  They are not afraid or intimidated by you.  They’ve done their homework and they know how to connect with the American people.  And they were elected to turn the Republican party around and get it back on track with conservative values and principles.  So rather than criticize them, my advice would be to pay attention and join them.  Otherwise some of you dinosaurs might become extinct in Washington.  Just sayin’…

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Who Is More Important - The Kids Or The Pedophile?

I have watched with interest the campaign in which Bill O’Reilly is engaged to get “Jessica’s Law” passed, in some form, in all 50 states.  Jessica’s Law, named after little Jessica Lunsford, who was abducted, sexually assaulted and murdered in Florida by John Couey, a previously convicted sex offender, is designed to give mandatory minimum sentences of 25 years to people who sexually assault children.  Sexual assault and murder of children is one of the most vile and disgusting crimes committed in the United States and I fully support the law, as does O’Reilly.  

Recently, the focus has been on the state of Colorado.  The bill has been introduced but the House Speaker, Mark Ferrandino, has refused to allow the bill to come to the floor for a vote.  For whatever reason, Mr. Ferrandino has decided Colorado doesn’t need stiffer penalties for these types of crimes, even though they have a long record of being very lenient, i.e., giving someone a two year sentence for raping a child.  Even without knowing all the circumstances, that’s a pretty pathetic sentence for someone convicted of child rape.

O’Reilly was attacked recently by an editor of the Denver Post for describing Ferrandino as an openly gay man who supports gay marriage and supported legalizing marijuana.  O’Reilly says he was merely describing Ferrandino the way other articles describe him and was alluding to the fact that Ferrandino’s priorities seem to be a bit skewed given the fact that Jessica’s law is about protecting children.  In an op-ed by Curtis Hubbard, the editorial director of the Post, O’Reilly was judged to be a bigot and accused of using code words to call Ferrandino a perverted pedophile.  The accusation was ridiculous but that’s not the point of my post.

I mention this article because when O’Reilly asked Hubbard his opinion about Jessica’s law, Mr. Hubbard replied that Colorado has a very unique sentence of “lifetime probation”.  He said that was in addition to the prison sentence.  I thought about that for a few minutes.  Lifetime probation – after doing a couple of years for sexually assaulting a child (or even an adult, who knows?)  You can bet that a pedophile will be afraid to assault another child because he’s on probation for life.  Right?  It’s got to make sexual assault victims feel really safe to know that they guy who raped them is on the street but on probation.  Yup.

Child rapists in Colorado seem to be getting an average of three to seven years.  And Mark Ferrandino says the laws in Colorado are sufficient and that child sexual predators are treated appropriately.  Sorry, but I must disagree.

I would like to see Colorado pass some sort of legislation that gives much stiffer sentences to people who prey on children.  It’s a topic that should have easily been more important than legalizing marijuana or same-sex marriage.  If Colorado wants to deal with those issues (the marijuana issue already being settled) that’s OK.  They’re entitled to do that in their state.  But when things like that take precedence over protecting the children of Colorado there’s a problem.  Democrats are always screaming “It’s for the children…!”  But not in this case, it seems.

"Republicans Want Dirty Air and Dirty Water and Hate The Elderly And Disabled Children" Blah, Blah, Blah...

On March 12, 2013, in an interview with George Stephanopouulos, President Obama reacted to Paul Ryan’s proposed budget, not in a surprising way.  The President said Ryan’s budget would “be on the backs of the poor, the elderly and families with disabled children.”  Really, Mr. President?  Is that the best you can do - the same old rhetoric?

Frankly, I’m disgusted with President Obama these days.  I've never been a big fan of his politics - that's no secret.  But as his poll numbers once again fall he is again resorting to petty attacks on Republicans and can’t even remain professional and honest in his rhetoric against those who oppose him.  His supporters should be ashamed of him. Ryan’s budget was the best thing we’ve seen out of Washington in years.  And Obama knows absolutely nothing about budgets and running a country – even with 4 years experience.

President Obama has been using his attack tactics against the Republicans for almost a year now.  Sadly, most of the things he has said are smears, outright lies and Democrat talking points that have no substance.  He has stated more than once that “Republicans want dirty air and dirty water” and that they force people to choose “between poor kids and disabled kids.”  All of these talking points are lies and beneath the integrity of the office of the President.  But President Obama really doesn’t care about the dignity of the office except for the large expense account and travel benefits of that office.  I truly believe that Obama lives by the quotation from Mel Brooks’ “It’s good to be the king”, from “History of the World, Part 1.”  I keep waiting for him to call out “Oh, Piss Boy…”  He’s a Chicago political thug who made it big.  And it shows.

I would have some respect for President Obama if he showed any concern for the American people.  But honestly, the only concern I’ve seen from him is for himself and his re-election – even now, when he’s not eligible for re-election.  He’s still in campaign mode – worried about his popularity numbers.  Instead of digging in and working to fix the problems in the USA, many of them caused by him, he works to raise and/or maintain his popularity and blames every bad thing in the country on someone else.  It’s shameful.

Many of his followers continue to echo Obama’s statements, blaming the Republicans, and even George W. Bush for our current problems – even though Obama is in his fifth year in office.  When is this man ever going to take responsibility for anything except Obamacare and Bin Laden’s death?  He won’t even take responsibility for his inaction in the Benghazi fiasco.  People died and Obama lied.

They say that “only children” learn early to blame other people for things because they don’t have brothers and sisters that can take suspicion away from them if they do something wrong.  President Obama exemplifies that and maybe that’s a part of it that he can’t help.  He lies to the American people on a regular basis – saying one thing one day then denying he ever said it the next.  And even with video evidence, those who worship him will echo his words, regardless of how dishonest they are.  It’s quite an amazing phenomenon.

It appears the Democrats might actually propose a budget this year, as required by law.  The President says he will propose one but yesterday he postponed that until April.  (The last time he proposed a budget it was rejected by his own party.)  The Senate hasn’t passed a budget in the first four years of Obama’s presidency but maybe this year will be different.  I’m thinking they are getting tired of being attacked for it because it makes them look bad.  Then again, Harry Reid doesn’t much care how he looks.  He certainly didn’t care how foolish he looked when he got on national television and stated, matter of factly, that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid any taxes in ten years.  It seems Harry has no scruples or sense of honesty.  He’s perfect for this administration. 

The other day Nancy Pelosi went on television and said that President Obama has been the most bipartisan President in history.  Really?  That same President who says Republicans want dirty air and water, want old people to die and want to cut any and all benefits for poor and disabled children is the most bipartisan President in history?  Whatever Nancy’s smoking….  I want no part of.  It makes you stupid.

I hope in the next year more and more people wake up and smell what Obama has been cooking.  We need a Republican sweep of the elections in 2014 to set up a Republican win in 2016.  It’s the only chance we have to avoid a complete fiscal meltdown of the country.  Obama has us on the road to be Greece.  He keeps claiming to have cut the debt by over $2 trillion but his projected debt by the time he leaves office in 2017 is currently at $20 trillion.  And he doesn’t seem to care at all.  Obamacare, which he guaranteed would cost only $988 billion, has been re-evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office who found that it will cost at least $2 trillion to implement.  Their original estimate was over $1 trillion but after a private meeting with Obama, the head of the CBO lowered his estimate.  Now that estimate is twice as high as the original.  Tell you anything?

Let’s all pray for fiscal sanity and that the President will develop an actual love for the country and what’s best for her people.  If he truly loves America, as some of his followers believe, he certainly isn’t proving it on a regular basis….