Monthly archives "December 2014"

Tis The Season

The late Eric Sevareid said, “If God had not given us Christmas, Man would have to invent it to remind us we are here for something besides our general cussedness.”   But we did not invent Christmas.  God sent His Son into the world to be our Savior.  And it is a season of joy and hope.  But our cussedness is also evident in this and every season.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and largely destroyed our Pacific Fleet with the loss of nearly 3000 American sailors, soldiers and marines.   My father had just finished high school that spring.  He and his closest friend were out hunting that Sunday morning when they heard the news on their car radio as they drove home.  My father joined the Marines the next day and his friend the Army as did millions of other young men.

There was a pall over Christmas 1963 with the death of the President in the Thanksgiving season a month earlier.  On December 14, 2012 a gunman killed twenty children at Sandy Hook Elementary and six adult staff in Newtown, CT.  On December 20, 2014, Ismaaly Brinsley shot his girl friend in Owens Mills, MD at 5:48 A.M.   At 6:35 A.M. he boarded a bus for New York City.  At 2:47 P.M. he fatally shot Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenijan Liu.  Officer Ramos was the father of two young children and Officer Liu was a newly wed.

It is part of our nature to place blame on someone or something when such tragedies and attacks occur.   Pearl Harbor was the result of Japanese Imperialism and West’s issuing an embargo on Japanese oil imports due to their aggression. Jack Kennedy was killed by a failed Communist though some still believe there was Mob or Cuban involvement.  Sandy Hook is blamed on lack of gun control.

The assassination of the police officers in New York is placed at the feet of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama due to their lack of support of police in the recent deaths of black men in MO and NYC.  But behind this and other human tragedies is a problem called sin that lurks in every human heart.  We have never liked to face this as it is so personal, but it is also reality.

Back in 1974 N.B.C. had a feature on violence in America.  It was narrated by the late author, newsman and actor, Edwin Newman, who wrote the book Strictly Speaking, Will America be the Death of English.  As the special concluded the 6’5″ Newman asked the haunting question in his noble voice, “Is there a Beast in Man?”  God’s answer is a sobering, “Yes.”   Eric Sevareid calls it, “Our general cussedness.”   God calls it sin.   And it is in all of us and has been since our original forebears, Adam and Eve.

Sin dogs us and is in our blood to the point that we seek to find another on whom to blame it.   Adam blamed Eve and God when confronted with sin saying, “The woman You gave me made me eat the forbidden fruit.”   Adam blamed Eve and God.   Eve blamed the Serpent.   Black comedian, Dick Gregory, says, “If there had been a black man in the Garden the Serpent would have blamed him.”  It is in our nature to shift blame.  So at last God says, “All right.  I will take the blame.”

The Good News of the Gospel is that God does not leave us in our sins but provides for the remission of sin through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Deists do not believe this Good News.  They see the Universe as a Great Watch that is now winding down.  The Creator of the Great Watch is at most disinterested Observer neither cheering nor booing from the sidelines.   There is a poem by Stephen Crane titled A Man Said to the Universe.  “A man said to the Universe,  ‘Sir, I exist.’  The Universe replied, ‘The fact creates in me no sense of obligation.’ ”

This is NOT the view of God.  He loves us with a perfect love, is not disinterested any more than a caring mother or father is disinterested in their children.  In the face of the problem of sin God raised up a new people, the Hebrews who were His Chosen.  And, in the fullness of time, 2000 years ago sent His Son, Jesus Christ through the Chosen to live and die for us and rise again.  He was born of woman in a humble stable in Bethlehem.   We celebrate this again at Christmas.  “There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.   An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;  he is Christ the Lord.’ ”   Luke 2: 8-11

Because of Him this is a season of great joy.   Because of Him we can deal with our “general cussedness” and be forgiven of our sins.  Because of Him there is real hope shining in any darkness.  Because of Him we can face tomorrow and all the tomorrows to come.   Merry Christmas.

Eutychus

 

Tis The Season

The late Eric Sevareid said, “If God had not given us Christmas, Man would have had to invent it to remind us that we are here for something besides our general cussedness.”   But we did not invent it.   God sent His Son into the world to be our Savior.   And it is a season of joy and hope.  But our cussedness is also evident in this and every season.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and largely destroyed our Pacific Fleet with the loss of nearly 3000 American sailors, soldiers and marines.  There was a pall over Christmas 1963 with the death of a President in the Thanksgiving season a month earlier.   On December 14, 2012 a gunman killed twenty children at Sandy Hook Elementary and six adult staff in Newtown, CT.

On December 20, 2014, Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot his girl friend in Owens Mills, MD at 5:48 A.M.  At 6:35 A.M. he boarded a bus for New York City.  At 2:47 P.M. he fatally shot Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenijan Liu.   Officer Ramos was the father of two and Officer Liu was a newly wed. It is part of our nature to place blame on someone or something when such tragedies and attacks occur.  Pearl Harbor was the result of Japanese Imperialism and the West issuing an embargo on Japanese oil due to their aggression.   Jack Kennedy was killed by a failed Communist though some still believe there was Mob or Cuban involvement.  Sandy Hook is blamed on lack of gun control.

The assassination of the officers in New York is placed at the feet of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama for their lack of support of police in the recent deaths of black men in MO and NYC. But behind this and other human tragedies is a problem called sin that lurks in every human heart.  We have never liked to face this as it is so personal but it is reality.

Back in the 1974 NBC had a feature on violence in America.  It was narrated by the late author and newsman, Edwin Newman who wrote the book Strictly Speaking, Will America be the Death of English.  As the special concluded the 6’5″ Newman asked the haunting question in his deep baritone voice, “Is there a Beast in Man?”   God’s answer is a sobering, “Yes!”  Eric Sevareid calls it “Our general cussedness.”   God calls it sin.  And it is in all of us and has been since our original forebears Adam and Eve.

But the Good News of the Gospel is that God does not leave us here.   This is the view of the Deists who see the Universe as a great watch that is now winding down and that the Creator of the watch is at most a disinterested Observer on the side lines neither cheering nor booing.    There is a poem by Stephen Crane titled, “A Man Said to the Universe.”   ‘Sir, I exist;’  The Universe replied: ‘The fact creates in me no sense of Obligation.’ This is NOT God’s view.  He loves us with a perfect love, is not disinterested anymore than a caring mother and father are disinterested in their children.

In face of the problem of sin God did not leave us orphans but raised up a new People, the Hebrews, who were His Chosen.  And in the fullness of time, 2000 years ago His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ was born of woman in a humble stable in the City of David, Bethlehem.  We celebrate this again at Christmas. “There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.   Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;  He is Christ the Lord.’ ”   Luke 2: 8-11

Because of Him this is a season of great joy, come what may.  Because of Him we can deal with “our general cussedness,” and be forgiven of our sins.   Because of Him there is real hope shining in any darkness.  Because of Him we can face tomorrow.   Merry Christmas! Eutychus

Dick Cheney & Harry Truman

Along with Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, Harry Truman is my favorite President.   He is also the first President I can remember.  In a day of handlers and poll tested, sanitized answers a plain spoken leader like the Man from Missouri is a welcome alternative.   There is another such leader today, former Vice President Dick Cheney.

On December 10, 2014, Cheney gave an extended interview to Bret Baier of FOX News.  The occasion was CA Senator Dianne Feinstein’s taking to the Senate floor to blast the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Bush Administration for what she described as torture following the 9/11/2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.  Enemy prisoners were subject to water boarding in what the CIA calls Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT) to learn the further plans of Al Qaeda to attack America and our Allies.

The former Vice President minced no words in blasting Feinstein for the damage she has done to our security and our intelligence services at home and abroad.  When asked if he would do so again, Cheney said, “In a minute and without hesitation.”  He said at the time we knew little of Al Qaeda or their plans and we had to learn fast and through EIT’s we did.  Former CIA Director, General Michael Hayden agrees with Cheney.  Leon Panetta, who later become Secretary of Defense  also had the role of Director of the CIA.  He joined Secretary of State, John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hegel, in urging Feinstein not to release the information about our EIT efforts.

Leon Panetta is respected as a non-partisan Democrat.  As a side note he was Defense Secretary during the Benghazi attack of 9/11/2012 and has information that may be revealed as that investigation goes on.   He was recently asked on KOA Radio in Denver if he planned to run for President.   He is now back on his walnut farm in CA.   He said, “Are you kidding?   I am quite happy to be back here in CA working with a different kind of nuts.” Nice to know there are a few sensible Democrats left with a sense of humor and in CA no less.

Why, then, did Senator Feinstein risk weakening the CIA and our intelligence by revealing so much to the world?  Charles Krauthammer speculates that it is pique over the fact that the CIA was aware of and was following her committee’s activities as they feared just such spilling of our secrets to our enemies.   When some colleagues at FOX said that Feinstein is not a bitter partisan, Krauthammer said, “Maybe not, but she will now be known as a woman who bears a grudge.”  This view is strengthened by that fact that when current CIA Director, John Brennan, gave a Press Conference defending the agency following Feinstein’s attacks and its efforts at protecting the nation, she tweeted sarcasm about Brennan even as he was speaking.   Senator Feinstein (known as Di Fi for short) is a smaller person and more vindictive than most suspected.

Brennan, Panetta and Hayden all indicate that we gained much valuable information through EIT’s.   There is a solid case that has been made that we were able to find and take out  Osama bin Laden because of water boarding key figures in the 9/11 attack on our homeland.   And as Vice President Cheney said, “We did not know what might be next.   We were charged with protecting the American people and we did what we had to do at that time.”   He and others have shared that a major attack on Los Angeles was prevented due to what was learned through the use of EIT’s.  And there have been other preventative strikes on our enemies that are still classified.

President Barack Obama’s approach has been different.   He does not wish to take prisoners as he wants to close our base in Cuba where many of the Islamic radicals are held.  Thus, he kills our enemies through drone strikes.  Some of those have been Americans who have gone rogue.  Those who were subject to EIT’s are still walking around and taking nourishment.   Those droned are not.   Does Di Fi speak of them?   Of course not.  She wants to concentrate on George Bush and Dick Cheney and the CIA who have protected us more than she knows.

Our own CO Senator Mark Udall wants to make a splash before he leaves in January having been defeated by Congressman Cory Gardner.   Thus, he says of the CIA and their spying, “Not on my watch.”   Udall was defeated, in part, because he has been a largely invisible and ineffective Senator.  He wishes to go out as a man taking on the CIA.  This effort only further reveals our soon to be former Senator as a small man seeking to take on giants like Dick Cheney and Michael Hayden.

If pressed to the wall and directly threatened by our enemies Al Qaeda and ISIS, I suspect that Dianne Feinstein would choose Dick Cheney and Michael Hayden to offer protection rather than Mark Udall and Barack Obama and other fellow Democrats.   So would Europe.  So would friends in the Middle East and in Asia.  “Not on my watch” is cheap talk.  And the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee chaired by Dianne Feinstein has cheapened human life at home and abroad.

There is something else that needs be noted here.  Former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, says she did not know any of this was going on.  Retiring Senator Jay Rockefeller of WV says he did not either.   But CIA records reveal that they and others were briefed on the EIT’s and were told by Pelosi and Rockefeller and other Democrats to do all that it takes to protect us after 9/11/2001.   But that was then when we did not know what might be next.   Now ten years later these individuals sing a different tune and demonstrate they have neither courage nor character.

I am grateful for men like Harry Truman who dropped an A-Bomb to end a war and to save lives on both sides and who never looked back.  One of them is my father, a WWII marine, who along with millions of other young American men, was preparing for the invasion of Japan in the summer of 1945.  I am also grateful for Dick Cheney who is cut from this same mold and who says he would do it all again to save American lives.  A strong nation is made and preserved by men like this.   They have steel in their backbones tempered by standing up to life come what may.  They stand on rock rather than sand and do not shake in the changing wind of public opinion.  God Bless them and may their tribe increase.

Eutychus

Censure President Obama?

On May 1, 1957 a 40 year old U.S. Senator named Jack Kennedy released the names of the Five Greatest U.S. Senators in our national history as chosen by a Select Committee he headed.  The future President had quipped that it was easier to select members of the Baseball Hall of Fame than the task to which his committee was charged.  Nonetheless, they chose five men from three regions of the country.   Three of them are known as The Great Triumvirate:  Henry Clay of KY, John C. Calhoun of S.C., and Daniel Webster of MA.  They served terms where all three were in the Senate together.   None of these men became President though Henry Clay sought the Office three times, Daniel Webster once, and John C. Calhoun had a stormy relationship as Vice President to Andrew Jackson.

Clay and Calhoun were Southerners and Webster a New Englander.   Two more modern Midwest Senators were selected:  Robert La Follette of WI and Robert Taft from OH.   Robert Taft, son of President William Howard Taft, sought the Republican nomination for President three times and went to the 1952 GOP Convention virtually tied with the eventual nominee, Dwight Eisenhower.

Two of these giants, Clay and Webster, were instrumental in an unprecedented and never repeated tactic of the Senate–censuring the President of the United States.  Henry Clay’s Whig Party held an eight vote Senate majority over Jackson’s Democrats.   After Andrew Jackson won re-election in 1832 he vetoed an act to re-charter the Bank of the United States.  On March 28, 1834, the Clay led Senate voted 26-20 to censure the President.

By January 1837 the Democrats regained a majority in the Senate.  Led by MO Democrat, Thomas Hart Benton, the Senate voted to expunge the censure from Jackson’s record.  The Senate Journal of 1834 was borne into the Senate Chambers and the secretary took his pen, drew black lines around the censure text, and wrote “Expunged by the order of the Senate.”   The Chamber erupted in Democrat jubilation and the expunging pen was dispatched by messenger to the White House and presented to the soon to be retired and ailing President Andrew Jackson.

Henry Clay was dressed in the deep black of a mourner and lamented:  “The Senate is no longer a place for any decent man.”   He was joined in that sentiment by fellow giants, Daniel Webster and John C. Calhoun.

Jay Cost is a gifted young writer for The Weekly Standard.  He has an article in the December 1, 2014 issue as to whether the Republicans should follow the lead of The Great Triumvirate in censuring President Barack Obama for, like Andrew Jackson, “assuming power not conferred by the Constitution.”   This was the language of the censure of President Jackson of March 1834 which followed a ten week debate that year.

The issue now is not a Bank of the United States but Executive Action on Immigration by Obama minus Congressional Action.  This came only two weeks after the November 4, 2014 midterm elections in which the President’s Democrats were trounced at every level:  nationally in the House and Senate, among the Governors and in the State Legislatures.   Unlike President Clinton who wisely moved to the center after the nation spoke against his Party in 1994 and had a modestly successful Presidency as a result, Barack Obama has moved further Left.   Obama claims to have heard from the 2/3 of the electorate who did not vote in 2014.  It is strange to claim to know what people are saying who did not say anything.   Or perhaps not when one has a “Messiah Complex” which is manifest in Barack Obama.

Here again we see a parallel with the censured Andrew Jackson.   A Whig cartoon that circulated in the 1830’s portrayed Jackson as King Andrew the First complete with crown, a tyrant’s scepter in one hand and a veto in the other, and feet trampling on the Constitution.   The Whigs in England traditionally sought to limit the power of the monarchy.   The Whigs in America saw themselves as the Party opposing the Virtual King, Andrew.

Despite his protestations of not being a King, and thus not having the power to act on his own without Congress, Barack Obama has done exactly that in terms of Immigration.   The Republicans are naturally reluctant to Impeach and defunding the government is generally blamed on them.   Thus, censure may be worth considering.   But here also they must be careful as Obama has an ally that Jackson did not.   The American Press is now totally sold out to the Democrats in general and Obama in particular.   How ever much they may be befuddled by Obama incompetence (which rivals Vice President Joe Biden for comic relief) the Press now behaves more like Pravda in the old Soviet Union than a free American Press that guards the freedom of all.

Thomas Jefferson wrote and spoke of the importance of a Free Press in protecting the liberty of all.   That is gone now which is placing us all in danger.   At the same time a good number of Americans are on to this and no longer subscribe to the mainstream journalism of CBS, NBC, ABC, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.  Fair and balanced FOX Cable out distanced all the major networks in coverage of the 2014 midterm elections and Talk Radio, principally Rush Limbaugh, draws a loyal audience of millions every day.   How much over the top Rush may sometimes be, he has his finger on the pulse of the nation perhaps like no one since Ronald Reagan.   Indeed the former President wrote Mr. Limbaugh shortly before his announcement of his crippling illness in 1995 and said that he, Rush, was now the keeper of conservatism in America.

So what should the Republicans in the new Congress do in the face of Obama’s recklessness, his trampling on the Constitution–especially with more of the same likely to come?    Pope Leo X said of Martin Luther:  “There is a wild boar in my vineyard.”   We have such running through the Oval Office right now.    What should the Republicans do?   Maybe censure.   Maybe wait for the Courts to decide suits being brought by the states led by TX.

But the best council I can give comes from Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight.”   Deuteronomy 31, Isaiah 41 and Matthew 28 all carry the Lord’s Promise “Never to leave us nor Forsake us.”

Barack Obama is a false messiah, a weak but dangerous President, an incompetent would be king.   Let us stand with the King of Kings.   He can make our paths straight and even work through leaders in Washington, D.C, share with them His Wisdom.     And we can count on Him to NEVER let us down.  Bracing and comforting is it not?   Praise God!

Eutychus