Archive for November, 2013

Hail Caesar

November 30, 2013

Last week, Forbes ran an opinion piece which called for impeaching President Obama on the grounds that a president with such contempt for the constitution and the rule of law ought not to remain unpunished. As if to confirm the point, when President Obama traveled to San Fransisco recently, he was met by protesters who demanded that he stop abiding by the constitution and make laws by decree, or executive order. Zombie, the last sane person in San Fransisco, reported on this at PJMedia.

When Obama’s motorcade rocketed around San Francisco on Monday, very few locals even noticed his presence, and fewer still cared. The crowds awaiting him at each presidential fundraiser were by far the smallest I’d seen in over five years of covering his visits here. Ticket sales to at least one of the events were so sluggish that prices had to be lowered to fill the empty seats. Out in the street, rubberneckers and protesters had dwindled to the bare minimum. This is what happens when a hero disappoints: you don’t turn on him in anger, but rather just tune him out and move on to other interests.

Yet even with the small turnout, there was a theme amongst Obama’s protesters/supporters (supportesters?): They didn’t want him to change his political agenda — instead, they demanded that he assume dictatorial powers so that he could finally implement the radical plans with which they already agree. The message of the day was: Stop dilly-dallying around, Mr. President: Ignore the Constitution and just make The Revolution happen, as you promised!

That message would be disturbing enough all on its own, but it becomes much more disturbing when you suspect (as I do) that many of these pro-totalitarian protesters were astroturfed. In other words: Is the White House scripting/encouraging/guiding protesters on the left to beg him to become a dictator? So that later, he can explain, “I had no choice — the people demanded it!” Or is Obama simply telegraphing to his supporters that they should not be so disappointed when he throws in the towel and gives up even trying to achieve anything in his second term?

Zombie includes a video from BBC News of an apparently planted heckler and Obama’s response.

This reminds me of a scene at the beginning of William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. While the two conspirators, Brutus and Cassius discuss Caesar’s ambition and fret that he means to make himself king, they hear the crowds offstage cheering three times in the forum where Caesar is speaking. When Caesar is done he appears briefly on stage looking upset and the two men ask a Senator named Casca who had witnessed the event what had happened. Casca explains that Mark Antony had offered a crown to Caesar three times and Caesar had rejected it. Each time the crowds cheered louder and Caesar rejected the crown more reluctantly.

Apparently Julius Caesar had staged this show in order to show the Senators that he was not planning to make himself king, while hoping that the masses would demand his crowning. He could then be king, saying that he had to bow to the popular will. Is Obama playing a similar game? Zombie has two theories.

There are two ways to interpret these bizarre theatrical skits involving Obama and his supporters.

Innocent Theory #1 is that Obama is essentially announcing to his base via these symbolic heckling exchanges that he no longer has the political will to issue as many power-grabbing executive orders as he’s done up til now, and that The Revolution has been put back on hold. “Ram through the progressive wish list with brazen executive orders? Why, I couldn’t do that (any more, at least) — it’d be unconstitutional!” Theory #1, if true, would certainly be in response to plummeting poll numbers and the sobering reality that the Republicans are now almost certain to maintain control of the House of Representatives in 2014, meaning Obama is conceding that he has been effectively stymied, and is thus warning his supporters not to get their hopes up.

Sinister Theory #2 is that Obama is staging these repeated calls for him to assume dictatorial powers as a way to later justify his actions when he amps up and redoubles his unconstitutional executive orders. “I wanted to be a passive and humble president, I really did — but the public demanded that I seize power, so I had to obey the people!” Theory #2, if true, would be based on the fact that Obama is a lame duck president and thus immune from any need to remain “electable”: He could basically do whatever he wanted for the next three years, however extreme, and “get away with it” since he never has to run for office again and Congress obviously will never impeach him at this stage of the game.

I’d say that both theories are true. Perhaps Obama staged these events to show that he does not intend to rule as a dictator, and yet is hoping to rouse public pressure that he do just that. To be fair, Barack Obama is not the first president to chafe at the limitations of his office and to consider that his job would be a whole lot easier if he were a dictator. I recall that one of the Bushes, I think the elder, made such a comment once. But, no other president planted hecklers in a crowd to demand that he simply ignore those limitations. It sounds crazy to be writing this, but I have never had the sort of feeling about any other president, that if he could get away with it, he really would do away with the constitution in order to effect the radical change he believes this country needs.

And then there is this, from the Examiner.

The recent “surge purge,” by the Obama administration, of senior military officers is astounding.

This year nine generals and flag officers have been relieved of command. In the five years, Obama has been in office 197 officers have been removed.

It’s being reported that a veteran U.S. Army intelligence official has said about the “surge purge” that it’s part of creating a “compliant officer class.”

WND said the veteran Army intelligence official told them there is a major concern brewing in our military about the “compliant officer class.” He spoke to WND on the condition of anonymity and said the following:

“It’s becoming harder and harder to find senior officers with a pair of balls in there [the military] now that would say no to anything. Maybe at the rank of major or below, and possibly there are some in SOF (Special Operations Forces), but to make colonel and higher is all politics.”

The veteran Army intelligence official also said, “I didn’t read one piece of resistance to the DADT repeal, and I haven’t seen one peep about females in the infantry.” According to him, there wasn’t any real “public concern expressed by officers” about either of these polices.

What the intelligence official said mirrors what other retired generals have said about the “surge purge.” These generals have grave concerns about the “high rate of senior military officials dismissed” by the Obama administration.

It would appear that the Obama administration has almost accomplished the work of extinguishing the morale of our military. Retired Army Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady told WND the following: “There is no doubt he (Obama) is intent on emasculating the military and will fire anyone who disagrees with him over such issues as “homosexuals, women in foxholes, and the Obama sequester.”

Gen. Brady is the winner of our military’s highest award, The Medal of Honor. Retired Army Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin had the following to say about the “surge purge:”

“Over the past three years, it is unprecedented for the number of four-star generals to be relieved of duty, and not necessarily relieved for cause. I believe there is a purging of the military, the problem is worse than we have ever seen. I talk to a lot of folks who don’t support where Obama is taking the military, but in the military they can’t say anything.”

When it comes to compliance with Obama’s new social order, the Army intelligence official told WND it would probably be accomplished by any means necessary. This includes the Army cheating to ensure at least one woman would pass through basic training.

It’s said the reason for creating the officer compliant class is so that our military will follow orders without question. The Policy and Issues Examiner Joe Newby reports the following:

“President Obama wants military leaders who will fire on U.S. citizens.” This was according to Dr. Jim Garrow, whom the Examiner had an exclusive interview with in Jan. of this year. Garrow is a renowned author and humanitarian who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

The Examiner also reported Garrow as saying, it’s part of the effort to weed out those who won’t swear loyalty to President Obama and obey orders to fire on American citizens who refuse to give up their guns.”

The new social order of Obama’s military also includes creating a compliant soldier. Last month, the Marine Corps Examiner reported the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was being used as a source to define extremism.

We also reported that soldiers at Fort Hood were told: “Evangelical Christians and tea party members are extremists and a threat to America.” Creating the compliant officer class seems to run hand in hand with how the Army has recently been training our soldiers.

It would appear indoctrinating our soldiers and using the SPLC as a reliable source is an effort to ensure our military will heed the orders from the Obama administration instead of the Constitution.

What is really going on here? Is Obama preparing for some kind of coup? It seems crazy to even ask the question, but somehow I can’t simply dismiss the possibility. Maybe, because it is not just President Obama. By himself he can do little. But there seems to be a certain number of my fellow Americans who are willing to give up their freedom in order to get certain policies enacted or even just to destroy the opposition. I wonder if we will still be a free country twenty years from now.

 

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Your Republican Uncle

November 27, 2013

Matt Compton at the Democratic National Committee has a terrific idea on how to spend your Thanksgiving holiday after you finish the turkey; argue with your relatives about how wonderful a job President Obama is doing.

Friend —

This time of year, the only thing more annoying than holiday traffic is an awkward conversation with family about politics.

Don’t get me wrong — I love the Republicans in my life. But nothing ruins a slice of pecan pie faster than talking through immigration reform with a cousin who spends too much time listening to Rush Limbaugh.

That’s why we’re launching YourRepublicanUncle.com. And if you want to make sure that the political debates around your dinner table this Thanksgiving stay tethered to reality, you should check it out.

We can’t do anything about highway congestion, but we can make sure you have the information you need to answer a bonkers question about President Obama’s record on jobs or the perfect fact to respond to a ridiculous argument about the Affordable Care Act.

And to make sure you get that information whenever you need it, we designed YourRepublicanUncle.com so that it looks great and loads quickly on your phone — no getting ambushed when you go back for seconds on stuffing.

This holiday season, don’t stress about the political debates. We’ve got your back:

www.YourRepublicanUncle.com

Happy Thanksgiving!

Matt

Matt Compton
Digital Director
Democratic National Committee

If you handle it right, you won’t have to worry about spending time at get togethers with your non-progressive relatives ever again. Once you have that reputation as the obnoxious cousin who starts fights over politics, they’ll start to “forget” to invite you. Of course you could avoid talking about politics or any other controversial subject, but no holiday is really complete without a shouting match and permanent family breakups. And, on the way home after being kicked out of your uncle’s house, you can revel in that righteous feeling of indignation on the way those racist Neanderthals treated you after you tried to bring some enlightenment into their lives.

The link leads to a website full of liberal talking points. There is not much of interest there. Most of the points are  of the “No he isn’t” variety, as in, “No Obama doesn’t have the worst jobs record of all time.” or, “No Obamacare won’t put many small businesses out of business.” There don’t seem to be any actual untruths there, but they don’t go out of the way to provide the whole truth in context either. The “Republican” positions they are intended to rebut seem to comprise more than a few strawmen. I  doubt if anyone’s Republican uncle is going to be very impressed, at least not if they have some awareness of the issues. They certainly won’t be convinced.

 

The Story of Hanukah

November 27, 2013

Hanukah begins at sunset today, so I thought I would write a little about this holiday. Hanukah is the Jewish Festival of Lights. It is an eight day celebration which lasts from the twenty-fifth day on Kislev to the second day of Tevet. Since the Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar calendar, the days float around from November to December in the Gregorian calendar. This year the days of Hanukah are celebrated November 27 to December 5. It is very rare for Hanukkah to fall this early.

English: Hanukkah menorah, known also as Hanuk...

Hanukkah was not a major holiday in the Jewish calendar, unlike Passover or the High Holy Days. The festival has increased in importance among North American Jews because of its proximity to Christmas. There is even a tendency among Gentiles to regard Hanukkah as some sort of Jewish Christmas. This is unfortunate, since the backgrounds of the two holidays are quite different. The story of Hanukkah is one of the Jewish people fighting for their freedom to worship God in their own way. I think this story is inspiring and worth learning, both for Jews and Gentiles.

The history goes back to the time of Alexander the Great. He conquered the Persian Empire in one of the most remarkable military campaigns in history. Unfortunately, when he died in 323 BC, he left no provision for any successors and so his generals fought among themselves and eventually Alexander’s empire was divided among them. One of these successors was named Seleucus and he gained control of what is now Iran and Iraq. His kingdom is known to historians as the Seleucid Empire. This time is known as the Hellenistic Era.

Around 200 BC the Seleucids defeated the Egyptians and gained the territories of modern Syria and Israel. During this time the Jewish religion was tolerated and respected by the Ptolemies of Egypt. During this time, also, the Greek language and culture spread far and wide among the conquered peoples. Greek culture had become “cool” and everybody wanted to be a part of it. People who adopted Greek culture could be said to be “Hellenized” from Hellene, the Greek word for Greek. This caused no little consternation among the more traditional Jews. They were afraid that in the rush to embrace Greek culture, many Jews would fall into the worship of the Greek gods and so to idolatry. So, to some extent, the events which followed were as much a civil war as a war between the Jews and the Seleucids.

Antiochus IV

In the year 175, Antiochus IV Epiphanes ascended the throne of the Seleucids. Unlike previous Hellenistic rulers he seemed to believe himself a god and was eager that everyone in his realm pay divine honors to the Greek gods. For most of the people in the Empire this was no great burden as a few more gods didn’t matter all that much. For all but the most Hellenized Jews, this was an impossible demand. There was only one God. When fighting broke out between Hellenized and traditional Jews, Antiochus sided with the Hellenized Jews and in 167 sent an army to capture Jerusalem and compel the worship of the Greek gods. A statue of Zeus was placed on the altar of the Temple and the Jewish religion was banned.

This sparked a rebellion and a guerrilla war which was led by a priest named Matthias and his five sons. The most prominent of these was Judas Maccabeus. Antiochus IV had many other problems, especially with the Persians to the east and the rising power of Rome to the west and could never spare the forces necessary to crush the revolt. By 165, the Maccabees were able to retake Jerusalem and cleansed the Temple of the defilement of the pagans.

According to legend, there was only enough oil to light the Menorah for one day, and yet miraculously, they were able to keep it lit for eight days, until more oil could be procured. These eight days became known as the Festival of Lights and to commemorate this victory and miracle, a nine branched menorah is lit. A more prosaic explanation for the origins of this holiday is that the first Hanukkah was a belated celebration of Sukkot. Whatever the truth of the matter might be, I wish everyone a Happy Hanukkah.

 

Thanksgivukkah

November 26, 2013

 

This year is slightly unusual because the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah overlaps Thanksgiving. Hanukkah begins at sunset tomorrow November 27. The two holidays have only overlapped once before since Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln. This overlap occurred in 1888 and will occur again in the year 79,811. I am not certain that either holiday will be celebrated so far in the future. This rare occurrence has given rise to the name thanksgivukkah for the combined holidays.

 

In a way, it is appropriate that the two holidays come together since both are a celebration of thanks to God, though for very different reasons. Hanukkah celebrates the capture and re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Jewish rebels led by the Maccabees, while Thanksgiving began as a harvest feast by the Pilgrims to thank God for their survival in the New World. Abraham Lincoln made the holiday official in order to proclaim a day, “of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”.

English: Saying grace before carving the turke...

English: Hanukkah menorah, known also as Hanuk...

 

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

 

 

America as Number 37

November 25, 2013

Dinesh D’Souza has an interesting theory about Barack Obama’s foreign policy goals.

There is a material allure to America, but when I think of my own life, what has mattered most to me in coming to America is that here is a country where I get to write the script of my own life. Here is a country where my destiny isn’t given to me, it’s constructed by me. Here is a country where my life is a blank sheet of paper and I am the artist. I think this is why young people around the world are magnetically drawn to America: because America represents the self-directed life. This is the core of the American dream.

And then we have a different dream. This is Obama’s dream. Before we get into Obama’s dream, I do want to point out that there is a common view even among conservatives, even among Republicans, that the problem with Obama is that he is a bungler, he is an amateur in the title of a recent book, he tries to do x but he gets y.

This has produced a whole set of conservative punditry essentially lecturing Obama on things like, “Obama, don’t you realize that confiscatory taxation does not produce economic growth?” “Oh, Obama, don’t you realize that by blocking oil drilling in America you aren’t going to create jobs?” “Oh, Obama, may we advise you that Assad, the dictator of Syria, or the Mullah’s in Iran are not our friends?” “Obama, you should wake up to the fact that if we slash our own nuclear weapons this will not inspire the Iranians to do the same.”

Now you can begin to see why people get conspiracy theories about Obama. He’s a traitor. He’s a secret Muslim. He’s a Manchurian candidate.

I would like to offer a little different theory, and that is that Obama subscribes to an ideology that aims to reduce America’s influence in the world. He wants to cut America down to size. He doesn’t want America to be number one. He would be perfectly happy if we were number 18 or number 37.

Why does Obama want to reduce America’s footprint in the world? Because he believes we’ve been stepping on the world. This is his ideology. What Obama really wants to do is redistribute power globally. He would like to see many countries on the world stage – Brazil, India, China, Russia, all vying for power. No single superpower calling the shots.

If it is true that Obama wants to see America weakened and cut down to size, than he is the most dangerous man ever to sit in the Oval Office. A world without America as the superpower would not be a better world. It would be a world less free, less prosperous, and less peaceful, especially if many countries are vying for power. If a power vacuum caused by the decline of American power by Obama’s policies results in another world war, than Obama will be responsible for the deaths of millions, not that he is ever likely to take personal responsibility for his failures.

 

Impeach President Obama

November 24, 2013

M. Northrop Buecher at Forbes.com has written an article arguing for impeaching Barack Obama. Put simply, a president with his sort of contempt for the constitution and the rule of law ought not to be permitted to serve out two terms without some sort of consequence lest a precedent be set for future presidents. He makes a very good case. A president who can simply ignore Congress and the Courts is not a president of a democratic republic but a dictator, even if political realities do not yet allow him to wield dictatorial power.

Here are a few excerpts. Read the whole thing. It is worth it.

Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, he has changed it five times. Most notably, he suspended the employer mandate last summer. This is widely known, but almost no one seems to have grasped its significance.

The Constitution authorizes the President to propose and veto legislation. It does not authorize him to change existing laws. The changes Mr. Obama ordered in Obamacare, therefore, are unconstitutional. This means that he does not accept some of the limitations that the Constitution places on his actions. We cannot know at this point what limitations, if any, he does accept.

By changing the law based solely on his wish, Mr. Obama acted on the principle that the President can rewrite laws and—since this is a principle—not just this law, but any law. After the crash of Obamacare, many Congressmen have implored the President to change the individual mandate the same way he had changed the employer mandate, that is, to violate the Constitution again.

The main responsibility the Constitution assigns to the President is to faithfully execute the Laws. If the President rejects this job, if instead he decides he can change or ignore laws he does not like, then what?

The time will come when Congress passes a law and the President ignores it. Or he may choose to enforce some parts and ignore others (as Mr. Obama is doing now). Or he may not wait for Congress and issue a decree (something Mr. Obama has done and has threatened to do again).

If the President can ignore the laws passed by Congress, of what use is Congress? The President can do whatever he chooses. Congress can stand by and observe. Perhaps they might applaud or jeer. But in terms of political power, Congress will be irrelevant. Probably, it will become a kind of rubber-stamp or debating society. There are many such faux congresses in tyrannies throughout history and around the globe.

Mr. Obama has equal contempt for the Supreme Court. In an act of overbearing hubris, he excoriated Supreme Court Justices sitting helplessly before him during the 2010 State of the Union address—Justices who had not expected to be denounced and who were prevented by the occasion from defending themselves. Mr. Obama condemned them for restoring freedom of speech to corporations and unions.

The most important point is that Mr. Obama does not consider himself bound by the Constitution. He could not have made that more clear. He has drawn a line in the concrete and we cannot ignore it.

Those who currently hold political office, and who want to keep our system of government, need to act now. Surely, rejection of the Constitution is grounds for impeachment and charges should be filed. In addition, there are many other actions that Congressmen can and should take—actions that will tell Mr. Obama that we have seen where he is going and we will not let our country go without a fight.

At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked what form of government had been created. “A republic,” he replied, “if you can keep it.”

We are losing it. If Mr. Obama’s reach for unprecedented power is not stopped, that will be the end. Everyone who values his life and liberty should find some way to say “No!” “Not now!” “Not yet!” “Not ever!”

The problem is that the Democrats in the Senate will not vote to impeach a Democratic president under any conceivable circumstances, no matter what crimes he may commit, especially a president who is as committed to expanding the role of government as much as the present one is. Party loyalty and statist ideology trump honor and integrity every time for the Progressives. In any case, this is not entirely Obama’s doing. Obama is the culmination of trends that have been growing in influence in our politics for almost a century. Presidents of both parties have tended to exalt the Presidency at the expense of the other two branches of government. Congress has been increasingly lazy about defending its prerogatives. Probably the best chance we have had to rein in the imperial presidency was in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. But, the Democrats, at least, were not really interested in reining in the power of the presidency. They only wanted to destroy a Republican president

It may not do much good to impeach Obama, even if the effort is successful. It is  obvious that there is a large number of people who don’t have a problem with a dictatorial president, as long as the president is on their side. Democrats are worse about this, but if the tables were turned a large number of Republicans wouldn’t have a problem with a Republican president who followed the exact same policies as Mr. Obama. There seem to be too many people who believe that the proper role of Congress is to rubber stamp whatever the President wants and if Congress actually has different ideas they believe members of Congress should be punished for daring to obstruct the President’s sacred will. There is one idiot who is actually demanding that leading Republican members of Congress should be arrested for sedition for opposing the President.

Our future?

Our future?

 

It may be,then, that we are already too far on the road to Caesarism and an American Principate is only a matter of time. I hope not. Maybe Obama’s current troubles and unpopularity will cut him down to size. But, what will we do with the precedents he has set?

John F. Kennedy

November 22, 2013

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was before my time; the earliest president I remember is Carter, and I do not have the sort of emotional connection to his presidency and his death that someone of the previous generation, who lived through it, might. To me, President Kennedy is a matter of history. Looking back, he does not seem to have been an especially good president. He wasn’t a bad one, but his administration seemed to have lacked accomplishments when compared to his aspirations. Kennedy, perhaps, belongs somewhere in the middle, maybe a little higher than most. As the myth of Camelot fades into the past, Kennedy’s standing,as ranked by historians, has been steadily dropping, while some presidents who were less glamorous but more accomplished, such as Eisenhower, have risen. There may be justice in that.

And yet, there is something to John F. Kennedy and his aspirations. Kennedy had a way of expressing a sort of optimism about the country he served, a way of telling his fellow Americans that they were capable of doing more, of being better people. Kennedy appealed to what was best in us in a way that no president since, except possibly for Reagan, could. Perhaps that is the most important role a president can play, to be a sort of national cheerleader.

English: Posthumous official presidential port...

English: Posthumous official presidential portrait of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, painted by Aaron Shikler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a strange sort of way, being assassinated was the best thing that could have happened to Kennedy. If he had lived, he never would have been held in such high esteem for so long. A hard fought re-election campaign and, assuming he won, a second term might have tarnished his image. Increasing US involvement in Vietnam  might have made him as unpopular as Johnson by 1968. Of course, Kennedy might not have made the same mistakes as Johnson did, but he might have made other mistakes all his own. An elderly Kennedy past his prime might have been as unattractive as his brother Ted.  Because he was cut down while he was still relatively popular, the public never had a chance to be disillusioned. The promise is always more enticing than the realization.

Maybe the assassination was good for his posthumous reputation, but it was not good for the country. Kennedy’s murder shocked the nation in a way that Garfield’s and McKinley‘s didn’t. Perhaps this was because it happened in the television age. It is one thing to read about an event, quite another to see it. Then too, neither man was as much in the public eye as Kennedy. Lincoln’s assassination was traumatic, but it occurred at the end of the most traumatic period in American history. Shocking as it was, I wonder if many Americans had become somewhat numbed by the horrors of the Civil War. Kennedy’s assassination came at a time in which the United States was prosperous and at peace. It must have seemed completely unexpected to the American people.

I am not sure if there will be much notice taken of the assassination by 2063. By then, no one will be alive who remembers the event and it may be that it will pass into the mists of history. I hope that we will not have a fifth assassination to remember. I may not like Barack Obama very much, and I can’t tell what I might think of his successors, but I would hate to see the country have to go through something like what happened on November 22, 1963.

Grinches in South Carolina

November 21, 2013

We have our first sighting of a Christmas Grinch this year. This one is from the American Humanist Association. East Point Academy, a charter elementary school in Cayce, South Carolina has been participating in a program to give toys to needy children for the last three years. They will not be participating this year because the American Humanist Association has decided that it violates the sacred principle of separation of church and state and has threatened to sue the school. Here is the story from WBTW News.

An elementary school is canceling a Christmas toy drive they have participated in for three years after a threat of legal action this year, WLTX reported.

East Point Academy in Cayce, with 360 students, is a publicly-funded charter school under the South Carolina Public Charter School District.

For the past three years, the school has participated in “Operation Christmas Child,” which is affiliated with Samaritan’s Purse.

Under the program, kids collect toys, pencils and other small items, pack them into shoe boxes, and donate to needy children.

That has now stopped after the school received a letter last Monday from the American Humanist Association, a national nonprofit organization with over 20,000 members and 125,000 supporters across the country, according to the letter.

The mission of American Humanist Association’s legal center, according to the letter, is “to protect one of the most fundamental principles of (American) democracy: the Constitutional mandate requiring separation of church and state.”

The letter called the school’s involvement in Operation Christmas Child “unconstitutional.”

“The letter was very explicit that there would be litigation against us if we did not stop,”  school East Point Academy’s principal, Renee Mathews, told WLTX.

Mathews said that of the two full years the school has participated, before the practice was stopped with the letter, about 100 families participated each year.

The letter came as a shock to her and others at the school because she hasn’t had many issues from the local community.

“We have parents that ask questions, but in this case, it’s not really a parent. It’s an outside group,” she said.

The letter claimed it was sent on behalf of a parent at the school.

It points to the fact that Operation Christmas Child is part of “Samaritan’s Purse,” an international Christian based organization led by Franklin Graham, son of Evangelist Billy Graham.

“There’s no religious literature tied with it,” Mathews said. “There’s no speakers who come. There’s no religious affiliation at all.”

The school’s principal says there are a number of parents who’ve told her they already prepared boxes. She’s encouraging them to donate those items to a charity of their choosing.

East Point Academy says they will continue to take part in other Christmas related programs, such as Toys for Tots.

So, let’s get this straight. Operation Christmas Child is not an explicitly religious program. There is no proselytizing of any sort. It is not part of any church. The only relation the program has with any religion is that it is part of a Christian charity that specializes in helping relieve victims of disasters and wars. This is unconstitutional?

For the record, the first amendment reads.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

How in the world does giving toys to children count as an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof? Notice that there is no mention of separation of church and state here. That phrase comes from a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association. Here is the full statement.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.

Now please note that Jefferson did not propose the concept of separation of church and state because he believed that religion was a pernicious influence that needed to be purged from the public square. He proposed the concept because he did not believe the government should force people to belong support a church or keep them from practicing their religions. I know that I am no constitutional lawyer, but I fail to see how a school giving toys to children, even if it receives public funding equates to forcing people to support a certain religion, especially when the the program only has a tangential relationship to a church. And, even if it did what harm is done here? America is hardly going to be transformed into a theocracy because some children are given toys. The members of the American Humanist Association are simply being Grinches.

The American Humanist Association

The American Humanist Association

The Comma Johanneum

November 20, 2013

In the King James Version of the Bible the verse 1 John 5:6-8 reads:

This is he that
came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but
by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness,
because the Spirit is truth. For
there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word,
and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
And there are three that bear witness
in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three
agree in one.

While the New International Version reads:

This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

Notice that in the NIV and in most modern translations of the Bible, the words the Father, the Word,and the Holy Ghost are omitted. This omitted section of the verse is called the Comma Johanneum or the Johannine Comma. Why do modern translations omit this phrase. If you are a follower of Jack Chick or one of the King James Only believers, you already know the answer. Modern translations are inspired by liberal, New Age ideology from defective heretical texts and are purposely designed to undercut Christian teachings by omitting key verses relating the the divinity of Jesus Christ. It is very likely that the Devil himself, not to mention the Roman Catholic Church is behind most modern translations. The New International Version is especially insidious. Only the King James Bible, printed in 1611 is the true Word of God. I wasn’t making any of that up. There really are people who think that way.

For the real story of how the Comma Johanneum came to be omitted, we have to go back to the Middle Ages. I have already described how knowledge of the Greek language and Greek manuscripts were all but unknown in western Europe. European scholars knew of the literature of ancient Greece only through Latin and Arabic translations. The Bible, originally written in Hebrew and Greek was available only in the Vulgate Latin translation made by Jerome. In the fourteen and fifteenth centuries, Greek speaking Byzantines began to flee to the West as the Turks invaded and conquered the Byzantine Empire. They brought with them Greek manuscripts and the knowledge of how to read and speak Greek.

Desiderius Erasmus, 1466-1536, Rotterdam Renai...

Desiderius Erasmus, 1466-1536, Rotterdam Renaissance humanist, Catholic priest and theologian, by Hans Holbein the Younger, 1523. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1516, Desiderius Erasmus published a new translation of the New Testament in Latin and Greek. Erasmus was a Catholic priest from Holland who was the foremost Humanist scholar of his time. In a way, he was a proto-Protestant because he believed that the Church badly needed to be reformed. He opposed the innovations in beliefs and practices that had grown up over the centuries and he wanted to return to the simple faith of the early Church. Unlike the Reformers like Luther, Erasmus did not leave the Catholic Church. He believed in reforming it from within. Erasmus was a reasonable man who tried to be neutral and moderate in the Protestant Reformation and, as a result, ended up being hated by both sides.

Erasmus didn’t have a single complete Greek text to translate so he used several.He lacked the last six verses of Revelation and had to translate them into Greek and back into Latin. The first edition of his translation was a rushed job because there were other people translating the New Testament from the Greek and he wanted to beat the competition. He corrected his mistakes in later editions and and the fifth edition became known as the Textus Receptus and was one of the sources of the King James Bible.

Erasmus noticed that none of his Greek manuscripts included the words that became known as the Comma Johanneum so he omitted them in the first edition of his translations. His superiors in the Church, including the Pope insisted that he include the phrase but Erasmus responded that he could not unless a Greek manuscript could be found with the words. They produced a manuscript with the words. Erasmus suspected that it was a forgery but he kept his word and included the Comma Johanneum in later editions.

Does the Comma Johanneum belong in the Bible? The only Greek texts that include it seem to be from around the time of Erasmus. No early Greek text includes it. It is found in Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Bible, but it is not clear whether Jerome wrote it in his translation or if the words were a later addition. Some of the early Church Fathers use expressions similar to the words of the Comma Johanneum, but they do not seem to be quoting scripture. Such a clear cut expression of trinitarian theology would have been very useful in the Arian and Christological controversies in Eastern Christianity from the fourth to the seventh centuries. Perhaps the most reasonable explanation is that the phase was a marginal note by some priest or monk, perhaps while preparing a sermon or commentary. A later copyist could have been careless enough to incorporate the words into the texts and still later copyists could perpetuate the error. Such things often happened in the days when every single copy of a book had to be written out by hand. This is why, even in the Bible there are variant texts occasionally and why translators try to find the earliest, and presumably closest to the original texts they can find.

Carbon Pollution

November 18, 2013

I have gotten another assignment from Organizing for Action.

David —

This may sound crazy, but it’s a fact: Today, there are no emission limits on our nation’s single largest source of carbon pollution.

About 40 percent of all carbon pollution in America comes from our power plants, but we don’t have anything in place on a national level to regulate the amount of carbon they put into the air.

That’s why the EPA announced a new proposal to set carbon pollution standards for power plants, the same way we regulate other dangerous substances, like arsenic and mercury. It’s a common-sense way to start to make a very real dent in reducing carbon pollution.

Right now, the EPA is asking for the public’s input on these new limits on carbon emissions — add your name to show your support, and we’ll pass it along.

Climate change is real — there’s no credible scientific debate anymore. We’re seeing its effects more and more every year. That’s why we need to do something about it — that includes taking action to reduce our carbon emissions.

President Obama knows how crucial this is. The Climate Action Plan he laid out this summer set guidelines for these proposed EPA rules and laid out a roadmap for further carbon pollution reduction, expanded renewables, and more energy efficiency projects.
He’s keeping his word on climate change — and now we need to do our part.

Add your name today to support the EPA’s proposal to clean up our power plants:

http://my.barackobama.com/Support-the-Presidents-Climate-Plan

Thanks,

Jack

Jack Shapiro
Deputy Climate Campaign Manager
Organizing for Action

By carbon pollution I assume he means carbon dioxide. Mercury and arsenic are pollutants. They are not found naturally in the Earth’s atmosphere in any appreciable amounts and are hazardous to human health. Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring

Carbon dioxide

Not a pollutant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

compound in the Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is not  hazardous to human health except in concentrations great enough to displace oxygen. Carbon dioxide is essential to life on Earth. Without it, plants cannot photosynthesize and the Earth  would be a frozen wasteland. It makes no sense to talk of carbon pollution especially in comparison with arsenic and mercury. Either the people responsible for this e-mail, and the whole talking point about carbon pollution, are ignorant of the science of the Earth’s atmosphere or are dishonest and using semantic games rather than actual facts to convince people. If they want to make the argument for reducing carbon dioxide emissions to reduce global warming, then they should make that argument. The fact that they do not make that argument perhaps says something about their credibility.

As is happens, current levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are neither unusual or unprecedented. There is good reason to believe that in ages past levels were far higher than today’s. In the Jurassic Period, carbon dioxide levels were five times the present levels. The long term trend is decreasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and eventually there will not be enough for life on Earth to survive.

 


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