Wednesday, June 25, 2014

THYME Magazine: Special Senate Race Edition

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XXVIII

Restoring Senate Representation

We must elect Ed Gillespie to the United States Senate; here's why. Most Virginians are NOT represented by the two Senators presently in office. Though many of us trekked to his office and made phone calls, pleas to Senator Mark Warner to vote against OBAMACARE fell on deaf ears. I went there with a large group opposed to this terribly bungled legislation. We were herded into a conference room and lectured by staffers on why we "had to pass it." We can ill-afford the effects of this poorly crafted legislation in our current fragile economy. We need leadership, not men who blindly follow the President. Please consider the following statements by Mr. Gillespie himself. I'm sure you will find him a welcome alternative to the present one-party representation in our Senate. Mark Warner [click to read] has been the subject of previous THYME pieces, so we will not discuss his positions at length here. Mr Gillespie helped to craft the Contract with America in 1994, which was instrumental in the election of a Republican majority to Congress for the first time in forty years.

Ed Gillespie Has a Plan for Jobs and the Economy

"By moving us away from our Constitutional principles of limited government and personal liberty, President Obama, Harry Reid and Mark Warner have enacted policies that have killed jobs, reduced take-home pay, and increased health care and energy costs. We can do better.

Conservative, pro-growth policies promoting lower taxes, less government spending, and ending excessive regulation create jobs, raise take-home pay, and reduce health care and energy costs by unleashing private investment and allowing working Americans rather than political appointees in Washington to make decisions about the best way to allocate their resources. Americans want and deserve intelligent policies to promote job creation, expand opportunities for recent high school and college graduates, and make career advancement a reality again for the many Virginians who have found themselves trapped in a weak economy.

The Obama-Reid-Warner economic policies are not only destroying jobs; they are undermining the American work ethic. There is not just economic value in labor, there is human dignity in work. We must enable more people to have that dignity. If elected I will promote a pro-growth economic agenda to create good-paying jobs for families, foster upward mobility, help those currently employed to keep more of what they earn, and enable people to lift themselves out of poverty.

Too many Virginians are living paycheck-to-paycheck—if they’re fortunate enough to have a paycheck. The U.S. labor force participation rate is at its lowest level in more than three decades, hovering somewhere around 63%. The Congressional Budget Office reported in February that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will mean millions fewer in the fulltime workforce. More people will be working only part-time and we will see the equivalent of 2.3 million fewer jobs over the next decade (nearly 64,000 in Virginia alone).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 92 million people are out of the labor force entirely, and 7 million Americans are working two or more jobs to make ends meet. That’s wrong, and policymakers must make a top priority of solving this problem, which I would do as our senator."

Priorities for All Levels of Education


Every child deserves a high quality education, and I believe parents should be empowered to make the educational choices that are in their children’s best interests. Opportunity is enhanced by competition and choice, which is why I support public schools, charter schools, private and parochial schools, magnet schools, and home schooling. All Virginia children should have an opportunity to receive a world-class education, and no child should be forced to remain in a failing or unsafe school by the constraints of his or her zip code. That is why I support school choice programs that help ensure that all families have access to meaningful and accountable educational options.

Education policies and curriculum are state and local prerogatives. Virginia is rightly among a handful of states that have not adopted Common Core standards. We know that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work, and I will always support efforts to empower students, families and teachers, not political appointees at the Department of Education, to make these important educational decisions.

Higher Education

A. Virginia boasts some of the best public colleges and universities in the nation, and a strong system of community colleges, but for many Virginians, college tuition remains out of reach. There is work to do in making higher education more accessible and affordable. Higher education is an economic engine for the Commonwealth. The business community has documented the value of higher education through the “Grow By Degrees” effort, estimating that one dollar of investment produces over seventeen dollars in increased GDP and returns more than a dollar in new tax revenue to the Commonwealth.

I support the empowerment of higher education students by increasing transparency of higher education programs with information on earnings of graduates, by institution and degree, to be readily available to all potential students as they make choices to pursue their studies. Working Virginians require the resources to tailor their skills to the changes of a dynamic economy. That is why I applaud Virginia’s efforts to turn our community colleges into engines of workforce development, and why I will support intelligent workforce investment policies in the Senate, like those embodied in the SKILLS Act. There is no better program of social welfare than a good-paying job, so I will advance policies to help Virginians, and all Americans, develop the skills and expertise they need to compete in a global economy."

Supporting Basic Tenets of the Bill of Rights

"As Virginia’s senator, I will oppose efforts to infringe upon our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, which is an individual right. I would not vote in favor of treaties that would cede firearm regulation to international bodies like the United Nations, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Senator Warner voted against the Senate rejection of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, which could undermine our Second Amendment rights and infringe on U.S. sovereignty. I would have voted for the amendment."

Repeal and Replacement of OBAMACARE, a Priority

"Virginians are concerned about having access to quality, affordable health care—and they know that Obamacare is making things worse. Everywhere I go, I hear from Virginians who face skyrocketing insurance premiums and stand to lose the coverage they like and the doctors they trust. We understand that Obamacare is not the solution, and that the problem with it is a lot more than just “a failed website launch.” It is harmful legislation that must be replaced with policies that make insurance more affordable, let us keep our doctors and insurance, and allows businesses to grow and hire.

Virginians know that a quality health care system empowers doctors and patients, not politicians and political appointees. We know that the way to reform health care isn’t to kill jobs, reduce wages, deny us our choice of doctors and cancel health care plans that Virginians like, cut $700 billion from Medicare, impose new taxes, and increase our deficit.

Sadly, Obamacare would not be the law today if Senator Warner had voted in the interests of Virginians instead of with his party line. As Virginia’s Senator, I would vote to replace Obamacare with policies that put patients first, provide more affordable options, and do not include a mandate. We need health care reform that works—and that means repealing Obamacare and replacing it with market-based reforms that take health care decisions out of the hands of political appointees.

We also need to focus on ways to keep Virginians healthy, not just treat them when they are sick. As Senator I will focus on medical innovations and finding cures for diseases, reforms that will produce more jobs, and keep America first in health care research. In the course of our campaign, I’ll outline policies in line with these principles."

A Plan to Spur Domestic Energy Production

"With the right policies, Virginia can be the East Coast’s energy leader, creating high-paying jobs here in the Commonwealth, bringing down costs for home heating in the Winter and prices at the gas pump in the Summer, and helping to move our nation closer to energy independence. We need a Senator who shares that vision and will support the growth of a vibrant, responsible energy sector.

Virginia’s energy sector directly employs more than 30,000 workers and indirectly supports as many as 200,000 jobs, making it a crucial component of our economy. With our natural resources, geographic location, and port access, Virginia can and should be a more integral part of America’s energy supply. From clean coal to wind energy to offshore oil and natural gas, Virginia is blessed with abundant natural resources, but efforts to develop these resources are often thwarted by an overreaching Federal Government.

I believe in an energy approach that embraces both traditional and alternative energy resources. I support oil and natural gas production—including responsible deep sea drilling off our coast—because we can protect our environment while ensuring access to the domestic energy resources we need to create new jobs, lower prices at the pump, and keep utility bills affordable.

As Senator, I’ll fight to protect coal jobs, because I understand how important coal is both to our economy right here in Virginia and to our nation’s energy independence, and I’ll stand up to the EPA’s failed policies that are driving up energy costs and imposing unnecessary regulatory burdens on our homes and businesses. Protecting public health and safety does not require duplicative regulations, needlessly complex and costly compliance requirements, or bureaucratic inefficiency. We need to make use of our abundant natural resources to create jobs and lower energy costs for Virginians. I will work to give Virginia the opportunity to lead on American energy independence.

Unfortunately, Mark Warner has voted in lockstep with the Obama Administration’s war on coal. He stood with Barbara Boxer and John Kerry when they released the Senate version of Cap and Trade in 2009, and has said, “The most significant thing we can do is send the market signal that either directly through a carbon tax or indirectly through cap and trade, we are going to put a price on carbon.”

Last year, Mark Warner voted against creating a 60-vote point of order against any budget resolution that includes a tax or fee on carbon emissions. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, a carbon tax could cost up to 21,000 jobs in Virginia. Five Senate Democrats broke ranks to protect their constituents from these job-killing policies—but Mark Warner toed the party line.

Mark Warner voted against an amendment that would have moved the Keystone pipeline project forward over President Obama’s opposition, and the amendment was defeated. He later backed a “non-binding resolution” supporting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in an effort to cover his tracks on the binding amendment. When it mattered, he voted against the Keystone pipeline, and when it didn’t matter he voted for it. That’s political posturing, not real leadership. I will work to get the Keystone XL pipeline approved.

As Senator, I’ll not just focus on developing energy resources, I’ll also work to remove the federal red-tape that slows down the development of energy infrastructure and limits the development of our energy sector and the creation of jobs. Energy projects, like building new pipelines and refineries, are a critical link between production and lower prices for consumers. Unfortunately, Senator Warner and President Obama, have shown no leadership in removing the barriers to job-creating, cost-reducing, energy infrastructure projects."

A Pro-Life Voice for Virginia's Citizens

"I am pro-life, and believe we should foster a culture that respects human life. This means that as a civil society, we must respect and protect the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn, the sick, those with disabilities, and the elderly.

I would oppose taxpayer funding of abortion, and believe it was a mistake to abandon the explicit prohibition in federal law against it, as Mark Warner voted to do with Obamacare.

I understand that women facing an unplanned pregnancy need compassion and support, not judgment or condemnation. I support education and health care to help women avoid unplanned pregnancies, and believe we must offer life-affirming alternatives to women facing difficult decisions, ensuring that they have the opportunity to choose life. I support adoption and believe that government should help both women and children by making it easier, more affordable, and more accessible for both newborns and those in foster care."

A Firm Supporter of a Balanced Budget Amendment

"Mark Warner once endorsed a Balanced Budget Amendment, but when he had a chance to vote for one in the Senate, he voted against it. As your Senator, I will not only support a Balanced Budget Amendment, I will introduce one. I will make it a priority to reduce wasteful, inefficient, and duplicative federal government spending.

At a time when millions of Americans have been forced to make due with less, it is an outrage that government continues to spend taxpayer dollars in such a reckless manner—particularly when profligate government spending is at the root of our economic problems. Deficit spending on the part of government sucks money out of the productive sector, impedes growth, and is a drag on our economy.

Raising taxes on American families and businesses that are already too high would only impede economic growth and make the problem worse. We do not have deficits because taxes aren’t high enough, we have deficits because Federal spending is out of control and our economy is not creating enough jobs. I promise my fellow Virginians I will fight and vote against any efforts to increase marginal income tax rates on individuals and businesses, and oppose any net reduction or elimination of tax deductions and credits unless they are matched by equal reductions in tax rates. Growing our economy and getting spending under control are the keys to resolving our burgeoning federal debt, not further adding to the tax burden on American families and businesses.

Mark Warner has voted to increase taxes by nearly $1 Trillion, and to increase our debt by $7 Trillion. An $18 trillion debt is simply unacceptable, and we cannot afford the consequences of continued inaction. We’re saddling our children with debt to pay for promises made in the past, and new promises President Obama and Mark Warner made in Obamacare.

It’s time we stop spending money we just don’t have."

Secure the Borders, Reform Our Visa System

"I am proud to be the son of an immigrant. My father came to this country through Ellis Island from Ireland as a boy, because his father found work as a janitor. I appreciate the opportunities provided to my father — and by extension to me and my children — by the greatest country ever to grace the face of the earth.

When it comes to immigration reform, I believe we have not only a right but a responsibility to secure our borders. We must also enforce our existing laws. The steps we take to secure our borders would not only enable us to keep out those we don’t want coming into our country illegally, but to allow in legally those we want to welcome here.

An estimated 40% of those in our country illegally now have overstayed their visas, so we clearly need to reform our visa system. If this were a private sector problem, it would have been fixed by now, and our Federal Government needs to fix it. I also believe we can improve the E-Verify program to help employers be sure that anyone they hire is a citizen or a legal resident.

While steps like these would help stop illegal immigration going forward, they do not address the 10-12 million people here illegally now. I do not support amnesty, and oppose granting citizenship to them, which would be unfair to those who have come here legally and played by the rules. And I don’t believe we should give one of the greatest privileges in the world—American citizenship—to those who are here by virtue of having broken our laws.

At the same time, I do not believe that our nation will implement the mass deportation of 10-12 million people, so we need to come to terms with those who are here illegally now. It would be in the interest of both American citizens and those here illegally to be able to come forward and, after a series of processes (i.e., criminal background checks, payment of back taxes, assimilation, demonstration of self sufficiency), be issued new visas to be here legally." [1.]

Time to Awaken a Sleeping Giant

Looking at the percentage of eligible voters who actually vote, and even the percentage of REGISTERED voters who actually vote, one thing stands clear; I believe that if we could motivate substantial participation in the Great Valley of Virginia, we could overcome rampant voter fraud and the "Northern Virginia" blue vote. In the last few elections, we watched the results come in and saw a fairly representative victory for more Conservative candidates... until Northern Virginia precincts reported. They always came in last and suddenly skewed the results to the left. Most Virginians were left without representation!

Another thing to remember is that even though some of us really want to see more candidates like Shak Hill and Jamie Radtke, we dare not sit out any election at this point. We dare not remain unrepresented in the times we cannot support our 'ideal' candidates. The Left knows our tendency to 'sit out' elections and have advanced their agenda through our apathy! Yes, we have every reason to be frustrated at the treatment given a candidate like Mike Farris in the past by the party establishment. Here Jamie Radtke Talks About Cantor's Defeat [click to view]. Now is NOT the time to step back from the process. Now is the time to honestly address the business of representing the people! We can achieve that goal!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

THYME Magazine: Essential Knowledge III

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XXVII

Essential  Knowledge III

Does the human condition indeed require Faith to sustain it? I write from that perspective in this essay, but there are those who would disagree. Indeed there is fresh argument to the effect that human compassion  can (and indeed DOES) exist apart from Faith. Leaving the Sciences vs science arguements of the past, a new study from the University of California, Berkley, suggests that Compassion Moves the Non-Religious [click to read] more than the people of Faith. A closer look would not necessarily discredit the compassion of the faithful, but identify the top motivator in the life of a person who's life is not characterized by Faith.

"Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not," explained Robb Willer, co-author of the study and UC Berkeley social psychologist. "The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns." -- Laura Saslow, Researcher

Saslow goes on to say that it is more likely that the person of Faith will cite Religious teaching as the reason for his or her actions. The person who professes NO belief will indeed cite compassion by default. Atheists often cite the observed lack or compassion they see in religious people as one reason they chose not to believe. For me the study has deeper implications. I remember Bertrand Russell's wrestling with the meaning of life:

That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair can the soul’s habitation be safely built. -- Bertrand Russell (from A Free Man's Worship, 1903)

In despair, one still reaches out to find an anchor. A soul adrift still seeks safe harbor. Conscience still leads us to the safe waters of compassion... even as we dismiss it as a simple evolution necessary for the survival of the species, that anchor becomes MORE important because we find nothing else to tie our rope to. The first irony implicit in the role of despair is that for many of us this was the point where we began our discipleship IN the Faith. Though those who want to deny Faith will undoubtedly reference obscure similarities to now extinct ancient religions to obfuscate the beacon that I follow, I humbly offer that compassion finds its roots in some very clearly marked repositories. Winston Churchill said it best: "There is no better hope than Christ's principles in the Sermon on the Mount!" Wallace Henley [click to read] writes:

"Everyone on the planet has a worldview. Those who understand reality through a biblical view know transformation is the fundamental issue. "Where do wars come from?" asks James, rhetorically. They come from our lusts and passions. We desire power and possessions, and we enter conflicts to satisfy those perceived needs.

Biblically formed thinkers are the ultimate realists. While many in the world try to find other explanations for "irrational" human behavior whether in the form of nations or individuals, those who embrace the Bible's worldview know the bottom line: "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

Then follows the question: What worldview can really bring human transformation that benefits the rest of the world? Certainly not a belief system that advocates intimidation, manipulation, condemnation, and domination to force global allegiance.

Suddenly the Christ towers in our precarious moment: the Christ who taught us to love our enemies, to be harmless as doves but simultaneously wise as serpents, to lead as servants, the Christ who renews the human mind, and who gives us a whole new way of seeing and living."

Alvin Schmidt concurs with Henley. In his book: Under the Influence [click to read], Schmidt documents well the roots of much of what the world today calls "Compassion," in the revelation of the Divine. The Berkley study first referenced finds two reasons for action: compassion (usually for those one feels empathy with), and doctrine. What if pure doctrine expands compassion? Consider those early Christians who pulled discarded babies out of the Tiber River and cared for them. What about the Righteous Gentiles who risked their own lives to protect their Jewish Neighbors from the Holocaust?

In fact Jesus once asked: "Who is my neighbor?" in Luke chapter 10. The lesson he proceeded to teach did just that... EXPANDED the reach of compassion! Jesus was always embracing lepers and talking with people he wasn't supposed to... like WOMEN. In a world where the (self) righteous man would pray, thanking the Divine that he had not been born a Gentile, a Slave or a Woman, Jesus brought the message of promise to all three, as well as to the House of Israel. IMAGO DEI was a non-negotiable concept  for the carpenter from Gallilee.

A very sad story was seen in the Washington Post recently. It was about a 19th Century home for unwed mothers where the bodies of hundreds of discarded children had been buried. The story went on to explain the distain the surrounding community had for the "home babies." They mainly died from neglect. The picture of the building's exterior bore a chilling resemblance to a Müller home, but here the resemblance ends. Where Müller saw IMAGO DEI, the administrators of this facility saw only the children's unwantedness. Today the household of Faith extends compassion in ministry to unwed mothers and their unborn babies.

Expanding compassion might well take the same reporter who investigated this home to shudder at the case of Kermit Gosnell's abortion clinic in Pennsylvania. Where Gosnell saw only unwantedness, we are challenged to see IMAGO DEI! That is the challenge, and the destination we have arrived at... a personal challenge to expand the vision of compassion, directed by the Divine!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

THYME Magazine: Essential Knowledge II

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XXVI

Essential Knowledge II

Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:

And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your G-d into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:

That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the Lord spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.

And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day. -- Joshua 4:5-9

The importance of passing foundational truth from generation to generation is seen not only in the prescribed feasts, but in the history of the people of Israel as well. Add to that the fact that most young people were taught their trade by their parents and you see a pattern that only recent centuries have diverted from. One of my relatives opined recently that we, the Church, do youth ministry wrong. "We create a separate space designed to woo them with 'their' music and amusement." Consider that last word for a minute: A-muse! It could be translated: "without thinking." Are we trying to entertain our children into the Church rather than inviting them into the Sacred Wonders? Last week we saw Maggie transformed as she learned the old hymns. The unique fellowship she found did acknowledge her world, but expanded upon it. Maggie found herself enriched by the depth of Sam's circle of friends.

Young people need to know that the sacred things are theirs as well. They are not the "Church of the Future," they are a part of what G-d is doing now. They need to participate in our worship and ministry now. I love it when young people are able to help take up the offering, sing special music and even share there testimonies in the midst of the congregation. Our culture offers so much AMUSEMENT. In fact, if we major in offering amusement to our youth, they will graduate from the Church as they graduate from high school... and will seek out better AMUSEMENT. But consider for a moment the church full of older Mennonites we looked at last week. They did not offer amusement; instead they offered extended family and that was what the youth in their neighborhood longed for.

It is a well documented phenomenon that young men join gangs because they need family. Their initiation cements a bond with others that is otherwise lacking in their culture. Drugs and violence simply are an extension of this identification with their new brethren. How sad that this exists as such a counterfeit of what is available in the house of Faith! Yet it is obvious that the Church does not seem to do too well at creating such family. Some ignore it all together, but it seems that many churches simply create a program. They may fail miserably in this, or have horrible experiences, concluding that such ministry is not for them. Conversely, they may create a dynamic program that attracts large numbers (at least for a time) and go on to write the book on how they do it better. But there is, perhaps, a better way.

The elderly congregation we looked at last week started with earnest prayer. When G-d seemed to be speaking to them they listened. Then they looked to see what G-d might be doing in their own neighborhoods. When they saw Divine appointments they responded, having prepared themselves with prayer and an understanding of those they sought to minister to. They watched G-d build relationships and the ministry flowed out of that. It was such a work of the Divine that they couldn't write a 'how to' manual. (They COULD, of course, share much information on some of the practical aspects such as maintaining safety and trust).

(to be continued).

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Longest Day

Remembering June 6, 1944

One of my favorite movies is "The Longest Day." My favorite scene in the movie is where General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., Son of the 'Rough Rider' President, pleads to be allowed to accompany his men in the invasion. If you love heroes, the scene will bring you to tears. Finally Roosevelt hears his commander say "permission reluctantly granted. Oh, by the way, how's your arthritis?" "Hasn't Bothered me in months," replies Roosevelt. As he leaves, you see him retrieve the cane he has hidden in some pipes as he heads off down the ship's passageway.

The true story of General Roosevelt is one all of us should know. He repeatedly led groups of men off the beach and achieved an impressively low casualty rate in the beginning of the invasion. He had trained these men and wanted to be with them when they faced the hard test.

General Roosevelt in France

He was the only general to come ashore in the first wave of the invasion, leading the men out of his landing craft. No doubt his leadership under fire saved many lives.

After battling their way ashore, the troops discover that they have drifted a mile from where they should have landed. It was then that General Roosevelt personally scouted their situation and uttered these famous words: "We'll start the war from right here!"

"Ted Roosevelt on Utah Beach"

Those were the words of Omar Bradley when asked to name the single most heroic action he had ever seen in combat. Major General "Tubby" Barton had reluctantly assented to this plea from Roosevelt:

"The force and skill with which the first elements hit the beach and proceed may determine the ultimate success of the operation... With troops engaged for the first time, the behavior pattern of all is apt to be set by those first engaments. [It is] considered that accurate information of the existing situation should be available for each succeeding element as it lands. You should have when you get to shore an overall picture in which you can place confidence. I believe I can contribute materially on all of the above by going in with the assault companies. Furthermore I personally know both officers and men of these advance units and believe that it will steady them to know that I am with them."

Barton thought he would never see Roosevelt in this life again when he cut those fateful orders. When Barton later came ashore and met up with Roosevelt, he had this to say: "while I was mentally framing [orders], Ted Roosevelt came up. He had landed with the first wave, had put my troops across the beach, and had a perfect picture (just as Roosevelt had earlier promised if allowed to go ashore with the first wave) of the entire situation. I loved Ted. When I finally agreed to his landing with the first wave, I felt sure he would be killed. When I had bade him goodbye, I never expected to see him alive. You can imagine then the emotion with which I greeted him when he came out to meet me [near La Grande Dune]. He was bursting with information."

A month after the invasion, Ted Roosevelt died of a heart condition which would have disqualified him from leading in the first wave. He was buried in France alongside his brother Quenton who had died in World War I. His Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:

"For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt's written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France."

Remembering Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

It is worth noting that Roosevelt, while a very effective officer, was not liked by everyone he met. Serving in the North Africa Campaign in 1942 under Major General Terry Allen he drew the ire of George S. Patton. Both Allen and Roosevelt went against Patton's spit-and-polish mentality and were seldom seen in dress uniform. Roosevelt was too much of a "hands on" type of guy to strut around avoiding the hard stuff. Patton relieved both Allen and Roosevelt of their commands. Roosevelt went on to fight in Sicily and Italy. He became chief liaison officer to the French Army in Italy for General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Great men have often struggled in the process of becoming the heroes we remember and that is worth remembering along with their mighty deeds.

The Wind Talkers, Their Code Couldn't Be Cracked

The Last of the Navajo Code Talkers Has Passed Away

The last of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers of World War II has died. Chester Nez, died this morning at the age of 93. ht/John Pembroke

The story of the Navajo Code Talkers begins in 1940 when a small group of Chippewas and Oneidas became a part of the radio communications 32nd Infantry Division. Soon after, Sac and Fox tribes joined in the ranks as combat radiomen. The complexity of Navajo linguistics allowed it to become an ideal choice to be used in code due to the lack of documentation made available for learning to speak the language and ability for the same words to mean multiple things based on sound. The Japanese were unable to crack this code for those very reasons.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Exiting the Backside of the Trojan Horse...

What the Bowe Bergdahl Prisoner Exchange Means

The 'Trojan Horse's Rear' as seen on a recent trip to Washington. It is an actual sculpture in the Federal Triangle.

Five dangerous Taliban commanders released in exchange for a deserter... but more likely a TRAITOR. The United States gained NOTHING in that exchange and severely compromised the safety of our troops in Afghanistan in the process! But consider the strange nature of this case more closely. Bergdahl, a United States Army soldier, was held captive by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network in Afghanistan from June 2009 until his release on May 31, 2014. These people usually behead their captives. Bergdahl's longevity suggests he was at least a useful pawn for obtaining a prisoner release, but his personal history suggests he actively sought to JOIN the Taliban.

Now consider the surrealistic scene where Bergdahl's father stands with the President of the United States and says in Arabic:

“In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate.”

The father proceeded to speak in Pashtu, also known as Afghani, because he said his son might have difficulty understanding English after five years in captivity. After learning of how the inmates of the infamous 'Hanoi Hilton' prison in Vietnam used their MINDS to stay focused on who they were, I find that just a little too incredible. Bergdahl's platoon leader spoke to Sean Hannity and painted a picture of a troubled young man who stepped out looking for trouble. Six men died trying to find him after he deserted his post.

But the platoon leader went on to consider the lives lost capturing the five dangerous Taliban! Many in the Mainstream Media were no doubt scratching their heads! But had they studied the man who would be President, they would have known who his Communist mentors were. They would have noted the Anti-colonialism of his Kenyan Father. They would have seen all too well that the 'Gift,' brought into the city in the guise of "Hope and Change," had indeed opened up to reveal a force intent on destroying the America we love! For my low-literature readers (if I have any), I reference the famous Trojan Horse.

"The Wooden Horse, a device resorted to by the Greeks, after the death of Achilles, was used to capture Troy. The story is known to Homer and is referred to in the Odyssey as well as being part of the cycle of stories about Troy, but the Iliad ends well before this event. Epēius, a skilful craftsman, constructed a very large wooden horse inside which picked Greek warriors, including Odysseus, were concealed. Then the Greek army sailed out of sight, leaving Sinon, one of their number, behind. He pretended to the Trojans that he was a deserter and that the horse was an offering to Athena; if brought within the city it would render it impregnable. In spite of the warning given to the Trojans by Lāocǒon (a priest of Apollo) not to trust ‘Greek gifts’, the Trojans dragged the horse into the city, convinced that the destruction of Laocoon and his sons by two serpents after he had given his warning was a punishment for impiety. Cassandra too prophesied disaster but was disbelieved. At night the Greeks came out of the horse and the city was taken. In Homer's Odyssey (book 4) Menelaus reminds Helen how, when the horse was inside the walls of Troy, she had walked round it calling out the names of the men she suspected might be inside, and Odysseus had prevented anyone from answering. In book 8 Odysseus at the court of Alcinous asks the bard to sing the story of the Wooden Horse. Virgil tells the story of the horse in Aeneid 2." --

Erick Erickson writes: "Barack Obama is not a stupid man. One does not win the Presidency twice by being stupid. Looking at all of his foreign policy and national security blunders and pronouncements, I think there is only one rationale way to explain his foreign and national security policy without relying on him being stupid. Barack Obama has decided the best way to make the world a safer place is to make America a less safe place. If we must be worried about the shadows and random dictatorships with nukes, we will be less bold in pursuing our own interests. To Barack Obama that’s a good thing." [2.]

The scene at the White House is in keeping with what many of us know the President to be. It is time, dear reader, to take action. Overpasses for America and Operation American Spring have sounded the warning. We MUST register our friends to vote and inform them. This year we MUST gain Conservative seats in the Senate so that we may effectively fight the enemy inside our gates. If you are one inclined to ignore politics, be assured that politics WON'T ignore you!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

THYME Magazine: Essential Knowledge

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume VII, Issue XXV

Essential Knowledge

Never before in history have we been surrounded by more information. Never before have we wanted so severely for essential knowledge!

It is easy and simplistic to lament the replacement of  "old" communications technology with new. In a way that misses the real point. Yes, I can use a search engine to find just about any published fact I want to know. Yes I can search for and look at thousands of news stories. Still a friend of mine lamented that real investigative journalism is sorely lacking these days. Very little 'reporting' gets very far beneath the surface. "There's not the money for it;" he opined. We are likely to hear over and over again what a handful of 'experts' think happened to a missing Malaysian airliner while no one bothers to lay out the background of the situation in Ukrania. In fact, on election night in 2008, we hear reporters celebrate the election of 'their' candidate, Obama, and almost in the same breath they admit: "We know very little about him.!"

There is no excuse for that. Bill Ayers helped him write a book and if you really wanted to understand the man who would be President, all you had to do was read it. Read in the context of who his parents and mentors were, it would tell you exactly what anti-colonial principles drove him. Vetting a Presidential candidate, even one who did NOT have an average American childhood, going instead to a Muslim school in Indonesia, is not rocket science. [1.]

But even more disturbing than the inability to investigate a candidate is the inability to pass along to our next generation the foundational truths our society and our great nation were built on.

I watched a little movie this past weekend that nicely packaged a bit of very important truth in an unlikely medium. It spoke of how the Divine is able to speak into a life through a simple interaction between two human beings. The movie, The Letter Writer shows how one person can speak the truth of Imago Dei into the life of another.

The Letter Writer (2011) puts essential knowledge in a new perspective using a most traditional medium.

Lessons from The Letter Writer

I use modern technology for a lot of my communications. This is no Luddite rant against it. The printing press was once new technology and it put the Bible in the hands of the people. I can read the Holy Scriptures on my Iphone now. I also communicate with family using it. FaceTime with my granddaughter is a great blessing. Facebook helps me pray for those close to me. Smugmug is the family photo album we can all share. Yet, when my young friend and colleague and her fiancee graduated from college recently, I felt a REAL card was in order. Clicking the 'LIKE' button does lack the personal touch that paper and ink provide.

This is the wonderful discovery that Maggie Fuller makes as she receives a mysterious letter from someone she does not know. Tracking down the source brings Maggie into a wonderful journey discovering how her life can serve as a beacon to others. The young singer tracks down the letter writer and finds an unlikely community of mentorship in love and servanthood. Her Epiphany comes about as she joins her new friends in singing Henry Alford's famous hymn: Come Ye Thankful People, Come [click to read more]. The story speaks of how truth and values can and should be passed from one generation to another. Unrealistic? A lot of secular critics dismissed the film and its message, but think of how Jewish culture places the transferal of great truth in the context of the Passover Meal. Think of the Redemptive message of the celebration of the Eucharist.

Walking with my little granddaughter on the tree shaded campus of the nearby college, I find myself humming the tune of Come Ye Thankful People, Come. She smiles as I show her squirrels and bright flowers. Is the message of the movie really so unrealistic? Our Pastor shared with us the story of a little church in our denomination (Mennonite) that prayed for a vision of what G-d might do through them... not a program that THEY would do, but the true seeking of an opportunity to allow G-d to work through them. Through much prayer they felt drawn to minister to the youth of their community. There was a problem, however, as the YOUNGEST member of the congregation was in her sixties!

They shared the vision with their Pastor and continued to pray. There was NO WAY this congregation was ever going to pull off the youth coffee house type of outreach or anything of the kind! But a funny thing happened. The older people, now with enlarged vision for the young people in their neighborhoods, found themselves building relationships where once they might have been saying: "Keep off my grass!" Kids started conversing with older neighbors. Gradually they ventured onto the front porch. Eventually they were enjoying warm cookies and milk in the kitchen. These kids didn't need another youth-centered event, they needed some FAMILY!... and that is just what the church was able to give them.

(to be continued)