Fantasy Obama Inaugural Speech

Well, the election is past, and America has chosen to continue with President Barack Obama for another four years.  I wrote about this in a commentary published on the LCG and Tomorrow’s World websites which were graciously published yesterday, and I won’t revisit that territory here. Though do click through and read it if you haven’t: “Can the President Save America?”  I believe in the 8th commandment and refuse to quote other articles in their entirety and, thus, steal other website’s traffic from other websites, so I won’t quote the commentary here, but I do encourage you to read it there.

Rather, I’d like to indulge in a little wishful thinking. Well, probably more than wishful — it borders on fantasy. OK, perhaps it crosses that border and sets up a summer home there. But I so wish it would happen.  I dreamed once before that I had the chance to speak with President Obama and tell him personally the things that we preach on our program. It’s possible that dream informs this fantasy. What I have below is hastily written and probably not the clearest and most typo/grammar infraction-free writing I’ve ever done. In fact, I’m fairly sure that after it’s done and posted, I will wish I had rephrased much of it. But it will still feel good to get it off my chest! So here goes…

Setting: President Obama’s Second Inauguration, January 21, 2013. The President has just been sworn in and turns to face the applauding crowd and begin his address…

Thank you… Thank you…

My fellow Americans, I cannot help but begin with an expression of humble gratitude that you have chosen me to continue leading our nation through what are surely difficult times–more difficult than virtually any of us even now realize. Though political campaigns do not necessarily bring out the best in us, the days afterwards were–and continue to be–encouraging. As you know, in the first days immediately after the election, I met with Vice President Biden, Senators Reid and McConnell, and Representatives Boehner and Pelosi, as well as with Governor Romney and Representative Ryan. I can assure you that each of them has the nation’s best interested at heart, it’s citizens’ best interested at heart, and our common future as their highest priority. I found them more easy to work with than I had allowed myself to believe they would be, and I hope they found a more humble Head of State than they experienced over the previous four years. The compromise we reached concerning the fiscal cliff the nation approached in those days was not pretty, was not popular, and it is not permanent. But I cannot imagine a more passionate and diligent team could be assembled to get the job done.

As you know, however, and as has been reported by everyone from the mainstream press to the tabloids, I have been out of the public eye for some time after those days. Even during the deliberations over the fiscal deadline we all shared, I was frequently absent, and after the agreement was reached, I was even more so. I have not spoken publicly since that time to today, and this has enraged some, puzzled most, and troubled many. For that, you have my apologies. Even those closest to me have been confused… worried. My wife, Michelle, has been as strong and supportive as ever–as have Sasha and Malia. Though they don’t exactly understand, they still support me. God knows that I cannot thank them enough, and He knows what courage it has taken them to continue to stand by me in silence as the last couple of months have unfolded. Regardless of what transpires next, they will always have my devotion.

I owe you, the people, an explanation for what the newspapers have called my “time AWOL”–but for all the praise that has been heaped upon me as an orator, I have struggled with myself over not only how to speak on the matters that have weighted on my mind and my heart, but, more importantly, what to actually do about them. I must be frank and admit to you that I do not entirely know what I will do about these things. But I do know that the problems we face, we face together as a nation–a nation of divided loyalty and values, yet a nation with a shared destiny, a common fate.

I have learned some things that I did not expect to learn over the last couple of months, and I have come to a certain understanding. It will not please many of those who most devotedly voted to place me in office, nor will it give too great a comfort to many of those who desired my opponent. But truth is not chosen through popular election… and truth is what has confronted me in the harsh weeks I have faced leading up to today.

In the campaign season that just ended, many of us running for office ended our speeches with the words “God bless the United States of America.” My opponent used it at the end of his gracious concession speech. I expressed the same sentiment in my victory speech. At any number of speeches across the country, you would have heard the words “God bless America” come from the mouths of each of us desiring your vote. Some of us don’t believe in a God, and we still say it. Some of us believe in a God, but not one who chooses to intervene in the lives and affairs of men and nations–or who can even be said to “choose” anything at all–and we still say it.

Personally, I do believe there is a God. And it strikes me that if I am to keep uttering that phrase, it should mean something to me.

As I have studied, and prayed, and struggled over the past weeks–suddenly confronting a surprising clarity and understanding that I never expected and, indeed, did not ask for–I have had to ask myself a question, and it’s a question I need to ask all of us assembled here, today: Why should God bless us?

Many who have been my opponents on the other side of the political isle have often taken issue with what they see in me as an opposition to the idea of “American exceptionalism.” They were right in the fact that I did not conceive of the idea in the same way they did. Yet I preached from the bully pulpit my own brand of American exceptionalism. Regardless of where I stood or where they stood, I now have to ask myself: Does either view of that “exceptionalism” truly please the God that I now see has held us up and sustained us — whose hand, if we are honest with ourselves, we cannot help but see shrinking away from us, however slowly? Would He ultimately be more pleased with the vision I have discussed in those times I felt politically safest? Would He ultimately be more pleased with the vision often upheld by my past opponents, those whom I reach out to today as coworkers and friends? Or is the Almighty looking for something altogether different?

Ancient Israel knew something similar–a sense of “Israelite exceptionalism.” Perhaps they, too, began to think it was because of ideas or laws or ways of life that they, themselves, had designed–that they, too, had created their own greatness, or that they, too, were a special people in and of themselves… Forgetting that their exceptionalism was not based upon their being an inherently better nation than all the others, but in the relationship they had with the Almighty in what He was willing to do with them and through them.

Some have wondered about the Bible I chose for my oath of office today… While I did not feel worthy to use the Bible of Washington’s inauguration or of Lincoln’s, that wasn’t the only reason I chose this one. I asked that this Bible be used for the simple fact that it is my own. I’ve read it, before. I’ve prayed over it. But I believe with all my heart that it is only within the last couple of months have I truly begun to understand it. And what I have come to understand and been taught fills me with regret–and, honestly, with fear for our nation, for our union, and for our families–and it challenges me every time I now utter those words, “God bless America.”

And none of the political answers we have heard over countless previous presidencies and senatorial terms are enough to resolve those fears — to answer the questions posed by what this book claims.

On one hand, I do have some cause for real hope. What I see in this book are the best aspirations of both of our political parties. Speaking for my fellow Democrats and our allies and to the best of our declared hopes and ambitions, I see a God described in this book as One who cares passionately and zealously for the poor, for the weak, and for those who have no voice. I see a God who is willing to ensure all who have contribute for the good of those who do not. I see a God who has greater priorities than the bottom line, and a God who is willing to regulate even the smallest aspects of society where necessary so as to guarantee it is just, and good, and a place where all are blessed. Speaking for Republicans and those sympathetic to their stated causes, I see a God who honors the principles of private ownership and private responsibility. I see a God who believes that if a man who can work chooses not to do so, then that man does not eat. I see a God who created the foundations of society in the family and who wisely drafted its design and purpose. And I see a God who claims to know the child from the moment of conception, even before he or she is born.

On the other hand, while I see those values shining brightly from the pages of this amazing book, what I do not find there is any real evidence that we have pursued the realization of those values in a manner that will ever bring success. I see that I have been a part of an industry that has made merchandise out of women’s wombs, and has sacrificed innocent children for the sake of adults’ convenience. I see those elected to be shepherds who worship at the altar of “market forces,” as if those forces alone are sufficient to produce a just and caring society.  I see…

I’m sorry… It was my intention to say more–and there is more to be said–but I need this address to be larger and more hopeful than such a list would allow it to be. Suffice it to say that for a nation whose leaders routinely say, “God bless America,” it is clear that we are doing nothing to truly earn the blessing we request of Him.

I am as guilty as anyone. Our statisticians tell us that between 50 and 70 million across the globe will be watching this speech–an audience my unexpected silence over these past weeks has magnified to some extent. Many of you watching could pull out your smartphones and Google a video of me in my 2008 campaign where I mocked the idea of running a country by the principles of the Bible. For instance, at that time I pointed out the seemingly impossibility of being a nation who turns the other cheek and which disposes of the Department of Defense. I had in mind at the time not a desire to mock the Bible, though I see now that is what I did. I had a desire to the hypocrisy of those who opposed me, claiming to stand for godly, biblical government, as if I did not. I won’t disparage them here on the stage any further than perhaps I already have–if I have been so blind and ignorant, how can I hold their own blindness against them.

But I see an answer now that I did not see then. It is still true: I do not know how one can rule a nation in the modern world while hewing closely to the the laws and principles of this beautiful and wondrous book. I do not know the fullness of the path that takes us from here to there. But what I have learned, if I have learned anything, is that if I will take those steps I know I can, there is a God who can make the next steps clearer. That one does not refuse to take the first few steps because his lamp does not illuminate the entire path… that rather he takes those steps he can see, and that the lamp will not illuminate his next steps until he does so.

This book has shown me that although I am not your lawmaker or your judge, as our Constitution defines my role, as the President I am your leader in a unique and humbling way, and I will be held responsible to God for the choices I make as your President. I questioned in recent weeks whether I should even take the Oath of Office–whether my new understanding prevented me from being able to fulfill that oath or whether I should step aside as a different man than the one you elected. I may still discover that I should step aside, or I may be asked by you, the people, to leave. Time will tell. But I believe at this time that if I am here in this place and in this position, then I must within my limited power do what I can to help us along a path to become a nation God can bless. I cannot make the laws. I cannot judge. But within the authority I do have, I will use this book to guide my decisions and actions. And I will use the pulpit this office gives me to point all of us in the direction we should go. It is not a direction that most any of us have headed before, and I am no exception. But it is the direction that all of us should go. It is toward the pillar of fire and smoke that will lead us to a truly wonderful land — a land we have lost sight of, if we ever saw it truly at all.

I have no illusions. I know that the stand I must now take may make this term shorter than President Harrison’s. This may be the last speech I will ever be allowed to give as an elected official. Many of my cabinet members will choose to resign–some of them may be drafting their letters as I speak, if they haven’t fainted dead away already. I don’t mean to mock them. They are good men and women, every one. It is no fault of theirs that their president has become a different man than the man they knew, and there will be no shame in resigning. For their replacements, I will be open to any person of any party who is willing to help me take this country in this direction–the only direction that will save it.

And when I say “save it,” I am not being melodramatic.

Our nation is on the brink of collapse. The editorial pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal bicker over what trouble our nation is in — one editor’s national strength is another editor’s national weakness. Their opinions–and mine–are immaterial. But the God who founded this nation makes it clear that He is the source of our strength and our turning from Him is the source of our weakness. All of us who believed that certain magical “isms” would make America all we hoped it could be–capitalism, socialism, humanism, communism– have done nothing but weaken the nation with each passing administration and term of office. This incredible book supports some of our “isms” in part, but none of them whole. And while we debate amongst ourselves and hold up the humanly-devised code or creed or way of life we individually champion, this same book declares that we have done nothing to forestall our date with destiny. We cannot expect our debt problem to disappear with fiscal policy that does not recognize our Creator in the heart of it, as we are told that it is He who gives us the power to obtain wealth. We cannot expect our poor and destitute to be cared for in the manners of our devising without recognizing the God who claims them as His own. We cannot expect our military to continue to succeed and expect the size of our might to protect and deliver us without recognizing with more than lip service and faithless prayers the God who truly protects and delivers, and who can save or destroy the many at the hands of the few. We cannot continue to hope that our crops will return and our skies will be merciful when we have ignored the One who crafted the soil and the seed, the sun and the sky.

For the nation who forgets these things, this book has some fearsome things to say about the days ahead — things that, since I have come to see them and believe them, have driven me to my knees in tears several times a day in the hope that those days may still be averted.

You know — I was elected in 2008 by many people who hailed me as a savior of sorts. The last four years have stripped them of that illusion. I am no savior. But this nation does have a Savior. And with all the powers that this position vests in me, I will do all I can to turn this nation to that Savior. To His ways, to His laws, to His judgments, and to His mercies. I will seek to do so within the laws and the Constitution I have sworn to uphold, and I am sure that there will be many questions for the Supreme Court in the days ahead. Many of those I have counted, and hope to still count, as friends and who stand beside me today are probably already drawing up the lawsuits in their minds. But that will not change my resolve.

So, I am asking all of you to join me next week on January 28 in a day of prayer and fasting for our nation. I ask you to pray for me, as your president, as I step onto a path that, I do admit, is at once terrifying and inspiring to me–a path that finally recognizes the true potential for our nation to experience the most horrific of fates, yet which also recognizes the only true solution. It is not a path that has not been planned or even imagined by either of our political parties, but I know in the deepest parts of who and what I am that it is the only path we can travel and continue to exist as a people. And I ask you to pray for our once great nation. I have no doubt that my words today will cause upheaval. I see that even now as I look into your faces and find there a mixture of wonder, doubt, hope, sadness, anger, confusion, fury, and, in a very few cases, exhilaration. And for each of those responses, I understand what you are going through. They are the very same emotions I have passed through myself in the hard weeks leading up to today. I can only hope against the odds that those emotions will carry you to the same place mine did.

I leave you today with a quote from this book I’ve mentioned so frequently today, taken from the book of 2 Chronicles and chapter 7, after Solomon had dedicated the temple to his God and to ours. That same God told Solomon as He tells us today: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” My fellow Americans, we need our land healed. We need our sins forgiven. And we need to be heard by the One in heaven. Consequently, we must humble ourselves. And we must pray. And we must seek His face.

In any way in which I have failed to do this before, either in word or in example, I ask your forgiveness. I do not intend to fail you any further. And to my fellow politicians on both sides of the political aisle–indeed, all across this nation’s diverse political spectrum–you have my apologies, too. I know that the President who has spoken today is not the President any of you expected, nor, for most likely all of you, is he the President you want. But, for whatever reason, it is the President which God has decided to give you.

In 2008, I promised “hope and change.” I tell you truly: I did not know what those words truly meant before now. I did not know the real hope that is held out for us. I did not see the change that all of us truly need. But I am beginning to get a glimpse of it now. And I am committed to do all I can to make that change happen… So help me, God.

May God be with us in the difficult days ahead, may He mercifully lead us to repentance, and may God bless the United States of America.

Non-Prophet Presidential Predictions (or Probabilities, Perhaps)

I’ve rediscovered my blog! The time since the beginning of the Fall Holy Days has been crazy, with not only Feast coordination (which went fantastically at the Lake of the Ozarks–thanks to all who pitched in!), but also with Tomorrow’s World Special Presentations (and a hearty thanks to all of you in Iowa, who showed up, helped, and gave me shelter and food that weekend!) and with Tomorrow’s World tapings last week (and more thanks, yet–thanks to the fantastic crew, editorial staff, and everyone else who makes the program a joy to work on!). But things are beginning to feel more normal again–other than the Council of Elders meeting coming up in November, life has calmed down.

Except for the Presidential Election this week!!!! Auuuuuugh!

OK, no freaking out there, either. What a blessing and comfort it is to know that God is in charge, and even if he appoints the basest of men next week, it will be for the purpose He is working out.

That said, it is high drama, and given that all indications are that the man elected next week will be facing remarkable events over the next four years–and we in America and the world will be facing them with him–one cannot help but wonder who it will be.

Any predictions? I could pretend to be a prophet and say who I think will win, then claim authoritatively “Like I said on Friday…” next week (unless I was wrong, in which case I could either point to the weasel words I sneaked into my prediction or else I not bring it up again). But let me say upfront, I am not a prophet, and the Church of God today has no prophet, though some certainly claim to be so. This is ground I’ve covered before, but it’s worth repeating… No one in the Living Church of God claims to be a prophet, and no one in any other organization I’ve ever seen (and regrettably, I’ve had to see a lot) shows the proper fruit of a prophet. None of us blogging out here in Internetland have any biblical evidence to show that we’re a prophet: myself, Bob Thiel, John Wheeler, various other bloggers I will not name, Facebookers, Tweeters, blog commenters, etc., etc., etc. — none of us have biblical prophet credentials. (Let’s be hip and call it “prophet cred”…) And none of those out there claiming to be one of the Two Witnesses fit the bill beyond the twisted passages and personal arguments they hold up as “evidence.” There simply is no prophet out there at this time.

So when I say this, I don’t speak as a prophet: I think that President Obama has the best chance of winning. (Note, I’m not expressing my preference in the matter, just what I think of the odds.)

I know that there are many people out there parsing the numbers, and they come up with various predictions. Karl Rove, for instance, wrote a very good argument in the Wall Street Journal yesterday (I think it was yesterday) pointing to Governor Romney as the likely victor. I’m not saying it isn’t possible–indeed, it’s a very real possibility. Then there are those who believe that a mysterious shadow government really controls everything and they will simply place their puppet into control regardless of the voting this Tuesday. I won’t address that beyond a quick mention of Isaiah 8:12. Still, others will look at the arc of prophecy and decide that either Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney would best suit the purpose of God in fulfilling that prophecy and claim that their choice will be God’s choice.  Some of them, of course, will be right about the conclusion (since one man will win or the other), and wrongly see that as confirmation of their prowess with understanding scripture, breaking their arms as they pat themselves on the back.

My sense is simpler than all of that. Even though so many of the opinion polls seem to be breaking for Governor Romney, I have a hard time getting past what the gamblers are saying, and the gamblers–as of today–still believe that Mr. Obama will win and seem to give him great odds: 67% that he will win, 33% that he will lose (as I write this at 10-ish AM, Friday morning). Check it out for yourself on Intrade. Unlike opinion polls, the prediction market isn’t asking who you like or who you’ll vote for–it’s asking who you think will win AND it’s asking you to put up good money on your belief. If you’ve never heard of prediction markets, the New Yorker had a good, brief article on them in 2007, and it’s essentially gambling structured like stock market futures trading. Now, I don’t gamble (work! Exodus 20:9!), but the success of these markets at predicting presidential election outcomes is pretty impressive.

The history of the gambling markets for presidential elections is fascinating, and apparently before the introduction of Gallup polls and the rest it was the gambling community that major newspapers looked to to forecast coming elections. An article on the Huffington Post describes a bit of history and the success rates such “markets” had seen in elections:

Gamblers’ success in this arena is nothing new. In presidential races beginning in 1896, the New York Times, Sun, and World provided daily betting quotes. The papers’ sources were bookies who had agents at every stump and whistle-stop to gather intel and quantify popular sentiment. Between 1884 and 1940, the bettors erred on just one of sixteen elections, Wilson’s 1916 upset of Hughes.

It’s actually an interesting article for those so inclined.  And 15 out of 16 — that’s a pretty good success rate.

Still, sometimes the horse with the best odds doesn’t come in first (or so I assume–I haven’t seen a Kentucky Derby since my mother died), and the gamblers only give low odds for Mr. Romney, not abysmal. Personally, I can see God accomplishing a number of things in the United States under either man’s leadership (or, perhaps, “leadership”). And as for what the reaction might be on election day, itself, given the emotions at play this year–especially if one of the candidates wins the Electoral College but not the popular vote–I will just say that we should pray for peace: Peaceful minds (our own, as well, if need be) and peaceful circumstances.

We’ll find out in just a few days…

The borrower is servant to the lender

Wow — great illustration, today, of the truth of Proverbs 22:7,

“The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower is servant to the lender.”

The United States has been living off of its credit card, and it is coming time to pay the piper (mixed metaphor, I know). However, we can’t seem to agree on how to do that. The UK’s Guardian reports today about Rep. John Boerner’s failed attempt to even get his plan to a vote because he could not get enough conservative Republicans to agree to it. It would not have succeeded, anyway, as it would have been shot down in the Senate, although there it could have faced improved odds in its amendments. If Boerner’s plan failed to pass muster, it’s hard to imagine how Sen. Harry Reid’s plan will fare any better in the House.

However, here’s the paragraph that caught my attention in the Guardian article:

“The White House will almost certainly make its priority paying interest on its debts so that the US does not default for the first time in its history. But the consequence could be delaying monthly payments to federal workers, soldiers and other employees, and millions of cheques to social security recipients, veterans and others. The treasury said it would release details in the coming days regarding which payments will take priority over others. It makes an average of 80m payments a month.”

That’s the way that debt works!  Interest payments über alles.  When you are considering sacrificing your own soldiers, veterans, employees, and elderly so that you can continue to pay interest to your foreign creditors, you are seeing the truth of Proverbs 22:7 playing out.  Welcome to servitude.

Kudos to the Governor of Texas for making such a step, but how nice it would be to see the President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, or the Senate Majority Leader come before the people not to deride the “other side” but to ask the people of the United States to appeal to God to heal what is wrong with our land and to fast for the humility to see His will more clearly and, more importantly, to act on it over own own desires.

For all the wrangling and arm twisting going on in Washington D.C., that is still the only real, long term solution to America’s woes: national repentance.

Let no one think that the U.S. has to fall slowly.  Jeremiah 6:26 & 15:8 speak of destruction coming suddenly, and Deuteronomy 28:43-45 describe the role that indebtedness to foreign powers will play in the destruction of a nation that has forgotten God, His ways, and His commandments.  Habakkuk 2:6-7 should be sobering, as well — while it is not about the United States, the reason God is able to use debt as a metaphor in that passage for the sudden destruction the Chaldeans and Babylon had earned (and may earn in the future) through their rapacious lust for conquests is because debt often is a fundamental cause of sudden destruction, as the U.S. may soon learn.

National repentance.  Let’s pray for it — but more than that, let’s remember that nations are composed of individuals.  Consequently, there can be no national repentance without individual repentance.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
For those to whom the idea of prophecies about Israel applying to the United States (and other British-descended nations) are new, please request the free Tomorrow’s World booklet, “The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy”

[The United States and Great Britain in Prophecy]

Anti-war? Anti-Republican? Anti-what?

Protest holds sign at March 20, 2010 anti-war ...
A protester in 2010, so some have stuck with it.(Image via Wikipedia)

Last Tuesday the WSJ’s James Taranto in his Best of the Web feature referred to an interesting study by the University of Michigan concerning anti-war protests of the last few years.  Here’s a quote from a university article about the study (same as Taranto’s quote with a little more at the beginning):

Since 2003, the antiwar movement in the United States has had much to protest with Americans fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya, but the movement—which has dropped off sharply the past two years—may be more anti-Republican than antiwar, says a University of Michigan researcher.

A new study by U-M’s Michael Heaney and colleague Fabio Rojas of Indiana University shows that the antiwar movement in the United States demobilized as Democrats, who had been motivated to participate by anti-Republican sentiments, withdrew from antiwar protests when the Democratic Party achieved electoral success, first with Congress in 2006 and then with the presidency in 2008.

“As president, Obama has maintained the occupation of Iraq and escalated the war in Afghanistan,” said Heaney, U-M assistant professor of organizational studies and political science. “The antiwar movement should have been furious at Obama’s ‘betrayal’ and reinvigorated its protest activity.

“Instead, attendance at antiwar rallies declined precipitously and financial resources available to the movement have dissipated. The election of Obama appeared to be a demobilizing force on the antiwar movement, even in the face of his pro-war decisions.”

I mention it because (1) it helps to demonstrate that what seems to have people riled up is not always what is truly riling them up, and (2) some have accused me of political bias on this blog before.

On the first matter, it is telling that even though our current President has chosen to have America involved in a third area of the Middle East, many of the anti-war protesters who were virtually frothing at the mouth during the previous President’s tenure are oddly silent.  I smell me some hypocrisy (a leaven to be avoided, to be sure: Luke 12:1).

On the latter matter, some have questioned why I am not more vehemently “anti-war” on this blog and loudly decrying America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.  At the same time, I have been accused of being anti-military, as well — so, go figure.

Regardless of accusations — and regardless of who is President — I maintain the same position: The only solution to America’s ills is to seek national repentance.  While I can understand and even sympathize with leaders who feel it necessary to risk the lives of our young men and women and can respect those who voluntarily place their own lives at risk in the service of their country, ultimately only God can truly protect America.  And, as I have said before, until the United States, as a nation, repents and comes under the shed blood of Jesus Christ, it will continue to experience the shed blood of its sons and daughters.  (You can read more thoughts along these lines in the link above and here.)

I pray that, unlike politically motivated “stances,” the message has been consistent.

Does Ms. Thomas Speak for the Administration?

Much ado is still being made over Ms. Helen Thomas’ comment that Israel should “get the [expletive] out of Palestine,” that Israelis are occupiers in a land that is not theirs, and that they should “go home” to Germany, Poland, America, etc.

For those paying attention to her in the past, that Ms. Thomas holds these views is not really a shock.  The only shocker is that she would say them publicly and allow them to be recorded.  This is a nation that runs on pretense and veneer, and her real crime is, sadly, being honest about her feelings in a society for which honesty is no longer a virtue.

I think the real question is whether or not the American President feels the same way.  I won’t assume that he does, but if I were an an Israeli I would suspect that Mr. Obama does, deep down, share Ms. Thomas’ sentiment — that he does believe that if only Israel did not exist, so many problems would go away.

The recent snubbing of Mr. Netanyahu reminded me of the horrendous “gifts” to now-former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and to Queen Elizabeth.  I recently had the opportunity, along with many others, to hear an Englishman say that — though he was absolutely no fan of Mr. Brown — those “gifts” were like an personal insult delivered to him and to every British citizen.  He was in no way confused about the message President Obama was delivering: “There is no ‘special relationship’ between our nations, and don’t count on us to be your friend should tough times call.  You’re just another nation to us, if not less.”  Israel is surely not mistaking the President’s communiques, either.

Yes, the White House officially denounced Ms. Thomas’ scurrilous remark.  But Administrations (of both political flavors) are very good at denouncing unpopular comments and, regrettably, those denouncements reflect political necessity (again, “pretense and veneer”) and are not the best measure of the true sentiments of the President.

So the question remains: How closely do Ms. Thomas’ views reflect the Administration’s?  To what degree does the President see Israel not as a rare, similarly-minded presence in the Middle East, but rather as an annoying source of trouble which would be more helpful if it simply did not exist?

The realignment of loyalties that the current Administration is creating is personally very sad to me.  My eyes filled with tears during President Bush’s address to Congress after 9/11 when he referred to Tony Blair, all the more knowing the biblical connection between the countries those men represented.

Losing America as an ally will likely force Israel to look elsewhere for muscle and political heft, such as its neighbor, the EU.  And such “looking” very well may have prophetic ramifications worth watching.

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Obama the Antichrist? I don’t think so…

White House Photo, by Pete Souza
So, is he or isn't he?

[UPDATE, 3/25/2010: As James Taranto exposes in his Best of the Web feature today (check it out here), this poll is not the most reliable piece of work, making me feel all the better about my clarification below: “Let the statisticians figure out if the poll was conducted properly…”  It clearly was NOT and was a political “hit poll” meant to ridicule its subject (meaning Republicans, not the President).  As Taranto says: “In truth, the poll is so deeply flawed that it demonstrates nothing.”  In fact, the fact that Harris Interactive (the “polling” company) was unwilling to state margins of error (really bad sign #1) and was willing to use methods that would very naturally & quite thoroughly skew their results in the worst of ways (really bad sign #2) makes for a horrifically useless poll.  Consequently, it was a “hit poll” through and through, and a similar sort of thing could have been done about Presidents Bush & Clinton with similarly skewed and useless results.  Really, check out the Best of the Web entry for Taranto’s comments, which are a real education if you are unfamiliar with how polls can be done in such a misleading manner and if you’d like to learn about the common (cleaned up a bit) maxim: “There are lies, outrageous lies, and statistics.”

So, when reading the rest of this post (or, for that matter, reading “poll” results of any kind in the news), keep these things in mind!  And pray for a time when the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:8) will be a staple food in the diet of those who claim to provide us with “facts”! — WGS]

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I was checking out my mail on AT&T Yahoo! (which is disappearing within days, those of you who still reach me there!) and strolling around looking at the news items and links.  Mars viewing at its best until 2012 (not the Mars hoax, and not that 2012 is anything special), Republicans and Democrats continuing their ugly dance on health care, the violent lunacy of teen “flash mobs” — then this, from (emphasis mine):

“Americans have some extreme views of President Obama, with a new survey revealing 40 percent of adults believe he is a socialist, and about a quarter of survey participants thinking the president is a racist, anti-American and even doing things Hitler did.

“The whammy: 14 percent of Americans say President Barack Obama may be the Antichrist. When split by political party, 24 percent of Republicans and 6 percent of Democrats viewed the nation’s leader in this way.”

(See the full article here: “Quarter of Republicans Think Obama May Be the Anti-Christ”)

Wow. Approximately 1 out of every 7 Americans think that the President may be the Antichrist… 1 out of 4 Republicans, and even about 1 out of every 16 in his own party.  That’s generally not the sort of thing that looks good on a résumé.

Of course, President Obama isn’t the first.  President Ronald Reagan “enjoyed” such a labeling as well, especially due to the fact that his three names each had six letters in them.  But, still — did 1 out of 7 Americans think President Obama is the Antichrist?

Let the statisticians figure out if the poll was conducted properly…  Some certainly do believe it and I’ve heard the claim before and even mentioned it in my telecast, “Seven Signs of the Antichrist.” (Click on the link for streaming video or audio, to download video or audio, or to subscribe to the podcast feed.)

But, though I’m no fan of our current president, I can say confidently: President Obama is not the Antichrist. But, if you’re interested in finding out who is, you can start by checking out the link to the video just above this or you can jump straight to the booklet we have online: “Who or What Is the Antichrist?” As usual, it’s all free — whether you read it online or request the professional printed booklet that you can request.  Christ gave it to us freely and commands us to give it freely, ourselves!  No strings, no price tags.

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“Clarity begins at home”

As a wordsmith, I appreciated the comments from James Taranto, today, about some of the incoherent criticism and commentary coming out about President Obama’s State of the Union speech and the surrounding political climate.  As a part of what is apparently my ongoing effort to give the WSJ free advertising, here is a portion of Mr. Taranto’s critique:

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[Excerpt from Taranto’s Best of the Web Today in the WSJ:]

Charles Blow of the New York Times is even more confused about Obama’s rhetoric. Blow, as we noted last week, attributed Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts to stupid angry voters, eight months after praising the intelligence of Northeastern voters, who would never elect a Republican. This week he returns to the subject and attempts to reframe his contempt for the voters as a criticism of the president’s rhetorical manner. He does not succeed completely:

Obama has to accept that today’s information environment is broad and shallow, and we now communicate in headline phrases, acerbic humor and ad hominem attacks. Sad but true. . . .

The president must communicate within the environment he inhabits, not the one he envisions. The next time he gives a speech, someone should tap him on the ankle and say, “Mr. President, we’re down here.

[Obama] seems to believe that if he does a better job of explaining his aggressive agenda, then he’ll win hearts and minds. It’s an honorable ambition, but it’s foolhardy. People want clear goals, clearly defined and clearly (and concisely) conveyed. They’re suspicious of complexity. . . .

But look at that first paragraph again. To Blow, doing “a better job of explaining” is the opposite of offering “clear goals, clearly defined and clearly (and concisely) conveyed.” In fact, if the purpose of an explanation is to explain, clear and concise conveyance is precisely what one is aiming for.

Blow’s description of what happened to ObamaCare is a great example of what not to do:

The president overreached, pushing a convoluted bill with a convoluted message. The Republican response: “Just say no.” They countered with a series of crisp attacks that shrouded the bill in a fog of confusion. Now it’s in danger, and the public may well blame the Democrats. People don’t care as much about process as they do about results.

At first glance, Blow seems to be saying something simple and banal. But if you read this paragraph carefully, you will see that it is actually nonsensical. According to Blow, “they”–by which presumably he means Republicans, although there is no plural noun to serve as antecedent–answered Obama’s sales pitch with “crisp attacks.” Crisp in this context is a synonym for clear. So the clear attacks served as an enshrouding fog of confusion. Moreover, if ObamaCare was “a convoluted bill with a convoluted message,” why would one need a fog, clear or not, to enshroud it in confusion?

Before Blow criticizes the president’s rhetoric again, he may want to reflect that clarity begins at home.

[End excerpt.]
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“Clarity begins at home.”  Brilliant.

You can read more, including the full entry that is excerpted above, here: “A Crisp Fog Blows In.” And I don’t read this with a “finger-pointing” attitude.  The excerpts highlighted by Taranto are, to be sure, the work of a professional, but when looking at the details one sees a sloppiness that really detracts from the message for a discerning reader (and I assume Mr. Blow believes he is writing for readers of the discerning variety).  I admit to similar mistakes, myself — getting so caught up in the “good stuff” of what I want to say that I fail to consider carefully whether or not my words are actually as coherent as I imagine them to be.  For this reason (among others), I appreciate good editors (as we have on the Tomorrow’s World team, but which I lack for this blog), and the element of sheer nonsense in Mr. Blow’s comments is a black mark for his editors, as well.

In Psalm 141:3, King David prays, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”  Ditto, for me, and I would ask that He throw in a guard for the tip of my pen and the typing of my fingers, as well.

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Previous Post Potpourri!

Busy day, today (spending it with the family after being absent for much of this week) and what’s on my mind at present I would rather wait until tomorrow to discuss.  So today I present a Previous Post Potpourri!  The following links are those that seemed to catch someone’s fancy in the last few weeks or so (call them “reruns” if you will).  I’ve thrown in a few new links for some added benefit.  And, as a bonus at the end, I give you my highly anticipated, very technical, and thoroughly exhaustive review of Apple’s new iPad.

  • The State of the Union speech hasn’t changed my opinion of the state of our union, I’m afraid, and I still believe that Peggy Noonan really did a fair job of hitting the nail on the head in her October 29, 2009 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.  I discussed it in my post “A Nation Run by Callous Children” and will note, here, that you will see a similar theme in her piece published online today, “The Obama Contradiction.”
  • It generated more talk on Facebook than it did out here on the blog, methinks, but it’s apparently an issue many are talking about: “Spanking bans, good idea or not?”
  • Yes, my children will be taking over the chess world soon.  We discussed their marvelous and innovative chess strategies here.
  • The post “‘Avatar’ and, believe it or not, 2012” on worldwide academic acclaim for providing a much-needed phrase to the English language: “naked space smurfs.”
  • I’ve been linking to the Living Church of God’s countdown of 2009’s most downloaded items, and I realize now that I have missed the publishing of #8 & #7.  Here they are!Top 10 Website Downloads in 2009: #8 (click here) & #7 (click here)

And, finally, as I promised, I present my exhaustive, in-depth technological review of Apple’s new iPad:  Bleh. It’s just a giant iPhone.

(My apologies for the technological lingo I had to employ in that extensive review.  Some nuanced concepts can only be communicated through the specialized and somewhat esoteric words that are specific to a technical field.)

That’s it, and I apologize that you had to sit through this post — I’m in a bit of an odd mood, today, and I suppose my posting reflects it!

Have a wonderful Sabbath!

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All the News that’s Fit to Ignore?

Wow!  It feels like it’s been 87 months (approximately) since I last posted!  My apologies for the extended departure, though I must say that it almost felt like a vacation.  “Almost” because there was a bit of stress involved.  Frankly, I came across a number of small things here and there that I thought would be worth posting about, but not having posted in such a long time made me feel as though I should post anew only with something “big” — which, of course, I never had time to do.

So, scratch that!  No “make up” posts, just a return to writing something when it catches my eye.  My apologies to those in my area who have come out here frequently to see if there is anything new only to see the same old thing!

What crossed my mind today — and I have seen reflected in a few places — was the sad state of what we call news reporting, nowadays.  This weekend, President Obama’s now-former “green jobs” adviser (or “czar” as some like to call ’em) Mr. Van Jones  was forced (by superiors or circumstance) to resign.

There are two facts about this situation that are remarkable to me.

First, the fact that a man with the a history and a set of stated goals and political beliefs  such as Mr. Van Jones’ could be given such an influential place in the halls of American government is absolutely astonishing to me.  I’ve tried to come up with something that the previous administration could have done that would seem equivalent — perhaps appointing Dr. James Dobson as Education Czar or Pat Robertson as Director of Faith Based Initiatives, I don’t know.  It’s hard to come up with something that quite fits the bill.  And I’m speaking simply as one observing American political theater, not as someone with a dog in the hunt…  Even many on the political left apparently saw the appointment of Van Jones as a “hopeful” turning point in politics: moving us to a place where fiery radicalism — even deep and apparently never-disavowed sympathies towards communism and “revolution” — were not an obstacle to striding within the halls of power and influencing policy.  (I pick this up from the David Sirota quote in the WSJ’s excellent opinion piece, “Obama and the Left”.)

But the other story is that the “standard” news sources generally dropped the ball.  Or more than that, they seemed to have been unwilling to even walk onto the playing field.

The President’s choice of Van Jones to head up one of his signature issues, now empowered by mega-bucks from the “stimulus” giveaway, is newsworthy as far as I am concerned.  But the growing public unrest about the man and what his presence may (or may not) imply about the values of the President who chose him is certainly newsworthy by almost anyone’s standards — a truth validated by the fact that the unrest has brought about Mr. Jones’ resignation.  People do not resign from positions of power like this over non-newsworthy, run-of-the-mill grousing.  Where was the “fourth branch” of government in all of this?

James Taranto well summarizes the embarrassing truth:

As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York reported on Friday, neither the New York Times, the Washington Post, nor the evening newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC had so much as mentioned the controversy. Those who relied on the traditional mainstream media, that is to say, first learned of Jones’s existence upon his resignation. Glenn Beck is now the adversary media; the traditional press can scarcely even be bothered to report the news.

Even I — admittedly, not as sharp a fellow as I would like to be — realized that if the greater public knew what Mr. Jones’ background and stated goals he wouldn’t last and would have to resign.

Perhaps the major news outlets concluded that the situation was not newsworthy.  The fact of Mr. Van Jones’ resignation is bears witness that such a conclusion is false.  It was newsworthy in a big way; and it went virtually uncovered by the “standard bearing” sources of record.  The New York Times proclaims that it publishes “All the News that’s Fit to Print” yet a public outcry grows large enough over a few weeks to take down a handpicked and influential adviser to the President on one of his signature issues, and it isn’t newsworthy until after the fact?  (Byron York makes it seem even more ludicrous.)

I’m not trying to be political.  Sure, I have personal opinions about the President’s choice of Jones, and about his several other czars — even about the proliferation of such czars.  The weeks ahead should prove to be interesting political theater with regard to such guys and gals, as the public’s attention is beginning to turn to them and to what they might imply about the views of the president who has selected them.  Few will think about what their presence says about our entire political system, itself, but maybe some will; most will see them as a chance to attack one party in an effort to benefit the other.  I’ve said before that I believe America is prophesied to face a crushing lack of leadership, and it will be due to her unwillingness to seek the face of God and national repentance, not due to any particular party in or out of power.

But anyone of any political stripe would have to agree on these two things: (1) the fact that someone with a history and a set of stated goals and agendas such as Van Jones’ could be placed in such a position of influence and power in an American President’s administration is astonishing, and (2) the major news outlets that are supposed to represent the “fourth branch” of government completely abdicated their presumed responsibility.  They promise to give us backstage access in political theater, yet here they failed to even open the curtains for the show, itself.

I used to think that talk of the mainstream media’s growing irrelevance was a bit overblown.  I figured that you could still get news there, but you’d just have to remember that it would be biased.  But now I’m starting to wonder.  The “Media-Powers That Be” often criticize those who get their “news” from opinion sources: Talk radio, blogs, etc.  But how can they legitimately criticize such folks when major news stories are reported only in those very sources?

“Hoping your President is a liar?” – Now an LCG Commentary

I took the previous post and edited it a good bit to make it leaner and more focused and submitted it as a commentary for the Living Church of God website.  It’s actually up today and will be up until a new one is posted Monday or so.  My thanks to Mr. C. Ogwyn for his help and encouragement and Mr. Crockett for the suggestion of a related booklet to recommend — head out there and check it out!  (While there, you can subscribe to receive future LCG or Tomorrow’s World commentaries by e-mail.  RSS feeds are available, as well.)

And for those of you reading this for whom it is important, have a wonderful Sabbath.