Archive for July 22nd, 2009

Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

Matthew 16:13-20 (New International Version)

US Policy: Jews in Eastern Jerusalem are Unwanted ‘Settlers’

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Get ready for more disasters to hit the U.S.

The United States State Department made it clear Tuesday that Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem are “settlements,” which U.S. President Barack Obama has called “illegitimate.”

U.S. officials previously have used the term “settlement” to describe the Har Homa neighborhood, opposite the neighborhood of Gilo on the southern end of Jerusalem. Like French Hill, Ramot and eastern Talpiot, it was restored to Israel in the Six Day War in 1967 and officially annexed to Jerusalem in 1980. Approximately 300,000 Jews live in these neighborhoods.

The Obama administration has not stated whether it makes a distinction between building in Har Homa and the other neighborhoods.

Reporters covering the daily State Department press briefing have recently asked tough-than-usual questions concerning what they see as the United States trying to determine the future borders of a Palestinian Authority state instead of allowing Israel and the PA to negotiate directly.

In Tuesday’s session, reporters peppered State Department assistant spokesman Robert Wood with questions on how the Obama administration can continue to insist on a halt to all building for Jews in eastern Jerusalem as well as Judea and Samaria in light of solid support from within Israel for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu told the Cabinet this week that Israel has complete sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and decides issues such as building permits. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon declared on Tuesday, “Israel will continue to operate in accordance with its vital national interests… Our right to rule and develop Jerusalem is irrefutable.”

Even Intelligence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, one of the most dovish Likud Knesset Members, who previously has favored the idea of surrendering the strategic Golan Heights to Syria, took up the cause for Jerusalem Tuesday.

He asserted that the U.S. is obligated by informal commitments by former President George W. Bush, who wrote to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that large population Jewish centers, such as Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim, will remain part of Israel in any final agreement with the PA. Washington recently has lumped eastern Jerusalem with Maaleh Adumim as “settlements.” The Obama administration has rejected any commitment to the promises because they were not part of a formal agreement.

“It is of great importance to us that what the [previous] U.S. administration agreed to is not overlooked,” Meridor told reporters. “This is how countries take upon themselves obligations.” He added that the “oral understandings” are “binding on us and them.”

Original Link.

Survey Shows Majority Resists Paying for Cap-and-Trade

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Speaking of polls, this survey shows that we, the average working American, have very little interest in being taxed, yet again, in order to pay for junk science global warming.

Almost half of the Americans who responded to a new poll say they have concerns about the impact of carbon dioxide on the climate, but two out of three say they have no interest whatsoever in opening their wallets to pay for any mitigation.

Asked whether they “believe that man-produced carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases will induce catastrophic climate change” if unaddressed, 49.6 percent of the respondents said yes. Twenty-seven percent said no, and 23.4 percent were uncertain. The concern from Democrats and Republicans was reversed with Democrats saying 10-1 yes and Republicans saying 2-1 no.

However, when asked if they were willing to “pay significantly higher energy bills in the hope of heading off what some scientists believe to be impending climate change,” 63.6 percent said no. That included Democrats by a margin of almost 3-1 and members of the GOP by 12-1.

The WND/Wenzel survey was conducted July 12-17 using an automated telephone technology calling a random sampling of listed telephone numbers nationwide. The survey included 16 questions and carries a 95 percent confidence interval. It included 807 adult respondents. It carries a margin of error of +/– 3.4 percentage points.

Original Link.

Poll: Americans Say Country Heading in Wrong Direction Under Obama

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

No Kidding!!

That was fast. The hope and optimism that washed over the country in the opening months of Barack Obama’s presidency are giving way to harsh realities.

An Associated Press-GfK Poll shows that a majority of Americans are back to thinking that the country is headed in the wrong direction after a fleeting period in which more thought it was on the right track.

Obama still has a solid 55 percent approval rating — better than Bill Clinton and about even with George W. Bush six months into their presidencies — but doubts are growing about whether he can succeed at some of the biggest items on his to-do list. And there is a growing sense that he is trying to tackle too much too soon.

The number of people who think Obama can improve the economy is down a sobering 19 percentage points from the euphoric days just before his inauguration. Ditto for expectations about creating jobs. Also down significantly: the share of people who think he can reduce the deficit, remove troops from Iraq and improve respect for the U.S. around the world, all slipping 15 points.

On overhauling healthcare, a signature issue for Obama, hopes for success are down a lesser 6 points.

Add it all up, and does it mean Obama has lost his mojo? Has yes-we-can morphed into maybe?

“I think it’s just reality,” said Sandy Smith, a 48-year-old public relations worker from Los Angeles. “He’s not Superman, right?”

Indeed, it’s not unusual for approval ratings to slide once presidents actually get to work. They’re pulled down by things going on in the real world, by people who don’t agree with the ways they’re addressing problems, by criticism from political opponents.

In Obama’s case, the problems he’s confronting domestically and internationally are legion, and his ability to blame them on his predecessor is fading. Challenges still abound in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unemployment, at 7.6 percent in January, hit 9.5 percent in June and is expected to keep rising well into next year. Almost 4 percent of homeowners with mortgages are in foreclosure, and an additional 8 percent are at least a month behind on payments — the highest levels since the Great Depression.

The president is deep into the debate over how to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, and people are nervous about how their own insurance could be affected. Obama’s critics are accusing him of conducting a risky “grand experiment” that will hurt the economy and could force millions to drop their current coverage.

It’s all taking a toll on expectations. The number of people who think it’s realistic to expect at least some noticeable improvement in the economy during Obama’s first year in office dropped from 27 percent in January to 16 percent in the latest survey.

There’s been slippage, as well, in how people view the president personally, although he’s still well regarded. About two-thirds now think he understands the problems of ordinary Americans, down from 81 percent in January. Sixty-nine percent think he’s a strong leader, off from 78 percent before the inauguration.

“He doesn’t know enough about any of this,” says Michelle Kelsey, a 37-year-old student in Breckenridge, Mo., who gives Obama a three for leadership on a 10-point scale. But then again, Kelsey says, “Nobody could have done better.”

“I just feel like people haven’t given him enough time. It’s going to take longer for the economy to come around.”

Obama isn’t the only one feeling the drag. Approval of Congress — already low — has gotten lower, slipping 6 percentage points to 32 percent.

Overall, the number of people who think the country is going in the wrong direction hit 54 percent in the latest AP-GfK poll, up from 46 percent in June.

That’s not necessarily surprising. In years past, the public has tended to be more pessimistic than optimistic about the country’s future. Recent exceptions have been short-lived, at the start of the Iraq war, after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, after the capture of Saddam Hussein and late in the Clinton administration.

Perhaps most troubling for Obama may be where he is losing ground. His approval rating was down 9 points among Americans overall but 20 percent among independents. Similarly, the increase in those who think the country is headed in the wrong direction came mostly from independents and Democrats.

Dissatisfaction among independents grew disproportionately on Obama’s handling of a range of issues, including the economy, taxes, unemployment, the environment and more.

Independents are “the ones to watch,” said professor Robert Shapiro, a Columbia University expert on public opinion. “The Republicans were more pessimistic from the outset. The Democrats are going to be more resistant to negative information.”

Original Link.

“America Going to Pot, Literally” by Todd Strandberg

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

It is estimated that marijuana is the biggest cash crop in America. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the entire U.S. marijuana market is worth about $112 billion.

Around the nation, the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana use has been gaining traction. Pro-marijuana bills have been introduced by such prominent politicians as Reps. Barney Frank, Ron Paul, and Sen. Jim Webb.

The epicenter of the pro-pot movement is clearly California. San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has already introduced a bill that would allow adults 21 and older to legally possess, grow, and sell marijuana.

“It defies reason to propose closing parks and eliminating vital services for the poor while this potential revenue is available,” Ammiano said in a statement.

It’s not just the track record of California’s liberal population that has it front and center in the legalization debate. Since California has a massive $26.3 billion budget shortfall, the argument is being made that pot can be a good source of income for the state. One headline made the trade-off very clear: “No Marijuana Taxation without Legalization.” A tax on marijuana in California, like alcohol, would generate nearly $1.4 billion in revenue, according to an official analysis released by state tax officials.

The use of marijuana is banned outright under federal law, but It is unlikely that there would be a state- vs.-federal conflict since U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department would defer to state marijuana regulations. Holder is basically saying we are going to void the federal laws by ignoring them.

Over the last several years, the U.S. government has changed the focus of its anti-drug efforts, deemphasizing marijuana in favor of prescription drugs. Even private anti-drug groups have been retreating from the effort to control marijuana usage.

Recent polls show a sharp rise in the public’s support for legalization. Thirty years ago, only 27 percent of the population was for marijuana being made legal. Today, there are polls that show nearly 50 percent of the public is for the lifting of such restrictions.

Any ads you do find today about pot are for its free use. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is using TV ads to urge California residents to support a plan to legalize and tax marijuana.

Once California becomes a haven for marijuana usage, the pressure will be on other states to join the party. The perfect template for how a vice can spread throughout the land is gambling. At one time, anyone who wanted to roll the dice or try their luck with a one-armed-bandit had to travel to Las Vegas. Today, nearly every state in the Union has some form of gambling.

In my home state of Iowa, they first had riverboat gambling. The twisted thinking was that betting on the river was somehow separate from betting on dry land. Now that people have gotten used to gambling dens, Iowa now has several soil-based casinos throughout the state. Some are equal to ones found in Nevada.

The problem with sin is that it has a very progressive nature. When we allow room for one “minor” sin, one of a more evil nature will quickly follow. I can see legalized euthanasia in the footsteps of the marijuana campaign. Oregon passed a law allowing doctor-assisted suicide, and the pro forces there have won every legal challenge. Gay marriage is another sin sweeping over the nation. Same-sex marriage is now legal in nine states.

All this moral erosion tells me is that tribulation judgment is coming soon. At some point, God will say “enough is enough,” and will begin to pour His vengeance on this evil world. We, as believers, need to do our best to combat the forces of darkness. When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, the Lord will want to know what role we played in this mess.

“Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences” (2 Corinthians 5:9-11).

— Todd

Original Link.

Song of Solomon Goblet – from the Jerusalem Gift Shop

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Weekly I highlight items being offered by the Jerusalem Gift Shop. Today it’s the Song of Solomon Goblet.

Sara produces wheel-thrown functional ware as well as Judaica in stoneware. Her use of silk-screen printed decoration makes her pottery very distinctive. Each piece of Judaica is one of a kind, embodying the Hebrew script as well as Jewish symbols.

Israel-ceramic-shop Amongst her other works on this site are plates decorated with the Song of Songs and Genesis, Pesach and Purim plates, Havdalah sets, bowls, Mezuzot and more.

“In my quest for new shapes, my wheel becomes a “3D” pencil. I create functional ware as well as Judaica, fired in an electric kiln to stoneware temperature. ” Sara Ben Yosef

  • Size: height 7 inches approx

Take a moment to see all of the other interesting items they stock.

The Jerusalem Gift Shop 234x60

Christian Gifts from Israel – The Jerusalem Gift Shop

Obama Job Rating “Lower Than Carter” After Same Amount of Time in Office

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

According to a USA Today poll, Obama’s approval rating is worse than Jimmy Carter’s was after the same amount of time in office. Actually, out of the last 11 presidents, seven of them had better approvals after an equal amount of time. “The One”, the self-proclaimed “Messiah of America”, our “Emperor” is so far to the left, that even the far Left political of this nation appear to right thinking in comparison. People are starting to notice and they don’t like what they see in Obama and his incredibly liberal policies.
Keep in mind as you read the article, that USA Today is considered to be a liberal media source.

Polls can affect president’s hold on party

WASHINGTON — A president’s standing after his first six months in office doesn’t forecast whether he’ll have a successful four-year term, but it does signal how much political juice he’ll have for his second six months in office.

That’s the lesson of history.

ISSUES: Faith in Obama’s economic strategy declines

Barack Obama, who completed six months in office Monday, has a 55% approval rating in the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, putting him 10th among the dozen presidents who have served since World War II at this point in their tenures.

That’s not as bad for Obama as it may sound: The six-month mark hasn’t proved to be a particularly good indicator of how a president ultimately will fare.

Two-thirds of Americans approved of the jobs Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were doing at six months, but both would lose their bids for re-election.

And though the younger Bush and Bill Clinton had significantly lower ratings at 180 days — Clinton had sunk to 41% approval — both won second terms.

Even so, a president’s standing at the moment is more than a matter of vanity. It affects his ability to hold the members of his own party and persuade those on the other side to support him, at least on the occasional issue.

“Approval ratings are absolutely critical for a president achieving his agenda,” says Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

For Obama, the timing of his slide in ratings is particularly unhelpful: He’s intensified his push to pass health care bills in the House and Senate before Congress leaves on its August recess. He’ll press his case at a news conference at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

His overall approval rating has dropped 9 percentage points since his inauguration in January, and his disapproval rate has jumped 16 points, to 41%.

Trouble at home

More people disapprove than approve of Obama on four domestic issues: the economy, taxes, health care and the federal budget deficit. He scores majority approval on handling Iraq, Afghanistan and foreign affairs.

The biggest drop has been on his handling of the economy, down 12 points since February; his disapproval is up 19 points. The most erosion has come not from Republicans or independents but among his own Democrats. Support from conservative and moderate Democrats is down by 18 points. Another group in the party’s political base — those earning $20,000 to $50,000 a year — had a drop of 15 percentage points, to 47%.

That could reflect one reason why moderate Democratic senators and the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats in the House are demanding more cost controls in the health care plan before they’ll sign on.

“It’s important if a president is trying to accomplish some big stuff legislatively,” H.W. Brands, a professor at the University of Texas-Austin, says of the approval rating. He was one of several presidential historians who sat down with Obama at a private White House dinner this month. “Members of Congress are somewhat reluctant to tangle with a president who seems to have the backing of the American people.”

At 55% overall, Obama’s approval rating is a tick below that of George W. Bush at six months. It is well above Clinton and Gerald Ford, who was hammered for his pardon of Richard Nixon.

At the top of the list is Harry Truman at 82% — buoyed by the end of World War II — followed by Lyndon Johnson, John Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower.

The fact that presidents from the 1950s and 1960s scored better than more recent ones could mean the public’s assessments are getting tougher.

“Mid-20th-century presidents had higher political capital and more stable political capital than presidents of the last 20 years,” says Steven Schier, a political scientist who is studying presidential job approval since modern polling began in the 1930s. He wrote Panorama of a Presidency: How George W. Bush Acquired and Spent His Political Capital.

Schier theorizes that the difference in ratings is due to the accelerating speed with which information is disseminated, the declining number of Americans firmly tied to a political party and a growing desire to see quick results. “There’s less patience with presidents than there used to be,” he says.

What’s popularity for?

Savvy presidents understand that pursuing big policies will cost them popularity, Brands says. “Presidents have to decide what their popularity is for,” he says. “Lyndon Johnson probably understood best that political popularity is a wasting asset. You had to use it when you had it.”

Johnson was inaugurated after Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 and then crushed Republican Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential race. LBJ used his high approval ratings — they didn’t fall below 60% for more than two years after his inauguration — and big majorities in the House and Senate to enact his Great Society programs.

Amid growing opposition to the Vietnam War, Johnson’s standing fell so low that he decided not to seek another term.

Ronald Reagan may provide a closer parallel to Obama. Both took office as the nation’s economy was in perilous times. Reagan was at 60% at six months, but his standing slipped below 50% by the end of his first year in office as the jobless rate swelled.

It would take two years and economic recovery before a majority of Americans would approve of his presidency again.

Original Link.

Healthcare Bill Yanked – Obama May Have to Wait

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Several stories I’ve run across this morning show that Obamacare is starting to run into problems. Maybe people are starting to figure out the nightmare this legislation would cause if it actually becomes law.

Rep Waxman has canceled a scheduled markup session for the healthcare bill in the House Energy and Commerce panel. Instead, the Democrats from the committee are headed to the White House to meet with Obama. The markup session is where the bill really gets written, and canceling the session shows that they are not ready to try and move the bill out of the committee because they don’t have the votes. And if they don’t have the votes in the committee they probably don’t have the votes in the House either.

According to TheHill.com it sounds like none of the Democrats are really happy with the proposed healthcare reform:

Conservative Democrats on the panel have criticized the healthcare reform bill’s costs, and complained it does not do enough to reduce long-term healthcare spending. Freshman Democrats have also been worried about growing fiscal deficits and the risk the healthcare bill could add to them, while members from wealthy districts are upset about a surcharge on the wealthy that would be used to pay for some of the bill’s costs.

I’m not sure that Obama or his political hit men are going to be able to get this effort restarted, however. As Minority Leader John Boehner put it (HotIndieNews.com):

There are some members on the Democrat side that got both arms broken during the cap-and-trade fight on the floor, now there’re no more arms to break. That’s why they’re having problems.

Original Link.

WASHINGTON — After more than a week of tirelessly pressuring Congress to move his top domestic priority, President Barack Obama may have to settle for a fallback strategy on health care overhaul.
Instead of votes in the House and Senate by August, the best Democrats may be able to hope for this summer is action by the full House by the end of the month and some sort of agreement on a bipartisan plan in the Senate before lawmakers head home for vacation.

Not only are Republicans honing their opposition, but some Democrats in both chambers are voicing doubts about moving such complex and costly legislation too quickly.

“No one wants to tell the speaker (Nancy Pelosi) that she’s moving too fast and they damn sure don’t want to tell the president,” Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., a key committee chairman, told a fellow lawmaker as the two walked into a closed-door meeting Tuesday. The remark was overheard by reporters.

Obama has scheduled a prime-time news conference Wednesday, expected to focus on health care. It’s turning into a major test of his leadership. One Republican senator says if the party can stop Obama on health care, it will break him.

In an interview with CBS News on Tuesday, the president insisted on action by lawmakers, even as he conceded some of the criticism was valid. Referring to objections from a group of conservative Democrats in the House, Obama said, “I think, rightly, a number of these so called Blue Dog Democrats — more conservative Democrats — were concerned that not enough had been done on reducing costs.”

Obama said those issues can be addressed as the legislation keeps moving forward. Congress has already spent years studying and debating the problems in the health care system, he said.

Meanwhile, a conservative South Carolina Republican, Sen. Jim DeMint, refused Wednesday to back away from his earlier assertion that the health care overhaul will prove to be Obama’s “Waterloo.”

Interviewed on NBC’s “Today” show, DeMint said the statement was “not personal.” But he also said someone must “put the brakes on” Obama, accusing the president of engaging in “a spending spree.”

DeMint said he agrees that health care changes are needed but that it would be a mistake to push through such complex legislation before the August congressional recess, as Obama has demanded.

House Democrats put their divisions on display over the details and timing of health care legislation Tuesday. The Democratic leadership juggled complaints from conservatives demanding additional cost savings, first-term lawmakers upset with proposed tax increases and objections from members of the rank-and-file opposed to allowing the government to sell insurance in competition with private industry.

Pelosi, D-Calif., vowed weeks ago that the House would vote by the end of July on legislation to meet two goals established by Obama. The president wants to extend health coverage to the tens of millions who now lack it, and at the same time restrain the growth in health care costs far into the future. The upfront costs, however, could reach $1 trillion to $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

The president also has vowed that the legislation will not swell the deficit, although a senior administration official told reporters Tuesday that the pledge does not apply to an estimated $245 billion to increase fees for doctors serving Medicare patients over the next decade.

Peter Orszag, the White House budget director, said that was because the administration always assumed the money would be spent to avert a scheduled cut of 21 percent in doctor’s fees.

At the White House, Obama and moderate and conservative Democrats verbally agreed on a council of experts to find savings in Medicare, coupled with a mechanism to force Congress to act on the recommendations. The cost curbs may help woo some of the conservatives.

In the Senate, a small, bipartisan group of lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee met behind closed doors, pursuing an elusive agreement. The negotiations, led by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., have taken on new urgency. But it’s unclear whether they will produce a breakthrough — or peter out in frustration.

Obama has spoken in public nearly every day for more than a week on health care, some times more than once. At the same time Republicans have upped the political stakes.

On Monday, Michael Steele, the Republican Party chairman, likened Obama’s proposals on health care to socialism, and said the chief executive wanted to conduct a “risky experiment” that will damage the nation’s economy and force millions to lose the coverage they now have.

Last week, DeMint was quoted as telling fellow conservatives: “If we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

Given the struggle, the polls show slippage for Obama, although he remains popular. The president is battling the impression if not the reality that his proposal is stalled. In the CBS interview, Obama recognized that perception.

“There have been so many times, during my political career … where people have said, ‘Boy, this is make or break for Obama,”‘ he said. “When the stock market went down everybody was saying, ‘This is a disaster.’ And what I found is that as long as we are making good decisions, thinking always what’s … best for the American people, that, eventually, as long as we’re persistent and we’re listening to the American people, that things get done.”

Original Link.

“Politician Claims Obamacare Saves. Voters Laugh Out Loud” By Michelle Malkin

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Best video of the day: Rep. Russ Carnahan meets the government health care takeover resistance.

My favorite parts? Well, all of it. But especially when Carnahan tries to tell the audience that Obamacare will create “efficiencies” and a “surplus” and when constituent Kevin Jackson asks:

“If it’s so good, why doesn’t Congress have to be on it?”

Original Link.