Archive for December, 2009

First Jesus-Era House Unearthed in Nazareth

Monday, December 21st, 2009

I just love Holy Land archeology. Every year we learn more and more about the history of this ancient land.

NAZARETH, Israel — Israeli archaeologists say they have uncovered remains of the first dwelling in Nazareth that can be dated back to the time of Jesus.

They say the find sheds a new light on what Nazareth might have been like in Jesus’ time — probably a small hamlet with about 50 houses populated by poor Jews.

Archaeologist Yardena Alexandre of the Israel Antiquities Authority says remains of a wall, a hideout and a cistern were found after builders dug up an old convent courtyard in the northern Israeli city.

Alexandre told reporters on Monday that archeologists also found clay and chalk vessels used by Galilean Jews of the time — an indication the home belonged to a “simple Jewish family.”

She says it’s likely Jesus and his childhood friends would have known the house.

Original Link.

“Is This For Real?” by Jeff Schreiber

Monday, December 21st, 2009

It’s 11:15 p.m. on a Sunday night. I’m in a king-size hotel room bed in Athens, GA with a snoozing wife and a three-year-old who is still singing “he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake” despite the long, fun-filled day she had. It’s late. And, yet, on one side of my sister-in-law’s fancy MacBook Pro is a live stream from the floor of the United States Senate.

It’s 11:15 p.m. on a Sunday night. And Florida Sen. Bill Nelson is speaking, right now, on the floor about the Senate’s health care reform bill, which will be voted on in a little less than two hours from now. He’s talking about how private insurance companies will be forced to spend 85 cents out of every dollar on patient health care costs. Where, may I ask, does our federal government have the authority to mandate the capital structure of private companies? Where?

Why else would the lights even be on in the Capitol building unless our government is up to no good? This is legislation which will not even come into effect until 2014, two years after the next presidential election, and yet the Democrats feel it so essential to work through the night as the last weekend before Christmas comes to a close?

Most of America is fast asleep. Most of the people whom these senators represent, even if they wanted to pay attention, are sawing logs (probably not literally, though I’m sure there are a strange few) and catching winks in advance of a working Monday tomorrow. These people have no business whatsoever working right now. It might be different if they were burning the midnight oil in an attempt to save the nation with legislation that would have an immediate impact, but they are not — instead, they’re planning the destruction of our economy and health care system through legislation which will not take effect (other than the spending aspect of it) for another four years. If this is a great bill, if it is so necessary, and if the 60 percent or so of Americans who vigorously oppose it just don’t have their facts straight, then they should be debating it during the day, when most of America is awake and attentive.

Original Link.

Health Care Bill Passes Critical Senate Test

Monday, December 21st, 2009

The Dems are one step closer to pushing the health care “reform” down our throats. At least, at this moment anyone, the so-called “government, single payer” option is not in the Senate bill. The Senate version and House version must be “harmonized” or brought into agreement before their can be a final Senate vote.
It will be interesting to see what the final legislation contains.

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats won a crucial test vote on President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, putting them on track for passage before Christmas of the historic legislation to remake the nation’s medical system and cover 30 million uninsured.

All 58 Democrats and the Senate’s two independents held together early Monday against unanimous Republican opposition, providing the exact 60-40 margin needed to shut down a threatened GOP filibuster.

The vote came shortly after 1 a.m. with the nation’s capital blanketed in snow, the unusual timing made necessary in order to get to a final vote by Christmas Eve presuming Republicans stretch out the debate as much as the rules allow. Despite the late hour and a harshly partisan atmosphere, Democrats’ spirits were high.

“Today we are closer than we’ve ever been to making Sen. Ted Kennedy’s dream of universal health insurance coverage a reality,” Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said ahead of the vote, alluding to the late Massachusetts senator who died of brain cancer in August.

“Vote your hopes, not your fears. Seize the moment,” Harkin urged colleagues.

The outcome was preordained after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wrangled his fractious caucus into line over the course of the past several months, culminating in a frenzy of last-minute deals and concessions to win over the final holdouts, independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and conservative Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Obama’s oft-stated goal of a bipartisan health bill was not met, despite the president’s extensive courtship of moderate Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, the only Republican to support the bill in committee. Obama called Snowe to the White House for lengthy in-person meetings both before he left for climate talks in Copenhagen and after his return on Saturday. In the end Snowe said she was “extremely disappointed” in what she called a rushed process that left scant time for her to review, much less amend, the bill.

Even so, the vote represented a major victory for Democrats and Obama, who’s now clearly in reach of passing legislation extending health coverage to nearly all Americans, a goal that’s eluded a succession of past presidents. The legislation would make health insurance mandatory for the first time for nearly everyone, provide subsidies to help lower-income people buy it, and induce employers to provide it with tax breaks for small businesses and penalties for larger ones.

Two more procedural votes await the Senate, each requiring 60 votes, the first of these set for Tuesday morning. Final passage of the bill requires a simple majority, and that vote could come as late as 7 p.m. on Thursday, Christmas Eve, or the day before if Republicans agree.

Although Democrats are expected to prevail in the votes over the next several days, the final outcome remains unpredictable, because the Senate measure must be harmonized with the health care bill passed by the House in November before final legislation can be sent to Obama’s desk.

There are significant differences between the two measures, including stricter abortion language in the House bill, a new government-run insurance plan in the House bill that’s missing from the Senate version, and a tax on high-value insurance plans embraced by the Senate but strongly opposed by many House Democrats.

Republicans are determined to give Democrats no help, eager to deny Obama a political victory and speculating openly that the health care issue will hurt Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections.

“There will be a day of accounting,” warned John Cornyn, R-Texas, accusing Democrats of pushing a health overhaul opposed by the public. “Perhaps the first day of accounting will be Election Day 2010.”

At their core the bills passed by the House and pending in the Senate are similar. Each costs around $1 trillion over 10 years and is paid for by a combination of tax and fee increases and cuts in projected Medicare spending. Each sets up new insurance marketplaces called exchanges where uninsured or self-employed people and small businesses can compare prices and plans designed to meet some basic requirements. Unpopular insurance practices such as denying people coverage based on pre-existing conditions would be banned, and young adults could retain coverage longer under their parents’ insurance plans — through age 25 in the Senate bill and through age 26 in the House version.

Original Link.

Israel Close to Deciding on Prisoner Swap

Monday, December 21st, 2009

This goes to show how much the Israelis love life. They are willing to 1,000 Pali terrorist in order to secure the freedom of one of their soldiers. This in itself should show just how different Israel’s culture of life is from the culture of death offered by the Islamic Palis.

JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top ministers on Monday debated whether to approve an emotionally charged deal to trade 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier held by Gaza militants for more than three years.

Netanyahu and six ministers had met three times on Sunday, and again on Monday morning. Army Radio reported that an afternoon gathering was planned. With the group divided over the proposed deal, Netanyahu could well bring the final decision to a vote in his full Cabinet.

At a protest tent outside the prime minister’s official residence, dozens of demonstrators carried cardboard cutouts of the captured soldier, 23-year-old Sgt. Gilad Schalit, and urged Cabinet ministers to wrap up an agreement.

A deal, if approved, could dramatically improve the standing of the Gaza Strip’s Islamic militant Hamas rulers among Palestinians and herald an easing of the blockaded territory’s crippling isolation. The chief loser could be Hamas’ bitter rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is backed by the West but whose popularity has suffered at home.

Bringing Schalit home could boost Netanyahu domestically given the Israeli public’s deep concern for the young man’s fate. However, it could also hurt the prime minister’s standing among Israelis who feel releasing prisoners convicted of violence would only invite more bloodshed.

The swap, if approved, would be subject to a 48-hour period for opponents to file legal challenges.

Original Link.

“Shakedown in Copenhagen” by Pat Buchanan

Friday, December 18th, 2009

If you would know what Copenhagen is all about, hearken to this nugget in The Washington Post’s report from the Danish capital.

“Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenari — who is representing all of Africa here — unveiled his proposal Wednesday for a system in which rich countries would provide money to poor ones to help deal with the effects of climate change. …

“Zenawi said he would accept $30 billion in the short term, rising to $100 billion by 2020. … This was seen as a key concession by developing countries, which had previously spurned that figure … as too low.”

There was a time when a U.S. diplomat would have burst out laughing after listening to a Third World con artist like this.

But not the Obamaites. They are already ponying up.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack just pledged $1 billion at Copenhagen to developing countries who preserve their forests. Thus, America, $12 trillion in debt and facing a second straight $1.4 trillion deficit, will borrow another $1 billion from China to send to Brazil to bribe them to stop cutting down their trees.

When you slice through the blather about marooned bears and melting ice caps, oceans rising and cities sinking, global warming is a racket and a crock. It is all about money and power.

Copenhagen has always been about an endless transfer of wealth from America, Europe and Japan and creation of a global bureaucracy to control the pace of world economic and industrial development.

End game: enrichment and empowerment of global elites at the expense of Western peoples whose leaders have been bamboozled by con artists.

Read the rest of the article here.

“The Rising Tide of Red Ink” by Rich Tucker

Friday, December 18th, 2009

The real estate market in the U.S. hasn’t yet recovered from the subprime meltdown. These days, though, the bigger worry ought to be a federal government meltdown — likewise triggered by overborrowing and an inability to repay debts.

When the 2009 fiscal year wheezed to a close in September, our government had borrowed $1.4 trillion. That’s more than 11 percent of the entire country’s GDP for the year. It’s the largest deficit since the end of World War II, when there was an actual life-or-death crisis for Washington to deal with.

Faced with this massive deficit, Congress will act to … increase the amount it’s allowed to borrow. The House just passed a bill that would allow the federal government to owe as much as $12.4 trillion — $290 billion more than the current limit, an amount our government expects to reach before the end of the year. Look for another increase in the debt ceiling next year.

Meanwhile, all the talk in Washington is of whether to pass a health care bill that would add trillions to the debt in a misguided attempt to “save” money. Oh, and don’t forget cap and trade, passed by the House and under consideration by the Senate. That bill, too, has a price tag in the trillions and would cost many jobs as well.

Instead of being worried about an entirely hypothetical rise in sea levels, it’s time to deal with the very real, ever-rising tide of red ink. As economic historian Niall Ferguson warned recently in Newsweek, “Unless entitlements are cut or taxes are raised, there will never be another balanced budget.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Bachmann: Obamacare ‘Largest Middle-Class Tax Increase in History’

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Folks, the bottom line is, that with the massive spending Obama and his ilk have pushed through in his first year, everyone is going to have to be taxed very heavily in order to pay for it. The “rich” could be taxed for every penny they have and it would only cover the tiniest fraction of the bill. It’s going to take every single person, paying massive taxes to undo what Obama and the Democrats have done. What a mess!!

A conservative rising star on Capitol Hill says President Barack Obama and the Democrats are about to drop “the largest middle-class tax increase in American history” onto the backs of taxpayers in the form of unfunded mandates saddling small businesses with massive debts.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., tells Newsmax TV’s Ashley Martella the Democrats care more about exercising their “one-party rule” in Washington than in heeding the Declaration of Independence’s insistence that government rules “with the consent of the governed.”

Recent polling shows only 34 percent of Americans support the healthcare reform legislation making its way through the halls of Congress and 61 percent oppose it, but the Democratic leadership has remained undeterred in the face of popular opposition.

The Democrats have deep divisions among their varying constituencies over issues such as abortion and the public option, but they have a general desire to give the president what he wants. And Bachmann says she believes the bill cannot pass without provisions banning abortion coverage, which are present in the House bill and absent in the Senate legislation.

“The president wants the bill, he needs the bill, and he has made all sorts of promises, so that he’ll have one before Christmas,” Bachmann told Newsmax. “And I think the pressure will be unbearable on the Democrats in the Senate ─ perhaps on a few Republicans.”

Bachmann says approval for the current incarnation of healthcare reform continues to drop as Americans familiarize themselves with its content. The legislation imposes what she calls an “unconstitutional mandate” that would require those without health insurance to buy it even if they don’t want it. Businesses and individuals that do not buy health insurance would face heavy fines or even face imprisonment.

“This will likely become the largest middle-class tax increase in American history,” Bachmann said. “And it will be the next step to socialized medicine.”

She says the legislation will dramatically increase health insurance costs in her state.

“Some estimates have said that if an individual who lives in Minnesota … went out today to purchase a private health insurance plan with about a $1,000 deductible, that would cost a family about $12,000 a year,” Bachmann said. “However, Speaker Pelosi has very heavy expensive mandates in her healthcare bill.

“So take that $12,000 policy in Minnesota and multiply that by a factor of 1.73 ─ Speaker Pelosi’s mandate ─ that could cost an individual up to $20,000.”

The Democrats’ healthcare legislation, she says, compounds this increase by limiting subsidies to those families or individuals with incomes under $59,000. Consequently, those making above the limit end up having to purchase an expensive healthcare policy in the private market using after-tax income.”

“This is a very expensive burden that we’re putting on the American people,” she said. “In effect, this mandate is a tax, a new health tax on the American people. “It puts a lot of uncertainty into Americans’ lives, and people will need to make a decision.

“Do they want to buy healthcare, which they will be forced to do, or do they make their car payment, or do they put their child through college, or do they pay their mortgage?”

Should the legislation become law, Americans would have to pay “heavy” taxes to support the program for four years before they would see any healthcare benefits.

Bachmann says time still remains for people to contact their senator to voice their opposition to the legislation, but the window for doing so could end before Christmas if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gets his way.

A future Republican-controlled Congress would have a difficult time rolling back the legislation if it becomes law unless they enjoy majorities comparable to those currently enjoyed by the Democrats. Bachmann sees that as highly improbable.

And a potential lawsuit challenging mandatory health insurance could take as long as five years before reaching the Supreme Court.

“This is a really bad bill done very quickly ─ done behind closed doors ─ with virtually zero Republican input,” she said. “The president made a big deal about saying he was going to have all of the healthcare debate out in the open with C-SPAN cameras running.

“That hasn’t happened for 10 seconds, and the American people are really steamed about it.”

Bachmann also expressed her displeasure with the financial services bill sponsored by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, which recently passed the House in spite of unified Republican opposition and no votes from 27 Democrats.

She says the legislation, should it become law, would institutionalize last year’s overwhelmingly unpopular TARP bailouts and give Obama the ability to authorize new bailouts without congressional approval.

“It will likely cost in excess of 1 million job losses in the United States, and … you have the takeover of one more industry ─ in this case the financial services industry,” Bachmann said. “Some experts have estimated this would give government control or ownership of 10-15 percent of the economy … on top of the 30 percent of the economy the government has taken ownership or control of.”

This past year, she says, will be remembered as “the year of the government takeover of private industry.”

“Barney Frank and financial-service meltdown has been synonymous,” Bachmann said. “If you [want to] look at the architect of ruin of our financial meltdown, you have to look at the banking chairman, Chris Dodd of Conn., and Barney Frank, our chairman from the state of Mass.’

Bachmann says Frank has consistently been “an apologist” for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the now government-owned secondary mortgage lenders that have been at the “epicenter” of the financial services crisis.

“The federal government has said, ‘Take all the risks you want; make all the bad loans you want,’” Bachmann said. “That’s Freddie and Fannie, and now the federal government has taken the worst of the financial meltdown, and they’ve institutionalized it.”

However, she takes heart from the defeat of House legislation that would have allowed a judge to unilaterally rewrite the terms of mortgage loans. Bachmann says it would have been “insanity” to allow that to happen at a time of serious financial instability.

She also told Martella Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez’ bill aimed at legalizing the millions of illegal immigrants in the United States further shows the Democrats don’t want to listen to the American people. The same legislation was overwhelmingly opposed by the public the last time it came up for a vote in 2007.

Original Link.

Scientists Crack Genetic Codes of Two Cancers in Giant Step Forward

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

As a recovering cancer patient, I’m very happy to hear this. I hope they will continue to make significant inroads into the prevention and treatment of this deadly disease.

The complete genetic codes of two human cancers have been mapped for the first time. The move could herald a medical revolution in which every tumor can be targeted with personalized therapy.

The exhaustive genetic maps, which catalogue every DNA mutation found in two patients’ tumors, will transform treatment of the disease. It has been described as the most significant milestone in cancer research in more than a decade.

Scientists predict that by about 2020 all cancer patients could have their tumors analyzed to find the genetic defects that drive them. This information would then be used to select the treatments most likely to work.

Insights from the genomes will also lead to the development of powerful drugs to target DNA errors that cause cancer and highlight ways in which the disease can be prevented. Cancers would be diagnosed and treated according to their genetic profiles rather than their position in the body.

“The pace at which genomics is moving is probably the most exciting thing that’s gone on in cancer research in more than a decade,” said Professor Sir John Bell, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences. “These cancer genome projects are a major landmark, as significant as the sequencing of the human genome itself.”

Original Link.

‘DOMA-Destroying Legislation’ Afoot in Senate

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Obama and his liberal ilk truly hate the traditional family and are doing everything they can to destroy it.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee voted 8-1 yesterday to approve a bill that would provide the same family benefits to homosexual federal civilian employees that are provided to married heterosexual employees.

The measure, S. 1102, is sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). A similar bill passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in November.

Peter Labarbera, executive director of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, says the Lieberman-Collins bill severely undermines the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

“This appears to be a violation of the spirit and the law of DOMA. DOMA was intended to encourage marriage, the recognition of marriage by the federal government, and this is the repudiation of that,” Labarbera contends. “This is giving marital benefits to both homosexuals and heterosexual ‘shack-up’ couples. It’s very bad public policy for the federal government to de-incentivize people getting married…and that’s exactly what this legislation would do.”

Original Link.

Lot of Work Today

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

I’m going to be “out of pocket” today, so I won’t be able to blog any.
I’ll catch up with everyone tomorrow. Have a great day!!
God Bless!!
-Steve

“Be Nice to Your ACORN Representative” By Rick Saunders

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

For those of you currently keeping score at home, we now have a District Court judge issuing a preliminary injunction against the congressional bar upon future funding of ACORN. You remember ACORN, do you not? That benign, benevolent “community organizing” arm of the Obama administration, dabbling in all things from voter fraud, to advising “clients” on how to evade federal taxes you have to pay, to “volunteering” to assist in the 2010 census?

Judge Nina Gershon, U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York (a Bill Clinton appointee, go figure) last Friday granted ACORN lawyers’ request for a preliminary injunction upon recent legislative efforts by Congress to defund and prevent ACORN from receiving future taxpayer funding because of its–politeness is growing more and more difficult–“questionable operations” and practices. Gershon, ruling in favor of ACORN, purchased the argument that the congressional action amounted–purportedly–to an unconstitutional “bill of attainder” under Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution: “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” In pre-Obama America, such a decision would have been laughable. No more.

The net effect of this preliminary ruling, if it metastasizes into a final decision, could well be to facilitate the recognition of a constitutional right to perpetuate fraud. After all, to criminalize that which had previously been conducted with impunity, both under and apart from contracts, constitutes retroactive punishment, a sanction which is forbidden under Gershon’s “logic.”

Next thing you know, Gershon and her ilk will find, somewhere in the Constitution, an undiscovered right theretofore lurking in the “penumbras” and “emanations” of the document, permitting robbery, perjury, and maybe even murder. Why? Well, because since the original source in this nation’s Judeo-Christian history of the proscriptions on robbery, perjury and even murder lies in the Ten Commandments, any law based on those nasty religious precepts cannot stand, not only because they constitute ex post facto laws, but because the ACLU says they violate the “separation” of church and state (a concept which, by the way, is found nowhere in the words of the Constitution).

Don’t laugh. This is the species of ruling and reasoning which has become de rigueur in the liberal mind as the occupant of the White House, Nobel Peace Prize in one hand and cigarette in the other, plunges the nation farther and farther down the road to the collectivist utopia that Marx and Lenin so successfully imposed in their country last century. And don’t forget his parallel efforts to Zimbabwicize the nation through the printing–from thin air, ink and lots of and currency-stock paper–of trillions of additional dollars so that we can “spend our way out of the recession.”

Santayana noted that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. His aphorism has evolved over time to become: “Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them.” We are now witnessing, in this nation, the truth of Santayana’s observation writ large. The Great Depression is now generally recognized as having been prolonged–by perhaps as many as twenty years–rather than shortened by the “spend-our-way-out” mentality of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his enablers. In the end, that which pulled the nation out of the Depression was not Roosevelt’s New Deal charade economics but was, instead, World War II. And the way Obama is pursuing his global agenda of appeasement at any price–including national dignity–maybe this is his ultimate plan.

Perhaps one of the most important elections in the republic’s history will come next November, when the voters (assuming that liberal jurists or administration crisis-peddlers don’t find a way to suspend free and open elections by then) will decide whether or not the “change” that has been splattered over their country is something they want to keep and deepen by re-electing Democrats to retain control of the House and Senate. Ah yes, two more years of Nancy “Partnership not Partisanship” Pelosi and Harry “what’s it gonna take, Landrieu?” Reid.-to-get-you-on-board-this-afternoon?”) Reid. Let us “hope” that, by then, enough voters will have awakened to the lunacy that has overtaken their government and will take the necessary steps to correct that affliction.

In the meantime, be nice to that ACORN operative when you open your door for the census and he or she poses their questions to you and your family. Otherwise, you might regret it. Oh, you thought the Census Bureau had severed its ties with ACORN? Fools! What do you think that “bill of attainder” suit was all about?

Original Link.

Inconvenient Truth for Al Gore as His North Pole Sums Don’t Add Up

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

More and more people are seeing through the farce of man-made global warming. Many of us are even doubting there is any type of global warming and that the world may actually be cooling.
Between Climategate and this latest junk data, the global warming alarmist cash cow may be about to dry up.

There are many kinds of truth. Al Gore was poleaxed by an inconvenient one yesterday.

The former US Vice-President, who became an unlikely figurehead for the green movement after narrating the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, became entangled in a new climate change “spin” row.

Mr Gore, speaking at the Copenhagen climate change summit, stated the latest research showed that the Arctic could be completely ice-free in five years.

In his speech, Mr Gore told the conference: “These figures are fresh. Some of the models suggest to Dr [Wieslav] Maslowski that there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years.”

However, the climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast.

“It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,” Dr Maslowski said. “I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.”

Mr Gore’s office later admitted that the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr Maslowksi as a “ballpark figure” several years ago in a conversation with Mr Gore.

The embarrassing error cast another shadow over the conference after the controversy over the hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, which appeared to suggest that scientists had manipulated data to strengthen their argument that human activities were causing global warming.

Original Link.

Terrorist NYC Trial ‘Completely Illogical’

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

I completely agree with this. I cannot imagine what the Obama is thinking on this one. Actually, I can’t tell what Obama is thinking most of the time.

A group of Republican lawmakers recently went to the steps of the Supreme Court to voice their disapproval of the Obama administration’s decision to bring suspected 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammad and other terrorists to U.S. soil for trial.

A group of Republican Congress members gathered in front of the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday to express similar concerns. Among them was Iowa Congressman Steve King.

“There should be no terrorist allowed to get a legal beach head in the United States,” he argues. “If they do, it starts a constant stream that will have the same claim, or a greater claim, to come to the United States. We can just reach into our taxpayers’ pockets and pull out money to hire defense lawyers, and they can have show trials, circus trials, and it makes us vulnerable to activist judges who might decide to turn them loose,” notes King.

“It’s a completely illogical decision that puts Americans at risk — and it completely changes the foundational reasons for fighting this war on terror,” he concludes.

Original Link.

Book Aims to End Clash over Temple Mount

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Yeah, good luck with that.

TRANSCENDING the bitterness of the confrontation between their nations and faiths, Israeli and Palestinian scholars have come together for an unprecedented joint history of the most contested religious site on earth.

A new book, Where Heaven and Earth Meet: Jerusalem’s Sacred Esplanade is an antidote to extremism about the holy city’s Temple Mount, revered by Jews as site of the biblical temples and sacred to Muslims as the site of the al-Aksa mosque.

Just last month there was fresh violence at the site between Muslim worshippers and Israeli police sparked by rumours spread by Islamic fundamentalists that Jewish fundamentalists were coming to invade the mosque as part of their proclaimed effort to prepare for a third temple there.

The site in the East Jerusalem area occupied by Israel in 1967 overlooks the Western Wall, revered by Jews as a remnant of the Second Temple. It has been a major flashpoint in recent years as well. A provocative visit there by the then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon triggered the second intifada uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The book, jointly sponsored by the Hebrew University and the Ben-Zvi Institute on the Israeli side and al-Quds University in the West Bank, could, if widely read, lower the flames of conflict.

One of its most remarkable features is an essay in which Palestinian philosopher Sari Nusseibeh, president of al-Quds University, suggests reimagining and recasting the disputed site as a venue for reconciliation, broadmindedness and mutual respect among Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Mr Nusseibeh has little patience for Jews and Muslims killing each other because of the perceived holiness of the site.

“It is hard to see how God can ‘be made to feel better’ by men fighting over that spot, killing and getting killed over it, dismantling or demolishing it, or whatever. The only ‘party’ or ‘parties’ that can hope to ‘feel better’ by such gruesome contestations must surely be men themselves,” he writes.

“In the final analysis spilling (human) blood over the Rock can only be a secular practice, not a divine wish or command!”

Mr Nusseibeh then voices the hope that each religion would be able to step into the shoes of the other in perceiving the site. That may sound mundane, but it is breaking new ground in the Muslim context, where denial of any Jewish tie to the site is the norm.

Original Link.

Houston Becomes Largest U.S. City with Gay Mayor

Monday, December 14th, 2009

Just for the record, I didn’t vote for her. Of course I live in the county, so I couldn’t vote for or against her in any case, but if I could have voted for or against her, I would have voted against her.

HOUSTON – Houston became the largest U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor, with voters handing a solid victory to City Controller Annise Parker after a hotly contested runoff.

Parker defeated former city attorney Gene Locke with 53.6 percent of the vote Saturday in a race that had a turnout of only 16.5 percent.

“This election has changed the world for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Just as it is about transforming the lives of all Houstonians for the better, and that’s what my administration will be about,” Parker told supporters after Locke conceded defeat.

Original Link.

‘Marriage Penalty’ Buried in Healthcare Bills

Monday, December 14th, 2009

No surprise here.

Former Minnesota state legislator Allen Quist points out that two single people each making $30,000 per year would pay $1,320 combined for private health insurance if the Pelosi House bill was in effect now. However, if the two individuals were to marry, they would pay a combined cost of $12,000 a year for the same level of insurance under the Pelosi bill.

Quist notes this “marriage penalty” extends all the way from a two-person combined income of $58,280 to $86,640. The GOP candidate notes that that $28,000 spread encompasses a large number of Americans.

“Let me be very blunt,” says the House hopeful. “Tyrants know that marriage and family are the basic core of society and the basic foundation of government — and if people are going to control others, they see marriage and family as their number-one threat.

“So tyrants always want to weaken the family,” he concludes, “and that’s what this bill is designed to do. And it’s designed to do it very effectively.”

Original Link.

Happy Hanukkah 2009 to Our Jewish Friends

Friday, December 11th, 2009

It’s been an interesting year and we want to wish our Jewish friends a very happy and blessed Hanukkah.

Hanukkah Quilt

Praying for G-d’s Blessings on all of you.

Hanukkah Quilt.

Blessed art thou, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who sanctifies us with Thy commandments and commanded us to kindle the light of Chanukah.

Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav, vetzivanu lehadlik ner shel chanukah.

אומנות מבורכת ט.א.ו., אלוהים אלוהים שלנו, מלך של היקום, שמקדש אותנו עם הדיברות שלך ופיקד אותנו להדליק את האור של צ’אנאקאה

Hewbrew for Christians.
Reverso Translation.

Spiritual Confusion Abounds – More U.S. Christians Mix in ‘Eastern,’ New Age Beliefs

Friday, December 11th, 2009

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”
1 Timothy 4:1-2

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
2 Timothy 4:1-4

See “Falling Away” of the Church.

Going to church this Sunday? Look around.

The chances are that one in five of the people there find “spiritual energy” in mountains or trees, and one in six believe in the “evil eye,” that certain people can cast curses with a look — beliefs your Christian pastor doesn’t preach.

In a Catholic church? Chances are that one in five members believe in reincarnation in a way never taught in catechism class — that you’ll be reborn in this world again and again.

Elements of Eastern faiths and New Age thinking have been widely adopted by 65% of U.S. adults, including many who call themselves Protestants and Catholics, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released Wednesday.

Syncretism — mashing up contradictory beliefs like Catholic rocker Madonna’s devotion to a Kabbalah-light version of Jewish mysticism — appears on the rise.

And, according to the survey’s other major finding, devotion to one clear faith is fading.

Of the 72% of Americans who attend religious services at least once a year (excluding holidays, weddings and funerals), 35% say they attend in multiple places, often hop-scotching across denominations.

They are like President Obama, who currently has no home church. He has worshiped at a Baptist church, an Episcopal one, and the non-denominational chapel at Camp David.

“Mixing and matching practices and beliefs is as much the norm as it is the exception,” Pew’s Alan Cooperman says. “Are they grazing, sampling, just curious? We really don’t know.”

Even so, says Pew researcher Greg Smith, “these findings all point toward a spiritual and religious openness — not necessarily a lack of seriousness.”

Among the findings:

•26% of those who attend religious services say they do so at more than one place occasionally, and an additional 9% roam regularly from their home church for services.

•28% of people who attend church at least weekly say they visit multiple churches outside their own tradition.

•59% of less frequent church attendees say they attend worship at multiple places.

The survey of 2,003 adults Aug. 11-27 has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. It measures Protestants, Catholics and the unaffiliated; there were not enough people of other faiths surveyed for analysis.

“For an extremely long time, most of us thought belonging or membership or home church was monogamous, even if it was serial monogamy, because we all know about church-switching,” says sociologist of religion Scott Thumma, a professor at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research in Hartford, Conn. “Today, the individual rarely finds all their spiritual needs met in one congregation or one religion.”

‘Rampant confusion’

In the 1980s, Albert Mohler and Julia Jarvis were in graduate school together at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville.

Today, Mohler is president of the seminary and a leading voice for Baptist orthodoxy. He sees a “rampant confusion” about faith revealed in the Pew findings.

“This is a failure of the pulpit as much as of the pew to be clear about what is and is not compatible with Christianity and belief in salvation only through Christ,” Mohler says.

Pew says two in three adults believe in or cite an experience with at least one supernatural phenomenon, including:

•26% find “spiritual energy” in physical things.

•25% believe in astrology.

•24% say people will be reborn in this world again and again.

•23% say yoga is a “spiritual practice.”

Mohler calls these “the au courant confusions,” attachments to the latest fashionable free-floating beliefs.

“One hundred years ago, it would have been ‘spiritualism.’ They wouldn’t have known what yoga was but might have been attracted to the ‘New Thought’ of the time,” Mohler says.

His former classmate giggles at that. She’s an ordained minister in the progressive United Church of Christ and leads the Interfaith Family Project, which meets for weekly worship at a Silver Spring, Md., high school.

Jarvis, of Takoma Park, Md., also studies with Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh and finds a spiritual dimension in yoga.

“I don’t do astrology, but my mother, who grew up in Birmingham, Ala., and was a staunch Baptist all her life, looked at her horoscope daily and totally believed it,” Jarvis says.

Jarvis says her late mother, like 49% of adults in the Pew survey, also had a moment of “religious or spiritual awakening.”

“My mother feared for years that I was no longer saved, but just two days before she died, she had an epiphany,” Jarvis says. “She said she was ‘told’ in a spiritual experience to put aside all religious and political differences and just love each other. That was her blessing to me, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Regina Roman of Alexandria, Va., calls herself “a very grounded Episcopalian” who’s active in her church. But, she says, “I’m also stretching the boundaries of how we are to be here and now in this day, age and culture.”

She leads pilgrimages to Egypt, New Mexico and Ireland to help travelers discover the truths and visions in Coptic, Native American and Celtic traditions. Roman celebrated the winter solstice with a home ceremony for guests to delight in the sun’s gifts.

“We are all in relationship with the cosmos. We need to honor that,” says Roman, who doesn’t see herself crossing barriers but rather “coming full circle” with ancient ideas.

“People have always mixed religions, either in ignorance or willfully,” says Stephen Prothero, director of the Graduate Division of Religious and Theological Studies at Boston University.

Despite the late Pope John Paul II’s warnings to explicitly avoid Buddhist and Hindu practices, Prothero says, “American Catholics are so used to not caring what the official church tells them on birth control, divorce, premarital sex and other points that they don’t think they are un-Catholic when they believe and do what they please.”

Combating syncretism has troubled popes for centuries, says the Rev. Dan Pattee, chairman of the theology department at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.

The problem with borrowing spiritual ideas is that “the life-giving truth becomes compromised as we understand it as Catholics,” Pattee says.

The growth of mixing

Prothero sees a similar trend among Protestants, a “resistance to being told what to think.”

“Even people who call themselves by denominational tags don’t really feel the identity attachment to them as they once did,” he says. “And without that identity marker, what’s to prevent you from checking out some other church? Nothing much.”

Cooperman notes that the new survey is measuring a phenomenon that may have been going on for decades. Also, it does not clearly establish how much is due to interfaith relationships.

A new study from InterfaithFamily.com, which encourages Jewish-Christian couples to raise their children as Jews, looks specifically at the Christmas/Hanukkah season. The findings are not scientific but give an indication that in intermarried couples rearing their children as Jews, most will celebrate Hanukkah — which begins on Friday night this year — at home. Less than 48% will celebrate Christmas, and largely in a secular fashion.

Pew specifically excludes the major holidays and life-cycle events to focus on ordinary worship practices. Its report says the findings on interfaith couples are “complex,” in part because people in mixed marriages attend worship less frequently than those with a same-faith spouse.

The faith-mixing trend has been building; other surveys in the past two years have touched on the swirling, unbounded paths of believers:

•Forty-seven percent to 59% of Americans have changed religions at least once, a Pew survey in April found. The top reasons for most: Their spiritual needs weren’t being met, or they liked another faith more or changed religious or moral beliefs.

•The percentage of people who call themselves Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation, and so many people declined any religious label that the “Nones,” now 15% of the USA, are the third-largest “religious” group after Catholics and Baptists, according to the American Religious Identification Survey last March.

•Despite Americans’ overwhelming allegiance to someone they call God (92%), in Pew’s 2008 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, 70% said “many religions can lead to eternal life,” and 68% said “there’s more than one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion.”

•Most (55%) say a guardian angel has protected them from harm, and 52% believe in prophetic dreams, according to surveys by Baylor University released in 2006 and 2008.

In short, we believe our own experiences are authentic, and no “authority” can say otherwise.

That’s a very “Eastern” notion, says Jim Todhunter of Bethesda, Md. Retired after three decades leading United Church of Christ congregations, he has studied in a Hindu ashram in India and practices Zen meditation and Christian contemplative prayer.

“In the Western religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — the focus is: ‘What do you believe?’ There is always a tremendous focus on doctrine and teachings,” he says. “In the East, Buddhism and Hinduism in particular, the leading question is, ‘Do you know God?’ It’s much more experience-based.”

Original Link.

Democrats ‘Go With Three Bad Ideas’

Friday, December 11th, 2009

The Dems still aren’t listening.

Senate Democrats are promoting a revised healthcare bill that would expand Medicare by allowing people 55 and older to “buy in” to the entitlement for seniors. The legislation would also expand access to Medicaid and create a non-profit, private insurance option overseen by the federal Office of Personnel Management comparable to the current health plan for government workers.

Michael Tanner, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., says the Democrats seem to have decided that if one bad idea was not working, they should go with three bad ideas.

Tanner finds that there is not much reason to believe this compromise will come together, but if it does, he explains that “it would essentially squeeze private insurance from the top and bottom, moving seniors into the government-run Medicare program at enormous cost, move poor folks, the working poor primarily, into Medicaid, and then create a government-supervised, very expensive insurance plan in the middle.”

Original Link.

Immanuel – God With Us

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

עִמָּנוּאֵל

Ἐμμανουήλ

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25 (New International Version)