Thursday, June 01, 2006

Don Surber: CNN reporter saves the Marines

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

You Are What You Eat And It Could Be Killing You

Good afternoon readers!

Last week I shared with the readers at Ancient Eyes For Current Times (AEFCT) the story regarding Pizza Hut's cheese that is farmed out to your children in the schools.. and the potential that what is being used on these pizzas could harm your child!

In THIS week's news... (oh and get ready to gag--)

Congress Bill Takes Rights To Know What's In Your Food
The problem with this situation, is that there have been some astute states and watchdogs that have worked VERY HARD, to make sure that the food industry must disclose what is in the food you eat, and at what amount. If this bill passes, say goodbye to knowing what GMO foods you are ingesting, what possible carcinogens and toxins are in it!

New Cancer Study Obligates FDA To Recall Aspartame
That problem with Aspartame will just *NOT GO AWAY!*
As AEFCT has spoken about before, Aspartame should have never BEEN cleared for public consumption to begin with, IMHO!
They maneuvered, manipulated and worked around all the rules and regs to make it happen.. now as the degenerative diseases and cancers are being linked with the ingestion of Aspartame, there is a growing call from those in the holistic health industry as well as in the western medical industry to take a closer look at and/or removing Aspartame from the market of our food and drinks.

Okay.. so great right?
What do we do with all the people that have been ingesting it for YEARS?
By the Gallons?
By the product, after product, after "lose the fat" product.. ??

In today's news a 12 year old Science Student found that:

Fast Food Ice Dirtier Than Toilet Water!
12 year old in Florida conducts science fair test and finds that the ice that your fast food drinks are served with is more filthy then the toilet bowl water in the same fast food restaurants!

Folks its time to start thinking CLEARLY about the issues that are slipping by with such regularity

(Albeit, that will be hard to *DO* given the Aspartame and MSG and Formaldehyde and Rocket fuel that are already pickling and damaging our brains as it is!)

You are what you eat, America.. and the fact is its beginning to kill you.

So think about it as you eat that:

genetically modified hamburger bun
that contains the
bovine growth hormone hamburger,
served to perfection with
the lettuce that grew via water with rocketfuel in it
garnished with MSG laden ketchup and condiments
formaldehyde producing cheese

Oh and while you're at it:

Have some sugary gluten frenchfries that were fried in the oil that is NOT what it was claimed to be
then wash it all down with an
Aspartame Diet Drink
that is pleasantly chilled with
ice that is 70% more bacteria laden then toilet water!

On your way to see your PCP who has ordered a cardiac stress test, blood tests to check those triglyceride levels and the disturbing amount of ecoli in your system and wants to schedule a CAT scan and Mammogram to figure out just what those nasty little 'lumps' are!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Is Iran Next?

We respectfully ask that you read the entire post before commenting the first time, but for your convenience we have put a jump to the comments section right here, so that you can easily find them.

iran-next.jpgMany in the blogosphere have been asking... Is Iran Next?

In a word... Yes. The President all but said so in his "Axis of Evil" speech, and I am afraid, given the current state of affairs, that war with Iran, in one form or another, is inevitable. Is immediate action absolutely necessary? NO, we must go the route of diplomacy first, but we CANNOT shy away from war. This entire situation has very grave consequences, our failure to act, no matter what the reason, will haunt us into eternity.

Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Palestine, along with their agents in Hezbollah, Hamas, and Al Queda, are all intimately connected through Radical Islam. This IS a holy war to them, and in their eyes they are doing Allah's will.

We are on the precipice, one might say, of World War Three, all the pieces are there, being laid out by several factions worldwide. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fancies himself the ring leader of the righteous, and his saber rattling is almost inviting war. That alone gives me pause. One of two things is apparent, either he has no means to do anything, but desperately wants the world to think he does... or he is closer than we all think and is itching for an excuse to be a martyr for the cause. Both allude to an insane power play, that is all to common in that part of the world.

At the very least, I would never ignore or turn my back on him, but I would also keep awareness of my surroundings. Something tells me MUCH MORE is going on here than any of us realize... Much, much more...

But why are we in this position? For that I agree with a comment I found at Stop The ACLU...

Yes, I believe war with Iran is inevitable. We tried it Jimmy Carter's way in 1979 and Khomeini showed the nature of radical Islam and the future of Iran by invading our embassy and holding our citizens hostage.

Now, one of the "students" from that incident is president of Iran, and like Hitler is announcing his plans. History has taught us two things: First, madmen usually try to follow up on their threats. And, it is easier to stop them earlier rather than later.

With history as our guide, the civilized West can stop Iran now with a few hundred to a few thousand deaths or face a nuclear showdown later with hundreds of thousands to millions of deaths.

No sane person wants war, but if war must come, we should try to win it this time as we did in WWII–destruction of the enemy's capacity to resist and unconditional surrender. As distressing as it is, I believe lesser measures will ultimately result in more deaths and destruction.
Weakness and capitulation only breeds boldness and aggressiveness in this part of the world. It is human nature to be barbaric, and it takes civilized and reasoned societies to rise above that, an action that the radical Islamists have failed to accomplish.

Matthew (Zaphriel) of Liberty Just In Case

I have been watching the events with Iran unfolding for some time. I remember well, our last go around with these folks, during the Iran Hostess crisis. It is true, this government can be barbaric as I recall.

I am not a person that goes the routes of war, not when there are other ways of promoting peace and compromise and diplomatic routes.

However, as the rhetoric out of Iran has increased.. my stance has turned more to a guarded eye.

While I feel that we have stuck our nose in and sought to tell another nation what it can and cannot do, even though we are ourselves do and have the same nuclear capability.. I see that they are doing nothing on their end to meet at the table of compromise.. not only has their new leader, walked away from the table recently - he is in the process of overturning it all together.

As a Christian.. we are told to not be afraid of "wars and rumors of wars"we are, in short NOT TO LOSE OUR PEACE.. due to these things.. it is hard not to do so, when so much is in on the line! But.. it wasn’t a suggestion that Christ made, folks.. it was an order.. DO NOT be afraid..

Okay.. so laying the fear to rest.. what now?
I think it is in the duty of every American family to do two things now: unafraid at that..

1. Prepare your homes for another world conflict.. get that pantry ready as you've been planning on doing, take the time to read the emergency preparedeness information that is out there.. it is better to have both and not need them then to need them and not have them!

2. Pray for a defusing of the situation. Pray for the leaders of this nation and for the leader and people’s hearts of Iran. If the leaders heart will not turn.. pray that he loses his base of "people" that will support it. Pray that if the entire nation will not be softened and meet again at the table of the peace-making process.. that if military action is warranted and necessary that it be swift, sure and complete.

Pray for our Nation's leaders that they will be in good wisdom at this very critical time.

Above all things, I guess my comment here is "Do not be afraid..." Be prepared.. be wise.. be ready.. be at prayer.. but do not be afraid.

Nariel of Ancient Eyes for Current Times

This nation has been at war since 9/11/01. On September 20th, 2001, President Bush laid out the initial framework of that war:
I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. (Applause.) The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. (Applause.)

Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated. (Applause.)
"...every government that supports them." The applause was universal and united then. He continued:

Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber -- a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.

They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of vast regions of Asia and Africa.

These terrorists kill not merely to end lives, but to disrupt and end a way of life. With every atrocity, they hope that America grows fearful, retreating from the world and forsaking our friends. They stand against us, because we stand in their way.

They hate our freedoms. Including our freedom to publish cartoons without fear of beheadings, riots, and bloodshed. They want to drive Israel out of the Middle East. In fact, the new Iranian President has said clearly he wants to drive Israel in to the sea. They want to drive Christians and Jews out of Africa and Asia. Anybody heard of the genocide in Dharfur lately?

The terrorists hope that America grows fearful, retreating, forsaking our friends. Right up to and including leaving the Iraqi Front, and using Murtha's "over the horizon" strike force.

The President continued to gaze in to the future:

Americans are asking: How will we fight and win this war? We will direct every resource at our command -- every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war -- to the disruption and to the defeat of the global terror network.

This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

Every resource at our command. Including listening to terrorist operatives making and recieving calls from outside this country. Every resource. That's what total war is. A committment to use every resource to achieve total victory. What does all this have to do with Iran? Read the last sentences again, especially the Applause lines:
And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. (Applause.) From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.
Any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism. You are with us, or you are with the terrorists. Congress applauded, Democrats and Republicans, right and left, applauded. If you heard that speech, given a few weeks after the Towers fell, the chances are very good that YOU applauded.

President Bush has never stepped back from these words. The United States followed those words in to Afghanistan. We followed those words in to Iraq. And we've followed those words to a thousand other undisclosed places of this war, from the jungles of Indonesia and Columbia to the secure vaults of banks in New York and Switzerland.

And now, with the coming of a nuclear Iran, seedbed of terrorism for over 30 years, we will follow those words again.

As President Bush spoke, the acrid fumes continued to pour from Ground Zero. The Pentagon continued to smolder, and the story of Flight 93 was just beginning to be known. The letters containing anthrax were in the mail, and the coming attack on Los Angeles was in its final stages.

President Bush ended his speech with these words:

I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.

The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them. (Applause.)

Fellow citizens, we'll meet violence with patient justice -- assured of the rightness of our cause, and confident of the victories to come. In all that lies before us, may God grant us wisdom, and may He watch over the United States of America.

These words ring as clear and true today as they did in that long ago time, when the wound to our hearts was fresh. And the choice set before the nations by our President remains. Iran, by her words and actions, has chosen sides. In our September 12th world, we must act before Iran attains nuclear weapons. Fear and cruelty would be magnified a million-fold should the mad mullahs of this terrorist nation achieve their goal. Freedom and justice will prevail...but only if we hold fast to the words spoken at the beginning of this long conflict. We must wage total war on the terrorist and the nations that harbor them. Only then can we attain total victory.

Mark of Liberty Just In Case

Zaph, I understand where you are coming from, definitely. This guy is a certifiable KOOK, after all. No doubt about it....

Or IS he?

What I want to know is, how well does this guy get along with Kim Jong-il, from North Korea anyway? After all, it wouldn't be the first time North Korea and Iran crawled into bed together, would it?

Doesn't this all sound familiar? Wasn't it just a few short months ago that we had a guy over in North Korea doing the same thing... just daring the United States and President George W. Bush to take a swing at him?

True, we cooled him down, continued our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his voice disappeared largely. Then this guy from Iran starts piping up at a time when we are cash strapped and overstretched, militarily speaking... and the rhetoric sounds EXACTLY the same way the guy in North Korea's did... if I recall correctly.

Guys, I sure hope our Commander-In-Chief knows what he is doing this time, because it sure seems like the writing's on the wall to ME. It looks like a "sucker punch". A "rope a dope". A "two on one". It looks to me like this is about to kick up into a "2 against 1" situation and it is quite scary to me, frankly.

Because of this: if this IS the case... we cannot compete without a draft, a helluva lot more tax money, and a helluva lot more dead Americans.

Are we ready for it?

I do not see how it could be so.

Carl of The Gun-Toting Liberal

While the possibility certainly exists that we will end up at war with Iran, I don't believe that it is imminent (within say the next two years). Ahmadinejad is currently doing what all thugs and bullies do; he is rattling his sabers and beating his chest in a display designed to scare his foes. However, I do not think the fact Saddam's attempts to pose the same kind of bluff were called is lost on him.

It may be the case that he believes that the US's current commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq offer him cover and a cursory glance would certainly seem to back that position. Fortunately, this is not Iraq and the game has changed. The world (read Europe and the UN) will not rally against an attack against Iran.

In fact, it is Europe that is currently taking the lead against Iran. Though their resolve has yet to be tested, Europe is certainly starting to wake up to the reality of what radical Islam is all about. Since 9/11 Europe has repeatedly been the victim of its own policies of appeasement. Spain, the UK, France and the Netherlands have all had blood spilled at the hands of those looking to impose Sharia on the entire world. Though I am certainly not ready to bet my continued existence on this earth on the spine of Europe, I firmly believe they will offer no cover for Iran in this matter, and would likely comprise a significant portion of any war effort against Iran.

In addition, Ahmadinejad knows that it is only the US and Europe that stand between him and Israel. If Europe did not stand in the way, Israel will be free to protect their interests as they saw fit. While Iran may talk tough, I believe they know full well the consequences of Israel being unleashed. Perhaps this is what Ahmadinejad wants. Such action by Israel would certainly not play well in the Muslim world and could possibly lead to a World War III, as Zaph has suggested. I just don't see it though. I think that most governments in the Middle East are well aware of the sweetheart deal they have going and would be reticent to follow in Saddam's footsteps by engaging in a war they know they could not win. Russia has provided Iran with an out and my guess is that once it is obvious that Iran will not receive cover from the usual suspects, there will be great pressure within the Muslim nations to press Iran into accepting the deal.

Liberty Dog of GMRoper

Monday, February 06, 2006

Domestic surveillance

Hey Everyone, GTL's Back... **Everyone Cheers**
Now, on with the show.

We respectfully ask that you read the entire post before commenting the first time, but for your convenience we have put a jump to the comments section right here, so that you can easily find them.

Domestic surveillance / wiretapping of U.S. Citizens: A necessity for self-preservation, or an unnecessary, blatant violation of our civil liberties?

Anybody who knows me knows I am a huge talk radio fanatic. Talk radio stimulates the mind, helps get the Citizen involved in politics; both on a community and national basis depending upon the program. As my regular readers know, I served in the "sandbox" (location not given for security purposes) recently. When I was over there, one of the many things missing from my life was talk radio and political news in general. While I did have Internet access, it was very limited to say the least. The only talk radio hosts allowed behind the restrictive firewall were the far right ones; Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Neal Boortz, and folks like that.

Of course, all of these talk radio personalities required a subscription fee for them to be heard over the Internet, so on my very limited budget, and in a moment of temporary insanity, I subscribed to Rush Limbaugh just so I could hear what was going on back home in the political arena even if it was going to be coming at me from a biased, far right point of view. I could have subscribed to any of the guys' podcasts, but I chose Rush for two reasons and two reasons only:

1. Michael Savage (by far the best of conservative radio hosts - not just a Republican Party "yes man" like the others ones are) does not offer a podcast or online subscription to my knowledge.

2. Rush Limbaugh is at least entertaining to me even when I disagree with him, which is quite often obviously.

Whenever I had a few free moments to download Rush's latest podcast during my busy work schedule, I would do so, and then download it to my MP3 player so I could listen to it after work and before going to sleep. I was unable to do this more than just a handful of times because of the work schedule (12 hour plus days, up to 7 days per week), but I was able to catch a few broadcasts.

One day I was listening to Rush as he demonized the liberals for their stance against domestic wiretapping when a caller called in. He introduced himself as a troop who had just come back home from the sandbox and he went on to tell Rush how it dismayed him that he served his country to preserve freedom, democracy, and personal liberty just to come back home and hear Rush demonizing the liberal Americans who were trying to do the same thing on the home front. As Rush went off on this Soldier, I kept listening to hear if Rush, a vocal "supporter" of the troops was going to be thanking this Soldier for his service.


That is when it really hit me that the guys like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh only support the troops who blindly support the Republican Party. I guess I always knew that, but it wasn't until that moment that I realized Rush Limbaugh actually despises those who disagree with him politically, even those troops who are Democrats, or open-minded, left leaning, libertarianish independent thinker such as myself. But back to the topic at hand.

I, much like the Soldier who called in to Rush Limbaugh, signed on the dotted line to preserve and spread freedom, liberty, and democracy. No other reasons; just those. When I heard about the domestic wiretapping of U.S. Citizens over there, I was quite disappointed and heartbroken. Yes, heartbroken.

How could this happen in my America? The Government suspects a Citizen is sleeping with the enemy, the Government takes the information to the judge to gain lawful permission to monitor that U.S. Citizen, the judge says "no"; case closed. But no, the case isn't closed; not under this Administration. Under this Administration, the judge is completely ignored and the snooping goes on anyway.

Now don't get me wrong; I am not one of those on the loony, far left who is going to tell you that "Bush is evil", or "Bush is trying to destroy America". I truly believe President Bush is trying to do his very best to protect America, just like I am, and just like the other more liberal folks are trying to do. We simply disagree on the way the President is going about it, that's all.

But that also doesn't mean I'm going to sit here and say "Well, since the President has the best of intentions, we'll just wait until '08 and the People will vote in people with better ideas who won't resort to the revocation of our civil liberties" either. In fact, I'm going to say the exact opposite.

Wait a minute, allow me to back up for a second. Let's take just a brief moment to give President Bush some credit for his anti-terrorism record so far since 9/11. If we're going to hold him accountable for everything that's gone wrong, let's give the man a few "kudos" for the fact that we haven't been attacked on U.S. soil again since the day those (mostly) Saudi bastards bombed the hell out of the Twin Towers. The man's record speaks for itself.

On the other hand, I will not simply buy into the notion that this is due to the fact that the Government simply snoops around in the private emails, private phone calls, and even the private homes of American Citizens whenever it feels like going on a fishing expedition. I have a very hard time believing that any judge in the United States is going to review the Government's proof that any American Citizen is talking to al-Qaida on the phone, and then say "Nope. You may not monitor those phone calls." If this is what's going on, then I, as an American Citizen, demand that judge be removed immediately from the bench. But I have more faith in our judicial system than that. This is exactly why our Founding Fathers divided the Government and the Judiciary into two separate branches; so this sort of thing would not go on. But it is going on. And that is also heartbreaking to me.

Listen; I hate frigging losing. If you can prove to me that the only reason our Democracy is still intact is because of the suspension, or revocation of our civil liberties and our guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure, I'm going to have to admit that we've lost this War on Terror. I'm not going to be doing that yet. I do not believe for one moment that we've lost this war. I truly believe we can defeat terror without having to give up all that makes America what she is; our freedom and liberty.

Here is where I think the President and his Administration are coming from: it would literally tear them apart to see another terrorist act on our soil; to see Americans be killed by Muslim extremists needlessly. They, like myself, and like all of the other Liberals and Conservatives, are patriots who are trying to do what is best for America. I'll grant them that much. I can totally relate, but let me ask you this:

Would you grant the Government the right to snoop around in your home, your private transactions, your private phone calls, your private emails, your health records, or any personal items you may own if these actions would guarantee our nation would never, ever have another terrorist attack on our soil?

Not ME, bub.

Allow me to use an analogy. Some of us live in safe neighborhoods, some of us live in dangerous neighborhoods and some of us live in semi-safe neighborhoods. Let's say you live in one of the dangerous neighborhoods where somebody gets shot, or at least maimed every other day. Let's say the police have a new program where they can guarantee they will root out all of the "bad guys" in your neighborhood and clean it up and make it safe again if you'll only just allow them to spy on you at will, until they have eliminated you from their "bad guys" list. After all, if you aren't doing anything illegal, you don't have anything to worry about, right?

And this is where the fundamental ideological differences between the left and the right become revealed. Many on the right generally agree that this would be a reasonable trade; "Civil liberties for a guarantee of safety? what a bargain!" Whereas; most of us who lean a bit more to the left are more likely to say "Hell no, you can't come into my house and root around and spy on me! I'll watch my back and take my chances, thank you very much."

To complete my analogy, let's look at the United States as if it were also a neighborhood. It's not that much of a stretch because it is our "neighborhood". It was once thought to be a completely safe neighborhood, but some people in a house down the block just got thoughtlessly, senselessly murdered by a bunch of gang members. The attackers were killed, but other members of this same gang in other areas of town are promising they will kill again in your neighborhood. They say they have members of their gang hiding out in your neighborhood, poised to help the outside gang members destroy your neighborhood; it's only a matter of time. You're stuck with your mortgage and you've put a lot of work into making your neighborhood safe and prosperous, so you feel that moving to another neighborhood is not an option.

Your options are:

A) Work with your other neighbors to create a "neighborhood watch program". You and all of your neighbors agree in solidarity to look out for each other and you take your chances.

B) Take a neighborhood vote and select a small number of "upstanding" and wealthy fellow neighbors to do anything they feel they need to do your homes and businesses of the neighborhood as long as they try to catch the bad guys. You all grant them permission come and go as they please from now on.

Sorry, but I chose "A". How about you?

Carl of The Gun Toting Liberal

In August of 2004 I developed severe breathing problems. The problems grew so bad that I was forced to stop work. For the rest of 2004, and well in to 2005, I was completely disabled, forced to stay home, sometimes unable to leave the house. During this time of enforced confinement, talk radio and the blogosphere became my links to the world. Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved, Sean Hannity, and Hugh Hewitt became a regular part of my day. Lest someone say, "Aha! That explains it! He's been brainwashed by the "right-wing!" let me also add that I would listen to Air America until they went belly up hear in Chicago. And, as my blog partner Matt can attest, I spend at least as much time on left wing blog sites as I do conservative ones. I work very hard not to just have my own views confirmed by those I agree with.

But conservative talk radio has remained a constant for me, even as my health has improved. That's why GTL's characterizations of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity offended me so much. Because I have heard Rush go out of his way to thank military personel for their service, regardless of their political leanings. In fact, Rush has a program going to make subscriptions to his website available free of charge to military personel. And its not based on anything other than being a confirmed member of the military. GTL, you didn't have to pay for your subscription. You still don't. And, yes, I do indeed thank you for your service to this country, and to the blogosphere.

Now, GTL has presented the fears over the NSA surveillance program that was illegally leaked to the Mainstream Media. He,in effect, echoed Senators Durbin, Leahy, Feingold, Feinstein et al at the Senate Judiciary Hearing on 2/7/06. And, like them, he shows an ignorance of the facts, and the law. Now, GTL is no lawyer, so he has an excuse. Most of the Democrat Senators are lawyers, and so have none.

There is no excuse for exaggerating the program revealed, not with today's internet access. Here are the facts, taken primarily from analysis by lawyers. Rather than go through these arguments again, I'm going to point toward the references that should be read by all:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez layed out the case in a debate at Georgetown Law School on 1/23/06. The attorneys at Powerline have done an excellent job of summarizing General Gonzalez's speech.

On 2/7/06, General Gonzalez testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. After a preliminary bid by Democrats to put Gonzalez under oath for the cameras failed, the Attorney General gave his opening remarks. Again, he layed out why the program leaked to the New York Times is both necessary and legal. One of the key myths being perpetuated today is that FISA allows 72 hours to get a warrant. Here are the facts behind this myth, from General Gonzalez's opening statement:

In this debate, however, I have been concerned that some who've asked, "Why not FISA?" do not understand how that statute really works.

GONZALES: To be sure, FISA allows the government to begin electronic surveillance without a court order for up to 72 hours in emergency situations or circumstances.

But before that emergency provision can be used, the attorney general must make a determination that all of the requirements of the FISA statute are met in advance.

This requirement can be cumbersome and burdensome.

Intelligence officials at NSA first have to assess that they have identified a legitimate target. After that, lawyers at NSA have to review the request to make sure it meets all the requirements of the statute. And then lawyers at the Justice Department must also review the request and reach the same judgment or insist on additional information before processing the emergency application.

Finally I, as attorney general, must review the request and make the determination that all of the requirements of FISA are met.

But even this is not the end of the story.

Each emergency authorization must be followed by a detailed formal application to the FISA courts within three days. The government must prepare legal documents laying out all of the relevant facts and law and obtain the approval of a Cabinet-level officer as well as a certification from a senior official with mass security responsibility, such as the director of the FBI.

Finally, a judge must review, consider and approve the application.

All of these steps take time. Al Qaida, however, does not wait.

While FISA is appropriate for general foreign intelligence collection, the president made the determination that FISA is not always sufficient for providing the sort of nimble early-warning system we need against Al Qaida.

Just as we can't demand that our soldiers bring lawyers onto the battlefield, let alone get the permission of the attorney general or a court before taking action, we can't afford to impose layers of lawyers on top of career intelligence officers who are striving valiantly to provide a first line of defense by tracking secretive Al Qaida operatives in real time.

Now, one more myth of the media. What exactly did President Bush authorize? From Strata-Sphere on 2/5/06:

As I posted earlier, it was divulged in the 1970's, during the Church Committee investigations, that NSA routinely intercepts calls to people in the US when monitoring overseas enemies - it is unavoidable. What the NSA did if and when this happened was to bury the information regarding the US side of the communication.

This is probably how 9-11 murderers Midhar and Hazmi were missed when they were making all their calls overseas to what had to be targets of the CIA and German intelligence. The NSA would see the call, but due to short sighted and lazy policies that avoided arguing why these people should be monitored, their information would never be transmitted to the FBI.

What Bush did was direct the NSA to send their leads in the US to the FBI for investigation. That's it. Even if the NSA did expand it surveillance into new methods, without opening the gate between the NSA and FBI the leads would still be hidden from domestic law enforcement.
Remember "connecting the dots?" Remember the 9/11 Commission's Report about the Wall between law enforcement agencies? A Wall placed there by none other than Jamie Gorelick, a 9/11 commissioner? If the hysteria of the Left wins, that Wall will be put back, stronger than ever. One of the provisions of The Patriot Act currently twisting in the wind due to Democrat intransigence is the removal of that Wall.

GTL gave an analogy of a neighborhood, and stated that we could either form a neighborhood watch program, or elect representatives to look out for us. If I'm worried about a burglar stealing my computer, a neighborhood watch program makes sense. If I'm worried about who is going to patrol the streets at night, I'll elect a mayor, a city council, and form a police department also to help keep me and my family safe.

But if I've already lost 3000 friends and neighbors, and seen the destruction of the Twin Towers, I'll do more. And, if the murdering bastards that did the killing are calling my neighbor down the street FROM OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY to plot more deaths, and I have the ability to listen to the conversation and stop it, you bet I'll do that.

The program illegally leaked to journalists with a poltical agenda is necessary.

It is also legal.

Mark of Liberty Just In Case

I tire of this entire argument, but here goes anyway.

Amendment IV.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I guess the key word here is Unreasonable... Is it UNREASONABLE to listen in on telephonic contact outside of the United States to areas known to have enemy agents in abundance? Is it UNREASONABLE to use every means available to expediently attempt to prevent certain attack on the United States? Is it UNREASONABLE to act within the FISA regulations when possible, but to act outside of them when it is neither prudent, necessary, nor effective?

These programs of foreign surveillance are exactly that FOREIGN SURVEILLANCE. They are not listening in to your pizza order, or your private chat to Gramma, unless of course Gramma lives next to an Al Qaeda cell in Yemen.

What irritates me more than people trying to get political mileage out of this situation (knowing full well that it is fully and perfectly legal both by actual law and legal president) is that we even know of it at all. This program WAS / is still CLASSIFIED, and as with all of these situations lately I think the real issue is being overlooked, and / or swept under the carpet. SOMEONE HAS committed a crime here, and it is once again NOT the president of the United States. SOMEONE LEAKED highly classified information and once again cut the intelligence community off at the knees, for simple political gain.

Our Homeland Security, Military and Intelligence communities need to be STRENGTHENED, if we ever want to live as a free and peaceful nation once again, not weakened and obstructed. Political gain is temporary, our nations future should not be. But if we don’t soon end the back biting and political backstabbing "AT ANY COST", it very well may be.

We need to focus on the goal, and stop muddying the waters. America is great and we need to keep it that way. We are at war; we need to act like it.

Matthew of Liberty Just In Case

Added Late... Sorry, Z.

I found myself giggling *ALOT* when I read GTL's opening statement. I remember well listening to my father's radio all through the night, as he would be drifting in and out of sleep to the voices on Talk Radio. Many times, did we cross the western landscapes between New Mexico and Nevada to the voices of people like Rush Limbaugh.

On the topic of the wiretapping, my issue has never been with preserving the safety of American Citizens from possible terrorist or terrorist attacks. My issue is with the way that the lines between what is "legal" and what is not "legal" became far too obscure and blurred as has been evidenced in the hearings with Mr. Gonzales this week. It appears, to the average American Citizen, that the lines have been intentionally blurred and obscured to support something (that by the definition of freedom of speech and the laws regarding privacy of Americans) would not have elsewise been allowable.

In the aftermath of September 11, Americans for a time became terrified. We were angry, confused and afraid of what would come at us next--a situation that had not happened on American land since Dec. 7, 1941. Much like the occasion of Pearl Harbor, American's pulled out the patriotism and the heroism that was needed to pull our nation through a colossus of tragedy and we survived. No.. we THRIVED! However, how long will we live in fear (either real or contrived by others)? What for our worrying will we add or delete to from the plan that is above us and around us? The answer is simple: not a thing. Yes, we need to be cautious. Yes, we need to be wily and crafty to outwit those that would do intentional harm to our country or our citizens, but will that be at the expense of the Freedoms that this country was founded on? I for one would answer that question as a resounding, clanging NO! NO! NO!

I would rather live one day of freedom in my homeland and face the possibility of tragedy on the dawn of the next--then to live in constant fear, never fully experiencing the beauty of my land, my life and my liberty because I am too afraid of what the dawn may bring!

My heart's wish is that this country would remember that we have a back bone and it is not dictated by Washington, its policies or its politicans. All that American's will ever truly need, lives in the heart of every free, liberty loving American. The honor that is upheld in New Hampshire's state motto is one that all American's should look to as the standard of what the true American value on Freedom is:

"Live FREE or Die."

Nariel of Ancient Eyes for Current Times

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Houston, We (Still) Have a Problem

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It was just like old times. All the networks left the game shows for the launch of Discovery. Even Oprah and Dr. Phil were preempted for the Return to Flight. And the launch was a thing of beauty.Until the tile came off. Live. On International television. And the nearest tow truck was still in the hangar. That was July of 2005. There has not been a U.S. manned space flight since.

NASA is working with technology from the '70's. Does anybody have anything left in their house from the '70's? I may have an old Superman comic book stashed away from that period, old and fading, crumpled around the edges, but that's about it.That comic book and the Shuttle program have alot in common. Both are falling apart, and being maintained with tape and chewing gum.
The difference is my comic book is stashed in a closet. The Shuttle is on TV, with men and women aboard her. Men and women who may be younger than the craft they are flying.It's time to start over.

It's time to jettison the worn out bureaucracy of NASA, and invest our space dollars where they can be effective. The X-Prize gave us a look at the future of space flight. Private enterprise can do it better, cheaper, and safer. An influx of funds from the Federal Government could jump start the private space industry with technology from this century. It would also get us to the Moon, and Mars much faster than a plodding NASA ever could.It's time to reach for the stars by looking forward, instead of back to a bloated government entity long past it's glory days. It's time for private enterprise to take the lead in manned space flight.

Private enterprise and competition is the best way to fulfill the dream so many of us have held dear for so long. A nation will get to Mars within the next 20 years. A nation will get back to the Moon and develop a permanent colony there. There are only two nations who have the plans and the technology to do this. One is the United States. The other, working far more aggressively to see the plans realized, is China. It would be a tragedy if the next time we see a man land on the Moon, he is from the People's Republic of China.

The tragedy would be that we let the opportunity slip away, by choosing bureaucracy over individual effort, and Big Government over private enterprise. The X-Prize showed us the way to the Solar System. Let's get moving.

Mark of Liberty Just In Case

I agree with Mark that private space travel is probably the way of the future, but I have reservations about government subsidy of private space flight.

The Associated Press recently reported that the Federal Aviation Administration has proposed 120 pages of new regulations on private space travel. I fear that public funding would accelerate the regulation. Once the government puts up the money, it will have one more incentive to regulate private space travel. Members of Congress would have an incentive to write the conditions of the prize to favor companies to which they are friendly.

As my high school history teacher, Mr. Voshell, used to say, "Whence comes money comes control." Private businesses that accept government subsidies usually find that those subsidies come with strings attached. This would probably be the case with government subsidy of the space travel business as well.

Jason of Leave Us Alone!

While I agree that trying to use outdated equipment, technology and etc for our space program is absolutely ridiculous-- I simply do not support a drive to spend MORE money (that we don't have.. considering the deficit) on going to space and seeing what all is out THERE... when we cannot effectively see and or deal with what is going on RIGHT HERE on THIS planet, in THIS nation at THIS time.

One thing that I realized when the X Prize accomplished what it did was that indeed, private enterprise can do it better and cheaper. That of course, opens up other issues.

As I see it, the Government of the United States, needs to work at governing the people of the United States and not further increase our indebtedness in chasing the stars in space, when we cannot manage the space that we live in, with the social and global issues that we are already currently involved with.

However, when private enterprise is given free reign to open space what can we expect? Do we expect them to respect the integrity of the Heavens anymore then they have respected the integrity of the Earth? Billboards in the heavens that similar to the old Burma Shave billboards will repeatedly direct you to the "Eat At Joe's"? What about Space Walmarts--ahhhh, you KNOW someone will attempt it or at the very least THINK about it. Will they be able to say "Owned by Virgin Records" as they speed by and slap a bumper sticker on a meteor?

Funny analogies, I know, however, I really do think that our audacity and ego has become (overall) that boundless and that if private enterprise is allowed to continue the space exploration there needs to be some sort of "rule book" that is not easily manipulated or gotten past.

The Bible says that "The Heavens declare the glory of God". We need to make sure that they continue to do so and not become just another ransacked "Earth, Part 2".
To colonize the Moon is a great thought, greater still is to fix the issues right here on Earth and let the Moon do what it always has. Colonizing another region (be it here on Earth or in another part of space) would seem to be a grand adventure however, are we only running from the problems we have created here and cannot or will not fix?

To want to achieve travel in space is a wonderful thing, yet here on Earth in the United States we already have trouble guarding our own borders and the issues of travel between here and there. How will we navigate yet more space and more issues? To want to achieve space exploration and colonization, wonderful thing-- however, why must it be a race that we must get there before China? You see, there is NOTHING in our ego, our manner or our thoughts that would lead me to believe that WE have changed, that our hearts have changed or that our desire to conquer has changed. Thus, Space is yet just another thing to be 'mastered' not necessarily respected, yet another thing to be 'owned' not necessarily to be shared.

Until such time as we can work out these issues right here on good old Planet Earth.. we have no business, going deeper into the Heavens with the ego that we have.

Nariel of Ancient Eyes for Current Times

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Social Justice

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Social Justice for the 21st Century

"Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will themselves also call and not be heard." Proverbs 21:13

What IS Social Justice and how are we to respond to it?
Many have debated this topic for hundreds if not thousands of years and now it is hashed between the partisan politics on Capitol Hill and still we must ask ourselves-- are we a Socially Just Society, Nation and People?

The topic of Social Justice is uniquely intertwined with faith for many. The bible speaks:

"The Lord hears the cry of the oppressed. He is not deaf to the wail of the orphan, nor the widow when she pours out her complaint. The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest until it reaches its goal. Nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds, judges justly and affirms the right." Sirach 35:13-18

The Book of Romans calls us to remember the Poor, to feed those who are hungry, give drink to those that are thirsty. Remember the widows, be kind to strangers.
Going on to say "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

So it is a topic that should indeed cross partisan lines and fall directly to the heart of all humanity.
"How do we care for the poor and needy? Am I a Socially Just person? Is the world I live in a Socially Just world?"

We live in a needy world.
There are those that live without the basic necessities of life in our world. There are those that live beneath the standards that we would ourselves deem fit and proper for our loved ones. There are those that have much and give little. There are those who have little yet give of what they have. There are those that are guiltless over-consumers and there are those that live simply so that others might simply live. These are the facts.

Here at Balance of Power, speaking of the needy in this nation has previously been a *VERY* hot topic of debate. It is not my intention to rehash the same debates that we've had before--who's responsibility is it? Where does my responsibility begin and another's responsibility end?
We've had the "bootstraps, bootstraps" conversation and we have all at one point or another had to take responsibility for our own situations and realize we were part of the problem in how we ended up where we were.
So, to begin, lets just establish.. yes we all bear personal responsibility for ourselves. YET... is that where our responsibility should end? What amount of giving is "too much giving"?

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, brought us all face to face with the emotion and reality of the poor, the impoverished, those that had lost it all and were waning in their hope of recovery.
For most of us we responded with our hearts first: prayer, condolences, giving, offering of ourselves and even our shelter. It brought out the best (and also the worst) in what America is made of. We were confronted and assailed by questions of why were the majority of those that remained in New Orleans, black and impoverished? What has our society done, what were the circumstances that made it so clearly demarcated as a "social issue" rather then just another "weather related catastrophe?"

Social Justice is not only about doing for the poor and the needy it is about LIVING justly. It is about wise consumerism and learning to live Sustainable and Just Lifestyles. The more this occurs in our own lives, then the more we can

A. share the methods of sustainability and justice
B. do more with our reserves and overflowing abundance
for those that are truly needy in this world.

There are numerous Social Justice organizations alive and working in the world such as The Catholic Workers Movement that was founded by Dorothy Day in 1933

These are common people that live for the purposes of helping others live the works of mercy, justice and peace.

There are numerous Self Sustaining communities that have become more active in this nation and others in the effort to live more simply, to use less so that those that are in need might have more to draw from.

There are some simple suggestions that we might make ourselves more socially just people in the effort to make our world as a whole more socially just. For example:

We can spend less money on unjust global corporate economy. We can learn to shop more locally and support our local farmers and small businesses.

We can consider how we work. Does our work and our life support peaceful existence or do we work for conglomerate empires that pollute the environment or make bombs to perpetuate the cycles of aggression and war?
We can change, with deliberate mindfulness.

We can choose to live debt free so as not to support national chains and finance companies that drive the rates of poverty, indebtedness and bankruptcy.

We can look at how we live. Do we have more then we need, could we pitch together with others in a co-housing effort. Could the notion of community take root and spring up in single persons taking shelter together with others that are of similar spiritual and just minded philosophy and "Become the change they wish to see in the world"?

We can look at how we use energy and minimize it so as to reduce the dependence on petroleum products. We can look at things like carpooling, solar and wind power.

We can grow more of what we need and barter it, sell it locally at friendly prices.

We can recycle, reuse, make-do. Support things like freecycle and remember that everything comes from somewhere and we are called upon to be good stewards of our resources.

Of such are a few suggestions to get the ball rolling towards living more Socially Just in the 21st Century.

Nariel of Ancient Eyes for Current Times

Nariel's suggestions got me to thinking about what I could do to be more socially just. Soon after Hurricane Katrina, many bloggers encouraged readers to donate to various organizations. I participated by posting something on my own blog and by donating money.

This was a worthy effort, however I was remiss in not responding similarly to a much greater disaster that hit the world last fall. In October, an earthquake struck southern Asia, killing at least 87,000 people. I can't think of any good reason why I all but ignored the southern Asian earthquake after having contributed to help the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. (No, the fact that the victims aren't American is not a good reason.)

Well, better late than never, I suppose. Now is a critical time for the south Asian earthquake survivors, with winter setting in. Pakistan Earthquake 2005 has more information. Here are a couple of relief agencies:
Mercy Corps.

In an effort to live more socially justly in 2006, I'm going to make financial contributions to agencies that are helping the survivors of the south Asian earthquake. If you haven't already done so, please join me. If you have already done so, you're a better person than I am.

Jason of Leave Us Alone!

Social Justice many times is a misapplied idea.

Nariel sights scripture to back up her argument, and I agree with her. "The Book of Romans calls us to remember the Poor, to feed those who are hungry, give drink to those that are thirsty. Remember the widows, be kind to strangers. Going on to say 'Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.' "

Yes it does, and I am of the belief that that action must be chosen by each and every one of us, not forced by the government. We must choose to help the needy for it to truly be a selfless and good act. It is the responsibility of each one of us to act, to provide charity via whatever currency we see fit.

I also believe it is better to give tools than produce. There is a generally un-attributed truism out there that says, "Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime." Giving people the tools to pull themselves us, and giving them the assistance to get up in the first place is what needs to occur. Your local soup kitchen and salvation army are good for that along with many faith based initiatives.

But to the Question… How much is enough? Enough is for each of us to look into our hearts and decide. Enough is as much as we CAN give. And that will be different for each person.

The biggest thing for me however is that this should not have anything to do with the government, it is not their role to be the nations charity. It is however our role, and we must all provide it.

Matthew of Liberty Just In Case

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


We respectfully ask that you read the entire post before commenting the first time, but for your convenience we have put a jump to the comments section right here, so that you can easily find them.

This weeks guest blogger is John Dias of John wrote us and asked to put together a post for the Balance of Power, and so we gave him a shot. It's pretty much that easy to be part of the Balance of Power.

New Years Eve is also my oldest child's birthday. This year, he'll bring in 2006 at the age of 16. Where did those years go?

Last night, as I lay in bed wide awake waiting to get up at 12:01 and wish him a happy birthday, I wondered if I had done all that I could do as a parent. Of course, I haven't. Not that I think myself a poor father, but I'm certainly no uber-pop, either. But I think, despite my failings, I've been able to impart some of my ideals to my son and I hope that I've given him something to think about rather than being an old bore.

Anyway, I tried to think of the most important things I want my boys to know and understand before I'm no longer responsible for their care and feeding. Mind you, these aren't exactly pearls of wisdom, but I hope my young men will find them useful, if not now then later on when they're on their own. After considering recent events and circumstances I really feel there are some lessons to be learned. Rather than sit my son down and lecture him on his happy day, I thought it better to purgatize on my own and spare him the words. It's best to communicate ideal living through action, anyway.

Dear Son,

You are responsible for your own hide. Sadly, I think we all count too much on the soulless entity we call "government" to provide for us in time of need and failing. Instead of looking within ourselves, and making wise decisions, we've become accustomed to having a safety net below us so that no matter how carelessly or foolishly we live, "the government" will do something to make us whole again. Never were so many disappointed when the city of New Orleans was all but destroyed and they learned that the safety net doesn't have the tensile strength to withstand the weight of so many in need of salvation at one time. And frankly, although this was a huge disaster, it could have been much worse.

There are certainly situations that you can't plan for or avoid, but a huge meteor notwithstanding you can protect yourself from most dangers in this world. You only have to motivate yourself with the simple realization that nobody can take care of you, your beloved and your property like you can.

The best part of being prepared is that you are also able and ready to help others around you. Not only is this the essence of civil living, but it's also beneficial spiritually. Notice that you don't have an obligation to help. You're free to sit on your ass and watch your neighbor's home go up in smoke. But then, that's not a good way to live - for several reasons.

Speaking of being free, always remember that freedom and responsibility are inseparable. Here, the Golden Rule typically applies. Of course, that doesn't mean that others will always abide by this simple guide to living. There are those who are just plain rude or uncivilized. Let them alone and eventually time will show them the error of their ways. Just know that it's not your job to tell others how to live. You must show them how to live and do so quietly and humbly. I've raised you as a Christian, and hopefully you haven't picked up the wrong idea from a good many of your fellow Christians.

By that, I mean that it's OK to hold certain things or thoughts or deeds as sinful and contrary to what your belief system regards as good living. But you should avoid telling others that you believe they are wrong. First, it's just rude and secondly it turns them stone hard against anything you may do or say in the future that my show them your light. As the old proverb says, "Actions speak louder than words."

I'm not talking about a relativistic approach. Don't compromise on your own values and beliefs. But somehow we've got to shed the idea that we can force people to good. That's been the greatest failing of the Church throughout history. Conversion must be intellectual or it will never last.

Speaking of Christianity, don't buy into the notion that American Christians are under attack or are being persecuted somehow by the media or Hollywood or some other such imaginary enemy. American Christians enjoy more freedom than anywhere on Earth or anytime in history. If we Christians in America were really being persecuted, I don't think we could stand up - as a group - to the pressure. I really think you'd see a good many "Christians" abandon the Cross without a pinch of guilt.

Learn your faith, continue to study and be reasonably proficient at apologetics and you'll have nothing to fear. No one can take your faith, anymore than they can take your name or your will. Only you can do that to yourself.

That's about all, son. Be true to yourself. Love your brother, always. Keep in touch with friends. Pray and work.

You'll do fine.



John Dias of

Having a 16 year old son myself, I couldn't help but to read this post and find myself nodding my head along in many places.

It is a hard thing, raising a child of character, of values, of conscience in this world today. In so many ways they are assaulted on multiple fronts. Makes the job of parenting that much harder at times.

For myself, I have tried to raise my son to be a man of substance in his world. To have opinions, thoughts, views, dreams, ambitions that would not only bring to his life a sense of pride and accomplishment but also to bring good things to the lives of the world and people around him.

We don't always agree on things, he and I. But it doesn't mean that I can't respect the things that he thinks. We have our meetings of the minds and our knocking of heads on myriad issues but in all of these times.. I am thankful that I raised him to be an independent thinker--to not follow after the crowd but to forge his own way where he must and to truly live out the goal of "To thine ownself be true."

I try to teach him that it is good to experience new things and to attempt to do things in the manner that he feels best--but to temper that with the ability of knowing when to ask for assistance.

I recall to him, the times that his great-grandfathers served in foreign conflicts proudly- distinguishing themselves as men of honor and yet I cannot make him aspire to military service, nor can I even justify the actions of the military in the world at this time. It is difficult but I remain in hope that should he feel led to serve his Nation that he will do so proudly, with integrity and not because its a great way to get a college-education, see the world, etc. but because his heart feels led to do so from a well-spring of patriotism within him.

I speak often of history and matters of our world. It has been said that those that do not remember history, are doomed to repeat it. So I tell him the straight truth of things as I've found it and armed with that he sees his world through his perspective and has formed well rounded opinions on things that are not always respected or appreciated by others but they are none the less--his own.

He's learned already that many times, a man must walk alone with his convictions--that not always will others agree with you and sometimes, they will be downright mean to you when you differ from them. I've taught him that it's alright. I've tried to impart to him that sometimes our own conscience and convictions are the best company with which to keep ourselves. I've tried to impart to him that he should "be the change you would most like to see in your world."

So in essence, I have a "punk" son with a leather jacket of metal spikes and a heart of gold.
As a parent.. I couldn't be more proud.

Nariel of Ancient Eyes for Current Times

Much of my life has been influenced by song. Nowhere is that more true than in raising my 10 year old son and almost 13 year old daughter.

There are two songs that mean a lot to me, one I sing to my son, and one will be the song my daughter and dance to at her wedding.

Phillips, Craig and Dean wrote this several years ago. It remains one of the cornerstones by which I parent:

I Want To Be Just Like You - Phillips, Craig & Dean (Lifeline)
He climbs in my lap for a goodnight hug
He calls me Dad and I call him Bub
With his faded old pillow and a bear named Pooh
He snuggles up close and says, "I want to be like you"
I tuck him in bed and I kiss him goodnight
Trippin' over the toys as I turn out the light
And I whisper a prayer that someday he'll see
He's got a father in God 'cause he's seen Jesus in me

Lord, I want to be just like You
'Cause he wants to be just like me
I want to be a holy example
For his innocent eyes to see
Help me be a living Bible, Lord
That my little boy can read
I want to be just like You
'Cause he wants to be like me

Got to admit I've got so far to go
Make so many mistakes and I'm sure that You know
Sometimes it seems no matter how hard I try
With all the pressures in life I just can't get it all right
But I'm trying so hard to learn from the best
Being patient and kind, filled with Your tenderness
'Cause I know that he'll learn from the things that he sees
And the Jesus he finds will be the Jesus in me
Right now from where he stands I may seem mighty tall
But it's only 'cause I'm learning from the best Father of them all

(c) Star Song

The other song, the one my daughter Lexi and I have decided we will dance to at her wedding, is Butterfly Kisses, by Bob Carlisle:

There's two things I know for sure:
She was sent here from heaven and she's
daddy's little girl.
As I drop to my knees by her bed at night
She talks to Jesus and I close my eyes and
I thank god for all the joy in my life
Oh, but most of all
For butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer;
sticking little white flowers all up in her
hair; "Walk beside the pony, Daddy, it's my first ride."
"I know the cake looks funny, Daddy, but I sure tried."
In all that I've done wrong I know I must
have done something right to deserve a hug
every morning and butterfly kisses at night.

Sweet 16 today
She's looking like her mama a little more everyday
One part woman, the other part girl.
To perfume and make-up from ribbons and curls
Trying her wings out in a great big world.

But I remember
Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer; sticking
little white flowers all up in her hair.
"You know how much I love you, Daddy, But if you
don't mind I'm only gonna kiss you on the cheek this time."
With all that I've done wrong I must have done
something right to deserve her love every morning
and butterfly kisses at night.

All the precious time
Like the wind, the years go by.
Precious butterfly.
Spread your wings and fly.

She'll change her name today.
She'll make a promise and I'll give her away.
Standing in the bride-room just staring at her.
She asked me what I'm thinking and I said "I'm not
sure-I just feel like I'm losing my baby girl."
She leaned over... gave me butterfly kisses with her mama there,
Sticking little white flowers all up in her hair
"Walk my down the aisle, Daddy-it's just about time."
"Does my wedding gown look pretty, Daddy? Daddy, don't cry!"

Oh, with all that I've done wrong I must have
done something right.
To deserve your love every morning and butterfly
kisses-I couldn't ask God for more, man this is what love is.

I know I gotta let her go, but I'll always remember
every hug in the morning and butterfly kisses.

There are no values I could impart to my children than coming to know Jesus, and seeking to be like Him. As our guest blogger so aptly puts it, we've got to shed the idea that we can force people to good. And that begins with our children. Our children will live what they see in us. Such is the great joy, and the great responsibility, of being called to be parents.

Mark of Liberty Just In Case

The love of a child is incomparable to any other emotion. You never know true love until you have a child, or at least I never understood the true nature of love until my darling cherub was born. That type of love compels me to instill in her important values about life, which will serve her well into the future.

Even at the tender age of six she is learning to be self reliant. I have been teaching her that no-one is going to provide for her for her whole life, that she needs to make her own way. (of course this may partially be lost in between the "Did you wipe, flush and wash, in that order?" sessions, but I still try. She's 6, some of the basics still elude her… boy is my childhood biting me in the butt.) I hope that when she is a young woman she knows that she is loved. I hope that she knows she can do anything she puts her mind to. I hope she has learned that she needs to know herself and love herself, before she can try to share that with others. I hope that someday she will feel the love that I feel today, with her, and she has at least a slightly easier time of it.

Our children are precious gifts and we must mold them so they can become gifts to the future. They are our only legacy, and the only thing that will matter 50 years from now.

Matthew of Liberty Just In Case

This is great advice. I think you're absolutely right when you say " should avoid telling others that you believe they are wrong. First, it's just rude and secondly it turns them stone hard against anything you may do or say in the future that may show them your light." Much of the polarization and hostility in our culture and politics today results from busybodies on each side heaping disapproval onto the other side. This makes it harder to find common ground.

This is not to say that one shouldn't speak out against immoral acts that actually affect the rights of others. It is not only the right, but also the duty of every citizen to oppose acts, such as murder, theft, and tyranny, that cause actual harm or risk to others without their consent. But when it comes to matters of private morality, it is best to tolerate differences and to lead quietly by example, rather than to try to use the force of law to control the private behavior of others.

Jason of Leave Us Alone!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Season's Greetings

We respectfully ask that you read the entire post before commenting the first time, but for your convenience we have put a jump to the comments section right here, so that you can easily find them.

We at the Balance of Power have been busy lately (as you can see from the post frequencies). We are trying to bring you a better blog. The holiday season is always a busy one and for us that is no exception. I asked the contributors here this week to talk about Christmas, Hanukah, or what ever other winter holiday they hold dear, and also I ask you, the reader, please leave your comments about the season, I know we would all like to hear them. - Matthew

Our church has an annual Christmas pageant. Rehearsals begin the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving, and each Saturday after that, with the all important Dress Rehearsal a day or two before Christmas Eve. Mary is always a high school girl, and the baby Jesus is always a newborn from the parish. Middle School girls play the Archangels (my 7th grader is Gabriel this year) and the elementary age children play smaller angels, and Shepherds. The preschoolers are sheep, complete with floppy lamby ear headdresses, and lamb costumes. The cast of Herod, the Innkeeper and his wife, and various other parts are filled out by children of the church. The script for this production is the same as it was sixty years ago, when the play was first held in our small chapel built during the Civil War.

I bring my children to each rehearsal, armed with my Dunkin' Donuts coffee, and my book. The coffee I drink, but somehow I never get around to the book. There is always another parent to talk to, or a shepherd to help with his robe, or a wayward lamb needing a bit of direction. In the midst of all this, the book lays silent and unread in the pew. The pageant is a time for community, not for the quiet isolation of reading.

The story is timeless, and best done by children. Somehow, in their innocence, the Christmas story comes alive in a way no dry retelling can do. As the little angels sing glory, and march around the church with their arms flapping, I can almost see the real angels sitting in the rafters, smiling. As the shepherds come running down the center aisle, their bath robes flowing about them, I see those herdsman of long ago, awakened by a strange light and a glorious message. And, as the three wise men present their gifts, to the obligatory tune of We Three Kings, I think of the gifts I need to bring to my wife, my children, and to the Risen King whose pageant this is.

The pageant for me represents all that's right about my church, my faith, and Christmas. In this gathering that dates back at least 60 years, we carry on a heritage that will outlive us all. And, on that Christmas Eve, with parents craning their necks to see their own child, rather lamb or shepherd, or Gabriel herself, I think of the Father craning his neck to look past the multitude of angels crowding around that manger long ago, catching a glimpse of his Child. He must have been beaming with pride on that night, knowing The Plan was reaching fulfillment at last.

It is this marvelous joy that we recreate each Christmas Eve, in that ancient tableau of the pageant.

Mark of Liberty Just In Case

Christmas time has always been more than just a "holiday" for me.

It truly is a living, breathing, giving, loving, living time that I for one, have always wanted to last all year long.

It is true that we live in a cynical world and cynical time.
The dreams of youth are stolen so quickly away leaving very little for a child to believe in, the magic, which is Christmas time. By the time they have reached our ages... we must remind ourselves of what it was that truly made Christmas such a wonderful time. We ask ourselves "Where IS peace and goodwill to men?" "Where is the love that this night bore to the world nearly 2,000 years ago?"

It is not so hard really-- the love and the peace are still there, if we can simply remove the veils from over our cynical eyes to SEE it.

They are in the quietest of places, anonymous givers of gifts, little miracles that still happen all the time.

They are in boxes going overseas to our military personnel from churches and individuals that may never even have met them before, but care all the more.

They are in turkeys and trimmings that are provided from our "kettle gifts" to the Salvation Army.

They are hanging as wishes on the "Giving" or "Angel" trees in most every store nationwide, a child's wish begging to be fulfilled by the spirit and nature of Santa Claus that dwells in all of us.

They are in the smiles that people muster as they bustle through crowded aisles in stores.

They are in the many hours of preparation that church choirs undertake to sing the songs you most love to hear.

They are in the sermons of Pastors and Priests worldwide that are being written and practiced for your benefit even now, a week before hand.

Christmas is all-encompassing if we allow it to be.

It is a wonderful season of memories of times gone by, loved ones missed, cherished babies that are soon to be born.

It is in every cutting of every sugar cookie that a mother undertakes.

It is also in her frantic list making as she plans the holiday meal.

But more then this...

The magic and wonder of Christmas is found in our ability to BELIEVE. For that indeed, is what it all hinges upon!

In this world of today, we are told that "Seeing is believing" yet the reverse is true. "Believing is seeing". That which we can conceive of in our minds, embrace with our hearts is what allows us to see the wonders of Christmas.

Who amongst us can say that we have 'nothing', when we look at a lowly stable scene? The picture of a mother, a foster father, a Child-- surrounded by hay and animals is the gauge by which we measure what we have and what we do not have; what is truly important and of value, and what is not.

Two thousand years ago, we were given an example of simplicity, of peace, of love, of giving. Can we look within ourselves and around ourselves as we fuss with ribbons and bows and boxes and shopping-- to find the remnant of that simplicity today? By believing, my friends shall we see it.

No matter what one's faith in this world, the holiday season rings the bells of unity between us all. In every culture, winter brings us to the depth of cold and dark and the lesson is FAITH and BELIEF.

Can we believe that beyond this cold--there is warmth at the hearth of our hearts? Beyond this darkness, can we believe that the light is not extinguished nor even lessened?

For Israel, they had faith that the lamp oil would not go out and they would not be overcome. For the Christian, they have faith that the light of the Wonder Child of Christmas has not dimmed but burns all the more brightly even to today. For the Pagan, they have faith that the winter will yield to spring again and new growth on earth will begin again, in the cycle of life.

Christmas is the season of FAITH.

May we all have more then we had only a day ago, but less today then we shall have tomorrow.

Nariel of Ancient Eyes for Current Times

Christmas to me has always been a special time of year, as I figure it is for most people. I found early on however that Santa was not the main point of it all, and the importance of the nativity became redily apparent. Given my name, I was curious about the bible and most especially the book that bore my name (Matthew), the first few chapters tell the story that I came to revere.

The Birth of Jesus Christ
Matthew1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).

24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. ...

The Visit of the Wise Men
Matthew 2:1 Now after
Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise
men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the
Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him,
“In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6 "And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel."

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they
offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

It was a time of peril and of hope. A time that very much reflects today, and I dare say the whole of human existance. Christmas is a time to find hope where there appears to be none, a time to be reborn, and start anew.

As well, it is a time for family and friends to come together and enjoy one another.

May your winter holiday, what ever it is, bring you health, happiness, and love. May we soon, see peace on Earth, and may we all show goodwill towards our fellow man.

Matthew of Liberty Just In Case
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