Forewarning

April 29, 2015

I am one of six adult children of gay parents who recently filed amicus briefs with the US Supreme Court, asking the Court to respect the authority of citizens to keep the original definition of marriage: a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, so that children may know and may be raised by their biological parents. I also live in Canada, where same-sex marriage was federally mandated in 2005.

I am the daughter of a gay father who died of AIDS. I described my experiences in my book: Out From Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting. Over fifty adult children who were raised by LGBT parents have communicated with me and share my concerns about same-sex marriage and parenting. Many of us struggle with our own sexuality and sense of gender because of the influences in our household environments growing up.

We have great compassion for people who struggle with their sexuality and gender identity—not animosity. And we love our parents. Yet, when we go public with our stories, we often face ostracism, silencing, and threats.

I want to warn America to expect severe erosion of First Amendment freedoms if the US Supreme Court mandates same-sex marriage. The consequences have played out in Canada for ten years now, and they are truly Orwellian in nature and scope.

Canada’s Lessons

In Canada, freedoms of speech, press, religion, and association have suffered greatly due to government pressure. The debate over same-sex marriage that is taking place in the United States could not legally exist in Canada today. Because of legal restrictions on speech, if you say or write anything considered “homophobic” (including, by definition, anything questioning same-sex marriage), you could face discipline, termination of employment, or prosecution by the government.

Why do police prosecute speech under the guise of eliminating “hate speech” when there are existing legal remedies and criminal protections against slander, defamation, threats, and assault that equally apply to all Americans? Hate-crime-like policies using the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” create unequal protections in law, whereby protected groups receive more legal protection than other groups.

Having witnessed how mob hysteria in Indiana caused the legislature to back-track on a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, many Americans are beginning to understand that some activists on the Left want to usher in state control over every institution and freedom. In this scheme, personal autonomy and freedom of expression become nothing more than pipe dreams, and children become commodified.

Children are not commodities that can be justifiably severed from their natural parentage and traded between unrelated adults. Children in same-sex households will often deny their grief and pretend they don’t miss a biological parent, feeling pressured to speak positively due to the politics surrounding LGBT households. However, when children lose either of their biological parents because of death, divorce, adoption, or artificial reproductive technology, they experience a painful void. It is the same for us when our gay parent brings his or her same-sex partner(s) into our lives. Their partner(s) can never replace our missing biological parent.

The State as Ultimate Arbiter of Parenthood

Over and over, we are told that “permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not deprive anyone of any rights.” That is a lie.

When same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada in 2005, parenting was immediately redefined. Canada’s gay marriage law, Bill C-38, included a provision to erase the term “natural parent” and replace it across the board with gender-neutral “legal parent” in federal law. Now all children only have “legal parents,” as defined by the state. By legally erasing biological parenthood in this way, the state ignores children’s foremost right: their immutable, intrinsic yearning to know and be raised by their own biological parents.

Mothers and fathers bring unique and complementary gifts to their children. Contrary to the logic of same-sex marriage, the gender of parents matters for the healthy development of children. We know, for example, that the majority of incarcerated men did not have their fathers in the home. Fathers by their nature secure identity, instill direction, provide discipline, boundaries, and risk-taking adventures, and set lifelong examples for children. But fathers cannot nurture children in the womb or give birth to and breast-feed babies. Mothers nurture children in unique and beneficial ways that cannot be duplicated by fathers.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that men and women are anatomically, biologically, physiologically, psychologically, hormonally, and neurologically different from each other. These unique differences provide lifelong benefits to children that cannot be duplicated by same-gender “legal” parents acting out different gender roles or attempting to substitute for the missing male or female role model in the home.

In effect, same-sex marriage not only deprives children of their own rights to natural parentage, it gives the state the power to override the autonomy of biological parents, which means parental rights are usurped by the government.

Hate Tribunals Are Coming

In Canada, it is considered discriminatory to say that marriage is between a man and a woman or that every child should know and be raised by his or her biological married parents. It is not just politically incorrect in Canada to say so; you can be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, fined, and forced to take sensitivity training.

Anyone who is offended by something you have said or written can make a complaint to the Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals. In Canada, these organizations police speech, penalizing citizens for any expression deemed in opposition to particular sexual behaviors or protected groups identified under “sexual orientation.” It takes only one complaint against a person to be brought before the tribunal, costing the defendant tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. The commissions have the power to enter private residences and remove all items pertinent to their investigations, checking for hate speech.

The plaintiff making the complaint has his legal fees completely paid for by the government. Not so the defendant. Even if the defendant is found innocent, he cannot recover his legal costs. If he is found guilty, he must pay fines to the person(s) who brought forth the complaint.

If your beliefs, values, and political opinions are different from the state’s, you risk losing your professional license, job, or business, and even your children. Look no further than the Lev Tahor Sect, an Orthodox Jewish sect. Many members, who had been involved in a bitter custody battle with child protection services, began leaving Chatham, Ontario, for Guatemala in March 2014, to escape prosecution for their religious faith, which conflicted with the Province’s guidelines for religious education. Of the two hundred sect members, only half a dozen families remain in Chatham.

Parents can expect state interference when it comes to moral values, parenting, and education—and not just in school. The state has access into your home to supervise you as the parent, to judge your suitability. And if the state doesn’t like what you are teaching your children, the state will attempt to remove them from your home.

Teachers cannot make comments in their social networks, write letters to editors, publicly debate, or vote according to their own conscience on their own time. They can be disciplined or lose any chance of tenure. They can be required at a bureaucrat’s whim to take re-education classes or sensitivity training, or be fired for thinking politically incorrect thoughts.

When same-sex marriage was created in Canada, gender-neutral language became legally mandated. Newspeak proclaims that it is discriminatory to assume a human being is male or female, or heterosexual. So, to be inclusive, special non-gender-specific language is being used in media, government, workplaces, and especially schools to avoid appearing ignorant, homophobic, or discriminatory. A special curriculum is being used in many schools to teach students how to use proper gender-neutral language. Unbeknownst to many parents, use of gender terms to describe husband and wife, father and mother, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and “he” and “she” is being steadily eradicated in Canadian schools.

Which Is More Important: Sexual Autonomy or the First Amendment?

Recently, an American professor who was anonymously interviewed for the American Conservative questioned whether sexual autonomy is going to cost you your freedoms: “We are now at the point, he said, at which it is legitimate to ask if sexual autonomy is more important than the First Amendment?”

Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian citizens were supposed to have been guaranteed: (1) freedom of conscience and religion; (2) freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; (3) freedom of peaceful assembly; and (4) freedom of association. In reality, all of these freedoms have been curtailed with the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Wedding planners, rental halls, bed and breakfast owners, florists, photographers, and bakers have already seen their freedoms eroded, conscience rights ignored, and religious freedoms trampled in Canada. But this is not just about the wedding industry. Anybodywho owns a business may not legally permit his or her conscience to inform business practices or decisions if those decisions are not in line with the tribunals’ decisions and the government’s sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination laws. In the end, this means that the state basically dictates whether and how citizens may express themselves.

Freedom to assemble and speak freely about man-woman marriage, family, and sexuality is now restricted. Most faith communities have become “politically correct” to avoid fines and loss of charitable status. Canadian media are restricted by the Canadian Radio, Television, and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which is similar to the FCC. If the media air anything considered discriminatory, broadcasting licenses can be revoked, and “human rights bodies” can charge fines and restrict future airings.

An example of legally curtailed speech regarding homosexuality in Canada involves the case of Bill Whatcott, who was arrested for hate speech in April 2014 after distributing pamphlets that were critical of homosexuality. Whether or not you agree with what he says, you should be aghast at this state-sanctioned gagging. Books, DVDs, and other materials can also be confiscatedat the Canadian border if the materials are deemed “hateful.”

Americans need to prepare for the same sort of surveillance-society in America if the Supreme Court rules to ban marriage as a male-female institution. It means that no matter what you believe, the government will be free to regulate your speech, your writing, your associations, and whether or not you may express your conscience. Americans also need to understand that the endgame for some in the LGBT rights movement involves centralized state power—and the end of First Amendment freedoms.

Dawn Stefanowicz is an internationally recognized speaker and author. She is a member of the Testimonial Committee of the International Children’s Rights Institute. Her book, Out From Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting, is available at http://www.dawnstefanowicz.org. Dawn, a full-time licensed accountant, is married and has two teenaged children.

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100 year Genocide

April 24, 2015

April 24 marks the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, a massive tragedy that brutally snuffed out the lives of up to 1.5 million Armenian Christians in the Ottoman Empire.

It was a systematic attempt to exterminate an entire race of people. And now, on the one hundredth commemoration, President Obama joins those who deny it by refusing to call it was it was: genocide. This is the seventh time he’s retracted his 2008 election-year promise that if elected he would recognize the Armenian genocide.

As the granddaughter of genocide survivors, it’s personal for me, and I grew up knowing all about it. But too few people today are even aware of what took place in that part of the world exactly 100 years ago.

Unfortunately, as philosopher George Santayana noted, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We can see today how the calamity that befell the Armenians 100 years ago seems to be repeating itself in the wholesale slaughter of Christians in the Middle East by ISIS and other terrorist groups. So I’d like to offer a bit of a primer on the Armenian Genocide.

What Happened?

About 1.5 million Armenian Christians were systematically slaughtered by the government of the Ottoman Empire. It was jumpstarted on April 24, 1915, when hundreds of Armenian community leaders and intellectuals were rounded up in Constantinople, arrested, and killed.

Young Armenian women who were not raped and killed could end up Islamified and taken in as wives or concubines.

The goal was to exterminate every Armenian Christian, whether child, woman, or man. The killings themselves often included all manner of butchery, torture, and humiliation. My grandmother lamented the crucifixion of her father, who was known in the village as a holy man.

Another part of this extermination program involved deportations that forced Armenians out of their homes and basically put them on death marches into the Syrian Desert. Many died of starvation and exhaustion on these caravans. Others succumbed to diseases like typhus in lice-infested camp conditions. Young Armenian women who were not raped and killed could end up Islamified and taken in as wives or concubines. My grandmother’s younger sister was taken into a harem.

Some of the most harrowing accounts of the murders are included in the extraordinary memoirs of the survivor Bishop Grigoris Balakian, entitled “Armenian Golgotha.” For in depth documentation of the genocide online, I recommend this website.

Who Were the Main Actors?

The Armenians were Christians living in a Muslim empire. But their history as a civilization goes back thousands of years. Armenia was also the first nation to adopt Christianity—in 301 A.D. Before the massacres, Armenians were well integrated into the Ottoman economy as merchants, professionals, craftsmen, intellectuals, and farmers.

Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity—in 301 A.D.

The Turks of the Ottoman Empire were Muslims who had previously tolerated Armenian Christians, though required them to pay the tax for not converting to Islam. By the time of World War I, the Ottoman Empire was on the verge of collapse, and the government of the Young Turk “Committee of Union and Progress” felt threatened by Armenian nationalists.

In the eastern provinces particularly, this was considered a problem, especially since Armenian communities existed on both sides of the Ottoman border with the Russian Empire. The three pashas were the architects of the genocide, and worked in concert to solve the problem of nationalism by systematically exterminating every Armenian.

The Turks were allied with the Germans whose engineers built railroads and tunnels in Turkey to expedite the war effort. While the Germans cooperated with Ottoman intentions for the Armenians, there was outrage from Western powers and observers.

Where Did This Happen?

The Ottoman Empire Extended throughout the Middle East and Asia Minor, and bordered both the Russian and Persian Empires. But some of the most concentrated activity took place in the regions of Anatolia and Cilicia, as well as the eastern provinces bordering the Russian Empire. Most of the deportations directed Armenians into the Syrian desert. One of the main stops on the way there was the city of Aleppo, where Armenians could be loaded onto freight cars. A map of genocide activity is here.

When Did the Armenian Genocide Happen?

The starting point was April 24, 1915, with the arrests of community leaders in Constantinople. The killings continued after the war, and included destruction from the Great Fire of Smyrna in 1922—which my grandparents also survived. Tens of thousands of Armenians and Greeks lost their lives in that fire and the Armenian and Greek sections of the city were utterly destroyed. By 1923, the killing relented. A chronology of the genocide is here.

How Did It Happen?

Propaganda manipulated public opinion. Perhaps most important to a genocidal plan is neutralizing any possible support for the victims. The Ottoman government maintained a well-coordinated propaganda campaign that demonized the Armenians in the eyes of their Turkish neighbors. Since literacy was very low in Turkey of 1915, the propaganda was repeated by word of mouth. According to Vahagan Dadrian, an historian of the Armenian genocide, the vilification of the Armenians was spread mainly through sermons by mullahs and by town criers who sprinkled the news about Armenians with words such as “traitors,” “saboteurs,” “spies,” “conspirators,” and “infidels.” Other means included dissemination of photographs of weapons that were labelled to convince Turks that their Armenian neighbors were storing up arms for use in plots to slaughter them. With enough ill feeling disposed towards Armenians—and a groupthink mentality—the program of extermination could take place with little resistance from the population.

The father of my grandfather was charged with having firearms and was imprisoned. They never saw him again.

Conscription rounded up the men. After the removal of Armenian community leaders and intellectuals in Constantinople, the Ottoman government focused more on the general population. First, the Armenian men were called into military service. My grandfather remembers when a horseman delivered the document, sealed in an envelope and tied with a red ribbon. Villagers gathered in the church to read its order that all Armenian men ages 20-45 were to report for service while all Muslims ages 24-30 would be conscripted. Thus, all able-bodied adult Armenian men in their prime were rounded up. Meanwhile, those remaining—the young, the old, and the women—were left without the protection or guidance of those men.

Confiscation of firearms prevented defenses. The government made a point of disarming Armenians and sent police into villages to search for and confiscate any guns. The father of my grandfather was charged with having firearms and was imprisoned. They never saw him again.

Deportations displaced the victims. Virtually every Armenian settlement in the empire was emptied out. The scene my grandfather describes in his memoirs was “Bedlam all around! The whining of the dogs, the lowing of the oxen, the bleating of the cows and sheep! The wailing cries of the women. . .” The wife of one villager was in active labor during the chaos, and was placed on a cart where she gave birth to a stillborn baby. On another cart, a villager placed his disabled adult daughter, who could neither speak nor walk. Her wailing was loud and pitiful, and ended when “a police guard split her skull with the butt of his rifle.”

Virtually every Armenian settlement in the empire was emptied out.

Death marches wore them down. They were basically set up on caravans into the Syrian desert. Disease and armies of lic- infested concentration camps in places like Hama and Aleppo. There were no graves for those who died along the way. Many starved and died of dehydration if they were not killed outright.

Der Zor was the terminus for many. Der Zor was a place in the Syrian Desert, the last stop for those who survived the trek and is sometimes called the “Auschwitz” of the genocide. There was no camp, and the killings there often involved literal butchery by sword or ax. In 1990 a memorial complex and church were dedicated there to the Armenian martyrs of Der Zor. In September 2014, that church and memorial was destroyed by ISIS terrorists.

Why Is There Denial of the Armenian Genocide?

This is basically politics as usual. The Turkish government today is most outspoken in denying that this was an actual genocide. (The term “genocide” was coined in the early 1940s by the Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin to mean systematic killing intended to wipe out an entire ethnic group.) Since Turkey has been viewed as a critical strategic ally for many nations, including the United States, many take their cues from Turkey and do not acknowledge that what happened was genocide.

World War I actually served as cover for a very well-documented system of extermination, as do many wars.

One rationalization for denying the genocide is to say it’s a murky claim because it happened during war conditions when many groups suffered and died, including Turks. The fact is that World War I actually served as cover for a very well-documented system of extermination, as do many wars. In similar fashion, World War II would serve as cover for the Nazi Holocaust that resulted in the murder of six million Jews.

Everything about this killing program—the paper trails of people like U.S. Ambassador to Constantinople Henry Morgenthauand former President Theodore Roosevelt, the coordinated propaganda campaigns that demonized Armenians, the forced deportations that emptied out virtually every Armenian village in Turkey, the myriad witness and survivor accounts, the photography that had to be smuggled out because the Ottoman government forbade it—clearly indicated premeditation against unarmed civilian populations.

Pope Francis angered the Turkish government recently when he called the massacres a genocide. In response, Turkey recalled its ambassador to the Vatican.

Why?

This is the central question which always boils down to the essence of power politics. And human sin. We have the standard answers, but they don’t tell the whole story: Yes, the Ottoman government felt politically threatened and was on the verge of collapse. The Armenians made convenient scapegoats. Sure, there were nationalists among them, especially in the Eastern provinces bordering the Russian Empire whose religion was Christianity.

No true civilization can afford to falsify the historical record or corrupt the language.

But, in the end, the Ottoman government really believed its problems could be solved only by brute force and the killing of innocents. Perhaps even more importantly, it happened because they expected to get away with it.

This is key. If we corrupt the language so that we do not acknowledge genocide when it happens—as President Obama just did—then we feed into the expectations of all potential perpetrators that they can easily get away with murder. So we are liable to see genocide and other forms of mass slaughter repeated. No true civilization can afford to falsify the historical record or corrupt the language.

Inscribed on one of the walls of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a stark lesson in this. It is a statement by Adolph Hitler, who rationalized mass slaughter and expected people simply to avert their eyes and forget: “Who, after all, today speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Repentant

April 24, 2015

tears-of-repentanceHow do you know when someone is repentant? In his helpful little book Church Discipline, Jonathan Leeman offers some guidance:

“A few verses before Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18about church discipline, he provides us with help for determining whether an individual is characteristically repentant: would the person be willing to cut off a hand or tear out an eye rather than repeat the sin (Matt. 18:8-9)? That is to say, is he or she willing to do whatever it takes to fight against the sin? Repenting people, typically, are zealous about casting off their sin. That’s what God’s Spirit does inside of them. When this happens, one can expect to see a willingness to accept outside counsel. A willingness to inconvenience their schedules. A willingness to confess embarrassing things. A willingness to make financial sacrifices or lose friends or end relationships.” (p. 72)

These are good indicators, and I believe we can add a few more.

Here are 12 signs we have a genuinely repentant heart:

1. We name our sin as sin and do not spin it or excuse it, and further, we demonstrate “godly sorrow,” which is to say, a grief chiefly about the sin itself, not just a grief about being caught or having to deal with the consequences of sin.

2. We actually confessed before we were caught or the circumstantial consequences of our sin caught up with us.

3. If found out, we confess immediately or very soon after and “come clean,” rather than having to have the full truth coaxed out of us. Real repentance is typically accompanied by transparency.

4. We have a willingness and eagerness to make amends. We will do whatever it takes to make things right and to demonstrate we have changed.

5. We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized, spending as much time as is required listening to them without jumping to defend ourselves.

6. We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized as they process their hurt, and we don’t pressure them or “guilt” them into forgiving us.

7. We are willing to confess our sin even in the face of serious consequences (including undergoing church discipline, having to go to jail, or having a spouse leave us).

8. We may grieve the consequences of our sin but we do not bristle under them or resent them. We understand that sometimes our sin causes great damage to others that is not healed in the short term (or perhaps ever this side of heaven).

9. If our sin involves addiction or a pattern of behavior, we do not neglect to seek help with a counselor, a solid twelve-step program, or even a rehabilitation center.

10. We don’t resent gracious accountability, pastoral rebuke, or church discipline.

11. We seek our comfort in the grace of God in Jesus Christ, not simply in being free of the consequences of our sin.

12. We are humble and teachable.

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.

– 2 Corinthians 7:9-11

(I have put my signs in the first person plural not because it is always inappropriate to seek to gauge someone’s repentance, but because we should always be gauging our own first, and because the truly forgiving heart is interested in an offender’s repentance but isn’t inordinately set on holding up measuring sticks but holding out grace.)


-Leeman

He IS our #1 Threat 

April 11, 2015

When President-elect Obama declared that he was going to “fundamentally transform” America, not many Americans understood what that meant. They certainly did not understand that he did not believe in America’s exceptionalism and greatness. They were also unaware of his past Marxist indoctrination, blaming America for many of the world’s problems. Therefore, anything that undercuts and withdraws America’s power and influence is seen as being objectively progressive. This is fundamental to understanding why President Obama shows empathy with American’s enemies, e.g., Iran, Cuba, Russia, and China.

It is also key to understanding our precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, as well as the loss of our influence in the region with the rise of Islam. President Obama apparently shares the view that the colonial powers unjustifiably suppressed Islam for the better part of two centuries. Therefore, the best way to rectify that situation is to withdraw the U.S. and let Islam rise again. Of course, this actually started under the Carter administration with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism when the Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah of Iran in 1979.

Complicating the current Mid-East chaos is the fact that the administration has great difficulty in identifying the enemy. The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said it best, “There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.” Make no mistake – ISIS is Islam. The barbarism and atrocities they commit are sanctioned by the Quran and Islam’s Shariah law. We must face facts, ISIS is impervious to any rational dialogue. They must be killed into submission.

As I have previously stated, symbols matter throughout the world, but no more so than in the Middle East. When President Obama delivered his June 4, 2009 Cairo “Outreach to Muslims” speech, with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood leadership sitting in the front row, and declared that it was part of his responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear – that said it all!

Furthermore, there should have been no doubt remaining after his September 2012 UN General Assembly speech when he stated in reference to the Benghazi tragedy, “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet Islam.” No matter how many excuses President Obama makes for Islam and Muslim sensitivities, freedom of speech for the civilized world will not be silenced.

In yet another indication, the Obama Administration continues to embrace the Muslim Brotherhood even though their creed is to destroy the United States from within (silent jihad) by our own hands and substitute our Constitution with Islam’s Shariah law. The Muslim Brotherhood have been able to successfully penetrate all our national security and intelligence agencies. They are now institutionalized. Their impact on our policies cannot be overstated.

The Kabuki dance just completed in Switzerland produced a “framework” of “understandings” which is supposed to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons program is already being disputed by Iran. Of course, this is to be expected with no agreed upon text.

According to Fred Fleitz of the Center For Security Policy, the framework as now understood legitimizes and actually advances Iran’s uranium-enrichment program. All the core elements of Iran’s program remain in place. They do not have to dismantle anything and be allowed to keep their heavily fortified Fordow underground enrichment facilities — a major, unbelievable, concession by the United States. In effect, we have rewarded Iran for ignoring (plus lying and cheating) UN Security Council resolutions for a decade. They do not have to destroy any of their ICBMs nor stop their aggression throughout the Middle East. More importantly, the Obama administration has dismissed the fact that the Iranian government has caused the loss of life of thousands of Americans. At the end of the day, there is only one option that guarantees Iran will not achieve a nuclear weapon capability, and that is a military strike.

To show their disdain for President Obama, an Iranian spokesperson stated that the destruction of Israel is “non-negotiable.” So much for the two state peace process! Of course, death to America is a recurring theme.

The Middle East is not the only place our influence is being challenged. We are being challenged by China in the Western Pacific. In Europe, we are standing idly by as NATO is being emasculated by Putin’s aggression in the Ukraine. Many believe the “reset button” with Russia has failed. Actually, it is working quite well – for Russia.

The Obama administration has allowed the KGB thug Putin to conduct a policy of aggression in the Ukraine unopposed. President Obama’s refusal to provide legitimate defensive military equipment to Kiev appears to be part of the reset button “understanding.” It is the same understanding that applies to the withdrawal of our commitment to place anti-ballistic missile systems in Poland and the Czech Republic. Furthermore, President Obama’s refusal to meet with NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (during his 3 days visit to Washington) was another signal to Putin.

There is no doubt our influence and status as a great power and reliable ally is being challenged. Our enemies don’t fear us and our allies don’t trust us – a formula for disaster. President Obama’s refusal to call for a reformation of Islam, plus his empathy with our enemies, combined with our unilateral disarmament, place our national security in jeopardy. The greatest threat to our national security today clearly is the Obama administration policies, which must be reversed. Americans must stand up and demand that Congress act now.

James A. Lyons, U.S. Navy retired Admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

Sickening

April 11, 2015

ssociated Press

ORANGE, N.J. — A teacher in New Jersey who assigned her third-grade class to write “get well” letters to a sick inmate convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer was suspended Friday, the school superintendent said.

Orange School Superintendent Ronald Lee said in a statement that school administrators “vehemently deny” any knowledge of Marilyn Zuniga’s assignment. Preliminary inquiries found that Zuniga did not seek approval from administrators nor were parents notified, Lee said.

The letters were delivered to Mumia Abu-Jamal in prison following his hospitalization last month for what his family said was treatment for complications from diabetes. The former Black Panther is serving life behind bars for the 1981 murder of white Philadelphia police Officer Daniel Faulkner. His conviction was upheld through years of appeals, but he has gained international support for his claim that he is the victim of a racist justice system.

“The incident reported is in no way condoned nor does it reflect curriculum, program or activities approved by the district,” Lee said in a statement.

A supporter and history professor at Baruch College, Johanna Fernandez, showed Abu-Jamal the letters while she visited him Monday.

“I think he was touched,” Fernandez told The Associated Press on Friday.

Fernandez defended Zuniga from what she called attempts to demonize and bully her, saying Abu-Jamal has received many letters from children over the years.

“Quite frankly, I’m more concerned about 8-year-olds witnessing a police officer kill an innocent man in South Carolina than I am about a teacher sending letters her children wrote to one of the most important black public intellectuals of our time, who happens to be very ill,” said Fernandez, referring to last week’s weekend shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer.

The school district was closed for spring break, and the superintendent said a full investigation would begin when classes resume on Monday.

Zuniga will remain suspended with pay until the investigation is completed, the superintendent said. Additional action could be taken by the school board once the investigation is finished.

Neither Zuniga nor officials with the Philadelphia police union immediately returned emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Abu-Jamal was released from a hospital in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, on April 1, and returned to the prison.

Daddy’s and his Girls

April 10, 2015

If you are anything like me, you have had the privilege of growing up with the world’s best dad. There is nothing quite like the love of a father, and there aren’t enough words to describe it. Let’s face it, ladies; we need our daddies, and here is why.

1. They treat us like the princesses we are. Our dads know exactly how our significant other should be treating us, and if that isn’t happening, Daddy becomes the knight in shining armor. After all, he is the first man we ever love and the first to love us back.

2. It does not matter if you run out of gas in the middle of nowhere or need someone to carry you out of the haunted house; Dad is the ultimate definition of protection. We all remember the nightmares and immediately running down the hall just the climb in bed beside your dad. There is comfort and the feeling of finally being safe when you are with him.

3. We need someone that is brutally honest, someone that is not afraid of telling us we need to wear less makeup (because he knows we are naturally beautiful), or never go on a date with that guy again (because he’ll just show up on your secret date with him and ruin it anyway).

4. Every girl needs to know she is worth so much more than she believes. You get that every single day when your dad is around. It’s almost like they are trained, or it’s inherited, to constantly remind us we deserve better, we are capable of anything, and we can make our own decisions.

5. It is hard not to become a well-rounded individual when you have someone teaching you independence, the rules of every sport, and how to be a leader. Having the world’s best dad is like taking a life core class in college. He teaches you everything you need to know.

6. When your dreams seem out of reach, who is the one that believes in them the most? Probably the one that has taught you to dream that big. Dads push you to be the best you can be and achieve what seems impossible. When your plan fails miserably, he will be ready to pick up your pieces and build you up again.

7. Need more groceries? Got it. Need more gas in the car? Got it. Need (another) formal dress? Got it. You get the picture.

8. You need someone that will fight for you (figuratively and literally), even when you are wrong. The minute you walk through the doors with tears running down your face, Dad is already cracking his knuckles.

9. Just when you think it could never happen to you — it does. You have a flat tire and, thankfully, you know exactly what to do all because he sat you down one Saturday afternoon, and just when he thought you were only scrolling through Instagram, you were actually paying attention. Good thing.

10. You need your Daddy because imagine a world without them. Imagine if you did not have that strong shoulder to cry on. Imagine if you did not have someone to rebuild your confidence when it gets knocked down. Imagine if you did not have someone to always call you their little girl.

Now go tell your daddy you love him.

I’m offended

April 9, 2015

I’m offended by the offended. 

Students Force University to Cancel Screening of  ‘American Sniper’

By Todd Starnes  |  FoxNews.com

Published April 8, 2015

Muslim, Middle Eastern and North African students at the University of Michigan were successful in their mission to cancel a campus screening of “American Sniper” – claiming the film promotes anti-Muslim rhetoric and made them feel unsafe.

The university had planned on showing the critically-acclaimed film about the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle on Friday. Instead, students will be treated to “Paddington” — a PG rated flick based on the children’s book about a stuffed Teddy bear.

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The abrupt change came after several hundred students and their supporters filed a protest – attacking both the film and Chris Kyle.

“The movie ‘American Sniper’ not only tolerates but promotes anti-Muslim and anti-MENA rhetoric and sympathizes with a mass killer,” wrote the group of Muslim, Middle Eastern and North African students (MENA). “Chris Kyle was a racist who took a disturbing stance on murdering Iraqi civilians.”

The College Fix reported that members of the Muslim Students’ Association and a Palestinian solidarity group also joined the protest.

“Watching this movie is provocative and unsafe to MENA and Muslim students who are too often reminded of how little the media and world value their lives,” the students wrote in their letter.

The Center for Campus Involvement (CCI) took one look at the letter, freaked out and immediately pulled the plug on the highest grossing film of 2014. They promised to reschedule the film “in a forum that provides an appropriate space for dialogue and reflection.”

Yeah, right.

“We deeply regret causing harm to members of our community and appreciate the thoughtful feedback provided to us by students and staff alike,” the CCI wrote on its Facebook page. “While our intent was to show a film, the impact of the content was harmful, and made students feel unsafe and unwelcome at our program.”

Let’s hope none of the students feel unsafe around stuffed animals.

The MENA students continued on about the university “perpetrating these negative and misleading stereotypes” by showing “American Sniper.” They said the film has “contributed to a culture of Islamophobia in America.”

While we’re on the subject of perpetrating negative stereotypes – what about the Islamists who attacked the Boston Marathon or the Islamist who committed jihad at Fort Hood or the Islamist who tried to blow upa plane with a bomb in his underpants?

Derek Draplin, of The College Fix, found at least one person on campus who objected to the heavy-handed actions of the university.

“It would be nice to see the university…take a stand against outrageous claims of ‘student exclusion,’” sophomore Jason Weaver told the online website. “The film ‘American Sniper’ in no way creates student exclusion any more than ‘Saving Private Ryan.’”

While the Muslim students said they “respect” the right to freedom of speech, “we believe that with this right comes responsibility: responsibility of action, intention and outcome.”

With all due respect to the Muslim Student Association – you do not have a Constitutional right not to be offended by a film or a column or anything else for that matter. “That’s not the way we do things in America, kids. If “American Sniper” makes you feel unsafe – don’t watch it.

By the way — you know what makes me feel unsafe? Islamic jihadists beheading people and blowing up churches and flying jetliners into buildings and slaughtering Christian college students — that’s what makes me feel unsafe.

On the other hand, Americans like Chris Kyle make me feel safe. He was a man who was willing to put his life on the line to protect our nation – our freedom. He was a hero – a patriot – a fellow countryman.

The Muslim Student Association at the University of Michigan and their supporters smeared this man’s good name. Mr. Kyle’s family is owed an apology.

CA’s Water Shortage

April 7, 2015

Photo by Cowgirl Jules

California governor Jerry Brown had little choice but to issue a belated, state-wide mandate to reduce water usage by 25 percent. How such restrictions will affect Californians remains to be seen, given the Golden State’s wide diversity in geography, climate, water supply, and demography. 

We do know two things. First, Brown and other Democratic leaders will never concede that their own opposition in the 1970s (when California had about half its present population) to the completion of state and federal water projects, along with their more recent allowance of massive water diversions for fish and river enhancement, left no margin for error in a state now home to 40 million people. Second, the mandated restrictions will bring home another truth as lawns die, pools empty, and boutique gardens shrivel in the coastal corridor from La Jolla to Berkeley: the very idea of a 20-million-person corridor along the narrow, scenic Pacific Ocean and adjoining foothills is just as unnatural as “big” agriculture’s Westside farming. The weather, climate, lifestyle, views, and culture of coastal living may all be spectacular, but the arid Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay-area megalopolises must rely on massive water transfers from the Sierra Nevada, Northern California, or out-of-state sources to support their unnatural ecosystems. 

Now that no more reservoir water remains to divert to the Pacific Ocean, the exasperated Left is damning “corporate” agriculture (“Big Ag”) for “wasting” water on things like hundreds of thousands of acres of almonds and non-wine grapes. But the truth is that corporate giants like “Big Apple,” “Big Google,” and “Big Facebook” assume that their multimillion-person landscapes sit atop an aquifer. They don’t—at least, not one large enough to service their growing populations. Our California ancestors understood this; they saw, after the 1906 earthquake, that the dry hills of San Francisco and the adjoining peninsula could never rebuild without grabbing all the water possible from the distant Hetch Hetchy watershed. I have never met a Bay Area environmentalist or Silicon Valley grandee who didn’t drink or shower with water imported from a far distant water project.

The Bay Area remains almost completely reliant on ancient Hetch Hetchy water supplies from the distant Sierra Nevada, given the inability of groundwater pumping to service the Bay Area’s huge industrial and consumer demand for water. But after four years of drought, even Hetch Hetchy’s huge Sierra supplies have only about a year left, at best. Again, the California paradox: those who did the most to cancel water projects and divert reservoir water to pursue their reactionary nineteenth-century dreams of a scenic, depopulated, and fish-friendly environment enjoy lifestyles predicated entirely on the fragile early twentieth-century water projects of the sort they now condemn. 

It’s now popular to deride California agriculture in cost-benefit terms, given that its share of state GNP (anywhere from 4 percent to 8 percent, depending on how one counts related industries) supposedly does not justify its huge allotted consumption of state water (anywhere from 65 percent to 80 percent). But note the irony: California supplies a staggering percentage of the nation’s fresh vegetables and fruits; it’s among the most efficient producers in the world of beef, dairy, and staple crops. One can purchase an iPhone 6 or a neat new Apple watch, but he still must eat old-fashioned, pre-tech food. There are no calories in Facebook, and even Google can’t supply protein. On the other hand, I can live without an iPad. Who is to say which industry is essential and which isn’t? Insulin and antibiotic production constitute a micro-percentage of GDP, but is their water usage less important than Twitter’s? Is a biologist who studies bait-fish populations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta really more important than a master tractor driver whose skill gives broccoli to thousands?

We’re suffering the ramifications of the “small is beautiful,” “spaceship earth” ideology of our cocooned elites. Californians have adopted the ancient peasant mentality of a limited good, in which various interests must fight it out for the always scarce scraps. Long ago we jettisoned the can-do visions of our agrarian forebears, who knew California far better than we do and trusted nature far less. Now, like good peasants, we are at one another’s throats for the last drops of a finite supply.

-Hanson

Racist

April 6, 2015

What if the shoe was on the other foot?

And words don’t “slip” out. 

At a press conference after their 71-64 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers, Kentucky Wildcats center Karl-Anthony Towns was asked about his attempts to guard Badger forward Frank Kaminsky by a USA Today reporter.

Towns teammate, point guard Andrew Harrison, however, inadvertently let some words slip prior to Town’s response to the question when he mumbled “f-ck that n-gga” under his breath.

So far as we know, there has only been one day in the last two thousand years when literally not one person in the world believed Jesus was alive.

On Saturday morning after Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples wake after not having slept for two days. The city that was screaming for blood the day before is quiet. Crowds have disbanded. Jesus is dead.

What do they do on Saturday?

It’s strange that the two days on either side of Saturday are so heavily discussed. Some of the brightest minds in the world have devoted themselves primarily to those two days; they have been across the centuries maybe the two most studied days in history. The Bible is full of what happened the day before, the day Jesus was killed. And the next day, Sunday, is the day believers say gave birth to the most death-defying, grave-defeating, fear-destroying, hope-inspiring, transcendent joy in the history of the world. Pentecostals still shout about it. Charismatics still dance because of it. Baptists still say Amen! over it. Presbyterians still study it. Episcopalians still toast it with sherry. Some people think of Sunday in mellower terms, as a metaphor for hope. And others think of it as a dangerous enemy of logic, reason, and mortality.

Let’s just leave Sunday alone for now.

This isn’t Sunday. This isn’t Friday. This is Saturday. The day after this but the day before that. The day after a prayer gets prayed but there is no answer on the way. The day after a soul gets crushed way down but there’s no promise of ever getting up off the mat.

It’s a strange day, this in-between day. In between despair and joy. In between confusion and clarity. In between bad news and good news. In between darkness and light.

Even in the Bible – outside of one detail about guards being posted to watch the tomb – we’re told nothing about Saturday. Saturday is the day with no name, the day when nothing happened.

Now only a handful of followers remain. Friday was a nightmare day; Friday was the kind of day that is pure terror, the kind when you run on adrenaline. On Saturday when Jesus’ followers wake up, the terror is past, at least for the moment; the adrenaline is gone. 

Those who believe in Jesus gather, quietly maybe. They remember. It’s what people do. Things He said. What He taught. Things He did. People He touched or healed. They remember what it felt like when this Jesus wanted them. They remember their hopes and dreams. They were going to change the world.

Now it’s Saturday.

Maybe they talk about what went wrong. What in God’s name happened? None of them wants to say this, but in their hearts, they’re trying to come to grips with this unfathomable thought: Jesus failed. Jesus ended up a failure. Noble attempt, but He couldn’t get enough followers.

He couldn’t convince the chief priests. He couldn’t win over Rome to make peace. He couldn’t get enough ordinary people to understand His message. He couldn’t even train His disciples to be courageous at the moment of great crisis.

Everybody knows Saturday.

Saturday is the day your dream died. You wake up and you’re still alive. You have to go on, but you don’t know how. Worse, you don’t know why.

This odd day raises a question: Why is there a Saturday? It doesn’t seem to further the story line at all. We might expect that if Jesus was going to be crucified then resurrected, God would just get on with it. It seems strange for God to spread two events over three days.

In its own way, perhaps Saturday should mark the world as much as Friday and Sunday.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday lie at the heart of the ancient calendar. They attributed great significance to the notion that this event was a three-day story.

The apostle Paul wrote, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day [Paul adds again] according to the Scriptures.” The Old Testament Scriptures are filled with what might be called “third-day stories.” When Abraham is afraid he’s going to have to sacrifice Isaac, he sees the sacrifice that will save his son’s life on the third day. Joseph’s brothers get put in prison, and they’re released on the third day. Israelite spies are told by Rahab to hide from their enemies, and then they’ll be safe on the third day. When Esther hears that her people are going to be slaughtered, she goes away to fast and pray. On the third day, the king receives her favorably.

It’s such a recurring pattern that the prophet Hosea says, “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces… After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence.” All three-day stories share a structure. On the first day there is trouble, and on the third day there is deliverance. On the second day, there is nothing – just the continuation of trouble.

The problem with third-day stories is, you don’t know it’s a third-day story until the third day.

When it’s Friday, when it’s Saturday, as far as you know, deliverance is never going to come. It may just be a one-day story, and that one day of trouble may last the rest of your life.

* * *

I said before that Saturday is the day when nothing happens. That’s not quite right. Silence happens on Saturday. After trouble hits you, after the agony of Friday, you call out to God. “Hear me! Listen to me! Respond to me! Do something! Say something! Rescue!”

Nothing.

On Saturday, in addition to the pain of Friday, there is the pain of silence and absence of God.

When C. S. Lewis wrote his memoirs about coming to faith in Jesus, he called it Surprised by Joy. The book is about how his love of joy led him to faith in Jesus, and he actually took as the title a phrase in a poem by William Wordsworth. When Lewis wrote the book, he was a fifty-seven-year-old bachelor. He had met a woman named Joy whom, after the book was published, he ended up marrying. His friends enjoyed teasing him that he really had been surprised by Joy.

After a lifetime of waiting, Lewis knew love only briefly. Joy died soon after they were married of cancer, a lingering, very painful death.

So Lewis wrote another book: A Grief Observed. A Saturday book.

When you are happy, so happy you have no sense of needing God, so happy you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be – or so it feels – welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become… What can this mean?

Why is He so present a Commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?

A husband, a father, wants more than anything in the world to save his marriage. His wife will not listen and will not help. He is not perfect (not by a long shot), but he wants to do a really good thing. He can’t find out why his wife won’t respond to him, and he can’t stand what it’s doing to his children. Heaven is silent.

A mom and a dad find out the child they love has a terminal illness. They pray like crazy but hear only silence. She’s getting worse. You lose a job. You lose a friend. You lose your health. You have a dream for your child. And on Friday, it dies. What do you do on Saturday?

You can choose despair. Paul writes about this: “How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” In other words, apparently some people said, “There is never going to be a Sunday. It’s Friday. Get used to it. Do disappointment management, because that’s as good as it’s going to get.” Some people – silently, secretly – live here. You can choose denial – simplistic explanations, impatience, easy answers, artificial pleasantness. Hydroplane over authentic humanity, forced optimism, clichéd formulas, false triumphalism.

Paul wrote to Timothy that some “say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.” In other words, apparently some said, “It’s already Sunday. The resurrection has already happened for all of us, so if you’re having any problems, if you’re still sick, if your prayers aren’t being answered, you just don’t have enough faith. Get with the program.” Or there is this third option:

You can wait. Work with God even when He feels far away. Rest. Ask. Whine. Complain. Trust.

Oddly, the most common psalm is the psalm of complaint. The Saturday psalm. God, why aren’t you listening?

* * *

An ancient homily spoke of this strange day: What happened today on earth? There is a great silence – a great silence and stillness. A great silence because the King sleeps. God has died in the flesh, and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent as for a lost sheep.

The Apostles’ Creed says Jesus descended into hell.

Somehow no suffering you go through is suffering Jesus will not endure in order to save you.

From a human standpoint, we think of the miraculous day as Sunday, the day the man Jesus is risen from the dead. I wonder if, from Heaven’s standpoint, the great miracle isn’t on Saturday. When Jesus is born, the skies are filled with the heavenly hosts praising God because that baby is Emmanuel, God with us. Somehow God in a manger, somehow God in a stable, somehow God on earth. Now on Saturday the angels look down and see what? God in a tomb.

The miracle of Sunday is that a dead man lives. The miracle of Saturday is that the eternal Son of God lies dead.

So Jesus Christ defeats our great enemy death not by proclaiming His invincibility over it but by submitting Himself to it. If you can find this Jesus in a grave, if you can find Him in death, if you can find Him in hell, where can you not find Him? Where will He not turn up?