Archives for: May 2013
Podcast Scheduled Next week
Jameel Jaffer, the Director of the Center for Democracy of the ACLU was on Rachael Maddow's program last night. He argued against the administration's position on the use of drones. Um... well... not exactly the administration's position.
He explained the position he opposed as: we are at war, so we have the right to kill Americans on foreign soil.
There is legitimate debate on both the rationale and on the procedures used prior to sending drones to administer deadly force. Misstating the opposing argument accomplishes little.
As I understand the administration's position, the moral case is roughly comparable to that of taking out a sniper randomly targeting pedestrians from a tower.
The immediacy of the danger is not that of time, but of accessibility. If a terrorist has participated in previous killings, cannot be captured, cannot be stopped by other means: if there is reasonable likelihood that more people will be targeted, and there is a limited window of opportunity, would such a person be killed justifiably? What additional standards would be reasonable?
I can think of one. Some mechanism of legal review should be in place. The executive branch must obtain judicial authorization, putting evidence before a magistrate showing cause. In cases involving too little time for that to be practical, a retrospective review should be required.
Right now, no such process seems to be in place.
But we don't hear that argument being made.
The case for a more contemplative system was not made last night. Instead, the administration was characterized as licensing themselves to kill because we are at war. Because we are at war.
We are at war, so we can kill whomever we want. We live at the pleasure of the President.
Perhaps civil liberties defenders actually think nothing really needs honest explanation. For my own benefit, I would like a slow and careful lesson in the distinction between Anwar Awlaki, killed in Yemen a year and a half ago, and Charles Whitman, killed in Texas 45 years before that.
Whitman had climbed to the 28th floor of the University of Texas Tower in Austin found a perch on the observation deck, and began firing at those walking on sidewalks below. He killed 17 people before Austin police were able to bring him down. He was not provided a Miranda warning. He was provided no judicial protections. The was no writ issued by any court authorizing his "execution".
Anwar Awlaki was active in al Qaeda. He had participated in the planning of a dozen terrorism plots in the United States, Canada, and Britain. As with Whitman, there appeared to be no opportunity to capture him. As with Whitman, he had killed before and it looked as if he was prepared to continue killing. As with Whitman, there was limited opportunity to kill him before he killed again.
It seems to me the argument against the Obama administration's policy of targeting an American outside the United States would be more compelling if there was some reasoning that did not rest on distortion of the administration policy. If that argument against President Obama's drone policy was buttressed by reasoning of its own, it would be even more persuasive.
Those arguing from the left often seem hobbled by an assumption. They believe their case is so strong, so self-evident, so compelling, no argument needs to be presented. Why re-litigate a question that has already been proven, a case that has already been closed?
The same weakness overwhelms journalists arguing against aggressive investigation of classified leaks. Angry passion is presented as if the anger itself is the only reasoning needed in order to make the case compelling.
There is, in law, a class of courtroom reasoning known as an affirmative defense. It is a form of argument that is not subject to the normal standard of innocent until proven guilty to a moral certainty. Insanity is one such defense. Self-defense - in most jurisdictions - is another. The prosecution in a murder case does not need to prove a defendant was not insane or that self-defense was not a factor. The burden of proof for these and a few other defense arguments is on the defendant.
In public opinion, in this case, an affirmative burden is on the critics.
To most of us, the only self-evident cases, the cases that need no argument, are that
terrorists who can't be captured and may kill again should be targets of deadly force, and
- government workers who have secret information about British or American spies, agents who have infiltrated terrorist organization or deranged dictatorships, should be hunted down and treated harshly if they betray those undercover agents.
Anyone who thinks differently should be given the opportunity to make their case.
Those critics should not be confused about the need for an affirmative case. Their position is not self-evident. They actually need to make a clear and compelling argument.
Most are not doing that.
Podcast Scheduled Next week
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
- First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,
ratified December 15, 1791
Aside from gun safety, there are few issues that are harder to discuss rationally than freedom of the press. In its purest form, the principle is simple. You can't put reporters in jail or put them in legal peril for publishing the truth. You can't even charge them with anything for publishing what isn't true, if they publish it in good faith.
In fact, even good faith isn't always a requirement. In February 2003, Fox News argued in a Florida district court that they had a legal right to require reporters to deliberately lie. A reporter who refused to deliberately distort a story had been awarded a sizable sum. The court agreed that Fox had a right to lie on purpose and overruled a jury verdict.
Fox News then reported having been "totally vindicated" by the ruling. The report itself was a direct and immediate demonstration of the freedom to mislead.
During the last couple of weeks, journalists have reacted in fury at the news that telephone records, numbers called and calls received, of five Associated Press reporters had be subpoenaed by investigators working for the Justice Department. More recently, news came out that telephone records and logs of entries into and exits from a government building of a Fox News reporter were also examined in another case.
“In a continuing witch hunt for leaks and whistle-blowers, the Obama administration has chosen to trample the First Amendment,” said APME President Brad Dennison.
“Freely tossing around the word ‘transparency,’ as this administration is prone to do, does not make it so,” Dennison said. “This action clearly demonstrates that President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. have absolutely no interest in an open and transparent government.”
- Albuquerque Journal, May 15, 2013
To treat a reporter as a criminal for doing his job — seeking out information the government doesn’t want made public — deprives Americans of the First Amendment freedom on which all other constitutional rights are based.
- Dana Milbank, Washington Post, May 21, 2013
The Obama administration, which has a chilling zeal for investigating leaks and prosecuting leakers, has failed to offer a credible justification for secretly combing through the phone records of reporters and editors at The Associated Press in what looks like a fishing expedition for sources and an effort to frighten off whistle-blowers.
- New York Times Editorial Board, May 14, 2013
If I am missing something, so are most Americans. And I may be missing it because of all the overblown rhetoric floating around.
As I understand it, last year five Associated Press reporters broke an important news story. The FBI had in their possession a new sort of bomb that al Qaeda had tried to smuggle to a suicide volunteer. The plan was to blow up a plane. But the real story was that an undercover agent had managed to infiltrate al Qaeda. The information was leaked to the reporters by someone with a top level security clearance.
Wow. That was some story.
Problem is, reporting that story effectively ended the dangerous adventure of the agent in al Qaeda. Thanks, AP. al Qaeda now knew they had a spy in their midst.
Separately, A Fox Reporter wrote a story based on a source in North Korea about military plans by that dictatorship. So North Korea knew they had a spy in their midst. That information was also leaked by someone with a top level security clearance.
So you had two breaches of security.
After the team of reporters, with the help of someone with a top level security clearance, exposed a secret operative in the heart of what is left of al Qaeda, word is the operative got out alive because he was busy delivering the new type of bomb to the FBI.
Now that a single reporter for Fox News, with the help of someone with a top level security clearance, exposed the fact that a secret operative had gotten into the heart of the North Korean government, there is no word of the fate of that undercover source.
This is what Chuck Todd of MSNBC told a national audience yesterday morning:
This is, you can't look at this and see it as anything other than an attempt to basically scare anybody from ever leaking anything ever again.
So they want to criminalize journalism. And that's what it's coming down, I mean, if you end up essentially criminalizing journalism or when it comes to reporting on the federal government, particularly on national security, and the only place they can, they think they technically can do that is on the issues of national security.
What it's going to do is the impact that we’ve heard, we heard the AP counsel say this over the weekend. It is going to make whistleblowers, and people that might leak, regular sources. You know, I’ve had different conversations with people over the last week who are sitting there not quite comfortable having certain conversations on the phone. I mean, it just completely, and maybe that's the intent. I can't think of any other intent of why they’re going about this in such a broad harassing sort of way.
- Chuck Todd, quoted by Newsbusters, May 22, 2013
Now the average American, which is to say me, is supposed to be horrified. I am not supposed to be enraged at the aborting of the infiltration of a top level terrorist group. I am supposed to nod agreeably at the exposure of an undercover source in North Korea.
What is supposed to enrage me is that government would try to discourage those with top clearance from handing over such secrets to reporters.
A case can be made about the nature of the efforts by authorities. I'm not sure it is a good case. The Fox Reporter was not stalked by agents ducking into doorways and behind corners. They just looked at the logs of a government building where he used a security badge to check in and out. They compared the electronic logs with logs of government employees with clearances and found there weren't many such folks in the building at the same time. A check of phone logs narrowed it down to one guy.
Frankly, that does not seem an unreasonable set of actions, except perhaps by the reporter who just assumed that exposing national secrets was the constitutional right of anyone working for the government.
The case of government overreach on the AP story is marginally stronger. It involves weeks of phone logs, and the logs were of more reporters.
If there is a case for outrage, it is not being made effectively by outraged journalists.
"Criminalize journalism?" Have reporters been jailed? Are those who betray secret agents in foreign lands engaging in journalism?
It's going to make those with information that might put people in danger "not quite comfortable having certain conversations on the phone?" Really?
"Maybe that's the intent?" Ya think?
These talking heads actually believe the public is outraged on behalf of oppressed reporters, rather than the endangered secret operatives. They are convinced from their expertly coiffed hair right down to their hundred dollar socks that they are presenting a compelling case.
I do have one heartfelt request.
After the right wing Second Amendment violent overthrow that militants are preparing, I ask, please, please, please:
I'd like to be tried separately from these journalists.
Podcast Scheduled Next week
Memory fades with time, part of the cost of longevity. I haven't found any record of it, but I do recall hearing, or reading, William F. Buckley refer to Carl Stokes as a political genius. I remember it as gracious admiration.
When Carl Stokes was elected Mayor of Cleveland in 1968, it was historic. Cleveland had become the first major city to elect an African-American mayor.
I was traveling through Cleveland around 1970 on my way from rural New York State to St. Louis. I stopped at a small motel for the night. I flipped through channels, getting ready to doze, and came across a public access station. A Cleveland City Council meeting was in progress. It was a sort of Question-The-Mayor session. I watched a few rounds. Pretty routine. Then a young representative of some district stood. He began talking about his visit with a clerk in an obscure city agency. He was performing routine constituent work, looking for services for those he represented.
He grew angry, a bit louder, as he told those in the chamber that the clerk had suggested services might have been provided more quickly if he had played ball. He was shouting as he wrapped up his story. He pointed his finger dramatically at the Mayor. "This Councilman," he said, referring to himself, "does not play ball."
Mayor Stokes had listened attentively, but showed no emotion during the angry oration. He didn't look happy or shocked or angry or bored. Stoic, maybe. He waited for a second or two after the angry representative had finished. Then he stood, walked to the podium, and calmly dispatched his young opponent with an assurance of equal quality of city services.
I've had occasion to think back on Mayor Stokes. After serving two terms as Cleveland's mayor, he went into television, then became a judge. He was appointed by Bill Clinton as ambassador to some small country and then I lost track. I was stunned when I heard he had died of cancer in the mid 1990s.
I think of Carl Stokes and that encounter pretty often when I hear some angry exchange on television, especially when the response to anger is placid irony.
When conservatives attacked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. His calm explanation that he was just doing his job and he that appreciated President Obama doing his was kind of Stokes-like.
A conservative is sometimes defined as a liberal who has been mugged. These days a liberal is a conservative who has been hit by Hurricane Sandy. Right wing Islam-o-phobe Peter King (R-NY) represents a part of Long Island hit hard by that vicious storm. He saw the suffering first hand. He begged for quick action on behalf of those needing basics for survival. Democrats in Congress became his allies. Republicans held things up. King was furious, vowing never to forget who had let him down.
Among those who opposed aid for victims of Sandy were Oklahoma's two United States Senators. James Inhofe and Tom Coburn, both Republicans, opposed aid for those left homeless and without food or power in the wake of Sandy.
Now disaster has hit Oklahoma, the state that sent those two Republicans to the Senate. It was about the hardest fury imaginable from wind. Over a hundred are injured so far, dozens are dead. Both totals are thought to be precursors of a much larger final count. Many of the victims are children.
Among those three Republicans, Oklahoma's Inhofe and Coburn, and New York's King, it seems predictable that two would favor immediate aid to Oklahoma and one would be opposed. Which two support aid and and which opposes might surprise.
Peter King wants assistance delivered to the people of Oklahoma and wants it delivered now.
I think they should get every penny they need. I’ve been through this. We can do the political games later on, the important thing is to get them the aid as quickly as they need it and not to make a political issue out of it.
- Representative Peter King (R-NY), May 21, 2013
Senator Tom Coburn is a man of rock solid principle. He has seen and heard of the devastation to his constituents and wants to hold off on federal assistance until some offset is arranged. He is okay with pulling people from collapsed buildings. He only opposes anything more until other programs are cut.
Money for emergency aid, rescue, basics for life, saving those injured, including children must wait until Congress has re-visited the Federal Budget. Perhaps breakfast programs for little kids, or Meals-on-Wheels for seniors, or medical care for veterans, or something can be cut. Something must be cut, and the cuts must pass Congress, before additional rescue efforts should be applied to Oklahoma.
In fact, he is angry at those who take advantage of the disaster to push for more assistance:
It is crass for critics to play disaster aid politics when first responders are pulling victims from the rubble.
- Office of Senator Tom Coburn, May 21, 2013
Senator James Inhofe looks at the same damage his colleague Tom Coburn sees and draws a different conclusion. He says emergency aid should not be held up waiting for offsets. He opposed aid to Hurricane Sandy, but he says this is different. There won't be waste this time.
Part of what Senators Inhofe and Coburn opposed after Sandy was additional funding for FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They also fought against such wasteful spending as the federal Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project. National warnings to residents in Oklahoma came 16 minutes before devastation hit.
The Governor of Oklahoma expressed gratitude to FEMA for saving lives. "We appreciate all that FEMA is doing."
President Obama declared devastated zones as disaster areas, sent troops, ordered FEMA into action, and promised to stand with Oklahoma "as long as it takes."
Americans from every corner of this country will be right there with them, opening our homes, our hearts to those in need. Because we're a nation that stands with our fellow citizens as long as it takes.
- President Barack Obama, May 21, 2013
In my mind, President Obama became a sort of Carl Stokes for a moment, but without the additional dry needling of his young critic, the critic who had just shouted "This Councilman won't play ball." The combative Mayor spoke the words that our President would not say during the death and destruction of a natural disaster.
Facing his young critic, Mayor Stokes calmly replied. He assured all residents of the City of Cleveland that they would receive the best service possible "regardless of area in which they live or the quality of their representation on the City Council."
He was terrific.
But not the polite gentleman who is the President of the United States.
Podcast Scheduled Next week
I enjoy most Bruce Willis movies. I liked him back in "Blue Moon" television days a quarter century ago. I like his movies even more. They are a contrast with the haunting flawed heroism presented in more recent Clint Eastwood films. I like Eastwood for different reasons. Willis is just mindless, implausible fun.
I especially like the way stereotypically annoying supporting characters get shown up, or embarrassed, or punched out. That's what happened to a parasitic reporter in Die Hard, the first Die Hard. Reporter Richard Thornburg was played to an arrogant tee by William Atherton. He could have put a bumper sticker on his car saying "Ask me about my Narcissism" and it wouldn't have distracted. He is ruthlessly opportunistic, reckless with other people's lives. Just before the credits roll, hero McClane and his just-rescued wife Holly are stopped by Thornburg and a cameraman. A comment, please. Holly recognizes him as the newscaster who revealed her identity on air as she was held captive by terrorists, making her the focus of their deadly attention.
Holly punches him in the face and theatre audiences cheer.
McClane's Die Hard series has a common theme of confrontations with terrorists. The confrontations sometimes involve fortuitous tactics, as he finds himself in an accidental position of rescuer in the first movie. Sometimes they involve a sort of puzzle solving process, as in the second and third movies.
Rarely does a Bruce Willis film involve stealth by the good guys. Stealth would be Clint Eastwood stealing a Soviet made plane or getting killed on purpose to save a neighborhood from a gang. Stealth in Willis movies is pretty much the weapon of choice for bad guys. Willis figures out the path through the maze to foil the dirty rotten tricksters. Building the maze would be a job for a Clint Eastwood good guy.
Last year's foiling of a terrorist plan to blow up planes involved more Clint Eastwood than Bruce Willis. British intelligence recruited and trained a British citizen, an immigrant from Saudi Arabia, to infiltrate what was left of al Qaeda.
The original al Qaeda is almost gone now, killed off by President Obama's aggressive campaign. The most dangerous group remaining is a Yemen affiliate group who took on the name and the franchise. They also took on a lot of the tactics and aims. They create ever new ways to kill Americans, westerners in general, Shiite Muslims, and Sunni leaders who do not share the requisite hatred for Shiite Muslims.
The British operative managed to accomplish what had been considered impossible. He worked his way, as an undercover agent, into the confidence of the leadership of the Yemen terrorists. The objective was not only to detect and stop terrorist attacks. The British, and the Americans working with them, wanted to get hold of the new al Qaeda's most valuable asset, the bomb builder Ibrahim Hassan al-Ashiri. This is the guy who manages to invent ever more sophisticated, and hard to detect, ways to kill large numbers of unsuspecting victims.
The spy was assigned by al Qaeda to deliver a very special bomb to a suicide volunteer. The bomb was plastic and would be undetected by airport security. Instead, he delivered it to the FBI. Presumably, some sort of cover would be invented to allow the operative to stay in al Qaeda. Eventually the bomb genius would be found and targeted.
Brave guy, this anti-terrorist spy. It's difficult to imagine him getting any sleep in that nest of hornets. He could have been found out at any moment. How does al Qaeda deal with spies? Nobody knows. It's never happened.
As the spy turned over the new generation, hard to detect, bomb to the FBI for analysis, he suddenly was told not to go back. Someone in the United States, someone trusted with top-secret information, had boasted to reporters about the operation.
The reporters told authorities they had the information and were about to publish the story. Administration officials begged them not to do it, then pleaded with them to hold off until they could work out a plausible way to announce it, perhaps preserving the cover of the British spy.
The reporters published their report one day before an official cover announcement was to be made.
When we in the public heard Republicans screaming about a break in security, most of us figured it was just another story from the conservative spin machine. Those who make a career of Obama hating would find some way to make even the greatest successes into something to complain about.
But this time it was real. And Republicans knew in their hearts the administration would not take the leak seriously.
But the administration took it seriously. They were deadly serious. Apparently everyone from the President on down was resolved to find out who had scorched the only agent ever smuggled into al Qaeda. The trusted person who had put officials in the position of aborting plans to destroy the remnant of al Qaeda, the person who had betrayed the effort to kill or capture Ibrahim Hassan al-Ashiri, would be found and prosecuted.
That is what led to a subpoena for a list of government telephone numbers called by five Associated Press reporters. Liberal, conservative, and middle-of-the-spectrum reporters have unleashed their own fists of fury.
Here is what he CEO of Associated Press has to say about it.
It's too early to know if we'll take legal action but I can tell you we are positively displeased and we do feel that our constitutional rights have been violated.
They've been secretive, they've been overbroad and abusive – so much so that taken together, they are unconstitutional because they violate our First Amendment rights.
- Gary Pruitt, CEO, Associated Press on Face the Nation, May 19, 2013
Gary Pruit elaborated on how hard it has become to get other classified information from anyone with security clearance:
Officials that would normally talk to us and people we talk to in the normal course of newsgathering are already saying to us that they're a little reluctant to talk to us. They fear that they will be monitored by the government.
- Gary Pruitt, CEO, Associated Press on Face the Nation, May 19, 2013
It is hard to put into words how unreasonable this government intrusion is. After all, if anyone ought to empathize with how hard it is to get information through someone fearful of retribution, it should be those who recruit spies to infiltrate al Qaeda. It is as if authorities want to intimidate those who might hand over classified information.
There are First Amendment issues involved with any such investigation. Those issues have been raised by pretty much every news organization in America.
It doesn't seem to bother anyone that the group taking the lead on freedom of the press is the organization willing to blow the cover of the only spy known to have infiltrated this terrorist group.
Couldn't they have found someone else? Anyone else?
Can some scriptwriter please send a fictional police officer's wife to punch this guy, the one from Associated Press, in the nose?
Holly McClane, please answer the clarion call.
Our nation needs you.
Podcast Scheduled Next week
Anthropomorphism is a word often associated with religious discussion. It is the human tendency to put a human face on non-human things or entities. You know. Like God?
It's kind of inevitable. We are presented with aspects of God according the wisdom of which we are capable. We stray into danger when we insist on a wrongful certainty, militantly imposing our own limitations on others. As the Apostle Paul kept pointing out, we can't ever wrap our mind around God. Paul ascribed all sorts of maladies to idolatry, substituting things for God.
C.S. Lewis (I think - age takes its toll) suggested a simple formula to accept whatever revelation is granted to us, and still to avoid idolatry. The prayer he suggested: I worship you, not as I imagine you to be, but as you really are.
I carry in my wallet, have for years, a prayer written decades ago by Father Thomas Merton. It is, in part, a confession of a lack of direct knowledge of God's will. "... and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so." The hope is expressed that the desire to please God pleases God.
Anthropomorphism is not confined to remaking our Creator in our own image. Forces of nature: earthquakes, hurricanes are filtered through the same process, angry entities expressing their fury.
One modern version of anthropomorphism, putting a human form on non-human objects, is in economic policy. This was understandable a century ago. It was a political truism: Government should operate like a family. The thought was that government should live within its means, just like individual families. In hard times, families had to cut back, and so should government.
It wasn't just Republicans who pushed for austerity as the Depression tightened its deadly grip on everyday life. Democrats campaigned against deficits. 1932 Democratic candidate Franklin Roosevelt attacked the deficits of the Hoover administration.
Pretty much everyone, outside of a few economists who were taking a fresh look at economic data, thought pretty much the same way.
It was common sense.
Once Roosevelt took office, he did something strange. He declared a policy of open mindedness. He was willing to try most anything. Try something. If it doesn't work, discard it and try something else until factories are open and people are back to work. And the newest data-sensitive economic theory around was that of John Maynard Keynes.
Keynes pushed a radical new notion. Government is not a family.
When a family cuts back on spending during economic hard times, it does hurt the economy. A dollar not spent is a dollar not earned by someone else, which is a dollar someone else will not be spending. But the effect on a national economy of an individual family is immeasurably small, less than microscopic. A family has no obligation to the larger economy, especially compared with a more profound obligation to its own economic survival.
Families have to cut back during hard times. It's common sense.
A government does have an obligation to the larger economy. Its survival is not threatened by temporary shortfalls. And it has a direct impact on the economy that an individual family does not have.
The not-so-common-sense economic theories of Keynes were based on accumulated economic data. But anyone can invent explanations that contort around established data. What Keynes and other economists were able to do was to predict the effects of government policies. They were complex, but in their essence they were based on simple principles. In hard times, government should run deficits, spending like crazy. In prosperous times, government should pay back those deficits.
The policies of tax cuts in the early Bush administration would have been opposed by Keynes. Times were good. The Clinton surpluses should be used to retire government debt. They weren't.
Keynes would have objected to the deficits of the Obama administration because they were too small. Way,way too small. They pulled us away from another Great Depression, but left us plagued by a "new normal" in unemployment.
Keynesian theories have been validated by decades of economic data. More important, economic patterns have flowed as predicted by Keynesian economists. This is why Keynesian economics are now mainstream, the prevalent formula used by economists the world over.
Keynes would have opposed austerity policies of the European Union, which makes these two news stories pertinent.
This headline is from 2008:
Cameron calls for Government to 'live within its means' in return to Thatcherite values.
- London's Daily Mail, May 19, 2008
All of Europe went for the Cameron formula, including Cameron. Common sense prevailed. Government would live within its means during hard times, kind of like a family.
That was five years ago.
This is from last week:
PARIS (AP) ? The eurozone is now in its longest ever recession ? a stubborn slump that has surpassed even the calamity that hit the region in the financial crisis of 2008-2009.
- Associated Press via National Public Radio, May 15, 2013
The longest recession in European history has resulted from anthropomorphism.
Now consider this bit of news, widely ignored by media outlets in the United States as Benghazi, security leaks, and IRS misbehavior dominate.
The annual deficit has fallen 32% over the first seven months of this fiscal year compared with same period last year, according to Congressional Budget Office figures released Tuesday.
- CNN Money, May 7, 2013
The United States budget deficit has been reduced dramatically. Isn't that great news?
Well ... no, actually.
Listen As You Go -
Who Demanded the Investigation into Associated Press? - Click for Podcast
Introduction, Traditional Service,
9:00 AM, May 19, 2013
St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Florissant, MO
Message for the Pentecost: Holy Spirit Holes
God speaks to every human heart
in its own language,
in the light of its own wisdom.
When we open our lives to the Holy Spirit,
when we listen, in the stillness,
to the voice within,
our words and actions take on a meaning
that goes beyond our understanding.
This is our Pentecost:
That God's word, that the presence of Jesus,
is revealed in the universal language of love.
We communicate what we do not know ourselves.
The story is told in our lives, and in our hearts.
It is told in our scripture:
When the day of Pentecost had come,
they were all together in one place.
And suddenly a sound came from heaven.
Found on line:
- Mama Lucy, In Concert
Michael J. Scott of Mad Mike's America watches and chronicles the latest accusations against President Obama from the astounding Alan Keyes. Seems our President now conspires to commit genocide on the American people.
Conservatives are frustrated by a lack of public interest in Obama scandal. That might change as evidence is developed, but so far, Republicans are limited by two facts. Those incidents that involve wrongdoing were committed by fairly low level folk. Those that reach higher levels involve no wrongdoing. Conservative James Wigderson indulges in superficial parallels as he wistfully imagines what it would be like if Barack Obama turned out to be another Richard Nixon. No harm in idle imagination, I suppose.
We should try to contrive empathy with our friend T. Paine, at Saving Common Sense. He laments that nobody, aside from himself and his small group of the conspiratorially minded, are able to to wrap a series of scandals into an indictment of President Obama. Mr. Paine's accusations are not, actually, a conclusion. They form a premise. I mean, the Gosnell murders in Pennsylvania being part of White House corruption?
Tommy Christopher of Mediaite contrasts last week's released emails with earlier news reports about those same emails, when they were still classified, and determines that ABC News was not the only organization misled about Benghazi. A CBS reporter was also lied to by Republicans who fed false quotes to her that they claimed came directly from those messages.
Apparently conservative staffers counted on the actual memos to be forever classified. Last Of The Millenniums goes beyond the now famous "smoking gun" memo, reporting that Republicans turn out to have lied to reporters about the content of other emails as well.
Jack Jodell, at THE SATURDAY AFTERNOON POST, is pessimistic, speculating that enough low-information voters will believe Fox-type news outlets to produce short-term electoral victories for Republicans, despite developing evidence of Republican duplicity in manufacturing evidence.
The wonderfully talented Vincent of A wayfarer's notes contrasts the freedom of blog writing with that of more traditional media. To illustrate, he turns his wrath on a hapless critic of an aspiring writer. The critic, the object of Vincent's unsparing review is the very repentant Vincent. Did I mention that Vincent is wonderfully talented?
Ryan at Secular Ethics reviews the theological problem of evil in the world, exploring the parallel issue of free will. Ryan hits on what, for many Christians, is one of the two most painful challenges to faith. The other is evil in ourselves.
It was the smoking gun. It was the email that proved White House interference. Talking points had been erased, others changed, still others added. References to terrorism were removed. All was done to give the appearance that Obama was actually Big Bad Obama, and had eliminated terrorism from the face of the earth.
It proved that President Obama was worse than Richard Nixon, that he, or Hillary Clinton, had personally interfered with security in Benghazi. It proved that President Obama has orchestrated misinformation after the Benghazi attacks in order to enhance his chances of getting reelected.
This week, the White House released an avalanche of messages. Among the messages was the smoking gun:
Sorry to be late to this discussion. We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.
There is a ton of wrong information getting out into the public domain from Congress and people who are not particularly informed. Insofar as we have firmed up assessments that don’t compromise intel or the investigation, we need to have the capability to correct the record, as there are significant policy and messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression.
We can take this up tomorrow morning at deputies.
- Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser
September 14, 2012
Huh? That's the smoking gun? That's it?
Several facts quickly became clear, from the memos and from other contemporaneous evidence.
The removal of references to terrorism had been done in the very first draft. This was before any of the talking points was seen by anyone in the White House.
It was done at the insistence of the CIA. CIA attorneys expressed the concern that ongoing investigations would be influenced, or even compromised, by premature release of unverified information. Identification of the murderers was part of the information CIA counsel did not want released because of concerns about security and an ongoing investigation.
There was no White House coverup.
The smoking gun memo that was widely quoted as showing heavy handed White House interference getting the truth out, the memo that proved a coverup, the memo that demonstrated that the White House had acted to keep information about terrorism away from the public, that memo, showed nothing of the kind.
In fact, the main concern in that memo was that truthful information be gotten out as quickly as possible, short of damaging the investigation or US security. That was the only White House conspiracy exposed by the famous smoking gun memo.
Lies were told about the memos.
Before the smoking gun memo was released to the public, it is known to have been shown to Republican staffers. As the contents became public, reporters discovered they had been lied to. Some reporters did something extraordinary. They revealed, in a sort of general way, who the sources were. These would be the sources who had lied to them, leading them down the primrose path to falsehood. Reporters didn't name names, but they did confirm that the sources were staff members of Republican Congressional Representatives.
The smoking gun memo was not the only one from which Republicans invented quotes which they channeled to reporters.
The shockingly shocking shock of the entire shocking series of shocking incidents was that Republicans lied to reporters, and reporters believed them.
We now know who vetoed military requests to send more troops to protect facilities in Benghazi.
It was US Ambassador Christopher Stevens. He turned down three requests by Army General Carter Ham that more security be placed in Benghazi: once by cable, once by telephone, once in person. That the same Christopher Stevens who was killed in Benghazi. It seems reasonable that Ambassador Stevens simply felt that foreign service, if done effectively, is inherently dangerous. It is possible he did not want more barriers between himself and the people of Libya.
In any case, some Republicans are now admitting they have known for weeks about Ambassador Stevens decision about security.
So we know there is no administration scandal.
There was no White House attempt to remove information about the identity of the attackers.
There was no negligence on the part of the administration in Benghazi security. A brave Ambassador took a calculated risk that he seemed to regard as part of the job.
The only interference shown in the memo that was touted as a smoking gun was a desire to get as much accurate information to the public as possible.
That is not to say there was no scandal. There was.
The memos had been shown to Republicans long before they were released to the press.
- Republicans told lies to reporters, lies which are now documented as falsehoods, to create the impression that President Obama was leading a coverup. In backroom sessions, they were feeding to reporters fictitious quotes from a specific memo to prove what they knew was not true.
There's your Benghazi scandal.
My schedule sometimes gets especially intense. It's hard to get to Praise Band practice at the church on an evening during the week. So the Music Director meets with me early every other Sunday morning to practice individually. Early means before choir members arrive for last rehearsal for first service, the traditional service. That means I end up with a couple of hours before contemporary service starts.
I was sorting through my music, filing away the previous week and penciling through the new songs for later that morning. One of my favorite people walked by. She noticed my look of curiosity and told me why she wasn't rehearsing. She rasped out that she was recovering from losing her voice to a slight cold.
"You know," I said, "I told you not to gargle with peanut butter, but you wouldn't listen to me." She laughed hoarsely. She always laughs at my lame jokes. I love that in a friend. She half whispered a rejoinder and I forgot it for a day or so.
My friend would not normally be among the stirring memories provoked by Lou Dobbs. Shirley Sherrod would not be among them either.
Ms. Sherrod, through sheer perseverance and hard work had become a force within the United States Department of Agriculture, fighting discrimination, fighting predatory banking practices aimed at small farmers. She was not well known, except to the people she helped. But she was prominent enough to be invited to share her story with members of a rural chapter of the NAACP.
She told them of her background, including losing her father and a cousin to racial violence. Lynchings were common then and the murders were considered unremarkable. So was the cross burned on her front lawn. The murders and the turmoil left bitter scars in the mind of the teenaged Shirley. She went on to excel in school, then college, and eventually joined the Agriculture Department, with a mission to confront and overcome racial discrimination.
She told her audience of meeting a white couple who needed help with unfair banking practices. They were about to lose their farm. At first, she had trouble with her own emotions toward whites. She referred them to a lawyer. She followed up and discovered the lawyer was handling their problems with a lethargy that angered her. She got involved. The more she discovered, the angrier she got on their behalf. She confronted banking officials and complacent government employees.
You see Shirley Sherrod on television or video and you can imagine having her go nose to nose with some privileged executive not used to any challenge.
In the end, she and they were able to save their farm. As important to Ms. Sherrod, helping them had helped her overcome her own bitter resentments. She felt they, unknowingly, had helped in her own healing.
The audience was enthusiastic in their applause. Her testimony was inspiring, spiritual in scope. It was bitterness turned to empathy, pain turned to healing, justice in the arc of the moral universe.
A video of her moving story was obtained by some conservative and edited down. What was left after the cutting was then rearranged to make it appear that she was boasting to an appreciative audience about being able to discriminate against a white couple. And it falsely showed local NAACP members happily clapping for hatred against whites.
The edited video was aired on a conservative site. It was broadcast on Fox News. Fox personalities demanded prompt action. They came just short of claiming the hatred documented by video was part of an Obama agenda.
Leaders of the national NAACP condemned the speaker, Shirley Sherrod, for the expression of racial hostility, for misusing her position to discriminate against a white couple, for even boasting about getting back at whites. The Secretary of Agriculture had an aide contact Ms. Sherrod with a demand for immediate resignation. It was clear the request had come at the insistence of the Obama White House.
As it happened, a member of the audience had recorded the entire presentation. The unaltered, which is to say genuine, video began airing. The white farm couple appeared on television, explaining their loyalty and gratitude toward their friend Shirley for working hard with them, guiding them, encouraging them, standing up for them, sharing in their eventual triumph, as she helped them save their farm.
Some of the same critics who had broadcast the altered video, demanding her resignation, now attacked the Obama administration for not getting the facts before acting.
Get the facts before you act.
An embarrassed administration asked her to come back. She refused, but did agree to work with the Department as a consultant.
I didn't think about this heroic lady immediately as the IRS scandal hit last week. I didn't get the connection, not at first.
There is a 501(c) tax category for civic groups that allows donors to claim a tax deduction, even if the groups engage in political activity. The only requirement is that politics can't be the primary activity of a group. Congress has never provided a clear idea what "primary" actually means in this part of tax law.
Some employees - the number may be a small as two, reports vary - gave an awfully hard time to conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status. They asked similar questions of a few liberal groups, but their main targets seemed to be Tea Party type associations. It was clearly unfair. Pretty much everyone was outraged, and they should have been.
This is part of what President Obama said:
If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that had been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous and there's no place for it. And they have to be held fully accountable, because the IRS as an independent agency requires absolute integrity, and people have to have confidence that they're applying it in a non-partisan way — applying the laws in a non-partisan way.
And you should feel that way regardless of party. I don't care whether you're a Democrat, independent or a Republican. At some point, there are going to be Republican administrations. At some point, there are going to be Democratic ones. Either way, you don't want the IRS ever being perceived to be biased and anything less than neutral in terms of how they operate. So this is something that I think people are properly concerned about.
- President Barack Obama, May 13, 2013
I saw President's statement later that evening during a newscast. He looked as if he was barely containing an inner fury at what had been done.
It was Lou Dobbs that brought Shirley Sherrod to mind. He appeared on Fox News and said this:
What is outrageous is that the president of the United States this morning stands before the American people and lies through his teeth. That is what is outrageous.
- Lou Dobbs, May 13, 2013
The "lies through his teeth" part was this from President Obama. If, in fact, personnel engaged in the kind of practices that had been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups...
Lou Dobbs and his host on Fox News were objecting to the word "if". "If" was the lie. Dobbs went on to elaborate:
The president must have forgotten that the Internal Revenue Service took the extraordinary step last week and admitted doing these things and apologized for doing these things — and then this president…says that if they are found to have done these things, we will have to hold them accountable, as if that would not be his first and immediate and urgent action to take. This is a president who has lost his way.
- Lou Dobbs, May 13, 2013
I can see how a President who wants to check before acting, even if someone else in government tells everyone what happened, how that would enrage partisans.
So naturally, I thought of the shoot-from-the-lip response from the Secretary of Agriculture that had been provoked by conservative shouts. Shirley Sherrod had come out okay because of the loyalty of a farm couple she had fought for, and because of a private video that someone was lucky enough to have recorded. It could have gone the other way.
Importance is different than urgency. On the IRS abuse of not-primarily-political conservatives, I get the importance. Perhaps I am missing the urgency. A few days of fact-checking that could avoid a Shirley Sherrod incident seems worthwhile to me. I understand that impulse control can be costly to a public personality who might miss a television appearance. A day of investigation and reflection before exacting retribution might be a virtue in a President.
Lou Dobbs started out as a bank employee, then a low-level government clerk. Then he discovered that he could speak before the cameras as a television reporter in Texas. I remember him from a little over 30 years ago when he was a kind of boring, but credible, financial narrator on CNN.
That was decades before he became an activist for immigration restrictions and a birther, promoting the theory that President Obama was born in Kenya.
This week, he speaks for those who are impatient with President Obama. The President has directed that the acting director of the IRS be asked to resign. But he did not do that on the strength of news reports or even after a statement to the press by an IRS supervisor. That gave Lou Dobbs and a few others some heartburn.
Thinking about Mr. Dobbs led me to recall my little gargling with peanut butter joke before worship, and the hoarse sort of courtesy laugh from my friend. "But you wouldn't listen to me," I said. She rasped back, "Well I did switch from crunchy." I'm easily encouraged, always willing to use a little joke until it's beat into the ground.
You know, I told Lou Dobbs to wash his mouth out with bleach, but he wouldn't listen. Now he's on television saying stuff that's just plain ... well ... let's say it isn't chicken salad.
The news seemed pretty good, for public safety, for anti-terrorism efforts, for the political chances of candidate for re-election Barack Obama.
The destruction of al Qaeda and the killing of Osama bin Laden had left the diminished al Qaeda branch in Yemen as the most dangerous center of terrorism. An enhanced and improved version of the underwear bomb at the center of an earlier plot had been developed by the Yemen group. The bomb was described as a "non-metallic explosive" device specifically designed to get past airport security.
The conspiracy had not only been foiled, the bomb had ended up, intact, in the hands of FBI experts. Presumably, the Federal Bureau of Investigation would unleash experts to figure out if the device, or any like it, could be gotten through airport security.
You would have thought everyone would be happy. Republicans might be a bit chagrined privately, but they would pretty much have to put on their game face and congratulate the administration on a job well done, right?
Well, not so much.
One Republican, Peter King, said the leak was more deeply profound than anything else in his experience. He said the leak had put lives at risk. The operation could have resulted in a lot more information, preventative information that could be used to prevent future terrorist attacks. Now the opportunity was gone.
The FBI has to do a full and complete investigation because this really is criminal in the literal sense of the word to leak out this type of sensitive, classified information on really almost unparalleled penetration of the enemy.
- Peter King, Chairman House Homeland Security Committee, May 13, 2012
You could easily see the political irritation. Republicans had been saying from the beginning that President Obama was in over his head. The threat of terrorism would grow under his administration. The refusal to use torture was, they said, a fatal decision.
The killing of bin Laden had been the gigantic single incident in a long series of terrorist deaths. So many terrorist leaders been killed, Republicans started complaining that too many had been killed, too few captured for interrogation. What about the intelligence needed to prevent future attacks? It was a weak spin against a phenomenal destruction of the primary threat to American security.
The leak of the latest success had made that watered down accusation look even more absurd.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) publicly made an accusation that national security had been compromised for the purpose of obtaining political advantage.
I think there was a little premature chest-thumbing. I’ve ordered a preliminary review. And I’ll tell you something, this has been a damaging leak. We shouldn’t underestimate what really happened here ... It’s clear that the information was leaked. That information as presented at some point to the CIA. The CIA at that point tried to put the story back in the can for security reasons. People’s lives were at stake during this operation. And that’s where it gets a little murky, which is why I ordered the review.
- Mike Rogers (R-MI), May 13, 2013 on Face the Nation
Actually, Republicans had a point. The information had been developed with help from the inside. Inside, in this case, meant inside al Qaeda itself. American intelligence had developed a source within the Yemen terrorist group. We had infiltrated al Qaeda, or what was left of it. That made the operation itself a big deal. The leak of that fact had put the person we had in the group into a great deal of personal danger.
A letter was sent to the administration. It was signed by 31 Republican Senators. It demanded an aggressive investigation into such leaks. Aggressive.
The constant Republican implication was that political operatives of the Obama administration had leaked vital information, gotten terrific political advantage as a result, and that nothing substantive would be done about it.
That accusation was still alive, although on the back-burner, as other political targets were developed by Republicans. National Security had been compromised and the Obama administration would not take it seriously.
That was a year ago. Things change.
All hell broke loose this week, as it turned out the administration had indeed taken the leak seriously. Eric Holder had been interviewed as a potential leak suspect, however remote that possibility was, and had recused himself from the investigation. You can't name yourself as a suspect and control an investigation.
Phone records of numbers called by five Associated Press reporters to and from the White House were subpoenaed by a subordinate, James M. Cole. Cole had been directed to conduct an aggressive investigation and to keep Eric Holder and White House personnel uninformed about it. Except for signing off on subpoenas that legally required his signature, Holder kept out of it.
Republicans were quick to attack the administration for the subpoenas of the phone numbers. It was, they charged, an assault on press freedom.
They had an obligation to look for every other way to get it before they intruded on the freedom of the press.
- Darrell Issa, Chairman,House Oversight Committee, May 11, 2013
Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee demanded a resignation:
Attorney General Eric Holder, in permitting the Justice Department to issue secret subpoenas to spy on Associated Press reporters, has trampled on the First Amendment and failed in his sworn duty to uphold the Constitution. Because Attorney General Holder has so egregiously violated the public trust, the president should ask for his immediate resignation. If President Obama does not, the message will be unmistakable: The President of the United States believes his administration is above the Constitution and does not respect the role of a free press.
There are serious first amendment issues involved. Those issues deserve examination and debate.
But one interesting fact seems irrefutable.
Republicans got what they demanded. They are very angry about it.
A friend of many years occasionally forwards to me chain mail messages for my response. These messages come to his internet mailbox from various acquaintances. I am grateful for his friendship, and I always appreciate the notes.
I thought the latest forwarded email message was especially notable. Here is the message, formatted for readability:
To: Burr Deming, May 13, 2013
Re: NEVER KNEW THIS ABOUT JAPAN
[Pithy, and disapproving, remark about the forwarded message edited out]
- - - - -
I NEVER KNEW THIS ABOUT JAPAN
Have you ever read in the newspaper that a political leader or a prime minister from an Islamic nation has visited Japan ? Have you ever come across news that the Ayatollah of Iran or the King of Saudi Arabia or even a Saudi Prince has visited Japan ?
Japan is a country keeping Islam at bay. Japan has put strict restrictions on Islam and ALL Muslims.
The reasons are:
Japan is the only nation that does not give citizenship to Muslims.
In Japan permanent residency is not given to Muslims.
There is a strong ban on the propagation of Islam in Japan.
In the University of Japan , Arabic or any Islamic language is not taught.
One cannot import a 'Koran' published in the Arabic language.
According to data published by the Japanese government, it has given temporary residency to only 2 lakhs, Muslims, who must follow the Japanese Law of the Land. These Muslims should speak Japanese and carry their religious rituals in their homes.
Japan is the only country in the world that has a negligible number of embassies in Islamic countries.
Japanese people are not attracted to Islam at all.
Muslims residing in Japan are the employees of foreign companies.
Even today, visas are not granted to Muslim doctors, engineers or managers sent by foreign companies.
In the majority of companies it is stated in their regulations that no Muslims should apply for a job.
The Japanese government is of the opinion that Muslims are fundamentalist and even in the era of globalization they are not willing to change their Muslim laws.
Muslims cannot even think about renting a house in Japan.
If anyone comes to know that his neighbor is a Muslim then the whole neighborhood stays alert.
No one can start an Islamic cell or Arabic 'Madrasa' in Japan.
There is no Sharia law in Japan.
If a Japanese woman marries a Muslim then she is considered an outcast forever.
According to Mr. Kumiko Yagi, Professor of Arab/Islamic Studies at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, "There is a mind frame in Japan that Islam is a very narrow minded religion and one should stay away from it."
- Freelance journalist Mohammed Juber toured many Islamic countries after 9/11 including Japan. He found that the Japanese were confident that extremists could do no harm in Japan.
My personal estimation of the Japanese has risen dramatically!
VERY SMART PEOPLE
From: Burr Deming, May 13, 2010
Re: NEVER KNEW THIS ABOUT JAPAN
Thank you for forwarding that message to me.
I really don’t know if the accusations against the government of Japan are true or if they are slurs.
I can say that several of the Americans with whom I have worked over the years, with whom I am friends, are Muslims. They have prayed with me, they have prayed for me, for members of my family in times of desperate illness, for our young Marine when he was in combat in Afghanistan.
When I have brought news of their joys and concerns to the House of God at which I worship each week, Christians have prayed for my friends.
Frankly, I’m tired beyond exhaustion at the too common practice of hating people for the way they pray, for the way they worship, judging them harshly because of others who worship in similar ways, but who act out very differently.
If the United States were to take on the policies the author of that message ascribes to Japan, it would be a departure from the ideals that make my country America. It would be hard for me to look my fellow Americans, my friends, in the eye, knowing that my country – their country - had turned away from them in the name of bigotry.
Fortunately, that has not happened, and will not happen. The America I love is too strong to surrender to the sort of closed minded views of freedom embraced so eagerly by your correspondent.
That writer is entitled to such UnAmerican views. That’s part of freedom.
So is repentance.
I hope your friend will act on the freedom to feel deeply ashamed.
You can tell that individual for me that I said so.
This memorandum addresses the matter of how we can maximize the fact of our incumbency in dealing with persons known to be active in their opposition to our Administration; stated a bit more bluntly—how we can use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.
- Memorandum of Inquiry
To: Assistant White House Chief of Staff, Lawrence Higby
From White House Counsel, John Dean
August 16, 1971
The use of the IRS to target political enemies would not be unprecedented. Older citizens (raising my hand) may remember darker times when it came close to becoming official, although secret, White House policy. This may explain the hyper-sensitivity of liberal reaction to the inadequate IRS explanations.
Only conservative partisans and headline hungry writers actually hope to find a repetition of that type of abuse. But a free airing is the antiseptic of democracy. We can hope the news about the unproductive search for scandal in Benghazi will yield a bit of room to the more promising vein in the Cincinnati offices of the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS, so far, maintains that this season's misconduct consisted of low level activity in Ohio. The Cincinatti-Gone-Wild explanation is that individual agents, without reporting it to management, looked in 501(c)(4) applications for key words. "Tea Party" or "Patriot" rang alarm bells. So did certain non-political words having to do with improvement of society. About 30 applications were selected for review for all the wrong reasons.
501(c)(4) organizations are a type of non-profit group. They are supposed to be Civic Leagues, Social Welfare Organizations, and Local Associations of Employees, that sort of thing. They are formed for the purpose of some sort of social welfare. This can be related to recreational, charity, or educational purposes. Donations are sometimes taxable as gifts, sometimes not. The organizations can devote themselves to political purposes - Defeat Proposition A!!! - but can't back or target specific candidates or parties.
There were some signs that such organizations were being used as huge, huge political slush funds by a few mega-wealthy individuals. Generally, donors to these groups can be anonymous. This invites abuse. But if this "dark money" is used for advocacy not directed for or against specific candidates, it's legal and has to be left alone.
That's one reason the scandal may move beyond who was targeted. Those selected were asked for lists of donors and more. Organizers were also asked for names of family members and for personal financial details. It's hard to see the purpose of that if concerns were confined to improper political activities.
The scandal may expand for other reasons.
IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman had testified back in August, just before his term expired in November, that the IRS was not targeting conservative groups. It is reasonable to suspect he had been told that was literally true. One higher level official had been told of the improper activity and had ordered it stopped immediately.
Even so, it should have been included in reports to oversight committees in Congress.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has issued an all-too-clever statement that exploits the fact that the IRS is part of the executive branch. That is how IRS explanations can be linked by degrees of separation to the White House with no evidence or reasoning at all:
Today's acknowledgement by the Obama administration that the IRS did in fact target conservative groups in the heat of last year's national election is not enough. I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not under way at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views.
- Mitch McConnell, May 10, 2012
At some point, someone will point out that IRS supervision has been one of the most underfunded parts of government. That won't get a lot of publicity. Underfunding of IRS supervision has been a deliberate decision by members of the House of Representatives.
Not to be considered of journalistic interest.
Listen As You Go -
Introduction, Traditional Service,
9:00 AM, May 12, 2013
St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Florissant, MO
Message: Prodigal - Becoming the Father
With every flaw, with every misstep,
we are loved as we are.
We are loved as we are becoming,
as we grow in the image of our father.
We are still learning compassion and healing,
still learning forgiveness and love,
learning to see all brothers and sisters,
to see ourselves, as we are seen by God:
Not as having grown, but as growing;
not as having arrived,
but as children on a journey;
wanting to walk more closely with our Savior;
seeking to walk ever closer toward our home.
Found on line:
Just a Closer Walk With Thee
- Mahalia Jackson, London Concert, 1964