Posts for November, 2012
Benghazi attack timeline
- April 6, 2012: Consulate attacked with EIDs
- April 7, 2012: Ambassador Chris Steven asks for DC3 and a security team
- May 3, 2012: State department turns down Stevens’ request for DC3 and security
- May 22, 2012: The Red Cross in Benghazi is attacked. Al-Qaida leaves message of further attacks
- June 6, 2012: Terrorists blow a hole in the consulate wall. Stevens again requests beefed up security.
- June 10, 2012: The British ambassador survives an assassination attempt
- June 15, 2012: State Dept tells the security contractor, Nordstrom, that the security contract will not be renewed.
- June 22, 2012: Ambassador Chris Stevens warns the State Dept that extremist groups are operating openly in Benghazi and Libya as a whole
- July 9, 2012: Ambassador Chris Stevens requests at least 13 more security personnel, citing an unpredictable situation in Libya
- July 21, 2012: Security contractor, Nordstrom, warns State Dept to be on high alert for terrorist activity
- August 2, 2012: Ambassador Chris Stevens sends urgent cable to Secretary Clinton requesting “protective detail bodyguard”
- August 5, 2012: State Dept orders the removal of the security team, Nordstrom
- August 16, 2012: Security team leaves while sending a message directly to Secretary Clinton of the dire security situation
- September 8, 2012: Libyan officials in Benghazi warn both Ambassador Stevens and Secretary Clinton of a pending attack on the consulate
- September 10, 2012: Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahri calls for Libyans to avenge the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi
- September 11, 2012: 19:08: Ambassador Chris Stevens sends urgent cable to State Dept of hostile crowd gathering at the gate of the consulate
- September 11, 2012: 19:30: Ambassador Chris Stevens meets with Turkish diplomats seeking help and refuge
- September 11, 2012: 21:45: Ambassador Chris Stevens calls Tripoli as shots are being fired
- September 11, 2012: 22:05: State dept notifies the White House and Pentagon of the attack at the consulate
- September 11, 2012: 22:45: The CIA office in Benghazi makes the first of four urgent calls to the State Dept and Pentagon. In each case they were told to stand down.
- September 11, 2012: 23:00: Obama, Biden, Clinton, Panetta meet at White House for a debriefing
- September 11, 2012: 1:08: Body of Chris Stevens found and taken to hospital
- September 11, 2012: 2:23: Ansar al-Sharia takes credit for the attack
- September 11, 2012: 3:55: Doherty and Woods killed on roof of annex
- September 11, 2012: 22:00: Secretary Clinton sends out note suggesting the Internet video is responsible for the violence
- September 12, 2012: 10:50: Obama and Clinton meet at the State Department
- September 12, 2012: 18:00: Obama arrived in Las Vegas for a fundraiser
- September 13, 2012: At a press conference, Jay Carney blames YouTube video for the violence
- September 14, 2012: Jay Carney claims that there was no advance warning of attack “no actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.”
- September 14, 2012: Arwa Damon of CNN finds the diary of Chris Stevens
- September 20, 2012: Clinton and Obama go on Pakistani TV to apologize for the internet video
- September 25, 2012: Obama addresses the UN blaming the video for the attack
- September 27, 2012: Innocence of Muslims filmmaker Mark Basseley Youseff (aka Nakoula Basseley Nakoula) is arrested and denied bail
- October 11, 2012: In VP debates, Biden claims that he was not aware of requests for security in Benghazi
- October 23, 2012: In the final presidential debate Obama said the event would be investigated to determine the cause of the attack; “So far, we don’t have any details…”
- October 26, 2012: Obama claims that he was not aware of requests for additional security in Benghazi
- October 26, 2012: At funeral of Navy Seal Ty Woods, Biden asks grieving father, “Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?”
Information taken from released portions of Chris Stevens’ diary, congressional hearings, statements provided by General Ham and UKs Dailymail
In my September 21st blog, I was appalled at the attempts by the administration to use the YouTube video as cover for the attack. I didn’t believe a word from Clinton or Obama; my BS detector was pegged. Unfortunately, we have many people (mostly journalists and media types) in this country who pretty much believe everything this administration spews out.
Many on the right want to impeach Obama for criminal negligence; however I believe that this is gross incompetence rather than criminal behavior. In either case, this event indicates that Obama does not deserve four more years.
As a nation matures its government develops an ongoing battle of ideology. The battle revolves around the question of whether the government should save people from themselves.
Since the beginning of human existence, people have done things that are not in their own best interest. Whether the topic is obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking, driving patterns, spending, etc. there is a government agency trying to protect people from themselves and influence behavior. I am not opposed to government trying to educate people and influence behavior…as a principle. But I am unsure of what to place the line on where it becomes counter-productive.
When a person makes the decision to consume vast amounts of alcohol on a daily basis, historical data will indicate that the probability that this individual will see a decline their lifestyle will be rather high. When this individual finds himself living in the streets after losing his house, job, marriage, etc, what is the government’s responsibility in this matter?
Being a parent, I have found that the basic nature of people is to take the easy way out and to take as little responsibility for one’s self as possible. For example, one of my sons signed up for a school fundraiser. He was to sell a certain amount of product to get an award. I told my son to do his best in selling the business discount cards and I would pay for the remaining unsold cards. Knowing that I would cover him in case his efforts were unsuccessful, he never sold even one of the cards. I ended up with the entire bill. Sure, he claims that he gave it an abundance of effort; he just wasn’t able to sell any. When reviewing the results, it became clear that I was the one who made the mistake. I gave my son an easy out. He had no skin in the game and thus the results of his efforts were inconsequential.
As sovereign beings we have the freedom to succeed. This freedom to succeed always carries with it the freedom to fail. If one is not free to fail, one cannot truly succeed. In my son’s case, he reaped the spoils of success, while failing. I felt like a failure as a father because I taught my son the wrong thing. I taught him dependence, not rugged individualism.
A historian named Alexander Tyler is reputed to have predicted that the American way of life could not endure because people do not want to take responsibility for their own choices. In a democratic society, he said, “people will invariably hand over their sovereign responsibility and freedom to that government which promises the most benefits and protections.” He further observed “a democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government.”
The bank bailouts and GM bailout come to mind. The government provided the safety net with a short term perspective. In the short term, the bail out was great. People kept their jobs, the bank collapse did not ripple through the economy and people would show gratitude for the bailout. But long term, these companies would engage in even riskier behavior and show less restraint because they know the government will bail them out again.
However well-intentioned; this elitist approach to solving the problem of failure actually makes the situation worse. It is a horrible, malignant and degrading thing to take away a person’s right to fail. It is an active enslavement and an insult against a person’s sovereignty.
The freedom to fail is directly proportional to a person’s quality of life. If you doubt it, look at the inner city in which the freedom to fail was denied to a high density of people. Their life, their material environment and their quality of life has also deteriorated.
The same holds true for an individuals’ career choices and planning. The incentive to get a good education and employment is much lower on the priority list if government will rescue the individual from poor choices. If you can get an $18/hour lifestyle without working for it, why work? The two choices available to you; 1)don’t bother to learn to read or write, sit at home and get an $18/hr lifestyle, or 2) get an education, find a job and work hard to start at $18/hr. In the Democratic world view, both choices are equally valid and provide the same outcome. But only one choice has a higher degree of certainty.
I had worked with an individual who began exhibiting signs of alcoholism. Eventually, the HR department asked him to submit to a sobriety check, which he failed. His employment was terminated after failing a second chance. When he hit rock bottom; lost his job and his marriage, he expected the government to provide housing, food stamps, medical and dental assistance. Never did he try to get help for his addiction. I don’t blame him for his predisposition to alcoholism but I do blame him for not getting help. This individual made poor choices and expected to be rescued from the consequences of his poor choices.
The truth was that this individual never tried to take advantage of the ‘Life Matters’ program the company had provided. Nor did he ever go to an AA program on his own.
I told him that government can’t and shouldn’t rescue him. We must live by the choices that we make. If we don’t have the freedom to fail, then we aren’t free. Failure is a better teacher than success. Failure is a better motivator than success. And failure provides a better life example than success.
The sad part of the story is that some of his friends enabled his self-destructive lifestyle, by excusing his choices, getting him alcohol and covering his behavior. He would have come to the end of himself much sooner if only they had shown some tough love and demonstrated the courage to get him real help.
The item that separates liberals from conservatives is that conservatives have placed individual liberty and the resulting consequences at a higher priority than security and the safety net.
Once we surrender our sovereignty to the government, government becomes our master and we deserve just what we get – or don’t get. However, when we all take responsibility for our own lives, our own success or failure, then “We the People”become the sovereign masters of our lives, not the government.
Dissecting the parable of the Prodigal Son
New Living Translation (NLT)
Parable of the Lost Son
11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as your hired servant.’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”
This parable hits at our hearts, because all of us rebel and become separated from God. This parable also sums up the essence of the gospel, Christianity and the nature of God.
Up to this point in Luke Chapter 15, Jesus is speaking of God the Father and of God’s desire to seek, rescue and save that which is lost. The Father represents God and the two sons represent either extremes of religious observance. The older son is a legalist who follows the laws and rule without question but his heart has little compassion. The younger son has little interest in the law but has an insatiable itch to follow pleasure, money and the things that the world has to offer. He has a short term self gratifying mindset. One son had no love for his father, became alienated from the family and fell into deep sin. The other had no love for his father but stayed at home with the proper appearances of obedience without love.
The younger son is restless and discontent; always longing to be or do something else. He hated his life and dreamed of a different life somewhere else. Life on the farm, even with God as his Father, was so dull, uneventful, structured and boring he feels as he was going to burst if he stays another second. He may have complained to his older brother, “This isn’t living, this is being constrained by rules and doing things that I don’t want to do. I want to go out and live my life instead being cooped up on this farm in the middle of Boonville.”
After living in discontentment for a long time, the younger son went to his father and demanded everything that was rightfully his; his inheritance. In Jewish culture, the act of asking for the inheritance is considered to be the highest act of rebellion, in essence, wishing that the father was dead. But the kind and gracious Father, who knows and sees all, took no offense and freely gave the son his inheritance. The Father loved his son, but he will not hold the son against his will. The son was free to come and go as he wished. The father wants love to be the only constraint to binds the son to himself; not intimidation, money or guilt. The Father always loves and that love always binds himself to the son. He will love the son whether he is working for him, in rebellion, in his riotous living or when he is in the pig pen.
The Father knew that the rebellious son would waste the inheritance in rebellious living and he gave his son everything; freely. Not once did the Father try to talk the son out of the evil he had planned or become offended by the rebellion.
The Father was perfect in all that he did and said, but yet his son was not content to live with him. Despite growing up in perfect circumstances, the son wandered away from what he knew was right. In this case, the son’s decision to follow the lusts of his heart was not a product of poor parenting.
As the prodigal son gathered his things and headed off to a far off city to live a life of sin, the Father never tried to stop him, didn’t plead with him not to go, nor did he chase him and rescue him. The Father held open the door with a smile, while his heart ached, knowing the pain, frustration and disappointment that awaited his son.
While the son was gone, the Father woke up early every morning and stood on the porch straining his eyes to see if could get a glimpse of the son on the horizon. But he never went down the road to find his son. He never sent a letter to his son asking him to come home. And the father never sent his son any money even when his son was down and out; barely surviving on food that the pigs ate.
The son lived many days following the wild desires of his heart. Unfortunately, his heart was thoroughly corrupt and destructive. Since his father was a wealthy man, the son was able to live a long time on his inheritance. (From the response of the older brother at the end of the parable, my guess is that the younger son was gone for several years.) But no matter how much money he had started out with, it is destined to run out sooner or later. And when he ran out of money, his friends and the world wanted nothing to do with him. The world is a user. It uses you and as soon as you have nothing more to offer it, it will chew you up and spit you out. The world will teach you that you are replaceable and have little value apart from what you have.
The son ended up in a pig pen; feeding pigs. For a Jewish person, there is nothing lower and more unclean than pigs. Jesus was able to capture the essence of the degree of depravity that the son had fallen to with the pig pen analogy. This son had reached rock bottom and had started to dig. This was as low as humanly possible and still be alive.
Growing up in a Godly household, this son knew how to pray. And he prayed often that God would deliver him from his pigpen, bless him and give him abundance. But God never answered that prayer. If God gave him abundance while he was in that condition, God would essentially be enabling him to stay in that condition.
God is not a God who enables us to stay in the pig pen. God is not a co-dependent enabler. God is a healing God, who gives us the strength to get out of the pig pen, heals us and gives us the abundance that we desperately want, but only after we recognize our sinful condition, come to the end of ourselves and come back to God with a repentant heart.
We will never have abundance while we live in the pigpen. God will only provide part of our basic necessities; food, water, clothing and shelter. We will not have anything to give to anyone. In fact, this lack of basic necessities provoked jealousy and envy in the prodigal son. There are two sets of people that have abundance; his former riotous friends and the people in his father’s household. His former riotous friends had rejected him, but perhaps his father will accept him and forgive him.
The turning point in this parable is that while sitting in the pig pen, the son came to his senses and thought, “At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” In this one instant, the prodigal son finally came to the end of himself, realized who he was, saw who God was and the correct response to God.
But the prodigal son came to this decision at the end of a long process. The son had to deal with the emotions of pain, pride and fear. The pain of his current situation had to exceed his pride and his fear for him to even consider facing his family again. He knew that his brother was a self-righteous, legalistic, harsh, compassion-less, holier than thou, ‘see I told you so’ type of person. His brother wasn’t going to accept him back home. His brother was probably going to make his life miserable and constantly remind him of his failures. But pain has a way of making us do things that we really don’t want to do. The pain and desperation was a tool in God’s hand to help him overcome his pride and anxiety of what may happen after he returns.
God is a God of second chances. While the son was yet a long way off, the Father, who was constantly looking for him, recognized him on the horizon and ran out to meet in with great joy. (God will meet us part way, but we have to leave the pig pen and determine to come home.) The son was still wearing his pig pen clothes, smelled like a pig pen and looked terrible. But the Father was able to look through the external and look at the heart. He looked beyond the faults and saw the need.
The older brother was not able to look past the pig pen to see his brother’s heart. And he resented the Father’s joy over the return of the filthy whore monger. The older son addresses the father abruptly, hinting of disrespect, frustration and impatience. "I've been slaving for you these many years"— The verb is douleun , related to doulos, servant. His relationship to his father was based on work, not love.
In this parable, the Lord compels us to celebrate over the return of a prodigal. The Father tells the older son, “We had to celebrate” — The word edei is used, meaning "it was necessary." Rejoicing about the return of a lost person isn't just an option; it is a necessity. The older refers to the prodigal as “your son” a term of disassociation while the father refers to him as “this brother of yours” — Not "my son," but "your brother." The father reminded the older son of his family responsibility. The implication is that it is necessary for him to rejoice.
After the entire ordeal is completed and the prodigal son is re-instated into the family, who is in better standing before God; the humbled prodigal son or the older self-righteous brother? Clearly, the younger humbled brother. He is home because of love. His bond of love with the father is stronger than work or any sense of commitment. He is compassionate. He is sensitive to the needs, hurts and longings of others. He will never exalt himself above the servants in his Father’s house. He has a clear understanding of who he is, yet with the knowledge and experience that the Father loves him unconditionally.
Although the prodigal son has character qualities of humility, compassion, a servant’s heart and mercy, he will always be plagued with the consequences of his experiences in riotous living. The scars of every wound will remain as a reminder of his rebellion. His inner battle will be one of guilt; knowing that he destroyed his inheritance.
God is love. In His mercy and grace, He will give us far more chances than we deserve, but we will suffer the consequences of our poor decisions. However, in the scheme of eternity, the riotous/pigpen route brought the son into a relationship with the Father that he would never have had if he stayed on the farm and was miserable, complaining and malcontent. It would have been best if the young son would have developed a heart of gratitude, thankfulness and humility without going into the pigpen. But he had exhausted all options on the farm and had to learn the difficult way. And he did learn.
The older son is contrasted to the younger: The younger starts the story by leaving home, the older starts by returning. The younger then decides to go home, the older refuses to enter. The younger wants to be his father's servant, the older son resents being a servant. The younger son admits guilt; the older one insists on his own innocence.
In the first two parables of chapter 15, the lost items were found by searching. But here, the younger son was found by waiting. God rejoices over (cf. the celebration) and honors (cf. the robe, ring and sandals) every sinner who repents. He doesn't wait for a full and formal apology; he perceives the attitude and comes toward us.
The U-2 spy plane became famous after the Soviet Union shot down a U-2 piloted by Francis Gary Powers on May 1, 1960. The spy plane was first designed during the Eisenhower administration to breach the iron curtain and, as engineers said, snap "picture postcards for Ike" of hidden military strongholds in the Soviet Union.
Believe it or not, the U-2 is still the pre-eminent spy plane in the Air Force arsenal.
The plane was designed in the 1950’s. And after it was launched it was widely criticized for being difficult to fly and even more difficult to land. The Air Force was certain to replace it with a more ‘user-friendly’ plane.
Instead of the typical tricycle landing gear, the U-2 uses a bicycle configuration with a forward set of main wheels located just behind the cockpit, and a rear set of main wheels located behind the engine. The rear wheels are coupled to the rudder to provide steering during taxiing. To maintain balance while taxiing, two auxiliary wheels, called "pogos" are added for takeoff. The pogos fall off the aircraft on lift-off.
High-aspect-ratio wings give the U-2 some glider-like characteristics, with a lift-to-drag ratio estimated in the high 20s. The aircraft's stall speed at the cruising altitude of 70,000 feet is only 10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h) below its maximum speed. It has an extremely small operating window. Also, the U-2 does not have power assisted control systems. Control inputs must be extreme to achieve the desired response in flight attitude, and a great deal of physical strength is needed to operate the controls in this manner.
The trickiest part of operating the plane is the landing. The plane is very sensitive to cross winds and has a tendency to float over the runway. As the aircraft approaches the runway, the cushion of air provided by the high-lift wings in ground effect is so pronounced that the U-2 will not land unless the wing is fully stalled. Because of the plane’s unique design, the pilot (wearing an enclosed, helmeted flight suit similar to an astronaut’s that limits visibility) has to basically fly the aircraft at 140 mph just two feet off the ground, then cut the engine, deploy the flaps and essentially drop out of the sky. Once on the ground and at a full stop, the pilot drops one of the wingtips onto its titanium skid plate, the pogo wheels are reattached and the plane taxis off the runway.
Since the pilot can’t see what he is doing a chase pilot on the ground below assists the pilot by providing radio inputs for altitude and runway alignment.
The pilot must wear the equivalent of a space suit, because of the high operating altitude. The suit delivers the pilot's oxygen supply and emergency protection in case cabin pressure is lost at altitude (the cabin provides pressure equivalent to about 29,000 feet / 8,800 meters). To prevent hypoxia and decrease the chance of decompression sickness, pilots don a full pressure suit and begin breathing 100% oxygen one hour prior to launch to remove nitrogen from the body; while moving from the building to the aircraft they breathe from a portable oxygen supply
Although the avionics, camera and power plant have been upgraded since the 1950’s, not much else has changed. Since the 1980’s the Air Force had recommended scrapping the U-2 program. They believe that satellites are more than capable of performing the spy duties. In 2006, Ronald Rumsfeld called for the retirement of the entire fleet by 2012, with many U-2s retired in 2007.
But the U-2s have done everything but retire. Since 2010 the mission log has increased dramatically. U-2s from the 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron have flown over 200 missions in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom; as well as Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa. U-2s were also flying over Libya and Egypt during the Arab spring. Currently, U-2s are stationed in Cyprus to observe the conflict in Syria.
Just recently, the Obama administration requested $91 million to maintain the U-2 program. The Air Force also announced plans to maintain the U-2 fleet until 2023.
Many attempts have been made to replace the U-2; the A-12 in 1965, the SR-71 in 1970 and most recently the Global Hawk drone in 2007. The first two replacements were impractical. And at an estimated cost of $176 million each, the Global Hawk drone had "priced itself out of the market”. Only the B-52 bomber has been in service longer.
"It's incredible to think that these planes are still flying," said Francis Gary Powers Jr., Powers' son and founder of the Cold War Museum in Warrenton, Va. "You'd think another spy plane, or satellite or drone would come along by now to replace it."
Are we just resting on our laurels or are we incapable of making a better spy plane?
Primary Function: High-altitude reconnaissance
Contractor: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics
Power Plant: One General Electric F118-101 engine
Thrust: 17,000 pounds
Wingspan: 105 feet (32 meters)
Length: 63 feet (19.2 meters)
Height: 16 feet (4.8 meters)
Weight: 16,000 pounds
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 40,000 pounds (18,000 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 2,950 gallons
Payload: 5,000 pounds
Flight Endurance: 12 hours
Cruise Speed: 429 miles per hour
Range: 7,000+ miles (6,090+ nautical miles)
Ceiling: Above 70,000 feet (21,212+ meters) (Some claim a ceiling of 88,000 feet)
Initial operating capability: 1956
Inventory: Active force, 33 (5 two-seat trainers and two ER-2s operated by NASA)
While watching the news of the Petraeus hearings I was shocked to see Gwen Moore in front of the cameras. I didn’t know that she was still in congress.
What did she say; "To batter this woman because they don't feel they have the ability to batter President Obama is something we the women are not going to stand by and watch. Their feckless and reckless speculation is unworthy of their offices as senators."
This was in response to the questioning of the testimony of Susan Rice regarding the Benghazi attack by Senators McCain and Graham.
Immediately after the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Susan Rice, President Obama and Hillary Clinton made the claim that a YouTube video was to blame for the incident. In fact, they didn’t make this a point of speculation. They were emphatic that the YouTube video was indeed the spark that ignited the attack.
2 months later:
Facts regarding the attack have come to light and it appears that the YouTube scapegoat was added after the fact, according to the Petraeus testimony.
McCain and Graham pointedly asked Rice about who gave her the marching orders to state that the video was responsible for the attack, especially since the memo that Petraeus distributed did not mention the video.
Anyone who questions Susan Rice, Obama or Hillary Clinton is sexist and racist. "It is a shame that anytime something goes wrong, they pick on women and minorities," Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, the next chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told reporters Friday at a Capitol Hill news conference.
As former CIA Director David Petraeus revealed new discrepancies Friday in the administration's story over Libya, a dozen female House Democrats suggested Republicans' criticism of U.N. ambassador Susan Rice over her Libya comments is instead rooted in sexism and racism.
Who couldn’t have predicted this response? Unfortunately, they have gone to this well so many times that it has become nauseating. Gwen Moore steps on gum; it’s because Republicans are sexist and racist. Gwen Moore sleeps till noon and missed yet another vote on Capitol Hill; it’s because Republicans are sexist and racist. Gwen Moore’s son is caught slashing tires at the Republican office; it’s because Republicans are sexist and racist.
At some point someone in the Democratic Party should come up with something new if for no reason other than shame.
How about a discussion of facts?
I am fascinated by former leaders and presidents. I have read quite a few of the presidential biographies. One of the books ‘Lincoln the unknown’ by Dale Carnegie was more anecdotal in nature and captures the essence of Lincoln. It was written about 60 years after the death of Lincoln and is, essentially, a list of stories. The life of Lincoln, as presented in the book, caused me to evaluate the balance in my own life; the balance between criticism and course correction.
I have been around the block more than a few times and as a result I have found many of life’s pit falls and snares. I have made more than my share of blunders and mistakes and I encourage people not to make the same mistakes that I have made. But when warning people of impending danger, there is an element of criticism involved. The criticism can be offensive to the pride of the individual and instead of helping someone I have made an enemy. Where then should I create the balance between warning/course correction and criticism?
Using the example from Lincoln’s life, I would need to refrain from anything close to criticism. Secretary of War, Stanton, said that he never heard Lincoln say anything bad about anyone in the years that he was acquainted with Lincoln. Stanton claimed that a person spoke harshly of a Southern secessionist in Lincoln’s presence. Lincoln replied, “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”
Lincoln’s ‘never criticize anyone’ attitude was severely tested during the Civil War. General after general of the Union Army was completely incompetent – McClellan, Pope, Burnside, Hooker and Meade in succession. After a major blunder, Lincoln just thanked them for their service and replaced them with a new general. He had an attitude of “malice towards none, with charity for all.” According to Stanton, Lincoln was just finding the right man for the job. These were all fine gifted men; ideally suited for a different job.
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought during the first three days of July, 1863. During the night of July 4th, General Lee began retreating southward. A tremendous storm arose that night and by the time Lee reached the Potomac River he found the river swollen and impassible. Lee was trapped. He could not escape. This was the moment that Lincoln was waiting for. This was a golden opportunity to capture Lee and end the war. Lincoln gave General Meade an urgent message to attack immediately. In fact, Lincoln sent several messengers to Meade to stress the urgency of the moment.
What did General Meade do? He called council of war and discussed the plan of attack with multiple advisors for many days. He telegraphed all manner of excuses for his lack of action back to Lincoln. Finally Meade responded to Lincoln that he refused to attack. During this time, the waters receded and Lee crossed the Potomac.
Lincoln was furious. “What does this mean?” Lincoln cried to his son Robert, “We had them in our grasp, and had only to stretch out our hands and they were ours; yet nothing that I could say or do could make the army move. Under the circumstance, any general could have defeated Lee. If I had gone up there, I could have whipped him myself.”
The war could have ended, if only Meade had acted. In bitter disappointment, Lincoln sat down and penned a letter to General Meade. He listed his frustrations, anger and disappointment in the letter. But Meade never received the letter, because Lincoln never sent it. Instead, he shoved the letter into his desk drawer – only to be found after his death.
In the days that followed, General Meade was actually defended by Lincoln from further criticism. Lincoln said, “If I had seen as much blood as Meade in Gettysburg and if my ears were pierced with the screams and shrieks of the wounded, maybe I wouldn’t be so eager to attack either.” Lincoln also understood Meade’s timid temperament and made accomodations for it. But Lincoln’s main reason for not criticizing Meade (or allowing criticism) is that this event had passed. All of the criticism in the world could not change the circumstances.
If Lincoln had sent the letter, it would have taken the burden off of Lincoln’s shoulders, but it would make Meade justify himself and it would arouse bitterness towards the critic and impair Meade's usefulness as the commander.
On April 15, 1865 Abraham Lincoln lay dying in a lodging house across from the Ford theater and Secretary Stanton proclaimed, “There lies the most perfect ruler of men that the world has ever seen.”
Was Lincoln always a man of noble character? No. In Lincoln’s younger days as a lawyer, he was brash, impetuous and routinely mocked and ridiculed others. In 1842, Lincoln ridiculed a vain pugnacious politician by the name of James Shields. Lincoln wrote a scathing article about Shields in the ‘Springfield Journal’. Shields, a very proud man, raged with anger and challenged Lincoln to a gun duel. Shields and Lincoln met on a sand bar on the banks of the Mississippi River prepared to die. At the last minute, friends had intervened; Lincoln apologized and retracted his statements. This event changed his life and he never criticized another person again.
But did Lincoln over react and place the balance point too far from criticism in the criticism – course correction continuum?
I look at my own life and I clearly do not like the direction that President Obama is taking the nation; from a perspective of pro-life, pro second amendment, pro business, limited government, limited spending, individual liberty, energy independence, etc. I see danger ahead resulting from the direction that he is heading. We had a golden opportunity to change course.
Now, the opportunity is gone and I am bitterly disappointed. But I will move on and not criticize Obama. I have already said my part and speaking of the matter further will help me get frustrations off of my chest but only infuriate his supporters and produce resentment. Should it be my attitude that Obama is fine gifted person, ideally suited for a different job?
For me to see trouble on the horizon and not to warn people that their actions and attitudes are leading to danger would be immoral. In order to see where they are going I need to think critically and provide critical input on their direction but not be critical of who they are.
Drawing parallels to Lincoln, General Meade was eventually replaced as the commander of the union forces. Lincoln used some critical thinking to come to the conclusion that Meade was not the right person for the job. But Lincoln spoke highly of Meade and praised him…while replacing him.
Balance is a manner of holding two opposing principles tightly to do the job that a single principle could not do.
I was warned not to get very personal when blogging. I was told just to stick to an issue based format. But after my U-2 blog, a nerve was hit and I found that I could think of nothing else. For today, I will ignore the well-meaning advice.
While running this race called life, things will pop up that can catch us off guard and throw us off stride.
There was an unforgettable day that caught me off guard.
On the morning of March 29th, 2009 we got a call from my niece, (brother's daughter) Amber. She wanted the families to meet for lunch after church on Sunday, as we often do. But there was some snow on the ground still from the storm and the plows had not finished clearing the roads. We wrestled a bit whether or not to push the lunch off for a week. In the end, we agreed to meet at Oscar’s in Waukesha at 12:30.
I did not see my brother’s family at church and thought that the weather probably played a factor and then I went to the mother-in-laws house for lunch.
On the way home from my mother-in-law’s house, I received a call informing me of the accident. A large flat bed truck driven by Mexican immigrants spun out of control in the snow and hit my brother’s Ford Explorer. The entire family was taken to Froedtert hospital by Flight for life.
At the hospital, I learned about the details; Karl and my nephew, Luke, were instantly killed and the remainder of the family had suffered severe trauma.
I was reeling; my emotions were running wild, my legs turned into jello. I couldn’t think. And there came the news reporters. I had 4 microphones and cameras in my face, being peppered with questions and the only thing I could say that I loved my brother and I will miss him….but what about the men in the truck?
I couldn’t sleep that night. I stayed up and wrote down my thoughts. I think very methodically, I need to sort out my thoughts by writing. I wrote a letter to myself and I also wrote one to my family, friends and co-workers.
Letter to Friends and family
I just want everyone to know that this morning Karl and Luke went to be with Jesus. They were in a car accident involving a large flatbed truck that crossed the median and struck them. Karl, Luke and a girl, Cara, were killed instantly. Amber, Zechariah and Denise were critically injured. Amber and Zack are in intensive care, but they are stable. Denise is not in stable condition, suffering severe head trauma.
Karl loved Jesus with all of his heart, mind, soul and strength. He will have a glorious homecoming, indeed. He was a man of deep convictions, lived humbly before God and had a pure heart. In every decision he thought first and foremost about what God would want, what was best for his family and then acted on it. He had an active faith and lived out what he believed. Karl lived with courage, convictions and character. There was no deceit, envy, malice, insincerity and dishonesty to be found in him. Mischief; yes. But truly the world was not worthy of him.
I have been unbelievably blessed to have him in my life and really don't know what I'm going to do without my brother, friend, counselor, sympathetic ear, teammate, political ally and soul mate. Although we were not identical in action, we were identical in attitude, faith and beliefs. If someone wanted to know what I thought regarding a certain topic, they would only need to ask Karl. He could explain my convictions better than I could; and with grace.
Karl and Luke will be greatly missed.
Farewell my friend and brother until we meet again on that distant shore.
I had wrestled with God all night but I found peace at around 9 am. I made the decision to trust God to make all things beautiful; ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust him”. But I had a tremendous task ahead of me. I had to fight off the lies of doubt, anger and resentment.
I was at a decision point in life; I could either believe the lies that were bombarding my mind and follow the downward spiral of depression, anger, fear and bitterness or believe the promises of God and follow the path of hope, truth and love.
In my mind’s eye, I had a picture. I was at the end of a tunnel and there were only two options; a ladder and a slide. The slide was big, wide and comfortable. All I had to do was to sit down and gravity would do the work…but it led to despair and depression. The ladder, on the other hand, looked old, rickety and the spacing between the rungs was very big…and it led to hope and reconciliation. I would need help to climb that ladder because I had felt so weak. But I was determined to climb the ladder, despite everything screaming within me to me to take the easy way. The answers in life are counter-intuitive; peace is found through letting go.
I knew that I couldn’t climb the ladder without help. I had determined to ask God for the strength every morning to climb the next rung.
All of us have believed a lie; a lie about ourselves, about others or about God himself. These lies will hold us hostage. I was determined not to let junk get planted into my mind in my moment of weakness.
After about a week God me a supernatural love for the 3 men in the accident. The three men were illegal aliens from Mexico and lived in the Milwaukee area. They were working for Terra Tec, a landscape/snow removal business. Since the men were illegals, they were taken to the Washington county jail.
During the course of the next week I was determined to visit the three men that were in the County jail. But they did not want to see me. I then wrote a letter and had it translated. By the time it was translated, the men were moved to a detention facility in Mexico.
The next week was spent getting power of attorney over my brother’s finances, caring for his family, juggling the funeral arrangements and finding a home for his pets. During this time I had received tremendous support from my church, family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. People from my church were bringing two or three meals daily. Neighbors were taking care of my home. And my sister-in-law took my kids.
The letter that I had sent out 9 days after the accident
I would like everyone to know how much I appreciate your thoughts, prayers and concerns at the loss of my brother and nephew.
My nephew, Zack, and niece, Amber, are recovering very quickly. Despite the number injuries (primarily to internal organs) 48 hours after the surgery both were able to stand and walk. My sister-in-law, Denise, did not fare as well. She suffered tremendous head trauma with fractured scull and swollen brain. Mentally she is responding well. Her memory of past events is there, but there is no memory of the accident. The doctors estimate that she will be in ICU for at least another 2 weeks.
The loss is incomprehensible. I still can’t get my arms around the enormity of all of this. It’s not only the loss but also the new responsibilities of having legal custody of two children and the executor of his estate.
There isn’t much help that I really need. My wife’s twin sister has taken my 4 children and my neighbors and church members have cleaned my house, cooked meals, done the laundry, etc. (I will not be able to express my depth of gratitude to them). Your continued moral and emotional support is the only thing that I need at this point.
Yesterday, I was with the sheriff at the crash scene. As I looked through debris that was just off of the road something sparkled in the long grass and caught my eye. I bent over and picked it up. A wave of emotion swept over me as I realized that I was holding a half of my nephew, Luke’s, Nintendo DS. I was then able to understand the extent of the impact.
I also wrestled with the probability of it all. If he had left his home 10 seconds sooner or later he would not have met his tragic end. If the oncoming vehicle had not been a flat bed truck or if he hadn’t driven the Ford Explorer, he would have different results. If the collision did not occur were it did, he would be alive (he was trapped between a vertical wall to his right and the truck to his left. In an open field, he would have been able to avoid the collision.) The list of events that had to occur for this result to take place is mind-numbing.
My brother and I were very close. Our families went on trips together, vacationed together, had children that were the same age and had the same world view.
I am being stretched emotionally, spiritually, mentally and financially. I but will be fine.
Thank you for your overwhelming support and love during this difficult period.
Then someone at work suggested that I visit their family. They had seen the newscast and it referenced their families that lived on the northwest side of Milwaukee. I looked up the court documents and got their address. Then the visit…
God has one over riding desire…for his love to be shared and spread. God will use anything, anyone and any circumstance to spread His love.
A Spanish interpreter had accompanied me on the visit to the Guerrero family. I knocked on the front door of the apartment and waited for a response. After some time, a Hispanic female in her early 30’s answered the door, “How can I help you?” I answered that I was looking for the family of Javier, Ricardo and Armando Guerrero. She said that there was no one in the apartment associated with those three men. “Please,” I replied, “This was the address provided by the three men.” She then said that they had moved. I, then, pulled out the court document citing the address and said that the address was listed as residence about 2 weeks ago and there is no evidence of a move.
There was about 5 minutes of back and forth debate. She even tried to close the door once, but I put my foot into the doorway. Then a man at the back of the room came forward and said in Spanish, “Yes, this is the Guerrero residence, what do you want?”
I then explained that there was an accident involving members of their family and my brother. My brother and nephew had passed away, but I hold no grudge or animosity towards the men and their family. But to the contrary, I know that the men must feel a tremendous amount of guilt, shame and hurt from the accident and their actions. I also know that their lives will never be the same as a result of the accident. I have come to offer my condolences to them. And beyond that I want them to know that I completely forgive them and love them in spite of what had happened. I have no bitterness, anger or resentment towards them.
When I had finished with my introduction, the Guerrero family was visibly shaken and teary eyed. The man who came to the door said, “We knew who you were when you walked up the sidewalk. We had seen you on TV. And we had feared the day when a family member would show up. In Mexico, if you killed my brother, I would have killed your brother, at a minimum. We sat here in fear trying to figure out who would likely be killed.”
“Revenge is the furthest thing from my mind,” I had reassured them, “I have nothing but love, hope and forgiveness for you.”
Our meeting became a hugfest. I then went to my car and brought back food and gifts for the children. I stayed for about an hour and talked about the family history of both families and the events that followed the accident.
For the next two years, I had stopped in about every two months and brought food and gifts at every meeting. They had become like my family. I became acquainted with their plight of losing the wage earners in the family and being separated from the three men.
I had also sent a letter and money to the three men in the Mexican prison.
In late 2011, the Guerrero family moved to Texas and I have lost contact with them. But the memory of them will last my lifetime.
I no longer look at the incident only as a time of loss, I now view it as a time of loss and as a time of great gain. It was a time of challenge, but also a time that God met that challenge. It was a time of pain and miracles.
Links to news articles about the accident:
Republicans do not want to raise taxes and the Democrats do not want to cut spending, thereby producing an impasse.
But there are more ways to resolve the impasse that are not being discussed. The feds could grant permits for energy exploration, refineries and LNG export terminals to finance their social programs using the proceeds from the energy sector.
The US is swimming in natural gas. According to the Institute for Energy Research, our supply of natural gas is much larger than the demand. We could export it, but the export process requires the gas to be liquefied and loaded on specialty ships. Three permits have been filed with the Department on Energy in 2011, none of them have been granted yet. Five more LNG (liquefied Natural Gas) facilities for export are being planned. I have provided a web link below from Cheniere. They are anxious to build a $10 billion terminal for natural gas export.
In March 2012, the price of natural gas (delivered to residential customers, New York) was $2.27 per 1000 cubic feet.
In Japan, natural gas costs about $18 per 1000 cubic feet (According to Bloomberg). Our export market is primed and ready to run.
New sources of natural gas are being discovered. For example, Chesapeake grew virtually over night to become the second largest US producer of natural gas behind ExxonMobil. Chesapeake has stated that there are tremendous reserves of natural gas in the mid Eastern seaboard.
Gulf, deep water drilling
Deep water oil drilling in the Gulf could again be running at full operation. Some permits have granted for deep water platforms, but there are deep water drills sitting dormant in the Gulf following the moratorium on deep water drilling. The oil spill caused a drop in production by about 700,000 barrels of oil per day. At $90 per barrel this equates to $63 million per day in revenue that is lost. And this does not account for the thousands of energy workers that were laid off following the moratorium. Any new drilling should obviously proceed with the proper environmental precautions.
In 2012, the number of leases for deep water drilling has increased by 16% over any point in the previous 3 years. “Even if they’re up, there are not up as much as they would have been if it weren’t for the policies that this administration has in place ,” John Felmy, chief economist at the Washington-based American Petroleum Institute, said in an interview. “We would like to see even more.”
Harold Hamm, who is the CEO of Continental Resources, says there's 24 billion barrels of oil in North Dakota's Bakken formation. So far, they have only tapped 40 million barrels. Continental Resources operates 24 rigs, each rig produces 500 -3000 barrels of crude per day. But there is a massive expansion of oil production in North Dakota.
Hess Oil just finished a $1.8 billion drilling operation in North Dakota and is producing 50,000 barrels of oil per day and by 2015 plans to be at 120,000 barrels per day.
Marathon Oil produces 25,000 barrels of oil per day, but they have 14 rigs under construction with completion dates planned in mid 2013.
A myriad of other oil producers are getting into production; Northern Oil, Newfield Exploration, Williston Basin, Occidental Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, Denbury Resources and others.
Likewise, the Eagle Ford shale in Texas oil production is also soaring. Oil production in the Eagle Ford was 4.3 million barrels during 2010. Just one year later it was almost 10 times more – 36.6 million barrels. By the end of 2012, the oil production figure will certainly be over 50 million barrels.
The oil and natural gas reserves in North Dakota, Texas, Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico pale in comparison to the reserves in ANWAR.
I am not saying that we have turned the oil spigot off. We are producing more oil than we had 10 years ago. But compared to the recoverable reserves (made available by the fracking process), we are only scratching the surface. Thousands of wells could go into production to supply oil and revenues to meet our spending habits. But the big point is that we could be the world’s major oil exporter. But I don’t know if we should be.
I am not sure what I fear more; a reduction in oil production with an increase in imports or an all-out expansion in drilling.
An all-out expansion will provide jobs and wealth, but also feed government’s insatiable demand for money. Could it produce a Chavez type of oil baron in the White House who buys election after election with promises of greater and greater percentages of oil revenue handed out like candy? Yes, it could.
The restriction of permits and production will cause the unemployment rate to stay high and inch us closer to the fiscal cliff, but limit the government’s ability to buy more votes than it already does.
A pile of money can cover a multitude of sins and bad decisions.
Money is power and power corrupts. Unfortunately, our government is already corrupt. The additional money will only serve to let it become authoritarian.
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