Sermon of the weekend

Rev. Mike Donahue of Speed Memorial Church in Sellersburg, Ind.:

Recently I had a Facebook discussion about the Bible … well at least my interpretation of it. Now before I go further, however you believe is fine with me as long as it gets you to Christ. My discussion began after a relative posted Bible verses from the Old Testament. I came back with be careful because there are passages in the Old Testament we can not follow, because if we did we would be in jail.

Now I will give you my concern over what is happening in some churches concerning the Bible. Joel Osteen (televangelist) after every broadcast says, “get into a Bible believing church.” I have no problem with him saying that, but I believe to many churches are elevating the Bible above Christ. That concerns me on so many levels. First and foremost, the Bible is our guide to Christ … it is a love story from beginning to the end. I am familiar with people who can quote the Bible like a machine gun, but (you can tell) do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

As most of you know we can not follow everything in the Bible. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 talks about taking your stubborn and rebellious son to the elders of the city and “All the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die; so shall thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear”

Well, I don’t know about you, but there would be a lot of “men” going to jail if we did that today. Now does that invalidate the Bible … of course not. In seminary we did what is called exegesis a passage. What that means is when you read the passage you determine who wrote it, the time it was written and who his audience was we he wrote it. We can see that it was a specific audience the author was writing to.

The good thing is that it is easier to follow the New Testament then the Old Testament. I always tell anyone who wants to read the Bible for the first time start with the New Testament. If you read the Old Testament first you are going to be saying, “God really!”

Let us not forget John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” and John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” To me this means that we need to concentrate on what became the flesh … Jesus Christ.

Yes, we need to read the Bible; just don’t stay in the “Word,” but rather have that relationship with Jesus Christ. Remember none of Jesus’ disciples were seminary educated or Torah (Bible of Jesus’ time) scholars.He said, “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” And they did!

Here’s my point: I would rather have a church say they were “Christ centered” then “Bible centered.” If you are always in the Word, then how do you have a relationship with a risen savior … who is a live and well in each one of us. So let’s be careful and not use the Bible as a club (to new Christians or anyone else), but rather a hug to get people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Every day I am thankful that the Jesus Christ of the New Testament believed in me enough to call me into the ministry (for 30 years). I pray to Him everyday and read the Bible to make sure I am understanding the man, the son of God, named Jesus.

Rev. Donahue married us in 1992, by the way. His belief is that with one exception, a Bible verse requires a repeat reference somewhere else in the Bible to be valid for the purpose of Bible study. My favorite Bible verse, Psalm 146:3 — “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help” — is repeated in four other Psalms, as well as in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel.

The exception is John 3:16 — “For God gave the world his only begotten son, that those who believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting live.”

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Tax billionaires and millionaires! Oh wait …

Eleven months ago Jake Gambino wrote:

As the left and right battle atop the D.C. throne, our country passed $20 trillion in debt. I wanted to take a little bit of time and put this number into perspective. Hopefully, it will become all too clear just how much this debt is and why the BS crowd’s strategy of taxing the 1% won’t come close to addressing the problem.

I should have clarified above, BS is the acronym for Bernie Sanders… potayto potahto, I guess.

According to Forbes (2017), there are 2,043 billionaires on the planet with a total worth of $7.7 trillion. That’s a whole lot of money. Let’s steal it-all of it.

If we seize 100% net worth of every billionaire on the planet, we can take our national debt down to $12.3 trillion. Now we are being responsible! But we still need more money, so what about those greedy millionaires?

In 2017, CNBC stated that there are 10.8 million millionaires nationwide. I’m already getting excited to take their money. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the total net worth of those millionaires. However, they stated:

“In 2016, there were 9.4 million individuals with net worth between $1 million and $5 million, 1.3 million individuals with net worth between $5 million and $25 million, and 156,000 households with more than $25 million in net worth.”

I’m going to calculate the numbers with something in the middle to give a basic picture.

9.4 million Americans X $2.5 million = $23.5 trillion
1.3 million Americans X $12.5 million = $16.25 trillion
156,000 X $100 million = $15.6 trillion (estimated low, because this would also include the billionaires in the US, some of which were counted in the billionaires’ $7.7 trillion)
Total = $55.35 Trillion + $7.7 Trillion = $63.05 Trillion
Now, let’s be good socialists and pay off all our debt with that $63.05 trillion (heh)

-$20 trillion + $63.05 trillion = +$43.05 trillion

Like magic, America suddenly has a $43.05 trillion slush fund!

What do we do with this slush fund? Let’s do the socialist generous thing and divide it up evenly among all 320 million Americans. We could pay every American almost $135,000!

Socialists Economic egalitarians rejoice! We just toppled the bourgeois billionaire class, furthered our commitment to the “greater good,” and gave everyone in America a $135,000 paycheck.

Now, back to reality. The reality is that this tactic of seizing every dollar from every millionaire and billionaire is unrealistic and a “best” case scenario. It ignores several facts.

First, we don’t have the authority to tax billionaires outside of the US, yet (looking forward to the return of military imperialism).

Second, much of that wealth is in the stock market. It relies on combined and continual contributions to keep the value high. Once we start taking millions of dollars out, the value of the remaining pool decreases unless new money is coming in to keep it elevated.

Third, that $63.05 trillion was accumulated over many, many decades. This makes it a one-time deal. There is no continuing Utopia to be had.

Fourth, and most importantly, this doesn’t even address the hundreds of trillions (literally) in unfunded liabilities.

All that money has been stolen for a measly one-time payout of $135,000 per American.

Let that really sink in. That money sounds like a huge amount to a socialist college student, but now what? Good luck making $135,000 last more than a handful of years.

The reality is that we cannot just tax ourselves out of debt. We must address spending,sooner rather than later. Every time a budget is proposed in Congress that cuts spending, the status quo lose their collective mind. Or… at least I believe it would, it is hard to remember a budget that proposed any significant cuts.

Or… at least I believe they would lose their minds; it is hard to remember a budget that proposed any significant cuts.

Until we get a Congress bold enough and principled enough to stand for the future of our nation and generations yet to be born, we will continue to dig the hole deeper and deeper. The Republicans use a shovel, and the Democrats use a bulldozer.

Neither of those options appeal to me.

John Doe and Russia

Dan O’Donnell:

The smirk was unmistakable; the defiant, self-satisfied smugness of a man who knew the extent of the abuse of his power and dared the world to punish him for it. FBI agent Peter Strzok’s performance in last week’s joint hearing of the House’s Judiciary and Oversight Committees was less fact-finding than it was character-revealing.

And in Wisconsin, it was all too familiar: The arrogant disregard for the proper function of law enforcement and bitter condescension toward those who dared stand up to it. The Badger State has seen its share of Peter Strzoks before, and its experiences with them stand as an example of how to remove them from power.

The parallels between Strzok’s contempt for the man he was tasked with investigating – Donald Trump – and the disdain of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office and Wisconsin Government Accountability Board for the man they took it upon themselves to investigate – Scott Walker – are downright eerie, and the level to which that hatred fomented the systemic abuse of investigative authority is downright chilling.

Both the FBI’s Russia investigation and Milwaukee DA’s John Doe probe were launched with ostensibly noble objectives but rather quickly devolved into partisan inquisitions.

The FBI has been trying to determine whether the Trump 2016 campaign had illegally colluded with Russia.  The John Doe investigation tried to determine whether the Walker 2012 recall election campaign illegally colluded with conservative political action groups.

The Russia probe has been ongoing for 18 months without a single shred of evidence tying the Trump campaign to any criminal conspiracy with Russia, yet what appears to be a campaign of steady and selective leaking to the press has left the public with the impression that it’s only a matter of time before Trump is led out of the White House in handcuffs.

In both February and on Friday, when the Justice Department announced indictments directly tied to Russian meddling in the 2016 election, it was clear that this activity occurred without any American cooperation or even knowledge. In order to prove “collusion” (which isn’t in the sense it’s colloquially used actually even a crime), investigators would have to demonstrate the existence of a criminal conspiracy; that is, they would need to show that someone connected to Trump worked with the Russian hackers to break into the Democratic National Committee servers and/or coordinate the release of the stolen emails.

They did not. However, because of the seemingly endless nature of the investigation and the near-constant leaks and innuendo stemming from it, the public is left to believe that the evidence of so-called collusion is right around the corner when it fairly obviously is not.

The John Doe investigation not only failed to produce any evidence of criminal wrongdoing whatsoever, federal and state courts alike unanimously ruled that the alleged crime the investigators were probing wasn’t actually a crime at all.  The secret nature of John Doe proceedings didn’t preclude selective leaking to the press, however, as details of the investigation found their way into near-daily Milwaukee Journal Sentinel stories, and secret documents formed the basis of Guardian article published just days before the U.S. Supreme Court effectively ended the investigation for good.

Perhaps most nauseating of all, both investigations seem centered around political opposition research, giving rise to the very real and very terrifying fear that both were perpetuated to advance electoral and not investigative ends. The FBI has for months been stonewalling Congressional inquiries into the role of the so-called Trump dossier, a sensationalistic and unverified piece of opposition research commissioned by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in both launching and furthering the Russia probe.

In Wisconsin, investigators were so brazen as to store illegally obtained emails from Republican politicians, activists, and media personalities in a filing cabinet marked “opposition research.” Ironically, the cabinet was in the basement of the Government Accountability Board, which was the agency tasked with policing campaign and ethics laws.

It had, however, morphed into a hyper-partisan attack dog for the Democratic Party that operated with such zeal that its attorney, Shane Falk, emailed colleagues reminding them that Walker’s perfectly legal and permissible actions were in fact “a bastardization of politics and our state is being run by corporations and billionaires.”

“The cynic in me says the sheeple would still follow the propaganda even if they knew,” Falk continued. “But at least it would all be out there so that the influences on our politicians is clearly known.”

This righteous anger and obvious pre-judgment might have been the most clearly known example of investigative bias until Strzok started texting his mistress promising to “stop” a Donald Trump presidency while investigating…the Donald Trump presidential campaign.

There he sat on Thursday, though, sneering at Congressional Republicans who dared to challenge him on what exactly he meant by texts such as “Trump is a f***ing idiot” and whether expressing such sentiments meant he had a vested interest in the outcome of politically charged investigations.

Strzok, like Falk before him, oozes disdain for such “sheeple” who will follow politicians like Trump and Walker even though the investigators just know they’re wicked – despite what the evidence fails to show.

Herein lies the threat to nothing short of the Rule of Law itself when the Peter Strzoks and Shane Falks of the world target their political enemies: The power of the investigator in this country is immense, and there are precious few checks on its misuse.

Wisconsin’s experience with a corrupt John Doe investigation, though, should be America’s guide. The targets of that investigation (which included the MacIver Institute) fought back, defying gag orders to tell their stories of persecution and paramilitary-style raids and eventually suing to stop the investigation in its tracks. Not content with victory in the judicial branch of government, Wisconsin’s Legislature disbanded the Government Accountability Board and changed the state’s John Doe laws to make them tougher to abuse.

While no one could credibly suggest disbanding the FBI, legislative and judicial checks on what appears to be the widespread misuse of its investigative authority for political ends are perhaps long overdue. It’s time for the rest of the country to, like Wisconsin, start really watching the watchmen and seeing them for what they have become.

Peter Strzok is the smirking, defiant face of what is in fact a form of wannabe tyranny – the deep-seated belief that the law doesn’t apply to those who decide how (and, more importantly, against whom) to enforce the law.

Remember when liberals were suspicious of law enforcement, especially the FBI? Good times.

 

Presty the DJ for July 5

Today is the anniversary of the Beatles’ first song to reach the U.S. charts, “From Me to You.” Except it wasn’t recorded by the Beatles, it was recorded by Del Shannon:

Five years later,  John Lennon sold his Rolls–Royce:

Sharing my daughter’s birthday are Smiley Lewis, who first did …

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for July 5”

Obama, Trump and Iran

Michael Graham:

It’s the first day back at work in 2018 for us pundit types, and already one of last year’s biggest memes is back too, courtesy of the Iran protests: #ThatsHowYouGetTrump.

The premise of the meme is that, while intellectual elites might be smart in a general way about broad political issues, they failed to see their practical impact on real people—particularly blue-collar, lower-middle-class people—here at home. So, for example, while elites write 5,000 word articles about the evils of building a border wall, many Americans are more moved by stories like the shooting of Kate Steinle, allegedly carried out by an illegal immigrant, or the diversity lottery terrorist who hit New York City on Halloween.

On foreign policy, President Obama offered a nuanced argument for refusing to back up his “red line” on Syrian use of chemical weapons against children, while President Trump later offered arguments—just a missile barrage that so far has brought the attacks to an end.

And so it is with the street protests in Iran, a story that’s impossible to view apart from the Iran Deal, the centerpiece of Obama’s foreign policy.

The anti-regime protests, the Rouhani government’s violent crackdown and the resulting deaths all feed the notion that liberal elites have “an inability to see the forest through the trees,” as Mideast analyst Michael Rubin puts it—on Iran, or on the world as a whole. It’s another argument for the pro-Trump view that, while Barack Obama had a patina of egghead-ism and elegance, the current president at least knows the good guys from the bad guys.

And for most Americans, Iran has long been the bad guys. More than 80 percent of Americans have had an unfavorable view of Iran for decades, with more than 70 percent consistently describing its Islamist government as a “critical threat” to the US.

And with good reason. After all, the Iranian regime has:

· Funded Hezbollah terrorists.

· Backed the chemical-weapon using Assad regime in Syria.

· Humiliated US sailors when a damaged ship drifted into Iranian waters.

· Repeatedly tested ballistic missile technology in violation of UN resolutions.

And they’ve done all this after striking the Iran Deal with President Obama. No wonder most Americans opposed the deal at the time (though support has picked up since Trump took office, likely a symptom of anti-Trump partisanship). In other words, this is how the Iranians behave when you’re nice to them.

As former Ambassador John Bolton wrote on the one-year anniversary of the Iran Deal: “Tehran has disproved any idea that acceding to its nuclear demands would cause basic shifts in its international conduct.” Obama defenders argue that changing their behavior was never the goal, it was merely, as President Obama put it when he announced the agreement, “preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. This deal does exactly that.”

Except it doesn’t. The Iran Deal allows Iran to do whatever it wants when restrictions “sunset” in seven years. In the meantime, Iran has rejected “any time, anywhere” inspections that were promised by the Obama administration and continues to test new, more advanced centrifuges. As a result, says Michael Rubin, “Iran would have access to an industrial-scale nuclear program, fully-funded, with few restrictions and the most advanced centrifuges as soon as the sunset clauses within the [Iran Deal] came into effect.”

That’s bad. What’s worse is recent reporting of what it cost America to make Obama’s deal in the first place. In 2016, many Americans were horrified to learn that the Obama administration had secretly flown pallets of cash—literally millions of dollars— to the Iranians as part of a prisoner swap to sweeten the deal for Iran. Dangerous actors from the Iranian regime were either released or had their criminal cases dropped, along with a total payout of $1.7 billion in contested money, in exchange for the release of four Americans wrongly held by the Iranian regime.

Since then, Politico has reported that the Obama administration shut down an investigation into drug dealing and gun running by Hezbollah—Iran’s terrorist allies—in the lead up to the Iran Deal. Obama officials acknowledge that cases were dropped but deny that these decision were in any way linked to appeasing Iran. Members of Congress are now calling for an investigation.

The American people now see the same regime that the Obama administration strengthened shooting its own people in the streets. The average American never would have trusted the Iranians, and they know Donald Trump agrees.

When Obama administration smart guys like Ben Rhodes and John Kerry describe Trump as a simpleton, many Trump supporters would agree: Simple, yes. But right. As opposed to smart but wrong. That’s the political force Trump has tapped into.

Interestingly, the protesters in Iran appear to have a similar view. Among the slogans reportedly being shouted in the streets are “Let go of Syria. Put your thoughts on us,” “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, We Will Give Our Lives to Iran,” and “We are Iranians, we don’t worship Islamism.” These protesters hoped the financial benefits of the Iran Deal would reach them. Instead, the regime continues to fund terrorism abroad and their citizens are angry. You could almost translate their message to “Make Iran Great Again.”

Betting on Iran abandoning terror or becoming an ally was always a bad bet. Barack Obama and the Washington elites made it. And #ThatsHowYouGetTrump.

Presty the DJ for Nov. 22

Today in 1963, the Beatles released their second album, “With the Beatles,” in the United Kingdom.

That same day, Phil Spector released a Christmas album from his artists:

Given what else happened that day, you can imagine neither of those received much notice.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Nov. 22”

Fight on for her fame

The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay:

Regular readers of this sports column—there have to be at least two or three of you, besides my mother, though I’m not so sure about her these days, frankly—must have been wondering when I was going to finally weigh in on America’s most important sports story:

The undefeated Wisconsin Badgers football team.

I believe the moment has arrived. The Badgers are 10-0 for the first time in school history, ranked No. 5 in the polls, and this Saturday in Madison, Wis.—a city that’s basically heaven, with better bratwurst and beer—they host those unctuous weasels from the east:

The Michigan Wolverines.

You know how I feel about folks from the University of Michigan. Well, you would know how I feel, if folks from the University of Michigan would ever stop talking about the University of Michigan. (Every third person at the Journal went to Michigan.)

I’ll get back to those Michigan weasels in a second. First, I want to address the issue of Badger disrespect.

A few weeks ago, I was freaking out, scratching my claws, screaming from the windows that the high priests and priestesses of college football were conspiring to deny Wisconsin from one of the four playoff spots. My Badgers aren’t in the cozy smoke-filled room of college football elitists—or historic darlings of the college football media, which is totally in the tank for the SEC; those clowns would vote a hamster cage into the top 10 if it was from the SEC.

It was like the Badgers were the Rodney Dangerfield of college football. We stayed undefeated, and somehow went backward. (Fun fact: Dangerfield starred in “Back to School,” which was filmed on campus at Wisconsin.)
(I know there may be some journalism ethicists out there who will object to the use of “we” and “us” to describe the Badgers here, seeing as I’m not actually a member of the football team. You’re right: it’s gross. Please mail a formal complaint to the Columbia School of Journalism. I hear it’s almost as prestigious a school as Michigan.)

I was mad a few weeks ago about the Badgers, but I feel much better now. Last weekend, Georgia and Notre Dame got thumped and did everyone a favor. Wisconsin leapt to No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings, and considering No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Miami have to play each other, they’re in a very good position to make the playoffs—if they stay unbeaten and win the dopey Big Ten conference title game.

Besides, I talked to Wisconsin’s football Godfather, Barry Alvarez, now the Badger athletic director, who told me to calm down.

“I wouldn’t worry or get too upset right now,” Alvarez told me. “There are still games left. A lot’s going to happen.”

The fact is, Alvarez reminded, it would be very hard for the committee to deny an undefeated team—with a conference championship—from a Power Five conference.

Basically, it would be Bucky anarchy. There’s no need to go crazy right now.

“People get overreactive,” Alvarez said.

Candidly, some of the grumbling about Wisconsin is fair. The Badgers are awesome, but do have a bit of a padded resume. We have played some good competition, and also steamrolled a few company softball teams. I think one school we played started a bunch of patio chairs in the defensive backfield. One may have had a llama at quarterback.

But you play who you play. Last Saturday, the Badgers handled an Iowa team that had rampaged all over Ohio State the week before.

And now Mr. Khakipants comes to town.

I cannot overstate how much I am looking forward to this. Last year, Wisconsin and Michigan were undefeated when they met, and the Badgers lost a tough one. It was painful. I couldn’t show up to work for six weeks.
It’s a little bit of a letdown that Michigan isn’t a juggernaut like we are. The Wolverines have lost two games. Two! That’s basically 20 games. They’re not even the best college football team in Michigan.

People expect more out of Mr. Khakipants, who gets paid $800 million a season, gets six private jets and may have bought that DaVinci painting the other night.

Fine. The Badgers—who are coached by Paul Chryst, a Madison native who played Badger football and I’ve heard is paid in State Street Brats gift certificates—will just have to beat an underperforming Wolverine team which is likely looking forward to Ohio State next weekend.

No biggie.
The ESPN people are going to be on campus to do their “College Game Day” party for a bunch of cord-cutters, which is fine. If someone can hold up a sign that says WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORTS: HARBAUGH’S KHAKIS ARE LULULEMON, I’d be grateful.

Meanwhile, the game is scheduled to begin on Fox at noon Eastern, or 11 a.m. Madison time, which is cruel, since 11 a.m. on a Saturday in Madison is basically still Friday night.

Who plays football at 11 a.m.? This isn’t T-ball!

It doesn’t matter. We can play at 4 p.m. or 4 a.m. Camp Randall will still rattle. Likewise, you can rank us fifth, or 15th, or fifty-first. You can predict we’ll be in the playoff, the Boca Raton Bowl, or the AL East.

It’s cool. The haters are an honor.

“We just have to take care of business,” Alvarez said. “Control what we can control.”

We’re 10-0. Jump on the Bucky bandwagon. We may not be America’s best college football team, but we’re definitely the most fun.

On the latest outrage

I have already written a response to the next instance when evil reveals itself in another mass shooting.

I am not generally paranoid, but note what is in common with the latest shootings — Republicans at softball practice in suburban Washington, people at a country music concert in Las Vegas, Walmart shoppers in Colorado, and now people at church in rural Texas. (And the attack on U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R–Kentucky) as he was mowing his grass.) All stereotypical conservative groups.

Facebook Friend Michael Smith adds important points:

One significant thing American mass shooters have in common is not access to guns, it is they all believe someone else is responsible and should be punished for their “problems”.

From Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, from Adam Lanza to Dylan Roof to Devin Patrick Kelly, all were killers who saw others as the root of their problems.

Which ideology preaches class warfare – that whites are responsible for the problems of blacks, males are to blame for the problems of women, straight people create all problems for gays, the rich are to blame for the issues of the poor, victims are responsible for terrorism and religion is responsible for pretty much every problem in the world?

Hmmmm. If there was only an answer to that question.

There is a correlation between the rise of progressivism from the 60’s on and the increase in violence in the public sphere. Americans had far more access to guns during the 40’s and 50’s than they do today – you could order them through the Sears catalog and have them mailed to your door – and yet the atrocities we see today were nonexistent then. The answer isn’t more control by government over our lives, it is the freedom to exercise our own control and a societal system that teaches that discipline and the worth of human life.

More government and more human laws cannot stop the trend to more violence – only individual self-governance and spiritual laws can.

Taxing facts

Facebook Friend Ken Gardner passes on this graphic from the American Enterprise Institute:

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest quartile (“20 percent” in plain English) of households by pretax income in 2013 went to $17,882, the second quintile went to $34,957, the middle quintile went to $57,967, the fourth quintile went to $95,337, and obviously the highest quintile goes above that.