Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cool Cal

             The other evening I was watching a news show where an author was being interviewed regarding a recent book she published entitled, “Coolidge.” Amity Shlaes sees President Calvin Coolidge as “a rare kind of hero: a minimalist president, an economic general of budgeting and tax cuts.”  (http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/02/10/amity-shlaes-tells-the-story-of-calvin-coolidge-another-forgotten-man/)

He was called “Silent Cal” primarily because he was short on words. One of his many famous quotes sums up his Silent Cal moniker: “I have noticed that nothing I have never said ever did me any harm.” Make sure you read that quote correctly! Now try these two similar quotes: “If you don't say anything, you won't be called on to repeat it.” And, “You can't know too much, but you can say too much.”

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was born in Vermont in 1873, eventually rising to be Vice President of the United States in 1920 on the ticket with Warren G. Harding. Coolidge ascended to the presidency when Harding passed away in 1923. Coolidge served as our 30th president, returning to private life in 1929.

Of all the presidents in the 20th Century, Coolidge was clearly the most conservative of them all. This quote says volumes about his philosophical approach to government and the people: “I want the people of America to be able to work less for the government and more for themselves. I want them to have the rewards of their own industry. This is the chief meaning of freedom. Until we can reestablish a condition under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people, we are bound to suffer a very severe and distinct curtailment of our liberty.” I like this guy!

Though Coolidge was not an outwardly religious man (typical for his time), he made some telling remarks about the importance of faith and religious beliefs which bears reflection: “Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberality, and for the rights of mankind. Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government. There are only two main theories of government in our world: One rests on righteousness, and the other on force. One appeals to reason, and the other appeals to the sword. One is exemplified in the republic; the other is represented by despotism.” Pretty well sums up our current governmental situation.

On this same religious theme, Coolidge opines, “It is hard to see how a great man can be an atheist. Without the sustaining influence of faith in a divine power we could have little faith in ourselves. We need to feel that behind us is intelligence and love. Doubters do not achieve; skeptics do not contribute; cynics do not create. Faith is the great motive power, and no man realizes his full possibilities unless he has the deep conviction that life is eternally important, and that his work, well done, is a part of an unending plan.” Do you see your work as having eternal importance?

“We do not need more intellectual power; we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge; we need more character. We do not need more government; we need more culture. We do not need more law; we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen; we need more of the things that are unseen” Wow! Themes right from Scripture.

“It is only when men begin to worship that they begin to grow.” That will preach!

President Coolidge was determined to stay true to his convictions of reducing the size of government – and he did! He is the only president in more than a hundred years to successfully reduce the size of the federal government. Hallelujah! “Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.” I really like this guy!

“To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.” Congress, are you paying attention?

“The Constitution is the sole source and guaranty of national freedom.”

“I believe in the American Constitution. I favor the American system of individual enterprise, and I am opposed to any general extension of government ownership, and control. I believe not only in advocating economy in public expenditure, but in its practical application and actual accomplishment. I believe in a reduction and reform of taxation, and shall continue my efforts in that direction.” Coolidge didn’t just reduce spending – he cut taxes!

“There is only one form of political strategy in which I have any confidence, and that is to try to do the right thing and sometimes be able to succeed.” He’s humble, too.

“I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form.” He really gets it!

“What we need is not more Federal government, but better local government.” I’ll vote for that!

In your life have you ever heard any politician, let alone a president, say such things? How utterly refreshing!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Say What?

         Here we go again!

         Last July I wrote an article entitled, “Closet Terrorist?” It was sort of a tongue-in-cheek poke at the Department of Homeland Security’s definition of a terrorist. According to them, I am a terrorist. Or I’m at the very least someone they need to keep an eye on. The following paragraph is taken from that same article so you can see for yourselves the absurdity of who they decide is a potential terrorist.

         “Some of those identified loosely as potential terrorists by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are: 1) American military or retired military members, especially those who have been in combat (law enforcement personnel also qualify); 2) Americans who believe in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, particularly the 2nd Amendment – the right to bear arms; 3) Americans who are subjectively classified as “right-wing,” or “far right-wing;” 4) Americans who identify themselves as Christian – particularly Evangelicals; 5) Americans who regard themselves philosophically and politically as being Conservative; 6) Americans who believe in the sanctity of life and are opposed to abortion; and 7) Americans who see a danger in an overgrown and out of control federal government (this can also include state and local governments).”

         Every one of the above seven statements identifies me precisely. So, I guess that makes me a terrorist!

Listen, I love my country. But I am sick of the foolishness that passes as “representative government” today. And I make no apology for my beliefs.

We are in serious trouble when our own government cannot tell the difference between a patriot and a terrorist!

Adding insult to injury, I read an article today that exacerbates this problem of identifying a terrorist – in this instance, identifying someone who is deemed a “religious extremist.” And this comes from our own military!
“An Army Reserve unit undergoing training on religious extremism recently in Pennsylvania was told by an Army instructor that Evangelical Christians, Catholics, Mormons and Orthodox Jews are on the same level with Hamas, al-Qaida and the Ku Klux Klan.

“The training was part of the Army Reserve Equal Opportunity program. The slide that listed examples of ‘religious extremism’ put Evangelical Christianity as the first entry and included the Jewish Defense League (JDL), Catholicism and even ‘Islamophobia’ alongside the Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni Muslims and Hamas.” (http://godfatherpolitics.com/10256/army-training-session-lists-evangelicals-catholics-mormons-as-extremists/)

Once again, I am clearly identified. I am an Evangelical Christian. That makes me a “religious extremist” by definition. Okay then. So be it. But if believing that Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose again, conquering sin and death, and offering me eternal life with him, and wanting others to know this wonderful truth makes me a religious extremist in the eyes of the military, then I am guilty as charged.

Consider this: If my faith in Jesus does not affect my daily thoughts and actions, then it’s not worth a plug nickel! This is not about simply “going to church and being a nice person.” I’m not the slightest bit interested in that. Instead, it’s about falling in love with a God who loves me in spite of my sin-blackened heart. This same God had a plan to save me from sin and death. That’s what Jesus did. He gave me a new heart made clean by the blood of Jesus.

Nearly 41 years ago as a sergeant in the Marine Corps I came to the stark realization that I was a sinner and in need of a Savior. I made my choice there and then to live for him, and as the Lord would give me opportunity I would tell others about Him. That’s what I do. I’m just a messenger. Or put another way, “I’m one beggar telling another beggar where the food is!”

Though it saddens me to think that my own government labels me as a potential terrorist, and the military construct has now determined that I am a religious extremist, ultimately none of this bothers me because what truly matters is what the Lord thinks about me. And he says in the Bible that as a believer in Jesus I am “a new creation,” “a child of God,” “redeemed of the Lord,” “washed in the blood of the Lamb,” “saved,” “a friend of God,” “joint-heirs with Christ,” “the salt of the earth,” and “beloved of God” among the many other names and titles placed upon anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The kids sang in our Easter program last week: “Everybody ought to know who Jesus is!” I couldn’t agree more!

Let me conclude by saying that this terrorist/religious extremist has but one desire, and that is to lovingly introduce you to Jesus. More than anything he wants you to know him.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Never Underestimate

             An invaluable bit of advice often shared within the military community is to never, ever, underestimate your enemy. The annals of history are replete with those who have ignored this axiom.

At present, the United States is being seriously threatened by the nation of North Korea, known also as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK. The leader of this nation, Kim Jong-un, is the third leader in the line of Kim’s. His grandfather, Kim Il-sung, was North Korea’s president from 1948 to 1994 when he died. He was succeeded by his son, Kim Jong-il. None of these three leaders have fostered good relations with any of their world neighbors.

In 1994 I was serving with a Reserve Marine artillery battalion. It was during our summer drill down in the lovely garden spot (cough, cough) of Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) where we were in the nether regions of the training area known as “Black Top” that we heard Kim Il-sung had passed away. At that point we were a couple of days from going home. Because of the uncertainty in the change in leadership in North Korea, I was sure we were going to be sent directly to Camp Pendleton for processing and then being shipped overseas to South Korea. We held our collective breath, wondering. I’m glad to report that we did not have to do any of that, but there were some anxious moments! North Korea declared posthumously that Kim Il-sung was to be the country’s Eternal President.

Since we were an artillery battalion, North Korea was a concern to us. Why were they a concern? Because this small nation, which is nestled against the eastern regions of China and Russia, takes great pride in their military, particularly their artillery. What we all found unnerving is that their artillery pieces (guns, if you will) are able to fire their artillery shells quite a bit farther than our artillery. Which, when translated onto battlefield tactics, means when we have our guns in place to reach them, we’ve been in the range of their guns for quite some time. In boxing parlance, if an opponent has a 75” reach, and you have a 69” reach, then you’re at a serious disadvantage right from the start. He can hit you before you can hit him.

A recent report states, “The North Korean army has been cleared to attack the United States with nuclear strikes, according to an April 3 statement by the General Staff of the Korean People's Army, AFP (a French news agency) reported. The army said it was officially informing the United States that it would be "smashed by…cutting edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means." North Korea has been escalating its threatening rhetoric toward the United States recently.”

According to the information our officials have received, these potential attacks on America and her interests, are focused on American military bases in South Korea, Guam, Hawaii, Los Angeles, and Washington DC, among other places.
 
The Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army raised the alert level, issuing a statement that said, "From this moment the Supreme Command will put on the highest alert all the field artillery units, including strategic rocket units and long-range artillery units, that are assigned to strike bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops in the U.S. mainland and on Hawaii and Guam and other operational zones in the Pacific as well as all the enemy targets in South Korea and its vicinity."

The question that is being asked around the corridors of power in Washington DC is whether North Korea has the capability of making good on its threats of nuclear attack against the United States. Personally, I don’t care one way or the other whether they can deliver such a punch against us or not. The fact that they would so brazenly lash out against us, intentionally seeking to instigate a crisis of international proportions tells me we’d jolly well better take them seriously.
Readiness, and a sound military game plan to be executed in the eventuality that we need to strike them hard and fast, is essential. The population of North Korea is about 25 million. Many of its people are starving because the economy goes to support the military and the government. And because the vaunted leader, Kim Jong-un, is all supreme, what he says goes. This philosophy, known as Juche, was embraced by the North Korean government under Kim Il-sung. Juche means “self-reliance.” The danger in dealing with a dictator like Kim Jong-un who harbors a self-reliance mentality is that there’s no one in place to bring any balance to his thinking. This makes him all the more dangerous.

 
 
 
The United States can ill afford to underestimate this maniacal leader with his repeated threats of death and destruction against us. The manner in which we handle this crisis will not only characterize our future relationship with North Korea, but every other nation in the world as well.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

If My People

              It now rests with the Supreme Court, the ultimate judge of our land.

The United States Supreme Court has been wrestling this week with the legality of DOMA, which is the Defense of Marriage Act. This policy was initially established by Congress in 1996, and signed into law by then President Bill Clinton.

In the last several years there has been a push by those opposing DOMA to have this law overturned, which would open the door for a legalizing of same-sex marriage. Prior to 1996, the federal government did not define marriage; any marriage recognized by a state was recognized by the federal government, even if that marriage was not recognized by one or more other states (as was the case with interracial marriage before 1967 due to anti-miscegenation laws).

 The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted September 21, 1996, is a United States federal law that restricts federal marriage benefits and required inter-state marriage recognition to only opposite-sex marriages in the United States. The law passed both houses of Congress by large majorities and was signed into law September 21, 1996. Section 3 of DOMA codifies the non-recognition of same-sex marriages for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors' benefits, immigration, and the filing of joint tax returns.”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_of_Marriage_Act)

With the attempt to have same-sex marriage legally recognized, there are several states and jurisdictions that now have passed some form of legal legislation offering legal status. Nine states are now on record in legalizing same-sex marriage. They are Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington—as well as the District of Columbia. One of the questions that is frequently raised now pertains to the legality of same-sex marriages being recognized in states or jurisdictions that do not legally recognize such unions. Rhode Island, for instance, recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. And California, which briefly granted same-sex marriages in 2008, now recognizes them on a conditional basis.

It is often thought that this may well be part of a slippery-slope our society finds itself on with the inevitability of same-sex marriages becoming the legal norm throughout our land. But, even though this may yet take place, there are still states that not only do not recognize same-sex marriages; they have laws enacted against it. There are presently 26 states that have a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage: Idaho, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alaska, Mississippi, Arizona, Montana, Tennessee, Missouri, and Alabama.

The Supreme Court is wrestling with this issue of same-sex marriage as well. So the question that seems to be most prevalent is this: Should the matter of same-sex marriage be decided by the Supreme Court at all? Or should the federal government revert to its former policy of allowing states to make such laws within their own borders? But this matter has become the political football du jour. Any number of high-profile elected officials and representatives are attempting to make political hay out of this. And the younger generation, those below 30, have grown up seeing no legitimate argument presented that would prohibit same-sex marriage. The flip-side of that coin is that DOMA is made out to be mean and nasty toward those who adhere to an alternative lifestyle.

In an increasingly secularized society, it should come as no surprise then that such issues will emerge. When the standard by which any society is established is routinely challenged and denigrated, that society must inevitably change. The United States has been on a head-long course of self-destruction for decades, believing that we need to remove the overt influence of Christianity from Main Street America.

In America, a standard of biblical truth was used to establish laws and principles for living. By unpacking those in the foolish idea that we can rule ourselves better without God’s influence is the height of folly. No culture, no society, no nation can possibly survive by being dismissive toward God.

So then what is to be done? Well, regardless of what the Supreme Court decides regarding DOMA and/or same-sex marriage, little will change until we in America once again return to God and embrace him and his ways as found in the Bible. These are his words. They are our hope!

“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,” we read in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Makes perfect sense to me. What about it, America?

 

Psalm for the Day