Marines.Together We Served

Thursday, October 29, 2015

BENGHAZI - All Four Articles

The following four articles were all written as a result of the Benghazi, Libya debacle of September 11, 2012. I had the privilege of speaking on air with the Americhics (Molly Vogt and Kim Monson) on Radio Station KLZ 560 AM, Denver. The program airs weekly on Thursday at 2:00 PM Mountain Time. It was a delightful experience to speak with these ladies.
The articles are in the order as they were written.
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From: Chuck Roots,

          Pastor, Ripon Free Methodist Church

To:     Craig Macho

          Editor, Ripon Record

Subj.: Roots in Ripon, 3 October 2012

 
Courageous
 

Recently I was teaching a class in my church on the biblical character, Joshua. You remember him – he’s the one who took over for Moses to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. God made several promises to Joshua in the opening verses of this book of the Bible named after him. Three times God instructs Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” In fact, one of those times God instructed him to be “very courageous.” The road ahead was a tough one and Joshua would need to be up to the task.
 
The news has been full of the attacks on our embassies throughout the Muslim world, and in particular, the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others in Benghazi, Libya. However, apart from the shameful amount of disinformation willingly distributed by the Main Stream Media and the current administration, there’s a little known story of incredible bravery, heroics, and courage that should be the top story of every news agency across the fruited plain.

So what actually happened at the U.S. embassy in Libya? We are learning more about this every day. Ambassador Stevens and Foreign Service officer Sean Smith, along with administrative staff, were working out of temporary quarters due to the fact that in the spring of 2011 during the so-called Arab Spring, the United States cut ties with then president Moammar Gadhafi. Our embassy was looted and ransacked, causing it to be unusable. It is still in a state of disrepair. Security for embassies and their personnel is to be provided by the host nation. Since Libya has gone through a civil war of sorts in the past 18 months, the current government is very unstable, and therefore, unreliable

A well-organized attack by radical Muslims was planned specifically targeting the temporary U.S. embassy building. The Libyan security force that was in place to protect our people deserted their post, or joined the attacking force. Either way, our people were in a real fix. And it should be noted that Ambassador Stevens had mentioned on more than one occasion to Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, that he was quite concerned for his personal safety and the welfare of his people. It is thought that Ambassador Stevens was on a “hit list.”

A short distance from the American compound, two Americans were sleeping. They were in Libya as independent contractors working an assignment totally unrelated to our embassy. They also happened to be former Navy SEALs. When they heard the noise coming from the attack on our embassy, as you would expect from highly trained warriors, they ran to the fight. Apparently, they had no weapons, but seeing the Libyan guards dropping their guns in their haste in fleeing the scene, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty snatched up several of these discarded weapons and prepared to defend the American compound.

Not knowing exactly what was taking place, the two SEALs set up a defensive perimeter. Unfortunately Ambassador Stevens was already gravely injured, and Foreign Service officer, Sean Smith, was dead. However, due to their quick action and suppressive fire twenty administrative personnel in the embassy were able to escape to safety. Eventually, these two courageous men were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers brought against them, an enemy force numbering between 100 to 200 attackers which came in two waves. But the stunning part of the story is that Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty killed 60 of the attacking force. Once the compound was overrun, the attackers were incensed to discover that just two men had inflicted so much death and destruction on their numerically superior force.

As it became apparent to these selfless heroes, they were definitely going to lose their lives unless some reinforcements showed up in a hurry. As we know now, that was not to be. I’m fairly certain they knew they were going to die in this gun fight, but not before they took a whole lot of bad guys with them!  

Consider these tenets of the Navy SEAL Code: 1) Loyalty to Country, Team and Teammate, 2) Serve with Honor and Integrity On and Off the Battlefield, 3) Ready to Lead, Ready to Follow, Never Quit, 4) Take responsibility for your actions and the actions of your teammates, 5) Excel as Warriors through Discipline and Innovation, 6) Train for War, Fight to Win, Defeat our Nation’s Enemies, and 7) Earn your Trident every day (http://www.navyseals.com/seal-code-warrior-creed).

Thank you, Tyrone and Glen. To the very last breath, you both lived up to the SEAL Code. You served all of us well. You were courageous in the face of certain death.

And Tyrone, even though you never got to hold your newborn son, he will grow up knowing the character and quality of his father, a man among men who sacrificed himself defending others.

God bless America!
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From: Chuck Roots

          Pastor, Ripon Free Methodist Church

To:     Craig Macho

          Editor, Ripon Record

Subj.: Roots in Ripon, 22 May 2013

 
Benghazi Redux
              

It has been just over eight months since the travesty in Benghazi. I remain sickened by what took place there, saddened for the devastation this event has brought on my country.

The unnecessary deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens, information management officer Sean Smith, and two former Navy SEALs, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, hang now over the American conscience with the unanswered question, “Why?”.

Immediately following the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, a friend who is related to one of the SEALs called me with information that was contradictory to what was coming from the White House and the media. Because my friend is an honest person, with permission, I wrote an article entitled, Courageous, for the October 3, 2012 edition of Roots in Ripon. My purpose in writing this particular article was to eulogize the brave former SEALs. It was first reported that they saved the lives of as many as 20 American personnel, but in the process they killed a bunch of the bad guys. The report I first received from my friend was that Glen and Ty managed to wipe out 60 of the attacking force.

Recently I was contacted by a gentleman who told me he had previously served with one of the SEALs. He had read my article and wanted to update my earlier information. Glen and Ty, through their actions and bravery, killed as many as 100 of the attackers, not the 60 I had first been told. And they affected the safe rescue of some 40 or more American personnel before they themselves were killed, not the 20 first reported.

Because the information I wrote about was not in the main stream media, I received numerous e-mails and phone calls asking me where I had obtained my information. Of course, I could not reveal my sources without compromising my friend and the job he holds. I heard from quite a few special operations folks who appreciated my writing about this story since the media was not willing to do so. One of the more interesting e-mails I received was from someone in the State Department who was irate that I would dare to write about something that I had no knowledge of, and took me to task over my article. My reaction was to trust the information I received from my friend. I told folks to watch the news and wait to see if the things I wrote about were not proven correct eventually. I just didn’t know it would take this long, nor did I see this becoming a major scandal.

What is so troubling to me is knowing that within our government we have contingency plans in place virtually everywhere in the world, yet they were not implemented for these men in Benghazi. Why? I don’t know. With all that is taking place with Congressional inquiries, and the main stream media seemingly coming awake, this story is not going away. Nor should it.

There are those who are saying the Benghazi debacle is much to do about nothing. Or as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “What difference does it make?”

I would like to answer Mrs. Clinton’s question. The difference it makes is that the four Americans died needlessly. Help was ready, willing, and able to come to the rescue. But that help was told to stand down. That decision has sent a chill through the soul of every single member of the military. Anyone who has signed on the dotted line to serve knows there are situations where you may not have help coming. Well, so be it. But this was not one of those instances.

Will our young people coming of age want to serve in our military if they have doubts as to whether their government has their back? I suspect they will. But our nation will rebound from this.

This is a painful chapter in our history, but the travesty of Benghazi does not define us as Americans. We yet remain the home of the free because of the brave.

At the end of the day terrorists are nothing more than thugs and are no match for our freedom-loving American military men and women.

God Bless America!
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From: Chuck Roots,

          Pastor and Navy Chaplain, Retired

To:     Craig Macho

          Editor, Ripon Record

Subj.: Roots in Ripon, 10 September 2014
 

Benghazi Update
 

This Thursday, September 11, will be two years since the attack on our embassy personnel in Benghazi, Libya.

During this time I have written two articles about this travesty. Initially I wrote about the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty because a friend of mine was related to one of the SEALs and shared information he had obtained from a military officer who spoke at one of the funeral services for the fallen. I was fascinated with the strange twist the whole affair had taken with the tragic results, results that brought then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, upon being questioned about this obvious screw-up during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing of January 23, 2013, to express with frustration, “What difference at this point does it make?”

Well, Mrs. Clinton, if I may say so, it makes a big difference to the Americans murdered at the hands of Islamic thugs. And it sure matters to their families. It has also cast a pall over our military who have realized that Americans in trouble and who called for help that was readily available were denied that help. That’s the difference it makes.

My first article, written for the October 3, 2012 publication of the Ripon Record, was entitled, “Courageous.” Over the next six to twelve months I received countless phone calls, emails and letters from folks wanting to know how I had obtained my information on Benghazi. I was not at liberty to divulge my sources without compromising folks I knew and trusted. Most folks were supportive of my article, but there were some who were, to put it bluntly, angry with me. One individual called me from the State Department, so they said, angrily calling into question my knowledge of what actually happened, insinuating that as a Navy chaplain what could I possibly know about such things. I replied, “Prove that the facts in my article are wrong.” They hung up.

I also heard from a number of special ops guys, thanking me for writing the article, which prompted my second article, “Benghazi Redux,” May 22, 2013. I received a call from someone claiming to be a flag officer (a general) who was in the Special Forces. It has made life exciting for a while, I can assure you!

This past weekend, Bret Baier of FOX News did a special report where he interviewed three men who were part of a security detail directly involved in the battle in Benghazi. They were with Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty throughout the thirteen hours they defended the embassy annex compound where the fight raged. It is based upon a book, “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened In Benghazi,” written by Mitchell Zuckoff along with the Benghazi American Embassy Annex Security Team.

These men, two former Marines and one former Army Ranger, stated unequivocally in the interview with Bret Baier that when they were first alerted to the attack on the annex compound in Benghazi where Ambassador Stevens was in mortal danger, they grabbed their gear and were heading for their vehicles to attempt a rescue when they were ordered to wait, and then to “stand down.” They were confused by this order to stand down, but assumed they would be released shortly once info came in from two drones circling over the city. After 30 minutes had passed, and three refusals to allow them to initiate the rescue, they jumped in their vehicles anyway and drove the few minutes to the embassy compound. They described in detail the slugfest they found themselves in with Islamic terrorists which resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty.

Toward the end of the hour-long TV special Bret Baier asked each of the men if they firmly believed that if they had been allowed to go to the rescue immediately, instead of enduring the frustrating thirty minute stand down order, if the Ambassador and the others would be alive. They said without hesitation, “Yes. Definitely.”

There is presently a Congressional Investigation into the Benghazi affair being chaired by U.S. House of Representatives Trey Gowdy. I believe Mr. Gowdy to be an upright man and a straight shooter. What he and his investigative committee will be able to conclude from the Benghazi mess only God knows.

But here’s what you need to know: The administration, specifically the White House and the State Department, continues to deny that any stand down order was ever given, and that available assistance was never refused. The three special agents who battled the Islamic terrorists in Benghazi say otherwise.

For my money, I trust the agents.
Next week I’ll share from a phone conversation I had with Charles Woods, a retired judge and the father of former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods.
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From: Chuck Roots,

          Pastor and Navy Chaplain, Retired

To:     Craig Macho

          Editor, Ripon Record

Subj.: Roots in Ripon, 17 September 2014
 

A Father’s Heart
 

Several months ago I was contacted by the father of Tyrone Woods, the former Navy SEAL who was killed in Benghazi along with former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty. I had a most delightful conversation with Charles Woods, a retired judge.

Mr. Woods called me to discuss the article, “Courageous,” I had written immediately following the Benghazi travesty which was published October 3, 2012. A friend, who is a family member of one of the four Americans killed that day by Islamic thugs, had provided me with the initial information which I then wove into the article, highlighting the bravery of Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

Like many of you, I had seen Mr. Woods on FOX News being interviewed quite a number of times. From the FOX interviews it was clear to me that this man was a man who had his faith placed solidly in Jesus. During my first phone conversation with him back in the spring his strong faith in the Lord was abundantly evident. “You see,” he said, “Ty was not just a number – he was a real person.”

On the subject of forgiveness, Sean Hannity of FOX News asked Tyrone’s three teenaged half-sisters, Joy, Faith, and Hope, this question, “Can you forgive?” referring to forgiving the Islamists who killed their brother. One sister responded, “As a Christian we should act how Jesus would want us to act.” The question of forgiveness came up in my talk with Mr. Woods as well. He said to me, “I have forgiven those in (Benghazi) Libya, and in Washington D.C.” That’s quite a statement in light of the serious questions that remain as to the possible mishandling of the Benghazi affair from a host of players within our government.

Last weekend, Bret Baier from FOX News interviewed three of the surviving members from Benghazi, security team members, Kris (“Tanto”) Paronto (former Army Ranger), Mark (“Oz”) Geist, and John (“Tig”) Tiegen (both former Marines). They partnered with author Mitchell Zuckoff, producing a book that was released September 9, entitled, “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi.” These men were ordered to “stand down” from aiding Ambassador Chris Stevens and the other three who all died in the ensuing battle. The order apparently was given by the top CIA officer in Benghazi.

I waited a couple of days after this news special, and then I called Mr. Woods to basically see how he was taking this information. I’m pleased to report that I came away from the conversation uplifted and blessed by him!

The following story is one which Mr. Woods shared with me during the phone conversation we had the other night. Because of what happened to his son, Tyrone, you might expect Mr. Woods to hate Muslims. This should give you a good idea of this man’s character and faith. Little wonder that his son became the man he did. In 1985 Mr. Woods felt he should go on a mission trip which found him in Northern Uganda, Africa. He and others from their team were hiking into some remote areas when they were accosted by a band of Muslims. Fear and intimidation are the tactics used by these guys, except that it didn’t seem to bother Mr. Woods. One of the Muslims, noticing the calm demeanor exhibited by Mr. Woods despite the threats, said to one of the other team members, “This one doesn’t seem to be afraid.” When Mr. Woods was then questioned by this Muslim man as to why he was not afraid, he replied, “If I were to kill you, I know you would not go to heaven. But if you killed me, I know I would go to heaven.”

Concerning the loss of his son, he said, “This is just a brief interruption before I see him again.” It is this strength of faith in Jesus that enables Mr. Woods to carry on. He demonstrates a father’s love and heart, just as God our Heavenly Father demonstrates toward us, offering us eternal life through his Son, Jesus.
 
          Tyrone is buried in a national cemetery in the San Diego area. But in Hawaii, on the Big Island, Mr. Woods told me that a Milo Tree was planted in Ty’s honor and memory in the West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery. I asked him why this tree. He said that it is commonly believed that this tree lives forever.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Baseball Memories

              Baseball. How I loved to play this game when I was a boy. Nothing could captivate me more than a pick-up game on a sand lot, or an empty field, or an actual baseball diamond. And if we could play after dark using the ambient light from street lights or homes, all the better. An older kid with a car might bring it to the area where we played and turn on his headlights so we could see to play.

My baseball career was short-lived. Initially I played in the Pee Wee League, later advancing to Little League. The Babe Ruth League would have been next. However, my folks moved to Europe in the summer of 1960. I took my glove and bat, sadly realizing the French were not the slightest bit interested in baseball. The summer of ’60 I was anticipating entering Junior High. I hoped to play baseball for Fox Lane Junior High (a middle school today). I was also at the peak of my Little League exploits, experiencing an undefeated season as a pitcher, playing for Bracetti’s Appliances. But playing organized baseball ended for me in July of ’60.

I guess this is part of the reason I get a bit nostalgic thinking back on those days. Those were good days to be a kid in the late ’50s.

This brings me to my current hobby of singing the classic American music form of Barbershop Music. I sing with the Golden Valley Chorus out of Modesto. Our Annual Show is November 7th at the Turlock Community Theater, 7:00 PM. The theme of the show is “Get Happy.” One of the songs we will be singing is “There Used to be a Ballpark Right Here.” The lyrics begin, “Oh, there used to be a ballpark where the field was warm and green, and the people played their silly game with a joy I’ve never seen.” Then the song ends with these words, “And the summer went so quickly this year. Yes, there used to be a ballpark right here.” Man, I remember playing those games that I never wanted to end, during a summer I never wanted to end. Makes me wonder what fields are still there where I grew up in New England.

Well, enough of the maudlin stuff. My interest in baseball was renewed this post-season when I realized that, even though neither of my teams (Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants) were going to make it into the play-offs, there was something I learned. My brother informed me that his son’s wife’s brother is married to the sister of the 2nd Baseman for the American League Champion Kansas City Royals, Ben Zobrist. Alas! I now had a team to root for!

I followed the Royals through there early post-season wins leading to the climax of game six where Ben Zobrist hit a home run in the first inning to give the Royals an early lead. The final score was 4-3, Royals! When you read this in the Ripon Record the World Series between the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals will be underway.

So, now with the World Series upon us, we have up to seven more games to enjoy the remainder of this year. Each game will start with a local celebrity singing the National Anthem. There’s also the throwing out of the first pitch by some dignitary. And then the famous cry of the home plate umpire, “Play Ball!”

Was it really sixty years ago I was playing Pee Wee League? My calendar says “Yes!” Well, I can still smell the linseed oil I’d rub into my glove and the feel of a new baseball fresh out of the box. Parents and friends would gather in the bleachers cheering on all the would-be pro baseball players. But once inside the lines of the baseball field it was like being transported into another dimension. That must be why I love the movie, “Field of Dreams” so much because it beautifully captured the magic of the game.

As the movie came to a close, Kevin Costner asks his dad if they could play catch. So as the credits begin to roll, there is the father and his son playing catch on the field of dreams.

I used to play catch with my step father in the afternoons when he came home from work. I miss that. Those were good times, and even better memories.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Desert Mud

           Traveling is always interesting, to say the least. Regardless of the amount of time a person has traveled (and Isaura and I have done a lot!), there are always new experiences just around the corner. Sometimes those experiences are not welcome.

          As most of you know who follow my column each week, one of my hobbies is singing – particularly 4-part harmony in the Barbershop style. The fall convention for our Far Western District (FWD) was held in Mesa, Arizona (a suburb of Phoenix). Not feeling real excited about driving the route in one shot, we decided to break up the drive into two parts. Last Wednesday we packed the car and headed for our first day’s destination: Marine Corps Base at 29 Palms, California. This base is actually called MCAGCC (Marine Corps Air Ground Command Center). It’s in the desert and removed from most of what we call civilization.

          We rolled easily down Hiway 99 to Bakersfield where we hung a left onto Hiway 58 toward Barstow. At the junction of 58 and 395, known as Kramer Junction, we stopped for gas at a Pilot station. It was late afternoon so I was quite surprised to smell fresh baked cinnamon buns when I walked into the convenience store. There, big as life, was a Cinnabon shop! Isaura and I showed great restraint by abstaining from succumbing to those tasty baked treats.

In Barstow we connected with Road 247 which angles southeast toward 29 Palms where we rolled onto Hiway 62 which took us to the base. In one of my chaplain reserve rolls I was the command chaplain for a Marine artillery battalion. This base was home for four successive summers in the mid-90s. Memories abound!

          On the base is a delightful hotel called the Sleeping Tortoise. And across the street is DiCarlo’s Italian CafĂ© where we always have dinner. It is one of those quaint little places that feels like home. The food is delicious, too.

          The next morning, after a good night’s rest, we went to the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) where Isaura loves to shop. I went in search of the barbershop for a much needed haircut. Right next to the barber was a Starbuck’s. I could hardly believe it! When I was a Marine, there were never such nice places as Starbuck’s and DiCarlo’s. Heck, we didn’t even have a single fast food joint on base. You ate in the chow hall or nothing.

          The remainder of the trip to Mesa took about six hours, of which about two hours of that was roadwork on Interstate 10, and then rush hour traffic in Phoenix. But what I found most unsettling was the drive across the desert around Joshua Tree National Park before connecting with Interstate 10. Clouds covered the sky all day. I’ve never been caught in a flash flood and I never want to be. I kept a wary eye on those clouds looking for rainfall. I was constantly figuring out possible high points or escape routes should a flash flood come our way. Thankfully, we avoided such a calamity. However, the next day we heard that there had been massive mud slides covering large sections of the highways and roads where we had been just hours before.

          The past three days we have been fully engaged in the chorus and quartet competition, taking in all the wonderful talent of these singers. Some of these quartets and at least one chorus will be competing next summer at the International Competition in Nashville, Tennessee. There is where barbershoppers from around the world come to see if they can become the champions for 2016. It may not seem like such a big deal to those not involved in this fulfilling hobby but for those of us who sing the old songs, it is a slice of heaven on earth.

          So tomorrow Isaura and I will begin our homeward trek. I’ll be checking with the Highway Patrol first to make sure the roads we plan to travel are clear of mud and debris. Yet, despite the clear danger associated with flash floods in desert regions, the beauty of the desert is simply exquisite. The various shades and hues of browns, tans, grays and greens is evidence of God’s handiwork. We witnessed a road runner in full form zipping along the road like he was being chased. I looked for Wiley Coyote, but he was nowhere to be seen.

          If you’ve never traveled through the desert, you’re missing something special. The rock formations thrown up toward the sky along with a variety of small mountain ranges are fantastic in their design. Some of the names of these small ranges are comical: Old Woman Mountains; Chuckwalla Mountains; Chocolate Mountains; Big Maria Mountains; Turtle Mountains; Sheep Hole Mountains; Orocopia Mountains; Dome Rock Mountains; Eagletail Mountains; Big Horn Mountains; and Gila Bend Mountains, to name a few. And don’t forget the Grand Canyon. Wow!

          Why not jump in your car and visit some of God’s amazing creation? You’ll love it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Make Mine Creamy

             For me, it’s Skippy Peanut Butter – hands down.

I have lived in a lot of places around the United States and the world. I’ve tried peanut butter everywhere. In recent years, due to health concerns, my wife and I experimented with at least a half-dozen different organic types of the best snack food ever (in my humble opinion). Sadly, these healthier versions of the classic creamy spread don’t even come close. I have diligently stirred this brand of peanut butter so that the oil and cream base are blended well. To no avail, I fear. Allow me to be candid regarding these organic, healthy brands of peanut butter: They are terrible. How terrible, you ask? In answer – A jar of this food will become a science project in my fridge before I’ll eat any of it again. That is not to say that I don’t appreciate the efforts by these manufacturers to make a really good organic peanut butter. I certainly do! One word of advice, however – Keep at it. You’re not even close.

As a child I was your classic PB&J kid. Mom would make our lunch which often included my favorite: a PB&J sandwich (Welch’s Grape Jelly and Skippy Peanut Butter on white bread was my choice), an apple, celery or carrot sticks, and Graham Crackers and Marshmallow Fluff. I loved eating my Graham Crackers last because the combination with the Marshmallow Fluff simply made my taste buds dance. I wanted the taste to last as long as possible. I still eat that way today. I’ll size up my meal and decide what, if anything, I dislike the least, targeting that first to be ingested.

So back to peanut butter. While working on my academic exploits I would find myself studying late into the evenings. Out would come the Graham Crackers and peanut butter. Add a large glass of milk and I was one very content guy.

For many years I preferred crunchy peanut butter. As I have gotten older, however, I have shifted to creamy. I’m not sure why, except that I occasionally tasted a crunchy nut that wasn’t quite right, setting my teeth on edge and ruining the overall culinary affect.

Because we moved a lot while I was growing up (3 elementary, 2 junior high, and 5 high schools, both coasts of the United States, plus Texas, and France and Norway), peanut butter was not always accessible. I truly missed it during those times.

While serving in the Marines we would have as part of our food ration in the field a small container of peanut butter which resulted in teasing the taste buds more than anything. Often we would trade with each other the various items in our package of food stuff. Peanut butter was a good bargaining chip.

During my bachelor years I always had a large jar of peanut butter in the kitchen cabinet. To this day I still do. To assuage that bit of hunger with a bit of sweetness, a large spoonful of the creamy stuff right out of the jar is a wonderful remedy.

I’ve mentioned those food items that go well with peanut butter, not the least of which is Graham Crackers. Another excellent choice is Ritz Crackers. Yum! Mom also used to put peanut butter in the hollowed out curved shape of celery sticks and then place several raisins across the length of the stick. We called those “Ants on a log.” Loved those!

Reese’s Candy has made a fortune on their classic Peanut Butter Cup, a highly favored snack item.

But the one I remember the most, but never ate, was my step father’s favorite dessert dish consisting of several scoops of vanilla ice cream, bedecked with a ridiculously large spoonful of peanut butter. As I say, I could never bring myself to enjoy this combination. It doesn’t make sense, because I love both of those things. My daughters, however, are another story.

On those occasions when Isaura and I would visit my folks in Fresno, we would leave the girls with them on an evening while we would visit with friends over dinner at a restaurant. Well, this was the classic, “While the cats away, the mice will play,” scenario. Pop (my step father, our girls’ granddad) would stay up and watch TV with the girls. This always included a trip into the kitchen whereupon bowls would be brought forth with Pop scooping copious amounts of ice cream into three bowls, followed by the heretofore mentioned peanut butter daub. At first the girls thought this was a strange choice for dessert, but their granddad won them over. Later in the evening a second trip into the kitchen for refills was made, always with an atmosphere of being involved in something clandestine, even naughty. This was high adventure for our girls. Granddad would caution them not to say a word about staying up late and eating ice cream and peanut butter. Of course, the girls excitedly told us all about it the next day.

My wife grew up in Portugal where peanut butter was not a preferred food item. After nearly forty years of marriage, she has become a true-blue peanut butter person. We maintain two very large jars of Skippy Creamy in our food pantry. Tasty!

The Bible says that “the Lord God has made all things good,” and that we are to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” I’ve been a Christian for 43 years and I have tasted of the Lord’s goodness. I can’t swear to it, but I sense a slight flavor of peanut butter in those times with Him. Just kidding!
 
But the Lord truly is good. Don't you agree? I'm hopeful there'll be peanut butter in heaven. If this turns out to be so, you can make mine creamy!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Who Knows?

           Let me be right up front: I have no idea.

          There have been two Republican presidential debates as of this writing. I have watched neither of them.

Here’s my reasoning: This whole business of candidates getting into the race reminds me of a marathon race. The starting line is jammed with runners. Every single runner looks great, psyched, and ready. The starter’s gun goes off and the mob surges forward. Jackrabbit runners sprint out in front along with the best runners who are gathered at the front. The multitude of long distance runners stays loosely together for the early part of this 26.195 mile race. Gradually, smaller groups are formed, with the best runners gathering in the front setting the pace. Competitors begin to drop out for any number of reasons: cramps, dehydration, fatigue, lack of stamina, illness, injury, and so on. Inevitably, the field of athletes is pared down. Those who get to the 18 mile point often hit what is known in the marathon world as “The Wall.” You have been pushing your body to the limit for 2/3rds of the race, and now it is screaming at you to stop, even threatening to shut down if you do not stop. I’m told that if you can push yourself through, ignoring as much as possible the rebelliousness of your body, you’ll make it to the end.

It is this marathon race principle that is the manner in which I take an interest in a political race in general, and a presidential race in particular. All the candidates look and sound great at the start, but eventually they begin to drop out for any number of reasons. Most drop out early because the big money they need to support their campaign is going to other candidates. Others realize they just are not connecting with the electorate. A few do not have sufficient face/name recognition to garner support to continue. Usually one or two have skeletons in their closets that are found out (usually through the media) and remove themselves as quietly and quickly as possible. Then there’s the “dark horse,” the relative unknown, who comes out of nowhere to capture the attention of the people. Jimmy Carter was one. Barack Obama was another. Knowing that should be all you need to know about the folly of electing unknowns.

So I sit back and wait for the dust to settle. I’m watching to see who’s still standing next February. Most of those who are bailing out do so before the end of the year because the more serious contenders need the money that is going to the likely “also rans.” And make no mistake – this is all about money. If you, as a candidate, do not have a war chest of money funding your candidacy, you’re through.

 Several of the Republican candidates have already thrown in the towel (Don’t you just love all these sports metaphors!). Rick Perry and Scott Walker have dropped out. Rumors are floating about suggesting that Bobby Jindal and George Pataki are on their way out. Same for Rand Paul.

The dust-up over Dr. Ben Carson’s comments about a Muslim should never become our president, has brought out the nattering nabobs to be sure. “He’s offended all Muslims. He should drop out of the race.” And then there’s Donald Trump, often simply referred to as, The Donald. He made some suggestion about how to handle the illegal immigrant debacle. Yet again, the sensitivities of our mainstream media have been bruised. “He’s offended all Mexicans. He should drop out of the race.” It’s okay. The journalistic leftists (I believe that is a redundancy), will cry foul repeatedly regarding any Republican/Conservative candidate from now until the fat lady sings (a tip of the hat to recently departed Yogi Berra – one of a kind!).

Even though a number of folks have stopped me to ask my thoughts on the current Republican candidates, I have no idea what this field of wannabes will look like in six months. Trump has enough money to stay in it on his own dime. Carson has received a huge financial windfall following his remarks that a Muslim should never become president. Carly Fiorina did very well in the second debate and has steadily climbed in the polls.

I don’t think, however, that Mike Huckabee, nor Chris Christie will be around very much longer. Jeb Bush may be the choice of the Republican establishment in DC, but I don’t believe he is catching fire with the populace. Also, a third Bush presidency doesn’t seem to have much life with “We the People.” This is just my personal opinion.

In answer to the question that headlines this article, “Who Knows?” let me offer this thought. God knows! He knows who our next president will be, and these are words of advice found in the Bible (Psalm 2:10-12 Easy-to-Read Version) that should be heeded by that president and any other leaders. “So, kings and rulers, be smart and learn this lesson. Serve the Lord with fear and trembling. Show that you are loyal to his son (Jesus), or the Lord will be angry and destroy you. He is almost angry enough to do that now, but those who go to him for protection will be blessed.”

Psalm for the Day