Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 American of the Year: Billy Graham

America’s minister and the pastor to the White House for the past fifty years, the Reverend Billy Graham is named as the ‘MV’ website’s 3rd “American of the Year”.

A true warrior for God, Rev. Graham follows the previous selections of NFL and real-life warrior Pat Tillman in 2004 and culture warrior Bill O’Reilly in 2005.

For the current year honor, Graham was selected over recently deceased former President Gerald Ford and former UN Ambassador John Bolton.

In a year that showed sharp division in American politics and increased division in American society overall, and a continued worldwide increase in violence and movements away from such basic societal standards as self-respect, self-control, principled morality, and consideration for others, Mr. Graham wound down his public life, one that was almost always the model for such standards and behavior.

Mr. Graham was born as Franklin Graham Jr. in November of 1918, four days before the end of World War I, and was raised on a dairy farm in North Carolina. His was the typical life of a young man during the Great Depression, and he passed his time reading on a wide variety of subjects until at the age of 16 he went to see a traveling evangelist at a revival meeting in his hometown of Charlotte.

In 1939, Mr. Graham was ordained in the Southern Baptist Convention. He studied at what is now Trinity College, and graduated in 1943 from Wheaton College in Illinois, where he met and married his wife and lifelong partner Ruth McCue Bell, herself the daughter of a missionary surgeon.

The Graham’s would go on to raise a family of three daughters and two sons. Mr. Graham pastored the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Illinois and ministered to youth and servicemen during and in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

In 1949, Mr. Graham launched his first major “crusade” in Los Angeles, and his fiery oratory style and his perceived integrity and sincerity drew huge crowds.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Star, a Star, Shining in the Night

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”

It was a common ancient belief that a new star would appear at the occasion of a ruler’s birth.

On one particular, memorable night just over two millennia ago now, three king’s from the east arrived at Jerusalem asking “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at it’s rising and have come to do him homage.”

When the news of the eastern king’s arrival and questioning reached the ears of Herod the Great, who was set by the Romans as the ruler of the land encompassing Jerusalem, he gathered all the learned men of his people and inquired of them “Where is the Messiah to be born?” They told Herod that old prophetic writings said the place would be Bethlehem.

King Herod called for a meeting with the eastern kings, and he questioned them as to details of the star’s appearance. He then sent them on their way, asking that when they should find the child “bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”

Now Herod was a plotter and schemer. His reign was reported as “one of continual fear of plots and he does not hesitate to execute his own relatives and children.” Herod meant not to worship the newborn King, but to kill him.

When the kings from the east set out again, they quickly found the same star, and it led them to a house in Bethlehem of Judah where they found the newborn child Jesus with Mary his mother. They bowed and knelt before him, and presented gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. T

he latter two items are extracts of tree sap, used to make incense that when mixed with other items such as nuts or roots makes wonderful scents.

Joseph had brought his young wife here to the little town of Bethlehem while she was still pregnant in order to stand for the census.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Roll Out Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Doomsdays of Summer

Well, it’s now August the 23rd, and we are all still alive, thank God. For those of you who may have missed out, and thus not been aware of your impending demise, yesterday was thought by some to be a possible “Doomsday” date.

You remember Doomsday, right? End of the world. Armageddon. End times and all that. Ring a bell?

Anyway, yesterday was believed to be a possible Doomsday after noted Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis opined as much in a piece published earlier this year by the Wall Street Journal.

Lewis is no quack, mind you. He is the professor emeritus of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University. His was not actually a prediction, but a warning of a possible date where some action could be taken by radical Muslims.

Lewis’ theory went something like this: August 22nd of 2006 corresponded with the Islamic calendar night when Mohammed (is it Mo? Mu? I never remember) flew first to Jerusalem, then to Heaven, and then back again. There were no planes back then, to fly into buildings or otherwise. So whether this flight took place freestyle, ala Superman, or on a magic carpet is unknown.

In any event, he was warning us that the linkage of this special day in Islam, along with it’s Israeli connection, might be just the type of day that the radical Islamofascists against whom we have been at war might like to use to pull off a new large-scale attack.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Immigration Nation Bordering on Insanity

For two hundred and thirty years now, the United States of America has been a beacon of hope for the rest of the world. As we have grown up as a nation, that reputation has only grown greater, has only become more solidified.

When people in other countries dream of a better life for them and their families, it is America to which their dreams turn.

There are no hordes of protesters marching in the streets of Moscow, Beijing, Paris, Tokyo or Mexico City hoping to ease their process of becoming citizens in Russia, China, France, Japan or Mexico.

As Neil Diamond famously sang: “They’re comin’ to America!

For all the negative blather you hear about America from our own liberal press, the foreign press, and the many citizens of foreign nations interviewed on those broadcasts and in their articles, it is America to which they come to escape oppression and infuse hope into their lives.

In our past, we have been an immigration nation. We were born and nurtured through our earliest years as a nation as immigrants from England to a new set of colonies and then a new free country, on what is now the American east coast.

We grew and thrived, spreading across the land from east to west, thanks in large part to massive immigration from other European nations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

We are an immigration nation at our very core. That is our heart and soul, the accumulated values and experiences of our individual forefathers and our families’ ethnic and racial heritage, combined with the melding into American customs, laws and values that have formed over the centuries.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Any Port in An Islamofascist Storm

It has taken me over a month to finally formulate an opinion on the entire port sale issue, and there is one thing of which I am absolutely certain.

There is no way that anyone who had any type of knee-jerk response to the idea of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) purchasing an interest in a half-dozen U.S. port operations was basing their opinion on anything other than either emotion or ignorance.

However, that is not to say that in the end, many of those people are not right. The sale of any interest whatsoever in our ports, or in any vital American infrastructure, to the UAE is a mistake that should not be allowed to stand.

That is not an easy statement for me to make. I am a converted, hard-core capitalist who believes firmly in the ability of the free market to be left alone to sort out most any issue. As I read over the positions of the pro-deal folks, I was swayed towards their capitalist arguments, and was prepared to take up the mantle of the unpopular “let the deal stand” side.

But then, I would read and research some more, and be swayed to the anti-deal side. The side that does not trust an Islamic government that has previously shown outward and covert support for terrorists who murdered Americans, and which continues to take political positions such as the refusal to recognize Israel as a legitimate sovereign nation.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Police Supervisors: Officers Need and Deserve a Little Respect

There is an epidemic sweeping the Philadelphia Police Department. Respect is not being shown. Failures in basic communication are affecting police service in many units.

I am not speaking here of police officers failing to show respect to supervisors, though there are indeed many instances of that failure.

The epidemic of which I am speaking is one of failure by police supervisors to show their subordinates the proper respect which they deserve simply for being the people that they are, especially in the position that their subordinates find themselves each day.

Folks are being spoken to as if they were adolescents. Small matters are being treated as if they were the end of the world. Second chances are being given less and less frequently. Perhaps most importantly, many Philly cops are growing more and more resentful, and that is directly affecting their performance on the job.

One basic reason for all of this is the poor attitudes of many police supervisors, in particular the poor handling of uniformed officers and detectives by supervisors with very few or no people skills.

In some cases this is due to inexperience. In others it is a basic lack of compassion. In still others, you simply have a man or woman on a power trip, constantly needing to feed their over-inflated egos.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Truth, and the Truthful Truth-tellers Who Tell It

Former Saturday Night Live funnyman Al Franken has in recent years taken his comedic and writing talents to the task of pushing his typically Hollywood-styled ultra-liberal political agenda with his own radio program on the disastrously failed liberal Air America radio network.

He has also penned his liberal thinking in a pair of poor-selling books: “Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” and the recently released followup “The Truth”.

Judging by the titles, these might seem to be topics worthy of the effort. Only problem is that in “Lies”, Franken tells many himself, both of omission and commission, and in “Truth”, he tells very little of it.

Instead, Franken chooses to slant particular stories and comments of his targets, almost exclusively President Bush and his Republican allies, to suit his desired result. Great examples are highlighted at the website frankenlies.com.

For instance, in attacking Fox News pundit and my 2005 website American of the Year Bill O’Reilly in “Lies”, Franken claims that O’Reilly lies when he continually makes statements of being proud to have been raised in Levittown, Long Island, New York. Franken states that O’Reilly is not from Levittown, but from the “affluent suburb of Westbury”, which he further states as being “several miles apart” from Levittown.

O’Reilly, always the actual purveyor of truth, responded on his own Fox program “The O’Reilly Factor” in April of 2004 by showing his parents actual deed from the home, in which his mother still lived, clearly showing the Levittown designation.

When Franken brought on to his radio program a Hofstra professor and Levittown expert, Barbara Kelly, he was told there was no lie to uncover, that O’Reilly had indeed grown up in Levittown.

Truth – 1, Franken – 0

The fact is, this is a small matter, but it highlights a theme that runs throughout both of the books.