Catholic Citizen

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What does Barack Obama Know about Global Finance?

Much has been made of Barack Obama’s time as a “community organizer,” sometimes, I think, forgetting that he practiced law in the traditional way for 7 years and was a law professor at the prestigious University of Chicago, where he was offered tenure several times.

However, I believe few are aware that Barack Obama’s first job after graduating from Columbia University was with the Business International Corporation (1983-84), a publishing and advisory firm (which has been rumored to be a CIA front) dedicated to assisting American companies in operating abroad. He held a position as a research associate in its financial services division, where he edited Financing Foreign Operations, a global reference service, and wrote for Business International Money Report, a weekly financial newsletter.

Obama rarely talks about his time spent within the arcane sphere of global finance as an editor and researcher for Business International Corp., In a recent biographical campaign ad, Obama says he chose to “pass up Wall Street jobs and go to Chicago instead,” suggesting that after graduating from Columbia University he cast aside material pursuits in favor of self-sacrifice as a community organizer.

But in the years since, Obama has demonstrated an economic worldview bearing some common priorities with the first company for which he worked. At some points in his legislative career and presidential campaign, Obama demonstrated a willingness to let markets run their course when some other Democrats had sought a more forceful government hand. He rejects mandates for adults to buy health insurance and encourages the expansion of global exchanges for carbon-emissions credits. He has helped make it easier for private companies to take over public housing projects.

“I think that back in the ’60s and ’70s, a lot of the way we regulated industry was top-down command and control,” Obama told Fox News Channel in April. “And I think that the Republican Party and people who thought about the markets came with the notion that, you know what, if you simply set some guidelines, some rules, and incentives for businesses, let them figure out how they’re going to, for example, reduce pollution.”

As a political science major at Columbia concentrating on international relations, Obama took a senior seminar focused in large part on aid and capital flows between the first and third worlds. “It was a subject everyone was talking about,” said Michael Baron, who taught the seminar.

Obama recently told CNN that “it was natural for me to be interested in international affairs,” given the influence of his mother, an anthropologist he described as “a specialist in international development, who was one of the early practitioners of microfinancing . . . helping women buy a loom or a sewing machine or a milk cow to be able to enter into the economy.”

The job at Business International Corporation provided a crash course in market economics.  “We definitely learned our ABCs of the financial markets,” said Beth Noymer Levine. She was hired shortly before Obama and reported to the same boss. “I like to say Michelle Obama will be first lady, but I will always be first colleague.”

Levine and Obama worked on a variety of newsletters for companies doing business overseas. The newsletters were aimed at senior executives and had arcane titles like “Financing Foreign Operations” or “Investing, Licensing, and Trading Conditions Abroad.” Even in a company filled with smart people, Obama made an impression.

“I always say, he was very smooth and smart and together, and I was 23,” Levine joked. “I felt like a human train wreck next to him.”

Obama was even younger. But colleagues say he was mature beyond his years. True to its name, Business International had a global flavor. It was located near the United Nations, and many of the staffers, like Obama, had degrees in international relations rather than MBAs. It was the kind of place where a young person could take on a lot of responsibility, and you quickly learned to speak the language of the financial professionals for whom you were writing.

“You were thrown in the deep end, and you learned a lot, and you had to pretend to be more of an expert than you were,” said Dan Armstrong, who supervised one of the newsletters.

In his memoir, Obama recalls writing an article about interest-rate swaps — financial contracts in which parties agree to swap fixed and floating interest rates. His time at Business International rates only a few pages in the memoir, mostly as an example of the road not taken, when Obama opted for community organizing instead of what he called “stocks and bonds and the pull of respectability.”

Armstrong said Obama’s book exaggerates just how respectable Business International was, with its description of suits and ties and meetings with German bond traders. There was no dress code, Armstrong said. And there was nothing corporate about it.

“It was a company full of low-paid, hard-working, fun-loving young people,” Armstrong said. “It wasn’t part of a high-powered consulting or finance world. It was a little sweatshop.”

Armstrong was shocked when Obama quit after a year, without even having another job lined up. Most news accounts of Obama’s career omit the New York chapter altogether. Levine says she understands that.

“I can see why CNN would skip over it,” Levine said. “I mean, a lot of people had stops along the way in their careers that don’t exactly fit the rest of the story. And maybe it was enough of an exposure for him to the corporate world to be like, ‘OK, that’s not exactly what I want.’ ”

Still, researching and writing about hedges and forwards and currency fluctuations did give Obama at least a passing familiarity with the financial markets — and that knowledge is still evident today. Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was surprised to learn that Obama had worked for Business International, which is now part of The Economist Group. But he wasn’t surprised that Obama is a quick study.

“My impression, at least, is that he’s got a good feel for financial markets and how they might react to what government does,” Rubin said.

Financial markets have grown much more complex since Obama was writing about them in the 1980s. And maybe he would have developed that same feel for the markets even without the job at Business International. But first colleague Levine thinks it was a good start.

“We were sort of thrown in. But when I reflect on it, we were all smart enough, and we had to learn by the seat of our pants,” she said.


References:

  1. Obama’s Early Brush With Financial Markets : NPR

    Jul 9, 2008 Barack Obama’s life is the year he spent writing about financial markets But the job at Business International Corporation provided a
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92337754
  2. Barack Obama’s Résumé

    1983-1984 Writer/Researcher for Business International Corporation. Barack Obama has introduced nearly 300 bills during his time in the U.S. Senate,
    obamasresume.org/

  3. FactCheck.org: Obama Polishes His Resume

    Jun 21, 2008 Presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama’s first ad of the general election But Obama’s work at Business International Corporation,
    http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/obama_polishes_his_resume.html

  4. Obama shows hints of his year in global finance – The Boston Globe

    Aug 6, 2008 Obama rarely talks about his year spent within the arcane sphere of global finance as a junior editor for Business International Corp.,
    http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/08/06/obama_shows_hints_of_his_year_in_global_finance/

  5. Barack Obama’s Story Works as Editor at Business Internation Corp

    Apr 17, 2007 Directly after graduating, Barack Obama worked for one year at Business International Corporation. He held a position as editor in its
    http://www.ourstory.com/thread.html?t=223121

  6. Business International Corporation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Business International Corporation (BI) was a publishing and advisory firm United States Senator Barack Obama‘s first job after graduating from Columbia
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_International_Corporation

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August 31, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Roots of the Crisis – How did Wall Street get into this mess?

To me, this seems like the first rational explanation for what has gone on with the “Mortgage-Backed Securities Crisis.”  If correct, it would indicate that Bernanke and Paulson are incompetent and need to be replaced now by some one who knows what they are doing before this drags the whole world into a collapse that never needed to happen. [Editor]

Michael Flynn

The unexpected 228-205 defeat of the housing bailout in Congress Monday threw a curveball across Wall Street. It contributed to a large sell-off on Wall Street, where the bailout had already been “priced” into the market. The Dow shed just over 6 percent, the 18th largest drop in its history. But given the dire warnings about financial chaos that would result unless there were a bailout, this seems fairly modest.

Let’s be clear: This is a Wall Street crisis, not a national economic crisis. The overall economy, while a bit weak, is still growing. Some politicians are comparing the current environment to the Great Depression. But in 1932, when the federal government last moved to bail out the banking sector, economic output had fallen 45 percent and unemployment was a staggering 24 percent. Today, economic output is actually up and unemployment is a historically modest 6.1 percent.

The overall economy doesn’t even face a liquidity crisis in the current turmoil. Consumer, commercial/industrial, and real estate loans are all up over last year. Main Street is doing fine. The liquidity crisis is confined to Wall Street, between and among investment banks, insurance and securities firms, and hedge funds. There is the possibility that the contagion could spread, but in a global capital market, this is hardly certain.

It is the intersection of several underlying trends that have brought us to this point, not a breakdown in any specific part of the financial sector. The fundamental flaw with the bailout approach is that it ignores these trends and simply seeks to shore up the finances of certain Wall Street institutions.

Mortgage-backed securities (MBSes) are the principal source of pain in the current environment. Investment houses would bundle individual mortgages from several banks together into a bond-like product that would be sold to individual investors. Mortgages have historically been seen as among the safest investments. In an era of rising house values, “safe” became “guaranteed returns.”

One of the major factors pushing investors into these securities was the Federal Reserve’s weak money policy. Immediately after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the Fed began a sustained period of easing interest rates. Its efforts went so far that, at one point in 2003, we had effectively negative interest rates. Institutional investments needed a place to park money and earn some kind of return. Mortgage-backed securities became a favorite investment vehicle. Under traditional models, they were very safe and, because of Fed policy, even the most conservative fund could earn better returns than they could on treasury notes.

In the early years of this century, mortgage-backed securities exploded. Their growth provided unprecedented levels of capital in the mortgage market. There was a lot more money available to underwrite mortgages. At the same time, investment houses were looking to replace the healthy fees earned during the dot com bubble. MBSes had fat margins, so everyone jumped into the game.

The additional capital to underwrite mortgages was a good thing…up to a point. Homeownership expanded throughout the decade. Over the last few decades, the American homeownership rate has been around 60 to 62 percent. At the height of the bubble, homeownership was around 70 percent. It is clear now that many people who got mortgages at the height of the bubble should not have. But Wall Street needed to feed the MBS stream.

At the same time, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were going through a crisis. In 2003 and 2004, an accounting scandal was revealed. The two public-private partnerships were cooking the books to show phantom profits. The Bush administration and its allies on the Hill pushed a strong bill to reform how these institutions operated. The measure came very close to passing, but Fannie and Freddie cut a deal. They would refocus on expanding mortgages for low-income borrowers if the feds kept out of their operations. The bargain worked. Virtually all the Democrats and a few Republicans backed the two companies and the reform effort failed.

Fannie and Freddie then went on a subprime bender. They made it clear that they wanted to buy all the subprime or Alt-A mortgages that they could find, eventually acquiring around $1 trillion of the paper. The market responded. In 2003 subprime mortgages made up less than 8 percent of all mortgages. By 2006, they were over 20 percent. Banks knew they could sell subprime products to Fannie and Freddie. Investments banks realized that if they laced ever increasing amounts of subprime mortgages into the MBSes, they could juice the returns and so earn bigger fees. The rating agencies, thinking they were simply dealing with traditional mortgages, didn’t look under the hood.

Unfortunately, after several years of a housing boom, the available pool of households who could responsibly use the more exotic financing products had dried up. In short, there were no more people who traditionally qualified for even a subprime mortgage. However, Fannie and Freddie were still signaling that they wanted to buy these products. At the same time, activist groups were agitating for more lending to low-income families. Banks realized they could make even more exotic loan products (e.g., interest-only loans), get the activists off their backs, and immediately diffuse their risk by selling the mortgages into MBSes. After all, Fannie and Freddie would buy anything.

Everything worked as long as housing prices continued to rise. The most pessimistic scenarios on Wall Street showed a leveling off of housing prices; no one foresaw an actual decline in prices. Suddenly, though, there weren’t enough buyers. In hot real estate markets, builders raced to bring inventory to market that they thought was inexhaustible. But at this point everyone (essentially) who could possibly qualify for a mortgage had received one. At the same time, the first wave of the more exotic mortgages began to falter. Interest rates on adjustable rate mortgages moved higher—the Fed was finally tightening the money flow—and mortgages that were initially interest-only were close to resetting, with monthly payments jumping to include principal. A not insignificant number of these mortgages moved into default and foreclosure.

The overall numbers moving into foreclosure were small. Someone simply looking at housing stats could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about. Nationally, the number of mortgages moving into foreclosure is just around 1 to 2 percent, suggesting that 98 to 99 percent of mortgages are sound. But the foreclosed mortgages punched way above their weight class; they were laced throughout the MBS market.

Then the MBS market collapsed. The complexity of these financial products cannot be overstated. They usually had two or three “tranches,” different baskets of mortgages that paid out in different ways. Worse, as they moved through the system—being bought and sold by different firms—they were sliced and diced in varying ways. A MBS owned by one firm could be very different when it was sold to another.

No one fully understood how exposed the MBS were to the rising foreclosures. The market for them dried up. No one traded them. The market became effectively “illiquid.” American accounting standards, however, required firms to use “mark-to-market” to value their assets. This means that you value your assets based on what you could sell them for today. Because no one would trade MBSes, most had to be “marked” at something close to zero.

This threw off banks’ capital requirements. Under U.S. regulations, banks have to have a certain percentage of assets to back up the loans they make. Lots of banks and financial institutions had MBS assets on their books. With these moving to zero, they didn’t have enough capital on hand for the loans that were outstanding. They rushed to raise capital, which raised fears about their solvency and compounded into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We should pause here to note that two simple regulatory tweaks could have prevented much of the carnage. Suspending mark-to-market accounting rules (you could use a 5-year rolling average instead, for example) would have shored up the balance sheets. And a temporary easing of capital requirements would have provided banks breathing room to sort out the MBS mess. Although it is hard to fix an exact price for these in this market, they aren’t worth zero.

Alas, the Fed and the Treasury decided simply to provide the capital to meet the regulatory requirements. They moved into crisis mode, making a series of tactical moves to deal with specific, present challenges. The first misstep, in March, was to force a hostile takeover of Bears Stearns. The Fed put up $30-40 billion to back JP Morgan’s takeover of the investment bank. In the long term, it probably would have been better to let the bank fail and go into bankruptcy. That would have set in motion legal proceedings that would have established a baseline price for MBSes. From this established price, banks could sort out their balance sheets.

It is worth noting that immediately after the collapse of Bears Stearns, rumors quickly circulated on the Street of trouble at Lehman Brothers. Lehman went on a PR offensive to beat back those rumors. The company was successful, but then did nothing over the next several months to shore up its balance sheet. Their recent demise was largely their own doing.

The collapse of the MBS market now started to pollute other financial products. (The Fed moves did nothing to deal with the MBS market, but simply provided temporary means to cope with it.) Credit default swaps and derivatives, both of which amount to hedges against the risk of bonds defaulting, came due. Suddenly, stable firms like AIG were overexposed. Insurance companies regularly sell these swaps, as an insurance policy against bonds defaulting. Traditionally they are fairly conservative investment products. These developments threw off the accounting in one division of AIG, threatening the rest of the firm. Given a few days, AIG could have sold enough assets to cover the spread, but iron-clad accounting regulations precluded this. So the government stepped in.

The one-two punch of Lehman’s failure and the government’s $85 billion bailout of AIG on September 16 seriously spooked the Street and the Bush administration. With Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac already in government receivership, there were fears that the MBS weakness would spread through the entire financial system. There was a big sell-off on the Dow. The next day, the government announced there would be a bold rescue plan. The market rebounded. Details emerged over the weekend. On Monday, the Dow had another sell-off. But, the most important signal was the rise of oil. The spot price for October delivery of oil jumped $25 a barrel. Some of this was covering trades, but a sizable amount of this appreciation was probably a “flight to quality,” a place to park money while everything was sorted out. It was also a signal that the government’s plan might not work.

The original plan crafted by Treasury would authorize the department to spend up to $700 billion to buy MBSes and other “toxic” debt and thereby remove them from banks’ balance sheets. With the “bad loans” off the books, the banks would become sound. Because it was assumed that the MBS market was “illiquid,” the government would become the buyer of last resort for these products. There is a certain simple elegance to the plan.

Except that no market is truly illiquid. It just isn’t liquid at the price you want to sell. This summer, Merrill Lynch unloaded a bunch of bad debt at 22 cents on the dollar. There are likely plenty of buyers for the banks’ bad debt, just not at the price the banks would prefer. Enter the government, which clearly intends to purchase MBSes at some premium above the market price. That was the nature of the bailout that failed on Monday.

Congressional leaders have vowed to bring a new proposal for a vote, possibly as soon as Thursday, proving yet again that Washington is fertile ground for really bad ideas. But with the market rebounding—as of this writing the Dow was up almost 300 points—and public opposition hardening, signs are emerging that banks are starting to clean house. The crisis may have already peaked. Of course, Congress’ ability to further screw this up can’t be overstated.

Mike Flynn is director of government affairs at the Reason Foundation.

August 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“End Times” Theology

Many fundamentalists Protestants practice a Biblical interpretation of what they call “End Times” theology that has characteristics similar to those listed below.

1. False Bible teachers would be money hungry. They would be smooth talkers, have many followers, and slur the Christian faith (2 Peter 2:1-3) See some at: Fakemessiah.com

2. Homosexuality would be increasingly evident at the end of the age (2 Timothy 3:3)

3. Earthquakes would be in diverse places (Matthew 24:7)

4. Stress would be part of living (2 Timothy 3:1)

5. Many wars would erupt (Matthew 24:6)

6. People would forsake the Ten Commandments as a moral code, committing adultery, stealing, lying, and killing (Matthew 24:12)

7. There would be a cold religious system, in denying God’s power (2 Timothy 3:5)

8. Men would substitute fantasy in place of Christian truth (2 Timothy 4:4). This is so evident at Christmas when the birth of the Savior is lost behind the myth of Santa Claus.

9. Deadly diseases would be prevalent (Matthew 24:7). The worldwide increase in AIDS deaths is almost inestimable. Over 160,000 Americans die of cancer each year.

10. The fact that God once flooded the earth (the Noahic flood) would be denied (2 Peter 3:5-6). There is a mass of fossil evidence to prove this fact, yet it is flatly ignored by the scientific world because of its uncanny implication.

11. The institution of marriage would be forsaken by many (1 Timothy 4:3)

12. There would be an increase in famines (Matthew 24:7)

13. Increase in vegetarianism would increase (1 Timothy 4:3-4)

14. There would be a cry for peace (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

15. The possession of Jerusalem would be at the center of international turmoil (Zechariah 12:3)

16. Knowledge would increase (Daniel 12:4)

17. There would be hypocrites within the Church (Matthew 13:25-30)

18. There would be an increase of religious cults/false teachers (Matthew 24:11 & 24)

19. The future would seem fearful to many (Luke 21:26)

20. Humanity would become materialistic (2 Timothy 3:4)

21. There would be many involved in travel (Daniel 12:4)

22. The Christian Gospel would be preached as a warning to all nations (Matthew 24:14)

23. Jesus said Christians would be hated “for His name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9)

24: And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. (Luke 21:25-26).

25: Youth would become rebellious. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy (2 Timothy 3:2)

26: Men would mock the warning signs of the end of the age saying, “for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:4). The Bible even reveals their motivation, they love lust (verse 3). They fail to understand that a day to the Lord is as a thousand years to us. God is not subject to the time that He created. He can flick through time as we flick through the pages of a history book. The reason He seems to be silent, is because He is patiently waiting, not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance.

I was raised on this and so have difficulty separating it from my attempts to think rationally.  Much of what is contained above would hold true in one degree or another no matter what time we are in, although I can certainly see that it seems like the degree of these things have increased exponentially in recent years, particularly in the last 20 years.

It has been my considered observation that many of the “evangelists” who preach such things also tend to be those that have their hands out for donations, and practice what I consider “suspect” healing practices, and such.

As a Roman Catholic, I so much appreciate the unchanging nature of the teaching and practice of the Church.  As in most what I call “orthodox” churches, the teaching and practice does not change based on what is going on in the world.  And when in this world or the next, when I get up and when I lie down, I want to be in the House of the Lord celebrating His Eucharistic Sacrifice with the Communion of the Saints.  It does not matter if it is here on earth, or in the place He has prepared, that is the center of true existance.

At the same time, I believe Jesus was pretty clear that we needn’t be worrying interpreting the signs of the times, but rather going along with our lives living in the light of the Beatitudes.  For you see, for those who believe, eternity has already begun.

The Rapture

from “Catholic Answers”

Are you Pre, Mid, or Post? If you don’t know how to answer that question, you’re probably a Catholic. Most Fundamentalists and Evangelicals know that these words are shorthand for pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation. The terms all refer to when the rapture is supposed to occur.

The Millennium

In Revelation 20:1–3, 7–8, we read, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while. . . . And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth.”

The period of a thousand years, the writer tells us, is the reign of Christ, and the thousand-year period is popularly called the millennium. The millennium is a harbinger of the end of the world, and Revelation 20 is interpreted in three ways by conservative Protestants. The three schools of thought are called postmillennialism, amillennialism, and premillennialism. Let’s take a look at them.

Postmillennialism

According to Loraine Boettner in his book The Millennium (he also wrote the seriously defective anti-Catholic book Roman Catholicism), postmillennialism is “that view of last things which holds that the kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit, that the world eventually is to be Christianized, and that the return of Christ will occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace, commonly called the millennium.”

This view was popular with nineteenth-century Protestants, when progress was expected even in religion and before twentieth-century horrors were tasted. Today few hold to it, except such groups as Christian Reconstructionists, an outgrowth of the conservative Presbyterian movement.

Commentators point out that postmillennialism is to be distinguished from the view of theological and secular liberals who envision social betterment and even the kingdom of God coming through purely natural, rather than supernatural, means. Postmillennialists, however, argue that man is incapable of building a paradise for himself; paradise will only come about by God’s grace.

Postmillennialists also typically say that the millennium spoken of in Revelation 20 should be understood figuratively and that the phrase “a thousand years” refers not to a fixed period of ten centuries, but to an indefinitely long time. For example, Psalm 50:10 speaks of God’s sovereignty over all that is and tells us that God owns “the cattle on a thousand hills.” This is not meant to be taken literally.

At the millennium’s end will come the Second Coming, the general resurrection of the dead, and the last judgment.

The problem with postmillennialism is that Scripture does not depict the world as experiencing a
period of complete (or relatively complete) Christianization before the Second Coming. There are numerous passages that speak of the age between the First and Second Comings as a time of great sorrow and strife for Christians. One revealing passage is the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matt. 13:24–30, 36–43). In this parable, Christ declares that the righteous and the wicked will both be planted and grow alongside each other in God’s field (“the field is the world,” Matt. 13:38) until the end of the world, when they will be separated, judged, and either be thrown into the fire of hell or inherit God’s kingdom (Matt. 13:41–43). There is no biblical evidence that the world will eventually become totally (or even almost totally) Christian, but rather that there will always be a parallel development of the righteous and the wicked until the final judgment.

Amillennialism

The amillennial view interprets Revelation 20 symbolically and sees the millennium not as an earthly golden age in which the world will be totally Christianized, but as the present period of Christ’s rule in heaven and on the earth through his Church. This was the view of the Protestant Reformers and is still the most common view among traditional Protestants, though not among most of the newer Evangelical and Fundamentalist groups.

Amillennialists also believe in the coexistence of good and evil on earth until the end. The tension that exists on earth between the righteous and the wicked will be resolved only by Christ’s return at the end of time. The golden age of the millennium is instead the heavenly reign of Christ with the saints, in which the Church on earth participates to some degree, though not in the glorious way it will at the Second Coming.

Amillennialists point out that the thrones of the saints who reign with Christ during the millennium appear to be set in heaven (Rev. 20:4; cf. 4:4, 11:16) and that the text nowhere states that Christ is on earth during this reign with the saints.

They explain that, although the world will never be fully Christianized until the Second Coming, the millennium does have effects on earth in that Satan is bound in such a way that he cannot deceive the nations by hindering the preaching of the gospel (Rev. 20:3). They point out that Jesus spoke of the necessity of “binding the strong man” (Satan) in order to plunder his house by rescuing people from his grip (Matt. 12:29). When the disciples returned from a tour of preaching the gospel, rejoicing at how demons were subject to them, Jesus declared, “I saw Satan fall like lightning” (Luke 10:18). Thus for the gospel to move forward at all in the world, it is necessary for Satan to be bound in one sense, even if he may still be active in attacking individuals (1 Pet. 5:8).

The millennium is a golden age not when compared to the glories of the age to come, but in comparison to all prior ages of human history, in which the world was swallowed in pagan darkness. Today, a third of the human race is Christian and even more than that have repudiated pagan idols and embraced the worship of the God of Abraham.

Premillennialism

Third on the list is premillennialism, currently the most popular among Fundamentalists and Evangelicals (though a century ago amillennialism was). Most of the books written about the End Times, such as Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth, are written from a premillennial perspective.

Like postmillennialists, premillennialists believe that the thousand years is an earthly golden age during which the world will be thoroughly Christianized. Unlike postmillennialists, they believe that it will occur after the Second Coming rather than before, so that Christ reigns physically on earth during the millennium. They believe that the Final Judgment will occur only after the millennium is over (which many interpret to be an exactly one thousand year period).

But Scripture does not support the idea of a thousand year span between the Second Coming and the Final Judgment. Christ declares, “For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done” (Matt. 16:27), and “[w]hen the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. . . . And they [the goats] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:31–32, 46).

The Rapture

Premillennialists often give much attention to the doctrine of the rapture. According to this doctrine, when Christ returns, all of the elect who have died will be raised and transformed into a glorious state, along with the living elect, and then be caught up to be with Christ. The key text referring to the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17, which states, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

Premillennialists hold, as do virtually all Christians (except certain postmillennialists), that the Second Coming will be preceded by a time of great trouble and persecution of God’s people (2 Thess. 2:1–4). This period is often called the tribulation. Until the nineteenth century, all Christians agreed that the rapture—though it was not called that at the time—would occur immediately before the Second Coming, at the close of the period of persecution. This position is today called the “post-tribulational” view because it says the rapture will come after the tribulation.

But in the 1800s, some began to claim that the rapture would occur before the period of persecution. This position, now known as the “pre-tribulational” view, also was embraced by John Nelson Darby, an early leader of a Fundamentalist movement that became known as Dispensationalism. Darby’s pre-tribulational view of the rapture was then picked up by a man named C.I. Scofield, who taught the view in the footnotes of his Scofield Reference Bible, which was widely distributed in England and America. Many Protestants who read the Scofield Reference Bible uncritically accepted what its footnotes said and adopted the pre-tribulational view, even though no Christian had heard of it in the previous 1800 years of Church history.

Eventually, a third position developed, known as the “mid-tribulational” view, which claims that the rapture will occur during the middle of the tribulation. Finally, a fourth view developed that claims that there will not be a single rapture where all believers are gathered to Christ, but that there will be a series of mini-raptures that occur at different times with respect to the tribulation.

This confusion has caused the movement to split into bitterly opposed camps.

The problem with all of the positions (except the historic, post-tribulational view, which was accepted by all Christians, including non-premillennialists) is that they split the Second Coming into different events. In the case of the pre-trib view, Christ is thought to have three comings—one when he was born in Bethlehem, one when he returns for the rapture at the tribulation’s beginning, and one at tribulation’s end, when he establishes the millennium. This three-comings view is foreign to Scripture.

Problems with the pre-tribulational view are highlighted by Baptist (and premillennial) theologian Dale Moody, who wrote: “Belief in a pre-tribulational rapture . . . contradicts all three chapters in the New Testament that mention the tribulation and the rapture together (Mark 13:24–27; Matt. 24:26–31; 2 Thess. 2:1–12). . . . The theory is so biblically bankrupt that the usual defense is made using three passages that do not even mention a tribulation (John 14:3; 1 Thess. 4:17; 1 Cor. 15:52). These are important passages, but they have not had one word to say about a pre-tribulational rapture. The score is 3 to 0, three passages for a post-tribulational rapture and three that say nothing on the subject.
. . . Pre-tribulationism is biblically bankrupt and does not know it” (The Word of Truth, 556–7).

What’s the Catholic Position?

As far as the millennium goes, we tend to agree with Augustine and, derivatively, with the amillennialists. The Catholic position has thus historically been “amillennial” (as has been the majority Christian position in general, including that of the Protestant Reformers), though Catholics do not typically use this term. The Church has rejected the premillennial position, sometimes called “millenarianism” (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church 676). In the 1940s the Holy Office judged that premillennialism “cannot safely be taught,” though the Church has not dogmatically defined this issue.

With respect to the rapture, Catholics certainly believe that the event of our gathering together to be with Christ will take place, though they do not generally use the word “rapture” to refer to this event (somewhat ironically, since the term “rapture” is derived from the text of the Latin Vulgate of 1 Thess. 4:17—”we will be caught up,” [Latin: rapiemur]).

Spinning Wheels?

Many spend much time looking for signs in the heavens and in the headlines. This is especially true of premillennialists, who anxiously await the tribulation because it will inaugurate the rapture and millennium.

A more balanced perspective is given by Peter, who writes, “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. . . . Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (2 Pet. 3:8–14).

NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

August 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Compare Palin to Obama

1980 – 1984
Obama: B.A. in political science with a specialization in international relations from Columbia University.

Palin: Wasilla High School, captain of the state-champion basketball team. Miss Wasilla, runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant, also Miss Congeniality, although that is now disputed.
Him: Ivy League degree.
Her: tiara.

1985 – 1990
Obama: moved to Chicago; became a community organizer as director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization on Chicago’s far South Side. During his three years as the DCP’s director, its staff grew from 1 to 13 and its annual budget grew from $70,000 to $400,000, with accomplishments including helping set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants’ rights organization.

Moved to Boston to attend Harvard Law School. Selected as an editor and then elected president of the Harvard Law Review, a full-time volunteer position functioning as editor-in-chief and supervising the law review’s staff of 80 editors.

Palin: Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism, with a minor in political science from the University of Idaho. Brief stint as a  sports reporter for local Anchorage television stations; left to join her husband in commercial fishing.
Him: sterling legal education.
Her: sportscaster.

1991 – 1995
Obama: graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School; received contract and advance to write a book (“Dreams from my Father”) as well as  a fellowship at the University of Chicago Law School. Directed the Illinois Project Vote from April to October 1992, a voter registration drive with a staff of 10 and 700 volunteers that achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African Americans in the state, leading Crain’s Chicago Business to name Obama to its 1993 list of “40 under Forty” powers to be. Appointed as a Lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Chicago. Joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a 12-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development. Active in several community organizations, usually as a board member.

Palin: member of the Alasaka Independence Party which advocates “Alaska First”. Elected to Wasilla city council.

Him: Expert on our nation’s fundamental legal principles.
Her: plotted to leave the Union; thinks Pledge of Allegiance was written by our founding fathers, doesn’t know what a Vice President does.

1996 – 2000
Obama: promoted to Senior Lecturer in constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School.  Elected to the Illinois Senate. Sponsored more than 800 bills. In 2000, lost a Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives to four-term incumbent Bobby Rush by a margin of two to one.

Palin: elected as mayor of Wasilla (population 5,470), defeating the incumbent by a total of 616 votes to 413. Town budget, $8 million (3 millionths of the Federal budget), approximately 100 employees. Reduced property taxes but increased sales taxes. Fired the Wasilla police chief, citing a failure to support her administration. (He then sued Palin on the grounds that he was fired because he supported the campaign of Palin’s opponent, but his suit was dismissed when the judge ruled that Palin had the right under state law to fire city employees, even for political reasons.) Hired a DC lobbyist to bring $27 million in earmarks to the city.  Wasilla had zero debt when she entered office but she left it with indebtedness of over $22 million, including $15 million-plus for construction of a hockey center which was built on a piece of property that the city didn’t even have clear title to, a matter that is still in litigation. Attempted to ban books from the city library.
Him: sponsored 800 bills.
Her: swayed 616 voters.

2001 – 2004
Obama: reelected in 2002 and became chairman of the Illinois Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee.

Publicly spoke out against the invasion of Iraq BEFORE the congressional authorization in 2002, and then again before the actual invasion in 2003.

Wrote and delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

November 2004: elected to the US Senate, receiving over 3.5 million votes, more than 70% of total.

Palin: elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.  Unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor, coming in second in a five-way race in the Republican primary, receiving 19,000 votes. Appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, served as chairman from 2003 to 2004 and also served as Ethics Supervisor. Resigned in protest over the “lack of ethics” of fellow Republican members. Exposed the state Republican Party’s chairman, Randy Ruedrich, for doing party work on public time and working closely with a company he was supposed to be regulating. Director of Ted Stevens’ 527 group.
Him: demonstrated the wisdom to oppose the Iraq folly before it even began.
Her: hasn’t really though much about Iraq – despite the fact that 17 Alaskans have died there

2005 to present
Obama: Sworn in as the fifth-ever African-American U.S. senator. Worked with Republican Senator Lugar to author and implement a program to locate and dismantle stray Russian WMD’s. Designated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as the party’s point man on ethics. Worked with Russ Feingold to pass a major ethics/lobbying reform bill. Cosponsored, with John McCain, the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act. Called for increased fuel efficiency standards (3 percent every year for 15 years).  Assignments on the Senate Committees for Foreign Relations, Veterans’ Affairs, and Homeland Security. Chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on European Affairs. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. Waged a tremendous battle to become the Democratic presidential nominee. Currently manages 2,500 campaign employees and a budget of $40-$50 million/month.

Palin: 2005: board member, Valley Hospital Association, which runs the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center in Wasilla.

Became youngest and first female Governor of Alaska, taking office in December, 2006. Received 114,600 votes. The population of Alaska is 683,478 and more than 50% of the state budget comes from oil revenues, not taxes as in other states. Gross State Product: $44 billion (including the oil revenue). Ranking 45 of 50.
Auctioned off the Governor’s jet on eBay. Took on fellow-Republican Senator Ted Stevens to come clean about the federal investigation into his financial dealings. Promoted oil and natural gas resource development in Alaska. Helped pass a tax increase on oil company profits. Formed a sub-cabinet group of advisers to address climate change but does not accept that it is man-made.  Objected to listing polar bears as an endangered species because it might hurt oil and gas development in the bears’ habitat. Was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it. However, Alaska kept the federal money. Denied her daughter was pregnant before she confirmed it. Supported abstinence-only education.Currently under a bipartisan investigation for abuse of power for dismissing Alaska’s Public Safety Commissioner. Commander-in-Chief of the Alaska National Guard, but has played no role in national defense activities, even when they involve the Alaska National Guard. (The entire operation is under federal control, and the governor is not briefed on situations.)

Obtained her first passport in 2007 to perform visits to the Alaska National Guard in Kuwait and Germany. (Foreign experience so limited that a stopover in Ireland listed on her resume.)

Him: Impressive figure on the national stage who knows how Congress works and is engaged with foreign policy issues.
Her: small state governor for 21 months; “next to Russia”, but that is just 1 of the 190 countries in the world she has never been to.

Conclusion: the word “executive” is not some kind of magic force multiplier when placed in front of the word “experience”.

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bishops take exception to Biden statement of faith

As reported by Associated Press;

Two prominent U.S. Catholic bishops said Tuesday that Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden contradicted church teaching by saying in a weekend interview that determining when human life begins is a “personal and private” matter of religious faith he would not impose on others.

The statement from Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop William Lori said Biden, who appeared Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” is the latest case of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy correcting a Catholic politician.

Asked on the program about when life begins, Biden said: “Look, I know when it begins for me. It’s a personal and private issue. For me, as a Roman Catholic, I am prepared to accept the teachings in my church.”

He added that while he believes life begins “at the moment of conception,” it would inappropriate to impose that view on others in a pluralistic society.

The bishops said Biden was right to say human life begins at conception. But the church “does not teach this as matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact,” they said.

“Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice,” they added.

Personally, I take exception to the Bishop’s taking exception to Joe Biden’s statement of faith.  I take exception to the statement that the church “does not teach this as a matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact.”

As I have related in a previous post,

“The Roman Catholic Church considers life to begin at conception, when an egg is fertilized by a sperm. Therefore, abortion is seen as a form of murder, making it a sin. Any Catholic that obtains or takes part in an abortion is considered to be excommunicated from the Church, although they may be allowed back if they ask for forgiveness for their sin. In addition to an actual abortion procedure, the Church views other actions, including the use of an IUD, the Morning After Pill, RU-486; embryonic stem cell research, and IVF, as acts of abortion because they have the potential to destroy an embryo. Yet, the Church also distinguishes between what they consider to be a direct abortion and an indirect abortion.

A direct abortion is an act that purposely ends the life of an embryo or fetus. These forms of abortion are always thought to be morally wrong, thus making them a sin. An indirect abortion refers to an act that is used to save a woman’s life but that indirectly causes an unborn child to die. For example, a woman dealing with an ectopic pregnancy would need to have part of her fallopian tube removed in order to save her life. Although the fetus is not destroyed by this act, it will die because it is taken out of the body. However, this type of situation very rarely arises thereby making the majority of abortion procedures a grave sin in the eyes of the Church.”

I have also expressed my opinion that this stance cannot be justified by a reasonable person.  Someone has to take responsibility for all the unwanted, accidental children which would result if the entire world’s population were to model their lives on such a policy.

To call out a true “Son of the Church” in such a public manner for his attempt to serve his fellow man and recognize the laws of the country he lives in is contemptible, and I reject it.  As a Catholic and an Obama/Biden supporter, I suspect the “callout” by the Bishops as being politically motivated.

It is the height of the ridiculous for the “Church” to take a position supporting those who claim the “right position” on abortion, birth control, etc., when those same people are responsible for the death of thousands in war.  Rome has prohibited Bishops around the world from getting involved politically in government.  These gratuitious statements by Bishops each time they have the opportunity to “call out” the candidates of one party while elevating those of another on the basis of “Church Teaching” is unacceptable and a violation of Rome’s prohibition on political activity, cloaked in the guise of “Guidance to the Faithful.”

As Joe Biden said, “For me, as a Roman Catholic, I am prepared to accept the teachings in my church.” That is a personal choice, and one that I agree with.  Citizens of the United States of America who are not Roman Catholic are not bound by the doctrines and teachings of the Church, nor the opinions of the Bishops.  Outside of the Church, the Bishops opinions hold no more weight than any other citizen.  As leaders of the Church, their “political statements” should be silent, other than to preach the same Gospel as Joe Biden is a witness to.  He should be supported by the Bishops, not criticized in public.

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Republicans steal flags, accuse DNC

Interesting local news item from Saturday, 09.06.08 – McCain/Palin landed in Colorado Springs Saturday morning and met briefly with 7,000 supports in a hanger near the airport.  We know it was 7,000, because there were only 7,000 tickets.  After the event, the campaign was reporting that 13,000 were in attendance.  We know people who worked the event, setting up and taking down and selling bumper stickers and such, and know how many people were there.  But that’s not the interesting part necessarily.

Attorney Dan Caplis, a local radio personality on KHOW in Denver, who introduced McCain/Palin, warmed up the crowd with a tale of a Republican-sympathizing janitor at Invesco Field on the last night of the DNC who “rescued” many thousands of hand-sized American flags from the ground and the trash after the event.  The story was a big hit with the partisan crowd at the hanger.  We found out later from the DNC that the flags were in fact stolen from the DNC by Republicans, and they did not know where they had gone until they surfaced down here in Colorado Springs, being passed out to the Republican crowd.

As we know, those who lie about the small things are going to lie about the big things also – and the entire campaign is based on lies and hypocracy, as shown by the fact that McCain/Palin are now claiming to be the ticket of “change,” despite the fact that Karl Rove is running the campaign and the policies remain identical to the Bush administration, which has left our economy teetering on the brink of disaster, and our country mired in two wars, without improvement in security since before 9/11.

August 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The words “Under God” were not in the Pledge until 1954

Q: Are you offended by the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?

PALIN: Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance

When John McCain’s grandfather graduated from the Naval Academy in 1906, the Pledge of Allegiance, as first written, was only fourteen years old. It would not be made the official pledge of the United States until 1942, six years after John McCain himself was born.

When John McCain was born, the words “Under God” were not in the Pledge. They would not appear there until 1954, during McCain’s senior year of high school.

August 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have struggled with the problem of voting for someone who “supports abortion.”

In my view, there is no question that a child is a child whether living in or out of the womb.  Modern science tells us that, we can see it with out own eyes very early on, and I believe the tenets of Christianity teach that.  For me, if I were a women, I cannot imagine aborting a child of mine except under the most difficult circumstances.

Yet, I am not a woman.  I would never, under any circumstances, feel entitled to force my opinion on another responsible adult.  I may discuss options, share beliefs, read from scripture and church doctrine.  But let’s think about what we are talking about here when we say we believe the law should prohibit an abortion.

That means that if a majority of the representatives in the legislature believe that I should not have a medical procedure, then, whether my doctor, husband, or myself  agree or not, I am subject to the terrors that may accompany that decision whether I like it or not.

We don’t do that to our worst criminals.  And becoming pregnant is not a crime in this country under any circumstance.  So if we restrict the pregnant persons ability to choose what to do, we are saying that the rights of the child, once conceived, supercede the rights of the mother.

Laws that force women to bear children not only rob women of their bodily integrity but make women, as a class, involuntary servants to fetuses.  Since only women can become pregnant, only women are affected by laws that dictate whether and under what conditions childbearing should occur. By limiting only women’s right to make personal decisions, laws that prohibit or restrict abortion discriminate on the basis of sex in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.

We just don’t accept that kind of inequity in this day and age.  In fact, we call it crime when women are discriminated against because of their gender.  As a Christian, I am very aware that Jesus placed no different value on men than he did women, and I know he said to let the children come to him.  He did not say let the boys come to me, but to heck with the girls.

It is no surprise that in the Catholic Church, the hierarchy still treats women as second class citizens.  It is shameful.  I am of the opinion that if there had been some women watching over things, there would have been a lot fewer child molesters in the priesthood.

The Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution guarantees individuals the right to all citizens personal autonomy, which means that a person’s decisions regarding his or her personal life are none of the government’s business. That right, which is part of the right to privacy, encompasses decisions about parenthood, including a woman’s right to decide for herself whether to complete or terminate a pregnancy, as well as the right to use contraception, freedom from forced sterilization and freedom from employment discrimination based on childbearing capacity.

There are reasons why the laws have developed the way they have; because in the past there has been tyranny based on gender and race.  The Bill of Rights guarantees that fundamental rights cannot be abrogated by the will of the majority. For example, even if the majority of a state’s citizens wanted to ban the practice of Catholicism, the constitutional right to free exercise of religion would forbid the legislature from enacting such a ban.

Similarly, the privacy right that encompasses reproductive freedom, including the choices of abortion and contraception, cannot be overruled by referenda or legislation.

Moreover, we learned during the years before Roe v. Wade how women suffered in states where abortion was illegal. Affluent women were able to obtain safe abortions by traveling to states where they were legal, while poor, rural and young women — a disproportionate number of them women of color — were left to dangerous, back-alley abortions or forced childbirth. Such discriminatory conditions are unacceptable.

Our courts have always held that the government cannot compel an individual to use his or her body as an instrument for preserving people who are already born, much less for preserving a fetus in the womb. For example, the government cannot force a relative of a child afflicted with cancer to donate bone marrow or an organ to the child, even if the child is sure to die without the donation.

Obviously, if the state cannot force someone to undergo a bone marrow or organ transplant for a person already born, it cannot force a woman to continue a pregnancy that might entail great health risks for the sake of a fetus. As the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia stated in a 1989 decision, “surely a fetus cannot have rights superior to those of a person who has already been born.”

Enforcement of the idea that a fetus has legal rights superseding those of the woman who carries it would make pregnant women second-class citizens with fewer rights, and more obligations, than others. Moreover, application of the “fetal rights” concept has already had devastating effects on women’s right to bodily integrity. For example, cancer patient Angela Carder, forced by the District of Columbia Superior Court to undergo a caesarean delivery of her 26-week-old fetus, died prematurely as a result. Under the banner of “fetal rights,” pregnant women have been prosecuted for failing to follow medical advice, and even for failing to get to a hospital quickly enough after the onset of labor. The concept also inspired industrial employers to adopt “fetal protection” policies, whereby the capacity to become pregnant, and pregnancy itself, became the bases for closing off certain jobs to all women of childbearing age who refused to be sterilized. Fortunately, the Supreme Court struck down this discriminatory  practice in a 1991 decision.

“One’s right to life, liberty…. free speech…. freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.” — (1943 Supreme Court decision in West Virginia State Board of Elections v. Barnette)

By the same token, it appears to me that no matter how many times the population of a state votes against “homosexual marriage,” it will always be overturned because of the Equal Protection Clause.  I may not like it, and can continue to believe that homosexuality is wrong, but as long as no one is forcing me to participate, it is not up to me.

So, yes, because we live in a country where our freedoms and rights are protected by the Constitution, the law, and the courts, I will want as president and as my representatives in the legislature those who will commit to protecting the freedoms guaranteed for all, even if I personally believe the way some people live their lives is wrong.  I can express my opinion, but no one can force others to do things their way without it being tyranny.

What would really be tyranny would be if people were forced to have abortions, such as in China.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
Martin Niemoller

August 24, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Calling into question John McCain’s judgment would certainly be warranted …

…under the circumstances of his pick for VP.  One supposes that he believes that his choice of a female for VP, any female, will appeal to those who were disappointed that Hillary Clinton was not victorious.

What John McCain does not understand is that very few women supported Hillary just because she is female.  They supported her because of who she is, what she cares about and her experience level.  So his pick is not a attractive to voters who intelligently parse the issues – male or female.  The issues that Hillary cared about are represented strongly by Barack, and it is likely that Hillary will play an important role in the administration.

The choice tells us alot about John McCain, however, and it would not surprise me if the Republicans at the convention next week at least attempt to choose someone else as their presidential candidate.  I really hope they do.  Finally, the choice of this woman disrespects all the other qualified women who were available.

August 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Best line of the campaign so far…

Richards: “A woman voting for John McCain would be like chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.”

That was the best line during Cecile’s speech at the Woman’s Caucus.

During her address to the DNC she talked about how John McCain just doesn’t get it when it comes to women’s health. If you missed it — we’ve got it for you on YouTube.

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment