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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy Reconciliation Day!

It will soon be tax time.  Right now, people all across the nation are preparing their tax returns for filing with the IRS on or before April 15.  Some are using TurboTax™, others are using H&R Block or their personal CPA, and some brave souls are doing it themselves with just a calculator.  No matter how your tax returns are prepared, you have to mail them no later than April 15.  Perhaps you took too many deductions and you will have to write out a big check to Uncle Sam.  Or perhaps you took too few deductions and gave Uncle Sam a tax free loan for a few months, but now you will receive a nice refund.  It's not much fun for the tax payer, but it is payday for the tens of thousands of accountants across the nation who are burning the midnight oil to get those tax returns prepared.

Of course, you can't be a good accountant unless you are a detail person who is able to handle numbers easily.  A business accountant has to reconcile all financial statements.  When you add up all the revenues received and deduct all the expenditures, the sum you come up with must equal the amount of cash on hand.  When it does it is said that the financial statement has been reconciled.

Of course, the reconciliation process is critical.  It verifies the fact the books are balanced.  It means that everything is accounted for.  Accountants provide a vital service to businesses all across the nation.  Without them, businesses would not know where they stand and would not be able to make good decisions.

But the greatest reconciliation process of all was the plan that God created to bring us to Him.  Our first earthly father, Adam, sinned.  That sin separated us from God, our creator.  Sin is incompatible with the perfection of God.  It is also incompatible with anything good because God is the source of all goodness.

So while completing financial reconciliations for stock holders is very important, the reconciliation that God accomplished on the first Easter is the greatest reconciliation of all.

You and I are sinners, as are every man and women ever born.  No matter how much we try to do good, we fail.  There are no good people, no men or women who were not cursed by sin.  As it says in Isaiah 59:12, "Our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us.  Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities."  Our sin estranged us from God.  It separated us from God so that we could not approach him and could not pass from this life to be with Him in heaven.  We were condemned to eternal separation from God, from everything beautiful, perfect, and good.

But God, in his mercy, loved us so much he created a special plan for our reconciliation.  It was a painful plan.  God the Father, sent his only son, Jesus, to live the perfect life we cannot live, and then to give up that life on the cross as payment for our sins so that we could be reconciled to Him.  What a price God paid just to reconcile us to Him so that we can pass through the portal of death into the next life where there will be no sin, only joy and happiness.

That's what the Bible teaches and that's what I believe.  That's why Easter is my most favorite day of the year.  Easter is the greatest celebration day of the year.  It celebrates the most important event in history—Jesus' triumph over death.  Easter is reconciliation day for every person ever born.  Through Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection, God's plan of reconciliation is complete. 

I hope that you, too, have a wonderful Easter celebration, a celebration that brings joy, confidence and happiness to you. 

Happy Reconciliation Day!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Hoisted on His Own Petard

Did you ever wonder what a petard is?  I checked it out.  The word has a French origin and it means a small bomb that was used to breach a wall or a gate.  It was particularly dangerous to use.  It was made of iron and contained five or six pounds of gunpowder.  It was to be set off by a slow burning fuse, but too often it blew up almost immediately and the concussion hoisted the bomber high into the air, hence the expression hoisted on or by his own petard.

Shakespeare made the expression famous in Hamlet.  Hamlet is sent as a messenger to the King of England.  He suspects that the letter he is carrying contains his own death warrant, and when he opens the letters prior to delivery finds out that he is correct.  His former schoolmates, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, sent the letter and think they are quite clever to have Hamlet deliver his own death sentence.  But, as Hamlet "writes" below, he turns the tables on them by taking out his name and inserting theirs.  He says that they shall now be blown up by their own scheme, they will, as he puts it, be hoisted with their own petard.

There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows,

Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd,

They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way

And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;

For 'tis the sport to have the enginer

Hoist with his own petar; and 't shall go hard

But I will delve one yard below their mines

And blow them at the moon: O, 'tis most sweet,

When in one line two crafts directly meet.

It seems to give us pleasure when someone who schemes against us is foiled, when his evil plan blows up in his face.  Perhaps we should not take pleasure when that happens, but we do.  When someone schemes to have us blamed for something of which we are not guilty and then the truth comes out, it gives us satisfaction.

Such seems to be the case with "The sky is falling!" proclamation of Armageddon if the Congress failed to stop the so-called Sequester that reduced the rate of growth in spending by the federal government.  Never in my memory has such a minor event been so over-hyped and overstated. 

It's not too surprising, of course, that President Obama engaged in such overheated rhetoric.  Every time he has done so in the past, the Republicans caved.  Regardless of the facts or the culprit, the compliant news media blamed it on the Republicans.  With such total cover, it's no wonder the President felt he could once again bully the GOP led House of Representatives into raising taxes yet again.

The President has obviously focus group tested the word "balanced," and that became his tireless mantra as he flew all across the nation (at a cost of more than $140,000 per hour) politicking for yet more job killing tax increases.  The President conveniently ignored or forgot the more than $400 million increase in taxes he bamboozled the Congress into passing just a month or so ago.

The President cried, "Wolf!  Wolf!" until he was hoarse, but it did no good.  It was just too much of a bald faced lie for even the mainstream media to follow.  The dirty little truth is that even with the Sequester, the federal government will spend $15 billion more in 2013 than it spent in 2012.  Only in the Orwellian speak of Washington, DC, is a reduction in the growth of spending a cut.  If it was a play, the Sequester was a farce, not a drama.

And to further show his dishonesty and his unwillingness to lead, the President refused the offer of the House of Representatives to have full latitude as to where the cuts were to be made.  No way!  The President didn't want to accept any responsibility for making cuts.  Accepting such responsibility of leadership would be bad politics and politics always comes first with this Administration.  The goal of the White House is first and foremost to take control of the US House of Representatives in 2014.  It is priority one.  What happens to the country is secondary.  So, the President chose to let the Sequester go forward.

But, the sky has not fallen.  The wolf did not come.  Armageddon did not commence.  The hysterics failed.  The President has been hoisted on his own petard.  His plan to destroy the Republicans has blown up in his face.

In fact, just the opposite has happened.  The popularity of the Republican held House of Representatives increased slightly, and the popularity of the President declined.  As an aside, the news media has failed to report that only 25% of conservatives polled support the current leadership of the House of Representatives.  That fact is polls show that more Americans identify themselves as conservative than they do liberal, Republican or Democrat.  The unpopularity of the GOP leadership has more to do with their willingness to cave in to Presidential demands than it does with their unwillingness to stand up for conservative principles.  It's not a failure to be bipartisan that has caused their low popularity ratings.

So, did the President back off his wild claims and hysteria?  Not a chance.  He has doubled down, shutting down White House tours, but still spending money on fabulous golf adventures with Tiger Woods.  The White House plans for a grand birthday celebration for Michelle on the level of royalty continues unabated, as do plans for a millionaires vacation in exclusive Martha's Vineyard.  The President is tone deaf.

Instead of making cuts in a budget filled with waste and fraud, the orders have gone out to make the pain as great as possible.  After all, this is a political campaign, not governance.  It's about making the Republicans look bad so he can continue further destruction of the national economy and his disastrous lurch to the left during his final two years.  But with every new horror story being engineered by the White House, his ratings continue to fall.

President Obama has gotten the blame for closing down White House tours for children, not the Republicans.  President Obama has gotten the blame for breaking the contract with the military for financing their college education, not the Republicans.  The White House is in a panic.  I should say the White House political team, but that would be redundant.  There is nothing at the White House except politics.

This is the most crudely political White House in the history of the Republic.  There is no effort to lead or to work with the other Party.  The Republicans are treated as the enemy, not a co-partner in government.  Sure, the President has launched a "charm" offensive, but it's just words, nothing more.  It does not signal a change of approach, it's just a cynical PR attempt to once again paint the Republicans into a political corner.

But it appears that the Republican leadership has learned an important lesson courtesy of President Obama—they can stand up for principles and the world won't come to an end.  The President's misstep has re-energized the conservative movement and the Republican Party.  Sure, there will be ups and downs between now and Election Day 2014, but the tide has turned.  The sun has come out.  The dark clouds are moving away.  Conservatives are smiling again.  2014 is beginning to look like another 2010.  Halleluiah!  

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Political Quicksand

The abortion of unborn children has burdened the United States for 40 years.  It has lowered our moral standards and hardened our hearts.  In 1973, in a split 7-2 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that abortion was legal.  During this 40 year period more than 54 million pre-born children have been killed.  You may quibble with my term killed, but what is abortion other than simply killing a child in the womb of a mother? 

Just to put the 54,000,000 number in context, this amounts to more people than the population of South Africa or South Korea or Spain.  It is a number 37 times greater than the number of Americans killed in all wars from the American Revolution until today.  Each one of these children killed was a creation of God.

The issue is not protection of the life of the mother, it is not rape or incest, it is not privacy, it is simply inconvenience.  More than 99% of these children were murdered because it was simply inconvenient to the mother.  I am not suggesting that this was an easy decision for the women who had abortions, nor am I suggesting that these women were not facing incredibly difficult situations.  Nevertheless, it does not change the fact that they agreed to kill the child that God had given life to.

America's founding document, the Declaration of Independence, states…

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

The legalization of abortion violated the spirit and the intent of the Declaration of Independence.  It is not an exaggeration to say that the murder of more than 54,000,000 children makes a mockery of the foundational principle that every person is a right to life. 

But Joseph Stalin was right.  He said, "If only one man dies, that is a tragedy.  If millions die, that's only a statistic."  In this post-Christian era, many Americans have become hard-hearted and self-centered.  That is not to say that America is not still the most Christian, the most generous nation on the face of the earth.  But it does say that the Christian consensus that caused the flowering of generosity, compassion, goodwill, prosperity and freedom in our land is at the point of extinction. 

Yet, over the years, in the face of nearly monolithic opposition from the news media, Hollywood, and even our public schools, the tide has been slowly, but steadily turning against the horrific and barbaric practice of abortion.  Today, 53% of all Americans oppose abortion.  More than 70% of all Americans oppose abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy, and more than 90% of all Americans oppose abortion in the third trimester.

While the abortion numbers have declined, they are nothing to brag about.  In 2012, approximately 1 million children died as a result of an abortion.  That's 1,000,000.  But instead of thinking of it as a statistic, think about just one child, a child you know you might have been killed.  Personalize it, digest it.  A life is taken though abortion because it is simply inconvenient to the mother.

Who are these children who have been killed through the abortion process?  The number one killer of children in America is Planned Parenthood.  Through its many locations, Planned Parenthood killed approximately 300,000 little baby girls and baby boys last year.  And this appendage of the Democratic Party specifically targets minorities and the poor.

In spite of this mass murder, politicians of both parties steer away from the abortion issue.  Politicians being politicians, they are worry more about the next election than they do about the death of a pre-born child.  That's the reality of the matter.  Republicans, even conservative Republicans, are fearful of being caught in the trap of having to confess that they oppose abortion even in the case of rape and incest.  They know that is political death. 

But even though virtually all Americans oppose partial birth abortion (the killing of a child in the process of being born), and more than 90% oppose abortion in the third trimester, and 70% of Americans oppose abortion in the second trimester, no one ever asks pro-abortion candidates about these real issues.  As a state senator, our President, Barack Obama, voted for a bill that required a doctor to kill a baby that was accidentally born during an abortion, yet no one asked him why he supported such a heinous act.

It's time to go on the offensive in the abortion debate.  While a candidate who favors saving the life of a child in the case of rape and incest will find himself in political quicksand, a candidate that favors abortion on demand, even in the second and third trimester, skates.  We, who believe in life, need to take the political offensive.  The issue is not rape and incest, it is abortion on demand. 

In every debate for public office, at all levels of government, we need to make sure that voters know that those who are pro-abortion (or as they euphemistically call it, pro-choice) favor abortion in the second and third trimesters of life.  We need to ask them why they favor abortion in the second and third trimesters.

Over and over and over again, pro-life candidates for the state legislature, for Congress and for President need to ask their opponent why they favor abortion in the second and third trimester?  This is political quicksand for pro-abortion candidates, just as surely abortion in the case of rape and incest is political quicksand for pro-life candidates.

This is not a matter of purity.  It is a matter of advancing the pro-life cause.  It's a matter of saving lives.

Personally, I am opposed to abortion in the case of rape and incest.  I'm opposed to abortion at any time.  I can't understand how I, as a mortal, have the right to punish a child who has been created by God for any reason.  I am not God.  I do not have the right to take a life. 

But the outlawing of abortion is a political matter.  We must advance our cause.  We must put the other side on the defensive.  The left advances an inch at a time.  Through creeping socialism, the left has undermined our institutions, crushed our economy, and made a mockery of traditional morality.

We have a choice.  We can argue that we must stand on principle, and continue to let babies be killed in the second and third trimesters, or we can take big steps to permanently outlaw abortion in the United States through a steady process.

The goal is to outlaw abortion, stopping the mass murder of millions of defenseless children each year.  Just imagine what kind of a political conundrum we can put pro-abortion candidates in if we talk solely about outlawing abortion in the second and third trimesters! 

If a pro-abortion candidate (nearly every Democrat) is asked if he or she favors abortion in the second and third trimesters they will find themselves in political quicksand.  If they say, "Yes, I favor abortion in the second and third trimester of a pregnancy," they will be putting themselves at odds with more than 70% of all Americans.  If they say, "No, I'm opposed to abortion in the second and third trimester of a pregnancy," they will lose their base of support.  Any answer a pro-abortion candidate gives to this question is political suicide.  It is a lose-lose situation.

This is the kind of smart politics that can turn the tide for life in coming elections.  It is also moral politics.  We are in a war and every inch of ground we gain takes us one step closer to ending abortion in America.

In my view, that's the choice.  The Democrats have been winning the war for too many years by being smarter than those on the right.  They didn't demand total, all out socialism from day one, take it or leave it.  First came Social Security, then came Medicare, now we have Obamacare (at least for the moment).  Make no doubt about it, their goal is a total socialist America where the government owns and runs all the energy producing companies as well as all major industries.  Obamacare is just another step on the way to their goal of a socialist "paradise."

But you and I can advance our pro-life, pro-freedom cause by moving forward one step at a time.  We can learn from the "children of darkness" how to achieve our goals.  All we have to do is start asking the question of every politician, "Do you favor abortion even in the second and third trimester?"