I'm honored to have seen the man in the flesh. It was January 20, 1993, inauguration day for President Bill Clinton.
After the ceremony, we walked up the street from the Capitol where we would (eventually) eat lunch at Slick Willie's, also having its' opening day at the time.
As we were standing at the intersection southeast of the capitol, waiting for the light to change, I saw someone who, at side glance, looked very familiar. When I turned to look, it was Nelson Mandela, also leaving the Capitol for lunch.
Being present for the inauguration was a thrill. Seeing Mr. Mandela was another one.
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” 4Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
7But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Translation: But in those days, John the Baptist comes near, proclaiming in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, for this is the one spoken of through the Isaiah the prophet when he said, 'A voice crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, makes his paths straight.'"
But John himself had his garment of camel hair and a leather girdle around his loins and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many of the pharisees and Sadducees coming upon the baptism, he said to them, "You children of snakes, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit, therefore, worthy of repentance. and do not think to say in yourselves, 'We have Abraham as father,' for I say to you that out of these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. But now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree not producing good fruit is being cut down and is being thrown into fire."
I indeed baptize you in water into repentance, but the one coming after me is more powerful than me, whose shoes I am not adequate to carry. He will baptize you in Holy Spirit and fire, whose winnowing shovel (is) in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his threshing floor and will gather together his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
Evangelical culture warriors have enjoyed a some-time alliance with the Roman Catholic heirarchy on some social issues, but not economic ones. Most recent popes have been socialists, or, at the least, very supportive of the rights of labor. In his first lengthy missive as Pope, Francis takes a similar line:
"In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."
He's absolutely right that "trickle down" has never been "confirmed by facts." Just the opposite is true. When the wealthy suck up the wealth, they are very careful not to let any "trickle down." Plutocrats are not philanthropists.
His critique of unrestrained capitalism, which may be read here, is similar to the one offered by my late friend, Fr. Francisco Fahlman, who was a priest in Moquegua, Peru for 40 years.
Fr. Fahlman was no friend of what he called "liberal economics." (It isn't what you think. "Liberal economics" is what they call free market-ism in Latin America.)
In the 1990's, Peruvian President Fujimori was pushing it, and Fr. Fahlman voted for Fujimori when he first ran. He did not vote for Fujimori when he ran for re-election because, as Fr. Fahlman acidly said it, "Liberal economics 'helps' poor people by getting rid of poor people."
36“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
Translation: "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not the angels of heaven, not the Son, but the Father alone, for just as the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Humanity, for as it was in those days before the deluge, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until that day Noah entered into the ark and they did not know until the deluge came and raised all, and so will be the coming of the Son of Humanity. Then two will be in the field; one is taken near, and one is being released--two grinding at the millstone; one is taken near, and one is being released. Watch therefore, for you do not know what kind of day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what watch the thief is coming, he would have watched and would not have permitted his house to be broken up. For this reason, you also must become ready, for you do not know what hour the Son of Humanity is coming."
I was a freshman in high school, in chemistry class, sitting next to Roger Workman at the third table from the front in the middle aisle.
It was about 12:30 p.m. when the principal of the school, Arnold Anderson, his voice crackling through the intercom, announced that President Kennedy had been shot. He didn't say if he was dead, only that he had been shot. About ten minutes later, Anderson confirmed the President had died.
That weekend was a marathon of black-and-white television--Huntley and Brinkley, Cronkite, and Smith foremost, each with their retinue of reporters. Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin, was killed on live television.
The procession of the President's body through the streets of Washington on the way to the funeral contained several elements now considered iconic--the riderless horse, JFK Jr'.s salute, the cadence of the drums, world leaders such as Charles DeGaulle and Haile Selassie leading the international delegations. Most Americans over the age of 60 will remember this:
It wasn't long before the official story of the assassination, the Warren Report, was called into question by a number of reporters and writers. In a short period of time, most Americans became convinced that the assassination of JFK involved a conspiracy of some sort. In the 1970's, the House Select Committee on Assassinations agreed with them.
In more recent years, revisionists such as Gerald Posner and Vincent Bugliosi have argued that the Warren Commission basically got it right. Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin, and he fired three shots at President Kennedy, including the final and fatal one that struck the front part of his head.
The Zapruder film clearly shows President Kennedy's head being driven back, apparently by a shot from the front. The revisionists want to argue that the Zapruder film shows Kennedy's head move slightly forward at impact before an "exploding nerve" drove his head backward.
In other words, even though, with his head being struck in the front and exploding backward, it looks as though the President was shot from the front, he really wasn't. They might as well be saying, "Who you gonna believe? Us, or your own lyin' eyes."
John F. Kennedy presided over the United States at the heighth of its power and influence. World War II had ended only 15 years before his election, and we were still enjoying the benefits and advantages of victory. We were well on our way to repairing the damage done by the Great Depression. Our military power was such that Kennedy could stare down the Soviets over Cuba.
After his assassination, nothing seemed quite right. Hopeful and optimistic at the beginning of the decade, America sunk into recriminations and hostility, even near chaos, by the decade's end. Many Americans, inspired by JFK, went into politics in the early 60's. By the late 60's, politics was out.
It has been 50 years since that fateful day, but his death still haunts us. Politicians of all stripes, but especially Democrats, tried to mimick the Kennedy style and associate themselves with his energy and "vigor." They all sounded inauthentic and "tinny."
Was John F. Kennedy a great President? Yes. He was smart enough to end-run the military hawks on Cuba, and tough enough to make Khrushchev blink. To his political detriment, he embraced the civil rights movement. In his American University speech of 1963, he was looking forward to a world that was not bogged down by intractible ideological conflict.
Thousands will gather at Gettysburg today to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the delivery of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
The original occasion was the dedication of a cemetary for the Union dead of the battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. The Union's victory at Gettysburg, and the fall of Vicksburg the following day, were the twin turning-points of the American Civil War. (The Union Army used the cupola of the Lutheran seminary in Gettysburg to scout Confederate movements.)
The Gettysburg Address is surely the most-memorized speech ever. Generations of American schoolchildren learned its cadences, and, at least to some extent, internalized its message.
Abraham Lincoln was a self-taught individual, and he had obviously read widely and deeply in classical literature. (Garry Wills notes the Gettysburg Address' similarity to Pericles' Funeral Oration.)
Mostly, though, Lincoln sounds more Biblical than classical. He was well-acquainted with the King James Bible, and its influence can be seen in much of his writing.
The significance of the Gettysburg Address is not simply in its elevated language, which is magnificent, but rather its influence in shaping the nation's own self-understanding. Lincoln's speech ratified, and gave new energy, to Thomas Jefferson's egalitarian vision for the country.
The Jeffersonian influence is in the very first sentence--"that all men are created equal". Jefferson had chiseled these words into American history in the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln stamped them with approval, and raised the question, as Jefferson had, of whether self-government can work. ("Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.")
Lincoln answered that question by asserting "a new birth of freedom", a re-invigoration of our founding principles of self-government, which he defined in a way that is thoroughly Jeffersonian, yet expressed with new force: "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
33When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!”36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”39One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Translation: And when they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified him and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood, seeing.
But the rulers were deriding, saying, "He saved others. Let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen." And the soldiers also mocked him, coming (and) offering to him common wine, and saying, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself." There was also an inscription over him, "This one (is) the king of the Jews." And one of the hanging criminals was reviling him: "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us."
But the other answered, rebuking him, saying, "Do you not fear God that you are in the same condemnation, and we indeed justly, for what we receive (is) appropriate to what we did, but this one has done nothing out of place." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."
Nor Elizabeth Warren either. Norm Scheiber makes the case for a Warren candidacy in an article this week for the New Republic.
It's not going to happen. Every cycle, the uber-liberal wing of the Democratic Party searches and searches for an alternative to the so-called "establishment" candidate. Remember Jerry Brown? Paul Tsongas? Gary Hart? Bill Bradley? Howard Dean? (Were any of these fellows really more liberal than Bill Clinton, Walter Mondale, John Kerry, or Al Gore?)
Elizabeth Warren is the uber-liberal candidate du jour, and a fine United States senator, but there's no way she wrests the nomination from Hillary Clinton. Hillary's coalition will be the same as last time--hispanics, the elderly, a sizeable chunk of the liberals, and women. Plus, this time, add African-Americans.
Hillary's critics say she was the inevitable nominee last time, and look what happened. Yes, look. Against a heavily-touted phenom, she won two-thirds of the primaries--the only large state primary won by then-Sen. Obama was his home state of Illinois.
Obama narrowly won the nomination contest by building up delegates in red state caucuses, and then prevailing through sheer muscle in the party's Rules Committee. (Hillary was supposed to be the insider power-broker, but you don't get more "inside" than control of the party's Rules Committee.)
President Obama is the one nomination contest the uber-liberals were able to win. They combined their 20% of the Democratic vote with the 25% represented by African-Americans. This time, African-Americans will be for Hillary.
Chris Christie is the toast of northeastern Republicans this week, all six of them. His claim to fame is being able to pull a majority of the young, African-americans, Latinos, and women. For Republicans interested in reaching out beyond their base, all six of them, Christie is The Man. Christie would lose to Hillary in all those voter groups, even in New Jersey.
5When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, 6“As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” 7They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” 8And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. 9“When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 10Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; 11there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. 12“But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. 13This will give you an opportunity to testify. 14So make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance; 15for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 16You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17You will be hated by all because of my name. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By your endurance you will gain your souls.
Translation: And, as some were speaking concerning the temple, that it had been adorned with good stones and offerings, he said, "These things you see, days will come in which there will not be left stone upon stone, that will not be thrown down." But they asked him, saying, "Teacher, when therefore will these things be? And what (will be) the sign when these things shall come to be?" And he said, "See that you might not be deceived, for many will come upon my name, saying, 'I am' and 'the time has come near.' Do not go after them. But when you hear of wars and disorders, do not be terrified, for it is necessary for these things to come to be first, but (they are) not immediately the end." Then he said to them, "Nation will be raised upon nation and kingdom upon kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places, famines and plagues. And there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands upon you and they will persecute, delivering you into the synagogues and prisons, leading you away to kings and governors for my name. It will turn you into a witness. Therefore, put in your hearts not to mediate before you defend yourselves, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to resist or contradict. But you will be delivered over by parents and siblings and relatives and friends, they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated ones by all because of my name, but a hair of your head may surely not be destroyed. In your endurance, you will possess your lives."
27 Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him 28and asked him a question, ‘Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the manshall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. 29Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; 30then the second 31and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. 32Finally the woman also died. 33In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.’
Translation: Some of the Sadducees, the ones saying there is no resurrection, came to question him, saying, "Teacher, Moses wrote to us that, if a man's brother dies, having a woman and he without children, that his brother might take the woman and raise up seed to his brother. There were, therefore, seven brothers, and the first took a woman; he died without children--and the second and the third took her, and, in like manner, the seven also; and they left no children and they died, and afterward, the woman died. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose woman of them is she? For the seven had her a wife.
When Kathleen Sebelius appeared yesterday before the House Republicans, Cong. Joe Barton said, “Dorothy at some point in the movie turns to her little dog, Toto, and says, ‘Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.’ Well, Madam Secretary, while you’re from Kansas, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Barton meant this lame cliche as a display of his incisive humor and wit. Does Barton know that that line has been repeated over and over in popular culture for over 70 years now?
I wouldn't have been surprised if Secretary Sebelius had said, "Congratulations, Cong. Barton, you are the 1000th person to use that hackneyed and unoriginal expression with me, in the past 5 years alone!"
20Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21“Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25“Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
27“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Translation: And he lifted up his eyes to his disciples (and) was saying, "Blessed (are) the destitute, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed (are) the ones that hunger now, for you will be fed. Blessed (are) the ones who weep now for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you and when they may separate you and reproach you and throw out your name as evil on account of the Son of Humanity. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for behold! your reward (is) great in heaven, for this is how your fathers did to the prophets."
"Moreover, woe to you, to the rich ones, for you have your comfort. Woe to you, the ones who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe, the ones laughing now, for you will mourn and you will weep. Woe when all human beings may speak well of you, for this is how your fathers did to the false prophets."
"But I say to you, the listening ones, love your enemies, do good to the ones hating you, bless the ones cursing you, pray concerning the ones falsely accusing you. To the one who smites you on the cheek, give the other, and to the one taking your garment, you may not forbid the tunic. Give to everyone who asks from you, and to the one taking away your goods, do not demand back. And just as you wish people might do to you, you do to them in like manner.
I have always been what you might call an ecumenical person. I even remember the exact moment when I became aware of this. I must have been about seven or eight years old. My parents and I were on our way to church.
I don’t remember how we got into it, but what I do remember is that it was the very first time that the word “Lutheran” made an impression. That’s what we are, my dad said, “We’re Lutherans.” I remember thinking that this was a truly great word. I repeated it, savoring the syllables, proud that I was actually such a great thing as a “Lutheran.”
What about Mrs. Tawney, my teacher? “She’s Methodist.” Methodist!—another marvelous word. What a great thing it must be to be a Methodist, I thought to myself.
Then I asked about my friends, the Eberles. What were they? “Catholic,” they said. I loved this word too. Cath-o-lic. What a great word! What a great thing it must be to be a Catholic. I’ve been ecumenical ever since.
I went to healthcare.gov this morning and browsed around. I know HHS has had problems with this website, but it worked just fine this morning.
In fact, it seems pretty well laid out. If you're a business you go one direction, if an individual you go another. Simple enough. For individuals, the next most important thing is what state you live in. For Colorado, you are directed off the government site to the state site.
If you're in a state that doesn't participate in ACA, and has done everything it can to undermine it, like Texas, for example, you stay on the government website and then must open an account. I would imagine that this is where the sand got in the gears.
Ted Cruz was the big winner in the government shutdown/debt ceiling debacle. By posing as the nation's foremost opponent of Obamacare, to the point of suicidal mission, he has managed to separate himself from the pack by finding a way to be seen as the most conservative out of a slew of very conservative potential candidates. This is quite extraordinary, and an exceptional display of political skill on the part of Cruz.
He was never very serious about his scheme to "defund Obamacare." His alleged "strategy" was a chimera from the start and reminiscent of this classic cartoon which once appeared in the New Yorker. The scheme is quite elaborate, but it depends on a miracle at the critical juncture.
Cruz's strategy to "defund Obamacare" was based on putting pressure on the Senate Democrats to do it. The GOP House would be stalwart. The Senate Republicans would be stalwart also, he supposed, but that would not be a majority. In order to get a majority in the Senate, Senate Democrats would have to cave.
That's when the miracle would happen. Cruz supposed that, because Obamacare was so massively unpopular, that public opinion would storm over the Senate Democrats and cause them to flip.
There are several flaws in that alleged "strategy," the most notable being that Obamacare is not that unpopular. True, the polls are roughly 60-40 against Obamacare, but about one-fourth to one-third of the people who say they oppose it do so because they wanted single payer all along. They fault Obamacare for not being liberal enough.
Put another way, support for Obamacare, or a more liberal alternative, is about 60-40, which is a considerable majority, and which further means there is no massive groundswell of opposition that could shake the Senate Democrats.
Ted Cruz knew all this, of course. He went ahead anyway because the surest route to the heart of the GOP base is ideological fidelity combined with crusader-like zeal. It worked like a charm. One recent poll showed that Cruz was now the choice of 74% of tea party Republicans. That's the base.
His strategy never stood a chance, but that doesn't matter too much to Cruz since he accomplished so much by pursuing it. In one swoop, he has assured himself of adequate financing for the 2016 campaign of which he is now the frontrunner.
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’33They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’
34 Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
Translation: Then Jesus said to the Judeans, the ones who had faithed in him, "If you abide in my word, truly you are my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." They answered him, "We are seeds of Abraham, and we have never been slaves to anyone. How do you say, 'You will become free people?'"
Jesus answered them, "Truly, Truly, I say to you, anyone doing a sin is a slave of sin. But the slave does not abide in the house forever. The son abides forever. If, then, the son makes you free, you will be free in reality."
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) has not lived in the sunflower state for many, many years. He lists an address in Dodge City, but I'm not sure that anyone has ever been able to find it.
Roberts went to Washington way back in the 1970's as a congressional aide to Cong. Keith Sebelius (R-KS). When Sebelius chose not to run for re-election in 1980, Roberts stepped in, won his election, and served in the House of Representatives until running for the Senate in 1996.
Earlier this week, he called on Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, to step down from her post. Kathleen is married to Gary Sebelius, son of Keith, the mentor of Pat Roberts.