”There are Difficulties”

”There are Difficulties”
Vol: 114 Issue: 19 Saturday, March 19, 2011

The United States is now semi-committed to half-heartedly participate in a coalition of nations aiming to conduct a war without calling it one against an enemy it is not planning to defeat. 

Before going on, let me say that I am as sick of politics as you. But the Omega Letter’s mission is to examine the headlines from a Christian perspective through the prism of Bible prophecy. 

So for right now, as much as we’d like to look away, we can’t.  It’s all part of the overall Big Picture as outlined by the prophets. 

President Obama offered the following remarks after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorizing member nations to impose a no-fly zone using “whatever means necessary” to prevent Ghadaffi’s forces from defeating the rebels now holding Benghazi.

UN Resolution 1973 specifically asserts it is not seeking to either invade or divide Libya.  Instead, its stated aim is to achieve a cease-fire, not a solution. 

It does not call for regime change. It does not call for Ghadaffi’s removal.  It simply demands a ceasefire.  It calls for a political settlement between the parties – presumably Ghadaffi and the rebels. 

It authorizes “all necessary means” but specifically excludes “any foreign occupation force” which is being interpreted as no foreign ground troops.  Instead, the “no-fly” zone bans all Libyan aircraft from leaving the ground.

Once the resolution unanimously passed the Security Council (with Russia, China, India, Brazil and Germany abstaining) President Obama explained it to the American people, sort of. 

“American leadership is essential, but that does mean acting alone. It means shaping the conditions for the international community to act together.”

Obama “shaped conditions for the international community to work together” by doing nothing.  So says “The Cable — the daily online edition of Foreign Policy Magazine, (the official organ of the Council on Foreign Relations.)

According to the headline, Obama has European governments “completely puzzled” about the US position on Libya.” (Whew!  I thought it was just me.)

Secretary of State Clinton refused to commit to any one position, repeating the Obama administration mantra that “all options are on the table” while steadfastly looking away from the table. 

“Clinton’s unwillingness to commit the United States to a specific position led many in the room to wonder exactly where the administration stood on the situation in Libya.

“Frankly we are just completely puzzled,” the diplomat said. “We are wondering if this is a priority for the United States.”

On the same day, Clinton had a short meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in which Sarkozy pressed Clinton to come out more forcefully in favor of action in Libya. She declined Sarkozy’s request, according to a government source familiar with the meeting.

Sarkozy told Clinton that “we need action now” and she responded to him, “there are difficulties,” the source said, explaining that Clinton was referring to China and Russia’s opposition to intervention at the United Nations. Sarkozy replied that the United States should at least try to overcome the difficulties by leading a strong push at the U.N., but Clinton simply repeated, “There are difficulties.”

One of the “difficulties” that had the Secretary of State hamstrung in Paris was explaining what he meant by American “leadership” from Washington — as his family was busy packing for their vacation in Rio. 

“It is not an action that we will pursue alone. Indeed, our British and French allies and members of the Arab League have already committed to take a leadership role in the enforcement of this resolution, just as they were instrumental in pursuing it.”

Maybe I’m more cynical this morning than usual, but it seems to me that what the President was attempting to do was explain leadership by abdication.

Assessment:

On March 3, Obama gave what some confused with a policy statement when he called for Ghadaffi to step down.  But Obama articulated a ‘clarified’ US policy statement yesterday.  

Ghadaffi doesn’t have to step down.  He just has to withdraw his forces to what amounts to the borders of old Tripolitania, dividing Libya among its constituent parts.

Obama demanded the reestablishment of supply lines and the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the rebel cities.  None of that was included in the UN resolution. That is probably one of the ‘difficulties’ of which Secretary Clinton spoke. 

The French have made no secret of their mission in Libya.  They want regime change.  The French have already recognized the rebels as the legitimate government of Libya. Another ‘difficulty.’ 

“France’s foreign minister, Alain Juppé, spoke openly this week of his unhappiness with Washington’s slowness and difficulty in defining its position, before the Security Council voted for a no-fly zone.

France and Britain had been calling for a no-fly zone for two weeks, he said Wednesday, but other nations dragged their feet. “It often happens in our recent history that the weakness of democracies gives dictators free rein,” he said. “It’s not too late to break with this rule.” He added that it was not enough just to call on Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to quit, as leaders in the United States and other nations had done.”

The US position is baffling no matter what perspective one comes at it from.  Are we favoring regime change?  Status quo?  Division? Perpetual, low level combat? 

Invasion and the use of ground troops have already been precluded.  Since the United States is “leading” by staying as far back as possible, what if Ghadaffi doesn’t withdraw his forces to the borders of Tripolitania? Another ‘difficulty.’

Will Obama scold Ghadaffi sternly?  Despite Secretary Clinton’s assertion that “all options are on the table” — the text of the president’s remarks took most of the options OFF the table.  

What is America’s foreign policy? It’s difficult to say. 

When Iranian demonstrators appeared to be on the brink of toppling the Iranian regime, American policy was that we would not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs.  Too dangerous.  

When Egyptian demonstrators appeared to be on the brink of toppling the Mubarak regime, American policy was to demand Mubarak’s resignation. 

Not regime change (Egypt’s military government remains intact) but simply the removal of an unpopular leader.  Easy-peasy.) 

Now that the UN has forced Obama to take a stand, his stand is best articulated this way:  

All options are on the table except;

  • Ghadaffi doesn’t have to go,
  • we won’t use US air power;
  • we won’t invade
  • we won’t commit ground troops 

And finally, and most importantly. . . 

 “Gosh, I have to go get ready for Rio. .  . check with Hillary if there are any ‘difficulties’ — See ya.

Where is America in Bible prophecy?  It is difficult to say. Rio, maybe? 

How Relevant ARE We?

How Relevant ARE We?
Vol: 114 Issue: 18 Friday, March 18, 2011

As of the UN vote yesterday, the United States is now making preparations to commit an act of war.  Am I the only one that thinks this is an inappropriate time for the President to take his family on vacation to Rio?

The president says that his trip is all business.  He says that he is going to Latin America to “strengthen our economic relationship with neighbors who are playing a growing role in our economic future.”

So that’s why he is taking Michelle and Malia and Sasha with him?   To strengthen America’s economic relationship with Brazil? 

From Brazil, the Obama family will take in the sights and sounds of Santiago, Chile, where they “will work with Chile to deepen that relationship and address other common economic, hemispheric and global challenges.”

From Chile they will jet off to beautiful El Salvador, from which Obama acknowledges is responsible for one of America’s largest Hispanic populations.  

All that is well and good, but seriously. . .  the UN Security Council just voted to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.   How does one impose a “no-fly” zone?  There are a series of steps, the first of which is to bomb Libya’s air defenses!

Shouldn’t the nation’s Commander-in-Chief be at the helm instead of touring Latin America with his family?  Brazil can’t wait???

Secretary of State Clinton gave an interview with CNN following the vote.  It would appear that she has had enough of Barack Hussein Obama and his Traveling Show.  

She was asked four times by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer if she would be interested in keeping her job through a second Obama term. In each instance, she responded with a crisp, one-word answer.  “No.” 

A report from the subscription-based iPad experiment, “the Daily”–  reading between the lines – summarized the Secretary’s position thusly:

“Fed up with a president “who can’t make his mind up” as Libyan rebels are on the brink of defeat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is looking to the exits. . .

When French president Nicolas Sarkozy urged her to press the White House to take more aggressive action in Libya, Clinton repeatedly replied only, “There are difficulties,” according to Foreign Policy magazine.

“Frankly we are just completely puzzled,” one of the diplomats told Foreign Policy magazine. “We are wondering if this is a priority for the United States.”

Or as the insider described Obama’s foreign policy shop: “It’s amateur night.”

For its part, the president openly mocked Secretary Clinton’s position on intervention in Libya at the Gridiron Club last week.

“I’ve dispatched Hillary to the Middle East to talk about how these countries can transition to new leaders — though, I’ve got to be honest, she’s gotten a little passionate about the subject,” Obama said to laughter from the audience.

“These past few weeks it’s been tough falling asleep with Hillary out there on Pennsylvania Avenue shouting, throwing rocks at the window.”

(Maybe that’s why he’s taking the vacation? With Hillary throwing rocks at the window, it is harder to ignore those pesky three am phone calls.)

Personally, I think the no-fly zone is a necessary idea and one that should have been implemented a month ago when it would have made a significant difference.  

But it isn’t a good idea to start a war from somebody else’s country.  Is it? 

Rio could wait.  But evidently the Obamas can’t.

Assessment:

It isn’t really Obama’s problem  — the effort to impose a no-fly zone over Libya wasn’t spearheaded by the United States.  America is just along for the ride. The effort was led by France. . . and backed by Lebanon!

Great Britain is also joining the effort — probably as a form of penance for its double-dealing over releasing the Lockerbie Bomber in exchange for special oil leases for British Petroleum.   

The Italians said that they would make their military bases available to allied aircraft to enforce the no-fly zone.  The Italian airbase at Sigonella is the closet NATO base to Libya, which lies just across the Med.

The latest draft of the UN resolution goes well beyond calling for a no-fly zone.  It authorizes the Arab League, individual nations and NATO to:

“. . . take all necessary measures…to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat…including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force.”

It is expected that the first airstrikes will be launched unilaterally by British and French aircraft. They could be in the air within hours.   Up to five Arab air forces may also take part in the effort.  

Upon hearing news of the UN vote, Ghadaffi (or whatever) issued a statement saying that Libyan air space was closed to foreign aircraft. 

For his part, Obama telephoned the leaders of Britain and France after the vote, the White House said. THAT must have been an interesting conversation. . .

“Uhhh, the UN Security Council voted to use force, but I’m gonna be in Rio for the weekend with my family . . . important business, far too important to postpone for a little bitty war like this one.  So why don’t you guys take the point and if there’s any heavy lifting to do, I’ll be back in town next week.”

Canada has pledged to send fighters in support of the no-fly zone.  The British say they will have their planes in the air within hours.

Columnist Pat Buchanan noted that, “Among the few things that may be said with certainty about the Arab revolution of 2011 is that it has revealed the rising irrelevance of President Obama in that part of the world.”

“Caught flat-footed by the uprising in Tunisia, the White House could only offer belated congratulations to the demonstrators who had deposed and driven out our longtime ally, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

After Tunisia, Vice President Joe Biden insisted the embattled Hosni Mubarak was not a dictator in Egypt. Obama sided with Mubarak and then said he ought to go. Then, when the Saudis and Israelis protested that we were abandoning a friend of 30 years, Obama concluded Mubarak should stay.

When the army suddenly sent Mubarak packing, the White House hailed the revolution as the harbinger of an Arab spring.”

Lt. Col. Oliver North (USMC – Ret.) published a timeline of recent international events and what action the president took in response.    It’s an eye-opening article worth taking the time to read.   Here are just a few snippets.

“Thursday, March 17: U.S. citizens are warned to evacuate Japan. As Gadhafi’s forces prepare to assault the remaining rebel strongholds in Libya, the U.N. Security Council debates what to do. Before celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at the White House, O’Bama visited the Japanese Embassy, had our U.N. ambassador announce we may have to “go beyond a no-fly zone” in Libya, and told the world he is part Irish.

(Of course! Bill O’Reilly.  Paddy O’Brien.  Barack O’Bama. How could I miss something that obvious?)

All of these tough decisions on Libya, the Middle East, the disaster in Japan, a teetering U.S. economy, the lack of a federal budget, basketball games, golf outings and DNC fundraisers are taking a toll on our chief executive. So it’s only fair he should take a taxpayer-funded spring break in Rio de Janeiro.”

Indeed.  There is a link on today’s Drudge report that summarizes a growing suspicion now shared in many corners of the planet. “Paper: Obama: The Weakest President in US History?”

All this comes at a significant point in history.   Well, actually, future history as outlined by Bible prophecy tens of centuries ago — and now coming to pass before our eyes.

The Bible says that during the last days the world will be divided into four separate spheres of power. None of those world powers bears any resemblance to the United States.  It is as if America simply ceases to be relevant.

That is pretty much the same way that Pat Buchanan describes it from his vantage point on the timeline — and quite apart from any Biblical insights.

“As for Obama, with our foremost Asian ally going through the agony of its worst natural disaster and with revolution raging through the Arab world, he has given us his picks for the Final Four in the “March Madness” of college basketball — and set off with Michelle to party in Rio.

How relevant is he? And how relevant are we?”

The answer that question may be forthcoming in a matter of hours.  While the US blustered and threatened, Ghadaffi remained defiant.  

Remember that when Ghadaffi thought George Bush was coming after him next, he surrendered his entire nuclear program, practically begging the UN to disarm him before Bush did. 

When it was Obama doing the talking, Ghadaffi felt perfectly safe. 

Breaking news from the Associated Press is reporting that when Ghadaffi realized the UN was coming after him instead, he ordered an immediate cease-fire. 

How relevant are we?  Not relevant enough to scare Ghadaffi. 

President Nero

President Nero
Vol: 114 Issue: 17 Thursday, March 17, 2011

In AD 64 the Great Fire of Rome decimated ten of the city’s fourteen districts.  The fire spread quickly and it burned for five and a half days, according to contemporary historian Tacitus in his ”Annals of Rome.”

The works of Tacitus, a Roman senator and historian, span the period of time from the death of Augustus Caesar sometime around the year 14 AD to the death of Emperor Domitian in 96 AD.

Thus Tacitus provides a secular eyewitness account of events from the perspective of Rome from the period of the Resurrection to the time of the Lord’s appearance to John on the Isle of Patmos.

There are other surviving histories from the period; those of Plutarch, Pliny the Elder, Cassius Dio and Suetonius.  Like any true eyewitness accounts, they disagree according to perspective.

At the time of the Great Fire, the sitting emperor was Nero, adopted son of Emperor Claudius.  Cassius Dio blamed Nero for the fire, writing that Nero had agents fire the city to make way for a new building project. 

As the city burned Suetonius says, Nero sat on Palantine Hill, playing his lyre and singing, “The Sack of Illium.”  It is from Suetonius’ account that the popular legend that “Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned” is based. 

Tacitus noted that the rumor had begun to take hold among the population and so Nero blamed the Christians to deflect blame away from himself.  Brace yourself: it makes for some pretty horrific reading:

“As a consequence, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians [or Chrestians] by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but, even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. In accordance, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not as much of the crime of firing the city as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”

Suetonius writes in his work, “The Life of Claudius” that “Jews instigated by “Chrestus” were expelled from the city.”   The Book of Acts records this event as well.

“After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.” (Acts 18:1-2)

(Pliny the Younger also makes reference to “Chrestians” as does Flavius Josephus who mentions both Christians and Jesus.)

Let’s pause here and make a few summary observations.  The first and most important is that the real, historical emperor Nero could not have blamed the Great Fire of Rome on Christians had there not been a real, historical Christ.

Secondarily, note that Nero was also a real historical figure.  When Rome burned, enough of his own population blamed Nero that Nero found it necessary to seek out a scapegoat to deflect the blame elsewhere.

Nero blamed the Christians. Then he blamed the Jews. He blamed everybody but Nero.   As Nero’s end approached, he reportedly cried over and over, “What an artist dies in me!”

But it was the popular perception that “Nero fiddled while Rome burned” that history remembers. 

Because it was so bizarre.

Assessment:

And speaking of bizarre, the Middle East is ablaze with rebellion.  For the first time in decades, the United States has a chance to rid itself of a mortal enemy in Libya and has a golden opportunity to help shape its successor government.

Muamar Ghadaffi (or whatever) is the guy that personally ordered  the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 243 passengers, 16 crew members and the eleven innocents on the ground below killed by the falling debris.

The Libyan rebels are begging the United States to help them in their struggle.  The Arab League is asking Washington for help in imposing a no fly zone!  The Arab League!!!

The Great Quake of Japan registered a 9.0 on the Richter scale. It was the fourth most powerful in history.  The subsequent tsunami swept away untold thousands and erased the Japanese coastline.

One of Japan’s main nuclear reactor sites is undergoing meltdown.  Saudi Arabia has invaded Bahrain in an effort to keep the unrest from spreading into their country. 

The United States is so far in debt that it cannot meet its domestic obligations.  The states are finding it impossible to meet their own state obligations. 

People are taking to the streets . . . in Wisconsin!

On Thursday, Obama hosted a White House Conference on Bullying.  On Friday, instead of making a decision on Libya, he took time out to honor the Chicago Blackhawks for winning the Stanley Cup.   

As Japan’s nuclear meltdown unfolded over the weekend, President Obama phoned in his weekly radio address Saturday, focusing on “Women’s History Month” while he took off to go play the sixty-first round of golf of his administration. 

After playing a few holes, he headed back to the White House in time to shower and get ready to party with the Washington elite at the annual Gridiron Dinner.

As Obama was being introduced at the dinner, the chords of Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” blared in the background.  

“Some things just bear repeating,” he said.  (Just not proving.)

With the US economy on the brink of meltdown, lawmakers have begun wondering aloud why he has not taken part in the deficit reduction debate.  But he wasn’t too busy to party with lawmakers at a Chicago Bulls basketball game.

On Thursday, the President will be tied up with an important conference with the Taoiseach of Ireland, who will be in town to help the president celebrate St Patrick’s Day.  

Then on Friday, it’s off to Brazil to kick of a three-nation ‘tour’ of Latin America.   If anyone dares to criticize him, it is because they are either racist or because they are “Bible-toting xenophobes with antipathy towards those that aren’t like them.” 

Who knew it was that easy to shut the critics up? What an artist!  Who knew that being President was the easiest job in the world? Free travel, lots of perks and evidently, no responsibilities.

And its waaay more fun than playing a fiddle!  No wonder he wants to run again in 2012. Who wouldn’t?

Assuming the fires are out.

The Face of Evil

The Face of Evil
Vol: 114 Issue: 16 Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I heard somebody on television the other day decrying the onslaught of evil that has befallen our world.  It is an interesting observation, given that for many today, ‘evil’ does not exist.   And in a manner of speaking, they would be right.

Evil does exist, but only in the same sense that injustice exists.  What is injustice? Try this – attempt to define it without using the word ‘justice’ or some form of the word ‘justice’ or another word that means ‘justice’.  

You can’t define injustice by itself — because by itself, it does not exist – injustice is the absence of justice.  Justice is somethinginjustice is not.

One is a positive thing, capable of existing alone – something we might call “perfect justice.” The other is a negative thing that cannot exist except as a measure of the lack of the positive thing.  

But in this universe, both are necessary.  

In that sense, the physical universe is like a battery.  There must be both a positive and a negative for the positive to have any power.  Good would be powerless if there were no evil to overcome.  

‘Rich’ would be a meaningless term if there were no poverty.  One couldn’t be healthy if there were no sickness.   The angels were created perfect in every respect – which is probably why “healthy” is the one word you’ll never find used to describe angels.    

So evil exists as a measure of the absence of good, but it is more than that.   Good simply is – whereas evil requires intent.   Allow me to demonstrate.

A tree can be good.   A ‘good’ tree is healthy and strong and productive.  Now, describe an ‘evil’ tree. A tree can be “bad” — sick, unhealthy, unproductive — but it can’t be evil.  Things can be ‘bad’ – but evil requires intelligence.   

The deaths of 10,000 innocent Japanese following the quake and tsunami was very bad, awful, catastrophic, tragic . . . but not evil.

It was a consequence of the damage that one would expect from a 9.0 earthquake and a thirty-foot tsunami wave.  The earthquake wasn’t evil – it was the natural  and expected result of two tectonic plates colliding and one plate snapping and then sliding under the other, forcing the earth to shift.

The tsunami wave wasn’t evil – it was what happens when billions of gallons of water are suddenly displaced.   An earthquake isn’t good – neither is a tsunami – but they aren’t evil.

A warrior meets another warrior on the battlefield and in the course of open combat, one warrior kills the other.  Good for one, bad for the other. 

But ‘evil’ would not necessarily apply. Was King David evil? Joshua? Elijah?

We’ve looked at examples of good and bad.  Now let’s look at evil.

Assessment:

“Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”  (3rd John 1:11)

On Friday night shortly after 10 PM, just hours after the commencement of the Jewish Sabbath, two knife-wielding intruders broke into the home of the Fogel family, murdering the mother and father in their bed along with their three-month old baby girl.

They then stormed one of the children’s rooms, slashing to death two boys, ages three and eleven. Two other sleeping children – aged two and eight – managed to survive when the terrorists failed to notice them sleeping in the other bedroom.

A twelve-year old daughter came home from a Sabbath function to find the gruesome scene.  Twelve years old! 

Tracks from the scene of the crime led directly to the nearby Arab village of Awarta.  When news of the murders broke, Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza cheered and passed out candies and sweets in celebration. 

They celebrated the slashing murder of a three-month old infant!  That is not bad. It isn’t a catastrophe.  It isn’t a tragedy  (except for the victims and their loved ones).  It is EVIL.   

Pure, unadulterated evil incarnate.  Evil of the kind that would even make Hitler look away.  Incomprehensible evil.  How could a human being take a knife and cut the throat of a sleeping infant?  Any human being?  

How could anyone celebrate such an act as a good thing? What kind of people are they?

I would argue they might well be the most evil population concentrated in any one place on Planet Earth in the 21st century.  

Evil requires intent.  How’s this for another example of evil?  “Suspecting Palestinians, Israeli Military Hunts for Killers of Five West Bank Settlers.”  

That headline is a masterpiece of evil. The Israeli military is “suspecting” Palestinians?  Who else? Disenchanted rabbis?

What does the Israeli military have to do with it?  Well, they are the ones that ‘suspect’ the murders were committed by Palestinians.  They are the ones hunting down the killers. 

But by bringing the military into the headline,  a cold-blooded, murderous massacre of a family is subliminally framed as a military operation against an Israeli enemy. 

 Lastly, the victims – “Five West Bank Settlers.”

AHA!  They were settlers – (intended to be read  as “squatters on Palestinian lands”) which implies they probably had it coming.  “Five settlers” – one eleven, one three and one an infant.   

According to the New York Times, the murder of a sleeping family isn’t ‘evil’ – but building settlements in the West Bank somehow is.    

The United Nations and Western governments carefully worded their condemnation of the murders so as to create the impression of moral equivalence between Israeli military and the Palestinians who would either slash the throats of infants — or cheer the slashers on. 

“Attacks on any civilians are completely unacceptable in any circumstances.”   What does THAT mean?  Does Israel “attack” civilians?   I couldn’t say it any better than TownHall columnist Ben Shapiro when he wrote:

“This is what the United Nations does when faced by implacable evil: it reverses the roles. Israel is always the bully, and those who slit children’s throats and soak their toys in blood are the victims. Jewish blood is cheap at the U.N. But it isn’t cheap for Americans, who foot the taxpayer bill for that stinking, festering pustule of moral incoherence. “

When it comes to Israel, no atrocity against Jewish settlers is so horrible that the media can’t find some moral equivalence between it and the Israeli government.  

The intent of the Palestinian murderers was to kill Israelis – the more innocent and helpless, the better.  The method was the coldest, most brutal and painful way imaginable.  The mission was to prevent peaceful coexistence between the two sides because the goal is to annihilate the State of Israel.

Still unsure about the identity of evil?   “PLO: Israel Has Exploited Itamar Murders:”

“Abed Rabbo, speaking after the PLO meeting which was chaired by President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Palestinian leadership “reject the attempts to take advantage” of the killings, and called for “Israeli public opinion not to be dragged by attempts of its government to slander the Palestinians.”

Rabbo called Israel’s reaction to the murder of a sleeping family by Palestinian terrorists an ISRAELI effort “aimed at destroying all political efforts aimed at reviving the peace process.”

The face of evil in this generation has been so effectively disguised that the New York Times can argue that evil looks like a sleeping three-month old . . . ummmm,  “settler.”  

As to the Palestinian murderers, the Times explains that because they are Palestinians,  they really aren’t murderers in the strictest sense of the word.

“Palestinians have often justified the killing of Israeli civilians, especially settlers, as a legitimate response to the Israeli occupation of territory conquered in the 1967 war, or in the case of radicals, as part of a broader struggle against Israel’s existence.”

Just in case you thought murdering a sleeping family was evil instead of “a legitimate response to the Israeli occupation” — now you know better. 

Catastrophe in Perspective

Catastrophe in Perspective
Vol: 114 Issue: 15 Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On April 26th 1986, a power spike at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Pripyat, Ukraine caused the reactor to explode, which led to the rupture of the containment vessel and fire which released a massive plume of radioactive fallout into the area.

The plume drifted over large parts of the western Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and Northern Europe. Large areas in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia had to be evacuated, and over 336,000 people were resettled away from the affected area.

In all, there were fifty deaths associated with the explosion and fire.  All the dead were either emergency workers or reactor staff.

The accident released four hundred times as much radiation as the Hiroshima atomic bomb in 1945.

Since Chernobyl, the IAEA has established a scale, sort of like the Richter Scale, to quantify nuclear accidents.  Like the Richter scale, it is exponential; each whole number represents a ten-fold increase in the threat.  

Chernobyl was rated a 7 – the highest level ever recorded.  Estimates vary wildly regarding how many died as a result of the radioactive fallout.  

But the World Health Organization’s 2006 Report of the Chernobyl Forum Expert Group identified just 237 victims of radiation sickness, of whom 31 died in the first three months. There were no further deaths identified among the general population as a result of the accident.

An international assessment of the health effects of the Chernobyl accident is contained in a series of reports by the United Nations Scientific Committee of the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). UNSCEAR was set up as a collaboration between various UN bodies, including the World Health Organization, after the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to assess the long-term effects of radiation on human health.

UNSCEAR has conducted 20 years of detailed scientific and epidemiological research on the effects of the Chernobyl accident. Apart from the 57 direct deaths in the accident itself, UNSCEAR originally predicted up to 4,000 additional cancer cases due to the accident.

However, the latest UNSCEAR reports suggest that these estimates were overstated. In addition, the IAEA states that there has been no increase in the rate of birth defects or abnormalities, or solid cancers (such as lung cancer) corroborating UNSCEAR’s assessments.

The Chernobyl disaster is one of two nuclear accidents in the history of the world.  The other was a core meltdown at Three Mile Island.  The Three Mile Island accident resulted in a moratorium on new nuclear plants within the United States.

Although three are under construction, there hasn’t been a new nuclear plant completed and taken on line in America since 1966, thanks to the Three Mile Island accident. 

The death toll from the core meltdown and subsequent release of radiation was – well, there was no death toll.  Nobody died.  Nobody even got sick.

The Three Mile Island accident was rated a five on the nuclear disaster scale.

The Kemeny Commission Report concluded that “there will either be no case of cancer or the number of cases will be so small that it will never be possible to detect them.” 

Several epidemiological studies in the years since the accident have supported the conclusion that radiation releases from the accident had no perceptible effect on cancer incidence in residents near the plant, though these findings have been contested by one team of researchers.”

In Japan, a massive 9.0 earthquake (or is it an 8.9?) triggered a killer tsunami that essentially destroyed the entire northeast section of the country, claimed untold thousands of lives, repositioned the main island, shifted the earth on its axis and changed time.

The tsunami also knocked out many of the country’s nuclear reactors, including the Fukushima reactor farm, releasing clouds of radioactive steam.

The number of dead and missing – so far – from the quake and tsunami stands at just over 5,500 – although the toll is expected to climb into the tens of thousands.  

The number of dead as a consequence of the Fukushima reactor meltdown stands at zero. 

Assessment:

It is time to inject some sense of perspective into the story.  Ninety percent of an iceberg is below the water line.  Using that analogy, the nuclear disaster in Japan is just a small part of the exposed tip.

I am in no way minimizing the threat posed by nuclear radiation.  Exposure to sufficient levels of radiation WILL kill you and exposure to less severe levels can cause cancer. 

We saw that at Chernobyl where there were about a thousand cases of thyroid cancer. That is why the immediate treatment for exposure is iodine to prevent absorption into the thyroid.  (With treatment, thyroid cancer is 98% curable.)

There are things that we know.  And there are things that we don’t know.  Then there are things we only think that we know.   

We know about earthquakes and tsunami disasters.  We don’t know much about nuclear disasters.  What we know right now was summed up by France’s head of nuclear safety. (France is the most nuclear-dependent country in the world.)

According to Andre-Claude Lacoste, the accident was now “worse than Three Mile Island but not as great as Chernobyl”.  That certainly sounds ominous.  

But nobody died at Three Mile Island and relatively few died at Chernobyl.

The Japanese meltdown is therefore more serious than Three Mile Island because more reactors are in meltdown, but not as serious as Chernobyl because the Russian-made reactors had little or no containment fail-safes.

And despite the assessment from France, the Japanese meltdown is still rated as a four on the nuclear disaster scale.  (Three Mile Island was a five – meaning it was ten times worse.)

Around the world, Germany and Switzerland reacted by suspending plans for new reactors. Italy and Poland said they would rethink plans to invest in nuclear energy, and Friends of the Earth urged the British government to scrap its own plans for new reactors.

EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told nuclear experts meeting in Brussels to discuss the Japanese catastrophe that the EU should start considering a nuclear-free future. (No knee-jerk reaction there).

What in the world is going on?  

One of the unexpected surprises of the Japanese catastrophe was the disaster cost estimates. From all accounts, about a third of Japan has been all but destroyed. 

Entire cities have been wiped out.  Tens of thousands dead.  Recall the images as thousands of automobiles were washed away.  

In one video shot, I saw at least a dozen large ships smashed into kindling when they were carried into and then under a highway overpass.

Think of the helicopter-shot video of the tsunami rolling up the city of Sendai like a giant carpet – destroying a city of over a million people, washing five miles inland before roaring back out to sea. The carnage and destruction is incomprehensible. 

The initial damage estimates (so far) from Barclay’s and Credit Suisse are around $180 billion dollars. 

Now, take a look at the US National Debt Clock. In the top left corner on the second line is the US federal budget deficit.  

That number, (at the time of this writing) stands at one trillion, three hundred thirty one billion, eight hundred and eighty-five million, (which clocked to eight hundred and eighty-six million in the time it took me to type the number out in words.)

Japan’s disaster helps to put that number into perspective.  The destruction of Japan barely registers.  Subtract $180 billion from the US national debt and it is still way over a trillion dollars. 

Subtract the one trillion dollar figure and we could still rebuild Japan twice over with what we still owe.

Look down to the spot marked “Money Creation.”  The debt clock shows that the Federal Reserve has created more than two trillion dollars out of thin air.  Four trillion dollars in US debt is in foreign hands.

The trade deficit – just between the US and China — could rebuild Japan twice over.  That’s just the trade deficit with ONE country.  

Now to the really terrifying numbers.

Broken down by individual, the average net worth per citizen totals just $247,000.00.  It sounds like a lot – but that figure includes Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc., etc.  

That’s what the average American is worth.  How much of that do we owe?  All of it.  Everything we have.   Actually, we owe about four times everything we have – about one million dollars and change.

The Book of Revelation outlines twenty-one judgments that will befall “those that dwell upon the earth” during the Tribulation Period.  The first four judgments are called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The first two judgments are political.  The antichrist rides the white horse, followed by War, the rider on the red horse.  The rider on the black horse brings economic collapse:

“A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:6)

The fourth horseman is Death, “and hell followed with him.”   So what is the point?   It should be obvious.  

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”  (Luke 21:28)

This ISN’T the Tribulation.   This is only the beginning of what is forecast to fall upon those that “dwell upon the earth.”  Praise the Lord that He comes before it does.  

“Wherefore, comfort one another with these words. ” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

Groaning in Travail

Groaning in Travail
Vol: 114 Issue: 14 Monday, March 14, 2011

“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3)

Before moving along, examine the passage above carefully.  There are two references I want you to see.  The first is that Paul is speaking of “the Day of the Lord.” 

The second is that Paul says the Day of the Lord will come as a “thief in the night”.  The Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation Period is clearly described by the Lord Himself.

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30

This is often confused with the Rapture of the Church because of the next verse:

“And He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. “

Once again, examine the verse carefully.  Compare it to Paul’s description of the Rapture in 1st Thessalonians 4:16.

The “dead in Christ” rise first, then those who are alive and remain are “caught up” (Latin: rapios; Greek harpazo – both mean “to snatch up” – neither could be translated as ‘gather’).

The Lord’s elect are gathered from the four winds – from one end of heaven to the other – but significantly, NOT snatched from the earth.  

So, the Day of the Lord comes as a ‘thief in the night.”  What does that mean?  It should be obvious. It means the Day of the Lord comes in secret, unexpectedly and without warning.  It was the Lord Himself that interpreted the ‘thief in the night’ reference:

“And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.” (Luke 12:39)

There is a commercial I saw recently on TV that illustrated the same point, so it is neither a religious point, nor is it obscure.  You needn’t be a theologian to ‘get’ it.

It depicts criminals calling potential victims and telling them precisely when they intend to rob his home.  The illustration was used to show why you needed protection – because thieves don’t offer their victims any warning.

But they DO leave signs, if you know what to look for.  Thieves always ‘case’ the neighborhood or the house or business they intend to rob.  Just like terrorists tend to ‘case’ the targets they intend to attack.

The Department of Homeland Security tells citizens to watch for such signs and to report them.  Local police are always on the lookout for signs of criminal activity. 

None of the signs mean that the act itself has necessarily occurred – they just indicate that it is possible.

That is why the Bible consistently makes two points concerning the Rapture – points often ignored by those seeking to impose their own understanding instead.

The Rapture will be in secret. And it will come at a time when it is least expected. 

Assessment:

Obviously, there are those that expect the Rapture any day.  I am among them.  So where does the “unexpected” fit in?

Jesus said that nobody could calculate the day or the hour, but that we could know when it is near, “even at the doors.”  We would know that it was near by the signs – but as we’ve seen, signs are not the same as certainty.

You can’t arrest a guy for looking like a burglar or acting like a burglar.  Until he burgles, it is possible that you could be wrong.  But knowing the signs means that you can be prepared, just in case you’re right.

The Japan earthquake has renewed the argument about whether or not earthquakes are increasing, as the Lord said they would as a sign of His Second Coming.

(The Olivet Discourse is in reply to the question, “what shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world?”  The reference is to the end of world government and the start of the Millennial Reign, not the end of the world’s existence.)

Every time there is a major earthquake, it rekindles the debate anew.  Are earthquakes actually increasing?  According to seismologists, if there wasn’t a discernible increase before, there is now.

“A seismology research fellow at the University of Melbourne, Gary Gibson, said the world averages one magnitude 8 quake a year, but the rate was inconsistent. The 1980s and 1990s had far fewer large quakes than average, for example.

”There is more variation than you would expect from a random occurrence of earthquakes, and we really don’t have a mechanism to describe why that is the case,” Dr Gibson said. ”But there is no question that the last two years have been very active and well above average.”

I beg to differ with Dr. Gibson, but only by about four years – the record-breaking began in earnest in 2005, but it takes time for skeptics to become believers.  

In April of last year, we published a report entitled “2010 – The Year of Living Dangerously” that noted the following:

“On Monday, a 7.1 earthquake rocked southern Qinghai, China, killing more than six hundred and injuring more than 10,000.   Another 300 remain missing.   

This is the 24th earthquake measuring at least 6.5 since January 1st.  So far, earthquake activity in the first four months of this year have claimed as many as 300,000 people. Over the same period last year, there were just twelve.”

Earthquakes are always followed by aftershocks, including a main aftershock that is generally one order of magnitude lower than the initial quake.  In the case of a M9.0, the aftershock could be as strong as an M8.0 – more than enough to trigger another tsunami.

Jesus warned that there would come wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, pestilences and so on. He warned that, “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:8)

The signs of the times are all around us and they are scary.  They are scary even to saved Christians who know the signs mean the Day of the Lord is at hand.

They are even scary to Christians who believe the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation begins.

There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that the Church Age will escape bad things in the last days — just that it will be removed before the beginning of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble.

“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” (Proverbs 3:25-26)

Notice there are two fears being addressed here. “Being afraid” and “sudden fear.” It is one thing to respect the risks attached as ‘sudden fear’ — it is another to allow it to rule your life.   

“Sudden fear” is what comes to us all. It is this concept of ‘sudden fear’ that keeps us from being reckless. It is what keeps you from trying to beat oncoming traffic.

After all, you’re saved. You’re a Christian. Nothing can happen to you without God’s permission.  So why don’t you just jump out in front of that oncoming car?

(The ‘sudden fear’ is that God may have granted that permission without telling you.)

It is ok to be afraid in the ‘sudden’ sense — but not to be afraid OF the fear. We live in the world, but we are not OF it. Sudden fear is an understanding of the situation and a respect for its gravity.

Being afraid of sudden fear is what happens when one forgets to place one’s confidence in the Lord.

This is more than just a pretty platitude. It is a bedrock principle of doctrine. It is the Source of that “peace that surpasseth all understanding.”

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

If we are where I suspect we are on the timeline, we will need that peace in the days ahead.  Unless the Lord comes first. 

Because given the preponderance of signs, THAT is an entirely plausible scenario. 

Japan Braces for Nuclear Meltdown

Japan Braces for Nuclear Meltdown
Vol: 114 Issue: 12 Saturday, March 12, 2011

When President Obama referred to the Great Quake of Japan as “potentially” catastrophic, I wondered to myself what the president thought a genuine catastrophe would look like. 

It didn’t seem like things could get any worse. Until the nuclear reactor at Fukishima exploded.  

Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan declared a state of emergency at the Fukushima 1 and 2 power plants as engineers try to confirm whether a reactor at one of the stations has gone into meltdown.

Radiation levels within the plant surged to 1,000 times normal.  The term “meltdown” raises associations with two nuclear accidents in living memory: Three Mile Island in the US in 1979, and Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.

In both, excess heat in the reactor caused the metallic core to melt. The question is whether the same thing has happened in Fukushima

When the core melts down, it melts right through the container and into the ground and eventually into the water table.  

That is what happened at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.  In a worst-case scenario, it could render the area around Fukshima uninhabitable for two hundred years or more.

Officially, the Japanese government says everything is ok, but it extended the evacuation zone around the reactor last night from four miles to twelve. 

Officially, that is.  In practice, Japanese police are reportedly enforcing a quarantine zone about seventy miles wide.

Fukishima isn’t the only reactor damaged by the catastrophe.  In all, Japan has declared states of emergency for five reactors at two different power plants – a first in Japanese history. 

According to the US Geological Survey, the Great Quake of Japan measured a whopping 8.9, making it the most powerful to ever strike the Japanese islands and the seventh most powerful in the history of man.

But the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center disagrees, saying the Japan quake was really a 9.1 – which is more than TWICE as powerful and moves it up the list to the fourth most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the history of man.

According to the PTWC, the top three were the 9.5 quake off the coast of Chile in 1960; the 9.2 in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1964 and the 9.1 earthquake in Sumatra in 2004. Notice the dates. 

Of the top ten most powerful earthquakes of all time, six out of ten occurred after 1948. 

Assessment:

History is a long, long time.  Indeed, some one thousand, nine hundred and fifteen years before Israel was restored to her native homeland in 1948, Jesus Christ was asked to enumerate the signs of His return.

Jesus specifically pegged the generation that would see His return as the same generation that would witness the restoration of God’s “fig tree” – Israel.

“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:33-34)

Among “all these things” that Jesus predicted the last generation would witness was an exponential increase in earthquake activity in “divers” (diverse) places.

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:7)

The “beginning of sorrows” (Gk arche odin) literally translates as the “commencement of [child] birth pangs.”  THAT is what makes the fact that the top six earthquakes in the history of mankind all took place after 1948 so significant.

The USGS has long maintained that there is not actually an increase in earthquake activity, but that it only seems that way.

“A partial explanation may lie in the fact that in the last twenty years, we have definitely had an increase in the number of earthquakes we have been able to locate each year.”

That might explain it, if we were discussing an apparent increase in global seismic activity.  Two hundred years ago, a 7.0 quake somewhere in a remote and uninhabited part of the world might have gone unnoticed.  

But we are talking about the ten most powerful quakes in the history of mankind.

  • Delicate seismic equipment wasn’t necessary to detect the Chilean Quake of 1960.  It killed 4,485 people in Chile while the resulting tsunami claimed another 170 from Japan to the Philippines.
  • The Prince William Sound quake raised some nearby islands by more than 11 meters.  The tsunami it spawned reached an astonishing 67 meters (almost two hundred feet) as it swept into the Valdez inlet.  The displacement of water was felt as far away as the Louisiana Gulf Coast.
  • No equipment was necessary to detect the 9.1 magnitude Sumatra quake in 2004. It moved the island of Sumatra ten feet, moved the earth on its axis, tore the space-time continuum and spawned a tsunami that claimed 230,000 lives world-wide.

We didn’t need delicate seismic equipment to detect the Great Quake of Japan, either. But since we have delicate seismic equipment, here is what we know about it, so far.

It moved Japan’s main island by some eight feet, according to GPS readings which were confirmed by the USGS. 

Reports from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy estimated the Japan quake shifted the planet on its axis by nearly 4 inches.

The quake also ripped into time itself as the planetary adjustment moved time forward by several nanoseconds.

The next three quakes, in order of magnitude since 1948, were Kamchatka (M-9) in 1962; Concepcion, Chile (M9.8) in February 2010, and Assam-Tibet (M8.6). 

Now, if the top four remaining all occurred in recent history, (say, since the invention of the seismic scale) then maybe one could argue the perceived increase was due to delicate new seismic detectors.

But the remaining four were in Peru in 1868, off the coast of Vancouver in 1700, in Ecuador in 1906 and Lisbon in 1755. (The Richter Scale wasn’t even invented until 1935).

Watching the news reports emanating from Japan is mind-numbing; the damage is almost inconceivable. Huge swaths of the country have been obliterated, other parts merely destroyed.  

“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. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. “

“And when these things BEGIN to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:25-28)

Soon.  Very soon.  Maranatha!

Tsunami!

Tsunami!
Vol: 114 Issue: 11 Friday, March 11, 2011

One of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in the history of mankind struck Japan last night, triggering a tsunami that reached a height of thirty-three feet in places.   

The quake measured an astonishing 8.9 with its epicenter was less than 250 miles from Tokyo, Japan’s capital city.

“A tsunami warning issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii included Japan, Russia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Guam, the Northern Marianas, the Marcus Islands and the Wake Islands, and extended across the Pacific Ocean to include Central and South America. New Zealand also issued a tsunami warning. Australia said there was no threat of a tsunami on its coast. In Hawaii, a tsunami alert was issued at about 10 p.m. local time.”

There have been hundreds of aftershocks since.  As of 7:30 EST, more than forty of them were magnitude 5.0 or greater, including one that registered a staggering 7.1.   

The quake toppled cars off bridges and into waters underneath. Waves of debris flowed like lava across farmland, pushing boats, houses and trailers. About 4 million homes had no power in Tokyo and surrounding areas.

The earthquake struck at a very shallow depth, relatively speaking, releasing most of its energy on the surface.  Entire sections of the Japanese coast have been described as having been ‘obliterated’.

To put the power of this quake into perspective, the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, was devastated last month by a 6.3 quake that killed at least 166 with 200 still missing.  The 8.9 Tokyo quake was eight thousand times as powerful.

At the time of this writing, Hawaii is under a tsunami warning as is most of the west coast of the United States.

Assessment:

It was just two days ago that OL columnist Wendy Wippel used the occasion of a 7.2 earthquake striking the Japanese island of Honshu to take a closer look at earthquakes in the context of Bible prophecy.   

She closed her column with this prescient observation: “If the experience of my small group means anything, we’ll all be paying more attention to earthquakes from now on!”  

One hardly knows where to begin.  Probably the best place to begin is with prayer. Prayer for those affected and prayer for those in harm’s way in more than fifty countries, according to the most recent alerts.

Gayle and I watched, openmouthed, as the first video of the ocean washing away the Japanese coast.  

Then Gayle said, “Praise God we’re saved. Can you imagine how much worse this would all seem if we weren’t?”

The Tokyo earthquake story is still much too fluid to be able to see where it is going yet.  But Gayle’s comment reminded me of where we’ve been so far in this century.  

One of the great things about the Omega Letter’s archives is how it sometimes serves to capture of snapshot of time as the last days continue to unfold before us. 

Here is one such snapshot from October 17, 2005.

“When we aren’t rolling our eyes in fear at the non-stop natural assault on human civilization, we are looking over our shoulders nervously at strangers carrying back packs, while the government continues to install sniffer-devices designed to detect nuclear and biological weapons on the streets of our cities.

Not just in America, but in Europe, Russia, Australia, the UK and any other nation or region that has caught the attention of Islamic terrorism. In almost every instance, the threat is in some way related to that nation or region’s relationship with Israel.

Social scientists the world over bemoan the impending collapse of civilization as we know it, as such basic social building blocks like the family unit become increasingly anachronistic.

Note also that these seemingly unrelated trends coming upon THIS generation, are, according to the virtually unanimous verdict of scientists, economists and sociologists, increasing in both frequency and intensity.

Try to imagine, if you can, what this world will look like after twenty years of annual Katrinas, killer earthquakes, floods, global pandemics and terrorism. New Orleans, one of America’s oldest cities, has been destroyed not once, but twice, in a single hurricane season. And it is at risk of being ‘destroyed’ (if that is possible), yet a third time, should Wilma continue on her forecast path.

Some commentators and pundits have noted a palpable increase of fear, something that is beginning to show up statistically as plummeting consumer confidence levels.

(One can learn a lot about what people fear by watching where they put their money).

A few years ago, these trends were only noticeable if one tracked them carefully. Those who noted the trends were dismissed as ‘alarmists’. Those who related the trends to the prophecies of the Bible were dismissed as members of the religious lunatic fringe.

While Bible prophecy may be dismissed as ‘doom and gloom’ it is actually exactly the opposite. It is really cause for celebration. The fulfillment of Bible prophecy in this generation, on schedule and in precise order, is our assurance that what is going on all around us is controlled chaos.

It is proof positive that God remains on His Throne. It is proof positive that we are not following “cunningly devised fables” (2nd Peter 1:16) but rather, we ourselves are “eyewitnesses of His Majesty.”

Jesus warned of earthquakes, famines and wars, all of which He noted, would increase in frequency and intensity as the time approached.

He warned of “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)

That ‘distress of nations’ is so palpable that national governments globally are spending billions combing the sky for the Next Killer Asteroid on a par with the one that evolutionists say killed off the dinosaurs 85 million years ago.”

I had set aside as a possible topic for today’s OL the major solar eruptions yesterday that are expected to hit the earth sometime in the next few days.    

Other potential topics of discussion for today include the massive demonstrations now breaking out in Saudi Arabia.  Experts have warned that if the demonstrations bring down the Saudis, the global economy will go with it.

Then there is the labor demonstrations and possible strikes threatened by labor union bosses in the wake of the Wisconsin legislature’s passage of a bill limiting the collective bargaining power of public employees.

Despite the dire warnings that the country is on the brink of collapse, American union workers are behaving no differently than the European socialists are – for some reason, that surprises me.

Gasoline prices are up 67% since the beginning of the Obama administration and hyperinflation is almost a certainty within a matter of months.

As the war on terror rages, Congress finds itself debating which is worse – al-Qaeda or the KKK?

With all this going on, is it any wonder that the world appears to be on the edge of a total nervous breakdown?   It is across-the-board chaos. 

Earthquakes, famines and wars.  Signs in the sun, moon and stars.  The distress of nations (with perplexity).  Panic in the streets.  I heard someone say today that it seems as if the earth is ‘angry’.

Jesus said it would be like birth pangs – increasing in both frequency and intensity as the time of His return draws near.   

The time is drawing near.  The entire earth is groaning in anticipation.  Jesus said that when these things begin to come to pass our redemption draws near.  I believe it is very, very near.  All the signs say the same thing.

Gayle was right. I really cannot imagine how much worse this would all look were it not for the fact that Jesus said all these things would come upon the generation that would see His return. 

What looks like catastrophe without Jesus is, for those who know Him, a blessed assurance. He will keep all His promises as surely as He kept those we now see being fulfilled all around us.  Including the following:

“In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2-3)

Pray for the victims of today’s catastrophe.  And pray for those who don’t share that blessed assurance. They must be terrified, indeed.

Epilogue?

Epilogue?
Vol: 114 Issue: 10 Thursday, March 10, 2011

The National Constitutional Center is running an exhibition called “Ancient Rome and America – The Classical Influence That Shaped Our Nation.”

The exhibition doesn’t look at America and Rome from the perspective that America is following Rome down the road to perdition.  Instead, it showcases “the cultural, political, and social connections between the lost world of ancient Rome and modern America.”

The exhibition is organized into five galleries: Introduction, Building a Republic, A Classical Revival, Expansion and Empire, and Epilogue.  It sounds kind of . . . Epilogue???

Epilogue is the “after the story” story.  Rome’s epilogue was written sometime in the fifth century AD.  Contemporary public opinion is split on whether or not work has already begun on America’s.   

At its zenith, the Roman Empire was a military superpower that dominated much of what historians call “the known world.”  But Roman influence was much broader than mere military conquest and occupation.

The material culture of Rome – Roman architecture, art, fashion, foods and fads was eagerly embraced by nearly everyone who became part of the Empire – even those who fought against it.

Rome’s citizens were modern, wealthy, empowered and the envy of the known world.

As Rome grew more luxurious and wealthy, its citizens grew more complacent.  They imported slaves to do the dirty work–  until eventually Romans became the defacto minority in their own state.  

No doubt they had slogans like; “We need slaves to do the jobs that Romans won’t do” etc.

Roman manufacturing ground to a halt as the wealthy Romans imported what they needed from elsewhere in the Empire. They became fat, lazy hedonists too selfish to make the sacrifices that once elevated them to the zenith of civilization.

They became completely dependent on foreign labor, foreign goods and foreign entertainment.  In Rome’s early days, barbarian tribes that moved into the Empire were accommodated on the basis that they assimilate into the Empire as either Roman subjects or citizens.

Eventually, as Roman hedonism overtook the Logic of Empire, Rome looked the other way as barbarians settled themselves in great blocs  in Gaul, Spain Africa and elsewhere. 

No effort was made to assimilate them, (no doubt under mindless slogans such as “unity in diversity.”)

Eventually, the Romans hired the barbarians to police the Empire, creating vast armies that it was ultimately unable to control. 

These alien groups formed the breakaway groups that ultimately overran and conquered the Roman Empire from within.

Hence the phrase, “the barbarians within the gates.”  

Assessment:

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Daniel 2:44)

America used to be the best the world had to offer. It was the greatest country the world had ever seen – the first country in two millennia to be rightly compared with the Roman Republic.

American products were of a higher quality. American buildings were bigger, safer and the envy of the known world.  American freedom was not just an illusion. 

Like the ancient Romans, Americans still believe they are the best even as the American Empire begins to crumble for all the same reasons Rome did. America still believes its military is the greatest – but increasingly America is relying on mercenaries to fight its battles for it.

Americans complain about ‘injustice’ – provided they are not asked to do anything to right the ship.  The debacle ongoing  in Wisconsin sounds more like a morality tale about the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.  

The spectacle of American teachers storming the Wisconsin capital like so many Third World thugs is more than sad.  Much more. These are the people that are teaching the next generation. 

What are they teaching them?  It seems unlikely they are studying much about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire.   Or maybe they don’t care – as long as they have theirs.  

Alan Simpson, former Wyoming Senator and co-chair of the Obama Deficit Commission has been stumping his deficit reduction proposals on the various cable news talk shows. 

Over the weekend, he appeared on Fox News where he suggested that nobody is worried about their grandchildren because they don’t like them;

“This is fakery. If they care at all about their children or grandchildren, and sometimes I doubt that — I think you know, grandchildren now don’t write a thank-you for the Christmas presents, they’re walking on their pants with the cap on backwards listening to the enema man and Snoopy Snoopy Poop Dogg, and they don’t like them!”

I think that Senator Simpson might have something there. . .

Is America the revived Roman Empire the Bible says will be the superpower of the last days?  I don’t believe so for the obvious reason that there is already a revived form of the Roman Empire in place in Europe.

We identify the antichrist as a “prince of Rome” because Daniel says the antichrist will be a prince of the people that were prophesied to destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary (the Temple) – both of which were accomplished in AD 70 by the Roman Empire.

America’s resemblance to Rome is not that of a revived Roman Empire, but rather a picture of Rome in its final stages of decline.  

Bible prophecy depicts the empire of antichrist as the world’s premiere super-power – a place occupied for the time being by the United States of America.

But if the United States of America were to collapse, who stands ready in the wings to replace it?  The only logical choice is Europe.   America isn’t the revived Roman Empire of prophecy. 

But as long as America stands as the world’s premiere superpower, nobody else can be. 

The decline of the United States is heartbreaking; its ultimate collapse unthinkable. 

Except that now, as this generation winds down to a close, it isn’t just students of Bible prophecy that are beginning to discuss the unthinkable in terms of the inevitable.

Epilogue. It’s not just for the Romans anymore. 

Why We CAN’T All ”Just Get Along”

Why We CAN’T All ”Just Get Along”
Vol: 114 Issue: 9 Wednesday, March 9, 2011

If you were to run a Google search using the words Michele Bachmann and liar you’d get about 1.5 million results.  (Actually, 1,490,000, but who’s counting?)

These two headlines are typical:  “Pathological LIAR Michele Bachmann attacks REAL Americans” and “Is Michele Bachmann a Compulsive Liar?”

Those headlines amply demonstrate why Americans cannot just “all get along”.  The request is both unreasonable and disingenuous. It is a political tactic aimed at silencing one side.  

The same folks that are demanding that the political rhetoric in Washington be “toned down”’ so we can “all get along” are the ones throwing around labels like “liar” whenever they get caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

The Far Left blogosphere came completely unglued over Representative Bachmann’s assertions that some $105 billion in secret slush funds was included in the health care bill that nobody had a chance to read before voting on. 

“Rep. Michele Bachmann, in an interview Monday with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, suggested that this spending was one reason Obama and congressional Democratic leaders were in such a hurry to pass the legislation in late 2009.

“We didn’t get the bill until a literally couple of hours before we were supposed to vote on it,” Bachmann told Hannity, saying that the spending was split up and put in different portions of the proposed legislation.

The conservative Heritage Foundation uncovered the spending, which had been tallied by the Congressional Research Service and Congressional Budget Office.

It falls under the heading of mandatory spending, because it is controlled by laws other than annual appropriations acts. Such mandatory funds could remain available for the Obama administration to spend even if Republicans manage to defund the health care law.”

The Washington Post managed to find a way to smear Representative Bachmann as both a liar and a racist for even pointing it out. 

In a section called “Fact Checker – The Truth Behind the Rhetoric” Glenn Kessler argues that Bachmann’s charges “border on ridiculous” because the money was not really “hidden”:

“She is correct that Congress already has appropriated some spending in future years, but her claim that this money was “hidden” does not have credibility. The money for these programs was clearly described and analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office before the legislation was voted into law.”

It was SO clearly described that it took Kessler almost a thousand words just to explain how clearly the program was described.  What he left out was that nobody read the bill until after they passed it. 

So much for the “truth behind the rhetoric”.  As for fact-checking, no amount of fact-checking can change reality.  

On the strength of his argument that Bachmann is correct on every detail EXCEPT that the appropriations were “hidden” Kessler, on behalf of the Washington Post, calls Bachmanndisingenuous”.

But it was the way that the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart was able to twist the story until he could find evidence of Bachmann’s deep-seated racism that really impressed me. 

Bachmann used a term first used by the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Barone to describe the underhanded methods used by the Obama administration in a column about the 2009 Chrysler bailout program. 

Barone called it “gangster government.” Of course, Barone was referring to gangsters in the sense of people banded together in a group for the purpose of committing criminal acts.

 You know, like, ummm, lessee, umm . . . gangsters?  

“Bachmann has been parroting “gangster government” since it was first used by Michael Barone in a May 2009 column on the Chrysler bailout for the Washington Examiner. In it, he basically accuses the Obama administration of corruption.

“The Chrysler negotiations will not be the last occasion for this administration to engage in bailout favoritism and crony capitalism. There’s a May 31 deadline to come up with a settlement for General Motors. And there will be others. In the meantime, who is going to buy bonds from unionized companies if the government is going to take their money away and give it to the union? We have just seen an episode of Gangster Government. It is likely to be part of a continuing series.”

So Capehart admits up front that he completely understands Barone’s use of the phrase “Gangster government” as ‘basically accusing the Obama administration of corruption.’

But apparently, Capehart doesn’t like Bachmann as much as he does Barone.  Barone meant corruption, but Bachmann’s use of the phrase is more sinister. . . 

But for many, particularly African Americans, “gangster government” conjures up another, equally violent image. Not that of the white, fedora-wearing, machine-gun totting criminals of the 1920s and 1930s. But of the black, bandana-wearing, drug-dealing, drive-by-shooting thugs glorified and celebrated in gansta rap.

Both my dinner companion last night and my lunchmate today said they thought Bachmann was engaging in ugly dog-whistle politics. In the tradition of “welfare queen,” which fostered negative images of black woman having babies and collecting government checks, “gangster government” is heard as “gangsta government” and conjures up a repugnant image of a lawless, out-of-control black man in the White House — who shouldn’t be there.

Bachmann is not just a liar.  She is a racist. 

Assessment:

Bachmann accuses the administration and the Democrat Congressional majority leaders of fraud because of the way the money was appropriated.

“The senators did not receive the final copy of the final bill until a few hours before they took their vote. In the House, the bill we were working on was scrapped, and instead we voted on the Senate bill as written,” Bachmann told WND. “There’s a due diligence that needed to occur. … There was a concerted effort to ensure we could not read the bill and vet it before voting, and now we see the consequences.”

She continued, “Now we will be without remedy to defund Obamacare, because they have prefunded it. They told no one they were prefunding the implementation. [Republicans] were all arguing that if we got the gavel in 2010 that we could effectively repeal Obamacare between now and 2012 because we could defund it. That option was taken away from us, the people’s [referendum-like vote in 2010] was neutered.”

Also included in Section 1311(a) of Obamacare, Bachmann warns, is an unlimited appropriation to the Health and Human Services secretary:

“The bill allows HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to extend any amount of money that she wants to any of the 50 states for the purpose of implementing the health-care exchanges,” Bachmann said. “This is extraordinary, unprecedented, unparalleled and it defies our Constitution because only Congress can appropriate money, but this gives her an unlimited credit card to tap the U.S. Treasury without further Congressional approval.”

Because the language of the Obamacare legislation has already “spent” the $105 billion – though more than $100 billion of the appropriations won’t pour out of the Treasury until next year and beyond – defunding any “new” spending, Bachmann points out, won’t be enough to stop the controversial law. Congress, she said, needs to act in a different way:

“This is what we need to do now,” Bachmann told WND. “The government will run out of money on March 18, and the debate now is on the budget. What we need to do is demand that Obama, Pelosi and Reid give the money back. They have to give this money back because they gained it under false pretenses.

“This year, the $5 billion [that is to be spent] has to be given back,” she said. “Then they have to give back the language in the bill that secures future appropriations.”

“If we give up on this issue of getting the money back now, Obamacare will be implemented,” Bachmann warned. “We will have forsaken our right to get rid of Obamacare in the future.”

Without such a drastic step, she warns, the money will be spent whether opponents of Obamacare like it or not, and – short of a full repeal – the controversial health-care overhaul will become reality.

In other words, it is a done deal.  Fraud. Misappropriation.  The creation of a secret slush fund.  Those are the charges. 

 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.”

The Left’s defense to those charges is that the slush fund wasn’t really secret – even though nobody knew about it until Bachmann brought it up.  

And that Michele Bachmann is a racist for bringing it up.

“ For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

These are the ‘perilous times’ of which the Apostle wrote.  And those are the people that now occupy positions of power.

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. . .” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

 And that’s why we can’t all get along.