Monday, August 25, 2014

The Symbolism of a Severe Summer Storm

Pretty awesome shelf cloud to the right, isn't it? I took that today outside my office, where we had a line of moderate to severe thunderstorms move through. As they say down South, it rained like water pouring out of a boot.

Why would I mention "symbolism" in light of a late summer thunderstorm? It's because I see a lot of illustrative power with that photo. We have the threat of Islamic radicals not just gaining strength overseas, but here in America as well. I have no doubt that we have sleeper cells in our midst just waiting to strike. And America wants to roll over and go back to sleep. If we just close our eyes, maybe it will all go away.

The current Administration in power is content to be even worse than Jimmy Carter and be do-less about dealing with the problem. Today, my level of being incensed is aimed at the news media, which seems to show less and less responsibility in their reporting. Did the news reporters need to explain in detail how the thug who allegedly beheaded journalist James Foley is being identified by British Intelligence? It's already out there now, so if you missed the story, I might as well explain. I guess you can identify people with current technology that zeros in on your hands, and your hands can serve as an ID as well as a fingerprint.

That got revealed by a reporter on FNC. You'd hope they'd know better. What will be the result? Likely future beheaders will not only wear burkha-like robes and face masks. Now they'll wear gloves, making it even harder to find out who they are.

I suppose in one sense it doesn't matter. If our government does what it's supposed to do in protecting the country and U.S. assets abroad, the guy will get his comeuppance either through a drone strike or special forces. But in another sense, it does matter. Why, why, WHY help our enemies? Does getting a scoop really mean that much?

I am a former news director and former journalist. I can be as competitive as the next person. But I also believe that there is some sense of responsibility in reporting. Sometimes it is best to keep quiet about what you know.

Maybe that's why I had some modicum of respect from law enforcement and government officials when I was still in the business. They knew I had some discretion and they could tell me things knowing I'd be responsible with the information. Trust me. If they explained their strategy in finding a mass murderer, I'd keep mum about it until after the mass murderer was caught. But I'm not going to blab it so the mass murderer can hear the tactics and evade capture.

CNN did something very similar during the first Gulf War that appalled me. They threw the klieg lights on and put our troops on the air live landing on shore - in essence making them a target of anyone who wanted to shoot at them. But by George, they were live and on the scene, covering the landing as it happened. Pop some corn! Watch the show.

My blood pressure's rising. Enough of this - you get the idea. But I do worry for my country. God help us.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Deaf Government?

Interesting and disturbing article from Newsmax on the current state of mind of Congress. In the wake of the vicious murder of journalist James Foley and ongoing threats against Americans abroad (and at home), this article suggests Congress' minds aren't changed any about military action against ISIS.

I must say again, I don't think anyone is eager for war. And after years of it since 2001, America is war-weary. However, I think some of this is a lack of leadership. When most Americans are told the truth and have a true sense of clear and present danger, they'll get behind a strong leader and commit to get the job done no matter how long it takes. At least that's the way we used to be.

I think we're coming to grips with just how much America has changed over the last 30 years. There are many reasons for those changes in our demographics, our body politic, attitudes, etc. I personally think a lot of it boils down to sin and selfishness, and we are reaping the consequences. I've said quite often at this blog that God still judges nations, and America has been overdue. It is not America-hating or anti-American to say so. My heart weeps for the country. I want her to repent of her sins. Scripture says "sin is a reproach to any nation." And more than one Bible scholar (as well as political figures) has noted that we will likely destroy ourselves before any outside force does.

Militant Islam once overran most of Western Europe until stopped by Charles Martel. Read the history. Since then, technology has advanced beyond swords, armor and shields. A nuclear bomb is a deadly thing.

Deal with it now, or deal with it later. The price will be much, much higher.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tony Banks on His Classical Music (and Genesis Reunion?)

The "classic five" from left to right: Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett,
Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins, Tony Banks
From dark, sad, and angry news the past couple of days to a lighter, happier moment. I'm always ready to discuss the possibility of a Genesis reunion, no matter how slight the possibility.

As a sign of my hope, I'm reusing a photo released by the band not long ago, but hey, it's a great pix and demonstrates the residual mutual affection among them all even though they're not active, and some aren't "officially" in the band. I've never totally bought that for multiple reasons. Once you're in Genesis, you're in the family. It's like being a sibling.

Anyway, all that buildup to share this little article from Express in the UK interviewing Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks about his latest classical music ventures. Good to see, and you just knew that reunion prospects would come up. Tony pretty much reiterated what we knew. He's up for it. Steve's up for it. Mike's probably a go. The wild cards are Peter and Phil. I hope Phil has recovered his health well enough to do it should it be decided. He injured his neck and back on the 2007 Genesis reunion, and because of numbness and pain in his hands and back, has not been able to play drums or keyboards much. When he did his most recent album, "Going Back," he did manage to play drums but had to tape the sticks to his hands. Genesis' music can be quite complex in the drum department. He could always opt to bring Chester Thompson or Nir Z. along for a tour to supplement, but I suspect the general attitude would be to keep it just the core band itself without tour musicians. Just a guess. But Phil's being physically up to a reunion would be key.

And there's always Peter. Love the guy, but he has always been the most reluctant one to reform even for a one-off tour. Not for any personal animosities, but in his view, it took him years to be recognized as a talent in his own right separate from Genesis, and when you get involved in a Genesis tour, things do tend to metastasis and grow, and can involve quite a large time commitment. Even Phil was concerned about that in 2007, and insisted on holding it to 20 shows in Europe, and 20 shows in the US.

As reluctant Peter has been, I think he still hit the nail on the head in a recent interview. He said (and I'm paraphrasing), "Most bands of our generation have lost a few members. We're lucky we're all still around. So one does have to be mindful of the clock."

So, here's hoping for the best and the reunion goes beyond a simple BBC documentary. But I'd also rather have them alive, whole, healthy, and friends instead of something going wrong on a tour. They've done enough over the past 40 plus years for me to simply say, "Thanks, guys, for decades of great music and lots of fun. God bless."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Addendum on James Foley's Beheaders

While I rarely do two posts in one day, this is the day for a second one. An observation I hope and pray more people make.

First, here's an update on the James Foley murder by ISIS thugs. To the right is the image that accompanies the Fox story on this tragedy.

I note with interest some of the footage posted on Youtube and other places by ISIS. While there are a few on there with young children barely out of their tweens yelling about how they support ISIS and want to come and kill Americans, quite a few also are with people totally garbed in black with their faces and heads covered, including the murderer getting ready to behead James. My heart breaks as I look at that photo, but it has the opposite impact on me than the one hoped for by the murderers. It makes me all the more determined to press our government to pursue justice with these evil individuals one by one.

ISIS makes quite a show of calling Americans "cowards." They disdain our bombing from the air, daring our soldiers to come in on the ground and fight. (Be careful for what you ask. You might get it). I find it ironic that they're the ones who don't dare show their faces and hide behind masks. I find it ironic that James is kneeling with his hands tied behind his back, not able to fight his attacker. If he had been free to fight back, he'd probably have cleaned the guy's plow.

ISIS needs to think twice before daring American combat troops to get into this more fully. Once the full might of American military power is unleashed and the full wrath of the American people is roused, we tend to get the job done and then some. If our soldiers have to come over there with boots on the ground, they will. With overwhelming force, and they will do what they have to do to end the threat.

And they won't be wearing masks or beheading helpless, unarmed people.

Enough is Enough!

ISIS Must Be Stopped

I was about to subtitle this "ISIS Goes a Step Too Far." But that certainly doesn't fit. ISIS—the Islamic Terror "State" now trying to overrun Syria, Iraq, and who knows where else—went too far long ago with its murderous genocide campaign in northern Iraq. And now, it appears they've beheaded another journalist. Our prayers and condolences go out to the family of James Foley if the barbaric beheading is indeed confirmed.

While I am angry and disgusted at this act, I am even more angry and disgusted at the Obama Administration. I expect terrorist thugs to act like terrorist thugs. It's even more outrageous when said terrorist thugs try to gain the power and international standing of a state. I suspect ISIS ultimately has in mind trying to reclaim Muhammed's former conquests even into Western Europe in establishing their new caliphate. Even if they never advance beyond the Middle East, they have committed enough crimes against humanity that global action against them is fully justified. The U.S. needs to start it if no one else will.

I have never been one to call for war or armed conflict if a way can be found to avoid it. The Lord Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers." However, God's Word also gives human governments the authority to bear the sword for the express purpose of restraining evildoers. It's in Romans 13 if you want to look it up.

If our president was doing his job, the full weight of the U.S. Armed Forces would be raining destruction on the heads of these thugs far beyond pinprick strikes. The Pentagon doctrine used to be "swift, overwhelming force" and beyond that, "Unconditional Surrender." In defeating ISIS and those with their mindset, you're going beyond simply avenging the death of James Foley or other innocent bystanders in this situation. You're eliminating an evil that, if unchecked, will cause far more death, destruction and sorrow down the road. Part of defeating beasts like this involves making the price of further aggression way too high.

There is also more to this battle than simply armed defense. It is also a spiritual battle for truth against what the Apostle Paul called "doctrines of demons." Pray for our faithful Christian brothers and sisters in these regions. The more hearts won to Christ, the less there will be to strap on bombs, commit genocide against unarmed Christians and other religious groups, and behead more journalists. And lest you think there is a contradiction in what I am writing, there isn't. General Douglas MacArthur understood this in World War II. Along with his requests to Washington for the military resources to win on the battlefield, he also requested that missionaries be sent.

Faithful, committed, Bible-believing Christians do not start wars of aggression. Keep in mind also that through the centuries, lots of wars were fought in Jesus' name that He would not have endorsed. Defensive wars to stop the wicked are not wars of which He would disapprove, at least the way I understand Scripture.

Pray tonight for the grieving, and for the liberation of the oppressed. And pray that these killers will be brought to swift, final justice.