Monday, June 30, 2014

Sorry, Elton.

This morning's Drudge Report had a couple of links to stories about singer Elton John's admiration for Pope Francis—ostensibly because of Francis' conciliatory attitude toward homosexuality. You can read one of the articles here.

Of course, I've posted about Elton before, and his oft-stated view that the Lord Jesus would approve of gay marriage. He said it again in context of the article above, and each time he says it—and it gets published—I am going to counter it. Because it is simply FLAT OUT WRONG. I would be very, very loathe to put words into God's mouth. God Himself issued some pretty strict warnings about doing so. And perhaps Elton doesn't get it, but when he states that the Lord Jesus would approve of homosexual marriage, that is precisely what Elton is doing. Putting words in God the Son's mouth that Jesus never said, and never WOULD say. How can I say that?

As the Second Person of the Triune God, He is intimately aware of what His written Word and personal revelation to mankind is. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. Jesus upheld the authority of the Law and the Prophets, including the passages where homosexuality is condemned as sin. God the Holy Spirit inspired the New Testament, including its passages where homosexuality is condemned as sin. To avoid this, you have to do a lot of denying, beginning with the authority of God's Word.

This is all part and parcel of today's endless pro-homosexuality propaganda campaign. If you disagree with them or disapprove of their lifestyle, they will try to classify you as a hateful bigot. I thoroughly reject that appellation. Disagreement and disapproval based on moral/religious convictions is NOT hate or bigotry. We cannot allow them to get by with that.

You can't have a Jesus of your own construction. You can't approach Jesus or the Word of God on the cafeteria plan, keeping what you like and throwing out the rest. Scripture is clear. Homosexuality is SIN. Period. End of discussion. Of course, you can deny that as strenuously as you like. You can impugn Jesus, impugn the Bible, impugn what you like. Make it up, redefine and reinterpret as you go along. Go for it. But you will be held accountable in the end and the punishment for adding to or taking away from God's Word is severe.

There is good news, and that's what the Gospel is all about—another thing often missed by Elton and company. Homosexuality, like any other sin, can be forgiven and washed clean. It can be overcome by the power of God working in your life. You will battle in your flesh as long as you're "under this sun," but victory is available. But you have to begin with acknowledging the sin, and that it IS sin. Repentance is required.

And repentance is something that, at least for now, you will not get out of Elton and company. I pray that changes before he dies. Once death takes place, repentance is too late.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rural Programming Assaults

No matter how much I try to avoid having my blood pressure raised, something comes down the pike to spike it up.

Watching RFD TV this morning, the network founder and CEO brought up the matter of the cable network Comcast and pending mergers involving Direct TV satellite network and other entities. While not opposing the mergers at this time, a very serious warning was sounded and given what has happened in New Mexico and Colorado thanks to Comcast, I think it's a legitimate warning to issue. And it makes my blood boil.

It appears that Comcast in its infinite wisdom decided to yank RFD-TV off in New Mexico and Colorado, and put up the Muslim-owned Al Jazeera Channel in its place. In testimony before Congress, Comcast officials tried to argue that people need to understand they're an "urban" group. Excuse me? In NEW MEXICO AND COLORADO? Ok, sure - Denver is a big city. But New Mexico and Colorado are not New York. And please, tell me where this screechingly-loud demand for Al Jazeera programming is outside of Detroit?

Even if Comcast serves an urban environment, there are also millions of Americans who do NOT live in an urban environment. Broadcasters have a responsibility to keep the interests of all the public in mind, not just urbanites. There are rural interests, and considering agriculture's overall importance to the nation as a whole, they need to be taken into account. After all, if no food is produced in rural America, urban America doesn't eat. Think about it.

This smells to high heaven. It reminds me of the "rural massacre" in the early 70s, when the network suits of the day elected to cancel wholesome programming like "Green Acres," "The Beverly Hillbillies," Red Skelton's comedy show, and other shows. There was no ratings excuse either. All the shows that got cancelled were still performing well in the ratings. This was a conscious network decision to do something else. It made no sense then and it makes no sense now. It wasn't long before network television began airing much raunchier fare, and we can see where that all ended up. Today's TV is fairly unwatchable without a big bottle of eye bleach nearby.

The trained journalist in me was taught to avoid conspiracy theories without documentable evidence. I haven't researched this out enough to give statistics, facts, and figures, so please understand - this is a rant based on a concern raised by a valued television network that serves a specific population. I have a pretty strong hunch RFD TV also has a pretty good audience in urban areas too, at least among families who want to keep their children away from the sleaze shows offered elsewhere.

If you want more information, visit RFD TV's site. And join in to let the FCC know that dumping wholesome programming for specious reasons is not acceptable.

Al Jazeera? Seriously? Can't help wonder what is really behind this move, and how much money is involved.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Big Bluff on the Buffalo

Just a quick post today as I'm rather under the weather. But given my sour mood over the past week due to the political world, I wanted to give a little ray of sunshine with this post.

Most of my readers know of my love for Arkansas, especially the Buffalo River country, it's bluffs, hiking trails, and the gorgeous, aquamarine-colored river. Today I want to tip you off to one of the best views along the Buffalo—that being "Big Bluff." You can read about it here.

Big Bluff is enormous, stretching 500 feet plus above the Buffalo. Great views. But as you can see from the photo to the right, it's also not a walk for the timid of heart or careless. 500 feet is a long way down if you slip. As well known Arkansas photographer and hiking guide Tim Ernst puts it, "One slip, and you're dead. It's just that simple. And it's a real pain to haul the body out."

I honestly don't know if I'd have the moxie to try hiking Big Bluff, and I've been on some pretty skinny trails with big drop offs. Hawksbill Crag is the most photographed rock/bluff in Arkansas, and they have people slip off of that now and then to their deaths. Short answer: if you're hiking in mountainous or hazardous terrain, watch it. It's not the place for goofing around or carelessness. But if you behave yourself, exercise reasonable caution, and watch it, you'll be in for a very rewarding view.

Speaking of Tim Ernst, please do check out his website here. You can purchase many of his gorgeous photos, plus complete Ozark photo books and trail guides. I haven't had the chance to meet Tim in person yet, and I hope to do so. In many ways, he has been one of the prime movers behind getting the Ozark trails built these days, and his photographs of the God-given region are simply stunning. Check him out if you get a chance, and buy some photos and books.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

U.K. Story on Impeaching Obama

Funny I bring up the "impeach" word not too long ago, and I see a news story on it. Only, not here in the United States.

Nope. This one had to come from the United Kingdom's Daily Mail Congressman Lou Barletta, a Republican, was answering the question about whether President Obama could be impeached for his recent actions on a whole host of scandals. Barletta basically said there probably would be enough votes in the House, but the Senate would never vote to convict and remove Obama from office. True, sadly. The story also said that Barletta backed off of the statement after being lambasted by the Democratic National Committee, saying that impeachment would "harm the country." Why back off and be afraid of the DNC? Especially when you have truth and hard evidence on your side? This latest folderol of Lois Lerner losing the IRS emails ought to have been the last straw because it is so demonstrably not true. Those emails are not "lost." Not by a long shot.

If harm to the country is our chief concern, I have to ask the good Congressman: what will be left of the country in two years if nothing is done? Impeachment is a Constitutional duty when the Constitution is being pillaged and the country systematically destroyed before our eyes. But I guess the Constitution doesn't really matter anymore to either Republicans or Democrats. As I noted the other day, Republicans stepped to the plate and forced Richard Nixon's resignation despite the political consequences. Where are the Democratic patriots out there? I'm waiting.

But you know what's really saddest of all about all this? I've said it before and I'll say it again, with a little dressing added.

Jimmy Carter had a failed presidency. Carter was inept and left the country weaker than it was when he assumed office. Obama is NOT inept. Carter didn't make his mistakes on purpose. Obama knows EXACTLY what he is doing. He seems to be doing it with abandon and glee. I do wish the moderate to conservative Democrats out there—far more of whom I suspect exist than those belonging to the far radical left of Obama's mold—I do wish they would give serious thought to the consequences of what is happening. Do they really want their children and grandchildren growing up in a lawless Third World country? Because that is precisely what we will have if the present slide isn't stopped.

Really, folks. I'd rather talk about other stuff. I'd rather talk theology, film, music, travel, and other fun. I have tried my level best to make political posts rarer and rarer over time. Not so much because of any reluctance to discuss my views on things. I'm a conservative and not ashamed of it. But the past five years of observation have really wearied me of politics. All the more so because rational discussion of issues has become near impossible. However, things are reaching critical mass. I'm not the only one who sees it. There are other Cassandras out there besides me. Yet, the political will to do the right thing is seemingly gone—for political reasons that pass me.

Bill Clinton should have been removed from office for perjury. But in the public mind (with the media's help), the public became convinced that the prime motivation of impeachment was conservative outrage over a sexual dalliance. Those who got it realized otherwise. Perjury is a serious crime no matter what the subject, and especially by the one who swore an oath on the Bible to faithfully execute the laws of the land.

In Obama's case, we have far worse going on than perjury over flapdoodle in the Oval Office. Far, far worse.

Friday, June 13, 2014

What in the World is Going On?

Today was a good day for the most part. Mom celebrated her 91st birthday, and we both enjoyed getting away for the day. We drove around out in farm country and had a nice dinner. Lovely, sunny day.

Got home about an hour ago and began watching the news. Big sigh. The southern border of the U.S. continues to hemorrhage, the Middle East is on fire—most notably Iraq—the Ukraine crisis is not over by a long shot. And where is our country's leadership? Headed off to play golf and party at political fundraisers. Isn't that . . . something?

The more I want to ignore the political world because it raises my blood pressure, the more it intrudes. We really cannot ignore it. Yet much of our nation seems completely asleep to the peril that it is in. The leaders in Washington fiddle while things are burning, and even the political opposition seems incapable of uniting loudly enough to insist on action, or to take action themselves.

Here's what disappoints me the most, although I should have expected it. I've made this observation before, but it needs to be made again. Watergate looks like a third-rate Sunday school picnic compared to now. When Richard Nixon was shown to have committed impeachable offenses, the Republicans finally did the right thing, went to the White House, and told him that he had lost their political support. Resign or else. Where are the Democrats willing to stand up to what their president is doing to this country, and beyond that, to American national interests?

If things continue on as they are, I truly believe this country will be facing an existential threat. I ask again, where are the Democrats who care more about the country than they do holding on to political power? Only a few have spoken out against the Administration's policies, and that only mildly. They haven't followed up by any action at all. That raises a lot of questions for me, and it should for a lot more people.

From a theological perspective, my humanity wrestles with this. I believe in a sovereign God who "establishes kings and removes kings." He allows what He allows for a reason, and He is allowing what is happening in America to happen for a reason. And I suspect it has a whole lot to do with America's departure from Him. That's not to say there is not a faithful remnant. There is. But keep the book of Daniel in mind from Scripture. The Prophet Daniel and his friends were faithful, but that didn't keep them from being carted off to captivity in Babylon because of Israel's national sin. If America is indeed under judgment, those of us who are His people will have to endure much and continue to be lights in the darkness. And that will be very, very difficult.

I pray for repentance, beginning with me. And I pray that people will finally wake up. It's not too late to turn things around, or so I pray.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Cowsills "Global" (1990)

This is a Review and a Rant

As noted at other social media sites where I squawk, I've been on a Cowsills kick lately. What started it was that my balding head in the mirror brought their 1968 masterpiece, hit version of "Hair" to my mind. So I located it on Youtube, but what came up first to my surprise was the group performing the song in more recent years. The original lineup broke up in 1972, and although they would regroup on occasion, by and large their heyday was prematurely over. The Youtube clips I saw (one from 1990 and the other in the 2000s) revealed that their voices and talents have undimmed. If anything, they sound better than ever. One acapella version of "Hair" on a 1990 TV show was fabulous, and also funny the way they did it. 

By the time of their last regrouping that has lasted to this day, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist John Cowsill had left to tour with the Beach Boys, so Bob, Paul, and Susan are carrying on the Cowsills legacy while still doing things on their own. Susan has been the most active, releasing two critically acclaimed solo albums that many have never heard. And hence begins my rant. 

Stellar Records: Stupid Record Execs

At right is pictured The Cowsills' 1990 reunion CD. It features Bob, Paul, John, and Susan. I  bought and listened to the whole album off of iTunes tonight. More on that in a moment. There is supposed to be a 2011 documentary about them that I want to see. The story is that back in the 60s, their dad (and the record labels) basically ruined their career. With the exception of Hair (which really WAS a masterpiece), they kept being forced to record material they didn't want to do and got labeled with the dreaded "bubblegum" genre. 

After things fell apart in the early 70s, they tried to regroup and do more serious power pop material, but by then no record company would touch them. It's so tragic. One guy at a major label even got canned because he wanted to sign them. In a way, it's similar to what happened to Donny Osmond when he did "Sacred Emotion" in the 80s. They purposely didn't tell people it was Donny Osmond until it began catching fire on radio, and then it was "shocked, shocked." The Cowsills' story is a mixture of triumph, joy, and deep, heartbreaking tragedy. Abusiveness from a dictatorial dad. The untimely loss of two of their siblings—Barry and original lead singer/guitarist Bill—and today non-performing brother Richard has been battling cancer. But they overcame it all to keep making great music today. Here's the infuriating part for me. Few people even know about it. And you can thank short-sighted, priggish "suits" for that lapse in judgment. 

What About "Global?"

After tonight's listen during my commute home, I was at both emotional spectrums. Tremendous joy and pleasure, and on the other end, boiling rage. "Global" is a fine album in the best tradition of what is called "Power Pop." It does NOT fall under the epithet and label of "bubblegum," and does not deserve that rather insulting label and pigeonhole. All songs on the album were written by Bob Cowsill and his wife Mary. The band was originally going to do just an oldies circuit tour in 1990 until they heard what Bob and Mary were writing. They got excited and went right into the studio. Once the record was done, they began to shop it around and that's where the bovine fecal matter started. I'll get to that. 

On "Global," you'll hear jangling guitars, pretty edgy rock on several tracks and very in keeping with the late 80s/early 90s. As you would expect on a Cowsills record, the tight-knit family harmonies are there, intact, and ringing. Guitarist Bob, keyboardist Paul, and drummer John's vocals are stellar. The surprise to many who haven't listened in the last 30 years will be Susan Cowsill's voice. The tracks where she sang lead stood out to me. Everyone remembers her as the 8-year-old who sang "And spaghettied!" in Hair. But her vocals today are a cross between Nicolette Larson, Stevie Nicks, and a touch of Emmylou Harris. While she didn't contribute writing to this record, she has written brilliantly on her solo records. When she was little with the group, she was banished to a tambourine, but today she plays guitar both with the Cowsills and in her solo records. She really contributes to the great sound. 

Why I'm Mad

I've been around music and radio long enough to know that if this album had been properly promoted in 1990, there would have been several hit singles off of it. There's even one on the album reminiscent of Tom Petty. In fact, Bob Cowsill's guitar style is very jangly like McGuinn. But with most of the guys in their 60s and Susan at 55, most likely an independent label would have to sign them unless a suit at a major label got smart. Their songs are right " in the pocket" as musicians would say in terms of well-crafted songs. There is simply no excuse for this treasure of a classic American group to have gotten the shaft from the industry. I'd like to fire the exec that fired the lower level exec who wanted to sign them up in 1990. Idiotic, stupid mistake. 

And that's one of the tragedies of the Cowsills. If the band had been left alone to follow their own muses, they would have had the longevity of other long-standing classic rock bands. Instead, powers that be outside of their control kept it from happening. And today, no doubt age discrimination plays a role. Which is stupid in and of itself. If the Stones and Aerosmith can keep it up at their age, why not the Cowsills? Someone ought to give them a chance, let them record a new record the way they want to, and then put money behind intense promotion. You just might have a smash hit or two on your hands. I pray so. 

One more thing. The Cowsills belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I voted to put them there. You should too. Give them a listen. Watch them on Youtube. Listen to Susan Cowsill's solo material, especially the movingly gorgeous "Crescent City Snow," written after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The hurricane destroyed Susan's home and much of the band's memorabilia, and worst of all, claimed the life of her beloved brother Barry who couldn't evacuate in time. At Barry's funeral, they learned that their brother Bill had passed away up in Canada. 

I want to see this group of divinely gifted musicians get the due they deserve. Chime in with me and maybe we'll get it done. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

When is Enough Enough?

Lawlessness and Illegal Immigration

I want you to read this article about the current border crisis. Then, go to The Drudge Report and read several other linked articles about the current flood—and I do mean flood—of illegal aliens coming into the United States. Many of them are minors, and as you can see, the conditions are not good at all.

I've been trying to avoid stridency for quite a while even when my dander gets up. But my dander is up, and it actually has less to do with the immigration issue as it does lawlessness. Most importantly, the utter, apparent lawlessness of President Obama and his Administration. Start tallying everything up—and no, they are not "phony scandals." Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS targeting conservatives, and now, a flood of illegals who have been pretty much encouraged to stampede in due to the intent of the Administration, deny it as they will. It's demonstrable. This is a direct result of Administration orders on how to handle the border. The illegals know it, and they're taking full advantage of it.

As an aside, why are they all being dumped in Arizona? I can't prove it, but I suspect it's a manner of payback to Governor Jan Brewer, who has been vocally critical of the Administration's handling of immigration, border control, and other issues. If that is indeed the case, it's very petty if not cruel. Not just to the governor, but to the people of Arizona.

Add to this why we're told the latest batch of illegals is coming. I suspect (again) that it has less to do with Honduras being a hotbed of crime and much more to do with what I will call phony promises of pie in the sky. There will be no "American Dream" to gain if America is destroyed through evil and stupidity. I think the reason the Administration is doing this is twofold—both to cause more chaos in the country as true Alinskyites, AND to add to the tally of what they believe will be future voters for the Democrats.

All that aside, there is a matter of LAW here. Read the presidential oath of office and what it says the president is supposed to do. It says to faithfully execute the LAWS of the United States. In my view, intentional failure to carry out that function is grounds for impeachment and removal from office. There is just no excuse for this.

I am hopeful that the defeat of Eric Cantor in Virginia yesterday sends a strong signal to the GOP. Stop caving and compromising, and take a stand for the country you've sworn to serve.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Dems Bailing on Obama?

I know. We've heard that one before.

But this National Journal article is interesting. As the author notes, people are rightly wary of unnamed, unsourced quotes. But at times in political circles, that's the best you can do if you're going to get near the truth of a situation.

The linked article states that one more key Democrat leader privately has said "I've had enough" — in essence over the White House's woeful handling of the Bergdahl/Taliban prisoner swap controversy. Do I believe that's actually happening? Yes, I do.

But I won't be taking it too seriously until I see Harry Reid and the Senate say it publicly and be willing to put their money where their mouth is.

As I noted in a previous post, "fat chance."

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Summer in the Ozarks

From yesterday's high dudgeon, I turn to a more pleasant subject for today—only a brief note and observation.

I miss the Arkansas Ozarks. And yes, even in summer.

Anyone from the South knows how hot and humid it gets down there. Author Harper Lee wrote in "To Kill a Mockingbird" about how ladies in 1930s Alabama turned into damp teacakes of talcum powder in the hot summer months—or something like that. But along with that heat and humidity come some great recreational opportunities like the good ol' swimmin' hole. Pictured to the right is Bear Creek in the high AR Ozarks near Jasper. Don't you just love that tinge of aquamarine in the clear water? That's a common sight in Ozark streams. Gorgeous. While I have not gone swimming in Bear Creek, I have done so in the nearby Buffalo River. A larger stream with deeper holes in it, and gorgeous bluffs overhead.

I suppose I shouldn't make myself too homesick since I can't travel much these days, but I can always dream. Thank you, God, for making such a beautiful place for us to enjoy.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Impeach? Fat Chance

If I were to look back at recent months—even the past year or two—I'd say my political posts have been fewer and toned down considerably since the year this blog first began in 2005. I've not been unaware of events, either national or global, but have been simply too busy with workload both at the office and personal matters. I suppose I have to admit some degree of disgust to the point that I just didn't want to talk about politics.

This week, a line was crossed. Barack Obama and his Administration have proven over the past six years that they don't hold the country or our Constitution in much esteem. I have to laugh as I type that, because the first thing you hear out of most far-lefties during Republican Administrations is that GOP-ers are lawless, dictators, racists, Constitution-haters, pick your poison of the day for the invective. To be completely fair, far-righties are also capable of pretty ugly rhetoric. I see a lot of it on Twitter.

But I am not talking rhetoric now. Obama has consistently done everything in his power to weaken this country and our standing in the world. He has thumbed his nose at the law and the Constitution. What is the SADDEST to me about this is that he has had the willing connivance and aid of most fellow Democrats in the Congress—both House and Senate. Hearken back to the days of Richard Nixon and Watergate. When it was shown that Nixon had committed acts worthy of impeachment, the Republican leadership went to the White House and told Nixon that he had lost their support and insisted on his resignation . . . or else. Given what I have seen out of the Democrats, I can't imagine them doing that to one of their presidents no matter what he does. No matter how much they tried to make Bill Clinton's impeachment about sex, it was really about perjury by the one who swore an oath to faithfully execute the laws, and to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Clinton needed to be removed, but the Senate would not convict. For political reasons.

Barack Obama has done far worse. This week's release of the worst Taliban leaders from Gitmo in a prisoner swap forbidden by law demands impeachment and removal from office. Add to this the Veterans Administration scandal, Benghazi, Fast and Furious—all called "phony scandals" by Obama and his acolytes—it's just breathtaking. The media don't care, and neither do the Democrats in the House or Senate. Power is all that matters. Even if the Republican-controlled House were to file articles of impeachment (and they won't - they're too chicken), the Democrat-controlled Senate would never vote to convict or remove Obama from office. It will take divine action of some kind to get this Administration out of power. It will also take a divine miracle to repair the damage done to this country over the past six years.

I've said privately to family and friends that I wish the media pundits (namely those who are opposed to Obama) would stop calling him "naive" and "incompetent." If Barack Hussein Obama is anything, it is not naive or incompetent. He knows EXACTLY what he is doing. It is completely intentional. It has been from the first day of his first term. Anyone who can read and research can find enough information on what Barack Obama's foundational beliefs are, and what his intentions have always been—out of his own mouth and pen. Why more of the Republican leaders don't begin pointing that out loudly and vocally is beyond me.

But in the end, things are what they are. The American people put Obama in the White House, and because our other branch of government is spineless or compromised, they will do nothing to alter the equation. More than that, Scripture tells us that God "removes kings and establishes kings." I tend to think that God gives us the leaders we deserve sometimes. And I have long believed that America has been ripe for judgment because of our increasingly wholesale abandonment of God and embrace of things that He steadfastly condemns. Rain falls on the just and unjust. Those of us who strive to remain faithful are in for a rough ride.

And it's sad. It doesn't have to be this way. But the country is getting exactly what it bought and paid for. In spades and then some.

Note: Some interesting debate among conservatives and liberals about whether President Obama "broke the law" in releasing the Taliban prisoners, with some surprising agreement. Liberal legal scholar Alan Dershowitz said that the law would probably be ruled unconstitutional as it limits the Commander-in-Chief's ability to conduct foreign policy. Conservative Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto seems to agree with Dershowitz in that Obama may have the upper hand in a legal argument, as the president noted in his "signing statement" to the law that he believed it was unconstitutional. Regardless—constitutional or not—the act was a huge mistake and deeply offensive to many Americans. As I noted in the blog post, impeachment does not have to be over a legally indictable offense.