googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: September 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Constitution Day

Today is the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by our Founding Fathers in 1787. In recognition of the event, I thought I’d post the Preamble to the Constitution which specifically outlines what the Founding Fathers’ objective was.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America .

Let me break the objectives down into bullet points:

> Form a more perfect Union
> Establish Justice
> Insure domestic Tranquility
> Provide for the common defense
> Promote the general Welfare
> Secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

Coincidentally, in the news today, we are hearing that Obama has ordered a halt to the missile shield in Europe. There’s also increasing pressure on Obama from the left to end the war in Afghanistan. I guess a bigger priority for Obama is getting every US citizen national health care. What’s funny is that Obama seems to be “promoting” defense and “providing” welfare – the exact opposite of what the Constitution says! Oh the irony!

Another objective enumerated in the Preamble is to “Secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” In short, we are supposed to preserve our liberties not simply for ourselves but for our children. How sad it is that we are burdening our children with a mountainous debt that they will have to spend their lifetimes repaying. And by the way, I guess some in Washington aren’t keen on preserving the right to life for our posterity, are they?

The political hacks in Washington have their agenda and they’re not about to let something like the Constitution get in the way. These lawmakers who took an oath to uphold the Constitution likely have never read it. On second thought, I’m sure they’ve read it they just weren’t sincere in their oath to uphold it. After all, they lie about everything else.

I think more people need to familiarize themselves with what is written in the Constitution and hold our legislators accountable. Let’s use this day as an occasion to start.

Happy Constitution Day!! God bless America.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Have You Forgotten?

On this, the 8th anniversary of 9/11, it’s hard to imagine that anyone could have forgotten what happened that day. As I see watch again the videos and pictures, I still remember exactly how I felt. I feel the same way now. But as I look around and other folks, I’m beginning to believe that some folks have truly forgotten. Perhaps they just didn’t feel the same way I did.

Why is it that President Obama’s Green Jobs Czar (now resigned) was a 9/11 Truther? On the same day President Bush stood at Ground Zero with the firefighters, Van Jones was declaring his solidarity with radical Islamists. And yet he still garnered a high-profile in the Obama administration.

The CIA interrogators, whose aggressive interrogation methods yielded information that has kept us safe for the last eight years, are now being rewarded by investigations and possible criminal charges by the new administration. Heck, there’s no longer even a “war on terror.” President Obama prefers less “offensive” rhetoric and uses more benign terms like “an ongoing struggle.” Obama even requires that enemy combatants who are captured are to be mirandized. I’m sure soon they’ll be given public defense lawyers and then be allowed to sue Dick Cheney.

Even as recently as last Wednesday, in his address to a joint session of Congress, Obama’s own words revealed his attitudes toward the war on terror. For example, he blamed his trillion dollar deficit this year on “too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for - from the Iraq War to tax breaks for the wealthy.” He tried to play down the $900 billion price tag for his health care by saying it’s “less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars” – which was answered with much ovation from the Left side of the aisle. I was absolutely stunned. What is his point? He seemed to be saying, “Hey, we wasted more than this on the war on terror so why not spend $900 billion on my health care plan?”

It seems to me the President thinks he’s at war with All State rather than Afghanistan. But even though he seems lukewarm about the war on terror, I pray that enough political pressure is applied on him that he won’t shrink from his duty to keep us safe.

On this infamous anniversary, let’s be mindful of our priorities. The war on terror isn’t over. Let’s remember what we’re fighting for.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obama’s Address

OK, I admit it, the guy can speak. He has a gift for oratory that’s rarely seen. When he talks about the 3 basic goals of his plan (“It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don't. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government”), who can argue with those? But it’s when you pause and think about some of the details of how he intends to accomplish his goals that we see that things just don’t add up.

Think about this: Obama said his plan “it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition,” Insurance companies “will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime,” AND “We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses.” Now, add to this the fact that we’re also going to insure another 30-40 million people who don’t have insurance now. Oh, and I forgot that he will require insurance companies “to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies.” How is it possible for an insurance company to do all of these things and it NOT cost more money? How can they add millions of people to the insurance rolls (including people with preexisting conditions), guarantee unlimited lifetime or annual medical care, and charge patients less out of pocket costs to boot?

The simple answer is that it’s mathematically impossible to add so much without raising the cost of insurance. So where is the extra money coming from to pay for all this? One way is supposedly by offering a not-for-profit, government-run exchange that competes with insurance companies. The theory being that competition always drives down costs. Well, I am a believer in capitalism and competition typically does reduce costs; however, the competition should exist in a free-market – that is, one where there is little control or regulation from the government. That’s hardly the case here. Furthermore, it’s extremely difficult for for-profit companies to compete with not-for-profit companies – especially when the not-for-profit company is the one regulating the for-profit companies!

Another area of savings is supposed to “eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies — subsidies that do everything to pad their profits and nothing to improve your care.” First off, large companies already strive to reduce fraud and waste. It’s not as though they haven’t thought of this already. And there’s nothing magical about a government mandate that would help them find more areas to cut. But secondly, if hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud exist in Medicare now, why are they waiting for health care reform to correct it? Why not just eliminate it now? I guarantee you he would have Republican support for it.

But besides the absurd notion that all of this reform can be done without adding to the cost of insurance or to the deficit, I object to the moral argument there even needs to be sweeping health care reform. In his speech, Obama said, “One of the unique and wonderful things about America has always been our self-reliance, our rugged individualism, our fierce defense of freedom and our healthy skepticism of government.” But in that same speech, he also said, “Now, even if we provide these affordable options, there may be those — particularly the young and healthy — who still want to take the risk and go without coverage. There may still be companies that refuse to do right by their workers. The problem is, such irresponsible behavior costs all the rest of us money.” In my opinion, compelling people to “act responsibly” is antithetical to rugged individualism.

Obama said, “under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance — just as most states require you to carry auto insurance.” Of course, states which do require individuals to carry insurance only require liability insurance; I am perfectly free to risk my own life and property – I just don’t have the option to risk other peoples lives or property. But besides that, how does Obama reconcile his belief in “rugged individualism” with his belief in compelling individuals to act at the expense of their own liberty for the benefit of society as a whole? The contradiction is glaring.

Oh, and I noticed how the President has carefully changed the wording of his guarantee that people can keep their existing coverage if they’re happy with it. He now said, “nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.” Isn’t that interesting? Nothing “requires” you to change. That means your employer might decide it’s more expensive to insure you than to not insure you and pay the government fine instead. He’s not “required” to do it but he might still do it and you end up on the government plan whether you wanted to or not. Again, how is this reconciled with personal liberty?

The one area of the speech that piqued my interest is when Obama said, “Finally, many in this chamber — particularly on the Republican side of the aisle — have long insisted that reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care. I don't believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs. So I am proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine.” Of course, I noticed the stoic expressions on the faces of Biden and Pelosi as he said this. I doubt Democrats would allow that into any bill they voted for. But regardless of that, I doubt Obama is serious about it anyway. His statement might be paraphrased, “I don’t think tort reform would do anything but, if it makes you happy, I’ll have someone look into it.” There was certainly no promise that tort reform would be a part of final bill in Congress.

So, in short, we have a government usurping it authority to impose on us another entitlement we can’t afford and don't want. There’s Washington for you.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day

Today is Labor Day in the US. Traditionally, this was a time we set aside to recognize the contribution of organized labor to our country. It’s usually celebrated with a day off of work and a large cook out. It’s sort of ironic that we celebrate Labor Day by not working. Anyway, I think more people need to put down their burgers for a moment and thank God they live in a country where we are able to enjoy the benefit of our own labor.

It is the ability to work for money that is the driving force of capitalism. A person works to buy food, a house, cars, computers, or anything else he desires. Other people work to grow food, build houses, build cars, assemble computers, or create anything else people want to buy. It’s the American way. To be able to keep what we earn is a characteristic of being free; to work for the benefit of others is the definition of slavery.

This Labor Day, let’s be especially aware of the direction our country is heading. The Federal Government is expected to run more than $1 trillion in deficit this year with a projected $9 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years. We are borrowing money at a staggering pace and we are burdening our children with a debt they can never repay. We are heaping upon them a tax burden that will devour what they earn. They will not be able to enjoy the benefit of their own labor; their labor will be spent repaying what we spend now. They are becoming our slaves.

This Labor Day, let’s celebrate capitalism. Let’s celebrate those things that truly drive the economy. Let’s put the brakes on government spending and guarantee a legacy of many more happy Labor Days for our posterity.

Happy Labor Day. God bless America!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Did Jesus Speak Greek?

Jesus, of course, is able to speak any language. But the question arises sometimes, “What language did Jesus speak to His disciples.” I’ve heard it suggested that Jesus actually spoke Greek while on earth. I came across an article online many years ago that really had me going for a while. I don’t have a link to it anymore but I remember a couple of points made by the author who argued that Jesus spoke Greek to His disciples.

The first point raised was from the book of Revelation where Jesus said to John, ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ Ἄλφα καὶ τὸ Ὦ, “I am the Alpha and the Omega” (Revelation 1:8). This begs the question – why did Jesus refer to Himself with these Greek letters?

The author went on to cite Matthew 5:18:

ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν ἕως ἂν παρέλθῃ οὐρανὸς καὶ γῆ ἰῶτα ἓν μία κεραία οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται.

In the KJV, this passage is translated as: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

The word translated as “jot” in the KJV is the word, ἰῶτα, iota, which, of course, is the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet. Iota can also be subscripted (as in ῃ) making it a very small letter indeed. The word translated as “tittle” is the Greek word, κεραία, keraia, which is a reference to a stroke of a letter. I have also heard it applied to accents and the breathing marks over beginning Greek vowels. Of course, at the time I read this, wasn’t aware that the original Greek writers did not use accents, breathing marks, or subscripts so these points sound less persuasive in retrospect.

After the conquests of Alexander the Great, Greek was the common language of nearly the entire world. Koine, of course, means “common.” This is the reason why, when Jesus was crucified, the plate nailed above his head was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. And certainly the books of the New Testament were written in Greek. It was the language understood by everyone.

But did Jesus really speak Greek while on earth? While reading the gospels, I noticed a peculiar habit of the gospel writers that might shed light on the question.

Consider John 1:42:

ἤγαγεν αὐτὸν πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐμβλέψας αὐτῷ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· σὺ εἶ Σίμων υἱὸς Ἰωάννου, σὺ κληθήσῃ Κηφᾶς, ἑρμηνεύεται Πέτρος.

He led him to Jesus. When Jesus saw him he said, “You are Simon, the son of John. You will be called Cephas,” which is translated, “Rock.”

I thought that was very interesting. John is recording the very words Jesus used upon seeing Peter. Jesus called him, “Cephas.” “Cephas” is an Aramaic word. But for the sake of his readers who might not understand Aramaic, John inserts a translation right into the gospel – Cephas means “Rock” (Πέτρος).

We see a similar example only a few verses earlier. In John 1:38, the disciples following Jesus call Him, “Rabbi.” John again supplies a translation – Rabbi means “teacher” (διδάσκαλος).

This interesting phenomenon, which occurs many times in the Gospels, argues very persuasively that Jesus did not speak Greek while on earth. He most likely spoke Hebrew or Aramaic.