Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Memories of the Fun Years in Small Town America
Robert L. Wichterman
The world in which I was raised has vanished — evaporated. What may intrigue some of my readers may be a depiction, a word picture, of that time period, from 1942 to 1945, and some of the events which shaped my life. As I compose this in September 2016, the reader must know that our Sovereign God has kept me safe, in the palm of His hand through all of my life, in spite of my blunders and poor decisions.
I was born on February 24, 1932. It was the last full year of Herbert Hoover’s Presidency. Franklin Delano Roosevelt would be elected President in November 1932, and inaugurated in March 1933. Fortunately, during the Depression years, my father never lost his job, although he saw his income reduced. One of my recollections of the Depression is of my mother sitting in a large chair in our living room, darning socks. I doubt that many Americans now know what “darning” is. It was the procedure followed to mend a hole in a sock, usually in the heel. A wooden ball was inserted into the sock at the hole, and using a needle with thread, a patch was fashioned where the hole had been. At that time, anything that could be repaired, was; it was not a “throwaway society.” My paternal grandfather, Pop, was an electrician. When anything electrical in their home stopped working, burned out, Pop would rewire it.
My mother, Adeline, knew how to get the most from our available food. Very little was ever thrown away. We saved the grease from cooking meats in a tin can on the window sill; it was used in frying an egg, or anything else. She also kept the bones from every piece of meat she had cooked. They were valuable. Mom would boil them on the stove for several hours; she’d then add noodles, vegetables, rice, beans, or peas, and cook it some more. Served with a loaf of warm French bread, that was our supper. I do not recall us ever missing a meal; we were truly blessed.
Looking back on those early years, some of my recollections are of instances when I was in trouble for doing something I should not have done. Normally, I did what I knew was the right thing to do. I obeyed my parents, if only reluctantly, most of the time, as I never enjoyed being disciplined. However, memories of my less-than-admirable traits are still sharp. They show that I was a normal young boy. Too often though, I did what I wanted to do. I remember a day when my father arrived home earlier from his job, and caught me doing something I had been told not to do. (I was four years old at that time.) He took me into my bedroom and proceeded to spank me with his hand on my derriere. My stubborn streak came to the fore, and I decided I would not cry. The end result of my toughness was that the spanking continued for what seemed to be an inordinately long time. I learned my lesson; from that time on, I cried quickly — right after the first whack — it shortened the ordeal considerably.
In the spring of 1937, we moved to a house on Park Avenue, in Pompton Plains, New Jersey, “Park Avenue” was an elegant name for an unpaved road. In September 1938, I entered first grade in Pompton Plains’ grammar school. “The Plains,” as it was known colloquially, had a population of about 1500. The Netherlands Dutch from New Amsterdam — now New York City — had settled northern New Jersey in the 17th Ccentury. Many of their descendents were local farmers; in fact, when we moved there, 50 percent of the town’s area was agricultural, and the balance residential. The center of Pompton Plains had a U. S. Post Office, the police station, a newspaper, a “sundry goods” store with a soda fountain, two small grocery stores, and Jones Hardware store, which had been in business in the same location since the late 1700s. And, as of 2016, it is still there, and is still owned by a Jones descendent. As a young person, I purchased my .22 caliber bullets there. Thinking of the sundry goods store with a soda fountain, I fondly remember getting my ten cents weekly allowance and going there to get a plain chocolate soda for five cents. It was seltzer water with a squirt of chocolate in it.
When I started the school year, the Pompton Plains’ grammar school building was fairly new. Until 1935-36 it had been only a two-room school. Seven classrooms had been constructed around the original rooms, plus a basement, which had two rest rooms and a lunchroom. There was, however, no kitchen. During the War Years — 1942-45 — the basement was our “bomb shelter.” It was where we went when there was an air raid drill. The steam pipes were covered with asbestos insulation that hung down in long white strips. When my wife and I learned of the asbestosis class-action suit being filed against the producers of asbestos, we joked that we could have signed on as litigants.
We were renting the house on Park Avenue. A memory of our single year there is of a heavy rainstorm in the late fall of ’38. The Plains is located on a prehistoric lakebed with a high ground water table. The amount of rain raised the aquifer and by morning there was one foot of water in our cellar. I was excited. Now I could float my toy boats there. My parents did not, however, share my enthusiasm. They were more concerned with the possibility of our coal furnace being flooded. When our one-year lease was finished, we moved to a house on a somewhat higher level than Park Avenue, on Ramapo Road.
Both of my parents kept abreast of the national and world news. Every election day my mother worked as a clerk at our polling place, recording votes. Our dinner table conversations were usually on political issues, or world and national events. They were both registered Republicans; thus, from “little on up” I lived in an anti-F. D. R. home. Since then, my wife and I have softened our opinions as regards F. D. R. Some examples of his better legislation are the Rural Electrification Act, the CCC, and the WPA. The latter two bills put unskilled men to work on public projects. In 1940, President Roosevelt guided through Congress the first ever peace-time draft. To increase the number of men in our military was very important. Had the bill been defeated, and the vote in Congress was very close, we would have had only about 100,000 men in our military services when the Japanese attacked us in 1941.
When the European War, which became World War II, began in September 1939, I followed it in our daily newspaper, the Newark Evening News. I remember reading of France’s capitulation on June 17, 1940. On June 22, 1941, Germany invaded the U.S.S.R. Shortly after that time, I cut out of the newspaper a wire-photo of some smiling German soldiers enjoying their rations around a fire. I don’t remember when, but during the war years, I had a newspaper route, delivering the Newark Evening News. It was an afternoon publication; however, on June 6, 1944, they published an extra edition reporting on the D-Day invasion of Europe at Normandy, France. It was an exciting time of America’s history, and I was a part of it.
When I was eight years old I joined the Cub Scouts. A vivid memory I still have of being a Cub Scout is of marching in the 1940 Memorial Day parade on May 30. I was not certain that I was able to march the entire one-mile parade route, but I did. Three Civil War veterans rode in an open car at the head of the parade. There were some Spanish-American War veterans in their blue uniforms with a large brimmed campaign hat on their heads, and a large contingent of World War I vets in their brown uniforms. I was proud to be a part of it. Looking back to that day, I now realize how young our nation was. The parade and the ceremony at the Dutch Reformed Church were important to me. The men marching represented 75 years of our history, from April 1865, the end of the Civil War, to May 30, 1940. When I turned 12 in 1944, I was eligible to join the Boy Scouts, which I did.
At the entrance to the Dutch Reformed Church’s cemetery was a Veterans’ Memorial. An American Legion member laid a wreath on it, a bugler blew “Taps,” the church’s pastor prayed for our country, and thanked the Lord for those who “had given the last full measure of devotion.” We sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” and I was very proud to be an American, and to be able to participate in that function.
By May 30, 1940, Germany had conquered much of Western Europe. France would surrender on June 22, and Great Britain would “stand alone.” America was officially neutral, and the prevailing opinion — with which my father agreed — was “we should stay out of it; let the Europeans kill each other, which they’ve been doing for hundreds of years.” Isolationism was the most popular belief, until December 7, 1941, that is. Pearl Harbor would unite us against the Axis.
I still clearly remember where I was on December 7, 1941. Nanny and Pop had driven from Philadelphia to visit us for the weekend. After our Sunday dinner — which was an institution — we were going for a Sunday afternoon ride. I was seated in the middle on the front bench type seat, between my father, who was driving, and Pop. Nanny, my mother, brother and sister were on the back seat. The radio was tuned to a pro-football game. An announcer broke into the game and said:
We interrupt this game with important news. Japanese airplanes have bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Additional information will be given when it is available.
Everyone in the car was silent. I then exclaimed “Those dirty rats.” Those were the strongest words I could think of at the time. On December 8, Congress declared war on Japan. Speaking to Congress and the nation on that day, President Roosevelt declared December 7th “A day that will live in infamy.”
When we were in the war, my Dad was worried that some day he might have to protect our home. The first full year of 1942 was a terrible one for the United States. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, we lost the Philippines, Wake Island, and Guam. Thus, Dad purchased a .22 caliber Winchester, model 67 rifle. Seventy-four years later, I still have that rifle; it is still operational, and I occasionally go to a rifle range and fire it, just for fun. As I had learned how to use a firearm, when I joined the U.S. Army in June, 1952, during the Korean War, I became very proficient with the Garand M-1 .30 caliber rifle. During Basic Training, I earned a Sharpshooters medal; later, before I was released, I had an Expert’s score with the M-1. During the war years 1942-45, a friend and I organized an NRA-foot range in an abandoned gravel pit behind our home. I initially earned the Pro Marksman NRA rating, and then went then up to Marksman. A local farmer had agreed to allow me to go into his fields and shoot rats and crows. I can still see myself riding my bicycle through the center of Pompton Plains, holding my rifle on my handlebars. No one thought I might be a dangerous person.
One of my mother’s “rules to live by” was that she would not allow us to go swimming until after May 30, Memorial Day. She believed that the water in the Pequannock River and the small lakes in which we swam was too cold before that “magic day,” and that we may get a stomach cramp and drown. In order to enforce this decree, she kept our bathing trunks hidden someplace in her room. They were handed out to my brother and me on May 30.
I had become close friends with three other guys, all of whom were in my class — Art, Rich and Bill. We would get together often. My brother Jack, who is four-and-a-half years younger than am I, usually was with us, too. We’d ride our bikes around the town, looking for whatever interested us. After school was over for the summer, Jack and I would leave our home after breakfast, meet with our friends, be involved in some adventure, and be home in time for supper. My mother did warn us to avoid “tramps” or “bums,” but they did not have to worry about a sexual predator or a kidnapper. If we were playing around the Erie Railroad tracks, we were told to “be careful,” but that was it.
Returning to the swimming trunks issue, although I rarely opposed my mother directly, I knew how to do what I wanted to do. When the weather warmed up to a swimming temperature, we — Art, Rich, Bill and sometimes my brother Jack — rode our bikes to an area where no homes were close by, along the Pequannock River. We took off our clothes and sneakers, and dived in to the water. When we were finished, I dried my body with my tee shirt, and my hair has always been so short that it dried quickly. In retrospect, we were unaware that several miles upstream there were factories which daily dumped their waste into the river. As I think back on my behavior, especially that I usually did what I wanted to do (I still fight those self-centered drives which are within me), I am so happy that now I know that when Christ hung on the cross, He carried my sins on His back, and my sins have been forgiven.
There was no “Physical Education” at the Pompton Plains Grammar School; nor was there a gym. Every day we had morning and afternoon recess. It was a true “country school.” When the weather cooperated, the boys played softball. I don’t remember what the activities were for the girls. The only recreation equipment the school owned was a swing and a seesaw. When there was snow on the playground, there was a teacher who supervised snowball fights during the lunch break. A line was drawn in the center of the field; you were allowed to stand on either side of that line and throw snowballs at the students on the other side of it. Other winter activities in which I participated were sledding in the Ramapo Mountains and ice skating on some small lakes and farmer’s ponds. We also played pond hockey there; two rocks were placed at either end of the pond, and we attempted to get the puck in between them. As there were no officials, those games became rough, but I held my own.
During the war years, our school had some difficulty in finding teachers. When I was in 7th grade in 1943-44, a teacher who had retired was convinced to return to the classroom. Our class sizes were not large; only 21 students graduated from our 8th grade. We were sent to the regional high school in the borough of Butler. Mrs. Colfax was our 7th grade teacher’s name. She was quite opinionated. Almost every day she would tell us what she would do to the Germans after we had won the war. Her message was, if she were in charge, she would execute every living German, in order to eliminate the nationality. Once, I stood up and told her she was wrong, that many Germans had contributed much to the world. Her reply to me was, “What are you, a God damned Nazi?” That evening, I told my parents of her challenge, and what she had said. My father telephoned the school superintendent, and when they were able, she was replaced.
When we were in 6th grade, many boys and girls were enrolled by their parents in the Walker’s Dance Studio. We were taught ballroom dancing, the fox trot, waltz, rumba, tango, samba, jitterbug, and square dancing. When I went into high school, I was glad I had learned all of those dances, as I had become a good dancer.
I was fortunate to be able to attend a YMCA summer camp; I believe I went twice, each time for two weeks. This camp was located on a small lake in Sussex County, New Jersey. I no longer recall the correct spelling of its name. The last time I was there was in August 1945. Every morning, an official would read us the latest war news. One or two days before the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, he read our warning to Japan that, if they did not surrender, we had a very powerful weapon which we would use. Then, on August 6, he told us of the bombing of Hiroshima. We were all very quiet. I knew how momentous it was. However, Japan was still committed to bushido, and would never surrender. Therefore, on August 9, a second, and our last, atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. They surrendered on August 12.
As I have written, those were “fun years.” We had many good times, and although I no longer recall them, I’m sure there were some instances that were less than enjoyable. Through it all though, God kept us in the palm of His hand. There were never any misfortunes that caused us bodily harm.
Another enjoyable memory occurred during the summer of 1946, after we had graduated from 8th grade. Art, Bill, Rich and I were walking along the bank of the Ramapo River — which flowed into the Pequannock River — and we spotted a sunken wooden row boat with its bow line tied to a tree. Pulling it up onto the riverbank, we discovered that its stern was separated from one side of the boat. I rode my bicycle to my home, picked up my dad’s hammer, plus some nails, and returned. We nailed the stern back to the side, and put the boat back into the river. Having been submerged for a period of time, the wood had swollen, and the boat no longer leaked. We found some scrap boards, and using them as paddles, we went for a cruise. For the rest of the summer, we had a great time exploring the river and its creeks in our boat.
Art, Bill, Rich and I remained close friends through our high school years. After our 1950 graduation though, we went our separate ways. I will, however, always have the memories of the good fellowship and the adventures we shared in “The Fun Years.” *
We Are a Nation of Immigrants
Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Many members of Congress and innumerable writers of "Letters to the Editor" have expressed their views of our immigration rules, laws, and procedures. They all, it seems, know how to improve them, and how to make the system function proficiently.
In order to have any insight into these disagreements, we should learn how the immigration process operated in the early 20th Century. At that time there was a strong desire to come to the United States. (That drive is just as strong today.) These immigrants knew that if they were to remain in their native country, which may have been in Europe or Asia, their children would never be able to improve their social or economic status over that of their parents. In America though, children were not restricted from rising above their parents.
It has been reported that when some of the immigrants landed, they knelt down and kissed the ground. They made a pledge to uphold America's laws and to support it in both good and bad times. Learning to speak English was an important goal for them. Some, like Irving Berlin's parents, Americanized their names. They wanted their children to assimilate into the American culture. There were no welfare or labor laws to help or protect them at that time. Life was "hard," but their work ethic was equally strong.
Many of their children had to fight in The Great War (World War I), and their grandchildren in World War II. By then though, they saw themselves as Americans who were fighting their country's enemies. They were, in fact, defending it as One People. The melting pot was, in those days, red, white and blue.
Unfortunately, the culture has deteriorated drastically since then. Our Judeo-Christian society has become more secular, coarse, self-centered, and vulgar. The current immigrants are quite different, too. They demand many rights, benefits, and government largess to which they think they are entitled. Plus, many of them expect us to converse with them in their native language. Further, the voting ballots are now printed with, in addition to English, foreign languages. Those who crossed the oceans to start a new life here would be appalled to see many of today's immigrants waving the flag of their native land. Thankfully though, there are plenty of these new residents attending classes for English as a Second Language, which are sponsored by local churches and other organizations. They will be assimilated just as those earlier immigrants were.
Whether President Obama agrees with this statement or not, America is exceptional. At the end of both World Wars I and II, we as the conqueror, never seized any of the land that we had fought for, and which was ours for the taking. As proof of that statement, Western Europe, Japan, and South Korea are all free and independent due to our military efforts. More importantly, none of those sons of immigrants even considered waving the flag of their parent's native land. They were Americans.
My concern is that as our country travels down the avaricious and immoral path on which it has embarked, will there be enough American men and women who will enlist in our military services, are willing to go into harm's way, and possibly die for our nation? Do we have a sufficient sense of national pride in being Americans - not hyphenated Americans, but simply Americans - to defend our way of life? And will we implant a perception of national identity in our school children and new immigrants so that we are truly E pluribus unum -"Out of many, one?" Only time will answer those queries. *
A Disagreeable Truth
Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Postmodernism has become the preferred religion of our politically correct culture. Unfortunately, it has also corrupted our society, and has attacked the concept of any rules for social conduct. Postmodernism is not only anti-Christian, it considers Christianity to be an uncompromising and harsh religion.
Everyone has, from time to time, stretched the truth, or told an out-right lie in order to save themselves from a penalty. These relativists believe "truth" is a fiction which serves the privileges of the elite. Postmodern relativism has infected our culture in a distressing form.
It did not, for instance, matter that President Obama lied when he told the country "If you like your insurance (and your doctor) you may keep it. Period!" The only important fact was that it helped to pass the Affordable Care Act. The end justifies the means. Truth is irrelevant. All one-party governments, including Islamic ones, believe that the statements by their officials become "truth" if they serve the preferred cause. Even here in America, except for math and science, what is true has become "it depends."
The Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis was caught inventing her autobiography. When her lie was exposed, she would not apologize. She said only, "My language should be tighter."
In 2007, Senator Hillary Clinton was vocally opposed to the Iraq War. When she learned that the military surge had been successful, she replied, "It required a suspension of disbelief." As a postmodernist, opposing the war was the truth, no matter whether we were winning or not. As Secretary of State, she set aside the murders of our Ambassador plus three other Americans in Benghazi with the comment, "What difference does it make?"
On February 2, 2014, Fox's Bill O'Reilly interviewed President Obama prior to the Super Bowl. The President attempted to change the facts about the attack on the American Embassy in Benghazi by claiming that it was a Fox News invention, and that he - Bill O'Reilly - had tricked Susan Rice into saying that the attack was spontaneously provoked by an American video denigrating Islam. He also blamed Fox News for creating the report that the IRS was abusing conservative groups who were filing to become tax-exempt. The media will never, unfortunately, hold him accountable for endeavoring to alter the facts regarding those two incidents. It was a postmodernist ploy. Without the presumption of objective truth, there are no lies, just opposing narratives and dialogue.
Relativism is taught in our colleges and universities as the "right way." Their message is that there is no transcendent truth. Christians obviously know better. They also accept the tenet from Romans 3:23 that "All have sinned and fall short of God's glory."
Postmodern apostles though believe that doctrine is blasphemy. They hold, for instance, that a law which requires the President, or any governmental officer, to administer legislation passed by the U.S. Congress, or a state's legislature, to be only binding on them to follow it if, by so doing, a greater social cause is served. They thus supported President Obama instructing his Attorney General, Eric Holder, to cease enforcing the federal Defense of Marriage Act as he - the President - no longer agrees with it. It did not matter that the DOMA was passed by the Congress in 1996, and signed by then President William Clinton.
When James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, lied under oath to Congress by stating that they do not spy on American citizens, that was not perjury as understood by a postmodernist. He was saying it to appease some of President Obama's conservative Republican critics. Again, the end justifies the untruth.
What may we do to overcome this disease known as Postmodernism? The United States was founded, and was considered by most immigrants, to be a nation of laws. However, when officials up to and including our President, only have to uphold those laws with which they agree, we are heading down that "slippery slope" which could lead to us no longer being a force for good in the world.
No one looks to the many corrupted governments in South America and the Mid-East for leadership. Due to our generally law-abiding and honest society, we are the standard by which other countries are measured. Postmodern relativism is, to some extent, the result of the demise of our Judeo-Christian culture. Those who are able to see where we are heading because of this malady must become united. If we no longer stand for what is truth, then President Obama will have achieved his goal: to change us. We must speak with one voice publically and at the polling places, choosing only those leaders who will end our slide into moral nihilism.
We also have to educate the electorate to understand where they are taking this nation with their votes for the candidate who promises them everything up to, and including, free health insurance. But, given the tendency of the general public to "vote their pocketbook," this view will be difficult to promote convincingly. There will be some wins and many losses. The message which must go out is that if we continue to allow our elected and appointed officials to selectively enforce only those laws and regulations with which they agree, we will no longer be a "nation of laws." The corruption of some weaker members of officialdom will increase, and the moral decline of our once great nation will continue.
There is an immense amount of latent spiritual strength in these United States upon which we may draw. The time to bring that strength is now. For, as written in "The Three Little Pigs" tale, the wolf is at the door. *
A Divided Culture
Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The U. S. Congress has not been as ideologically split as it is now since the 1850s. With the election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860, that crack became a schism. The situation facing Mr. Lincoln, even before his March 4, 1861 inauguration, was that a significant portion of the nation was reacting to his win by withdrawing from the union. The new President had hoped that slavery, which was the primary basis for their secession, would be declining as an issue. However, led by South Carolina, that prospect vanished, and a rival government was soon formed.
Moving forward 152 years to the present, it is evident that since the 1980 Carter-Reagan Presidential campaign, a cultural and political fault line has opened between those Americans whose ideology is to the left of the political center, and those to the right. The majority on the right side, identified as "red" by the media, generally hold conservative, Judeo-Christian, Greco-Roman values. Those on the left, colored "blue" by the media, have a more secular philosophy, which denies transcendent truths, and have more liberal views. It must also be noted here that most of these political beliefs are born in the prevailing cultural climate. Thus the axiom, politics is downstream from the culture.
What holds us together as a nation? The framers of our Constitution knew that in order to remain a viable, independent, and politically free country, there had to be a unanimity among the citizenry as to what was "right" and what was "wrong," what actions were acceptable in public, and what were not. That agreement became the Judeo-Christian consensus. It has kept us united for many years as Americans. E Pluribus Unum. "Out of many, one" is on the Great Seal of the United States of America.
Today, that covenant is badly frayed. To the secularists especially, it belongs on the ash heap of history. They appear to be striving to destroy traditional unity just as surely as the Confederates did about 153 years ago. Led by the national Democratic Party and their left-leaning allies, their attacks on our Judeo-Christian, Greco-Roman values are splitting the country as much as did the South's secession. If they could, they would replace our republican form of government with an authoritarian system rightly rejected by our Founders.
We have become two separate cultures, residing within the same geographical borders, speaking the same language, but sensing different meanings to our words. In Europe, it is called being "Balkanized."
The secularists, represented by a host of far left believers, are fighting hard for their position to prevail. "The recent elections have confirmed that we are a divided nation, not only politically, but in terms of our interpretation of God's will," said Rev. Robert Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, and a former Democratic Congressman. Rev. Barry Lynn, a member of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, put it more bluntly. He declared, "The culture war may go nuclear as millions of Americans oppose the theocratic agenda of the religious right."
The culture war is intense. Recent surveys have found that parents are increasingly frustrated by today's cultural excesses. From all segments of society, at all income levels and racial backgrounds, parents worry about their ability to impart positive values to their children, and to shield them from the less-than-savory aspects of the culture. The assault comes from T.V. and the movies; it goes into the Internet, electronic games and advertising. A study released by The Institute for American Values, New York, N.Y., discovered that parents believe our American and traditional values are being vilified. Specifically high-lighted was "The kind of hyper-sexuality that's out there, the violence and disrespect, the body image, and the foul language." Another mother said she "frets most over T.V., where indecency and language are the worst. But T.V. is the hardest; there are no limits anymore." In 2004, largely due to this perception, President George W. Bush defeated Senator Kerry by 19 percent among married voters with children under age 18.
The culture war has spread to other areas of American life. Much to the dismay of NARAL and other liberal groups, many doctors and hospitals have refused to perform abortions, and the courts have up-held their right to decline. In addition, some pharmacists are also refusing to fill abortion-inducing prescriptions.
How will our cultural war play-out? Civility in the U.S. Congress has been reduced to a level not seen since the 1850s. The loss of cross-aisle friendships has led many older members to resign and go home. Many are praying that today's culture will become less vulgar and coarse. The ideological split in the U. S. Congress simply reflects the vast differences in the American voter's beliefs as to how much the government should provide for and control our lives.
On the positive side we are still the world's Superpower - both economically and militarily. Even including its lower income population, America's national standard of living is at the highest level in recorded history, in spite of our many formidable challenges.
The structure of the government of the United States of America is unique. We were the first republic to have three separate but equal branches. Plus, except for Nebraska, which amended its legislature in 1937 from bicameral to unicameral and non-partisan, each individual state has followed the federal model with a bicameral legislature, and the executive and judicial branches.
As we fret over the great divide between the values voters in the Red states, and the liberal secularists in the Blue states, we should be aware of Abraham Lincoln's belief that free institutions, and the rule of law, will hold America together. He was one of our wisest presidents, and he also observed, quite cogently, that:
All the armies of [the world] could not by force take a drink from the Ohio. . . . If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.
In other words, we, like Rome, will fall from within.
How may we avoid their fate? Mr. Lincoln also recommended:
Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges. Let it be written in primars, spelling books, and in almanacs. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation.
All I can add is, Amen.
Yet, what is our option? If we continue to spend our way into oblivion, an authoritarian government could arise. Commenting on the fall of Rome's republic circa 55 BC, Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote:
Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him, and rejoiced in their loss of freedom, and danced in his path, and gave him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the new, wonderful, good society which shall now be Rome's [America's]. This is interpreted to mean, more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.
Shortly after this was published, Octavius Augustus Caesar had Cicero executed.
We must not allow that to happen here. America stands at a crossroad. Choose well citizens, our republic hangs in the balance. *
A Watershed Election
Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The November 6, 2012, Presidential election meets the definition of a "watershed," which Webster's Dictionary defines as a "crucial dividing point." If Barack H. Obama is re-elected, the fate of America, plus Israel, will be in the hands of a man who is determined to change our country and the Western world. The social and political columnist Thomas Sowell claims he has a "lifelong hostility to Western values and interests." As a narcissist, he never considers whether he will have to answer to the Judeo-Christian God, or to Allah. As he wrote in The Audacity of Hope, he is ". . . answerable mainly to the steady gaze of my own conscience." He, therefore, makes his own rules, which will advance his own interests.
President Obama's minister at his church in Chicago, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, has been justly criticized for some of his messages. However, speaking about Presidential candidate Senator Obama at a media banquet in Washington, D.C., in October, 2008, he described Sen. Obama as a man "who will say and do whatever it takes to be elected." The Rev. Wright knew him well.
Barack Obama is the best Presidential campaigner I have ever seen. Unfortunately though, he does not know how to govern. Mr. Sowell wrote, "President Obama is such a genial man that many people, across the ideological space, cannot see him as a danger." Yet, his warped policies and ruthless tactics are a threat to our freedoms and American lifestyle. Mr. Sowell concluded, "A genial corruptor is all the more dangerous for being genial."
Our Constitution is a wall fortunately blocking his progress to deliver on his '08 campaign promise to "transform America." Thankfully, the First Amendment is especially troublesome.
In March, 2010, the President signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known generally as Obamacare. This is the bill which, when Speaker Pelosi was asked what was in it, she said, laughingly, we have to pass it to know what's in it.
One of the act's demands is that every non-profit organization that offers healthcare must provide its employees with the contraception and abortion inducing drugs known as "morning after pills." All churches of every faith and denomination are exempted from this requirement. If you are a charity, or an adoption agency though, and are affiliated with any religion, you must comply with it.
When the Roman Catholic non-profit institutions complained publicly, the administration invented an "end run." They said that for those non-profits who are associated with a church, their insurance provider would be responsible for furnishing the abortion drugs to all who request them. In effect, the non-profit pays the insurance company for buying the abortion inducing drugs for its employees. None of the Roman Catholic or evangelical Protestant churches are swallowing this "end run." A member church of the Presbyterian Church in America has taken a stand, and has authorized the publication of a "Protest of a Violation of First Amendment Religious Liberty." As the paper points out, "This law exceeds the appropriate role of Government." It quotes from the Westminster Confession of Faith:
. . . no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief.
It violates the church's understanding of the proper role of the state. The Alliance Defense Fund, a group of Christian lawyers who defend religious freedom issues before the Supreme Court, claim that, "It is consistent with the President's attempts to 'pressure-shrink' religion within many aspects of his administration."
The Obama administration is attempting to secularize religions in America. In Massachusetts, it was determined that any organization which implements the adoption of children may not discriminate as regards the persons to whom they give that child. Thus, the Roman Catholic adoption agency might have to accept a same-sex couple who come to them requesting a child. Rather than accept the government's ruling, the church agency's only other option was to end its operations and close its doors, which it did.
In order to pay for Obamacare, the President has cut $716 billion of "fat" from Medicare. His reductions are to take effect immediately. They are to be administered by the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which has 15 members, all of which were appointed by President Obama.
The Board's recommendations for shrinking Medicare services or compensation are not subject to any Congressional review, and are enforced by administrative fiat. This panel will be, in essence, a "rationing board." Its decisions will be based on the vicious concept known as "Quality Adjusted Life Years." According to columnist Dick Morris, a recent Pew Institute Poll found that 45 percent of all medical doctors in America would consider retiring or closing their practice were Obamacare to be adjudged Constitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court, and be the law of the land. In Canada, the government health care program has driven so many physicians away that Canada now ranks 26th out of 28 developed nations in the ratio of medical doctors to population.
Every politician has several almost-single-issue constituencies. The environmentalists (also known as Tree Huggers) are one of President Obama's cliques whose opinions are important to him. He has disappointed many of the other factions, including the anti-war group. For instance, he had promised to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for Islamic terrorists as soon as he took office. Another failure was his plan to try those terrorists before a civilian court in New York City.
Thus, when the recommendation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project came before him, he had to reject it. Even when the AFL-CIO told him it would instantly create 25,000 jobs, he had to stand firm. When Canada said they would sell that oil to China, he could not budge. His re-election, and the support of this coalition are more important to him than the economic life of America. Many Members of Congress though, are being persuaded by their constituents to support the building of the pipeline. He may, therefore, have to acquiesce and no longer block it. But, he will then put the onus for that reversal on the oil companies and the Republican millionaires. It is interesting that no failure of any of his plans has ever been his fault.
Responding to criticism regarding the high gasoline prices, or to our vulnerability since we have to import a large percentage of our oil, President Obama's stock answer is that, first, the President has no control over the retail price of gasoline. The prices rise and fall due to supply and demand in the free market. Second, it takes from eight to ten years to fully develop a new source of oil.
His answers are valid, as far as they go. He has also noted that we are producing more oil and gasoline than in recent years. That is the result though, of President Bush having approved those new wells. President Obama has never allowed any new facilities on public land. The increase in oil production has been almost entirely on private and state lands. Moreover, oil production has declined 11 percent on federal lands. Further, the President's environmentalist friends are pleased that he has reduced the permitting of off-shore oil and gas to a trickle.
As noted, he is opposing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline until an environmental study is completed, which will be - Surprise! - after the November 6 Presidential election. If he is re-elected however, the study will probably declare that the pipeline would be a threat to wild life, and too dangerous to build. In order for our nation to move forward, he must be denied a second term.
In addition to the HHS Department's assault on our First Amendment Freedom of Religion rights, President Obama and other spokespersons in the Administration, continue to blame George W. Bush for every national trouble. The predicament caused by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guaranteeing mortgages for homebuyers who were not financially capable of meeting the monthly payments, is one example. It is a fact that George W. Bush was President when the housing bubble burst. Most of the Members of Congress who had pushed for the lower standards were Democrats, led by Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Christopher Dodd, although too many Republicans also agreed with them. In 2004, when President Bush attempted to rein in Fannie and Freddie, 76 House members recruited by Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, and Charlie Rangel, fought him on it, and they won. The housing market was booming, so he had to back down. Unfortunately, Fannie and Freddie are still "sacred cows" that continue to suck up billions of dollars just to stay solvent. Moreover, the deficits Barack Obama contends he inherited from George W. Bush came from the Democratic House of Representatives, with Nancy Pelosi as Madam Speaker.
President Obama has never managed a private business that had to make a profit in order to survive. Yet he considers himself smarter than the free market, and that he can recognize the industry that will make money for its investors. One of his favorites, in which he invested millions of the taxpayer's dollars was Solyndra. Another was Chevrolet's Volt electric car. Then there was Phillips, which has developed an eco-friendly light bulb, that retails for $50 a bulb.
Many other writers have listed the obvious failures of the Obama Presidency, from his promise of "the most transparent Presidency," to the manner in which every problem of his administration is always explained away, and is then traced, circuitously, back to George W. Bush. It is becoming apparent that Barack Obama is simply unable to handle any criticism of his or his administration's decisions or its operations.
To achieve the "change" he wants, the Superpower Status of the United States will have to end. He wants to reduce our economic and military power, and when we become financially insolvent and militarily weak, he will have succeeded with his mission. There is no guarantee that a new President will be able to rectify the damage Barack Obama has already inflicted on our country, but we must try.
The President of the United States of America is, among his other executive functions, the Commander-In-Chief of our military. During my life, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan were models of what a Commander-In-Chief should be. At the other end of that line, we have Barack H. Obama, who is our Politician-In-Chief. This will be a true "watershed election" on November 6, 2012. The future of the United States is at stake. *
Our Two Wars with Radical Islam
Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
It is generally accepted that history tends to repeat itself. But, it is not as well known that our current conflict with al Qaeda and the Taliban is the second war we have fought with radical Islam. For, from the end of the 18th Century, and extending into the first five years of the 19th Century, we were embroiled in an undeclared (by Congress) war. It has been labeled "The Barbary Pirates War." Many features of that strife are similar to our current engagement with them.
One hallmark is how our Radical-Islamic enemies view the fight. It was then, and is still now, a "holy war." It began in 1785. George Washington was President; the Vice-President was John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson was the Secretary of State. The Mussulmen, as Muslims were then identified, from the North African coast of Morocco, and the Ottoman regencies of Tripoli, Tunis, and Algiers, were our adversaries. They played a deadly game. If a nation did not pay them tribute, they would capture its merchant ships, brutalize the sailors, then send them to the slave markets, and sell the cargo.
At that time, our navy was not strong enough to protect our ships. President Washington felt "the highest disgrace" at seeing America "become tributary to such banditti who might for half the sum that is paid them be exterminated from the Earth."
John Adams was sent to negotiate with a representative of the pasha of Tripoli. He offered $200,000 if they would allow our ships safe passage in the Mediterranean Sea. Mr. Adams was appalled and shaken to be told that the Koran demanded that all nations acknowledge Mussulman authority. In addition, the Islamic countries had:
. . . the right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find, and to make slaves of all they take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.
In 1790, Secretary of State Jefferson asked Congress for a formal declaration of war against them, in order to defend our interests in that area. However, the U.S. Senate rejected his request, and instead authorized $140,000 to be sent as "Tribute."
In 1801 though, our navy now had the frigates to successfully challenge the Mussulmen. President Jefferson knew that Congress would not approve a conventional declaration of war. Thus, he ordered a "policing action." ( la Harry Truman and our "police action" in Korea.) It was during the Barbary Pirates War that the slogan "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute" was coined. It was also in North Africa that, while the U. S. Navy blockaded the harbor and bombarded Tripoli, the U.S. Marines marched around the city, and attacked. The Marine Corps hymn memorialized that feat with the phrase "to the shores of Tripoli."
President Jefferson had followed the advice of William Eaton, our consul in Tunis, who had learned that, "In the Middle East, power alone was respected." Paying Tribute had backfired, earning America only the Mussulmen's disdain.
It cost over $3 million from 1801 to 1805 to defeat the Mussulmen, but it gained us the respect of the world. In 1826, our 50th birthday, the U. S. Navy still had a squadron on permanent duty in the Mediterranean.
Fast forward to December 27, 1979. On that day, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and set up a Communist government in Kabul. Previously, no government in Kabul had ever been able to actually control the country, and the Soviet's puppet was never able to do so, either. The Afghan people all belong to different tribes, each one ruled by a warlord. These tribes often feuded with each other. But, if another country would send its army in, attempting to conquer them, their intramural conflicts were put "on hold" while they took up arms against the common enemy.
It was at that time when the radical Islamic movement coalesced and Osama bin Laden became their leader. Their plan was to establish a regime where sharia law was supreme. They also wanted to end the Western culture's influence on their life. It would be a return to radical Islam. The ultimate goal though for al Qaeda is the creation of a global Islamic caliphate where sharia law is enforced around the world.
Supplied, trained, and advised by our CIA, the mujahideen fought the Soviets for over nine years. Then, on February 15, 1989, they retreated from Afghanistan with their tails between their legs. Shortly thereafter, a new civil war developed as the Taliban overthrew the puppet Communist party in Kabul, and sought to unite the country beneath its radical Islamic doctrine. One example of that creed declares that women are the property of their father or husband, and they are never to be educated in a school. Even more menacing, those who refuse to accept Islam as the only legitimate religion, those who leave it, or those who convert to another faith, may be executed by a member of their family.
The wars being waged by the United States and the West in Iraq and Afghanistan have, fortunately, weakened al Qaeda and the Taliban. However, they are still able to recruit suicide bombers to blow up themselves and 20 to 30 others. Yet, as deadly as these incidents are, they will not convince the Iraqis or the Afghans to willingly submit to theocratic or autocratic domination. The key word here is "willingly." Yes, it is possible that after NATO and the American military leave Afghanistan, the Taliban may be able to overthrow their elected government and resume control. Given Afghanistan's record of not surrendering to an invader though, they will probably only govern Kabul, and the rest of the country will be run by each local warlord.
The political scenario in the Islamic Middle East is so unsettled, any prediction as to its end is not worth the paper on which it is printed. Mr. Assad may, or may not, survive the confrontations in Syria; in a perfect example of "the pot calling the kettle black," Saudi Arabia recently denounced him for his brutal crack-down on the Syrian demonstrators who are calling for his ouster.
The U.S. and NATO's intelligence services have succeeded in the past year. Our killing of Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda chief, on May 2, was followed by a successful predator drone strike on August 22, which killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, and American-born al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki on September 30 in Yemen. They and bin Laden were the top al Qaeda leaders. We have learned from the materials we took from Osama bin Laden's compound bin Laden and al-Rahman had been trying to plan a spectacular attack for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Al Qaeda has been seriously wounded, but we don't believe the injuries are, at this time, fatal.
We also have to be wary of the Muslim Brotherhood. Documents removed from another Islamic organization have linked them to Hamas. The Brotherhood's Arabic title is "al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun." Referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, this report said,
The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad, in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers, so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all religions.
As every platoon leader knows, when you're in a dangerous area, you must have troopers out protecting your flanks. We may have hit a few home runs, but the game has not yet ended. We are still vulnerable.
We must not forget, either, that in al Qaeda's name, Osama bin Laden sent a declaration of war to the United States Department of State on August 23, 1996, stating that because we were "occupying two holy places in Saudi Arabia." And if we did not leave Saudi Arabia a state of war would exist. In 1998, he followed with a Fatwa of Jihad against us. "Jihad" has been portrayed as "Not violence for its own sake, but it is to pave the way for the imposition of sharia."
Only time and technology have changed since we had to battle radical Islam at the beginning of the 19th Century. It remains a threat to our freedoms and life style. Even though it has been quoted countless times, it is still true that "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." *
Our Narcissistic President
Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
"Narcissist" is a word not widely used. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary writes of the narcissist: "A beautiful youth in Greek mythology who pines away for love of his own reflection."
One of Obama's classmates from the Harvard Law School wrote that "Obama didn't just 'share' in class - he pontificated. He knew better than everyone else in the room, including the teacher."
During the 2008 campaign for the presidency, he spoke from a podium with an imitation of the Great Seal of the United States presenting his campaign slogan: vero possumus, Latin for "Yes,we can." Several months ago he was delivering a speech and the authentic seal fell to the floor. He said, "That's alright, all of you know who I am."
In 2010 many Democratic Members of Congress were worried that President Obama's agenda, from Obamacare to Cap and Trade, would hurt their chances in the fall elections. To encourage them the President said, "Well, the big difference between here and 1994 is, now you've got me."
In law school, he edited the Harvard Law Review, and wrote some articles in which he compared himself to our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. He later continued by announcing his candidacy for the presidency in Springfield, Illinois, at the same location where Mr. Lincoln delivered his "House divided" speech. The Lincoln motif lasted through his January 20, 2009, inauguration. He took the oath of office using Mr. Lincoln's Bible, and at the luncheon, the meal was served on replicas of President Lincoln's china.
Dr. Sam Vaknin's has studied and published on narcissism. He has written about Barack Obama, and the manner in which he organizes his public appearances in order to elevate and enhance himself. Dr. Vaknin observes that "Narcissists have no interest in things that do not help them to reach their personal objectives." Then Senator Obama didn't become involved with trivial or controversial issues. He took the safe route, and if he had to vote, it was "present." He could not be blamed if things went wrong.
As President nothing has changed. He asked Congress to create the new healthcare system. Several commentators noted that, usually, the President gave the basic outline of what he wanted, but he wanted Congress to write it, and the onus would be on them. He knew that there was no national support for the new healthcare law, and he felt that Congress should take the heat from the public and the Republicans.
The President is an accomplished and gifted public speaker. Humility however, is not one of his attributes. After the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid complimented him on a "fine speech," he replied, "I have a gift, Harry."
In a 2008 New Yorker article by Ryan Lizza. Mr. Obama said:
I think I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriter. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy director. And I'll tell you right now that I'm gonna think I'm a better political director than my political director.
Earlier he had compared himself to the professional basketball player James LeBron. He bragged, "I'm LeBron baby. I can play on this level. I've got some game."
When Barack Obama was elected, he told the media how transparent his administration would be. It would be non-partisan and would work with everyone. At a meeting with Congressional leaders in January 2009, Sen. Jon Kyl (R. AZ) questioned the rationale for the manner of spending the stimulus money. The President replied: "Because I won,"
About a year later at a meeting to promote cooperation between the two parties, the Republicans pointed out that they were not being given an equal amount of time to discuss the agenda, he answered:
There may have been an imbalance on the opening statements because I'm the President. And so I made, uh, I don't count my time in terms of dividing it equally.
When the Olympic Committee did not award the Summer Games to Chicago, even though he had traveled to Copenhagen to present the request, he could not fathom how he had not won the prize. Coming home he downplayed the loss but could not hide his incredulity.
During Barack Obama's primary election campaign to become the Democratic candidate, he mentioned that he was "preferable" to Hillary Clinton as regards foreign policy as he "possesses intuitively superior judgment."
According to his advisors Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod, he ran for President because he was "bored" in both the Illinois and U.S. Senates. Ms. Jarrett told writer David Remnick that, "He has been bored to death his whole life." She continued, "I think he has never really been challenged intellectually." She said, "One of the few things that truly engaged him fully before going to the White House was writing Dreams from My Father. Barack Obama was stimulated by writing about Barack Obama.
Mr. Axelrod commented:
Barack hated being a Senator. Washington was a grander stage than Springfield, but the frustrations of being a rookie in a minority party were familiar. Obama could barely conceal his frustration with the torpid pace of the Senate.
The day-to-day routine of being President must be dreary too. Last April Poland lost their President, First Lady, and many other members of the government in an airplane accident. Rather than attend their funeral to represent the United States, President Obama played golf.
On his visit to Great Britain to meet the Queen, he presented Her Majesty with an iPod containing recordings of his speeches and photographs of his inauguration. The British and American press loved it. It gave them an international faux pas to cover.
Reporting on narcissism and Barack Obama, Ali Sina wrote:
Never [has] a politician in this land had such a quasi- "religious" impact on so many people. The fact that Obama is a total incognito with zero accomplishments makes this inexplicable infatuation alarming.
Barack Obama charmed the electorate in 2008. We must awaken and educate the country to the dangers of his re-election. *
Radical Islam Fights On
Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Radical Islam is the 21st century's successor to the European fascism of the 20th century. Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and other Muslim extremists have used the same stratagems to prepare their followers for a jihad against America, the West, and Israel, as the Nazis did in the 1930s: select a distinct race or ethnic group already susceptible to cultural suspicions and who have neither the means, nor the power, to defend themselves.
The Nazis chose the Gypsies, Christian pacifists, and Communists as targets, but singled out the Jews as their primary scapegoats. The explanation justifying their deeds was that those people were hindering Germany's recovery from the consequences of the Great War, which was followed by the unfair Versailles Treaty, ruinous currency inflation, and in 1932, the worldwide economic depression. Not many Germans disagreed with this message.
The authoritarian Islamic governments, including factions such as the Islamic Brotherhood, have followed the same course. Like their Nazi and Communist predecessors, they picked the Jews, and the nation of Israel. Israel however, is no longer weak and defenseless. In fact, they are not only stronger than their Arab adversaries economically, but their military forces have humiliated the Arab's armies time after time. The Muslim's animosity is so intense that Israel does not even appear on any Arab school's map. That region is named "Palestine."
The radical Iranian Shiite Muslims have dubbed the United States "The Great Satan," as we had supported the Shah. He had continued to supply us and Western Europe with oil during OPEC's 1974 ban on selling it to Israel's allies. We are all, now, on the list of "infidel" nations to be destroyed and Islamized. Just as Hitler's and Stalin's goals were to achieve worldwide hegemony, radical Islam's is the same, and more. Historically, this objective pre-dated the birth of the United States. In March, 1785, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, were negotiating with the Barbary Pirates, hoping to convince them to stop seizing our merchant ships, and enslaving the crews. They were shocked to be told that "The Koran demanded that all nations acknowledge Islam's authority." Further, that they had:
. . . the right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in battle was sure to go to paradise.
These beliefs and their positions have not changed since then. After the overthrow of the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1918, Islamic militancy became dormant. But, it was re-awakened following the Soviet Union's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.
To achieve their goal of Islamizing the world, in spite of Israel's military and economic strengths, the rulers of these authoritarian states must control their subjects as did Hitler and Stalin: intimidate and terrorize them by assassinating any opposition so that no one ever feels world peace," as did Herr Hitler and Comrade Stalin.
The aim of all autocratic governments is to continually attain more power. They view all politically free nations as their adversaries, since the working and living standards of the citizens of those democratic countries are far above those trapped in a police state. Tyrants will use any measures to hide those contrasts from their public. They attempt to discredit democracies by using both half-truths and outright lies when reporting on our problems with crime, racial discrimination, drugs, and alcoholism. We counter with radio and television programs broadcasting the facts regarding our difficulties and failings.
The totalitarian despots of the 21st Century share another erroneous opinion with those from the 20th century. Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union had the impression that the citizens of democracies were "soft," and would not fight to preserve their freedoms. With only a few anomalies, that notion was disproven.
The slogan "Freedom is not free" is accepted generally. The companion axiom that "A nation will only remain free as long as its citizens are willing to die to preserve their liberties," is also affirmed. The fact that we are now sending a 100 percent volunteer military force into "harm's way" to maintain those freedoms and our way of life proves that our young people -- both men and women -- are still prepared to put their lives "on the line" for our country.
President Obama is sending out puzzling signals regarding our Afghanistan commitment, although our military leaders appear to be handling them well. He is increasing the number of deployed troops while telling everyone that we will start reducing the number of combat personnel in July, 2011. Some observers believe that message is to appease the anti-war faction of the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, it also confirms Osama bin Laden's prediction that America does not have the perseverance to "stay the course." He has exhorted his followers to continue the fight because Allah (and time) are on their side. Moreover, there is no consensus within the Democratic Party -- and the country -- regarding how we may honorably extricate ourselves from Afghanistan.
It has been said that Americans no longer have the patience to continue a long struggle -- that after six months we lose interest and want to move on to something else. Yet in the first six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, most of the news was bad; except for Col. Doolittle's air raid on Tokyo, and the battles in the Coral Sea, and at Midway Island, we had lost Wake Island, Guam, and the Philippines. However, we knew that we could not surrender, or sue for peace. The only option was victory, no matter how long it took to achieve it, and despite the costs.
Soon after we defeated the Axis nations, the USSR instigated the Cold War, which lasted from 1946 to 1989. There were many wins and losses, from the Berlin Air Lift, to Korea, to the Building of the Berlin Wall, to Vietnam. And it was expensive. But we never considered walking away from it.
Now radical Islam has declared war on the U. S., the non-Muslim world, and those sects within Islam who do not adhere to the Sunni Wahhabi doctrine. Throughout the Muslim world, America is condemned, not only for its ideals and lifestyle, but principally because we are considered non-believers -- infidels. There can never be a negotiated peace. President Obama, please take note. For, just as we succeeded in defeating fascist Italy and Germany, imperial Japan, and the totalitarian USSR in the 20th century, we have to "tough it out" again in the 21st. Peace at any price is a poor alternative, and was really not an option for the America of yesteryear.
Let's hope it is not the alternative chosen by today's generation. *
"The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time." --Thomas Jefferson
The Enduring American
On the ninth anniversary of 9/11, on the History Channel on cable TV, I watched the events of the attack unfold up to the collapse of the towers. There was no professional narration, only the spontaneous expressions of people on the street, and the sights and sounds of that day.
For everyone watching it was as if we were present that day: The faces and voices full of terror, the falling bodies of people who decided it was better to jump than to burn, the various sirens, the masses of people fleeing, and then the first collapse, and the other -- the towers roaring down into a surging explosion of concrete, steel, glass, and human remains.
But what stands out days after watching the program are the faces of five firemen, and one in particular, walking towards the burning towers and looking up 100 floors to the daunting task at hand. A single fireman reflected fear, perplexity, and resolve in a moment, and he just walked to the towers with his heavy gear.
After the towers were down and the raw footage concluded, those who made the video spoke about their experiences. The person who filmed the firemen said they were not among those who survived. It was the face of the fireman that stays with me. His bravery made an impression.
His bravery and sense of duty contrasts with just about anything else one might see on television concerning current affairs. The opinion polls ask whether our nation is on the right track or wrong track, and these days Americans are saying by large margins that we are heading in the wrong direction. The president is becoming unpopular, Congress is despised, and news organizations are not trusted.
The American people have lost faith in our entire leadership. The Obama administration claims that the $800 billion stimulus worked while we know it failed. The politicians pretend they didn't bailout Wall Street and the auto companies, they didn't pass Healthcare reform, and pass cap and trade through the House. The Democrats pretend looming regulation and taxation will not slow the economy -- we know otherwise.
Americans are tired of fighting a nation-building war in Afghanistan. Do we chase Al-Qaeda through all the law-less regions of the world with hundreds of thousands of troops? Will we commit substantial forces to Yemen or Somalia next? Where do we draw the line?
In our guts we know the amount of money state and federal governments are spending cannot be continued, even if we benefit financially from a government program ourselves. The financial ruin of the country looms over the horizon while our politicians practice deceit and misdirection -- and more and more of us are recognizing the deceit and misdirection.
I believe that the majority of the American people have more in common with that brave fireman who did his duty on 9/11 than with our current political and cultural elite; maybe we have a sense of duty buried within. I believe that most ordinary Americans are decent, hardworking, honest, and tend towards independence. It is a good thing that we are growing tired of deceitful leadership because if we are to return the nation to prosperity we will have to elect a better class of people through many elections. *
"The Budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on pubic assistance." --Cicero, 55 B.C.
Some of the quotes following each article have been gathered by The Federalist Patriot at: http://FederalistPatriot.US/services.asp.
We would like to thank the following people for their generous support of this journal (from 7/12/2010 to 9/13/2010): Ariel, David J. Bean, Bud & Carol Belz, Aleatha W. Berry, Floyd A. Bishop, Dino Casali, Mark T. Cenac, Dianne C. DeBoest, Guy F. Dinocenza, Don Dyslin, Jerome C. Fritz, Donald G. Galow, Jane F. Gelderman, Hollis, J. Griffin, Joyce Griffin, Thomas E. Heatley, H. Ray Hodges, Mary A. Kelley, Edward B. Kiolbasa, Reubin A. Larson, Herbert London, Angus MacDonald, Stanley C. McDonald, Thomas J. McGreevy, Roberta R. McQuade, Gary J. Pressley, Ronald N. Raimondo, Mark Richter, Patrick L. Risch, Richard P. Schonland, Joseph M. Simonet, Leif Solberg, Norman Stewart, Michael S. Swisher, Alan Rufus Waters, Robert L. Wichterman, Eric B. Wilson, Piers Woodriff, William P. Wortman.
America's Moral Condition
Robert L. Wichterman writes from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
How is traditional Christianity faring in America today? There is good news, and some not so good.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life interviewed over 35,000 adults in order to sketch our religious profile. 75 percent of us claim to be Christian. But only 51 percent, and slipping, say they are Protestant. Twenty-five percent of those from 18 to 29 have no religious affiliation at all, and nearly one-half of all Americans have left the faith in which they were raised for another faith.
About one-third of all Americans were born of Roman Catholic parents. However, less than 25 percent of them affirm they are still Catholic. Finally, almost 10 percent of those who call themselves "just a Protestant," rarely attend any church services.
The survey confirmed that though the main-line Protestant denominations have declining memberships, many non-denominational churches are growing. Of less relevance, but still interesting, is the fact that most members of conservative evangelical churches were raised in a Protestant denomination. "The American religious economy is like a marketplace -- very dynamic -- and very competitive. There are net winners and losers, but no one is standing still," said a Pew Forum executive.
In America, the doctrines of each of our major denominations have been transformed -- altered -- in the years since their inception. Events in the world, plus the leader's perceptions of what is Truth, have caused these changes. As with all political parties, some of these religions' ideologies, whether they are Christian or another faith, have moved to the left, becoming more liberal, while others have shifted to the right, staying traditional, or becoming more conservative. An example of the latter would include the Presbyterian Church in America, and many independent Baptist congregations.
Separate from Christianity, but equally traditional, is social conservatism. It is still strong in the United States, and is our only political doctrine that reflects the basic philosophy of our Founders. The opponents of this belief do not accept the principles from the Declaration of Independence, such as, "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . ." Their view is that they are nice sentiments, as are the Ten Commandments, but they are not realistic.
We are currently locked in political combat with these ideological liberals. Their objective is to eliminate all religious practices -- especially Christianity -- from our daily national life. The liberal media, including many of our "progressive" politicians, have subtly been portraying the advocacy of traditional ethics and mores as a threat to our freedoms. Yet, these virtues and principles are the foundation of our liberties. Those conventional rules, manners, and routines teach us how to control ourselves, and what actions and practices are acceptable in society. Freedom with no limits is anarchy.
In Europe, political parties with religious or conservative names still exist, but their ideology is no longer conservative or Christian. They capitulated long ago to social liberalism. This is what President Obama wants to change us into: a socialist democracy.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau is the author of the liberal-left's goal, which is the rejection by society of our standards of behavior -- especially our moral codes. Monsieur Rousseau proposed absolute individual freedom, with no restrictive laws or mores. I personally doubt that most American progressive-liberals are even aware of the chaos that could develop from their support of "relativism." There would no longer be any moral, ethical, or religious truths.
Due to the offensive undertaken by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party against the Judeo-Christian's position regarding same-sex marriage, and the party's embrace of the progressive agenda, columnist Dennis Prager, have labeled them "The Political Party Without Values." Their collaboration with organizations such as the ADA, NOW, the ACLU, and Act-Up confirms that the title is apt.
Robert Redford, Elizabeth Taylor, and Sean Penn are three of their well-known members. They have publicly espoused same-sex marriage, have characterized conservatives and Christians as "judgmental and narrow-minded," and Mr. Redford has described Fidel Castro as "a great leader and humanitarian."
Cal Thomas wrote, "Many Americans are growing tired of a government and culture that fails to produce the basic moral and spiritual necessities of life." And a Chilton Research Services poll found that lack of morality in the United States "is a greater problem than the lack of economic opportunity." Add to that the fact that over one-third of all births are out-of-wedlock, and it is evident that our challenge is to get off the slope that can only lead to our nation's moral collapse. But, as our culture has been sliding towards the abyss, too many Christian conservatives have withdrawn into the safety of their own fellowship. There, they have their own radio stations, TV shows, magazines, and subculture.
The real world should not be ignored. It is the duty of the morally and spiritually strong to lead the campaign to re-capture our culture, and to bring our nation back from the brink of economic and moral disaster. The United States is, thankfully, not an explicitly Christian country, as Saudi Arabia is an Islamic nation. Yet, as the Pew Forum poll disclosed, most Americans consider themselves to be Christians. Further, several years ago, a Gallup survey learned that 40 percent of them identify themselves as being "born again."
Why then have we allowed America's culture to become so vulgar, violent, and sleazy? We should be able to have a greater impact on the laws and regulations coming from the U. S. Congress, and our state capitals. We certainly out number the 25 percent who say they are not Christian.
However, liberals now control the reigning elite institutions of academia, the media, the entertainment industry, and the law. They are better organized than are we. In addition, 75 to 80 percent of print journalists are also liberal Democrats.
Conservative and Christians voters have been quite successful in electing legislators at the national and state levels who share many of their values and views. Why then don't our laws and regulations reflect those standards?
Because "politics is downstream from our culture," as was written by my son, Bill Wichterman. Our culture is formed and molded by the film and TV entertainment industry. There is rarely any movie or TV show produced whose lead character has a strong, positive presence, and whose conservative or Christian stance is central to the story. Lately, the media is even presenting our national heroes with a negative slant. It was recently written, for instance, that George Washington should not be honored, as he owned slaves. There was no mention, though, that he and Martha had set aside enough money so that their slaves would be freed, after their deaths.
In order for us to recapture our culture, and attempt to restore it, we must fight. The members of the conservative and Christian communities are as intelligent, discerning, and probably better informed than those of our adversaries. Groups of Christian lawyers have been defeating and thwarting the ACLU, for example, in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, by basing their defenses on the First Amendment's Freedom of Speech guarantee, rather than its Freedom of Religion clause.
Further, we must show the world that our lives reflect our faith. The national media was amazed at, but still gave extensive coverage to, the Lancaster County (PA) Amish, and how they were able to forgive the murderer of their children in the massacre at the Nickel Mines school. Then, as he had committed suicide, they also helped his wife and children with their needs.
We all know, intuitively, what is right, and what is not. This will be a long and sometimes bitter conflict. But, if we want to save our country and our freedoms, it is an engagement in which we must prevail. America was conceived and born as "One nation under God." Trusting in His wisdom and strength, we must complete, with confidence in His support and guidance, that which will bring many of our countrymen to also follow His path. *
"Doesn't it seem strange that President Obama, whose Administration orchestrated the most expensive bribery scheme in history in order to procure passage of his health care bill, soon thereafter flew to Afghanistan to insist that President Karzai work to eliminate the corruption in his government!" --John A. Howard