Benjamin Netanyahu–The Speech

Watch/listen to “The Speech” here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRf1cdw4IAY

My first reactions to “The Speech”

  • It was the speech that should have been given by an American president … and I believe most previous presidents would have given such a speech.
  • An American president should have been present  … seated with the Speaker of the House in place of the Vice President. Again, I believe most previous presidents would have been there.
  • Before “The Speech” I thought …  this will turn out to be one of the most important events of this century – for good or ill, and I hope for good. After”The Speech” that thought was confirmed in my mind.
  • Why should any American (this American in particular) have any doubts as to where the American President stands … with Israel or with Iran? I do have those doubts, based on his actions and words towards Iran and towards Israel.

Then I read the transcript of the Rush Limbaugh program “Netanyahu Is Everything Obama Is Not” at: http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2015/03/03/netanyahu_is_everything_obama_is_not and read these words

“ … Nothing focuses the mind and heart like moral, ethical, and legal clarity.  And today in the House of Representatives chamber at the United States Capitol, the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, gave an historically important speech. A speech that any previous American president could have and maybe would have made, a speech to rally and save Western civilization.  … “ (emphasis mine)

 

Don Johnson – March 2015

HITLER': Finds Out About Brian Williams

 

http://clashdaily.com/2015/02/hitler-finds-brian-williams/

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Presidential Trust

When I was growing up … and I assume many of you have similar recollections … honesty and integrity were an emphasis in our education. I am speaking here of honesty and integrity at the highest levels of our government – namely the President. I remember the stories of “Honest Abe” and George Washington of “ I cannot tell a lie.” This was in the 1950s and early 1960s. These Presidents, our most respected and revered at the time, were noted for their honesty and integrity. Being human, they undoubtedly fell short of the praise heaped on them … but the emphasis being passed on to students of that day was that honesty and integrity were very important. Funny how I remember this even now, and even though I was not a stellar student.

Times have changed … and times have changed radically since those days of the 50s and early 60s. Times have changed and now we have a significant portion of our nation who no longer value honesty and integrity. Our voters have twice elected a man to the Presidency who is profoundly dishonest (dictionary definition is: “deeply or extremely”) – and we elect people like Nancy Pelosi who support that dishonesty and in fact practice it themselves. The many lies of Barack Hussein Obama, on so many occasions and on so many issues, leads me to believe that speaking the lie is his native language.

Much damage is done to a civilization when leadership acts in this manner. The greatest damage is to trust. We have a President (and a major political party) who simply cannot be trusted. This damage to trust covers a wide swath:

– on the foreign policy scene, the US loses the trust of allies who no longer can count on the word or actions of the US.  Enemies cannot be faced with the certainty of an America standing up against  whatever mischief or aggression thrust against it or its allies. A classic case in point is Israel and Iran. Israel is and has been a trusted ally in a very dangerous part of the world. On many occasions (I believe the number is 6)  the surrounding  Arab/Muslim nations have gone to wars of total annihilation against Israel – this following the Nazi genocide of the 30s and 40s which killed 6 million Jews and resulted in the formation of the modern nation of Israel. Now we have Iran, with the active encouragement/appeasement of our President, developing deliverable nuclear weapons which, according to their own words will be used to complete the genocide of the Jews. The trust of the US on the part of our ally Israel is being squandered and destroyed, all under an umbrella of  lies emanating from our President. The confidence of an enemy at the same time is being built up by those same lies … confidence that the US will do nothing to prevent the destruction of Israel.

Then there is the troubling case of Yemen. This past September – that would be just prior to the following November elections – President Obama held up Yemen as a poster child of his “successful” counter terrorism strategy. And as seen in recent weeks, Iranian backed rebels, otherwise known as Islamic terrorist Houthis toppled the government and reportedly took over diplomatic vehicles as American personnel fled the country.

In southern Yemen, al Qaeda fighters took over a Yemeni government military base. Yemeni military officials say al-Qaida militants have seized control of an important army base in the south following clashes with soldiers. The officials say at least four troops and four militants died in the fighting and that at least 15 soldiers were taken hostage. The base is home to Yemen’s 19th Infantry Brigade and is located in the Baihan area in southern Shabwa province.

My mind goes back to reports that the the President has skipped about half of his daily Intelligent Briefings on both his first and second terms.  Here’s where the issue of Presidential Trust come into play … if these reports reflect reality, can this Commander in Chief be trusted to know what in the world is going on around him? Can he be trusted to make informed decisions? Is his continual mode of non-stop campaigning and spending inordinate amounts of time on Air Force 1 to and from Presidential appearances …  is it fair to assume that he is spending precious little time on important national defense issues? Is this a priority of his …  and does he care?

– On the domestic scene we have the massive and continual lies of the “Affordable Care Act” as the primary witness to the profound dishonesty and lack of integrity of Barack Hussein Obama – speaking in his native language. “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor …” – “If you like your health care plan you can keep your plan …” “The average American will save $2,500 per year in health care … .”

The many serial scandals (IRS, VA, Secret Service, GSA, Fast & Furious, Benghazi,  etc. …. etc.) across the administration seals the indictment in my view. Trust is simply not there … integrity is gone.

We had a serious economic meltdown in 2008 when the many hollow sub-prime mortgages came home to haunt banks, and when companies like Lehman Brothers failed. And why did they fail?  Unsustainable debt in the form of those sub-prime mortgages. And what was the national debt in those heady days of 2008?  … $9-$10 trillion dollars as I recall. What is it now?  On the order of $18 trillion. Our government … headed by Barack Obama has done nothing to address this out of control national debt … nor has Congress. If the huge debt held by bankers and mortgage lenders precipitated an economic collapse in 2008, what makes you think a soon to be national debt of $20 trillion dollars will not cause a much more sever collapse at some point in the future (try September 11, 2015 as a prediction for such a collapse … the Shemitah.)

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen said on many occasions that our national debt was the most serious national security threat we face as a nation. Why is this true? Because just when we need it most, as in the case of a serious national security crisis (war such as may be caused when Iran gains deliverable nuclear weapons), our economy will not be able to ramp up the resources to counter such a threat.

Our national debt is what it is because of a betrayal of fiscal and economic trust on the part of our federal leadership.

What happens to a civilization when trust and integrity are no longer factors in leadership … when trust and integrity is no longer factors in citizens selecting leadership?

Why does the air pressure in a football cause us to question the honesty of a football team? … why is the honesty of an NBC news anchor all of a sudden a big issue? …  but the moral vacuum of a president earns just a yawn as we reach for that next beer and handful of chips?

Rush Limbaugh frames it well when he asks – Why Do We Demand More Integrity from the News Anchor Than the People He Reports On? (Search for this in http://www.Rushlimbaugh.com archives of Feb 11,2015)

Is there a George Washington or Abraham Lincoln on the American leadership horizon?

And what goes on in that big beautiful Presidential jet?

Don Johnson – February 2015

The Crusades and Todays Islamic Push for Domination

I ran across this article the other day about the Crusades, and was astounded by what it said.

http://www.clayjones.net/2014/04/the-truth-about-the-crusades/

Read this snippet from 11’th Century Pope Urban II written in 1095 which authorized the First Crusade:

invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by the sword, pillage and fire; it has led away a part of the captives into its own country, and a part it has destroyed by cruel tortures; it has either entirely destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of its own religion. They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness. They circumcise the Christians, and the blood of the circumcision they either spread upon the altars or pour into the vases of the baptismal font. When they wish to torture people by a base death, they perforate their navels, and dragging forth the extremity of the intestines, bind it to a stake; then with flogging they lead the victim around until the viscera having gushed forth the victim falls prostrate upon the ground. Others they bind to a post and pierce with arrows. Others they compel to extend their necks and then, attacking them with naked swords, attempt to cut through the neck with a single blow. What shall I say of the abominable rape of the women? To speak of it is worse than to be silent. The kingdom of the Greeks is now dismembered by them and deprived of territory so vast in extent that it can not be traversed in a march of two months. On whom therefore is the labor of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory incumbent, if not upon you? You, upon whom above other nations God has conferred remarkable glory in arms, great courage, bodily activity, and strength to humble the hairy scalp of those who resist you.

Reading these words from 1095 is very much like reading the pages of todays news. The parallels are astounding … and indeed frightening.

Current American leadership is unable and unwilling  to speak the truths that prompted Pope Urban II to action against the then existential threat of Islam as it spread its evil throughout the Middle east and North Africa and into Spain and the Balkans, and was threatening the core of Europe and what was then called Christendom – the basis of Western Civilization.  And no, I don’t qualify Islam with the prefix “radical”  – as Atheistic Communism and Fascism was the plague of the 20th  century – Islam is … as it was in Urban’s day …  the plague of the 21’st Century.

The Islamic attacks on American embassies in Africa – the attack on the USS Cole – the genocidal Islamic Arab/Muslim wars against Israel and the Jews – the September 11,2001 attacks on the US homeland prompted a courageous American President George W. Bush to react much as did Urban II did in 1095. Bush’s reaction took the battle to a part of the source of the evil – to Afghanistan and Iraq. Eleventh century Europe was threatened by the invading and conquering armies of Islam … Western and American civilization post 9/11 was, and is, threatened by Islamic nations such as Iran and non-nationalist terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and now ISIS. Each of these groups has the potential of acquiring and using Weapons of Mass Destruction, with Iran frightenly close to fielding  deliverable nuclear weapons … and with the active assistance and appeasement of US President Barack Hussein Obama.

And like Urban II and the Crusaders of old, President Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney have been vilified as the root cause of all of the problems in that vast swath of land from Pakistan to Tunisia.

Again, a snippet from the article I reference above:

Of all the kinds of historical hypocrisy that is attributed to the Christian, none looms as large as the crusades. Thomas Madden, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University, sums up the popular conception:

“The crusades are generally portrayed as a series of holy wars against Islam led by power-mad popes and fought by religious fanatics. They are supposed to have been the epitome of self-righteousness and intolerance, a black stain on the history of the Catholic Church in particular and Western civilization in general. A breed of proto-imperialists, the Crusaders introduced Western aggression to the peaceful Middle East and then deformed the enlightened Muslim culture, leaving it in ruins.”

President Bush and Vice President Cheney join Pope Urban II in having been painted with the same broad brush of hypocrisy.

As it says in the Old Testament book of  Ecclesiastes:

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

And finally, does all this not show us that there is no appeasement to be had with this latest Islamic movement?

 

Don Johnson – January 2015

More Evidence for Intelligent Design

In the Darin debate, Casey Luskin of Discover Institute offers the following very informative article —

In the Darwin Debate, How Long Before the Tide Turns in Favor of Intelligent Design?

 

Don Johnson – January 2015

Islam–Jihad … and the Ten Commandments

Exodus 20

And God spoke all these words:

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

____________________________

The Islamic terror attacks in Paris … and elsewhere including 9/11/2001, have caused me to reach back to the Ten Commandments. It is in these passages I am  finding wisdom and admonition from the words of God to the Israelites … and to all of humanity if we would only pay attention.

As in the very first words of Genesis, “In the beginning God …  “ – there is the plain statement with no extensive supporting intellectual, philosophical or theological argument – “In the beginning God …  “ and in Exodus – “I am the Lord your God …  .“  The scriptures here, and elsewhere, simply declare God to be who he is.

Let me put this into a context that gives substance to such an assertion that says basically: “God is!” Thanks here to Pastor Jeff Keegan of Trinity Evangelical Free Church of Woodbridge, CT and his excellent overview class on the Pentateuch – the first 5 books of the Bible.

God does not offer the Israelites an intellectual apologetic to justify these words given to Moses and the Israelites – rather, He has shown them who He is by the actions He has taken on behalf of the people … actions that they will witness with their own eyes and experiences, beginning with deliverance from the harsh slavery under the Egyptians:

  • “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’”
  • The Israelites, then haven been released by the Egyptians, are faced with Pharaoh changing his mind and are trapped between the Red Sea and the advancing Egyptian army … God provides  a miraculous escape through the parted waters of the Red Sea. 
  • Then after they have escaped from the Egyptian slavery and find themselves in the desert running out of food and water, God provides both for them:
    • 22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.[f]) 24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”

      25 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.

    • The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

      4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”

  • And during the early days of the escape from Egypt, the Israelites were attacked by the formidable army of the Amalekites. Again God provided deliverance from this crisis:

    • The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
    • 10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

So leading up to those words in the Ten Commandments, the Israelites had ample and personal demonstration of the reality and power of the God who had chosen them to be His people. 

Now let me unpack the words of Exodus 20 as I see them in the light of the current events of terrorism, and my reading of history.

 “I am the Lord your God …  .“  Here God is declaring himself as the one true god among the many that have been created, and will be created, by man at all times and in all places.

 “You shall have no other gods before me. These words are a prophetic warning of the consequences of man creating any manner of false gods. From the false gods of the Egyptian pharaohs to the golden calf created by the wandering Israelites to the false man-made god Allah  of Mohammad, Islam and the modern day radical Islamic terrorists be they called Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah and others. And then we come to the New Testament apostle Paul as he passes through Athens where he states:

So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.  “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;  nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; Acts 17:22-25

So the Bible and the Bible writers are not strangers to the idea of gods being the creation of men as opposed to the idea that man was created by God. Modern day atheists often camp on this idea of man creating god as substantial support for their world view … and they are absolutely correct in this view of history  – but not quite!  You see, the UNKNOWN GOD which Paul spoke of is the God of Genesis and the God of Exodus, and the God spoken of throughout the books of the Bible. The fact that man has and does create gods in no way proves that man made the God spoken of in Genesis through Revelation – the God of the Bible is unique among all other gods, a fact which can be discovered by by each of us who diligently seeks the truth of the matter – many good studies have shown this to be the case.

Why would God declare “You shall have no other gods before me”

To answer this requires a two pronged visit to history and to current events. As I said earlier, the atheist is correct in claiming that man has created gods and not the other way around. Further, the atheist is correct in claiming that religion has caused more death and suffering than any other cause in human history … but ah …  wait a minute here – that is perhaps correct up until the time the atheist got his turn at the seat of power and became the high priest of the atheist brand of religion. I speak here of the twentieth century and the rise of Communism with Atheism as one of its principle pillars of ‘truth.’  It is estimated that some 100,000,000 – that is 100 million – people died during the horrific 70+ year run of Communism throughout the world.  Some historians have estimated that this body count laid at the feet of Atheistic Communism is on the order of 7 to 10 times that of all of the wars that can legitimately be laid at the feet of Christianity – and factor in the 70 years of Communism vs. 2000 years of Christianity. And the Jews during these past 2000 years? Primarily scattered and mercilessly  persecuted  throughout the world and thus not a factor in the abuses of religion – except as victims.

What the Bible is describing, anticipating and warning of, in the sense of “other gods” takes on flesh in the form of those of history who would set themselves up as gods, or the emissaries of the gods they have set up. The mindset of such (typically) men have cause untold havoc, death and suffering over the centuries. Men such as the Pharaohs of Egypt, the kings of Babylon, the Khans, the Caesars, Mohammed, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot … the multi-generational Jong clan of North Korea come to mind. Though many of this ilk operate as cults of personality rather than a more formalized ‘religious’ structure,  they nevertheless demand the obedience and adoration required of gods. This is the calamity and havoc which Exodus 20  warns of.

And all of us, no matter where or when we live, are susceptible to committing the crimes of the tyrants I have pointed out. Given the right circumstances, monsters emerge from everyday people as seen in the biographies of many of  the monsters of history. Monsters emerge when constraints on human behavior are removed or significantly weakened. As much as many of us point with pride at American history and the heroes of that history – heroes that have stood up to and faced down monsters such as Hitler; even here the temptation for excess is just below the service. An American example of one having extraordinary reputation, popular following and power, yet falling prey to the swelled head of self aggrandizement and an attitude of “I am always right” would be General Douglas MacArthur in the latter days of his career and his war time handling of the Korean War. MacArthur, following World War II, set about restructuring the Japanese political system and instituted/imposed  a representative-constitutionally based system of government.   We can be grateful to this day for his successes in Japan, and we now have a valued ally and responsible nation where once we, and the world at large, had a virulent and dangerous enemy.

But MacArthur, in effect the new Empower of Japan,  lost touch with the reality of Korea and China, thought himself as superior and above the US military chain of command (and thus the Constitution). His storied clash with President Harry Truman resulted in his firing, but not before his mishandling of Korea resulted  in much loss of American lives in the frozen mountains of North Korea, and additionally risking  and actually pursuing a much larger war with Communist China and possibly the Soviet Union – read about the Korean episode, and General MacArthur  in The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War

Did MacArthur rise to the level of monster? No – not even close – but my point here is that even such a well respected and much honored man apparently fell prey to a false god of self worship.

Two other American leaders of the past come to mind in the sense of men who would elevate themselves to exaltation – General George B. McClellan and Aaron Burr.

Another American leader who bears watching is our current President Barack Obama, lest he lead the US into the chaos of a cult of personality brand of leadership.  His statement “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America” – his distain of the Constitutional separation of powers – his threats to act without Congress – indeed his contempt for the Constitution –  his demonization of many, especially the rich – and perhaps  the most telling of all … his profound dishonesty.  This is a man worth paying careful attention to lest he lead us into darkness.

Does Obama rise to the level of monster? No – not even close – but my point here is that any leader, even in America, may very well fall prey to a false god of self worship.

We would be wise to heed this command of God.

____________________________

The last six Commandments

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The remaining 6 commandments advise and direct us in ways that we should conduct ourselves as fellow citizens of  civilized nations and communities– as family members – as brothers and sisters – as leaders – as subjects to leaders. The commandments also provide hope and comfort that we are to be treated as sacred creations of God with unalienable rights as individuals – rights granted to each of us – not by governments – but by our Creator.

The Commandments show the respect of, and towards, the individual that each of us should endeavor to live out in our everyday lives. They apply to all mankind– including, and perhaps especially, governments. The commandments flow down down from a transcendent God and form the basis for a good and civilized community at all levels, from family to governments of many peoples.

The commandments also recognize the rights of individuals to acquire and maintain private property – the basis for a free market economic system.

In short, the Ten Commandments are God’s “Bill of Rights”-  aimed towards each and every one of us in order to protect us from the natural inclination of mankind towards evil to one another.

So I ask you to pause and ponder over these 10 Commandments of God … I ask you to individually strive to live up to them, as well as corporately as citizens of this great nation … to seek out leaders that will lead this nation under the admonition of these words in Exodus 20.

 

Don Johnson – January 2015

Evidence for Intelligent Design: Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots … Robots that Mimic Human Movement

Among the top tier of the  criticisms of Intelligent Design (ID) and Creationism is the supposed lack of evidence for design in nature. It is asserted by the neo-Darwinists that the purely natural  processes of Random Mutations and Natural Selection explains the life we see all around us … and furthermore completely discredits and debunks ID as well as the Biblical accounts of creation.

It is further  asserted that  human designed machines and evolutionarily designed machines differ in at least this fundamental aspect – human designed machines are constructed”top-down”  from what we can call “Systems Engineering”, while natural machines are constructed “bottom-up” from the raw materials of nature such as atoms, molecules and chemicals. The raw materials of Darwinism are forever mixed and mindlessly experimented with across “deep time”, and in recent years an infinity of opportunities for the emergence of life  is presented via what is known as the “multiverse” concept of an infinity of universes where anything is possible, and according to some- inevitable. Mind, intelligence and design are explicitly forbidden in this supposedly scientific world view. This purely natural world view is worth repeating here:

Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds that matter is the fundamental substance in nature, and that all phenomena, including mental phenomena and consciousness, are the result of material interactions.

Naturalism is “the philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted.” Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.

But lets take a look at some fairly recent human constructed machines. Lets take a look at them in the context of  how they actually come to be … then lets take a look at machines that somehow came to be by undirected, purposeless and purely bottom- up processes.

First a look at some amazing robotic machines at:

http://m.kiplinger.com/slideshow/business/T043-S001-9-amazing-military-technologies-of-the-future/index.html?page=8

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This robot, surprisingly agile and eerily anthropomorphic, is able to simulate the stress that soldiers put on their protective clothing, helping biohazard and other battle-wear makers refine their designs.
Petman, also designed by Boston Dynamics, can walk, crawl and do calisthenics while wearing test suits and being exposed to chemical warfare agents in secure lab settings. The latest version of the robot, which will be phased into use in 2015, can even climb stairs, a huge engineering advance, considering the complexity and weight distribution required for that act.

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From Massachusetts-based Boston Dynamics, which works closely with DARPA, an amazingly agile “pack mule” robot will one day be commonplace on military missions in the field.
The robot will carry gear, such as heavy backpacks that can slow down ground forces. The four-legged “mule” easily negotiates rocks and divots in the road and field. It is intended to follow a military unit of soldiers autonomously, catching up with the unit on field forays with supplies, including food and ammunition. Refinements have made the robot surprisingly quiet, an important characteristic on a secret mission. Future versions of the pack mule will be able to interpret verbal and visual commands.

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PAL Robotics in Barcelona, Spain, is developing advanced bipedal robots that can recognize people, enter buildings, avoid obstacles and pick up objects in their “hands.” They also have voice recognition systems that can take verbal commands.
The military envisions using these robots to enter buildings in danger zones or to bring emergency medical supplies across battle zones to help wounded soldiers. Consumer versions of the REEM line of robots are also coming. For peace time, they’ll include robots that can serve drinks and snacks at public receptions, trade shows, parties, etc. Some will even be able to carry on limited conversations.

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One of the tiniest robots in development — about the size of a fingertip — the Meshworm moves and acts like a small earthworm. It propels itself inch by inch, using artificial muscles that mimic the way an earthworm moves, by stretching one part of itself forward, then pulling the rest of its body along behind it.
The Meshworm can move silently into the tiniest places to report back data, such as temperatures inside a confined space. It can also record audio and maybe even video in future versions. Made entirely of synthetic fibrous material, it’s nearly indestructible. You can step on it or hit it with a hammer and it will keep going because the fibers are not damaged by impact.

And here from NASA: http://robonaut.jsc.nasa.gov/default.asp

Robonaut2-20-pound-2

What’s interesting about this robot is that it is intended to replace a live astronaut/pilot in a space probe, and will actually interface with the flight control panels – switches and dials – in the cockpit. Take a look at the video … quite an amazing and ambitious engineering project where the human body is mimicked even to the eyes and fingertips .

These robots came to be by what’s called an “systems engineering” process which goes somewhat as follows:

  • End users develop a “Needs” document which defines, in somewhat broad terms, a perceived need (e.g. I need a machine that can look at a gauge and then make adjustments by way of a dial … and then grab a cup of coffee.)
  • An “acquisitions agency” takes the “Needs” document and fleshes it out to form a detailed “Request For Proposal” which is then distributed among qualified builders of such things.
  • The bidders outline and detail the approach, schedule and costs they believe are necessary to build the requested  machine.
  • The winning bidder constructs a detailed “requirements” document, and on approval proceeds with the construction phase.
  • The builder sets out to design the machine and its various subsystems.
  • Often times the builder will build a prototype for early test of the  intended design.
  • The builder and the various sub-contactors build the various parts necessary for the completed system.
  • The system is integrated as a whole.
  • The system is tested and accepted by the acquisition agency and then by the end users.

As a result of the above process, the machine is able to successfully mimic those human functions as envisioned and defined by the minds of the end users. Much intelligence and design work is required … the smallest little error or failure can bring the entire system down to its  (mimicked) knees.

__________________________________________________________

So we’ve had a brief look at some machines conceived and designed to mimic certain aspects of natural life … and we’ve seen that they are designed to achieve purposeful actions and ends.

Now lets take a look at an amazing machine from nature – the human being.

DoublePlay

What you see above is the amazing execution of the baseball “double play.” The double play is but one of an unlimited repertoire of things the human being is capable of doing – autonomously as well as in concert with other things in its surroundings.  Music – literature – science – invention – cooking – construction – exploration – medicine – design – art – sculpture –  faith – emotion  —  you can fill in the rest.

Those bodies you see in the picture above contain all that is necessary to carry out a multitude of tasks … task with purpose undertaken by machines designed for purpose … bodies and body parts designed for purpose by a purposeful designer.

Can you imagine the rooms full of people and the many laboratories and factory floors involved in the “systems engineering” process described above? Of course you can, and perhaps like me you have been in those rooms and labs.

Is it a stretch to visualize, in some sense, a transcendent designer  – a transcendent Systems Engineer conceiving of that combination of things necessary such that the end product is capable of executing that double play? or creating a masterpiece such as Handle’s Messiah? or creating the machines that take man to the moon and back? or to create and read this very article?

Oh, I suspect the process of such a transcendent engineer differs a bit from what I have described above, but the envisioning and creative process of mind  resulting in these marvelous living machines accomplishes the desired end product – machines and systems that accomplish their purposeful tasks – whatever they may be.

And perhaps one of the most amazing attributes of this transcendent engineering process is that we seem to have been engineered such that we also – we humans – have been engineered and created in the image of that transcendent systems engineer, and with curiosity can seek to understand that which has been made  by the transcendent one.

Picture3

More interesting articles can be found at:

https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/a-running-list-of-biological-evidences-of-design-in-nature/

Don Johnson – January 2015

Digital and Analog Information Housed in DNA

dna1record-needle-1

Two researchers have demonstrated that DNA harbors information in both digital and analog formats. These two types of information appear to be coupled intrinsically through DNA nucleotide sequences to form an irreducibly complex system. This new insight reveals the elegant sophistication of genomes and advances the case for intelligent design by highlighting the remarkable analogy between the structure and operation of biochemical information systems and the information systems produced by human designers.

Click here to read the article.

More interesting articles can be found at:

https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/a-running-list-of-biological-evidences-of-design-in-nature/

Don Johnson – January 1, 2015

Ring in the New Year with a Fabulous Video on Fine-Tuning from William Lane Craig

take six minutes out of your evening to watch this spectacular video produced by William Lane Craig:

If the mass and energy of the early universe were not evenly distributed to an incomprehensible precision of 1 part in 10 to the 10 to the 123rd, the universe would be hostile to life of any kind. The fact is, our universe permits physical, interactive life only because these, and many other numbers, have been independently and exquisitely balanced on a razor’s edge. … The best explanation for why the universe is fine-tuned for life may very well be, it was designed that way.

More interesting articles can be found at:

https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/a-running-list-of-biological-evidences-of-design-in-nature/

No Way Out for Iraqis Who Helped U.S. in War–My Heart is Saddened by What is Happening There.

From the Wall Street Journal: No Way Out for Iraqis Who Helped U.S. in War

The Challenge coins pictured above reflect the many close relationships and friendships stuck up between “US boots on the ground” and those Iraqi counterparts in the embattled city of Fallujah. Unfortunately, the power vacuum created when the US completely pulled its military out of Iraq has resulted in the vacuum being filled with worst of the worst … with predictable carnage resulting . 

From the WSJ article:

The first emails from Iraq landed in John Kael Weston ’s inbox while he was eating breakfast at a Utah ski resort. Islamic State fighters had just seized Fallujah, and the former State Department diplomat fired off a worried message to the Iraqi policeman who helped him over and over again during the war’s darkest days.

“Are you and your father and family ok?” Mr. Weston asked Saad Abu Fahad. The American and Iraqi were neighbors in Fallujah, taught each other about their country’s politics and always stayed in touch by email. “If you can, please send me a message—does not need to be long,” Mr. Weston wrote.

Two days came and went. No reply. He tried again: “Are you and family ok? Stay safe, my friend.” After again getting no answer, he assumed Capt. Saad was on the run or dead.

*  *  *  *

One Iraqi begged a retired Marine general he had gotten to know during the war: “Come quickly or we’re all dead.”

*  *  *  *

While hiding in the farmhouse, a message came from a friend in Fallujah. Al Qaeda was coming. Capt. Saad decided to run again. Some of his friends had already fled to Kurdish territory in the north, and they urged him to come.

The family arrived in Kirkuk on Feb. 22, where a friend lent them a small place to live. Later, friends told Capt. Saad and his father that Islamic State militants had seized their homes in Fallujah. Two senior officers Capt. Saad knew on the police force were arrested and beheaded, he says.

After settling into the austere life of a refugee, Capt. Saad got Internet access and found Mr. Weston’s frantic messages. “hi my friend,” the exiled policeman wrote July 15. “how r u[?] miss to hear about u.”

Mr. Weston was hiking the North Rim of the Grand Canyon when the note arrived on his iPhone. He felt relieved and guilty.

“My friend, are you and father and family ok?? I’ve only read of very bad news from Anbar, especially Fallujah,” the former State Department official wrote. After watching Islamic State propaganda videos from Fallujah showing black flags flying over government buildings and killings of former U.S. supporters in the city, he didn’t sleep at all that night.

In emails tapped out on a cellphone, Capt. Saad told Mr. Weston that the Iraqi government was too weak to re-enter Fallujah. “I dont know what to do. wish to go falluja and fighting but fighting with whom ?”

In another note, Capt. Saad wrote: “ISIS everywhere and looking for us.”

Looking back to 1975:

WP_20141224_18_58_19_ProWP_20141224_19_00_36_Pro

Above is the Challenge coin given to me recently by Cdr. Hugh Doyle , who was the Engineering Officer aboard the USS Kirk (DE-1087) during Operation Frequent Wind where 50 US Navy ships, including the Kirk rescued 10s of thousands of South Vietnamese from almost certain death at the hands of the North Vietnamese army who invaded and conquered the South.

In researching for my book “I Didn’t Want to Worry You Mom … “, this episode of the Kirk raised, and still raises, strong emotions within me.

On the one hand it angers me that after having spent so much blood and treasure in Vietnam, and after having actually achieved a military victory which divided the country North and South, the US Congress cut off self defense funds to the South Vietnamese,  precipitating the invasion from the North and the collapse of the South Vietnamese nation.  Many more lives were lost in the aftermath, including the millions who died at the hands of the murderous Khmer Rouge in neighboring Cambodia.  This abandonment of former allies is a dark stain on American history, and in particular the US Congress who deliberately voted  such abandonment.

On the other hand, Operation Frequent Wind, and in particular the heroic actions of the US sailors aboard the USS Kirk, raises within me strong emotions of pride – pride in seeing how our American military responds quickly and decisively to urgent humanitarian needs of those many in helpless situations. Vietnam divided our nation, and emotions and often violent protests erupted across the nation in response to the war. Whatever your view of that period in American history, you can take pride in this demonstration of American Valor at the end of the war … I encourage you to take a look at some of these resources which tell the story:

I have also captured a small part of the USS Kirk story in my book “I Didn’t Want to Worry You Mom … “ and the companion video at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sloZqBsalZc

I talked with Paul Jacobs, the Skipper of the Kirk,  just a few days ago and he was soon  heading off to California to meet with and speak to a group of Vietnamese Americans … many of whom were beneficiaries of the US Navy rescue operation back in 1975. Jacobs told me of how so many of those sailors have maintained lifelong contact and friendship with those Vietnamese from the hectic and tragic days in 1975.

Captain Jacobs shares with me the sorrow of what is happening today in Iraq. But … unlike 1975 Vietnam, there is no US Navy fleet off shore rescuing 10s of thousands … no Captain Jacobs … no USS Kirk … no USS Midway and 48 other US ships …  thousands of US sailors are not there in place to rescue the Iraqis, many whose only crime is being Christian.  

So history…  once again … repeats.

But is there a better history? Is there a better template for how to handle the ending of wars that are all to frequent in this ever dangerous world? I think there is … Is the United States the Good Country: Nation Building & Boots on the Ground.

 

Don Johnson – December 2014

 

__________________________________

 

The Wall Street journal article follows for your convenience.

 

Iraqi Colleagues of U.S. Troops Are Marked for Death by Islamic State

Former diplomat John Kael Weston, shown in Fallujah, where he worked from 2004 to 2007 with the Marines, said he feels guilty and helpless about Iraqi colleagues who are now being hunted by Islamic State.

Former diplomat John Kael Weston, shown in Fallujah, where he worked from 2004 to 2007 with the Marines, said he feels guilty and helpless about Iraqi colleagues who are now being hunted by Islamic State.

The first emails from Iraq landed in John Kael Weston ’s inbox while he was eating breakfast at a Utah ski resort. Islamic State fighters had just seized Fallujah, and the former State Department diplomat fired off a worried message to the Iraqi policeman who helped him over and over again during the war’s darkest days.

“Are you and your father and family ok?” Mr. Weston asked Saad Abu Fahad. The American and Iraqi were neighbors in Fallujah, taught each other about their country’s politics and always stayed in touch by email. “If you can, please send me a message—does not need to be long,” Mr. Weston wrote.

Two days came and went. No reply. He tried again: “Are you and family ok? Stay safe, my friend.” After again getting no answer, he assumed Capt. Saad was on the run or dead.

War forces people to make choices, and many of them don’t work out. With large swaths of Iraq under control of Islamic State, many of the Iraqis who put their lives on the line to aid the U.S. during the nearly nine-year war are being marked for death by militants as collaborators. The Americans who counted on them and are now safe at home can only wait, wonder and worry.

One Iraqi begged a retired Marine general he had gotten to know during the war: “Come quickly or we’re all dead.”

Islamic State’s terrifying grip on large swaths of Iraq threatens the lives of Iraqis who helped U.S. troops during the nine-year war there. WSJ’s Adam Entous reports. Photo: Getty

Retired Marine Gen. John Allen , put in charge by President Barack Obama of assembling the international coalition to fight Islamic State, gets the desperate notes for help in his personal email account. They are “heart-wrenching,” says Gen. Allen, who forwards them to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and military officers running airstrikes against Islamic State.

Maj. Gen. Larry Nicholson, twice the Marine commander in Fallujah, says the Iraqis “did so much for us” and are paying a horrible price for it. In replies, he urges the Iraqis to stay safe and strong. The retired general who got the plea to “come quickly” has responded four times but heard nothing.

Like other U.S. military officers and diplomats who got information, support and even friendship from Iraqis during the war, Mr. Weston feels helpless and guilty about those left behind. He was political adviser to the Marines in Fallujah from 2004 to 2007—and remembers the promises made to win Iraqi cooperation. They helped turn the tide in Fallujah and elsewhere.

“We wanted them to believe that we wouldn’t abandon them,” says Mr. Weston, 42 years old.

No one knows how many allies of America’s former fighting force in Iraq have been killed by Islamic State, which uses press clippings and U.S. military studies to track down Iraqis who stood side-by-side with American troops and officials.

Iraqi policeman Capt. Saad wearing a facemask to disguise his identity during a training exercise in Baghdad. After Islamic State seized Fallujah in January, Capt. Saad and his family fled for their lives to Kirkuk. 

Iraqi policeman Capt. Saad wearing a facemask to disguise his identity during a training exercise in Baghdad. After Islamic State seized Fallujah in January, Capt. Saad and his family fled for their lives to Kirkuk. Capt. Saad

American officials say they are aware of Islamic State’s threat to former U.S. partners in Iraq and have established a 24-hour-a-day hotline at a joint operations center in Baghdad, where callers can pass along information. But there are limits on what the U.S. is willing or able to do, these officials add.

“The Americans will not be coming to their rescue,” the former general says.

Few Americans had heard of Fallujah when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. In 2004, Iraqi insurgents ambushed a convoy of American security contractors, pulling four from their vehicles. They beat them, set their bodies on fire and hung the charred corpses from a bridge over the Euphrates River.

Capt. Saad, who followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a policeman in 1992, was part of the unit sent to the scene. He helped collect the Americans’ remains and bring them to a nearby U.S. base. The Wall Street Journal is withholding Capt. Saad’s family name for his protection.

The policeman impressed Marines by fending off insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades who attacked the police headquarters where he and his father worked.

Lt. Col. Mark Broekhuizen, a Marine captain in the Fallujah area at the time, was struck by Capt. Saad’s ability to put Iraqis and Marines at ease. He was “a great example of what we were fighting for,” Lt. Col. Broekhuizen says.

The battles to control Fallujah were the most devastating of the Iraq war. To rebuild after the fighting subsided, the Americans needed local Iraqi partners. Gaining their trust was Mr. Weston’s mission.

For most of three years, Mr. Weston was the only diplomat embedded with more than 30,000 Marines and soldiers in Fallujah and Anbar province.

Mr. Weston met Capt. Saad in early 2005 during a long lunch of meat over rice. The American was curious about domestic life in Fallujah. Capt. Saad, a Sunni, told Mr. Weston about his family and talked to Mr. Weston about American politics and policy.

The two men saw eye-to-eye about the need to stamp out al Qaeda and reduce sectarian tensions. They swapped intelligence about Hollywood blockbusters for sale in Fallujah’s black market and stories about their mutual love of German shepherds.

Mr. Weston’s local ties surprised some of his American colleagues, who preferred to keep their Iraqi partners at greater distance. Maj. Gen. Nicholson, then a colonel, recalls a meeting attended by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, where Mr. Weston was introduced by Fallujah’s city-council chairman as “Kael al-Falluji,” using the middle name by which Mr. Weston is known to his friends. The nickname stuck.

Almost every week, a city council leader in Fallujah was assassinated. Capt. Saad’s family also paid a steep price. His younger brother was shot and killed while visiting a mosque.

By 2007, Mr. Weston felt burned out. He said goodbye without fanfare and started a new assignment in Afghanistan.

The two men last saw each other when Mr. Weston returned to Fallujah for Iraq’s elections in 2009. Security and stability had improved, and he saw the grinning Capt. Saad on the street.

“Look, no masks!” the policeman said, referring to facemasks long worn to shield officials’ identities from insurgents.

As the U.S. pulled out its troops from Iraq, Mr. Weston and Capt. Saad used email for updates on work and family. “I often wish I was closer so that we could visit in person,” Mr. Weston wrote in October 2011.

Capt. Saad soon resigned from the police force, tired of corruption in the ranks and eager to pursue his dream of teaching physics. He found a job at a boys’ high school and wrote excitedly to Mr. Weston about having a quieter life.

Mr. Weston quit the State Department and started writing a book about his wartime experiences. Iraq was never far from his mind. The sound of explosives used by the ski patrol at Utah’s Solitude Mountain to reduce avalanche risk reminded him of 155mm howitzers.

Islamic State seized Fallujah in January. On New Year’s Day, Mr. Weston got a harrowing email in broken English from a Fallujah highway-patrol officer with whom he had also kept in touch.

“Al Qaeda flags is over all the goverment buildings…..all the citizens of fallujah start to leave,” wrote the officer. “We are looking for help.”

The frantic messages stopped as suddenly as they had started. The silence left Mr. Weston with no idea if his Fallujah friends were still alive.

While Mr. Weston worried about Capt. Saad’s fate from a condominium in the Wasatch Mountains, Capt. Saad says he hunkered down with his wife and children in their home. Friends in the police force had alerted him to the arrival of Islamic State militants. The first wave had 30 to 50 fighters, who entered Fallujah unopposed.

His house in central Fallujah had a large bulletproof window in the front and was surrounded by a security wall. After Islamic State’s takeover, the family slept on the ground level, which was less vulnerable to rocket fire.

For 17 days, Capt. Saad, 39, kept a wary eye glued to a video monitor in his house, watching grainy images from a surveillance camera out front. He says he stayed awake all night and slept for a couple of hours during the day while his wife took over. He didn’t reply to Mr. Weston because his home Internet service wasn’t working and it was too dangerous to go to an Internet cafe.

Friends in the police department said local security forces had given up their weapons. Most fled. Some joined the Islamists. Militants knew who to look for, partly because the U.S. military published reports online detailing how the Marines worked with local Iraqi institutions and leaders, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials.

 

The police could have stopped the advance but didn’t try, Capt. Saad says. “Why aren’t you fighting?” he asked one local chief in a phone call. The officer responded without elaborating: “Can’t.”

Islamic State militants initially sought to reassure Fallujah’s residents about their intentions, saying they didn’t plan to seek revenge. “Past is past,” they told local Fallujah leaders, according to Capt. Saad. He didn’t believe it.

On Jan. 17, friends told him the roads were relatively clear of checkpoints. Capt. Saad decided it was time to make a run for safety. He planned to drive to a family farm outside Fallujah.

Loaded into two cars, the family took only the bare essentials, hoping to return, plus an AK-47 rifle that Capt. Saad kept at his side as he drove.

Capt. Saad and his wife told their children the family was going to visit the farm, which has date palms and room to play outside. On the way, they listened to one of the family’s favorite music stations, Radio Sawa, which plays Arabic and English-language songs.

While hiding in the farmhouse, a message came from a friend in Fallujah. Al Qaeda was coming. Capt. Saad decided to run again. Some of his friends had already fled to Kurdish territory in the north, and they urged him to come.

The family arrived in Kirkuk on Feb. 22, where a friend lent them a small place to live. Later, friends told Capt. Saad and his father that Islamic State militants had seized their homes in Fallujah. Two senior officers Capt. Saad knew on the police force were arrested and beheaded, he says.

After settling into the austere life of a refugee, Capt. Saad got Internet access and found Mr. Weston’s frantic messages. “hi my friend,” the exiled policeman wrote July 15. “how r u[?] miss to hear about u.”

Mr. Weston was hiking the North Rim of the Grand Canyon when the note arrived on his iPhone. He felt relieved and guilty.

“My friend, are you and father and family ok?? I’ve only read of very bad news from Anbar, especially Fallujah,” the former State Department official wrote. After watching Islamic State propaganda videos from Fallujah showing black flags flying over government buildings and killings of former U.S. supporters in the city, he didn’t sleep at all that night.

In emails tapped out on a cellphone, Capt. Saad told Mr. Weston that the Iraqi government was too weak to re-enter Fallujah. “I dont know what to do. wish to go falluja and fighting but fighting with whom ?”

In another note, Capt. Saad wrote: “ISIS everywhere and looking for us.”

Mr. Weston told Capt. Saad that he wishes he could do more. He wrote that he was upset by what he saw as a lack of empathy in Washington to Fallujah’s plight.

In a Sept. 10 email, Capt. Saad sent Mr. Weston a photo of the commemorative “challenge coins” that military commanders routinely hand out to boost troop morale.

Capt. Saad called them medals, and his collection includes two from the Marines and another from Donald Winter, the visiting secretary of the Navy.

“It was honor time,” Capt. Saad told Mr. Weston. Mr. Weston responded: “The medals show how close the ties were between us over many years. Your work and sacrifices continue.”

Mr. Winter says he doesn’t recall Capt. Saad. The former Navy secretary often gave out several hundred coins during each three- or four-day visit to U.S. and Iraqi personnel. The coins “were highly appreciated,” he says.

Hundreds of other families from Fallujah are in the Kurdish-controlled north, where Capt. Saad lives with 10 family members in a three-bedroom home. Capt. Saad, his wife and their four children share one room. “Just try to stay strong,” Mr. Weston wrote in a recent email.

Capt. Saad lamented the sorry state of the Iraqi police, who gave up their arms in Fallujah without a fight. In contrast, he told Mr. Weston, “we were heros” and made a “great team.”

Capt. Saad’s messages implicitly asked whether America has forgotten its friends in Fallujah.

Mr. Weston wrote his response carefully, using the first person, because he knew he could speak only for himself, not his country.

“I have not forgotten, and I will not,” Mr. Weston wrote.

Write to Adam Entous at adam.entous@wsj.com