The politician and the farmer

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https://youtu.be/PUu2HKZGxJ4

Is what we’re witnessing in the US a slow-motion downhill slide into a coup?

 

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other … “ John Adams.

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This article is in response to comments I made to a Facebook post referencing the article just below, and several responses to my comments (emphasis mine).

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http://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/is-the-us-in-the-middle-of-a-coup/news-story/ab0ece5c5b27b004b0b203fcce435a92

Me: Interesting that many of us thought the same of Barack Hussein Obama during the past 8 years

Response 1: The difference here, Don, is that President Obama was not mentally unstable and incapable of controlling his irresponsible impulses. Trump behaves like a petulant child and makes rash decisions without using the checks and balance resources in place to vet his decisions before acting on them. I have ideological differences with both political parties but I currently find myself leaning more to the left; however, my biggest issues with Trump are based on my serious belief that the man is a narcissistic bully and does not have the mental wherewithal and self control to not put this nation in extreme jeopardy on many fronts.

Response 2: Don, recognizing that a significant number of Americans were dissatisfied with the leadership of the Obama administration, I would be very interested in hearing how those feelings were the “same” as the feeling expressed in this particular article.

Me: I’d rather not get into a back and forth with family. Experience tells me that will most probably lead to unpleasant results.
However, I have written much on many topics — probably including this topic — over the years on my blog and I invite you to take a look at my thinking — the good, the bad and the ugly.
Go to
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/ and click starting with “WHY I WRITE” on the top menu, and then shop around using the CATEGORIES drop down.
Love you guys.

Response 3: We love you too Don.

Response 4: I think I may need more direction to find the blog articles that express concern about Obama having the desire and opportunity to bypass the democratic system and fundamentally change America’s system of government

Response 5: I see a lot of interesting topics. And read several, but they aren’t answering my question. And I am genuinely curious. The support for Trump is unfathomable to me, and yet I see that several people I care for (including you) seem to be not only unconcerned but actually excited about his administration. I would like to have a better understanding of it, without the inflammatory rhetoric that infects every news outlet and social media venue I’ve seen recently

Me: Thanks … you’ll forgive me I hope for being a bit gun shy. I’ve been called just about every name in the book over the years emanating fundamentally from my motivations in WHY I WRITE on my blog.
You’ve given me opportunity to review and reflect. I’ve written much, and I’ll try to put together a response, but it may not be “hot of the press” so relax and put your feet up. Perhaps you’ll see another essay trying to answer such a question as yours.
Thanks again

Response 6: That would be fantastic. Thank you!

And I completely understand gun shy. There are a lot more assumptions than questions going around these days.

__________________

My comments to the questions

Is what we’re witnessing in the US a slow-motion downhill slide into a coup?
This question posed at the link above is aimed at President Donald Trump. But from what I’ve seen since the election, and especially noticeable since the inauguration, if anything, would point that question directly back to the progressive left.

The failed electoral recount effort – the denouncement of the Constitutional Electoral College voting method – riots in the streets of Washington on inauguration day – demonstrations around the country – Congressional (Democrat) boycott of the inauguration – immediate congressional (Democrat) announcement of total resistance to Trump in the Congress – Soros funded(?) spontaneous demonstrations at airports –Soros manipulation(?) of some 56 abortion advocacy groups promoting the Women’s March – riots and shutdown of free speech at UC Berkley – the immediate calls for impeachment – assertions that the new President is mentally ill – accusations and insinuations that Trump is planning a coup – visual insinuation of assassination as on the cover of a recent Irish magazine … and more it seems daily.

I’ve lived through the 60s and remember the chaos then. I remember the hatred hurled against Ronald Reagan. I remember the hatred hurled against George W. Bush. Today’s chaos has the feeling of being much more sinister, and potentially more dangerous than those in the past, and gets me to the quote from John Adams, our second president.

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other … “ John Adams.

What we have now, in addition to political chaos, is a frightening moral decline which I have witnessed over my lifetime. Prior to the 2016 election, and with both candidates, I felt we had indeed arrived at that time of which Adams (and others of his contemporaries) wrote – a time of an immoral and irreligious people. Are we as a people at such a place? I recently wrote of scraping the bottom of the barrel with both candidates and lamented the prospect of, for the first time in my electoral life, truly having to vote for the lesser of two evils.  I’m convinced had Hillary Clinton been elected, we would indeed have accelerated further down that path and the nation would suffer from her deep corruption. But Donald Trump is now President. Have we received a reprieve and course correction with his election? I hope so, and judging from the people he has surrounded himself with I have hope. But that hope is tempered, not only by the flaws of this man now our President, but by a nation and its people who, for example, have allowed our federal government to dictate and enforce a so called “gender fluidity” which obliterates known and obvious genetic, anatomical, biological and cultural differences between boys and girls – men and women. This cannot end well with this and future generations. It is this sort of law making and regulation dictates that renders our Constitution “wholly inadequate.”

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I’ve written and posted some 550+ articles over the past decade, and it would be quite a daunting task to search through them in order to summarize and condense these thoughts in some meaningful and readable form. Thus what I have done below is to cherry pick some which might have bearing on the questions posed above. I ask the reader to read articles of interest and judge for yourself as to the applicability and validity of what I wrote at the time. In most cases you will probably find areas of agreement and disagreement, and areas where I’ve flat out got it wrong.  But don’t expect responses – I wrote what I wrote at the time, and I wrote what I believed at the time.

So here are some of those posts … have fun.

But before you go on, let me address the issue of mental health along with two of the serious problems that Barack Obama has left for this and future generations.

The first problem is the apparent green light given to Iran to develop deliverable nuclear weapons. This may not happen in the immediate future, but according to it’s many critics, the nuclear deal  will end some years out – 8 to 10 as I recall, at which time Iran is freed up to continue its now supposedly suspended  nuclear development. Iran as you may have noticed is busy right now in developing ballistic missiles on which at some point in the future will house nuclear weapons.

So let’s connect a few dots here – some very big dots,on the order of a full moon on a dark night.

First dot … Iran’s long standing threat to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth along with it’s millions of Jews. An attempted completion of Hitler’s “Final Solution.”

Second dot … Iran has been (an most probably still is) actively developing its nuclear weapons production capability.

Third dot … Iran is currently developing and testing its ballistic missile capability – as recently as a few days ago from when I wrote these words.

Dot connection (a logical conclusion) …  Nuclear armed missiles headed for the cities of Israel. 

Does allowing this to come to fruition on the part of the US and other Western nations  seem like a sane thing to do? I would rather describe it as insanity – and Donald Trump was not even involved in this, so who has the mental problems here?

The second problem is the so called “gender fluidity” that is the latest and last of Barack Obama’s “fundamental transformation of the United States of America.”  Under the bully pulpit advocacy of Obama, and actual legal actions requiring “gender fluid” sharing of restrooms and locker rooms, our federal government is attempting to rewrite biology, anatomy, physiology, genetics and human culture from one end to the other – from children to marriage. This is called “science denial” and is at the expense of children, teenagers,  families and the very fabric of American cultural life.

In the context of the mental health of Presidents, this is insanity. 

As for being excited about the Trump administration, I would rather phrase it as hopeful. Yes the man is loud, insulting, crude and boisterous, even narcissistic (as is Barack Obama).

But from what I’ve seen recently of the man,  the picture I’m hopefully beginning to see that perhaps best illustrates my hope is the story of Image result for the thieves on the cross with jesus

the two thieves hanging on crosses along with Jesus.

Both began their time on the cross by mocking and blaspheming Him, as did many of the spectators, and both were guilty. One of the thieves responded in faith to the message of salvation and was taken to paradise that very day. He is the one usually referred to as the thief on the cross, while the other man did not respond in faith and is now suffering from a deadly and eternal mistake.

In the context of the transgressions of Donald Trump in this 2016 presidential election, and the continual bombardment of those transgressions, I am reminded that Donald Trump is the one on his cross who has acknowledged his transgressions and has apologized for them.  His enemies on their crosses continue with no repentance of their transgressions, and hypocritical mocking of the one on the other cross.

I haven’t seen any direct evidence, but I won’t be surprised if I later find out that the very flawed Donald Trump turns out to be a Born Again Christian. Many Biblical examples here such as David.

How high is your moral bar?

A good place to learn and reflect is at the Ten Commandments.

And speaking of excitement … yes I was excited when I saw Mike Spence being sworn in with his hand on the Bible at 2 Chronicles 7:14 —

”if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

This was a cause for hope.

 

So now finally I will turn you loose on my thinking.

_____

https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/election-2016-the-possibilities-are-bizarre-and-frightening/
Donald Trump
, along with Bernie Sanders, is a direct backlash against what many see as the massive corruption and failures of the Federal Government, and in particular President Barack Hussein Obama.  Trump has masterfully capitalized on this backlash and his popularity and poll numbers have dominated for many months.

However, in my view, Trump is much the same as Obama but expressed in a very much contrasting fashion. Obama is smooth cool and collected in his demeanor and public persona whereas Trump is bombastic and confrontational.

Even with these outward personality differences, both come across as narcissistic, self-centered and egotistical. Both prefer the one-man-rule mode of governance at the expense of the long successful limited form of government, i.e the Constitutional federalist model —  “We the People … “

As to Hillary and National Security
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/loose-lips-sink-ships/

My warning of the possibility of dictatorship on the horizon.
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/preparing-for-dictatorship-questions-for-the-younger-generations/#comments

Presidential honesty and integrity.
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/famous-presidential-lies-contest/

The following is a response I made to reader comment on the above post.

o Dear Lie,
There are a couple of ’emotions’ towards President Obama that I would plead guilty to, but hate is not one of them.

Very early in his presidency, I was talking with an old friend (a lifelong Democrat) about Obama and I told her that I fear him. I feared him at the time because I feared the harm and damage he might bring to the country and to future generations. I feared him because of his almost complete lack of experience in anything of consequence. I feared him because of his radical associations with such as Bill Ayers, a unrepentant radical member/founder of the group WEATHER UNDERGROUND who actually set off bombs in various places. Bill Ayers, that man who recently told a group of Marxist Wall Street Occupiers yesterday: “I Get Up Every Morning And Think… Today I’m Going To End Capitalism” I feared him because of his radical very close 20 year association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and then when questioned about Wright’s radical teachings, Obama abandoned him and claimed no knowledge of what Wright was teaching. There’s more … such as his upbringing by his very leftist mother and grandparents (perhaps Communists), and his association with Frank Marshall Davis, a no-kidding card carrying Communist. I don’t take such associations with Communists lightly – Communism is responsible for on the order of 100 million people in the 20th century, and the enslavement of many more. Little of this was reported by the main stream media, but was known by those who dug deeper – people like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. So we elected a President with very little vetting by the media who instead largely fawned over the man.

These years later I see the actual harm and damage that I feared just 6 years prior. A very damaged economy with record numbers of capable people unable to find work (especially the young people) … record numbers of people on government dependency of some sort. I see a health care ‘reform’ law that is severely damaging the health care system as well as undermining the health care insurance industry. I see 6+ million insurance policy holders who were promised the ” … if you like your plan you can keep it. PERIOD.” ” … if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor. PERIOD.” Some 6,000,000+ cancelation later we see that is not the case at all. We were promised an average $2,500 per capita reduction in health care costs and are now hearing of more and more cases of rates and deductible going up … some dramatically.

I see a nation divided along class and racial lines that I’ve not seen since the 1960s and 1970s and the days of Bill Ayers … and I see this division as a key element in a successful re-election campaign.

I see our status and influence in the world shrinking in what appears to be a collapse of our foreign policy … the region from Northwestern Africa to Pakistan is more explosive and dangerous than I can ever remember, and I see an alarming array of military (nuclear) power filling the vacuum left behind as America retreats from the region.

I still fear the man, but now these 6 years later that fear has also taken on the color of disgust … disgust at his record as president and disgust at his lack of character and integrity.

A few years back Glenn Beck published a book “Being George Washington” In this book, Beck emphasized the character and integrity of our first president, and implored us to find ways to emulate that character and integrity – ways that each of us can “be George Washington.” Is that to much to ask of one who seeks or holds that very same office?

So I plead “not guilty” to hate, but “guilty” to fear and disgust.

But I do thank you for your comments.

On why Presidential trust is vital.
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/presidential-trust/

On immigration and assimilation
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/immigration-assimilation-a-hungarian-model-2/

Of related note:
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/islamjihad-and-the-ten-commandments/

Regarding Israel:
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/cry-havoc-and-let-slip-the-dogs-of-war/

People and books that have influenced my thinking – an example (of many)
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/two-book-reports-part-1-exceptional-by-dick-and-liz-cheney/

My views on American Exceptionalism – references yet another influential book
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/american-exceptionalism-part-2-so-what-why-does-it-matter/

And here is that book.
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/miracle-of-freedom-chris-stewart/1101126471#productInfoTabs

My only comment (I think) about Bernie Sanders.
https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2016/03/27/the-irony-of-bernie-and-seattle/

Best regards, and I do wish us all well.

Don Johnson – February 2017

"I may not agree with what you are saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

image(Click above to read the article)

Riots like this take me back to my younger days. It was 1964 and I was a young 20 yr. old sailor attending a Navy school at Mare Island CA (not far from Berkley). A group of us young sailors were talking in the barracks one night. I don’t recall the topic, but I do remember saying “I may not agree with what you are saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” As I recall, there was general agreement among us about that statement.

I don’t recall knowing of a far distant country named Vietnam, nor do I recall a war going on over there — I don’t think any of us did. But soon enough, most of us were assigned to destroyers and found our way over to that war where we were faced with possibly having to make good on that cocky statement made in the barracks that night. And 1964 was a scant few years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, so our youthful boasting was not done in a safe and protected vacuum like that campus just down the road.

But you know what? I ‘m sure most us believed it then and believe it now and would do the same now if able.

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/justinholcomb/2017/02/01/dems-gone-wild-violent-protests-burn-down-parts-of-uc-berkley-n2280111

Don Johnson – February 2017

Sam Jankovich–A Butte Kid Does Well

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“ … I worked in the Leonard mine which was the turning point of my life. I was put in a tunnel and was scared to death. I thought for certain I would not get out alive. I came home and told Patty that if I had to work in the mine we were going to starve. … “

How did this young man, a hard rock miner from Butte Montana, rise from the depths of a mine tunnel to one day stand beside two Presidents and among two National Championship college football teams? From a dirty and dangerous mine to stand beside Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde and coaches of the caliber of Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson? How did this young man rise from that dark, cold mine shaft to become Chief executive Officer of the New England patriots? How did this man expand a football stadium in Pullman Washington from 24,000 to 39,000 seats – with no cost to the tax payer?

Sam Jankovich came to the surface of the Leonard mine and rose to the top of his chosen profession of athletics. From state championship teams in Butte — to assistant coaching at universities in Montana and Washington — to Athletic Director at Washington State and the University of Miami – to CEO of the Patriots. All along the way earning induction into the Halls of Fame of these institutions.

As the editor of Sam’s memoirs I learned the answers to these questions. Sentence by sentence – paragraph by paragraph – page by page – place to place. I found the answers in words like ‘character’, ‘loyalty’, ‘quality’ and ‘consistency’ bubbling up from the pages. I began to see the character of the man as golden threads woven through the fabric of his life and career. Part of the fabric and yet distinctly visible.

The story of Sam Jankovich is in these pages, but it is not a story of “I”. Rather, it seems subsumed and surrounded by the many stories of the “others” of Sam’s life. You will run across constantly recurring phrases as “… a wonderful man” “ … a wonderful person” “… a dear friend”, “a wonderful woman”

Sam Jankovich is one of the “old timers” I’ve become acquainted or reacquainted with in recent years. Others, along with their stories, have come to me from my US Navy past — some from that “Greatest Generation” of World War II, Korea, the Cold War and Vietnam. One of my Navy shipmates, and a friend, is a refugee from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and a three tour Vietnam veteran. Another is a Navy veteran of those many World War II sea-battles in the South Pacific — followed by infantry combat in that very brutal Korean War.

These folks who have lived such consequential lives, and have left behind recollections of their lives, deserve to be remembered. That is why I have become passionate in doing what I can to further those remembrances.

I hope you enjoy the story of one such consequential life – the life of Sam Jankovich.

 

(Click on the book cover below to find Sam)

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Don Johnson – typoist and editor of Sam Jankovich

Closing In On Why Bogie Quit Talking

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[After 25 years or so of much talking and companionship, Bogie, the African Grey in our house, has suddenly quit talking – boo-hoo — a sad state of affairs.]

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It’s time for another paradigm change. “These findings suggest that a fundamental assumption of current theories of motor coding requires revision,” as the Abstract of a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes. Neuroscientists from Emory University have uncovered another coded signaling system, this time in nerves and muscles. The paper’s categories include “Computational Neuroscience” and “Information Theory.”

Neurons and muscles have a strong relationship. To get a bicep to flex, or a diaphragm to bend for breathing, the muscles involved need to be triggered. The triggers come from nerves connected to the muscle fibers. Until this paper came along, most neuroscientists figured that the brain just sped up the “spike rate” of pulses to the muscle to get them to respond. The emerging view is much richer.  It’s not just the rate; it’s the timing.

A crucial problem in neuroscience is understanding how neural activity (sequences of action potentials or “spikes”) controls muscles, and hence motor behaviors. Traditional theories of brain function assume that information from the nervous system to the muscles is conveyed by the total number of spikes fired within a particular time interval. Here, we combine physiological, behavioral, and computational techniques to show that, at least in one relatively simple behavior–respiration in songbirds–the precise timing of spikes, rather than just their number, plays a crucial role in predicting and causally controlling behavior. These findings suggest that basic assumptions about neural motor control require revision and may have significant implications for designing neural prosthetics and brain-machine interfaces. [Emphasis added.]

Working with six male Bengalese finches that were anesthetized, the researchers monitored their breathing while recording neural spikes to the lungs. They were able to stimulate the motor neurons arbitrarily in vivo and watch what happens. This is delicate work; they had to work at 250 micro-amp levels. To locally block certain nerve-muscle junctions, they applied curare — the compound Brazilian hunters use on poison darts — but not enough to paralyze the poor birds! (How do you say that in scientese? “Applying too much curare and fully paralyzing EXP [expiratory muscle group] would endanger the wellbeing of the animal.”)

Next, they analyzed triplets of spikes where the middle spike was variable. They wanted to test whether a “neural code” exists in the train of spikes. To do this, they had to measure interspike intervals (ISIs) at millisecond resolution. If the brain controls these intervals, and the muscles respond accordingly (for instance, with changes in air pressure), it would signify the presence of a neural code.

With these techniques they were able to isolate properties of the neuromuscular response for a variety of experimental tests. In particular, they were looking for the effects of different signal patterns. “Therefore, we believe that our muscle stimulation experiments were only activating the axons of motor neurons and were not activating muscle fibers directly,” they say. “This finding allowed us to make insightful comparisons between the results of our spike pattern and stimulation analyses.” After gathering large data sets and crunching them with software, they came to the conclusion they had found a code — not just in songbirds, but all animals:

Overall, we have shown that respiratory motor unit activity is controlled on millisecond timescales, that precise timing of spikes in multispike patterns is correlated with behavior (air sac pressure), and that muscle force output and the behavior itself are causally affected by spike timing (all on similar temporal scales) (Figs. 2D, 3C, and 4C). These findings provide crucial evidence that precise spike timing codes casually [sic, causally] modulate vertebrate behavior. Additionally, they shift the focus from coding by individual spikes (1, 14, 19) to coding by multispike patterns and from using spike timing to represent time during a behavioral sequence (20, 21) to coding its structural features. Put another way, although it is clear that earlier activation of neurons would lead to earlier activation of muscles, this relationship only accounts for encoding when a behavior happens (10, 22). Here, we show that changing the timing of a single spike within a burst by ∼1 ms can also affect what the animal will do, not just when it will do it. Furthermore, we showed that the effect of moving a single spike is stable across animals (Fig. 2). We believe that this precise spike timing code reflects and exploits muscle nonlinearities: spikes less than ∼20 ms apart generate force supralinearly (SI Appendix, Fig. S12), with stronger nonlinearities for shorter ISIs [interspike intervals]. Thus, changing the first ISI from 12 to 10 ms significantly alters the effect of the spike pattern on air pressure (Fig. 2B). Such nonlinearities in force production as a function of spike timing have been observed in a number of species (23⇓-25), highlighting the necessity of examining the role of spike timing codes in the motor systems of other animals. Importantly, our findings show that the nervous system uses millisecond-timescale changes in spike timing to control behavior by exploiting these muscle nonlinearities, even though the muscles develop force on a significantly longer timescale (tens of milliseconds as shown in Fig. 3B).

They speak of the “surprising power of spike timing to predict behavior,” indicating that patterns of spikes coming down the nerves are the determining factor in behavior, not just how fast they come.

Is this really a code? Well, count the number of times they refer to coding directly, beside the suggestion in the title, “Motor control by precisely timed spike patterns.” Result: 29 times. “Information,” a related concept in coding, gets 51 mentions. “Precision” and related terms, important for conveying information, gets 14 mentions.

Take a moment to watch this video of a nightingale singing on YouTube and prepare to say Wow!

How much information does the forebrain have to send to the vocal muscles to achieve that kind of performance? The authors note in their concluding discussion, “Because respiration is critical to vocalization in songbirds, it will be of special interest to record respiratory timing patterns during singing….” Indeed!

Think of the possibilities this discovery opens for further research. A multitude of questions come to mind: how does the brain know what pattern to send to a distant muscle to get it to act in a certain way? Are the codes inherited or learned? How reproducible are the patterns from one animal to another? Can a spike code from one bird sent to the nerves of another bird make it sing the same song? How does a human mind interact with the brain to turn a choice into an action? What translates the thought “I must run” into a spike timing pattern that makes you run? How rich, do you think, is the spike timing code in a performance of Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu? (See the video at the top.)

Being a new discovery, this “spike timing code” will undoubtedly prompt much more research on more animals in more settings.

 

Article credit: Discovery Institute http://www.evolutionnews.org/2017/01/the_spike_code103455.html

 

Don Johnson – January 2017

How can taking the life of an innocent human being be Constitutional?

For years I have asked the question “How can taking the life of an innocent human being be Constitutional?”

Consider:
— the target of the abortion is alive, as a distinct entity, from conception and has never been anything but alive.

— the target of the abortion is a human being and has never been anything else. He or she has never been a worm, a bird, a cabbage, a monkey, a fish or any other life form other than a human being.

— the target of the abortion, never having entered into the human society, is as innocent as can be imagined.

— the abortion does indeed take this life.

Constitutionally:

— this life has been taken without “due process of law” as required by the US Constitution.

— the presumption of innocence, Constitutionally granted in criminal cases, is denied to the object of abortion.

— legal representation is denied to the object of abortion as is the right to confront the accuser.

— presentation of legal charges and a jury trial of peers is denied to the object of abortion.

Again I ask “How can the taking the life of an innocent human being be Constitutional?”

 

Don Johnson – January 2017

Birthdays And Inaugurations

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“ … More than any other moment, the inauguration is a picture of our Constitution, proof that we are a nation based on representation, not royalty. … “

January 20 is my birthday and every four years beginning with the inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945 for his 4th term, I’ve received the gift of a new president, or the continuation of the same.

I’ve handled most transitions without much gnashing of teeth, although I suspect I may have been putting up a fuss on that first transition.

But there have been a few that have raised my angst and blood pressure, and a few that have lowered that pressure along with a sigh of relief. Let me recap a few of those transitional birthday presents. 

Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan —

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Going into the Carter years, I was disappointed that Gerald Ford was not re-elected, I felt he was a good man – qualified, experienced and honest. But I rolled with the punch and entered into the term of the man from Plains with not much of a rise in angst or blood pressure. .

As the Carter term unfolded we experienced what I believe was the worst economic mess since the Great Depression. Far worse than the 2008 melt down, with double digit interest rates, inflation rates and high unemployment rate.

Along side all of this was a serious hollowing out of the military – I remember those Navy fighter squadrons hobbled due to the lack of spare parts.

So my angst and blood pressure rose and I looked forward to the next transition.

Along the way during those years was Ronald Reagan. The “Gipper” was on the radio daily in those days with short punchy commentaries that caught my attention, and when he ran against Carter I was delighted and my angst and blood pressure receded – and I was not in the least disappointed by his presidency.

George H. W. Bush (Bush 41) to Bill Clinton

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I liked Bush a lot and was disappointed that he was not reelected. As with Ford, I felt Bush was a good man – qualified, experienced and honest. But I rolled with the punch and entered into the term of the man from Hope with not much of a rise in angst or blood pressure.

Clinton, along with a Republican Congress was able to sustain the good economy of the Reagan/Bush years which was a good thing, and much to his credit. But his sexual behavior, and exploitation of his high position to seduce multiple young women, even in the White House, resulted in much scandal and an impeachment by the House of Representatives.

This caused a considerable rise in my angst and blood pressure, and once more I looked forward to the upcoming transition.  

Bill Clinton to George W. Bush.

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I remember breathing a sigh of relief at the election of George W. Bush, and the prospect once more, of having a President I could respect. A good and honest man and a man of integrity. 

I believed at the time, and still believe, that Bush 43 was the right man at the right time following the attacks of September 11, 2001. 

Bush 43 was largely untainted by scandal, unlike his predecessor Clinton, and his successor Obama and Obama’s likely successor Hillary Clinton. The scandal laid at the feet of George Bush was that “Bush lied – babies died” pushing us into the war with Iraq.  This in itself was a lie. There was near unanimous agreement among the world’s intelligence communities that Hussein’s Iraq had and was developing Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). And there was a strong and vocal consensus within the US Congress that Saddam’s Iraq was a gathering threat and needed to be stopped.

So with the approval of the US Congress, and with many UN resolutions to back it, the US and its many allies moved against Iraq with the invasion of 2003. The invasion was successful, with Hussein and his Ba’ath party removed from power.

But when the post invasion success met with problems in the post- war occupation, many of the very politicians that so strongly supported President Bush turned on him and began a vicious campaign against him and Vice President Cheney.

In retrospect, I see two key quotes that capture this demonization and the lust for power among the Bush opponents. The first being “Never let a serious crisis go to waste” offered up by Rohm Emmanuel, Obama’s 1’st Chief of Staff.  The serious crisis was the 9/11 Islamic terror attack, after which these Bush opponents laid in wait for the opportune time to unleash the attacks so as not to “ …  not let the serious crisis go to waste.”   

The second quote is from Barack Obama when he boasted “We are 5 days from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.“    

So this demonization, although occurring during the Bush 43 years, caused a rise in angst and blood pressure – brought on primarily by the demonizors —  the Democrat Party.

George W. Bush to Barack Obama

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My angst and high blood pressure continued pretty much throughout the Obama years. I’ve written extensively on this blog and trying to review here would be counterproductive so I invite you to do your own homework, but let me leave you with two large issues causing my angst;

(1) the middle-east is awash in war, and the rise of Islam threatens many, especially Israel. Obama has essentially green-lighted Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons with the express and oft stated goal of the extermination of Israel and the Jews. Under Barack Obama, America has become an enemy of Israel and has appeared to fulfill the prophesy of Zechariah 12:

A prophecy: The word of the Lord concerning Israel.

The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the human spirit within a person, declares: “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. On that day I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness,” declares the Lord. “I will keep a watchful eye over Judah, but I will blind all the horses of the nations. Then the clans of Judah will say in their hearts, ‘The people of Jerusalem are strong, because the Lord Almighty is their God.’

“On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume all the surrounding peoples right and left, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place.

“The Lord will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah. On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.

Mourning for the One They Pierced

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives.

(2) Obama has accelerated the downward slide of American culture by sewing seeds of gender and sexual confusion, especially among the young and impressionable.  The federal government requiring by force of law (ACA) and regulation that young girls share locker rooms and restrooms with boys and men is personal and national tragedy in the making.

In my reading of the past 8 years, Barack Obama has fulfilled his goal of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.“  And it has been a destructive transformation; politically, culturally and on the international scene.

 Barack Obama to Donald Trump

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“ … This peaceful transfer of power is miraculous and taps our better angels through a ceremonial picture of unity broadcast to the world. That is why I love the inauguration. And the inauguration is why I love the United States of America. … “

 

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 It’s been a tough campaign these past two years for many of us, with much angst on my part. Not that many weeks prior to the election I was saying “we are scraping the bottom of the barrel with these two candidates.”  But when I put Trump aside and took a good look at the corrupting rot of a Hillary Clinton, and a national future of such rot, my choice for Trump was easy, and when he won, though a surprise, I was pleased.

Trump’s selection of the people around him has been impressive, and I feel comfortable in going forward with this team – so my angst and blood pressure are lowered.

Trump has also gathered around himself a number of Christian pastors and a few Jewish rabbis. I heard today from one of the commentators that Trump likes having them around, and actually listens to them.

So that’s my Birthday message.

Don Johnson – January 2017

 

Announcing My New Book

 

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(click on the image above)

Take a look at my new book where I take on the Atheist-Darwin crowd.

It’s a quick read with lots of punch  — drop a comment back to let me know what you think.

 

Excerpt:

I remember those nights as a kid laying out in the backyard on a clear Montana night. Laying out in that mummy bag gazing in wonder at the night sky and … just thinking …

How many stars are out there? How big is the universe? Does it have an end? If it has an end … then what’s beyond? How did it get there? How did I get here? How can there be something that has no end? Are there answers?

I think most of us have had such nights, and for many of us such wonder continues …

I’m one of those whose mind seems never to stop with the wondering … I just can’t shut it off — not that I want too.

So this is a collection of thoughts, conversations and writings that I’ve collected over the years. Thoughts and study that go back many, many years. The pages to follow come from my thinking and study on these issues, from my blog and from internet dialogs I’ve had with various people, mainly commenters like myself who seem to be passionate about the same questions and issues. Many have quite the opposite views as me, but that’s OK.

Don Johnson – January 2017

Books Every ‘Seeker’ Should Read

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(Click above to read the article)

A friend posted this article originally titled “26 Books Every ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Seeker Should Read.” I didn’t catch why she excluded “religious” seekers from her list. Nevertheless, a worthy topic, and one I would like to expand on to include this “seeker” – me – and a list of my own that have influenced me in my 73 years of life.

I will begin in my late teens when I was dating my wife of now 53 years. She was a Roman Catholic, and I thought if this young romance is to go anywhere, perhaps I should learn a little of her religion. I had little or no religious beliefs, let alone knowledge, but I did understand that Catholicism was the oldest religion, and therefore if there was a “true” religion, this was most likely it. I don’t recall thinking of the many other religions – Islam, Buddhism, Judaism … I wanted to know about the “real” one — I was a “seeker.”

So at the age of about 18 I frequented the local library and started to read about Catholicism. I have no recollection of the books I looked into, but suffice it to say that this brief experience began my life as a “seeker.”

A few years later I would fall under the influence of my girlfriend’s older brother – an Atheist. Gordon had a persuasive gift of gab, and me being a “seeker” he had a ready student and introduced me to Atheism and Existentialism, hence the first books on my list.

    • Why I Am Not A Christian  — Bertrand Russell.
    • No Exit  — Jean Paul Sartre
    • Being and Nothingness – Jean Paul Sartre
    • The Playboy Philosophy – Hugh Hefner

Skipping ahead a few years, married and back in college after a time working and a Navy tour, I read books like this one:

    • The Passover Plot  — Hugh J. Schonfield
      A book “debunking” the Jesus myth.

So during those years I guess I considered my “seeking” finished and I settled into a world view of evangelical Atheism – yes I was outspoken and mocking of all things religious.  I’m sure there were other books from that era, but I don’t recall. The ones listed above were certainly the most influential in my life.

So at a ripe old age of early twenties, I settled into my “know it all” world view of Atheism.  This lasted to age 36.

I’ll list the books that transformed my life (and that of my family as well) from that point on, beginning with the earliest:

    • The Late Great Planet Earth  — Hal Lindsey.
    • There’s A New World Coming – Hal Lindsey
    • The Rapture  — Hal Lindsey
    • Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth  — Hal Lindsey
    • Others by Hal Lindsey

Lindsey’s books unexpectedly caught my attention when I innocently picked up his Late Great Planet Earth  book back in 1980. I thought I was going to read a fanciful yarn akin to Erich von Däniken‘s “Chariots of the Gods.” What I got instead was Lindsey laying out a case claiming that today’s current events line up with the prophetic Biblical writings of thousands of years ago describing the “last days” of planet earth. This was like getting hit upside the head with a 2×4 and got my attention and interest. 

Lindsey wrote his book in the 1970s in the midst of the Cold War  when the Soviet Union was a strong and prominent player on the world stage and Communism was on the march in many parts of the world. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, it appeared that Lindsey might be off the mark in highlighting Russia as one of the key players in the “end times” scenario. However, Russia is once more prominent as a world power, and in fact is now positioned in the Middle east (Syria) whereas it was not in the 1970s – something to pay attention too.   

There are many other thinkers and writers on Biblical Prophesy and I have read a number of them  — some good and others not so good (an exercise for the student?). But let me move on …

Lindsey’s books, along with my study of the actual Biblical passages he highlighted, launched me out of atheism and into Christianity. But I was a total rookie and had many questions and internal conflicts. The following are some of the books and ministries that helped this “seeker” through those oft-times confusing times.  

I could go on and on, but let me conclude …

During this period of seeking and growth back in the early 1980s, I actually did read the Bible through from cover to cover.  One of the surprises I found, as one of the worlds foremost experts in that book that I had not previously opened,  were the many  practical lessons useful for living a full life … how to be a better husband, father, friend, employee, boss, brother, son, citizen …

So I would encourage you as a fellow “seeker”, don’t stop at being just a “spiritual seeker”, but press on to seek the whole banquet that will fill that hunger within you.

 

Don Johnson – January 2017

 

 

 

 

Intelligent Design and the Manufacturing Process

In my working days we built a complex distributed system consisting of 4 subsystems distributed over a large geographical space,  interconnected with data links and including a subsystem containing a multitude of fast moving and maneuvering jet fighter aircraft.

In constructing these systems, we used a process called ‘Engineering Release (ER)’ where the various components of each subsystem, as well as the subsystems themselves, were released to manufacturing via a series of ‘Shop Travelers.’ These travelers contained detailed instructions on how the components were to be manufactured and assembled as well as a detailed parts list. 

When the manufacturing process was complete, the various components and subsystems were integrated and tested in a lab setting, and then deployed and tested on site for use by fighter squadrons.

Preceding all this of course was the necessary design work – a goal oriented, purposeful and intellectual expression of the vision of those who saw a need for such a system.

It would seem that the human cell operates on much the same scheme. A cell containing complete and detailed information describing an end product and the shop travelers that guide that cell to its final use as a heart muscle, bone brain and more.    

It’s called Intelligent Design (ID), and is the way all complex systems are constructed, whether they be human designed or the natural life we see all around us and within us.   To think otherwise is folly.

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Psalm 139
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand
when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.