Prominent feminist: A McCain presidency would threaten abortion “rights”

Prominent feminist urges abortion advocates to vote for Obama

 

by Laurie Higgins

In an op-ed piece appearing in the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 21, University of Michigan feminist law professor, Catherine MacKinnon, provides pro-lifers multiple compelling reasons to vote for John McCain: judges, judges, judges.

Concerned that women’s “legal” and “social” equality will be threatened by the election of John McCain, MacKinnon warns that “At stake in this presidential election are the federal courts. . . . The next president will appoint scores of lower court federal judges who will have the last word in most cases. One, perhaps three, justices may be named to a Supreme Court that in recent years has decided many cases of importance to women by just one vote.”

If for no other reason, the next president’s opportunity to appoint scores of lower court judges and perhaps three or more Supreme Court justices should provide more than sufficient justification for voting for McCain. Continue reading

Would I vote for a Democrat?

Would I vote for a democrat?

 

By Donald Hank

If I lived in South Carolina, you bet I would!

Frist of all, I would vote for almost anyone if I knew it would help defeat Lindsay Graham, the man who infamously said Americans who oppose amnesty for illegal aliens are bigots.

But in this case, the challenger isn’t just anybody. He is a renegade, and right now, more than an R beside the name, we need conservative views, or at least the viewpoint that America needs to continue as a nation and not as part of an international cabal ruled by the Trilateral Commission, as pointed out by Alan Stang in this eye-popping article:

http://www.newswithviews.com/Stang/alan170.htm

I learned a while back that the South Carolina Democrats are far to the right of many Republicans there.

According to Conley’s web site, the “Buchan family” supports Bob. That means a lot. Pat Buchanan is a true American who knows his history and I respect him.

Here is a blurb from bob Conley’s site:

Buchanan Family Endorses Conley Campaign

Democratic challenger Bob Conley, running for South Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat against incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham, has received an endorsement and campaign contribution from a prominent family that is recognized and respected by patriots across the nation

“This small contribution carries with it the Buchanan family’s gratitude for the loyalty of Bob Conley to the Buchanan Brigades of yesteryear, and my personal best wishes for his success in his brave and uphill Senate campaign, which reminds me of our own efforts in days gone by,” said Shelley S. Buchanan, the wife of author, television commentator, and former presidential candidate, Patrick J. Buchanan

Dump Lindsey Graham

http://www.dumplindsey.org/

Vote Democrat?

http://aimhighwithbob.com/

 

http://www.acton.org/commentary/485_free_markets_did_not_cause_this_crisis.php

 Free markets did not cause the crisis

Many assert that the ongoing financial crisis was caused by rampant capitalism and free-market economics. I disagree – not because I’m a hard-nosed conservative or a reckless libertarian, but because it’s the conclusion one reaches by a reasoned analysis of the facts.

There are at least three distinct but related reasons for the crisis: the culture of greed and consumerism, irresponsible monetary policy, and misregulated financial derivatives. Are they rooted in free-market principles? Let’s see.

Read more…

The free market needs your help NOW!

The free market needs your help

 

(email Rush. See sample email and address at end)

                                                                       

by Donald Hank

Americans often think there is little we as individuals can do to change politics as usual in Washington. The $700 billion bailout, opposed by almost all of us, is a sad reminder of our limitations.

But let me suggest that we are like wedges used to split wood. Did you know, for example, that if a wedge is applied crosswise against the grain on the outside of a log, even a pressure of several tons will not drive it into the wood? Almost no pressure is enough if the wedge is at the wrong place.

Yet if the wedge is placed properly at the cut edge along the grain, even a child can split it with a well-placed blow from a sledge hammer!

There could be no more apt analogy for our present position.

And because Laigle’s Forum is here not just to report news and views, but also to help focus your activism, below are 2 things you can do to help save your country from the clutches of a man who seems poised to become what John McCain calls “Redistributor in Chief.” And like the wedge, you are in the proper position and ready to apply pressure at the place where it can do the most good with the least effort.

1-Help us get out the message that the financial crisis was caused not by free market forces but by Big Government. I can’t begin to tell you how important this is!

2-Help me enlist Vincent Benard as an expert witness in a new commission to be named by Representatives Brian Bilbray and Darrell Issa, both of California.

I wonder how many of us see the financial crisis as the key issue in the presidential campaign. Sean Hannity doesn’t. He is pounding on Obama’s associations with ACORN, unrepentant terrorist William Ayres and old statements showing that Obama is a socialist.

The trouble is, if capitalism caused the crash, then what’s wrong with socialism? The pundits don’t get it. You have to show how socialism caused the crash and how the free market could have prevented it – with a minimum of common-sense regulation of the kind that used to be in place before Clinton tampered with it.

If you don’t understand that the financial crash is the key issue, let me point out that McCain, who was winning by a small margin, started losing to Obama the moment the financial crisis hit. Does that tell you something? Continue reading

Republicans get a bum rap in financial crisis

Don’t blame the Republicans for the financial crisis

 

Ken Brinzer

Blaming the current problems of the economy on Bush, McCain and the Republicans doesn’t cut it.   Here’s why:

1.  In 2006 Bill Lockyer the Democrat California State Attorney General sued the Big Three Automakers – soon perhaps to be the Big Two American Automakers – claiming they were responsible for global warming. 

(Caveat: While this suit was dismissed, I begin with it not because it caused significant economic damage per se, but rather because it is indicative of the highly imprudent use and abuse of legal power by government AGs that existed in 2006 following the Spitzer era (noted in Item two) and the colossal economic damage done in that era; and I observe that such an economic environment constitutes a great impediment to the operation of private sector entities on a profitable basis.)

2.  Eliot Spitzer the Democrat New York State Attorney General sued Mutual Fund industry over after hours trading violations.  He followed that siege with another long high-profile siege over the fees of mutual funds being too high. Then he followed the mutual fund campaigns with high profile long-running lawsuits of the CEOs of the New York Stock Exchange, General Electric, and the American International Group over compensation matters.

As a practical matter, the threat of Spitzer prosecutions loomed over our markets for a several years, undermining confidence in our markets, and doing grave damage to the reputations and goodwill of major corporate names needlessly.  Icon logos such as the NYSE, GE, and AIG were slimed along with countless other entities that played crucial roles in capital formation in the American economy, and ultimately by extension, all American enterprise around the world.

3.  Twelve States Attorneys General (Democrats) entered into a class action lawsuit and sued the Bush Administration for it’s easing of environmental standards on power plants (2003) as part of the Bush Administration’s plan to assist a distressed economy post the 9/11/2001 attacks which had gravely damaged the American economy. 

4.  Congress passed Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002 and it contained the pernicious mark to market FASB 157 accounting rules to be applied to level 3 long-term, hard to value, highly illiquid assets.  In November 2007, the Royal Bank of Scotland issued a warning  that if enforced these mark to market accounting rules would result in losses to American Banks and Brokerage firms in excess of $100 Billion.  By early fall 2008, Five Hundred  Billion Dollars of losses attributable to the imposition of mark to market accounting rules (FASNB 157) constituted 70% of all losses that had been sustained up to the bailout.  Democrat Senator Christopher Dodd the Chairman of the Senate Banking and Urban Affairs Committee knew of the warnings and the dangers related to mark to market valuations applied to level 3 assets, and yet he never managed to lift a finger or advocate any means to mitigate against the cause of these catastrophic losses.  Instead, he just watched as those rules destroyed over $500 Billion of vital American economic infrastructure, and then pointed his finger at others.

5.  In a vote along party lines Democrats blocked reform of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in 2004 while there was still time to stop their mad dash to insolvency.  This was long before the real estate bubble had reached epidemic proportions, while there was still time to stop the reckless behavior of Freddie and Fannie, behavior that contributed mightily to a colossal real estate bubble, then a pernicious credit crunch, and a market contagion that crippled the economy.

6.  Again Sarbanes-Oxley, this time though another provision of that congressional enactment that worked to reduce the number of Initial Public Offerings in the United States by 90% following its passage.  In brief, until Sarbanes-Oxley was passed, fifty percent of all successful Initial Public Offerings in the world originated in the United States.  After it was passed, the percentage of all Initial Public Offering originating in the US dwindled to five percent of total Initial Public Offerings.  Meantime, the number of Initial Public Offerings in London and Hong Kong skyrocketed.

7.  The Janet Reno/Clinton (Democrats) Justice Department threatened lending institutions with prosecution to the fullest extent the law allowed, if loans for socially good purposes were denied.  The result of this threat was that lending institutions that might have used prudent financial underwriting for loans that qualified as socially good purpose loans did not dare decline those loans on grounds they were too risky.  This set up a pernicious template for lending as should now be evident to all  

8.  Democrats consistently sided with extreme environmentalists in opposition to new domestic oil and gas development.  This exacerbated American dependency on foreign oil and made us both vulnerable and virtually without recourse as oil prices rose meteorically hurting consumers as well as manufacturers throughout the United States.

Those who would still insist on blaming the current nightmare threatening our economy on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans can of course vote however they please.  Hopefully though, the majority of voters will not be fooled by the deceptive rhetoric of those who would blame Bush, McCain, and all things Republican for the monumental economic catastrophe that so many Democrats have engineered and disingenuously try to blame on the other guy. 

It’s time to pin the tail on the donkey where it belongs.  It’s time for Americans to stand up and take their country back at the polls.  Now is the acceptable time.

 

Ken Brinzer is 62 years old, and lives with his wife, a high school chemistry teacher, in Penn Hills, PA. He and his wife have been married 34 years and have 3 adult children.  He is a financial services professional, licensed both as a life insurance agent and a registered representative series 6. He holds a BA degree in Spanish from Rutgers (1968).  He served in the USAF for 4 years 1968-1972 and attained the rank of captain.  He is a practicing Catholic, reads at church, and loves God, Family, and Country and the splendor of truth.

 

Subprime crisis: the overall picture

Subprime crisis : the overall picture


By Vincent Benard

 

In many aspects, the current financial meltdown that brought many banks and insurers to insolvency may be compared to the nuclear meltdown that affected the Chernobyl power plant. And whatever Big Government pundits may tell us endlessly – without real in-depth arguments – inappropriate state intrusions in the economy are as much responsible for the financial crisis as poor state management of nuclear facilities by USSR was for the Chernobyl disaster.

If the mechanisms of the so-called “Chinese syndrome” can be described as a process of ignition, amplification, and then propagation of atomic reactions, likewise, the current crisis is a story of state interventions in the economy, that ignited, amplified, and then propagated the meltdown from its original core to the whole financial system.

Ignition

The main factor that ignited the current crisis is how politicians forced two state regulated enterprises, Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, to refinance a growing part of unsecured loans to low and very low income families. In exchange, Fannie and Freddie were exempted from some accounting requirements generally expected from ordinary firms, allowing them to leverage too much credit compared to their equity, by an extensive use of off balance “special purpose vehicles.” All these operations were made under an implicit taxpayer provided safety net, as the statutory rules of the department of Housing and Urban Development made possible the nationalization of Fannie and Freddie in the case of bankruptcy.

These government provisions, coupled with a law mandating banks to find ways to originate loans to some high risk-profiled borrowers (the much discussed and controversial Community Reinvestment Act), reversed the usual prudential rules governing company CEOs: first, don’t fail, and then, make a profit. Due to their government backing, Fannie and Freddie only had to expand their volume of business, without too much consideration of the underlying risks. The purchase of so many bad loans by two state-backed giants encouraged reckless lending by banks and mortgage brokers to many risk-unaware families.

This behavior was greatly helped by Alan Greenspan’s decisions to lower and maintain very low interest rates in the early 2000s without consideration of the obvious asset bubble that was emerging in the housing sector. When credit is too cheap, borrowers tend to be less careful in their investments.

Amplification

But these facts do not explain by themselves how big the housing bubble has become. The average Joe, in the mortgage broker’s office, was not as unsophisticated as generally described. He could lose his common sense and succumb to easy credit only because the brokers could show him impressive Case-Schiller index curves, which seemed to show that any housing investment could gain more and more value every year, making the purchaser richer even while he was sleeping. Without this apparent housing inflation, many people wouldn’t have jumped so recklessly onto the easy credit bandwagon.

But this housing inflation did not occur everywhere in the country. Some of the most dynamic metro areas, in terms of population growth, haven’t experienced any housing bubble. Recent Nobel Prize Paul Krugman, supported by several research papers, notably from academics like Ed Glaeser or Wendell Cox, explained it by land use regulations: when these regulations are flexible and tend to be respectful of the property rights of the land owner, housing bubbles cannot even get started. But when regulations allow the existing real estate owners to prevent farmland holders to build the houses required to satisfy all housing needs, housing prices start skyrocketing.

Housing mortgage debt owed by families grew from 4.8 to 10.5 trillion USD (from early 2000 to late 2007. But had every city in the USA had the same flexible land use regulations that they had in the fifties, and that still exist in fast growing areas like Houston or Atlanta, this exposure to risk would have been much lower, by 3 to 4 trillion. More borrowers would have qualified for the prime credit market and its less risky loans, since the lower price of the purchased homes would have resulted in better credit ratings. So, despite the bad lending practices mentioned above, the risk of a general collapse of the credit market would have been nearly equal to zero.

Propagation

At this point, we just explained the roots of a mortgage crisis. What is still missing is the way it has spread throughout the financial system. Once again, bad laws are to blame.

First, this crisis shows how risky the bank’s business model, grounded on low equity and very high leveraging ratios, has become unsound in these time of high volatility of some assets. Some will blame banks for this, but you should be aware that before the creation of the FED in 1913, most banks’ business models were based on equity levels over 60%: the shift from a high equity to a low equity model comes first from tax policies which have, in nearly every country of the world, severely taxed capital gains, but encouraged debt by deducting the interest payment from the corporate tax base. The second reason is that central banks, as “last recourse lenders,” usually with a state’s warranty, have themselves favored this shift to a highly leveraged model: borrowing  money was de facto a cheaper resource than raising capital to finance operations.

But of course, this doesn’t explain how a 10% default risk on a credit niche market (the subprimes), totaling less than 10% of the total housing debt (12 trillion at the end of 2007), itself less than one fifth of the total assets being exchanged on American financial markets, generated such turmoil.

The culprits must be sought within a set of rules named “Basel II,” and their declinations in local laws in most countries, aimed at regulating the activities of banks or insurance companies. In some cases, poorly designed accounting rules may have contributed, too.

Basel II rules — and the like — mandate banks and insurers to hold a diversified portfolio of assets aimed at providing them the liquidities they need to face hard times: for a bank, a major loss of customers; for insurers, a series of major disasters. These rules were supposed to “protect” investors from reckless diversification policies. So institutional investors were mandated to own only high quality bonds, or to value some kinds of assets, like stocks, with a weighting that de facto prevented their securities from handling such assets directly.  

But banks and insurers needed the yields of “lower quality” bonds, or even stocks, to remain attractive to private investors. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to beat the performance of state labeled bonds, and thus wouldn’t bring any added value to their customers, forcing them out of the market.

So the late 80’s and the 90’s saw the onset of a huge market of “derivatives,” all based on the following principle: lower quality assets (like subprime based securities bonds) are put together in another security, which itself sells new bonds sliced into several “tranches.” The first slice, the “z-tranch,” is a very risky one, which is aimed at bringing a higher yield to unregulated investors as hedge funds but must absorb primarily the first percentages of any losses of the security. Other tranches bear a lower risk but serve a lower yield. The “cushion effect” of the high risk tranch allows the lower tranch bonds to receive an AAA rating from rating agencies, particularly if they are covered against credit default by a special derivative called a “credit default swap,” allowing lender and borrowers to reinsure themselves against defaults on their bonds. And there can be other “derivatives of derivatives” involved in these designs. In many cases, institutions issuing AAA tranches guaranteed the payment of the corresponding bonds.

So the current situation is that many institutional investors do not hold many real stocks or bonds in their portfolios. They mostly hold a majority of derivatives.

But all this incredibly complex financial engineering not only is extremely costly, but has one perverse effect: while reducing the probability of AAA tranches to default, it actually makes the amount of the risk higher in the event that losses are high enough to impact the AAA tranches. And all these complex designs of derivatives make it increasingly difficult to understand where the risks are located in complex securities mixing prime mortgages, subprime mortgages, and other kinds of credits. So when an AAA tranch is impacted by higher than forecast losses, nobody really knows what is the resulting worth of the best tranch if it has to be sold. Is it 95% of the nominal? 60%? Nobody seems able to value these bonds reliably.

So when the mortgage debtors began to be insolvent in a higher proportion than usual, the losses on subprimes derivatives began to exceed the “cushion” effect of Z-tranches. AAA bonds were impacted. Some holders of these bonds, forced to sell off in panic in order to get cash, couldn’t find purchasers, except some highly speculative funds that toughly negotiated the price.

But then, because of inflexible accounting laws, all institutions holding the same kind of toxic assets had to write down the values of these assets in their balance sheets, even if their treasury level didn’t force them to proceed to a fire sale of these assets. So they might have been declared virtually insolvent even if actually they were not. This affected their ability to borrow on short term liquidities markets, and thus led some of them ultimately to file for bankruptcy.

If no regulatory limitations had been placed on the assets that banks and insurers could hold, it is likely that they would not have found the use of exotic derivatives so attractive, and that early difficulties in subprime credits would have resulted in clear signals prompting securities managers to recompose their portfolios. Some investors’ failures could have occurred earlier, but would not have reached such proportions. 

Big Government is the culprit

So, at the root of every mechanism identified as a catalyst of the current crisis, we can find a bad federal or local regulation.

Does this mean that private institutions have no moral and technical responsibility in the current mess? Certainly not. They’ve deliberately chosen to take advantage of these poisonous regulations instead of fighting them, even though some of the underlying risks were clearly identified. Many of them ifnored warnings issued by economists like Nouriel Roubini, or atypical politicians like Ron Paul, and preferred to listen to reassuring assessments of the soundness of the system written by star economists like Joseph Stiglitz. People don’t like dream breakers.

Competition to overturn bad regulations doesn’t exonerate financial private institutions from having failed to do so properly. Whatever conditions are created by the states, firms must act wisely. Many of them obviously did not. But in the ranking of responsibilities, states’ inaccurate and inordinate regulations obviously rank highest. Had its diverse regulations and interventions focused on principles (honesty in contracts, no concealment of malpractice, full disclosure of operations, respect of property rights) and court litigation; had they let private individuals or enterprises decide what was good for them without trying to curb their behaviors in particular directions, none of the elements that allowed this crisis would have been in place.

Government’s economic interventions in human interactions once again have proved counterproductive and finally wrought havoc. This should make people very careful about government claims that new interventions are necessary to solve the crisis and avoid the next one!

 

Vincent BENARD is the president of the Hayek Institute, a French speaking think tank based in France and Belgium – www.fahayek.org . The institute has published several tribunes advocating the free-market point of view on the current crisis. His personal blog is www.objectifliberte.fr

The lawsuit none dare mention

The lawsuit none dare mention

 

By Donald Hank

People all around the world are concerned about the lawsuit brought by Hillary supporter Phillip Berg, charging Barack Obama and the DNC with improprieties centered around Obama’s apparent inability to prove he is a US citizen, and in fact his having presented patently false documents, making him constitutionally ineligible to become the next president of the United States. The latest development is that the failure of Obama and the DNC to respond to the charges brought under this suit is, legally, an admission of guilt, making him ineligible for the presidency. It’s all over the internet.

But the silence in the media is deafening. None of the talk hosts will touch the story. Neither will Fox News.

Just this morning I received emails from two different Brazilian friends, including philosopher Olavo de Carvalho, whose columns we proudly present at Laigle’s Forum from time to time.

One email says:

Dear Don

Please clarify this: “Press Release: Obama & DNC admit all allegations in Berg v. Obama”? http://obamacrimes.com/index.php/component/content/article/1-main/38-press-release-obama-a-dnc-admit-all-allegations-in-berg-v-obama 

Is this a hoax? If correct, why nobody says anything about it? The ‘official’ great media I can understand but why don’t conservatives like you say anything?

All the best and thanks for any help,

[name of prominent Brazilian activist]

  Continue reading

So you want to be a useful idiot

Olavo de Carvalho explains, in the column below, the psychological and sociological mechanisms by which people become pawns in the hands of leftwing political activists, who use them to get their man elected and keep him in power.

Donald Hank

 

Quick lesson in sociology

By Olavo de Carvalho

Emile Durkheim, the founder of sociology, taught that there is a limit to the quota of abnormality which the collective mind is capable of perceiving. This can be given two interpretations, either simultaneously or alternatively:

I — when standards fall below the limit, society automatically adjusts its focus of perception to consider as normal what once appeared abnormal, to accept as normal, commonplace and desirable, what was once feared as weird and scandalous.

II — when the abnormality is excessive, surpassing the limits of the acceptable quota, it tends to pass unperceived or simply to be denied. The intolerable becomes nonexistent.

While it hardly corresponds to measurable quantities, the “Durkheim constant,” as it is usually called, has been found to be an effective analytical tool, particularly at times of historical acceleration, when various changes in standards occur and are put in place within a single generation and can be seen, so to speak, with one’s own eyes.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Robert Bork and Charles Krauthammer used this constant intelligently to explain the dizzying changes in American morality since the 60s. Bork wrote in 1996: “it is highly unlikely that a vigorous economy can be sustained by a weakened hedonistic environment of culture, particularly when this culture distorts incentives, rejecting personal achievement as a criterion for the distribution of rewards.” Twelve years later, the idea that bank loans are not a bargain between responsible parties but rather an indiscriminate universal right guaranteed by the government and by pressure from activist NGOs, has done its dirty work. The fact that the creators of the problem do not feel the least bit responsible for it, preferring to cast the blame precisely on those who did everything to avoid it, illustrates the fall of moral standards that I see accompanying the fall of lending standards.

However, the most interesting thing about this is not the application of the principle for the purposes of explanation but rather its practical use as a political weapon. For over a century, all movements interested in imposing sociocultural modifications against the preferences of the majority have avoided direct confrontation with public opinion. They have tried to deceive it by clever use of the “Durkheim constant,” which every revolutionary activist worth his salt knows by heart.

According to Interpretation I, the principle is applied by means of mild continuous pressure, carefully, slowly, gradually lowering the standards, first in the popular imagination by means of the arts and show business, then in the realm of ideas and educational values, followed by the field of overt activism proclaiming the most aberrant novelties to be sacred rights, and finally in the realm of law, criminalizing adversaries and diehards, assuming that any are left. With almost infallible consistency, we find that self-proclaimed conservatives conform passively — sometimes comfortably — to change without noticing that a new identity has been foisted on them from the outside like a straitjacket by those who hate them the most.

 According to Interpretation II, the Durkheim constant is used to turn society upside down overnight without encountering any resistance by means of lies and bluffs so colossal that the population instinctively refuses to believe that there is anything real behind them. The actual victim of the swindle reacts vehemently to any attempt to expose it, because he feels that admitting the reality of the situation would be a humiliating confession of stupidity. In order not to feel like a fool, the poor devil is willing to be a fool without sensing that he is one, confirming the old Jewish proverb “a fool has no delight in understanding.” This is why the biggest revolutionary organization in the history of Latin America, the Forum of Sao Paolo, was set up there in an environment in which all reports about it were ridiculed as signs of insanity, despite all manner of documentary support and proof of its existence. And it is why the United States of America may soon have a president without any proof of US nationality, financed by thieves and tied by a thousand commitments to terrorist and genocidal groups, while his own biggest opponent proclaims he is “a decent person that you do not have to be scared about.”

Translated by Donald Hank

 

Olavo de Carvalho, 61, taught Political Philosophy at the Catholic University of Parana (Brazil) from 2001 to 2005. He now lives in the U. S. as a correspondent for Brazilian newspapers. Website: www.olavodecarvalho.org.

A modern-day Lafayette rallies the troops

A modern-day Lafayette rallies the troops

Fellow Conservatives, forget everything you “know” about the French right now.

Yes, it is true that they have long dabbled in socialism and big government (statism), and their country’s economic policies show it. But likewise, our country’s economic policies show our own flirtation with these disastrous policies. In fact, since the big bailout scam, we are far more socialist than any European country had been heretofore! (Unfortunately, EU countries are catching up quickly, implementing their own bailout schemes).

That is why it is so absolutely refreshing, in fact, invigorating, to read a French author like the Hayek Institute’s Vincent Benard commenting so accurately on the causes of the bank crisis. Mr. Benard “gets it” better than many American conservatives.

In a German-language article dedicated to our German friends, I invited precisely this kind of criticism of American socialist policies from right-thinking Europeans, because, as I and others have pointed out at Laigle’s Forum, it is American socialism that has driven the bank crisis that threatens the very existence of our friends and allies abroad, and voices of protest from European conservatives (BTW, they call themselves “liberals” but the meaning is the opposite of the accepted meaning here) are just as welcome now in this war of ideas as was Lafayette’s valuable support of George Washington’s war efforts.

After all, the enemy is the same:  a government that does not represent the people. And a few good Europeans are volunteering their assistance again.

The article, which follows, is not a translation. Mr. Benard writes in his own words in English this time.

This is the second of his commentaries to appear at Laigle’s Forum. I look forward to reading and posting more of his work and hope that America will soon take note of this gifted writer and thinker.

Donald Hank

  Continue reading

So you want to be a communist

So you want to be a communist

 

By Donald Hank

Many conservative pundits today are trying desperately to warn their fellow Americans that Barack Obama has been linked to various far-left organizations, seems to have been reared by a convinced communist, and has ties to the far-left organization ACORN and with leftist terrorists like William Ayers.

Most of these pundits seem to be going on the assumption that, like us older Americans, people today have a basic knowledge of what communism (or socialism, the first step toward communism) actually is, at least enough to fear it.

But, in view of the enormous resurgence of the Left in America, I am not so sure the word “communism” raises so many eyebrows today.

Therefore, it is probably necessary to remind the reader what a communist state looks like from the inside.

I spent a summer in the USSR in the early 70s studying Russian under the auspices of the Council on International Educational Exchange, and a little later, about 4 months in Poland traveling on my own, and here are some things I observed: Continue reading

MY BRETHREN–Who are Jesus’ brother and sisters?

Richard Hess is a Bible teacher who has studied the scriptures in depth. He is also a friend and brother in Christ.

May the Lord bless you, Dear Reader, as you read Brother Hess’ expounding of the Holy Word of God.

Donald Hank

 

MY BRETHREN

Who are Jesus’ brothers, sisters and mothers?

By Richard Hess 

In Matthew chapter 12 we find Jesus talking to a group of people which included some of the Jewish scribes and Pharisees as well as His disciples.

While He talked with them in the house, His mother and His brothers (brethren), were standing outside and wanted to talk with Jesus. Vs 47 we see that one of them told Jesus that His mother and His brothers were outside and wanted to talk to Him.

Listen very closely as to how Jesus answered them in verse 48. Many times throughout the gospels, we hear Jesus answering people with a question instead of giving a direct answer to the question.

Here, Jesus does this once again by asking them the question, “who is my mother? and who are my brethren?”  By answering their questions with a question, Jesus was trying to get them to think and understand His principles and doctrines.

In this instance Jesus wanted them to understand just who His real brothers, sisters and mothers are.

His answer is very straight forward and to the point in verse 49 as Jesus stretches out His hand towards those disciples and followers of His and declares, “behold, these are my brothers and sisters and mother”.

In verse 50 He further clarifies this by stating that, “whosoever shall do the will of my father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”  This statement put a distinction between the flesh and the spirit. Jesus was talking about His spiritual brothers, sisters, and mother and not His fleshly, earthly brothers and sisters and mother.

Matthew 12:46 — While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.

47  Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.

48  But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? And who are my brethren?

49  And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

50  For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

In Matthew 28 we have the account immediately following Jesus’ resurrection.

Verse 8 says: And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

9  And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Here in verse 10 Jesus tells them, “Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there they shall see me.”

Notice here that Jesus once again refers to His disciples as “His brethren.” He was not talking about His fleshly family of brothers and sisters, and He was certainly not talking about the Jews, the Scribes and Pharisees.

Watch very carefully as you read the gospels and you will see that Jesus had a very special relationship with those who “believed in Him” and not just those who followed Him from a distance looking to get something from Him. Jesus had this special relationship with His disciples that went beyond even the blood relationship of His kin.

As a side note here, I believe that we too should have a special relationship with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We should be preferring one another as fellow believers above and beyond even that of our other friends and family. This is not to say that we should exclude these from our relationship and fellowship but that we should have preference for our family in Christ first.

Once again in Mark’s gospel we have the account:

Mark 3:33  And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?

34  And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!

35  For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

And again in Luke we have this account:

Luke 8:20  And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.

21  And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

On yet another occasion, which was just after Jesus was resurrected, He again uses the word “brethren”.  Let’s look at it.

John 20:17  Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

18  Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Here Jesus tells Mary to go to His brethren. He clarifies who He was sending her to. In verse 18 we see Mary went to the brethren of Jesus who were His disciples. She did not go and tell the Jews and we’ll see why in a moment.

Jesus further clarifies His “brethren” when He tells Mary to say, “I ascend to my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God”.

The reason Mary did not go tell the Jews is evident in this verse: 

 19  Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

Jesus’ disciples were afraid of the Jews, and Jesus calmed them by saying, “peace be unto you”.

Now, if these “Jews” were truly Jesus’ “brethren”,  I’m sure the disciples would have acknowledged this and accepted them and not been in fear of them as stated in verse 19. But they were not His brethren.

Jesus never called sinners or unbelievers His brethren.

Now let’s go back to Matthew 25 and listen to Jesus talking to His disciples.

Matthew 25:31  When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

32  And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Now after Jesus says these things, He tells them “why” these sheep were blessed….

35  For I was an hungred, and ye  (His brethren/disciples)  gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye  (His brethren/disciples) gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye  (His brethren/disciples) took me in:

36  Naked, and ye (brethren/disciples) clothed me: I was sick, and ye (brethren/disciples) visited me: I was in prison, and ye (brethren/disciples) came unto me.

Now watch this:  Who answered Jesus? … the righteous!

37  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

If we look at this verse and read it in modern grammar, it would look like this:

“Brothers”, in as mush as you have met the needs and cared for the lowliest around you, you have done the same to me”.

Jesus is not commending His disciples for being nice and generous to the Jews. He was praising His disciples for doing the righteous thing to the down trodden, the poor and the destitute.

How do we know this to be true? Let’s look at the next group of people Jesus was addressing.

41  Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43  I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45  Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.        

Notice that in verse 45 Jesus does not say, “my brethren” … why? Because He is addressing the “cursed,” for not doing the righteous and Godly acts towards the poor, needy, and destitute.

Once again:  Luke 8:21  And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it. 

The Jews (Judahites) were not the ones hearing and doing.

The disciples of Jesus were the ones hearing and doing.

Jesus actually called these Jewish Pharisees and Scribes, a bunch of snakes and told them they were of their father, the devil.

These Jewish or Judahite men were not considered Jesus’ brothers.

In the following verse we see some scathing , derogatory remarks by Jesus to these Jewish scribes and Pharisees:

Matthew 3:7  But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers (snakes), who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Matthew 12:34  O generation of vipers (snakes), how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

Matthew 23:33  Ye serpents*, ye generation of vipers (snakes), how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

Luke 3:7  Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?   

The word “serpent” is used symbolically throughout the Bible to denote a deadly, subtle, malicious enemy.

Remember in the garden of Eden, it was the serpent who subtly deceived Eve first.

In Revelation we see this:

Revelation 12:9  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Revelation 20:2  And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.

I doubt that Jesus would be calling these Jewish scribes and Pharisees “His brethren” when here in Revelation He calls them after the name of their father, the devil and satan.

Look at John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

In the preceding verse Jesus doesn’t mince words with these Pharisees and scribes.

42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

Another interesting observation is found in Matthew chapter 23 where 7 times Jesus pronounces a “woe” to the Jewish scribes and Pharisees.

  • 13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ….
  • 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ….
  • 15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ….
  • 23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ….
  • 25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ….

for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

26  Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.                                                    

27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ….

29  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ….

In the very beginning of chapter 23 Jesus is talking to the “multitudes and his disciples”.

He tells them 3 things they are not suppose to do.

Vs 8 … do not allow yourself to be called Rabbi …

Vs 9 … call no man your father

Vs 10 … neither be ye called master …

Jesus continues throughout this chapter with his accusations and name calling.

Vs 16  Woe unto you, ye blind guides,

Vs 17  Ye fools and blind:

Vs 19  Ye fools and blind:

Vs 24  Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Do you think Jesus is being a little sarcastic here when he says, you choke and gag on a tiny little insignificant gnat, and then swallow a camel with no problem?

He is giving them an example of how they make a big deal and fuss about things that do not matter as far as spirituality is concerned, and then they turn right around and accept something that they should be concerned about and that affects their relationship with God.

Vs 30  And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

31  Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

Here we see the Jewish scribes and Pharisees boasting about what they would have done if they lived back when the prophets were killed and stoned. They said, “we would not have taken part in that activity, no way.”  But then Jesus lays it into them again when he tells them that they are a witness to themselves in that they are the children of them who killed the prophets.

All through this chapter, as well as many others, Jesus tells them just what a bunch of hypocrites and phonies they are in their religious activities.

They were doing a lot of the acceptable things on the “outside,” but inside they were putrid and disgusting hypocrites who were full of boasting and pride.

Jesus was letting them know that they needed to take a look in their hearts and see what their motives were.

Yes, the scripture says in  1 Samuel 16:7 ….. for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

But this does not mean that we can act, say or do and live any way we want and then say, “well, God knows my heart” …. Yeah, God knows our heart, and he sees that it is filthy and black and full of evil thoughts and plans and ideas. When our hearts are filled with the righteousness of Christ then it will make its way to the surface of our lives. This is how people see Christ in us.

The things that come out of our mouths are a reflection of the condition of our hearts. All of our nastiness, hatefulness, and thinking up ways to cause trouble, telling lies about people, come from deep within our hearts. The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

These Pharisees and scribes were always thinking of ways they could corner and manipulate the people and coerce them into their religious ways, and all the while they were walking contrary to the way Jesus was teaching. They were telling Jesus, hey, we’ve done it this way for over 2,000 years and it’s worked for us so don’t come here and tell us how to do things your way.

We do this very same thing when we’re not willing to unlearn wrong teachings that we have come to accept down through our few short years here on this earth.

Jesus was giving them “new light” and they rejected it so they could hold on to their old traditions.

33  Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

These serpents and vipers that Jesus was talking about were not just your everyday garden variety of snake. These serpents and vipers Jesus was referring to were lethally poisonous and could kill with one bite. In essence Jesus was telling them that their religiousness was poisonous.

34  Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:

35  That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

36  Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

Jesus wasn’t coming across as this warm, fuzzy, loving, forgiving, huggy-bear type of person. He was telling them just the way it was and is.

Now we see Jesus saying, “I tried getting through to you but you would have none of my way”. “You wanted it your way and now you must pay.”

37  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

38  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

 

Questions:

What was “Jerusalem”?                                  

Who was Jesus referring to? 

Who killed the prophets?

What did Jesus mean by saying “your house”?

What is “desolation”?