Friday, January 28, 2005

2005 Inaugural openning prayer

Let us pray.
Most gracious and eternal God, we gather here today as a grateful people who enjoy the many blessings you have bestowed on this nation. We are grateful for your vision, which inspired the founders of our nation to create this democratic experiment as one nation, under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

We are grateful to you that you have brought to these shores a multitude of peoples of many ethnic, religious and language backgrounds and yet have fashioned one nation out of so many cultures and traditions.

Even as we celebrate our -- this great moment, we remember before you the members of our Armed Forces. We commend them to your care. Give them courage to carry out their duties and courage the face the perils which we set them, and grant them always the sense of your presence in all that they do.

Finally today, we are especially grateful for this inauguration, which marks a new beginning in our journey as a people and a nation. We pray that you will shower the elected leaders of this land and especially, George, our president, and Richard, our vice president, with your life giving spirit.

Fill them with a love of truth and righteousness that they may serve you and this nation ably and glad to do your will. Endow their hearts with your spirit of wisdom that they may lead us in renewing the ties of mutual respect which form our civic life, so that peace may prevail with righteousness and justice with order.

We pray that you will strengthen their resolve as they lead our nation seeking to serve you in this world, that this good and generous country may be a blessing to the nations of the world.

And may they lead us to become, in the words of Martin Luther King, members of a beloved community, loving our neighbors as ourselves so that all of us may more closely come to fulfill the promise of our Founding Fathers, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

All this we ask in your most holy name, Amen.

Click here to see the source. The Presidential Prayer Team

Out of Auschwitz

"The first Russian patrol came in sight of the camp about midday on January 27, 1945. Charles and I were the first to see them: We were carrying Somogyi's body to the common grave, the first of our roommates to die."

So writes Primo Levi, in describing the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in his classic account The Reawakening.

This week the world marked the 60th anniversary of that day with an unprecedented degree of attention. Seminars and ceremonies were held around the globe while statesmen and clergy personally attended the proceedings at Auschwitz. Even the UN, which had shamefully failed to mark the Holocaust in previous years, held a special General Assembly session, handing the podium over to survivor Elie Wiesel.

All this represents undeniable progress in marking a chapter unmatched in human history for its senseless cruelty. That said, mankind is still far from absorbing and applying the lessons it must draw from the Holocaust. And those cannot be learned if the uniqueness and gravity of the Holocaust are still questioned by moral relativism driven by anti-Semitism or other agendas - such as those of the British Muslim leaders who shunned an inter-faith commemorative ceremony "because it excludes ongoing genocide and human rights abuses around the world, and in the occupied territories of Palestine."

Nor can they be learned if Israel's opponents resort to anti-Semitic propaganda akin to the Nazi dehumanizing of the Jews, as the Palestinian Authority has been shown to do in a newly released Diaspora Affairs Ministry report.

Nor can they be learned if the civilized world still refuses to unequivocally confront those who resort to genocidal tactics - be it in Bosnia, Rwanda, or most recently, Darfur.

Nor can they be learned if even Jews sometimes sink so low as to dub each other "Nazi" or abuse Holocaust symbols for partisan causes.

All this is proof that the ever-growing awareness of the Holocaust, and the major educational efforts undertaken by various institutions, have yet to raise world consciousness to a point of no return back to the mentality of hate and prejudice that first gave rise to Nazism.

Yet awareness is the beginning of all action, and that effort would not even be imaginable in this day and age if the Holocaust's memory were not preserved now to a degree unimaginable in the years of relative silence that followed the war. So let us be grateful that this week the world at least turned its eyes toward Auschwitz and listened to the words spoken there, especially by the survivors whose number now shrinks by the day.

Levi recorded his own feelings upon his liberation and his words ring out simple and profound this week:

"So for us, even the hour of liberty rang out grave and muffled, and filled our souls with joy and yet with a painful sense of prudency, so that we should have liked to wash our consciences and our memories clean from the foulness that lay upon them; and also with anguish, because we felt that this should never happen, that now nothing could ever happen good and pure enough to rub out our past, and that the scars of the outrage would remain within us forever, and in the memories of those who saw it, and in the places where it occurred and in the stories we should tell of it."

Click here to view the source. Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World

Stop or I'll go to the world court

Mexico threatens Arizona over anti-illegals measure
Official says challenge in international courts possible to block voter-passed Proposition 200

A Mexican government official has threatened to use international courts to block an Arizona law meant to limit public benefits and voting rights to legal residents of the U.S.

Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said in a radio interview Wednesday that an international strategy would be used if other attempts to reverse Proposition 200 fail, the Associated Press reported.

"We are seeking all the legal opportunities that exist, first using the legal capacities of the United States itself and ... if that does not work, bringing it to international tribunals," AP quotes Derbez as saying.

Mexican officials have repeatedly complained about Proposition 200, which went into effect Tuesday. The statewide measure denies most taxpayer benefits to illegal aliens and requires state workers to report applicants for such benefits who may not be eligible. It also requires anyone registering to vote in the state to show proof of citizenship and bring a government-issued ID to the polling place.

AP reported Derbez expressed regret that, according to polls, about 40 percent of Mexican-Americans in Arizona supported Prop. 200. The measure passed with 60 percent of the vote.

"It's sad, and it gives an idea of how we have to work to educate even our own Mexican-Americans about why it is important that these proposals are not accepted," Derbez said.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund has challenged Prop. 200, saying it is "an illegal, impermissible, unconstitutional state attempt to regulate immigration policy, which is a fundamental function and responsibility of our federal government. Proposition 200 is mean-spirited and un-American."

Click here to see the source. Mexico threatens Arizona over anti-illegals measure

Friday, January 21, 2005

Prayer for the nation: inaugural benediction - (BP)

WASHINGTON (BP) Kirbyjon Caldwell, senior pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, delivered the benediction prayer at the close of President Bush's inauguration Jan. 20.

Following is a transcript:

"Oh Lord God Almighty, the supply and supplier of faith and freedom, how excellent is Your name in all the earth. You are great and greatly to be praised. God, as we conclude this 55th inaugural ceremony, we conclude it with an attitude of thanksgiving. Thank You for protecting America's borders. After all, the Psalmist reminds us, unless You, O God, guard the territory, our efforts will be in vain.

"Thank You for our armed service personnel. And it is with unswerving thanksgiving that we pause to remember the persons who have made the ultimate sacrifice to help ensure America's safety. Thank You, O God, for surrounding our personnel, their families, their friends and our allies with Your favor and Your faithfulness.

"Deploy Your hosts from heaven so that Your will for America will be performed on earth as it is already perfected in heaven. I confess that Your face will shine upon the United States of America, granting us social peace and economic prosperity, particularly for the weary and the poor.

"I also confess, God, that each American's latter days will be better than their former days. Let it be unto us according to Your Word.

"Rally the Republicans, the Democrats and the Independents around Your common good so that America will truly become one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, justice and equal opportunity for all -- including the least, the last and the lost.

"Bless every elected official right now. God, I declare Your blessings to shower upon our president, George W. Bush. Bless him, his family and his administration. I once again declare that no weapon formed against them shall prosper.

"God, forgive us for becoming so ensnarled in petty partisan politics that we miss Your glory and block our purpose. Deliver us from the evil one, from evil itself and from the mere appearance of evil.

"Give us clean hearts, so that we might have clean agendas, clean priorities and programs and even clean financial statements.

"Now, unto You, O God, the One who always has been and always will be, the one King of kings and the true power broker, we glorify and honor You.

Respecting persons of all faiths, I humbly submit this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."

Click on the link to see the source. Prayer for the nation: inaugural benediction - (BP)

Monday, January 03, 2005

I'm still alive

Yes could it be, am I actually posting something? Yes I am still alive. A little beat up but alive. Life has been quite a challenge as of late but it seems to have a glimmer of hope, so I will hold onto that and live my life the way I should. Anyways enough of my ranting about life. Here is the latest email from Dave the marine in Iraq.

Email from Dave - Dec 31, 04

Dear Dad -

For the past six weeks, the Regiment has been busy cleaning up the city and chasing down remaining pockets of insurgents. There have been some very stiff, isolated battles where the Marines continued to perform with the same tenacity and heroism that made them so successful in November. Unfortunately these efforts have not come without a price. We have lost additional Marines and many more have been wounded during these ongoing operations.

The city itself sustained severe damage during the battle itself and in the months leading up to the fight. It took a Herculean effort by the Marine engineers and Naval Construction Battalion Sailors ("Sea Bees") to clear the city. At the height of the battle, there was so much rubble on certain streets that they were impassable even for our tracks and wheeled vehicles. I am amazed at the amount of work these Marines and Sailors have done to get the city somewhat habitable by the civilians. It really is incredible how much effort went into making the city safe for the returning population after the Marines fought so hard to take it. No other force in the world would have made such an effort to take an enemy city and then immediately turn around and begin significant efforts to clean and reconstruct. All of that said, if you saw the city now you would probably still consider it tremendously damaged.

The end state of all the work has been conditions that permit the population to return. To be honest there have been very mixed emotions on having the civilians re-enter the city. On the one hand we know that the city will never be as safe as it was for the few weeks when it was empty following the major fighting. On the other hand, we want to try to get the population back to their lives and participating in Iraq's future - starting with the elections on 30 January.

Once again you would be proud of the Marines and how well they are dealing with all of the challenges that they face daily. Over the past month, the Regiment has received ten battalions of Iraqi army and security forces. Of course they are all fledgling units with only cursory training. Some show up without boots and never having fired their weapons. You have to understand that inheriting such units is a tremendous drain on the combat power of our own battalions. They require an incredible amount of supervision and support just to sustain them. Of course it difficult for the Marines who just took the city to turn around and mentor new Iraqi units while at the same time "clean up the mess." As you would expect, the Marines just shoulder the load and continue surprise us with their endurance and commitment.

Elections are less than a month away. The combination of the smashing defeat the enemy suffered in Fallujah along with the prospect of looming free elections has made them desperate. They regularly threaten the people by telling them that any one who goes to vote will be killed by the muj. They claim to be watching the polling places and continue to state that they will wage suicide attacks on the crowds that assemble there.

You have probably seen from the news that the ongoing murder and intimidation campaign on the Iraqi security forces has continued as well. We recently received a report that an Iraqi soldier in our area was drug from his home and beheaded. The muj barged into his house as he and his family were eating dinner and simply drug him out to his front yard and beheaded him while his wife and children were held inside only feet away. This sounds shocking but it is the world in which the Iraqi people live here and one that would only get worse if they did not have the coalition to help keep the muj at bay. Plainly stated it is pure savagery.

The insurgency is a collection of different elements that have gotten together out of a marriage of convenience and who are galvanized by a common enemy - us. The greatest irony is that the two most prominent players in the insurgency are former regime members from the Ba'ath party and the international Islamic extremists. These two elements are deeply in bed together but they do what they can to keep their alliance secret. The old regime henchmen hide out here in Iraq or just across the border and pump money and direction into the insurgency so that they can some day resume power. The Islamic extremist take the training and money offered by Sadaam's cronies and do the bidding of these criminals so that they can create a sectarian state not unlike the one the Taliban created in Afghanistan. How in the world can you call yourself a holy warrior and be in league with some of the greatest criminals this region has known?

Slowly but surely the people are returning and as you can imagine, there is a high degree of caution on both sides. Overall though, we have been pleasantly surprised by the lack of hostility from the people. Most just seem to want to live their lives. The Marines have seen this and have responded with an equally surprising degree of compassion. However, there is no doubt the muj will do their best to continue their fight without any compunction of putting the "innocent people" in the middle. They are well aware of the danger of the people seeing first hand that we are not "infidel animals" that are waiting to rape their women and children as they have been told. When the enemy senses this crack in its intimidation campaign, it will make the people pay in order to get them back in line. Time will tell how it will work out but we know the next several weeks are going to be tough.


Click on the link to see the source. The Green Side