The Light Shineth in the Darkness

 

The Light Shineth in the Darkness

Posted 12/23/2009 ET
Updated 12/23/2009 ET

As Americans celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and other religious faiths this time of the year, I am reminded of what a blessing it is to be an American and to be free to practice my faith.  To preserve that freedom, Renewing American Leadership (ReAL) and Citizens United jointly filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the Salazar v. Buono case where the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing on behalf of former Parks Service employee Frank Buono to remove the World War I Memorial Cross in the Mojave National Preserve.  My long-time spokesperson and Founding Director of ReAL, Rick Tyler, recently visited the cross and sent me an email about it.  Here is an excerpt of his report:

Since I was going to be in Santa Barbara to give a talk, I thought it might be my best opportunity — even though the distances were daunting — to see the Mojave Desert Cross for myself and get some pictures.

I arrived at LAX at 10:30 a.m. local time, although Las Vegas was actually closer (90 miles).  I couldn’t make the flights work, so I would have to drive the four-hour, 230 mile distance.  By 11:00 a.m., I was on the way.  I had to make time because I need to be there before the sun set at around 5:00 p.m.

As I closed the time and distance to the desert, I was filled with the kind of anticipation unique to a genuine adventure.  The more I drove, the greater the expectation grew.

The Mojave Cross Was First Erected in 1934

The Mojave Desert Cross, as it has become known, was first erected as a simple wooden cross in 1934 by the Death Valley Chapter of the VFW to commemorate the men and women who died fighting for freedom in World War I.  For six decades, a wooden cross of one kind or another stood until in the late 1990s, when it was replaced with a more permanent metal one that is now obscured with plywood by court order.  The land upon which the cross has stood for over 75 years only became federal land in 1994 as part of the Mojave National Preserve.  Efforts to transfer the small parcel of land where the cross is located to private ownership failed on the grounds that it would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

I’d seen photos of the cross both before and after it was covered up by plywood.  But what would it be like to actually be there and see it?  I knew approximately where it stood, but I was becoming increasingly anxious if I could find it in time.

Interstate 15 is the major road between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and it is well-traveled but after Barstow, the towns grow smaller and smaller until they all but disappear.  After nearly four hours, my GPS alerted me that the exit I needed to take was coming up.

The Sun Was Setting as I Turned Into the Mojave National Preserve

The sun was beginning to sink in the Western sky as I turned right from the ramp onto Cima Road which leads to the North entrance to the Mojave National Preserve.  The monotony of the highway was replaced by a two-lane road lined with Joshua trees headed south into the desert.

 
Now feeling more melancholy than excited, I began to think about the name given to these odd trees.  Joshua is the name from which the English name Jesus comes.  In Hebrew, Yah’Shuah, it literally means “God Saves.”  Yah from YHWH, pronounced Yehowah for “God” and shuah which translates to “salvation.”  Christ was crucified on a hewn tree in the form of a cross.  It is altogether fitting that the “saving” cross I was in search of was in the middle of the single largest Joshua tree forest.

Why Does a Cross In the Desert Bother the ACLU?

More than 2,000 years later, I had to wonder, why is this cross in the middle of millions of acres of natural wilderness such a threat to our civil liberties that it is currently at the center of a Supreme Court battle?  And if it is a threat, what form of religious expression will survive this decision?

I’d traveled about seven miles south of Route 15, when I slowed down to search the landscape.  It should be on the left in the next mile or so.  The sadness I felt was replaced by triumph.  I wanted to see this modest cross that over the last four hours had become heroic in my mind.  It was the manifestation of all those who had come before us to fight for freedom which was why it was put there in the first place.

And there it was.  I pulled the car over onto the gravel shoulder.  Within a hundred yards of the pavement — atop a small outcrop of rock known as Sunrise Rock, no more than 20 feet high — stood the eight-foot cross odiously covered in plywood.

On Sunrise Rock Stands a Cross Odiously Covered in Plywood

I could see the white painted metal coming out of the rock before it disappeared under the wood covering.  It was absurd.

The Constitution seems plain enough, it simply says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  How does a cross that has been there for 75 years (and 50 years prior to the land upon which it is located became federal land) literally in the middle of the desert constitute the establishment of a religion?  The answer of course is, it doesn’t.

I took a number of photographs from a variety of angles.  Then, just when I had enough shots to be sure I had what I wanted, the sun disappeared over the horizon.  That’s when I noticed directly behind the cross rising up over the hills to the east was a full moon.  What a gift!  I had not expected it.  So I stayed another hour to wait for what this lesser light would offer my camera.  I’m attaching some photos.

 

I Felt Powerless, As If Unable to Help Someone in Distress

By the time I left two hours passed.  Within that time, only four vehicles passed by.  It was both a peaceful and lonely place.

While I was there, I was overwhelmed with the powerless feeling of not being able to help someone in distress, someone within reach.  My urge was to rescue the cross by freeing it from its miserable state.  Many who have shared the same feeling did just that, only to have the Park Service cover it over again.

My prayer is that the court will protect this cross by applying the wisdom of the Founding Fathers to this case which attempts to twist the principles of our founding in favor of a worldview not shared by the majority of Americans.  By doing so, the court will preserve religious liberty which is the foundation of freedom.

Thinking back now about when I was leaving the cross to the night sky above the desert, how true is John’s verse? “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”—John 1:5 (KJV)

Callista and I join Rick in wishing you and your family a safe, blessed and merry Christmas.

Your friend,

 

Democrats Ensure America Will No Longer Be the Last Best Hope of Earth

Democrats Ensure America Will No Longer Be the Last Best Hope of Earth

December 23rd, 2009

By Dennis Prager, Townhall

Obama wants us to be just like everybody else…

As the passage of the bill that will start the process of nationalizing health care in America becomes almost inevitable, so, too, the process of undoing America’s standing as The Last Best Hope of Earth will have begun.

That description of America was not, as more than a few Americans on the left believe, made by some right-wing chauvinist. It was made by President Abraham Lincoln in an address to Congress on Dec. 1, 1862.

The bigger the American government becomes, the more like other countries America becomes. Even a Democrat has to acknowledge the simple logic: America cannot at the same time be the last best hope of earth and increasingly similar to more and more countries.

Either America is unique, in which case it at least has the possibility of uniquely embodying hopes for mankind — or it is not unique, in which case it is by definition not capable of being the last best hope for humanity — certainly no more so than, let us say, Sweden or the Netherlands.

Read More:

How Obamacare Destroyed the Hope-Change Mystique

How Obamacare Destroyed the Hope-Change Mystique

December 23rd, 2009

By PETER WEHNER, Commentary Magazine

Here are some thoughts on where things stand in the aftermath of the certain passage of the Senate health-care bill.

1. Few Democrats understand the depth and intensity of opposition that exists toward them and their agenda, especially regarding health care. Passage of this bill will only heighten the depth and intensity of the opposition. We’re seeing a political tsunami in the making, and passage of health-care legislation would only add to its size and force.

2. This health-care bill may well be historic, but not in the way the president thinks. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen anything quite like it: passage of a mammoth piece of legislation, hugely expensive and unpopular, on a strict party-line vote taken in a rush of panic because Democrats know that the more people see of ObamaCare, the less they like it.

3. The problem isn’t simply with how substantively awful the bill is but how deeply dishonest and (legally) corrupt the whole process has been. There’s already a powerful populist, anti-Washington sentiment out there, perhaps as strong as anything we’ve seen. This will add kerosene to that raging fire.

Read More

Beltway Christmas: Cash for corruptocrats

Beltway Christmas: Cash for corruptocrats

By Michelle Malkin  •  December 23, 2009 09:30 AM

My column looks at the year in Washington political bribery. And what a year it was for the Beltway’s reverse Santa Clauses, who are suspended simultaneously in mental states of denial and indignation. Democrat Sen. Mary “Louisiana Purchase” Landrieu defended her payoff while declaring that she “can’t be bought.”Democrat Sen. Tom “Iowa Bounty” Harkin dismissed the hundreds of millions of taxpayer-subsidized gifts to pols in the Demcare package as “small stuff.” And don’t even get me started on the 1,720 earmarks worth more than $4 billion in the defense appropriations bill. It’s nothing new, the Dems say in their defense. And that is precisely the point, isn’t it?

Related developments: More lawmakers — hello, Rep. James Clyburn — are lining up for Ben Nelson bonanzas — while attorneys general in seven states are investigating the legality of the deal.

Of course, sometimes it’s not what’s illegal in Washington, but what’s entirely legal, that perturbs…

***

Beltway Christmas: Cash for corruptocrats
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2009

The Democrats are right. Sleazy bribes and pork payoffs didn’t start with their government health care takeover bill. They’ve been doling out taxpayer-funded goodies for votes all year. Harry Reid’s latest Cash for Cloture deals are the culmination of Washington’s 2009 shopping spree at our expense.

Go back to January and February. The multi-trillion-dollar stimulus bill was the Mother of All Legislative Christmas Trees. The ruling party used the economic downturn to redistribute wealth from struggling Americans to favored congressional districts, phantom districts, special interests from golf cart makers to fly-by-night beauty salons. According to a new study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Democrat districts have raked in nearly twice as much porkulus money as GOP districts – without regard to the actual economic suffering and job loss in those districts.

In fact, the researchers found far more stimulus money went to higher-income areas than lower-income areas.

That includes Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s backyard – where a $54 million no-bid contract was awarded to a firm with little experience to relocate a luxury Bay Area wine train due to flood concerns.

And it includes Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois, which reaped the single biggest earmark in the porkulus bill – $1 billion for the dubious FutureGen near-zero emissions “clean coal” plant earmark championed by disgraced Democrat and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin.

And it includes Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s backyard – where he secured billions in high-speed rail stimulus earmarks from which he plans to fund a pie-in-the-sky public transportation line from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

When taxpayers objected to business as usual masquerading as economic recovery, New York Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer sneered: “You lost.” And, he jibed on the Senate floor while wagging a grabby finger, “let me say this to all of the chattering class that so much focuses on those little tiny, yes, porky amendments, the American people really don’t care.” The “American people” Schumer referred to, of course, were the privileged minority of stimulus beneficiaries – not the rest of us “chattering” dissenters stuck with the bill for those billions in “little tiny, yes, porky amendments.”

No legislation has been immune to congressional shakedown. After the Congressional Black Caucus balked loudly enough, Democrat Rep. Barney Frank – chairman of the House Financial Services Committee – larded up the majority’s Wall Street regulatory “reform” bill with $4 billion in payoffs to minority special interests – including former failed Air America radio partner Inner City Broadcasting Corp. The cash-strapped firm is run by Percy Sutton – a New York City crony of Charlie Rangel and Al Sharpton. The money will come out of the ever-morphing TARP bank bailout fund – which went from a toxic assets purchase plan to a capital injection plan, back to a toxic assets purchase plan, to a life insurance company bailout, to an auto supplier bailout.

Leading the charge for the Cash for Cronies of Color drive: California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters, who had already extracted $12 million in TARP funds for OneUnited, a minority-owned bank that is one of her key campaign donors and a company in which both Waters and her husband own massive amounts of stock.

Which brings us up to Demcare, the latest wealth redistribution scheme disguised as health care reform. In addition to the infamous $300 million “Louisiana Purchase” for Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu and the (at least) $45 million “Cornhusker Kickback” for sellout Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Harry Reid threw around other, less-publicized gobs of cash for cloture votes to cut off debate and ram the bill through. He tossed in a Hospital Helper of $100 million to Connecticut Democrat Sen. Chris Dodd, whose re-election bid is in hot water.

There are bennies for insurance companies and hospitals in Michigan and “Frontier freebies” for hospitals in Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wyoming. There’s a New England’s Special Syrup for Vermont and Massachusetts – who will get similar (though less generous) special treatment by the feds as Nebraska in covering Medicaid expansion costs. Combined with Nebraska’s tab, the exclusive clique’s payoffs will cost at least taxpayers $1.2 billion over 10 years. There’s an ACORN/community organizer-friendly provision for minority health bureaucracies that was sought by Illinois Democrat Sen. Roland Burris, according to John McCormack of the Weekly Standard.

And there’s a $10 billion socialized medicine sop to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for “community health clinics” serving in essence as universal health care satellite offices. “We are talking about a revolution” here, Sanders enthused during the Senate’s sneaky Sunday session. No, revolution will come when taxpayers have a chance to kick these reverse Santa Clauses posing as saviors out of office. It can’t happen a minute too soon.

Rep. Stupak: White House Pressuring Me to Keep Quiet on Abortion Language in Senate Health Bill

Rep. Stupak: White House Pressuring Me to Keep Quiet on Abortion Language in Senate Health Bill
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
By Pete Winn, Senior Writer/Editor


Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) (AP Photo)
(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said the White House and the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives have been pressuring him not to speak out on the “compromise” abortion language in the Senate version of the health care bill.
 
“They think I shouldn’t be expressing my views on this bill until they get a chance to try to sell me the language,” Stupak told CNSNews.com in an interview on Tuesday. “Well, I don’t need anyone to sell me the language. I can read it. I’ve seen it. I’ve worked with it. I know what it says. I don’t need to have a conference with the White House. I have the legislation in front of me here.”
 
The Michigan Democrat succeeded last month in getting 64 House Democrats to join him in attaching his pro-life amendment to the House version of the health-care bill. The “Stupak amendment,” as the provision is known, would prohibit the federal government from allocating taxpayer money to pay for any part of any health insurance plan that covers abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger. 

 
Stupak had contact with the White House last weekend, when the Senate voted 60 to 40 in the wee hours of Monday morning to shut off debate on the Senate version of the bill.
 
The current version of the Senate bill contains so-called “compromise” language crafted by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). This language does not bar taxpayer funding of health plans that cover abortion, but does create a firewall to supposedly keep federal money from being used to pay for abortions. Over the weekend, Stupak issued a statement calling the proposed Senate language “unacceptable.”

“A review of the Senate language indicates a dramatic shift in federal policy that would allow the federal government to subsidize insurance policies with abortion coverage,” said the statement.
 
In his interview with CNSNews.com on Tuesday, Stupak said that the White House “asked me just to hold off for awhile and not to say anything about this language. But as soon as the news broke that they had this [compromise], and they got the 60 votes, folks were asking me, and I’m not going to run from the issue I’m going to stand up and say, ‘Look, here’s my objections.’ Here – it’s not just my objections – but there’s a number of my [colleagues] who feel strongly about this issue, and these are the parts that have to be fixed.”
 
Stupak said he is not alone in being pressured from the White House and the House Democratic leadership – other pro-life Democratic colleagues apparently are, as well. But they plan to hold firm, he said.
 
“We’re getting a lot of pressure not to say anything, to try to compromise this principle or belief,” Stupak said. “[T]hat’s just not us. We’re not going to do that. Members who voted for the Stupak language in the House – especially the Democrats, 64 Democrats that voted for it – feel very strongly about it. It’s been part of who we are, part of our make up. It’s the principle belief that we have. We are not just going to abandon it in the name of health care.”
 
When asked if he has the votes he needs to stop the bill if, in its final version, it does not include the language of his amendment or nearly identical language, Stupak did not answer directly.

“Well, if all the issues are resolved and we’re down to the pro-life view or, I should say, no public funding for abortion, there’s at least 10 to 12 members who have said, repeatedly, unless this language is fixed and current law is maintained, and no public funding for abortion,” said Stupak. “There’s 10 or 12 of us, and they only passed the bill by 3 votes, so they’re going to be short  8 to 9, maybe 6 to 8 votes. So they [Democrats] do not have the votes to pass it in the House.”
 
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he wants a vote on a final bill before Christmas. After that, a House-Senate conference could convene in early January to merge the Senate and House versions of the bill and lead to a final vote by both chambers.