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“Now Thank We All Our God”

By Harold Pease Ph. D

This is the season to be grateful and to acknowledge our many blessings, even in the midst of extreme difficult times for so many of our neighbors and friends the last three months in particular. September has been declared “the most active month for hurricanes on record since 1851, with three: Irma, Jose, and Katia photographed by satellite above the Atlantic Ocean on the same day Sept. 8,” (Washington Post, Sept. 27). Harvey devastated Texas and Maria virtually destroyed Puerto Rico, most still without adequate electricity. Tying for second most active hurricane month in our history was years 1893 and 1926.

Three mass murderers paralyzed three communities in six weeks: the nations largest mass shooting was in Las Vegas, Oct. 1, with 59 killed and 527 injured, and the slaughter of 26 and wounding of 20 First Baptist church goers in Sutherland Springs, Nov. 6, was the largest in Texas history. Finally a murderous truck driver mowed down New Yorkers on Oct 31, killing 8 and injuring 11. A fourth mass shooting occurred as I wrote this column. This one at and around Rancho Tehama Elementary School near Corning, California, where five were killed (including the gunman) ten wounded; none of the murdered were children. Heroic teachers locked down the school preventing a much greater slaughter.

These and our own personal circumstances may bring us beneath what we think we can endure. During such times it is sometimes hard to find things to be grateful for or to find the hand of God in anything. Still, adversities make most Christians stronger and some may never have found Christ without adversity. True heroes are found sharing and giving everything, as did Christ, to help others. Sometimes adversity also gives birth to songs of strength.

Finding someone whose life circumstances are much worse sometimes helps a little. One such was Martin Rinckart. He authored the beloved Christian hymnal “Now Thank We All Our God” which has given fellow Christian’s strength in their trials for almost 400 years.

In 1637 the Swedes and Germans were in the midst of The Thirty-Year War (Catholics vs. Protestants) and refugees from that encounter were flooding into Eilenburg, Saxony where Martin Rinckart was serving as Archdeacon of his native German town. A horrible plaque gripped the area leaving some 8,000 persons dead in a single year. Rinckart had to assist “at the beds of the sick and dying.” Although fortunately he maintained his own health during this time of death, he “had to read forty or fifty funeral services a day” including the services of two of his fellow clergymen. A fourth ran away, out of fear of getting sick, leaving him the lone church authority in this major crisis. He assisted in burying some 4,480 in all. In May of that year, his wife died. “By the end of the year, the refugees had to be buried in trenches without services.”

This horror was followed by a famine “so extreme that thirty or forty persons might be seen fighting in the streets for a dead cat or crow.” As the head of the church in his area “his door was surrounded by a crowd of poor starving wretches, who found it their only refuge.” He shared everything he had reserving “the barest rations for his own family.”

Next the Swedes returned demanding a tribute of $30,000 from the town. Such money was not available. After failing to entreat the invading general for mercy, Rinckart turned to those following him and, in the general’s presence, said “Come, my children, we can find no hearing, no mercy with men, let us take refuge with God.” He then “fell on his knees and prayed with such touching earnestness that the Swedish general relented, and lowered his demand at last to 2,000 florins.”

Apparently the words of his hymn were originally written as a grace to be said before meals but given his circumstances it became a song of strength in adversity. Listen to them.  “Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices, Who wondrous things hath done, In whom his earth rejoices; Who, from our mothers’ arms, Hath blessed us on our way With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.” The first verse of this Lutheran hymnal is certainly a message of thanksgiving; the second, one of protection and guidance. “Oh, may our bounteous God Through all our life be near us, With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us, And keep us in his love, And guide us day and night, And free us from all ills, Protect us by his might.”

Perhaps his life and song can make us stronger as well. At the very least it should give us a few extra things for which to be thankful this Thanksgiving Day. None of us are fighting over a dead cat or crow to eat. Despite our obstacles, deep inside we know that God still has our best interests in mind. When we next sing this song let us do it with more gratitude reflecting, at least for a moment, on our great blessings, as he did, rather than our trials. The trials will always be there but so will also the blessings.

 

Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. Newspapers have permission to publish this column. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

Armed Law-Abiding Citizens not the Enemy in Texas

By Harold Pease, Ph. D

By now everyone knows about the citizen heroes that brought down the heinous Texas gunman that massacred 26 worshipers and wounded another 20 while they attended church Sunday morning resulting in the largest mass murder in Texas history. What has not been emphasized is that those numbers would have been much higher had the same thing happened in California, New York and several other states as these states view their armed citizens as the enemy. In fact those intervening to stop more mass killing by gunman Devin P. Kelley would have been breaking the law and arrested. The “Texas Massacre” should put an end to the argument that law-abiding citizens should be disarmed.

For those who did not get this side of the story, a review of the facts should be helpful. Devin Kelley went to this out-of-the-way church to kill his mother-in-law, Lola White, 2and others with her, leaving his engine running with the car door open for a quick escape. Dressed in black body armor and armed with a semi-automatic AR-556 rifle, he first ran around the church killing two then paused briefly before entering the chapel spraying the parishioners with bullets shooting another 44. Victims ranged from ages 18 months to 77 years.

Neighbor, Stephen Willeford 55, heard the gunshots and rushed forth with his AR-15 to confront the murderous gunman (ironically similar weapons used for both evil and good). Shots were exchanged between Willeford and Kelley with the latter receiving leg and torso wounds resulting in his ceasing the carnage and dropping his rifle while fleeing to his automobile.

A third man, Johnnie Lagendorff, stopped at the intersection near the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, noticed the exchanged gunfire, and when confronted by Willeford to help, provided the pursuing truck. An 11-mile chase ensued reaching speeds of 95 miles-per-hour before shooter Kelley lost control of his vehicle and ran off the road. During the chase they communicated with dispatchers. The two caught up with Kelley but not before he self-inflicted a shot to the head. He apparently did not die immediately and was held at gunpoint until police arrived seven minutes later.

My point, shooter Kelley had three gunshot wounds, none from police. Their justification for involvement, as expressed by truck driver Langendorff, “It was the right thing to do” and, “Why wouldn’t you want to take him down?” But “the right thing to do” in California or New York would have been illegal and these men arrested on a number of counts. “He just hurt so many people, and he just affected so many people’s lives” wouldn’t pass muster in many states.

Gun confiscators want more restrictions on gun ownership but there were already laws that would have barred Kelley from purchasing his firearms had they been enforced. Kelley had been court martialled for spousal and child abuse, the latter conviction for fracturing the skull of his infant stepson, netting him a year behind bars. The Air Force had failed to record the conviction so federal records did not have this information. The truth is laws only restrict the law abiding and more laws do not increase the tendency of the lawless to be more law obedient.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz had it right when he said, “The reason that the depraved gunman finally gave up and got in a car and fled, and didn’t murder more, is precisely because one individual demonstrated bravery and courage.” When the people do not feel safe there will be concealed weapons despite gun prohibiting signs—even in church. In Texas a church is likely the only place where a mass shooting could occur because elsewhere the moment a gunman pulls his weapon ten others, also with weapons, stand ready to pull theirs.

In Texas, law enforcement share the responsibility of public safety with their citizens and citizens are expected to back up law enforcement when necessary. They recognize that no matter what the crime, unless law enforcement is already on the scene, which is very rare, there exists a few minutes when the criminal is able to have his way no matter what the law says. In states that treat their citizens as first responders in the absence of law enforcement, no criminal can be certain that he has any time to exercise his own will without immediate consequence. The enforcer may be in the vest of the person next to him not just on a policeman five miles away.

In states like California and New York who refuse to share these responsibilities, even criminalizing those who would assist them, criminals have no immediate deterrence and are warned by sirens from a distance when the police are nearing enabling them time to escape. Citizens fear their own government and are far more reluctant to assist law enforcement. Far fewer would carry a weapon or threaten to use it, and virtually no one would shoot the criminal or follow him 11 miles. Thus these men are praised in Texas and arrested in California or New York. The natural consequence is that per capita there is more crime in gun restricted states than in less restricted states and a neighbor more willing to grabs his gun and rush to save others from further slaughter in the church next door.

Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. Newspapers have permission to publish this column. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

We Don’t Have to Wait For CIA Documents on Kennedy Assassination

By Harold Pease, Ph. D

The CIA showed total contempt of both Congress and the President by not releasing ALL documents in their possession dealing with the Kennedy Assassination November 25, 2017, even when ordered to do so by Donald Trump himself. Trump compromised by giving them an additional six months to comply.

The intensity of long-term CIA defiance says two things. One, what the CIA knows is far worse than likely imagined. Second, if they are allowed redaction for six months what else might they redact, and how would we know? If they feel this strongly about not disclosing after 54 years, we will never know from them what they do not want known. Remember from the beginning the CIA has been implicated in the assassination.

But scholars have already weighed in on the Kennedy assassination so we do not have to wait for the CIA to release their filtered documents. This is what we know.

The government’s inscription on the wall of the Texas School Book Depository reads: “On November 22, 1963, The building gained national notoriety when Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot and killed President John F. Kennedy from a sixth story window as the Presidential motorcade passed.” The word allegedly is an admission that the government remains uncertain, beyond doubt, that Oswald did the deed or acted alone.

Most scholars on the assassination view the Warren Commission’s review of the data with great skepticism (some with contempt) especially in light of its numerous omissions, as for example the testimony of Dr. Charles Crenshaw who placed Kennedy in the coffin at Parkland Hospital and testified years later that the neck wound had been tampered with to look like an exit rather than an entry wound. An entry wound would have proved more than a single assassin and provoked more investigation.

In 1976 The United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded: “President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.” Congress themselves used the word conspiracy. They, like the Warren Commission, did their investigation mostly in secret. Unbelievably they too sealed their evidence for 50 years under Congressional rules.

As the years fly by and from the hundreds of new books on the subject, it is increasingly more difficult to dismiss, as an accomplice, Lyndon Baines Johnson and his CIA/FBI friends. Newer historians are not as willing to give him a free pass on the subject.

My journalist friend, Don Clark, has personally read most of the 2000 books on the subject and is a noted speaker on the assassination. He told an audience in San Francisco that while the government has not, or will not, pursue the subject private investigators have done so and we do not have to wait for the sealed records. What follows are his “must reads” on the subject:

First, get the directors cut of the motion picture JFK by Oliver Stone. Despite the profanity the “movie contains more spoken words, more script, than any film in history.”

Second, On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison (a former FBI agent) treats Oswald’s time in New Orleans and four government agents identified as “handlers” that seemed to “shadow” him.

Third, read JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters. A stunning piece of original research published in 2008, by James Douglass.

Fourth, read MARY’S MOSAIC: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace, by Peter Janney. The work published in 2012 found that the author’s own “CIA father, was among the conspirators orchestrating the deaths of Kennedy and his friend Mary Pinchot Meyer. The latter’s death is also “in a veiled way” in the recent movie, An American Affair.

Fifth, read JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy, by Air Force Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, who served at the time of Kennedy’s death, as the key liaison between the Pentagon and the CIA.

Sixth, tying together many loose ends the following three books will help. Revealing the secret links between the most powerful law firm in Texas and the criminal rise to power of Lyndon Johnson is Blood, Money, & Power: How LBJ Killed JFK, by Barr McClellan. LBJ: Mastermind of the JFK Assassination, by Phillip Nelson. Texas in the Morning, by Lyndon Johnson’s long-time mistress, Madeline Duncan Brown “takes you to the meeting the night before the assassination. She shares the story of Lyndon Johnson coming late to the meeting, then emerging in a fury, grabbing her by the arms so hard it hurt, and swearing in a rage, ‘After tomorrow, those goddamn Kennedy’s will never embarrass me again—and that’s not a threat, that’s a promise!’”

In light of decades of intensive reading, Clark poses the question, “Was it devious, desperate Lyndon Johnson, the viper in the nest, the Brutus to Kennedy’s Caesar, had blackmailed his way onto the 1960 presidential ticket, who knew he was about to be dumped from the 1964 ticket, who knew he was about to be indicted and probably go to prison for his probable role in the Bobby Baker and Billy Sol Estes scandals, whose lifelong lust and endless scheming for the presidency would stop at nothing to get to that office, least of all murder?” Perhaps it is time to speak the unspeakable.

Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. Newspapers have permission to publish this column. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

Bill to Abolish the EPA Still Progressing Through the House

By Harold Pease Ph. D

“The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.” This one sentence, proposed law H.R. 861, is probably the shortest and most direct ever proposed in U.S. History. It was introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz February 3, and is presently working its way through four committees: Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Science, Space, and Technology. If passed it will save taxpayers over eight billion dollars a year and send over 15,000 employees looking for new jobs.

Congressman Gaetz wrote defending his bill, “Our small businesses cannot afford to cover the costs associated with compliance, too often leading to closed doors and unemployed Americans. It is time to take back our legislative power from the EPA and abolish it permanently.”

But those who oppose the bill, like hornets swarming out of a disturbed hornets nest, are those who benefit from the Agency, the 15,000 with its passage soon to be looking for new jobs, profiting corporations, Hollywood activists, and big government advocates both Democrat and Republican—essentially the biggest donors in elections. A quick look on the Internet shows the hornets coming with every gun in the arsenal (even they believe in gun rights as long as they have all the guns), and they do, even the establishment media and socialized universities. Without huge public support career politicians will fold on this one.

Congressman Gaetz wrote, “states and local communities are best positioned to responsibly regulate the environmental assets within their jurisdictions.” He is right but he has a stronger argument, the Constitution does not list (Article I, Section 8) the environment as a federal function of government. By not being listed, it automatically remains a state, county and city prerogative (Amendment 10). If environmentalists want such power they must use Amendment V, which requires any new power to get 3/4ths of the state conventions to move the power from the states to the federal government so that it can be listed with the other federal powers.

Power grabbers, of both major political parties, do not like these parts of the Constitution because they rightfully do not allow them to do anything they wish. Moreover, the EPA was never enacted by Congress as required in Article I, Section 1 “All legislative power herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States….”, no exceptions. It was nothing more than an Executive Order penned by then Republican Richard Nixon, December 2, 1970.

Years ago in visiting with a local contractor I learned that his biggest obstacle in providing reasonably priced middleclass housing for the community was the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He told me that in a $300,000 home approximately one-third of that cost was fulfilling the myriad of rules that were mandated by this organization. He took time to share some of those with me. They were so unreasonable and without them I could have saved $100,000 on a new home. Without his willingness to go through these hoops there would be few single-family homes older than the sixties in this modest oil-town community.

He was a modest, unassuming good man, not the corporate polluter, toxic dumping and public land rapist that the extreme environmentalists portray developers. After five years of hearings battling the EPA over a single endangered flower that had popped up on his property next to a public park, he finally received permission to build.

Once construction workers, attempting to update an elementary school, found in a distant part of the schoolyard a kit fox den. All work stopped for at least six months while school authorities worked through the web of EPA rules before they could proceed. Costs mushroomed and human needs, even for children, were immediately placed on hold for an animal that locals knew was not really endangered. I used to tell my students that if they wanted an eye-opening experience just drive through the allies at night; they would see a kit fox before they saw a common cat.

The problem ended when those trying to get the school functioning again were allowed to purchase a kill permit. Yes, a kill permit, and the animal presumably protected because it was on an endangered list, was killed anyway. To obtain a kill permit the property owner is required to purchase land elsewhere, sometimes three times as large, next to a reserve and donate that property to the reserve. There is no attempt made to capture the offending animal or transplant the unwanted flower to another place. That would be too practical and reasonable for the government.

What I have shared is common knowledge to ninety percent of those over 30 and not associated with a college or university. Indeed, I have never met a defender of the EPA outside the latter category. Colleges are too often havens for teachers teaching, and students learning, that only the federal government can or will protect the environment and that states, counties or cities are too influenced by corporations and developers to do the job. The opposite is true. States have far more incentive in protecting their back yard than do unelected bureaucrats living 2,000 miles away that are not personally impacted by the rules they impose on others. The Constitution automatically protects us from these people if we will let it. Does your Congressman support H.R. 861?

Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

In America, “We Don’t Worship Government — We Worship God.”

Harold Pease Ph. D

If the President does what he says he will do, as so far Trump has, Christians, and Christian values, can look forward to a new era of respect and value. President Trump gave two powerful, policy changing, addresses Friday, September 13, one to the Values Voters Conference, mostly Christian leaders, and the second refusing to recertify the Iran Nuclear Treaty, basically sending it back to the Senate for much needed improvement. The establishment news media, notably hostile in their coverage of Christian values, have essentially buried the first address by extensive coverage of the second.

Liberty Under Fire treats this topic as a constitutional issue because the Founding Fathers valued religion in government, protected religion by creating the 1st Amendment in the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution requires a moral people to be fully understood. And, as mentioned, the establishment news media won’t cover it because of its long-standing anti-religious bias.

The Founder best articulating the value of religion in government was President George Washington. In his Farewell Address as he left office after refusing a third term he advised. “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? … reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

The list of demanded freedoms made conditional upon states ratifying the Constitution were listed in order of importance in the Bill of Rights. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Freedom of religion was listed first.

John Adams best articulated the need for a moral people to fully understand the Constitution when he wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Benjamin Franklin expressed a similar view, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom…. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

The following phrases in Trumps address to the Values Voters Conference are some of the most powerful to come from the lips of a president in our history and are in harmony with the Founding Fathers. “America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened and sustained by the power of prayer.” And later, “We know that the American family is the true bedrock of American life.”

“I pledged that, in a Trump administration, our nation’s religious heritage would be cherished, protected, and defended like you have never seen before.”

“Bureaucrats think they can run your lives, overrule your values, meddle in your faith, and tell you how to live, what to say, and how to pray.  But we know that parents, not bureaucrats, know best how to raise their children and create a thriving society.”

“We know that it’s the family and the church, not government officials, that know best how to create strong and loving communities…. In America, we don’t worship government — we worship God.”

“We see it in the church communities that come together to care for one another, to pray for each other, and to stand strong with each other in times of need.” “We will pass on the blessings of liberty, and the glories of God, to our children.”

So what campaign promises on freedom of religion has he kept? “To protect the unborn, I have reinstated a policy first put in place by President Ronald Reagan, the Mexico City Policy.” This policy prohibits federal funding of organizations performing or promoting abortion as a method of family planning. Democratic presidents always reinstate it and Republican Presidents rescind it.

He issued an executive order “to prevent the horrendous Johnson Amendment from interfering with your First Amendment rights.” This Amendment prohibited tax-exempt organizations, churches and ministers included, from having a political voice in society. “We will not allow government workers to censor sermons or target our pastors or our ministers or rabbis.  These are the people we want to hear from, and they’re not going to be silenced any longer.” The order resulted in the Department of Justice issuing “new guidance to all federal agencies to ensure that no religious group is ever targeted under my administration.”

“We have also taken action to protect the conscience rights of groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor…. we will not let bureaucrats take away that calling or take away their rights.”

So is Trump just following a script to insure he captures the religious community in 2020? He already has them because he has done more for this community than any president in distant memory. Moreover, as he pointed out in his address, he is “the first sitting President to address” the Values Voter Summit when not running for president, as the sitting president.

The words are perfect and should inspire confidence that in the difficult decisions that he may make, he will go first to his knees and be led by God. But will he? I would feel more comfortable if we saw him attend a church occasionally. Still, it is refreshing to have someone defend the religious community as too few before him have.

Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. Newspapers have permission to publish this column. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.