Posted by: SWL | May 9, 2019

Gun Control Advocates Disrupt CO School Vigil

Gun control advocates have no shame, and obviously no compassion or sensitivity.

Last night a meeting (masquerading as a vigil) was held at the Highlands Ranch, Colorado STEM school where one student died and several were injured Tuesday. If people had known the “vigil” was organized by a student arm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, maybe they could have anticipated how the program would go.

Instead of a typical vigil, where friends and family speak about the victims, speeches advocating gun control were made by two Colorado legislators and a volunteer from a gun control organization. Students, frustrated that they couldn’t speak, began to leave. Some shouted “mental health” at the speakers. It is interesting that they seem to understand that addressing mental health issues (one suspect had “f____ society” painted on his car) need to be addressed more than gun control. Teens are not ignorant or stupid, and using them to promote a political agenda is an insult.

Any vigil for students should be to honor Kendrick Castillo, who died a hero after rushing one shooter, and those injured. A vigil is a way to promote healing for all the traumatized students.

Castillo deserves far more than the “vigil” speakers gave. John Castillo, Kendrick’s father, praised his son for being a hero. “I want people to know about him,” he told ABC News. That didn’t happen last night.

The tepid apologies given by organizers and the legislators did not acknowledge responsibility for what happened. I hope Colorado voters refuse to re-elect these exploiters.

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I was shocked by events today – not as much by the actual school shooting in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, but by the lack of news coverage.

I turned the television on about an hour after the incident began. I was looking for my usual mid-day news fix and clicking through the cable news channels.

FOX News was running coverage of the shooting, but no one else was. I am not sure if the lack of interest by the news networks was because our nation has become so used to school shootings (8 this school year)* or they were more concerned about promoting political agendas. This shooting was not an ordinary story. In the first hour I watched coverage, there were reports of two, possibly three shooters, multiple injuries. The STEM school was still in lock-down.

When there is a major breaking news story, I will go back and forth between channels to make sure I catch all the details. During the hour I observed today, MSNBC and CNN mostly ran stories about the Mueller report and Joe Biden’s presidential poll numbers. Everything we hear now about the Mueller report is just a rehashing of old news. Biden might be news if he had done/said something new, but the anchors were just discussing his rankings in the polls. There was also a long story on CNN about air pollution – certainly a far more important topic than the life and death situation facing the children at the Highlands Ranch school. (Just in case you cannot tell, that last sentence was sarcastic!)

At the top of the next hour CNN finally had a brief update. The NBC broadcast channel broke into regular programming for a seven minute special report.

I am not saying we need prolonged media coverage. I especially hate when reporters accost parents to ask about their feelings in these situations. But to have no mention of the incident for an hour (not even on the ticker scrolling at the bottom of the screen), trivializes the lives of the students involved. It shows misplaced priorities since none of the topics being discussed were timely, let alone more important than these children and teens.

I want to know what is going on in the world, but that information gets more and more difficult to find as news channels spend most of their time on rehashing political comments from our lawmakers.

*I am only counting incidents that occurred on school grounds, during school hours and clearly intended to harm the student population and/or staff. If you look at details of the 33 shootings often cited (links below), they include arguments (mostly between adults) outside stadiums at football games, random gunshots that hit people in school vehicles and unintentional accidental firing of guns (A separate discussion can be held about whether the guns should have been on campus). Those incidents are not school violence as most of us define it. It is fine to include those in discussions about overall gun violence, but inaccurate and misleading to include adult/gang/off-campus violence when talking about school shootings. It is interesting that news outlets that give little real time coverage of school shootings choose to inflate the number of incidents afterwards.
https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/school-shootings-2018-how-many-where.html
https://www.edweek.org/ew/section/multimedia/school-shootings-this-year-how-many-and-where.html

update 5/8/2019: The suspected shooters are in custody, but unfortunately one student victim has died.

Posted by: SWL | April 1, 2019

Is Flores Over Reacting to Biden “Kiss”?

Lucy Flores – Nevada Democrat, unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor and supporter of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election cycle – has accused former Vice President Joe Biden of inappropriate behavior on the 2014 campaign trail. She says he kissed the back of her head as they prepared to go on stage at a rally for her campaign.

Of course, I don’t know Biden or Flores personally, but I’ve watched Biden through a few election cycles now. I would say he’s extremely friendly, somewhat impulsive and, under the veneer of modern political concerns, still an old-school politician. The “kiss” sounds like typical Biden and I doubt there was anything sexual involved.

I can understand why Flores would be uncomfortable – it was weird. But maybe she’s over-reacting a bit? Flores’ previous support of Sanders and the current speculation about Biden running for president in 2020 makes me question her timing.

I also wonder why a woman who is characterized by others as strong would not have spoken up at the time of the incident. She should have turned to Biden at that moment and said quietly and privately, “Please do not do that Mr. Vice President. It makes me uncomfortable.” In an interview last weekend Flores said she didn’t think of Biden as an individual, but as the second most powerful man in the country. They were in a public place, so she couldn’t have feared for her physical safety. Was she afraid saying something would affect her campaign? Was that more important than speaking up for herself and making a statement for all women?

The Me Too movement cannot be just about women complaining years after inappropriate behavior occurs. An individual or group needs to take the reins of the movement and remind/encourage women that unless their physical safety is at stake, they need to say “no”, walk away and report attempts at inappropriate behavior immediately, regardless of the effect on their careers. That’s a tough choice to make, but sometimes doing the right thing has negative consequences. We have to decide whether we act in our self-interest or for the greater good.

Bill Maher again showed his ignorance and intolerance with recent comments that the “most educated and affluent” people live in the coastal blue states, and because of that, red state residents are jealous. Maher speaks arrogantly, but he has spent his entire life is the Northeast and knows nothing about red states.

Red states have a lot to offer and appeal to many:

Here in Nevada, we’ve seen an increased influx of Californians moving here to escape high taxes, high crime rates, crazy traffic and lack of government services. My son-in-law refused a transfer to his employer’s California facility because a house similar to the one he and my daughter have in their Southwest state would cost more than double in the Golden State.

The Hollywood film industry frequently portrays stories set in red states. They often film on location because it is less expensive to work in those states.

Millionaire business icon Warren Buffet can afford to live anywhere, but continues to reside in deeply red Nebraska.

The November 2018 issue of Readers’ Digest featured a story on the 10 nicest places in America. Six of the 10 were in red states.

My alma mater, Arizona State University, in a red-leaning state, consistently outranks both east and west coast schools:
* #1 most innovative in US four years in a row (2016-2019). California’s Stanford University was #5. [US News & World Report]
* #17 in the world for US patents received.
* #9 in Fulbright scholar selection. Harvard was #15.
* Receives more research dollars from NASA than UCLA or Stanford.

Most importantly, many red states residents like where they live. I spent my early years in a large Midwestern city, my high school and college years in the Phoenix area. I went through culture shock when my spouse, children and I moved to rural northern Nevada for work. But with time I found the charm, beauty and friendliness of the area. My daughters and many of their classmates left town after graduation, but in recent years quite a few are returning.

Cities – both blue and red – offer more activities and opportunities than rural areas, but red state cities have lower costs of living and crime rates than blue cities. Red cities have symphonies, universities, national sports teams, top-rated restaurants and shopping malls, just like blue cities. There doesn’t seem to be much to envy in blue states. Maher should spend more time researching his topics and less time talking.

Posted by: SWL | February 26, 2019

Yes, Alexandria, It’s O.K. to Have Children

A few days ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, freshman Congresswoman from New York, was speaking about environmental concerns and posed the question, “Is it still o.k. to have children?” I think the answer depends on your perspective.

If her parents had taken held that view a few decades ago, Ocasio-Cortez wouldn’t have been born.

If US residents have no or fewer children, who will be in the workforce in 20 years to pay the continuing tax bill for Ocaso-Cortez’s Green New Deal ($93 trillon) and other socialist plans? (Not to mention the Social Security and Medicare costs to care for the majority aging population.)

Fewer children born equals fewer students, researchers and entrepreneurs to look for solutions to disease, environmental problems, poverty, etc. Without new minds with new ideas, innovation stagnates. What we would be left with is most new technology coming from foreign countries with growing populations.

Yes, it is o.k. to have children, although it would be wonderful if more couples considered adopting the thousands of kids in foster care or the many babies (mostly girls) abandoned by poverty-stricken parents around the world.

We need children to replace us as we age. Younger workers keep the wheels of the economy rolling smoothly, producing products and services – and consuming products and services themselves. They pay the taxes that keep the Social Security quasi-pyramid scheme from toppling. (The lower US birth rate over the past 5 decades is one reason the system is in trouble now.) They will be our caretakers as we grow old.

I was leaning toward agreeing with Democrats that the flood of illegal immigrants did not rise to crisis level – until I researched other emergency declarations made since President Ford signed legislation formally outlining procedures for such declarations.

President Reagan issued a declaration to block trade with Nicaragua, which lasted from 1985 to 1990. Certain transactions with Haiti were prohibited in a declaration by President Clinton in 1994.

President George W. Bush issued “emergency” declarations for similar reasons: prohibiting the import of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone and two blocking the property of persons undermining the democratic and stabilization work in the Western Balkans (2001) and Zimbabwe (2003). The latter two declarations are still in effect.

Some national emergencies dealt with crises directly affecting the US, such as swine flu. But many were similar to the five examples above. None of those directly affected the security of US residents. In fact, they mostly protected the populations of countries that suffered under dictators or from human rights violations. Good causes, but not national emergencies. And with many of the declarations on the list, I had to wonder why Congress hadn’t acted instead of presidents needing to make declarations.

The border problem has a far greater direct effect on Americans than many other emergency declarations. President Trump waited for Congress to act in a sensible manner. But today’s legislation (with over 300 restrictions on how so-called border barrier funds can be used) is a political slap in the face. (I do not understand how any Republicans could agree to this “compromise” which contains so many exemptions that it essentially will keep any border barriers from being constructed, even in the 55-mile area specified in the legislation.) Democrats could have prevented an emergency declaration just by providing legitimate funding for a section of border barrier. Of course, they would rather waste time with voting on mostly useless legislation, thinking to score political points. This is a political game to them. I’m beginning to doubt any of them truly care about furloughed federal workers or immigrants except as they tangentially figure into those games.

Democrats and some Republicans have urged caution based on concerns that a future Democrat president might use a declaration for less than “emergency” reasons, often citing climate change. Dems keep saying climate change is a crisis, but it is not. It is a threat, but not even an imminent one. A crisis is something with immediate implications. Migrants crossing our border outside of legal checkpoints, and drugs and trafficked persons being smuggled across the border at checkpoints or other areas is happening right now. Crimes are committed by some of the illegal persons every day. US citizens are dying every day from overdoses of illegal drugs brought over our southern border. And the suffering of some migrants at the hands of coyotes and other criminals is a humanitarian crisis that needs immediate attention. Sounds like a national crisis to me.

Posted by: SWL | September 21, 2018

Kavanaugh Should Not Be Condemned Without Facts

Women should always be treated seriously and respectfully when they speak about a personal experience of sexual harassment or assault. But, if the circumstances or details seem odd, it is appropriate to ask pointed questions for clarification.

This certainly applies to the current situation of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault which she claims occurred over 30 years ago.

The questions that came to mind immediately upon hearing this accusation were
* I can understand a teen girl not wanting to report this incident for a variety of reasons, but why not bring forward this information when Kavanaugh was nominated for the US Court of Appeals? If Blasey Ford was afraid of retribution then, what has changed that she is not now?
* Why did Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) sit on this accusation for 6 weeks?

Now Blasey Ford’s legal team (How many college professors have a legal “team”?) is making demands in exchange for her testimony. Since when is an ordinary citizen allowed to hold up a Constitutional process, especially for an issue they brought forward?

Dr. Blasey Ford wants Judge Kavanaugh to testify/be cross-examined first. This is ridiculous. Her lawyers know that if this was a court proceeding, her case would be presented first. The accused cannot answer specifics of an accusation that is not already presented in detail.

Today the news is that Blasey Ford does not want to travel to Washington by airplane, so she cannot be present for the scheduled Monday hearing. If she really desires to testify, she could have begun her road trip a day or two ago.

Allegations of sexual misconduct are a woman’s ultimate weapon. Most often, the alleged incident would have occurred in private with only the woman and the man to say what happened – impossible to determine who is speaking the truth. With the recent rise of the “MeToo” movement, no one in public life dares to speak against a female accuser. But women are not inherently less likely to lie than men. An accusation does not become true just because some people have a desire for it to be so. An accuser must present facts.

Interestingly, in this case there is a witness who says Blasey Ford’s accusation is false. Members of Congress are pretty much ignoring him, which implies they may not believe him (or may not want to believe him). Questioning a witness’s honesty is just as insulting and disrespectful as questioning an accuser’s honesty.

We should never allow someone’s reputation to be ruined on hearsay, or because the latest political or social trend – no matter how beneficial overall – discourages seeking truth in an attempt to show respect to victims.

Posted by: SWL | February 21, 2018

Respected Evangelist Billy Graham Dies at Age 99

Rev. Billy Graham, who influenced millions of people in his career, died this morning at age 99. Here is his story, as reported by msn.com:

The Rev. Billy Graham, a North Carolina farmer’s son who preached to millions in stadium events he called crusades, becoming a pastor to presidents and the nation’s best-known Christian evangelist for more than 60 years, died on Wednesday at his home in Montreat, N.C. He was 99.

His death was confirmed by Jeremy Blume, a spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Mr. Graham had dealt with a number of illnesses in his last years, including prostate cancer, hydrocephalus (a buildup of fluid in the brain) and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Mr. Graham spread his influence across the country and around the world through a combination of religious conviction, commanding stage presence and shrewd use of radio, television and advanced communication technologies.

The Rev. Billy Graham, a renowned Christian evangelist who served as an adviser to several U.S. presidents, died February 21, 2018 at the age of 99. Here, we look at photos from his life and career.

A central achievement was his encouraging evangelical Protestants to regain the social influence they had once wielded, reversing a retreat from public life that had begun when their efforts to challenge evolution theory were defeated in the Scopes trial in 1925.

But in his later years, Mr. Graham kept his distance from the evangelical political movement he had helped engender, refusing to endorse candidates and avoiding the volatile issues dear to religious conservatives.

“If I get on these other subjects, it divides the audience on an issue that is not the issue I’m promoting,” he said in an interview at his home in North Carolina in 2005 while preparing for his last American crusade, in New York City. “I’m just promoting the Gospel.”

Mr. Graham took the role of evangelist to a new level, lifting it from the sawdust floors of canvas tents in small-town America to the podiums of packed stadiums in the world’s major cities. He wrote some 30 books and was among the first to use new communication technologies for religious purposes. During his “global crusade” from Puerto Rico in 1995, his sermons were translated simultaneously into 48 languages and transmitted to 185 countries by satellite.

Mr. Graham’s standing as a religious leader was unusual: Unlike the pope or the Dalai Lama, he spoke for neither a particular church (though he was a Southern Baptist) nor a particular people.

At times, he seemed to fill the role of national clergyman. He read from Scripture at President Richard M. Nixon’s funeral in California in 1994, offered prayers at a service in the National Cathedral for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and, despite his failing health, traveled to New Orleans in 2006 to preach to survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

His reach was global, and he was welcomed even by repressive leaders like Kim Il-sung of North Korea, who invited him to preach in Pyongyang’s officially sanctioned churches.

In his younger days, Mr. Graham became a role model for aspiring evangelists, prompting countless young men to copy his cadences, his gestures and even the way he combed his wavy blond hair.

He was not without critics. Early in his career, some mainline Protestant leaders and theologians accused him of preaching a simplistic message of personal salvation that ignored the complexities of societal problems like racism and poverty. Later, critics said he had shown political naïveté in maintaining a close public association with Nixon long after Nixon had been implicated in the cover-up of the Watergate break-in.

Mr. Graham’s image was tainted in 2002 with the release of audiotapes that Nixon had secretly recorded in the White House three decades earlier. The two men were heard agreeing that liberal Jews controlled the media and were responsible for pornography.

“A lot of the Jews are great friends of mine,” Mr. Graham said at one point on the tapes. “They swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I’m friendly with Israel. But they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country.”

Mr. Graham issued a written apology and met with Jewish leaders. In the interview in 2005, he said of the conversation with Nixon: “I didn’t remember it, I still don’t remember it, but it was there. I guess I was sort of caught up in the conversation somehow.”

In the last few decades, a new generation of evangelists, including Mr. Graham’s elder son, Franklin Graham, began developing their own followings. In November 1995, on his 77th birthday, Mr. Graham named Franklin to succeed him as head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. His daughter Anne Graham Lotz and his grandsons Will Graham and William Graham Tullian Tchividjian are also in ministry.

Franklin Graham has drawn criticism since the Sept. 11 attacks for denigrating Islam. His father, however, retained the respect of vast numbers of Americans, enough to earn him dozens of appearances on Gallup’s annual list of the world’s 10 most admired men and women.

His Message: Be Born Again

With a warm, courtly manner that was readily apparent both to stadium crowds and to those who met him face to face, Mr. Graham could be a riveting presence. At 6-foot-2, with a handsomely rugged profile fit for Hollywood westerns, he would hold his Bible aloft and declare that Scripture offered “the answer to every human longing.”

Mr. Graham drew his essential message from the mainstream of evangelical Protestant belief. Repent of your sins, he told his listeners, accept Jesus as your Savior and be born again. In a typical exhortation, he declared: “Are you frustrated, bewildered, dejected, breaking under the strains of life? Then listen for a moment to me: Say yes to the Savior tonight, and in a moment you will know such comfort as you have never known. It comes to you quickly, as swiftly as I snap my fingers, just like that.”

Mr. Graham always closed by asking his listeners to “come forward” and commit to a life of Christian faith. When they did so, his well-oiled organization would match new believers with nearby churches. Many thousands of people say they were first brought to church by a Billy Graham crusade.

At the dedication of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., in June 2007, former President Bill Clinton said of Mr. Graham, “When he prays with you in the Oval Office or upstairs in the White House, you feel like he is praying for you, not the president.”

As a popular evangelist, Mr. Graham was by no means unique in American history. George Whitefield in the mid-18th century, Charles G. Finney and Dwight L. Moody in the 19th century, and Billy Sunday at the turn of the 20th were all capable of drawing vast crowds.

But none of them combined the ambition, the talent for organization and the reach of Mr. Graham, who had the advantages of jet travel and electronic media to convey his message. In 2007, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, estimated that he had preached the Gospel to more than 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories since beginning his crusades in Grand Rapids, Mich., in October 1947. He reached hundreds of millions more on television, through video and in film.

“This is not mass evangelism,” Mr. Graham liked to say, “but personal evangelism on a mass scale.”

William Franklin Graham Jr. — Billy Frank to his family and friends as a boy — was born near Charlotte on Nov. 7, 1918, the first of four children of William Franklin Graham and Morrow Coffey Graham. He was descended on both sides from pre-Revolution Scottish settlers, and both his grandfathers were Confederate soldiers.

Though the Grahams were Reformed Presbyterians, and though his father insisted on daily readings of the Bible, Billy Frank was an unenthusiastic Christian. He was more interested in reading history, playing baseball and dreaming of becoming a professional ballplayer. His worldliness, his father thought, was mischievous and devilish.

It was the Rev. Mordecai Ham, an itinerant preacher from Kentucky, who was credited with “saving” Billy Graham, in the autumn of 1934, when Billy was 16. After attending Mr. Ham’s revival sessions on a Charlotte street corner several nights in a row, Billy walked up to Mr. Ham to make a “decision for Christ.”

“I can’t say that I felt anything spectacular,” Mr. Graham recalled years later. “I felt very little emotion. I shed no tears. In fact, when I saw others had tears in their eyes, I felt like a hypocrite, and this disturbed me a little. I’m sure I had a tremendous sense of conviction: The Lord did speak to me about certain things in my life. I’m certain of that, but I can’t remember what they were.”

Returning home with a friend that night, Mr. Graham said, he thought: “Now I’ve gotten saved. Now whatever I do can’t unsave me. Even if I killed somebody, I can’t ever be unsaved now.”

After he graduated from high school in 1936, Mr. Graham spent the summer selling Fuller brushes door to door before spending an unhappy semester at Bob Jones College, then an unaccredited, fundamentalist school in Cleveland, Tenn. (It is now Bob Jones University, in Greenville, S.C.) He then went to another unaccredited but less restrictive institution, the Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College), near Tampa.

It was there, he wrote in his 1997 autobiography, “Just as I Am,” that he felt God calling him to the ministry. The call came, he said, during a late-night walk on a golf course. “I got down on my knees at the edge of one of the greens,” he wrote. “Then I prostrated myself on the dewy turf. ‘O God,’ I sobbed, ‘if you want me to serve you, I will.’ ”

“All the surroundings stayed the same,” he continued. “No sign in the heavens. No voice from above. But in my spirit I knew I had been called to the ministry. And I knew my answer was yes.”

After graduating from the Bible Institute, Mr. Graham went to Wheaton College in Illinois, among the nation’s most respected evangelical colleges. At Wheaton, from which he received a degree in anthropology in 1943, he met Ruth McCue Bell, a fellow student whose father was Dr. L. Nelson Bell, a prominent Presbyterian missionary surgeon who had spent many years in China.

Soon after marrying Ms. Bell in 1943, Mr. Graham accepted the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in Western Springs, Ill., a Chicago suburb. (It later changed its name to the Village Church.) He imbued his sermons with the brand of interdenominational appeal that was to be his hallmark.

It was also in 1943 that he was invited to take over “Songs in the Night,” a Sunday hour of sermonizing and gospel singing broadcast by a Chicago radio station. The program introduced him to electronic evangelism. Its principal singer, the baritone George Beverly Shea, who died in 2013, would earn fame as a member of the “Billy Graham team.”

In the mid-1940s, Mr. Graham became the chief preacher for the Youth for Christ rallies organized by the Rev. Torrey M. Johnson, a radio evangelist, and George W. Wilson, the owner of a religious bookstore in Minneapolis and a lay leader of the First Baptist Church there. With them, he established the Graham Youth for Christ, which found moderate success holding “crusades” across North America and in Britain.

Mr. Graham’s fortunes took a career-building turn in 1949, thanks in no small measure to the power of the Hearst press. He was holding a three-week “mammoth tent crusade” in downtown Los Angeles inside a 6,000-seat “canvas cathedral” pitched on a vacant lot. The newspaper ads proclaimed him “America’s sensational young evangelist.” But what really caught the attention of the aged newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst was that Mr. Graham was preaching a fiery brand of anti-Communism.

From his retreat in San Simeon, Calif., Mr. Hearst is said to have issued a terse directive: “Puff Graham.”

“The Hearst newspapers gave me enormous publicity, and the others soon followed,” Mr. Graham said years later. “Suddenly, what a clergyman was saying was in the headlines everywhere, and so was the box score of commitments to Christ each night.” Time, Newsweek and Life magazines followed suit.

Mr. Graham began taking his “Crusade for Christ” on the road. In 1957, he drew more than two million people to a series of rallies, extended to 16 weeks, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The crusades became international: One, in West Germany, was televised live in 10 other European countries. In 1966, he preached to nearly one million people in London.

As Mr. Graham’s popularity grew, so did his stature with Christian critics who had dismissed his interpretation of Scripture as overly literal. (He told his audiences, for example, that heaven was a physical place, though not necessarily in this solar system.)

Early on, he abandoned the practice, common among Southern fundamentalists, of speaking only before racially segregated audiences. He refused to “preach Jim Crow,” as he put it, and in the turbulent 1960s made several “visits of racial conciliation” to the South.

Mr. Graham pledged to local church sponsors that all donations would be used for crusade expenses, with any excess going to his Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. His own compensation, he said, would be limited to his expenses plus “the salary of a fairly well-paid local minister,” or about $50,000 in 1980 (the equivalent of about $142,000 today). The association’s books were always open to inspection.

By maintaining fiscal integrity and personal probity — he stuck to his rule never to be alone with a woman other than his wife — Mr. Graham kept himself untarnished by the kind of sex and money scandals that brought down evangelists and religious broadcasters like Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart in the 1980s.

The Grahams lived on a 200-acre mountain retreat in Montreat, N.C. His wife, Ruth Bell Graham, died in 2007. He is survived by his sons, the Rev. William Franklin III and the Rev. Nelson Graham, known as Ned; three daughters, Virginia Tchividjian (known as Gigi), Anne Graham Lotz and Ruth Graham McIntyre; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Recognizing his influence, presidents made a point of seeking friendly relations with Mr. Graham; Lyndon B. Johnson did so assiduously. Mr. Graham was a frequent guest of Ronald Reagan, and in January 1991, George H. W. Bush invited him to spend the night at the White House the day before American-led forces began bombing Iraq. Mr. Clinton asked Mr. Graham to offer prayers at his inauguration in 1993.

President George W. Bush said that it was after a walk with Mr. Graham at the Bush family’s compound in Kennebunkport, Me., that Mr. Bush, as a younger man, decided to become more serious about his faith and quit drinking. President Obama visited Mr. Graham at his North Carolina home in 2010.

Of the presidents, Mr. Graham was most closely associated with Nixon. The two had met in the late 1940s, when Nixon was a senator from California. As vice president, Nixon addressed a capacity crowd at Yankee Stadium for the closing meeting of Mr. Graham’s New York crusade in 1957.

In the 1960 presidential campaign, Mr. Graham, a registered Democrat, was strongly sympathetic to Nixon, a Republican, and offered him campaign advice. He went on to endorse Nixon in the 1968 presidential race and allowed that endorsement to be used in television commercials. He gave the invocation at Nixon’s 1969 inauguration and came to be described as Nixon’s unofficial White House chaplain.

Mr. Graham said he had been “innocently unaware” of the storm gathering over Watergate. But when the extent of the scandal became known — disclosures of the break-in and the subsequent cover-up orchestrated by the White House — Mr. Graham tended to look the other way, his critics said.

In 1982, Mr. Graham displeased the Reagan administration when, after a visit to the Soviet Union, he spoke in favor of universal nuclear disarmament. He also visited Russian churches, and his comment that he had seen no evidence of religious repression by the Soviet authorities created a furor among conservative church members in the United States.

It was during this period, in his sixth decade as an evangelist, that Mr. Graham and his organization experimented with new technologies. In 1986, in Paris, he used direct satellite transmissions to carry his sermons to about 30 other French cities. With his crusade in San Juan, P.R., in 1995, he expanded his satellite reach more than sixfold.

Mr. Graham also broke ground by going to places where religious activity was officially restricted, including China and North Korea. The first of his 30 books was “Peace With God,” published in 1953; his last was “Nearing Home,” in 2011.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association continues to organize crusades. It also produced Mr. Graham’s “Hour of Decision” global radio program and prime-time television specials, trains thousands of evangelists and missionaries, and publishes Decision magazine. A rapid-response team deploys chaplains to disaster areas.

Why it all came about remained a puzzle to Mr. Graham. In his autobiography, he wrote: “I have often said that the first thing I am going to do when I get to Heaven is ask: ‘Why me, Lord? Why did You choose a farm boy from North Carolina to preach to so many people, to have such a wonderful team of associates, and to have a part in what You were doing in the latter half of the 20th century?’ ”

“I have thought about that question a great deal,” he added, “but I know also that only God knows the answer.”

Today Billy Graham received his answer.

Posted by: SWL | January 19, 2018

Democrats at Fault for Any Government Shutdown

The Democrats are irresponsible. They seem to care for the thousand or tens of thousands of Dreamers affected by DACA more than for the hundreds of thousands of military and civilian employees of the US. Renewing/revamping DACA legislation will not reach a crisis point until March, but for military and civilian employees the budget crisis is immediate. Congress must deal with the budget now and worry about DACA legislation next week or month.

During a possible shutdown/slow down (not every federal function ceases), many of these employees and on-duty military will continue to work, not knowing if they will get paid. In previous shutdowns, back pay was always included in legislation. But there’s no guarantee employees won’t have to accept far less in unemployment compensation for any time the federal government is not funded.

The other thing is that this playing around is a waste of time for federal employees. I have several friends working for the local Bureau of Land Management. They tell me that the last time budget negotiations went down to the last minute, they wasted an entire afternoon going through security measures to secure documents, computers and other equipment for the impending office closure. Apparently there is more to do for an extended closure than for a weekend off.

That time, the shutdown was averted over the weekend and the employees spent Monday morning undoing all the unnecessary work they had done the Friday before. And we taxpayers paid them for all that unnecessary work.

This time they have not implemented security measures yet. They have been told to report for work Monday morning, and if there is no budget agreement in Congress, they will have four hours to lock down the office valuables then. They are being told they will be paid at some point for those four hours, but the way the federal government is working (or not) now, there’s no guarantee.

Democrats need to negotiate in good faith in the next few hours, working with the Republican majority to pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government. Worry about federal workers and the US economy right now, and help the Dreamers next.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona announced today that he will not seek another term. He also gave a strong speech on the Senate floor, saying he cannot condone President Trump’s behavior. Flake has been a critic of Trump pretty much since the President took office.

I agree with Flake’s assessment of Trump’s coarse language, looseness with the truth and wildly crazy behavior, but I think we need people in Congress like Flake to keep government functioning smoothly and civilly. But I also understand that Flake may not want to waste time, energy and money on a primary campaign against a Trump supporter in a state that is very much in the President’s corner.

I hope the decision not to run for reelection will allow Flake the freedom to criticize Trump when necessary, and to concentrate on the business of legislation so badly needed at this time.

Posted by: SWL | October 3, 2017

#Pray for Las Vegas

Not only the victims of the music festival shooting in Las Vegas, but first responders, hospital staff and investigators, need our prayers.

I have watched a few of the press briefings given by Clark County (NV) Sheriff Joe Lombardo. At the most recent, about an hour ago, the Sheriff looked much more tired than he did yesterday. Of course, the repetition of dumb or unanswerable questions by the press is probably wearing on Lombardo. But all those still working the investigation and taking care of the wounded must be exhausted, as well as emotionally drained by the experience.

Please pray for these people to have strength and energy, and also for their personal well-being.

I cannot fully express my outrage and dismay that anyone would make the hateful comments concerning victims of the Las Vegas music festival shooting that were posted yesterday by Hayley Geftman-Gold, now a former executive at CBS. On Facebook, Geftman-Gold wrote, “I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters.”

There may be a high percentage of country music fans who are Republicans and/or own legally purchased firearms. But to say that people are not worthy of sympathy, and by implication assistance and care, because of their political views is small-minded and hateful. There were hundreds of festival goers who assisted the wounded during the assault. I doubt any of them asked about victims’ political views before offering assistance.

Geftman-Gold has obviously forgotten that we live in a democratic republic where numerous political, religious and social views are tolerated. She appears to assume that she alone is correct; she apparently is insensitive and intolerant. Someone like that is not fit for any job except a political one that demands extreme partisanship. CBS was right to fire her.

#StoptheHate Haley Geftman-Gold!

Posted by: SWL | September 17, 2017

NFL 2017-18: Aaron Rodgers Makes 300th TD Pass

With no fanfare – or celebration afterward – Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers completed his 300th TD pass about six minutes before the end of tonight’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

It only took Rodgers 144 games to hit this milestone, fewer than any QB, including the great Payton Manning.

Unfortunately, five Packers players were injured in the game and the team lost 23-34.

Game Day

Posted by: SWL | September 16, 2017

NCAA 2017: Spectacular Ending to Florida Home-Opener!

The University of Florida Home-opener against Tennessee was pretty slow until the fourth quarter, when the Volunteers managed to mount a comeback to tie the game 20-20 with only a few minutes to go. The major high point up until then for Gator fans was the interception and TD by CJ Henderson early in the fourth.

CBS commentators questioned whether Florida – with the ball – was going to try to win, or just move into overtime. When they failed by inches to get a first down with 33 seconds on the clock, they did not call a time out, seemingly cementing OT. No time out and a lack-luster hustle back to the line of scrimmage had wasted 20 seconds.

Then with 9 seconds remaining, QB Feleipe Franks looked to be in a bit of trouble, evading 2 Tennessee defensemen. But Franks heaved a whopping 63 yard Hail Mary pass that connected with Tyrie Cleveland, who carried it into the end zone. Time had expired and the fans exploded into celebration.

Posted by: SWL | August 15, 2017

Charlottesville Fallout: Reno Student Threatened

A student at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) attended the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, and was identified from a news photograph. Almost immediately he began receiving death threats. UNR received many calls demanding that the administration expel the alt-right student. University officials hit the nail on the head when they said they have no Constitutional or legal authority to expel someone for their political activity.

Many complained that President Trump did not speak against the alt-right soon enough, yet no local officials are speaking out against these threats from the alt-left to this student’s rights to life, free association and free speech.

If the left truly believes in tolerance, diversity and free speech, they must allow this misguided young man and others who have messages the left disagrees with to speak those messages without interference.

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