I Have a Dream, Too.

Posted: August 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

Today is the anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I used to write a Bible study column for a Christian motorcycle newsletter and wrote once on the subject of race. Today’s anniversary reminded me of that subject and I decided to dig it up and post it here. Thank you for reading.

Keeping the Faith
by Michael Leffew

I am a “child of the 60’s”, the “peace and love” generation. We were going to be the generation to change the world and change it for the better. One of the things we were going to fix was racism. Racism and prejudice would have no place in our brave, new world.
I remember segregation. I remember “Whites Only” signs at public places. Even though the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in schools was unconstitutional in 1954, it was 1964 before I had a class that was not all white. Anyone who remembers these things must admit that we have, indeed, come a long way from those times, but we’ve still got a way to go, and anyone who looks at it truthfully will have to admit that, also. Maybe my grandchildren’s generation will finally be the ones to put this behind them and go forth to that time when, as Dr. King put it, they can “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Let’s hope so.
OK, this is a Bible study column, so let’s see what the Word has to say about this subject. To start with, we are ALL (according to the Bible) descended from Adam and Eve (Gen 3:20), and, further, descended from Noah (He and his family were all that survived the flood Gen 8:23) and of “one blood” (Acts 17:26) so it follows that we are all related, hence all of the same “race”. What “race” was Adam? The Bible doesn’t say, but the Hebrew root word that is translated “Adam” is the same word that later is translated “Edom” and means “red”. Doesn’t sound like he was a “white” man does it? I hate to shake your beliefs but Jesus was probably not “white” either. But, whatever color someone is, the Bible says there is only one race, so “racism” itself is a ridiculous idea.
Genesis 6:9 says that Noah was “perfect in his generations”. Some, even some so-called religious leaders, have used this to say he was “racially pure”. According to the story of the ark, Noah’s father Lamech and grandfather, Methuselah, were alive at the time Noah entered the ark. If “perfect in his generations” meant racially pure, and this “racial purity” was the reason that he was spared when the rest of the “racially mixed” people of the world were destroyed, explain how his grandfather and father could be racially mixed and he be pure. Yet, they were destroyed in the flood along with the rest of creation. (Methuselah died the day of the flood, but the point is this: if they were “racially pure” and this was the criteria for being spared, why were they not spared? And if they were not “pure” how could the younger generation, Noah, be “pure”?)
There are many verses that have been used over the years to justify a position against “mixing races” that when examined will prove to be not about racial mixing at all, but about mixing believers and nonbelievers. Exodus 34:10-16 and Deuteronomy 7:1-6 both prohibit the Israelite’s mixing with the peoples that were in the land before them, but they are clearly for religious, not racial reasons. In the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 6:14 commands us not to be unequally yoked, but again, this is talking about believers being yoked with unbelievers.
Moses was one of the greatest heroes of the Bible, so important that at the transfiguration he appeared with Elijah and Jesus. Moses, according to the Bible, married a black woman. That’s right, she was an Ethiopian, an African. Another Ethiopian, this time the Ethiopian eunuch, was one of the first converts to Christianity when Phillip (Acts 8:26-40) baptized him on the road.
Jesus’ parable about the good Samaritan is a study in how we are to act toward others (Luke 10:30-37). Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well is his example of how to treat others. His disciples would not have even talked with this woman, she was, one, a woman and, two, a Samaritan, both of which, they felt, put her “below” them (John 4:9-42). Jesus, however, did not treat her as if she were an inferior.
There are many more examples in the Bible concerning this topic, but the bottom line is we are all created in God’s image and to somehow consider someone inferior because of how He created them is to insult God!
What does the Word say about how we are to treat one another in regards to “race”? 1 Samuel 16:7 says God looks at the heart while man looks at the outward appearance. We should try to be more like God. And, finally this, Galatians 3:28 says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Vaya con Dios
Michael Leffew

Scriptural References:
Gen 3:20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.(italics added)
Gen 7:23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark. (Italics added)
Ex 34:10 Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD , will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD , whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices. 16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.
Leviticus 19:18…. thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Deuteronomy 7:1 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;2 And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.5 But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.6 For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
Luke 10:30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
John 4:9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
Acts 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

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Baseball Predictions, 2013

Posted: March 31, 2013 in sports, Uncategorized

OK, the season starts tonight with a game between the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros. No, it’s not inter-league on opening day, the ‘Stros have moved to the American league. This move balances (as far a numbers, anyway) the leagues giving each league three divisions and each division five teams. I guess that makes sense, but I don’t know why Milwaukee, which USE TO BE in the AL couldn’t move back instead of Tejas having two AL teams, but then I’m not the commissioner.
Anyhow, I wanted to get my picks on record before the season starts, so here we go:
American League
1. AL East–Seems like everyone is picking the Blue Jays, but if you know me at all you know I’m a Yankees fan. I can’t pick against the bombers, so I’m saying Yankees win the east.
2. AL Central–Got to go with the Tigers and Verlander.
3. AL West–I missed last year by picking the Angels, but I’m going with them again.
4. AL Wild Cards — Baltimore O’s and Tampa Rays.
Pennant goes to the Tigers (but I’m pulling for NY)
National League
1. NL East — Got to go with the Washington Nationals.
2. NL Central — Cincy Reds
3. NL West — LA Dodgers (go Don Mattingly!)
4. NL Wild Cards — Atlanta Braves and SF Giants
Pennant goes to the Nationals
I’m picking the Nationals to win it all. Series in 6 games.

OK, there’s my picks. Time will tell.

Sometimes it is easier to get the correct picture if you actually look at pictures. Here are a few graphic representations of the draconian cuts the evil sequester is forcing on us.

 

Difference in spending with and without the sequester.

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A graphic look at the HUGE cuts.

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Another look at “catastrophic” cuts.

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Again, spending with and without.

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The defense spending will actually increase.

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As will spending overall.

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Yet another look at those awful cuts.

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And one of my personal favorites, a “pie” chart.

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I hope this helps you get a good look at the sequester.

Vaya con Dios,

MBL

I just sent the note below to both of my Senators and to my Congressman. Everybody complains, but if you don’t tell it to someone who can make a difference, it’s just hot air.  Not that being someone who can make a difference will translate into someone who WILL make a difference, but if you don’t tell them, then don’t complain when they ignore you.

To the honorable senators Hagan(D NC) and Burr(R NC) and congressman Coble(R NC);

This message is just to give you a “head’s up” as they say. I believe firmly in the second amendment to the constitution and, further, believe that it insures that an INDIVIDUAL’s right to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED. I believe that the original purpose of this amendment was to allow the citizens of the United States to have an opportunity to resist or oppose any attempt by the government to suppress their rights. The country had just been through a war with Britain over a tyrannical government’s attempts to run roughshod over the populace and I believe that this, and not “hunter’s rights” or “sportsmen’s rights” is the reason for this amendment.
In addition to stating my position on this issue, this message is also to warn you that I will NOT vote for anyone, of either party, who votes to diminish the second amendment in ANY manner. Which part of “shall not be infringed” is so hard to understand?

Sincerely,
Michael Leffew
Mayodan, NC

First thought, taxes—proposed tax policies

1. Income tax (ordinary, individual income tax)

a. Current Rates                   b. Obama Proposed Rates            c. Romney Proposed Rates
10%                                                             10% (same)                                        8% (-2)
15                                                                 15 (same)                                         12 (-3)
25                                                                25 (same)                                         20 (-5)
28                                                                28 (same3)                                   22.4 (-5.6)
33                                                                36 (+3)                                          26.4 (-6.6)
35                                                           39.6 (+4.6)                                           28 (-7)

2. Capital Gains, Interest, Investments

a. Current rates:

Certain qualified dividends are currently taxed at capital gains rates, which are zero percent for taxpayers in the 10 percent and 15 percent tax brackets and 15 percent for all other taxpayers.

General interest earnings, i.e., on such investments as CDs, are taxed at ordinary tax rates.

Carried interest, i.e., the share of profits that private equity and hedge fund partners receive as compensation, is taxed at capital gains rates.

b. Obama’s Proposed:

Increase capital gains tax rate to 20 percent on high-earners. Impose the so-called Buffett rule, i.e., a minimum 30 percent tax on high-earners.

Dividends taxed as ordinary income for individuals with adjusted gross income of $200,000 ($250,000 for married couples filing jointly).

Carried interest taxed as ordinary income.

c. Romney’s Proposed:

Eliminate taxes on investment income for taxpayers with adjusted gross income of less than $200,000. Retain 15 percent tax on interest, dividends and capital gains for all other taxpayers.

3. Estate Tax

a. Current Rates:

Currently, estates worth up to $5.12 million are not taxed, with estates worth more than that taxed at 35 percent.

b. Obama’s Proposed:
Exempt estates worth up to $3.5 million and increase estate tax rate to 45 percent.

c. Romney’s Proposed:
Repeal estate tax permanently. This would enable estates worth any amount to pass from one party to the next with no tax.

The above is from bankrate.com and can be found at link here:
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/tax-proposals-obama-vs-romney.aspx

My two cents:

1. Income tax: I am so tired of this “tax the rich” and “make the rich pay their fair share” crap. I am far from rich, so I have no personal stake in this, but if you would do the research you would see that “the rich” are ALREADY paying a much larger percentage. Change you slogan to “sock it to the rich” and be honest about it, please. “Fair” does not mean “more”. Obama’s plans increase the rates on upper earners, Romney’s drops the rates on everybody, which is better than Obama’s plan but does NOT go far enough.  I am of the opinion that the entire system needs to be scrapped and replaced with a consumer type tax, but that is for another blog.

2. Estate tax: I don’t care if you are one of the “tax the rich” or “make the rich pay their fair share” clowns; there is no way you can seriously think there is anything FAIR (if you really THINK about it and you know the definition of the word “FAIR”) about the system as it is, let alone as Obama wants to change it. Someone works their lifetime to build something, paying income taxes on all they make along the way and sales taxes on all that they buy along the way as well as property taxes on all that they possess with the idea of passing this on to their descendents when they depart this life only to have the government, which taxed them their entire life, take 35 percent (or 45 percent proposed) when they die. Do you see anything FAIR about this? If so, you don’t know what FAIR means.

2. Second thought, retired military top officers overwhelmingly back Romney over Obama, despite recent news stories about Colin Powell’s endorsement. See link

http://godfatherpolitics.com/7881/retired-military-overwhelming-endorses-mitt-romney/

My two cents: Who better than retired senior officers to decide who would be a better commander in chief?

3. Third thought, likeability:

While 22 percent of Romney voters say they are backing him because they dislike the president, only 7 percent are backing Mr. Obama because they dislike Romney. CBS News

My two cents: A lot more voting AGAINST Obama should be something to think about.

Thanks for reading, please keep thinking.

Vaya Con Dios,

MBL

Trust Matters, Doesn’t It?

Posted: October 25, 2012 in political

How “trustworthy” has President Obama been? He said in a speech yesterday that trust matters.

“And we joke about Romnesia, but all of this speaks to something that’s really important and that is the issue of trust. There’s no more serious issue on a presidential campaign than trust. Trust matters. And here’s the thing, Iowa, you know me. You know — you know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say” President Obama, speech in Iowa, 24 October 2012
So, how trustworthy has he been?
Let’s take a quick look:
1. (ABC News, Feb 13,2012) “This is big,” wrote White House director of new media Macon Phillips in a February 23, 2009 blog post, ”the President today promised that by the end of his first term, he will cut in half the massive federal deficit we’ve inherited. And we’ll do it in a new way: honestly and candidly.”
Indeed, President Obama did make that promise that day, saying, “today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office. This will not be easy. It will require us to make difficult decisions and face challenges we’ve long neglected. But I refuse to leave our children with a debt that they cannot repay — and that means taking responsibility right now, in this administration, for getting our spending under control.”
The 2013 budget the president submitted today does not come close to meeting this promise of being reduced to $650 billion for fiscal year 2013.
2. (Newsherald.com) President Obama promised to televise meetings about health care. He said he would have doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, insurance companies and drug companies there and would televise the negotiations on C-SPAN. That didn’t happen. All those discussions with drug companies, insurance companies and other special-interest groups were held behind closed doors.
3. (Politifact) “Barack Obama is committed to returning earmarks to less than $7.8 billion a year, the level they were at before 1994.”
The final numbers are in, and as expected President Barack Obama was unable to keep his promise to hold earmarks to less than $7.8 billion a year, the level they were at before 1994.
4. (PolitiFact) “Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes,” Obama said.
The health care law that Obama signed on March 23, 2010, raises taxes on some things regardless of income. Two taxes in particular stand out. A tax on indoor tanning services begins this year. And in 2014, people will have to pay a fine, levied through their income taxes, if they don’t have health insurance.
5. “I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.”
A report by the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan budget scorekeeper for Congress, said premiums would barely change for anyone who currently has employer-based health care coverage. For individuals and families that do not get health care through an employer, premiums would go up, with the average premium per policy for families increasing by $2,100.

He also promised to increase the space program and launch a manned flight to the moon, instead he closed NASA and scraped the Constellation program (the replacement for the shuttle).
Hey, this was just a real quick look, PolitiFact.com had five pages of broken promises, some of which I’m glad he didn’t keep, like cap and trade legislation, on demand abortion, and others, but the point is, he is the one who is saying “trust matters”. And he is also the one who will not release his college records or his passport while his surrogates are screaming about Romney’s tax records.
I ain’t telling you who to vote for,  just saying please think about it.

Vaya con Dios,
MBL

Comparing the Platforms

Posted: September 5, 2012 in political

(Republican National Platform for 2012 vs. Democratic National Platform for 2012)

I have read through the platforms, as the parties posted them, and comment here on a few differences.

Italics are my comments. ML

1. Taxes

GOP

“To that end, we propose to: Extend the 2001 and 2003 tax relief
packages—commonly known as the Bush tax cuts—pending reform of the tax code, to keep tax rates from rising on income, interest, dividends, and capital gains;
Reform the tax code by reducing marginal tax rates by 20 percent across-the-board in a
revenue-neutral manner; Eliminate the taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains altogether for lower and middle-income taxpayers; End the Death Tax; and
Repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax.”

Democrats

Cutting Waste, Reducing the Deficit, Asking All to Pay Their Fair Share

Under this section title are six paragraphs. Each one has at least one sentence about “tax cuts for the wealthy millionaires” and “everybody should pay their fair share”.

This is typical class warfare (in my opinion) and I am tired of hearing it. If you took EVERYTHING, (A FULL 100% OF IT) from those who make over $1 million it would not put a dent in the problem. If you really want FAIRNESS, reform the tax code and make it a flat tax. Just as an example say 7%. (I think that if you do away with ALL the freakin’ loopholes it could be less, but let’s use 7%) If I make $50K, 7 % would be $3500 and if you make $50 Million, 7% would be $3,500,000 and if you are only working part time and only make $5K, your tax would be $350. Now the democrats would yell, “That’s not FAIR, the lower income guy can’t afford $350”. But the TRUTH is, it doesn’t get any fairer than that. FAIRNESS is NOT what the democrats are after. ML

2. Spending

GOP

“We can preempt the debt explosion. Backed by a Republican Senate and House, our next President will propose immediate reductions in federal spending,
as a down payment on the much larger task of long-range fiscal control. We suggest a tripartite test for every federal activity.
First, is it within the constitutional scope of the federal government?
Second, is it effective and absolutely necessary?
And third, is it sufficiently important to justify borrowing, especially
foreign borrowing, to fund it?
Against those standards we will measure programs from international
population control to California’s federally subsidized high-speed train to nowhere, and terminate programs that don’t measure up.”

Democrats

The democrats call spending “investing”. I was going to count how many times they used the words invest, investment and investing in their platform, but I gave up when I hit 50 and wasn’t half way through yet. There are a couple of different ways of looking at spending and, to be fair, some economists think you can spend your way out of a recession. This is one of the fundamental differences between the parties. But I am of the belief that you don’t get out of a hole by continuing to dig. ML

3. Budget

GOP

“Republican Members of Congress have repeatedly tried to reform the budget process to make it more transparent and accountable, in particular by voting for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, following the lead of 33 States which have put that restraint into their own constitutions. We call for a Constitutional amendment requiring a super-majority for any tax increase with exceptions for only war and national emergencies, and imposing a cap limiting spending to the historical average percentage of GDP so that future Congresses cannot balance the budget by raising taxes.”

The “super majority” amendment falls short of a balanced budget amendment, which I think we need.  ML

Democrats

Despite the importance of this issue, the democrat platform has nothing on what they would do for a budget. If you do a search for the word “budget” most of the times that it turns up is as an attack on their description of a Republican budget.
The Democratically controlled Senate has not passed a budget in three years. Need I say more? ML

4. The Electoral College

GOP

“We oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact or any other scheme to abolish or distort the procedures of the Electoral College. We recognize
that an unconstitutional effort to impose “national popular vote” would be a mortal threat to our federal system and a guarantee of corruption as every ballot box in every state would become a chance to steal the presidency.”

I disagree with this point. The president is running for the office of President of the US, not President of Ohio (or Florida or whatever state). For example, in 2008 my home state of NC voted 2,128,474 for McCain and 2,142,651 for Obama. That should have been counted, in my opinion, as over 2.1 million votes each instead of 15 electoral votes for Obama and none for McCain. There was a need for the Electoral College when it was established, but we are not so much a collection of individual states any longer, we are a nation. One vote should be one vote, whether one lives in New York, California, or Wyoming. If we do away with this antiquated system, we don’t have to hear the same old crap every year about “it’s going to come down to whoever wins (Ohio, Florida, insert state name here)”. ML

Democrats
Democrats don’t mention the Electoral College in their platform, but rest assured they don’t want to change the system either. Both parties have invested t0o much time and energy into learning to work the system and neither wants to change it.

Same problem from both parties in regard to candidates that are not from either of the two major parties. ML

5. Energy

GOP

‘Domestic Energy Independence:
An “All of the Above” Energy Policy’

Democrats—

“All-of-the-Above Energy Policy”

Both parties talk a good game in the energy department. Both mention energy independence, but democrats stop short of: 1) using more coal, 2) building more nuclear power plants, and, mainly, 3) drilling for more domestic oil. Don’t get me wrong, wind and solar, even geo-thermal and other alternative energies are great, let’s do all we can to use them, but they are not going to replace fossil fuels any time soon, so let’s be realistic. ML

These are just a few of the differences that a quick glance uncovered. You can go online and find the platforms for yourself, and I hope you do. In closing I would like to quote from the Democratic platform:

“This election is not simply a choice between two candidates or two political parties, but between two fundamentally different paths for our country and our families.”

I could not agree more.

Vaya Con Dios,
Michael Leffew