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Thursday, March 31, 2011

U.S. Military Spending Marches On

With a new Congress with a House controlled by Republicans who have trumpeted deficit reduction as one of their central priorities, it would be logical to expect that there might be trimming in one of the largest and most bloated areas of US government spending: the nation’s $700bn military budget. However, the realities of Washington, DC are different than the rhetoric. While spending for the Iraq war should be decreasing, as planned, in coming years, recently released budget proposals by both Democrats and Republicans show that base levels for Pentagon funding continue to rise.

If you have been following the headlines, you might be under a different impression. The debate over defence cuts has intensified this year, as a wave of Tea Party-backed legislators, including Senators Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), Johnny Isakson (Georgia), Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) and Rand Paul (Kentucky), have insisted that everything will be “on the table” when it comes to reducing government spending. As the Guardian reported, supporters of Paul “jeered and booed the former defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld” at the recent CPAC convention, bringing long-simmering tensions within the Republican party into the open.

So, why isn’t this resulting in a smaller Pentagon budget?

Rank-and-file revolt among conservatives has made some difference. On 16 February, 47 freshman Republicans in the House broke with their party’s leadership and voted to cut funding for an expensive alternative engine for the F-35 fighter jet. This is an item which Defence Secretary Robert Gates has called “an unnecessary and extravagant expense”, but which many veteran lawmakers have nevertheless fought to keep alive. Beyond this, the New York Times reported that Republicans “agreed to include $16bn in military cuts in this year’s spending bill, which is being debated on the floor this week”.

Yet, in truth, such reporting falls for a sleight of hand performed by the department of defence. Much of the discussion of “cutting” the military budget in Washington, DC does not actually amount to cuts, but rather, enacting smaller increases than might have otherwise happened. While the Republican budget for 2011 put forward by Representative Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) gives the Pentagon less than its full request, the funding levels it puts forward would still mean $8bnincrease in the department’s base budget – raising it from $526bn to $533bn. This does not include supplemental funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor does it count money for military expenses – such as nuclear weapons – that fall outside the Pentagon’s remit.

Moreover, the base defence budget is likely to go up even further in 2012, despite administration vows to tighten its belt. Possibly seeking to preempt critics, in early January, Secretary Gates proposed $78bn in spending cuts, and $100bn in cost-saving measures for the Pentagon. His proposed savings, however, are spread out over several years, and are offset by increases in other areas of defence spending. In the end, Gates’s “reduced” budget request for 2012 still comes to $553bn, the largest in real terms since the second world war.

There’s considerable precedent for the failure of elected officials to reduce spending on the military. In early 2009, Gates appeared before Congress to propose cuts to expensive, out-of-date, and behind-schedule weapons programmes, urging members to “rise above parochial interests and consider what is in the best interest of the nation as a whole”. The backlash from lawmakers was immediate. As Reuters reported, “it took just minutes” before a group of senators, including Jeff Sessions (Republican, Alabama), Joe Lieberman (Independent, Connecticut) and Mark Begich (Democrat, Alabama), had penned a letter to President Obama condemning the proposed $1.4bn cut in the missile defence programme, arguing that it would leave the country vulnerable to attack by North Korea.

While politicians in Washington, DC tend to keep their public statements focused on national defence, rather than on preserving jobs in their districts, they are resolute in making sure that military production facilities at home are not on the chopping block. Defence contractors are explicit in making job creation a part of the appeal for continued funding, particularly for embattled weapons systems. In 2009, defence expert William Hartung noted, “As part of its campaign to secure additional funding for the F-22 Raptor combat aircraft, the Lockheed Martin Corporation has asserted that 95,000 jobs are at stake if the programme is terminated after the Pentagon’s preferred production run of 183 planes.” Such campaigns have successfully delayed the phasing-out of pricey weapons systems for years – long after the Pentagon itself has deemed them superfluous.

There’s a peculiar irony here: even as Republicans rail against Obama’s stimulus and reject the prospect of government-supported job programmes, many – including powerful committee heads – hold military employment in their districts as sacrosanct. Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon of California, for instance, attacked White House stimulus spending, arguing, “Congressional Democrats and the administration continue to insist that we can spend our way out of this recession and create jobs, but the numbers just don’t add up.” Yet in 2010 alone, he secured $24.2m in defence earmarks for his district, which includes the city of Palmdale, known as the “aerospace capital of America”, where over 9,000 employees rely on Pentagon largesse for their jobs.

Because contractors, too, are Machiavellian in manipulating Washington politics, commonly spreading production of major weapons systems over dozens of states to safeguard political support, McKeon’s behaviour is hardly the exception.

That Congress is now slowing increases in defence spending can be seen as a small measure of progress. But we should not fool ourselves into believing that our elected officials intend to consider serious cuts to the military as part of their budget debate. Instead, what they have “on the table” is continued expansion of a seemingly insatiable military-industrial complex.

By Mark Engler


Homosexuality Is An Abomination

Lev. 18:22
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it [is] abomination.

Christianity and Homosexuality

The homosexuals and lesbians have gained considerable political and social momentum in America. They have "come out" as the term goes, left their closets, and are knocking on the doors of your homes. Through TV, Radio, Newspapers, and Magazines, they are preaching their doctrine of tolerance, equality, justice, and love. They do not want to be perceived as abnormal or dangerous. They want acceptance and they want you to welcome them with open, loving arms, approving of what they do.

In numerous states in America several bills have been introduced by the pro homosexual politicians to ensure that the practice of homosexuality is a right protected by law. Included in these bills are statements affecting employers, renters, and schools. Even churches would be required to hire a quota of homosexuals with "sensitivity" training courses to be "strongly urged" in various work places. There is even legislation that would make the state pick up the tab for the defense of homosexuality in lawsuits, while requiring the non homosexual side to pay out of his/her pocket.

The Christian church has not stood idle. When it has spoken out against this political immorality, the cry of "separation of church and state" is shouted at the "religious bigots." But when the homosexual community uses political power to control the church, no such cry of bigotry is heard. Political correctness says it is okay for the homosexual community to impose its will upon churches, but not the other way around. Apparently, it isn't politically correct to side with Christians.

What does the Bible say?

The Bible, as God's word, reveals God's moral character and it shapes the morality of the Christian. There have been those who have used the Bible to support homosexuality, taken verses out of context and read into them interpretations that are not there. Quite simply, the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin. Let's look at what it says.

  1. Lev. 18:22, "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."
  2. Lev. 20:13, "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them."
  3. 1 Cor. 6:9-10, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals1, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
  4. Rom. 1:26-28, "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper."

With such clear statements against homosexuality, it is difficult to see how different groups can say the Bible supports homosexuality. But they try by redefining love, marriage, sex, homosexuality, etc. in order to accomplish their goal. But the truth is that God created man and woman, not man and man, or woman and woman. Nevertheless, the Bible is a powerful book, and because it is the homosexuals often try and make the Bible agree with its agenda. But it doesn't work. The Bible does not support homosexuality as we have seen from the scriptures above.

Unlike other sins, this sexual sin has a judgment administered by God Himself: He gives them over to their passions (Rom. 1:26-28). This means that their hearts are allowed to be hardened by their sins. As a result, they can no longer see the error of what they are doing. Without an awareness of their sinfulness, there will be no repentance. Without repentance, there will be no forgiveness. Without forgiveness, there is no salvation.

Finally, with their hardened hearts, they seek to promote their lifestyle in society. This is become more real since homosexuals are gaining strength and forcing those with opposing views into confinement and penalty. So much for fairness. It is okay to demand it for themselves, but they balk at allowing it for those who disagree.

Should homosexuals be allowed to marry one another?

In this politically correct climate that relinquishes morality to the relativistic whims of society, stating that homosexuals should not marry is becoming unpopular. Should a woman be allowed to marry another woman? Should a man be allowed to marry another man? Should they be given legal protection and special rights to practice their homosexuality? No, they should not.

The Bible, of course, condemns homosexuality. It takes no leap of logic to discern that homosexual marriage is also condemned. But our society does not rely on the Bible for its moral truth. Instead, it relies on a humanistic and relativistic moral base upon which it builds its ethical structure.

Homosexuality is not natural. Just look at the male and female bodies. They are obviously designed to couple. The natural design is apparent. It is not natural to couple male with male and female with female. It would be like trying to fit two screws together and to nuts together and then say, "See, its natural for them to go together."

Homosexuals argue that homosexuality is natural since it occurs in the animal world. But this is problematic. It is true that this behavior occurs in the animal kingdom. But, it is also true that we see animals eating their prey alive. We see savagery, cruelty, and extreme brutality. Yet, we do not condone such behavior in our own society. Proponents of the natural order argument as a basis for homosexuality should not pick-and-choose the situations that best fit their agendas. They should be consistent and not compare us to animals. We are not animals. We are made in God's image. Logic says that if homosexuality is natural and acceptable because it exists in the animal world, then it must also be natural and acceptable to eat people alive. But, this is obviously faulty thinking. Therefore, appeal to the practice in the animal world as support for homosexual practice is equally faulty.

Political protection of a sexual practice is ludicrous. I do not believe it is proper to pass laws stating that homosexuals have 'rights.' What about pedophilia or bestiality? These are sexual practices. Should they also be protected by law? If homosexuality is protected by law, why not those as well?

Of course, these brief paragraphs can in no way exhaust the issue of homosexuality's moral equity. But, the family is the basis of our culture. It is the most basic unit. Destroy it and you destroy society and homosexuality is not helping the family.

What should be the Christian's Response to the Homosexual?

Just because someone is a homosexual does not mean that we cannot love him (or her) or pray for him (her). Homosexuality is a sin and like any other sin, it needs to be dealt with in the only way possible. It needs to be laid at the cross and repented of.

Christians should pray for the salvation of the homosexual the same they would any other person in sin. They should treat homosexuals with the same dignity as they would anyone else because, like or not, they are made in the image of God. However, this does not mean that Christians should approve of their sin. Not at all. Christians should not compromise their witness for a politically correct opinion that is shaped by guilt and fear.

In fact the following verses should be kept in mind when dealing with homosexuals.

  • "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person," (Col. 4:5-6).
  • "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith," (1 Tim. 1:5).

You do not win people to the Lord by condemning them and calling them names. This is why God says to speak with wisdom, grace, and love. Let the love of Christ flow through you so that the homosexuals can see true love and turn to Christ instead of away from Him.

Objections Answered

1) If you want to say homosexuality is wrong based on the O.T. laws, then you must still uphold all of the laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

The Old Testament laws are categorized in three groups: the civil, the priestly, and the moral. The civil laws must be understood in the context of a theocracy. Though the Jewish nation in the Old Testament was often headed by a king, it was a theocratic system with the Scriptures as a guide to the nation. Those laws that fall under this category are not applicable today because we are not under a theocracy.

The priestly laws dealing with the Levitical and Aaronic priesthoods, were representative of the future and true High Priest Jesus who offered Himself as a sacrifice on the cross. Since Jesus fulfilled the priestly laws, they are no longer necessary to be followed and are not now applicable.

The moral laws, on the other hand, are not abolished. Because the moral laws are based upon the character of God. Since God's holy character does not change, the moral laws do not change either. Therefore, the moral laws are still in effect.

In the New Testament we do not see a reestablishment of the civil or priestly laws. But we do see a reestablishment of the moral law. This is why we see New Testament condemnation of homosexuality as a sin but not with the associated death penalty.

2) That homosexuality is a sin if committed outside of a loving, committed, relationship. But a committed homosexual relationship is acceptable to God. This is a fallacious argument.

Homosexuality is never defined in the Bible in an acceptable behavior if it were practiced by individuals who had a loving relationship with each other. Homosexuality is always condemned. Homosexual acts are not natural acts and they are against God created order. As stated above in the article, male and female are designed to fit together -- in more ways than one. This is how God made us and he made as this way so that we could carry out his command of filling the earth with people. Homosexuality is an aberration from God's created order and makes it impossible to fulfill the command that God has given mankind.

Whether or not a homosexual couple is committed to each other is irrelevant to the argument since love and feelings do not change moral truths. If a couple, not married to each other but married to someone else, commits adultery yet they are committed to loving each other, their sin is not excused.

If homosexuality is made acceptable because the homosexual couple "loves" each other and are committed to each other, and by that logic we can say that couples of the same sex or even of different sexes who love each other and are committed to each other in a relationship automatically make that relationship morally correct. The problem is that love is used as an excuse to violate scripture. Second, it would mean that such things as pedophilia would be acceptable if the "couple" had a loving and committed relationship to each other. Third, the subjectivity of what it means to "love" and the "committed" to another person can be used to justify almost any sort of behavior.

3) That where homosexuality is mentioned in the Bible it is not how we relate to it in the 21st century. It meant something different to the people in Biblical times and has nothing to do with modern day homosexuality.

The four Scriptures listed above refute this idea. Let's look at what they say and see if there is some misunderstanding? The first scripture in Leviticus says that it is an abomination for a man to lie with another man as he would lie with a woman. Obviously this is referring to sexual relationship and it is condemned. The second scripture in Leviticus says the same thing. The third scripture in 1 Corinthians outright condemns homosexuality. And finally, Romans clearly describes a homosexual act as being indecent.

There is no mistake about it, the view of homosexuality in the Old Testament as well as the New, is a very negative one. It is consistently condemned as being sinful.

Whether or not people of the 21st-century think homosexuality is acceptable or not has absolutely no bearing on whether or not it is sinful before God. God exists and he is the standard of righteousness. Whether or not anyone believes this or believes that morality is a flowing and vague system of development over time, has no bearing on truth. God has condemned homosexuality as a sin in the Bible. It is a sin that needs to be repented of the same as any other sense and the only way to receive this forgiveness is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

4) That the sin of Sodom was actually the sin of inhospitality.

This is a common error made by supporters of homosexuality. The problem is this explanation does not account for the offering of Lott's daughter to the men outside the home, a sinful act indeed, but one that was rejected by the men outside who desired to have relations with the two angels in Lot's home. Gen. 19:5 says, "and they called to Lot and said to him, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.' Those men wanted to have sexual relations with the angels who appeared also as males. Does it make sense to claim that God destroyed two cities because the inhabitants weren't nice to visitors? If that were the case, then shouldn't God destroy every household that is rude to guests? Gen. 18:20 says that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was "exceedingly grave." Not being hospitable to someone has never been considered an exceedingly grave sin, especially in the Bible. But, going against God's created order in violation of his command to fill in multiply the earth in the act of homosexuality, is an exceedingly grave sin. In fact, we know that it is exceedingly grave because in Romans we read about the judgment of God upon the homosexuals in that he gives them over to the depravity of their hearts and minds. This is a serious judgment of God upon the sinner because it means that the sinner will not become convicted of his or her sins and will not then repent. Without repentance there is no salvation and without salvation there is damnation. Therefore, the argument that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because they were not hospitable, carries no validity.

1. The word "homosexual" in the NASB version is the Greek aρσενοκοίτης (arsenokoites). It occurs two times in the New Testament. The KJV translates it as abuser of (ones) self with mankind once, and defile (ones) self with mankind once. 1 one who lies with a male as with a female, sodomite, homosexual. (Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G733). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.)
The 1901 ASV, the KJV, translate it as "abusers of themselves." The NASB and NKJV translate it as "homosexuals." The NIV as "homosexual offenders." The RSV as "sexual perverts."


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CIA Ground Forces Operating in Libya for ‘Several Weeks’

Obama Authorized Aiding Rebels Despite Denial Any Decision Was Made

Already ill-defined and increasingly unpopular, the US War in Libya has taken several more hits today as evidence mounted that the administration has been overtly lying about the US role in the conflict, and had actual been conducting covert operations in the country for “several weeks.”

That was the revelation Wednesday, as US officials admitted that CIA ground forces have been conducting secret operations inside Libya for quite some time before the war was formally declared (two weeks ago Thursday) and even further before the first US strikes were launched (that Saturday).

Not only that, but Reuters revealed that President Obama signed an order authorizing the US to secretly arm Libyan rebels weeks ago. This is particularly noteworthy because only yesterday the president pretended to be “considering” this action, saying no such decision had been made.

In his Monday address President Obama feigned pride over the fact that he got the US involved in the Libyan War within the first month of hostilities, far sooner than President Clinton had in Bosnia. Today’s revelations suggest that the president was committing American resources from the time the protest movement and the crackdown began to escalate into a civil war, and possibly sooner. The president’s already precipitous decision to involve the US in the internal Libyan conflict appears to have been even hastier than ever imagined.

by Jason Ditz, March 30, 2011


Yo Soy Quien Te Levanto

Alfonsina y el Mar (MERCEDES SOSA)