All posts by Joe May

In the August 11 edition of The Standard…

*Gurdon football player collapses, dies following practice

*Authorities search for man and boy lost in woods; man cited for endangering the welfare of a child

*Amity receives $125,000 highway enhancement grant

*Storms, wildfires batter area

*Editorial: While America burns, Obama does the electric slide

While America burns, Obama does the electric slide

 

As the story goes, while Rome was burning, Nero fiddled.

History will record that while America went bankrupt, Barack Obama did the electric slide.

In what Fox News infamously referred to as Obama’s “Hip-Hop Birthday Bash” in Chicago, the president celebrated his 50th birthday with the usual plethora of stars that have been common to the presidency since the days of the Clinton White House. Ironically, Standard & Poor’s would choose that very evening to announce to the world that it had downgraded America’s AAA credit rating to AA+.

Talk about lousy timing for President Hoover… oops… Obama. Happy birthday, sir.

The US avoided going into default on its loans, but now it finds itself with a poor credit rating. And to make matters worse, its number one creditor China started Saturday off by sharply chastising the nation, telling us that “the good old days” of borrowing money from them are over.

On the positive side, though, France said they thought we might recover quite well from this crisis.

Not since the days of Herbert Hoover has an America president presided over such a poor economy. However, to be fair, Barack Obama is not totally responsible for the mess we now find ourselves in.

We are hardly economic experts, but we personally trace America’s economic problems back to the Clinton days. First, though, we should note that Bill Clinton balanced the budget, which was no small feat even back in those days.

Under Clinton, the economy was largely good, be it the result of Bush the Elder’s policies or Clinton’s own efforts. But it didn’t remain that way. Somewhere along in the last days of the Clinton presidency, gas prices began edging upward, though few thought much of it at the time.

Housing under Clinton was booming, thanks in part to his insistance that government programs and banks begin loaning more money to those in the lower income brackets. On the surface, that sounded good. What’s not to love about a robust housing market and people becoming first-time home buyers who might not have ever been able to own a home?

Well, for starters, how about the fact that far too many of the people who received these loans were unable to pay them back? The resulting fallout, as we all know now, triggered the current recession (that the government claims is over) and resulted in Obama being elected in a landslide over GOP candidate Sen. John McCain, who was leading until the economic crisis hit in October 2008.

So it could be said that a sense of social justice has gotten us where we are in with the American debt crisis. But, again, in fairness, it doesn’t end there. President George W. Bush did try his best to warn the nation about the dangers of Freddie Mae and Fannie Mac’s bad loans, which is a plus for him. However, at the same time, he never vetoed a single spending bill that crossed his desk and he allowed the debt ceiling to be raised twice during his two terms.

And then there is the problem of those two wars that sprang up during his term. Unlike some, we are unwilling to say Bush lied to get us into a war; rather, we tend to believe he simply followed the advice of others that seemed wise at the time. However, the out-of-control spending during those wars certainly did not help our nation’s economy.

Enter Sen. Obama to the White House in January 2009. He inherited a faltering economy and a fractured nation. There were visions that he would act in a manner reminiscent of both Lincoln and FDR in piecing both the country and the economy back together. It seemed that BHO could do no wrong in those first few months as the nation held its breath to see if the new president’s policies would restore economic order.

With a message of “hope and change,” Obama promised the nation that good times were ahead. Three years later, it seems hope is gone and far too many people are left with only change in their pockets. Somewhere along the way, the little president that could became the president that simply didn’t.

Following in his predecessor’s footsteps, Obama issued bailouts to major companies, taking a large ownership in General Motors for a bit. America looked on in shock when he ordered the CEO to step down and be replaced with a government lackey. But, the nation didn’t say much. After all, we wanted the economy restored.

For a bit it looked like Obama might be able to prop up the failing economy. However, though, along the way, he began to lose sight of the economy and set his sights on making America into one huge social experiment.

Homosexual groups were pandered to by the passage of a hate-crimes bill. Strange-sex marriages became the order of the day and the military stopped banning openly homosexual soldiers from its ranks. Healthcare legislation was passed in the wee hours of the night despite a huge outcry from the American pubic.

Huge spending increases became the order of the day as the so-called stimulus package was passed. A few roadways were fixed and educational institutions received some benefits, but so did homosexual South African men who were given a grant to teach them how to wash their genitals after sex. Chinese brothel workers also received funds to teach them about proper hygiene. Americans were stimulated, alright; they were angered by the irresponsibility of it all as Congress and the White House patiently explained that they were spending their way out of debt.

Foreign governments were often the beneficiary of America’s funds. The government would borrow the money from China and then dole it out across the globe. Pakistan, who likely sheltered Osama bin ladin, was the recipient of many billions. It’s likely they used our own money against us. And guess what? They’re still receiving a check from you and me to this day.

And so, now, we find ourselves sheepishly looking at the floor as the Chinese government lectures us on our ineptness and suggests that a panel of international observers began taking over American finances. Throughout the nation, a myriad of former presidents are spinning in their graves. It’s not a good day for America.

Just what the lowered rating will mean for you and me remains to be seen.

First, it should be an embarrassment to all Americans. The top financial rating center in the world has informed the global community that the United States is a huge liability and could possibly be unable to pay off its debts in full.

It’s a bit like pulling back the curtain and finding there is no wizard at all, but rather an inept little man bent on shaping the nation in his own European mindset regardless of national or even personal consequences. Because of liberal policies, partisan bickering and an unqualified leader, the United States has been humiliated in front of the entire world.

Secondly, it has been said that the rating decrease will mean you and I may well pay out more in interest on our personal loans. It’s even been theorized that we could enter into a double-dip recession or even worse, a second Great Depression.

The short-term solution is to vote Barack Hoover Obama out of office next year and end the mindless spending. Even the least educated among us understands that one simply cannot continue spending like a drunken sailor in the midst of a financial melt-down.

Even Herbert Hoover knew that. And he never got us lectured by the Chinese.

Barack Obama: A failed president whose legacy has now surpassed that of Jimmy Carter and Herbert Hoover.

In the July 28 version of The Standard…

We’re coming out a day early, so find your hometown newspaper on the stands Wednesday!

*Glenwood businessman charged in shooting

*Amity trailer destroyed by fire.

*Second-degree murder charges filed against Malcom

*Liquor store permits awarded; go to Arkadelphia, Caddo Valley and Gurdon.

*Arkansas State Police investigate HSC Sheriff Chad Lebetter’s purchase/sale of a vehicle

*Centerpoint sports by Verlin Price

*Editorial:  A “Confederate Solution” to the debt problem?

A “Confederate Solution” to the debt problem?

   To raise or not to raise the debt ceiling?  At present that is the question we are being confronted with each time we tune into any kind of media.

  But what does it all mean?  Let’s see what we can learn without throwing mind-numbing figures around.

  In a nutshell, the federal government is spending like the proverbial drunken sailor on shore leave.  While this isn’t anything new, what has changed is the rate at which this has been happening. Over the last decade, we’ve seen the sprawling spread of beaurocracy, more agencies to control you and me.  Paying for these agencies hasn’t helped the national debt at all.

  Regardless of who may be at fault, we’ve been borrowing unfathomable amount of money from China and other nations and then doling it out in foreign aid to counties and peoples that in actuality, despise us.  At home, we are pouring money into entitlement programs both for those who need it and for those who simply refuse to work.

  And as a result of this out-of-control spending, we have reached an impasse.   According to our own self-imposed rules, we have borrowed all the money we can borrow unless and until we raise the limit, which is known as the debt ceiling.

  Raising the debt ceiling is not anything new.  At least twice during the administration of George W. Bush, the limit was raised.

  So why is this anything new?

  Again, trying to keep the issue simple, this time is different because unlike other presidents, Barack Obama has been spending money at an alarming rate, at a rate millions of times higher than any other chief executive.  And he doesn’t appear inclined to slow down, either.

  It is this issue that has alarmed conservatives and others who are reading the handwriting on the wall that is pointing towards a national collapse, a bankruptcy of epic proportions.  Rather than raise the debt ceiling, many on the right are advocating a cut in spending.  On the left, liberals are crying racism and claiming not to understand why anyone wouldn’t simply vote to raise the debt ceiling.

  So what is the answer?

  First, in the short-term, the debt ceiling simply must be raised.  But we cannot hand a blank check to the executive branch, or anyone else for that matter, to continue spending at a mind-numbing rate.

  The alternative to keeping the debt ceiling at its present rate is to radically cut spending. We like the idea, but it would be well nigh impossible to cut the necessary amount and keep our fragile economy from faltering.  With nearly double-digit employment, great care must be exercised in all matters economic.

  Secondly, spending simply must be cut.  The saying is that charity begins at home.  We must halt a goodly percentage of foreign aid.  The nation of Pakistan would be a good place to start.  For a decade, they used our money and sheltered Osama bin Laden.  Cut ‘em off.

  At home, it’s time to cut funds to those who will not work.  We’ve no problems with helping those who cannot help themselves.  Those who have spent their adult lives working and cannot find a job at the present time should also be supported until our economy returns to its former state.  But those who are simply drawing a check and have the ability to work simply must be weaned off the national teat.

  The rallying cry of the left is to raise taxes on the wealthy.  On the surface, that sounds like a great idea.  Let’s soak the rich; they have so much money, they’ll surely never miss some of it, right?

  Sadly, it doesn’t work that way.  Both sides want to stimulate the economy so as to bring about more jobs.  What segment of the population is likely to give rise to these new positions?

  If we tax the wealthy, the federal government will reap more money, but we will also watch the economy shrink even further as the wealthy quite naturally find ways to absorb the new taxes.  So it is that if we attempt to make money by taxing the rich, we will hamper any economic recovery plans.

  If this nation is to be salvaged—something we’re not so sure will ever happen at this point—we must come up with a lasting solution to our financial situation.   We favor something we call the “Confederate Solution.”

  No, we’re not talking about soldiers in gray singing “Dixie” while waving rebel flags.  Nor are we talking about the secession of certain states from the Union, although losing some of our northernmost localities wouldn’t terribly hurt our feelings. Rather, we favor a return to the values of the Founding Fathers, who began this nation as a confederacy and then, with the writing of the current constitution, transformed it into a republic.

  The Confederate Solution would return powers to the states rather than vesting all power in the federal government.  It is a fact that the various regions of this nation do not share the same values and as such, should not be treated the same.  By allowing states to make and enforce their own laws apart from each other and therefore keep most of the money at home, we would see a renewing of America.  Liberal states could have cradle to grave entitlement programs if they so choose.  Those with a more conservative bent could have programs that favored putting their citizens to work.

  Those who are argue that such a system could simply not work have only to go back 150 years in history and understand that until President Lincoln began consolidating power during the war, this was how our nation operated.  In fact, a cursory reading of the Constitution shows that is how the United States was intended to be administered.

  At any rate, we’ve seen that allowing the nation to be controlled from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been a dismal failure to the past 150 years.  Liberal or conservative, that much is something upon which we can all agree.

In the July 21 edition of The Standard…

*Man kills brother, then shoots himself

*Intoxicated woman arrested with stolen items in Glenwood

*Celebrating 100 Years:  Mary Bardwell marks a century of living

*McDonald’s opens in Glenwood

*Local man killed in accident near DeGray Lake

*Editorial: What price for a child?

*Amity council formally lowers Alpine water rate, passes burn ban ordinance

Lord’s Day thoughts: Saved like the thief on the cross?

 32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[c] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.  35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”  36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”  38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[d]43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

  The story of the thief on the cross as found in Luke 23:32-43 is a familiar one to most Christians.  However, it is a story that is often misinterpreted.   Let us take a moment and examine exactly what we are to take away from this narrative.

  Jesus, the Messiah, the Promised Son of God, is being crucified in accordance with prophecy. He lived and died a sinless life, faithful to the Law of Moses in every possible way.  The sect of the Pharisees found Him to be contemptable because He kept the Law only and rejected their additions to it that often nullified the original intent of the Father’s degree. It was for this rejection of the sects’ ideas that He was ultimately led to the cross.

   As Dr. Luke records, there were two others being crucified that day by the Roman authorities.  Two criminals, who were convicted as lawbreakers were also sentenced to die alongside the Master Teacher.

  Our text says that one of the criminals mocked the Savior, hurling insults at Him and demanding that if He were really God’s Son, He would save them.  The other thief was more humble and rebuked the first man, saying, “Don’t you fear God since you are under the same sentence?”

  Did this thief know Jesus?  Had he possibly, despite his criminal behavior, been part of the crowds that had heard Him speak?  Our text does not tell us anything more than the fact that the criminal understood Jesus to be a righteous Man, possibly even the Savior of mankind, for we hear him express the desire to be remembered when Jesus came into His kingdom.

  The gentle answer of the Master is a familiar one to us today.

  “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

  The thief may not have fully understood the ramifications of what he was saying, but Jesus, who could discern the heart, knew his faith and reassured him that he would be going to Paradise in a short while.

   First of all, let us answer the question, “Why did the thief get what appears to be a free ride to Heaven?”

  The easiest answer is because the Son of God said so!  Who is going to argue with the Savior?

  But a fuller explanation is demanded.  Therefore, let us ask just who this thief was, or rather, of what nationality was he?  Likely, he was of Jewish descent and therefore would be familiar with the Law of Moses, even if he had strayed from the way.  As such, he was of the chosen people. 

  With this thought in mind, can we say with full assurance that this thief was given a place in Paradise that he did not merit?  After all, had he gotten his life straight before his death, could he not have easily be a candidate for Paradise? 

  In other words, could Jesus have simply been reassuring a dying man that his eternal abode was to be Paradise because he had already made his preparations by repenting?   Sure, it ruins a good story, but the possibility is there and it can’t be ruled out.

   But for the sake of argument, let us assume that this condemned man was given a heavenly slot that he did not merit in any manner whatsoever.  For his simple faith, he was given a home in Paradise.

  How many people did Jesus say were to accompany Him to Paradise that day?  Our text only reveals that one thief was going.   No one else was invited that day.

  The phrase, “I’m saved just like the thief on the cross,” is heard in many places today. If one is saying that their salvation can be as assured as that of the dying thief, then we have no problem with it that. (I John 5:13).  However, if one is saying that someone can be saved in the same manner as was the thief, then we must register our objection, for the text simply will not allow this interpretation.

   We recall the events that occurred in the aftermath of Jesus’ death.  Recall that the sky darkened and there was an earthquake that opened the tombs and even allowed the dead to arise and roam around the city.  (Matt. 27:53)  Another event that may not have registered in many minds is that the veil in the temple that separated the Holy of Holies was torn in two.  (Matt. 27:51)

  The tearing of the veil signified that a change of covenants was coming. Jesus lived and died on this earth as a faithful Jew. As we all know, we are today under a law of grace and truth.  The Law of Moses was fulfilled, with Christ being the final sacrifice for sin.

   The salvation of the thief on the cross, therefore, took place not during the Christian age, but rather during the last days of the Law of Moses.  The thief, however he might have been saved, was saved during the time of the Mosical system.

  With the formal establishment of the church and the empowering of it on the Day of Pentecost some fifty days following the crucifixion, a new system of salvation was ushered in.  No more would just being a circumcised Jew be grounds for salvation.  In the establishment of the church, as predicted throughout the Old Testament, all nations could find salvation.  God’s chosen people, His spiritual Israel, is today anyone who will obey the Lord.

  Being saved like the thief on the cross, therefore, is to ask God to cut us a special deal.  Some people, though,  like to think that they can be saved differently than others.  The old song from the 1970s, “Me and Jesus,” speaks of this concept, which is found nowhere in the Bible and must therefore be rejected as false.

  So how is man saved today if he is not saved in the same manner as the thief?

  A bible question merits a bible answer.  In Acts 2, Peter took his stand with the eleven following the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Preaching what would be the first sermon in the promised church, Peter convicted his listeners on that Sunday morning of having killed the Son of God and the text records that they were pricked to the heart and cried out (Acts 2:37) saying, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

  The implication is, “Peter, how do we save ourselves from this?  The Messiah was right here among us and we killed Him?  How can we possibly atone for this?”

  Likely, the Pentecost crowd expected Peter to scoff and say, “You can’t do anything!  You blew it.”  Or perhaps they thought they would be required to make a sacrifice or give up all they owned.  Surely, something great would be required to atone for having killed God’s Own Son!

  But instead, Peter simply replied in Acts 2:38, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

   Now some have stated that is admonition was simply for those on Pentecost and has no bearing on us today.  They might be right had Peter not continued on in the next verse (39) by saying, “For this promise is unto you, your children, for those who are far off, for as many as the Lord our God may all unto Himself.”

  So Peter says the promise of salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit is for four groups of people:  1. Those in his audience  2. Their descendants 3. Those in other places and, 4. As many as may be called unto God.

  That last part of verse 39 answers our question.  “…for as many as the Lord our God may call unto Himself.”  Who is called unto God but Christians?

  Peter is telling us that if we are to be born again, to be considered Christians, children of God, we must repent and be baptized for the remission of our sins and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

  As we read through the Acts of the Apostles, or as one commentator termed it, “The Doings and the Happenings of the Apostles,” we see several cases of salvation and we begin to learn more fully of what is required of us as it pertains to coming into contact with the saving blood.

  We must first and foremost have faith– “believe with all your heart” (Acts 8:37), repent of our sins and confess Jesus as Lord (Acts 2:38, Acts 8:37), be immersed in water for the one-time cleansing in the blood of Jesus (Acts 2:38-39, Acts 22:16,  Gal. 3:27)  and then live a faithful life (Rev. 2:10).

  As with many things, we cannot always believe what we hear.  Be it the latest news an urban legend or the Word of God, it is always best to investigate the matter for ourselves. Only by exploring can we get at the truth of the matter.

  Questions?  Comments?  They’re always welcome!

Don’t print that! Thoughts on a hot Saturday morning

  “Where did you get your facts for that article?”

  To anyone in the news business, that question is usually comes right before someone gets ready to launch into a tirade about our alleged poor fact checking.  About how terribly wrong we were in some news article.  Nine times out of ten, it turns out that the subject simply didn’t want certain facts in the story to come out and they’re now ready to do war with the messenger.

  That question came to mind this morning as I was reading about the sudden demise of one of Great Britain’s newspapers, the 168-year-old News of the World.  Owner Rupert Murdoch, who also owns several American properties, including the Wall Street Journal, shut the tabloid-sized newspaper down following revelations that staffers had been obtaining information by hacking into text messages and other media.  The accounts of as many as 4,000 people—some of them deceased children—have been hacked according to news reports.

  Disgusting.

  The Fourth Estate across the pond, as many who follow international news may have already surmised, is quite different.  From printing sexually graphic reports to sleazy gossip, it seems the English press will go to great lengths to print anything.

  If you thought it was bad in American journalism, you ain’t seen nothing until you see what our friends in Europe consider news.  Let’s just say in that part of the world, one has to keep the newspapers put up from children.

  Reports of these so-called journalists spying on people and hacking into various social media accounts reflect poorly on all of us media types.  However, given the Fourth Estate’s already poor reputation worldwide, we predict that this event will not cause any great damage to a profession that has already been cast in a poor light for some time.

  Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t share a tidbit of gossip and then turn around and say, “But don’t print that.”  Even at church, well-intentioned folks have turned to us in a crowd and admonished us, “But you can’t print that.”

   Anyone in the news business can tell such stories about the public’s reaction to one who makes his or her living in the realm of the media.

  It would seem that the public believes media types to be children in need of guidance.  Why else would someone feel the need to constantly remind us about basic human behavior?

  We can’t speak for our counterparts in the big-time spotlight, but us small-timers are just plain folks like everyone else.  Some of us have formal education in our chosen profession and others of us just fell into it and found out we weren’t half bad at it.

  In the small-town news game, chances are the local newspaper staff—sometimes the staff is just one person—knows nearly everyone in town.  The idea of hacking into someone’s computer or their cell phone would be anathema.  So also would be the idea of printing salacious tidbits that could only damage the very people we depend on to purchase our product and supply us with news items.

  Some years ago, I started a second small-town weekly newspaper.  When managing two papers became too much for me, I sold the newer paper to a gentleman and his wife.

  It wasn’t terribly long before this couple made several changes to the paper.  They first began treating local officials like dirt.  Perhaps there was corruption in the local government, but they made the mistake of alienating the very people who gave them news.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, they started in on private citizens and businesspeople—the very ones who placed advertisements with them.  Ads that paid the bills soon left out for a kinder, gentler terrain and it wasn’t terribly long before their newspaper had gone bust.

  Arrogance and high-handed, abusive behavior may be tolerated in our national media, but locally, we’re a different breed.  We’re folks just like you.

  Besides, we’ve already hacked into your cell phone.  You know, you’re a boring person. We didn’t get nary a story idea from you.

In the July 7, 2011 issue of The Standard

*Homeowner shoots brother-in-law, father-in-law; home torched the next day.

*Gurdon mayor asks EDCCC for $150,000; says board caters primarily to Arkadelphia.

*Glenwood juveniles arrested for burglary, vandalism.

*Gurdon man arrested for fatally stabbing prize hunting dog in front of owners.

*Three structures burned Monday; two thought to be from lightening strikes.

*Point Cedar Fire Department to vote on becoming fire district.

*Editorial:  Who are the real Nazis today?

   Folks in glass houses just shouldn’t throw stones