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On September 21, Hillary Clinton gave the world her worst optics yet:

hillary-weird

(Image credit: The Conservative Treehouse)

She said, ‘Why aren’t I 50 points ahead, you might ask?’

She then went into a tirade against Donald Trump and the right to work. Note the point in the video where she aims her forefingers at the camera, suggesting the Gunfight at the OK Corral:

When I first saw this, I thought she wanted someone to film a private rant.

However, it turns out that she was speaking via videoconference — indicating she was too ill to attend — to the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) in Las Vegas.

She heard her audience and ramped up her voice and rhetoric.

However, for the rest of us, because there is no sound other than her voice in the video, she looks and sounds seriously affected by Donald Trump, as if he were occupying real estate in her mind.

This has not gone unnoticed.

Fox News’s Monica Crowley tweeted:

Mr Nolte from North Carolina gave us a voter’s view:

He is right. Not good.

Here’s a compare and contrast set of photos that are positively dire. The one on the left was taken on her plane when she took questions about the bombing in Manhattan on September 17:

Last week Sarina Fazan, a reporter for an ABC affiliate in Florida, asked Clinton about her recent bout with pneumonia and hoped she was feeling better (emphases mine):

She added: “Some doctors have said because of your age, as well as your opponent’s age, that you could be at higher risk for dementia or even Alzheimer’s, and have suggested that you take some neurological test. Would you be willing to do that?”

Clinton laughed at the suggestion, pointing to a recent detailed look at her health history that found her in excellent mental condition.”

“I’m very sorry I got pneumonia, and I’m glad antibiotics took care of it, and that’s behind us now,” Clinton said. “I am physically and mentally healthy and fit to serve as president of the United States.”

When Fazan pressed, Clinton clarified that she would likely not release a neurological test.

There’s no need for that. The information is very clear, and the information, as I said, meets the standards that every other president has ever had to meet,” Clinton said.

By contrast, on September 15, Donald Trump released a full set of health data to Dr Mehmet Oz on his television show:

Dr. Mehmet Oz told NBC News after the taping he was “surprised” Trump provided him with the information.

“I looked at them and tried to process it pretty quickly and I got to say as a doctor, if he was my patient, they are good for a man of his age,” Dr. Oz said.

Those in the audience told NBC News after the interview that Dr. Oz gave Trump a clean bill of health.

Monday, September 26, sees the first of the presidential debates. Which Hillary will appear?

A nation holds its collective breath, especially because both candidates must debate from lecterns.

For a good laugh that’s so close to the truth, check out the Townhall cartoon, ‘2016 Debate Prep’.

A while back I criticised the increase in Big Media closing their sites to readers’ comments.

It’s censorship.

On September 14, Damian Thompson — who worked at The Telegraph for many years and has been at The Spectator for the last few — posted an article ‘Comment threads are closing, thankfully – but the underpants brigade have won’.

It’s one of the laziest pieces of journalism I have read this year. He gives no indication as to why he is saying that comments are closing. No what, where or when, either: standard journalistic questions every article should answer.

I learned about that in primary school English class.

Yes, every year our books included a series of journalism lessons with in-class assignments where we had to write a short news, features or sports story. We had to compose them the way they would appear in a newspaper. The teacher would come around to grade them and the best were read out in class.

Not only did we learn something useful; we also began reading newspapers more frequently.

But I digress.

Several years ago, Thompson, a practising Catholic, got into a Telegraph comments row with a group of Catholic traditionalists. One weekend in May, he deleted all their comments from one of his blog posts. I remember it well, because I saw it happen in real time. They soon turned to WordPress, where they have been maintaining their sites since 2009. Sorry, I cannot remember their names, but maybe one of them will come on here to comment!

Bearing that in mind, it’s interesting that Thompson writes this (emphases mine):

For five years I was editor of Telegraph Blogs. Every day, from the moment we switched on our computers, we had to live with the drone of the ‘underpants brigade’, as one colleague called them.

To the casual reader, these Y-front warriors were obvious fruitcakes. But they had a sharp eye for the fragility of the journalistic ego.

Yes, they certainly did, Damian. And you lacked the professionalism to buck up and allow them to voice their opinions.

After he deleted the Catholic traditionalists’ posts, I never read another article by Thompson again until this particular one.

But enough about Damian Thompson and his paltry journalism. What did the readers say in response?

First, he received over 1,480 comments. Well played, readers!

Secondly, one reader offered an eloquent defence of comments:

Since the Telegraph turned off comments, I’ve largely stopped reading it. Funnily enough, Damian, I used to comment on your rather excitable pieces in that paper. I’m mostly on the Guardian now, but I don’t click on articles which don’t allow comments for the same reason I won’t on the Telegraph: most of the articles present a very slanted view of the world, with claims which don’t stand up – and are not above trotting out downright lies

Comment threads aren’t welcomed by professional writers because they remove their privileged position: embarrassingly, they allow scrutiny of articles to be placed in situ. This doesn’t really affect careful writers who produce well-researched and analytical articles, at worst they’ll get a tide of childish bile from people unwilling to listen to their viewpoint; but for the many charlatans who’ve based their careers on spewing (previously unchallenged) polemic, there’s an almost inevitable payback below every trashy article they produce: comment after comment pulling apart their tawdry arguments. Consequently, comments are the best thing which has ever happened to news media.

Finally, another reader said that any media outlet that drops comments will lose readers:

Like many I stopped paying a sub to the Telegraph and now hardly visit even for the free articles. Other places will get the traffic of the excluded.

That’s definitely true. I, too, stopped reading The Telegraph after they dropped comments. I read a lot more Guardian articles now.

Someone else agreed:

Me too! I didn’t contribute much in the comment sections, but they were the main reason I used and subscribed to the DT. I no longer subscribe and it isn’t even in my Favourites folder any longer. I stopped visiting the site altogether.

it was the comments that entertained, not the articles!

Yes, I used to read the comments for useful responses and links rebutting or adding more to the articles.

Ironically, that’s exactly what happened with Damian Thompson’s article. A reader sent in a blog link discussing the Catholic Herald‘s suppression of comments.

The Catholic Herald article attempts to strike a regretful tone in announcing its new policy and ultimately sends readers to Facebook. What about readers who don’t want to be on Facebook yet would like to contribute?

we are a small team. Our three full-time editorial staff (including me) work round the clock with a little army of part-timers to produce an up-to-the-minute news site and a weekly magazine (we made the change in 2014, after 127 years as a broadsheet).

Inevitably, time is scarce. And that is why we’ve decided to close comments on our articles (in common with many other Catholic websites).

The decision has been a difficult one. Readers have, over the years, offered insightful, funny and heartfelt responses to our articles. But moderating comments is a time-consuming daily task. We believe that time could be better spent on offering readers more news and analysis.

This does not mean the end of dialogue with our readers. We know that this bond is vital. When major issues arise we will post items that allow for comments. Meanwhile, our Facebook page is always open for discussions.

The Catholic site discussing this new policy has this:

Shame. The Catholic Herald had done so well for so long. It is so sad that it has finally capitulated to various pressures at such a crucial time in the Church’s life.

Whatever financial rewards come their way, I’m sure it won’t be through their print edition since whenever I go into a Church there are always a good few copies to spare.

Certain people, however, will be happy about this decision. This decision is a slap in the face to their readership. I won’t be reading it anymore. What a self-defeating decision. Their writers – talented as some of them are – are not the main attraction of blogs. The main attraction of blogs is that others can contribute to the issue being dealt with. I would have thought that to those interested in gaining an audience in the Catholic world today that this was self-evident.

But you know, what do I know?

Pray for blogs, pray for bloggers and pray for journalists and the Catholic Press. I guess you could say we’re all up against it in one way or another.

Every person hungry for the truth, whether it be religious or secular, laments every occasion when yet another major media site closes comments.

Now imagine if The Spectator had closed comments on Damian Thompson’s article. Nearly everyone reading it would have wondered what he was talking about. He had no news at all to support his headline. We would have walked away none the wiser.

However, that one comment linking to the Catholic Herald policy adopted in August helped flesh out the matter.

That is, if that’s what Thompson was referring to.

Bible kevinroosecomThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Matthew 22:23-33

Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.”

29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

————————————————————————————-

Matthew 22 records the continuation of theological tests from the Jewish hierarchy and Jesus’s lessons to them.

These took place on Wednesday of His last Passover, which we commemorate during Holy Week.

Matthew 22:1-14 is the Parable of the Wedding Feast. This is an allegory for God’s invitation to share eternal life with Him. The king in Jesus’s parable prepared a wedding feast but those he invited turned the celebration down because they were otherwise occupied. Some even killed his servants, the king’s messengers. The king then instructed his servants to invite all and sundry, both ‘bad and good’ (verse 10). One man was not wearing a wedding garment, not because he could not afford one but because he did not care, a reference to the state of our hearts. The king threw him out. Jesus concluded the parable:

13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Jesus meant that, through Him, God extended an invitation to the Jews to eternal life through belief in His Son the Messiah. The Jews rejected Him, so God invited the Gentiles instead. However, those who do not honour God, like the man not wearing a wedding garment, face His condemnation to eternal death.

It is useful to add that this parable refers to God’s condemnation of them and their people in 70 AD with the destruction of the temple.

Matthew Henry gives us the takeaways of the Parable of the Wedding Feast (emphases mine):

… this feast, a heaven upon earth now, and a heaven in heaven shortly. God has prepared it in his counsel, in his covenant.

Gospel calls and offers are represented by an invitation to this feast. Those that make a feast will have guests to grace the feast with. God’s guests are the children of men.

none are excluded but those that exclude themselves … They are bidden to the wedding, that they may go forth to meet the bridegroom for it is the Father’s will that all men should honour the Son.

Note, Making light of Christ, and of the great salvation wrought out by him, is the damning sin of the world. AmelesantesThey were careless. Note, Multitudes perish eternally through mere carelessness, who have not any direct aversion, but a prevailing indifference, to the matters of their souls, and an unconcernedness about them.

Observe, Both the city and the country have their temptations, the merchandise in the one, and the farms in the other so that, whatever we have of the world in our hands, our care must be to keep it out of our hearts, lest it come between us and Christ.

The prophets and John the Baptist had been thus abused already, and the apostles and ministers of Christ must count upon the same.

Such were some of you or, some that after their conversion proved bad, that turned not to the Lord with all their heart, but feignedly others that were upright and sincere, and proved of the right class. Ministers, in casting the net of the gospel, enclose both good fish and bad but the Lord knows them that are his.

Observe, This hypocrite was never discovered to be without a wedding garment, till the king himself came in to see the guests. Note, It is God’s prerogative to know who are sound at heart in their profession, and who are not. We may be deceived in men, either one way or other but He cannot. The day of judgment will be the great discovering day, when all the guests will be presented to the King …

Those, and those only, who put on the Lord Jesus, that have a Christian temper of mind, and are adorned with Christian graces, who live by faith in Christ, and to whom he is all in all, have the wedding garment.

They who never heard a word of this wedding feast will have more to say for themselves their sin will be more excusable, and their condemnation more tolerable, than theirs who came to the feast without the wedding garment, and so sin against the clearest light and dearest love.

they are few, very few, that are chosen many called to the wedding feast, but few chosen to the wedding garment, that is, to salvation, by sanctification of the Spirit. This is the strait gate, and narrow way, which few find.

The Pharisees then asked Jesus paying tax to Caesar (verses 15-22). They wanted to trap Him into taking one theological side or the other. The Pharisees despised Roman rule and opposed paying tax to their oppressors. Their theological opponents, the Herodians, supported Roman rule. They did well out of it as a result. The people, in turn, loathed the Herodians.

Here they mocked Jesus by calling Him ‘Master’ insincerely. Jesus called them out:

18 But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites?

He asked them to produce a coin, which they did. He asked them whose it was, and they replied, ‘Caesar’s’. He answered them (verse 21):

“Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

They marvelled at His response and went away.

However, Henry makes this distinction:

Note, There are many in whose eyes Christ is marvellous, and yet not precious. They admire his wisdom, but will not be guided by it, his power, but will not submit to it. They went their way, as persons ashamed, and made an inglorious retreat. The stratagem being defeated, they quitted the field. Note, There is nothing got by contending with Christ.

Then it was the turn of the Sadducees to approach Him, which brings us to today’s verses.

There were four groups of Jews in Jesus’s time. John MacArthur explains:

Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots and Essenes. Essenes were sort of hermits down in the desert who spent all their time copying scrolls and most likely copies the Dead Sea Scrolls, which we have found. Then there were the Zealots who were political activists, who were very nationalistic, who were sort of the terrorists, who were giving trouble to Rome. And then there were the Pharisees who were the religionists. And then there were the Sadducees.

And I’ll give you a little bit of information about them so you’ll understand what’s going on here. They were not many in number. They were a very small group. They were extremely wealthy and very influential. They were the aristocratic ruling class in Judaism. They were the highest echelon. In fact, the chief priests, the high priest, the noblest of the priests were SadduceesThe majority of the members of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body in Israel were also Sadducees. So they had great power, they had great influence, they had great prestige, and they also were wealthy because it was they who ran the temple concessions, the money changing, the buying and selling of all sorts of things that went on there were under their power.

They were not popular with the people. First of all rich people who tend to do things for the expediency of their own personal gain don’t tend to be very popular. Secondly, their theology was not the theology of the people, for it denied the resurrection. The Pharisees were more popular with the people, and so the conflict between the Pharisees and the Sadducees even added to their unpopularity. They had structural power, they had money power, they gouged the people with the money changing, they gouged the people with the selling and the buying of the animals for the sacrifices, they were not a popular group.

Now politically they were pro Rome, which even added to their unpopularity. They were pro Rome for this reason: they were fat cats

MacArthur says they were also very literal in their interpretation of Scripture, which helps us make more sense of the hypothetical situation they put forward to Jesus.

Now MacArthur says we do not know how the Sadducees got their name, but Henry did. He tells us:

These heretics were called Sadducees from one Sadoc, a disciple of Antigonus Sochæus, who flourished about two hundred and eighty-four years before our Saviour’s birth. They lie under heavy censures among the writers of their own nation, as men of base and debauched conversations, which their principles led them to. As the Pharisees and Essenes seemed to follow Plato and Pythagoras, so the Sadducees were much of the genius of the Epicureans[;] they denied the resurrection, they said, There is no future state, no life after this that, when the body dies, the soul is annihilated, and dies with it that there is no state of rewards or punishments in the other world no judgment to come in heaven or hell. They maintained, that, except God, there is not spirit (Acts 23:8), nothing but matter and motion. They would not own the divine inspiration of the prophets, nor any revelation from heaven, but what God himself spoke upon mount Sinai. 

The Sadducees held that only the Pentateuch — the first five books of the Bible, those credited to Moses — were the only valid Scripture. Everything else — Psalms, prophecies and others — held no validity for them. They also rejected the whole body of Jewish traditions from generations before.

In verse 23, we are told they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. They presented a scenario to Jesus involving the Mosaic Law which said that a widow must remarry a single brother of her late husband’s so that the family lineage — and God’s chosen — could continue and multiply (verse 24).

Henry explains:

They suggest the law of Moses in this matter (Matthew 22:24), that the next of kin should marry the widow of him that died childless (Deuteronomy 25:5) we have it practised Ruth 4:5. It was a political law, founded in the particular constitution of the Jewish commonwealth, to preserve the distinction of families and inheritances, of both which there was special care taken in that government.

MacArthur tells us of Ruth:

You remember Elimelech had two sons and Ruth had married one of the sons and that son had died. You remember his name was Obed and there was no child. And along came Boaz into her life and Boaz took her as his wife and raised up a child and we’re very interested in that because you must remember that the line of Elimelech was the line of whom, of Messiah. And so that very idea of a near kinsman coming into the line to take up the place of a dead husband to raise up seed fits right into the line of Messiah Himself.

God blessed Boaz and Ruth for their obedience.

On the other hand, God killed Onan for not marrying his widowed sister-in-law. That was before God instituted this law via Moses. Even so, there was a God-given expectation to Jacob’s sons — the twelve tribes — that everyone would play a role in their continuance:

You go back into the time before the law in the 38thchapter of Genesis in the time of the household of Judah, the son of Jacob, and you will remember that there was a situation where Onan, you remember the name Onan, Onan refused to comply and to raise up a child to his dead brother’s wife, and the Bible said Onan spilled his seed on the ground. He refused to give a child to his brother’s wife, to go in and become her husband, and take that role. And it says that God killed him, Genesis 38:8-10. God took his life, because in those early years in the formation of that people and keeping that identification pure that Messiah might come to His people, God maintained these kind of laws so that names and families could be passed on.

MacArthur says it was not clear how strictly this law was applied in Jesus’s time, however, it would have been important to the Sadducees. They asked Jesus a mocking question about the afterlife (verses 25-28). What would happen if a woman married all the brothers of one family in succession with no children: whose wife would she be after the resurrection?

Jesus point blank told them they were wrong in their thinking and their question (verse 29), because they knew neither Scripture nor the power of God the Father. MacArthur says:

He really discredits them. You are mistaken and He uses the word planeo. We got our word planet from it. It means to cause to wander, to lead astray and it’s in the middle voice reflective. It means you are causing yourself to wander. You are leading yourself astray from the truth. You are mentally cut loose from reality. That’s really what He’s saying. To put it in the vernacular, you are spaced out.

Because:

Had you known the Scriptures you would have known God promises resurrection. Had you known the power of God you would have known that God can raise people in a state where that’s not going to be an issue. If you knew the power of God you would know that He wouldn’t recreate people with the same problems here. He’s not limited to that, as if God has spent all His creative power on the way we are and can’t improve on it? If you knew the power of God and if you knew the Scripture you wouldn’t be so spaced out in your thinking.

Jesus then went on to say that when we are resurrected, marriage will be finished; we will be ‘like angels in heaven’ (verse 30). MacArthur explains:

There will be no two people who have an exclusive relationship. There will be no intimacy in that sense, and I mean that in the sense of marriage. It could even extend from there to friendships. Nobody will be closer to anybody else because we’ll all be perfectly close to each other and all perfectly intimate with the living God Himself.

We’re not going to be the angels, but be like them. And they were glorious eternal heavenly creatures whose number was fixed who never died and never reproduced. Marriage is necessary in this life for reproduction, preservation, propagation for the race. In [heaven] it will be as unnecessary for us as it is for angels. That’s why Luke in his parallel passage says, “We will be equal to the angels.” Equally deathless, equally spiritual, equally glorified, equally eternal, who have no longer any need to reproduce.

More importantly, Jesus took the Sadducees apart over their unbelief regarding the resurrection. These men who held the Pentateuch so dearly really didn’t know it, because Jesus cited Exodus 3:6 (verses 31, 32).

MacArthur unpacks this for us:

You say, well wait a minute. Is that supposed to be a statement about resurrection? It is. Is indeed a statement about resurrection. He quotes Moses because that’s what they demanded and the statement is an emphatic statement. In the Greek it’s egome I am, present tense, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And the argument here is an argument of the verb tense. He doesn’t say I was he God of Abraham, I was the God of Isaac, and I was the God of Jacob. You see in Exodus 3:6, Abraham was dead, Isaac was dead, and Jacob was dead already. How then can He say I am the God of Abraham, I am the God of Isaac, I am the God of Jacob, which is exactly what the Hebrew of 3:6 implies?

Well you can see it also in Genesis 26:24, Genesis 28:13, God says I am the God of Abraham and in both of those passages Abraham is already dead. And in Exodus 3:6, Exodus 3;15, Exodus 3:16, Exodus 4:15, God says I’m the God of Abraham, I’m the God of Isaac, I’m the God of Jacob, and they’re already dead. And His point then, at the end of the verse, is God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, so if God says I am the God of these people they must be, what, alive, alive. God is not worshipped by corpses. He’s not the God of people who don’t exist. Who wants to be the God of people who don’t exist?

Now note that each is individually singled out there, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and He’s talking about personal intimate relationship of each of them. Now the genitive here of the God of, the God of, the God of, can be seen two ways. It could mean this: the God to whom Abraham belongs, the God to whom Isaac belongs, the God to whom Jacob belongs. Or it could mean the God who belongs to Abraham, the God who belongs to Isaac, the God who belongs to Jacob, and I like to see both. I am the God to whom Abraham belongs and who belongs to Abraham. I am the God to whom Isaac belongs and who belongs to Isaac. I am the God to whom Jacob belongs and who belongs to Jacob. In other words, I am the God who continues to have an intimate relationship of life and worship with these who are dead, which means they still must be, what, alive.

When the crowd heard that, they were ‘astonished’ (verse 33). This is because Jesus was able to answer His enemies perfectly. Remember, most of those people did not recognise Him as their Messiah.

MacArthur says this passage should leave us with three messages about Jesus:

… one, I see here the majestic deity of Jesus.

Second thing I see is His commitment to Scripture.

And thirdly I see his affirmation of resurrection. Whenever I might be prone to doubt the resurrection I’m reminded that Jesus never doubted it for a moment, never for a moment, and affirms here that those who are dead are still alive because God is the God of the living. And so I’m encouraged with another view of Jesus as God, with another view of His dependence on Scripture, with another view of the hope of everlasting life. Instead of them discrediting Him, He discredited them and exposed Himself in all His majesty one more time.

After two more unsuccessful religious tests, Matthew 22 ends with this:

46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Matthew 23 recounts what Jesus did next. He condemned the hierarchy with seven woes.

In closing, there are two parallel accounts of this exchange. Mark 12:18-27, about which I wrote in 2013, is not in the Lectionary. However, Luke’s — Luke 20:27-38 — is included.

Next time: Matthew 23:13-15

On Monday, September 19, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met separately with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in New York, where world leaders gathered for the UN General Assembly.

Politico reports:

Clinton met with Sisi on Monday evening; the Egyptian leader told her at the start of the meeting that he wished to talk to her “about the path that we are taking in order to build up a new civil society, a new modern country that upholds the rule of law, that respects human rights and liberties. And as a matter of fact we are taking this path that is eventually leading up to this target,” according to a pool report of the event.

Trump’s team released an account of his meeting with Sisi that was striking in how much praise the Republican heaped on Egypt. Trump expressed to Sisi “his strong support for Egypt’s war on terrorism, and how under a Trump administration, the United States of America will be a loyal friend, not simply an ally, that Egypt can count on in the days and years ahead.”

A full statement of Trump’s meeting includes a mention the presence of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Lieutenant General Michael Flynn (Ret.).

Whilst Sisi is seen as a controversial leader, The Conservative Treehouse points out:

Al-Sisi has been one of the voices within the Mid-East, along with Jordan’s King Abdullah (both pictured right), who has consistently advocated for secular governance and minority religious protection. In short, both Abdullah and Sisi have been lone calm voices amid a fury of chaos unleashed by Obama’s policy.

At the core of their leadership perspective, and when comparing their views and perspectives toward national governance as it relates to larger global issues, both al-Sisi and Donald Trump have much in common. Which raises the possibility of a very real and reasonable realignment within the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

…Think about Fatah al-Sisi, Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas and Donald Trump meeting together in Camp David and finding a real estate solution possibly including part of the Northern Sinai region.

Lastly, if you think about the current construction enhancements, and changes taking place with the Suez Canal zone, there’s an outline -tenuous though it might be- of something entirely possible.

The Treehouse included this 2012 photo of Egyptians hostile to Clinton which could indicate difficulties to come if she is elected in November:

Egypt Freedom Loss 2

Egypt Built has this tweet regarding Clinton:

That’s says a lot.

When the explosive device went off in the Chelsea area of New York on Saturday, September 17, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump called it a ‘bomb’.

News reports were later edited to show footage of Trump saying ‘bomb’ and Clinton advising caution. British media carried this same omission on Sunday’s news. I watched Channel 4, by the way.

Media analyst Mark Dice has full coverage of both using the word:

Trump’s running mate Mike Pence gave an excellent radio interview on Monday, September 19, to Sean Hannity. Early in the segment, Pence referred to the events in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota as ‘radical Islamic terrorism’. In order to combat that, he said that America needs a change of leadership:

That morning, Fox and Friends interviewed Trump, who also gave an outstanding interview on the terror threat as well as a variety of other topics, such as John Kasich’s lack of endorsement, despite having signed the Republican Party candidate pledge to support the nominee.

Fox and Friends rightly credited Trump for saying last year that the United States could expect more terror attacks.

Trump ably discussed the weekend’s attacks and lauded Israel for its profiling policy:

On profiling, CNN deliberately distorted Trump’s words. At no time did he ever mention ‘racial profiling’. He spoke only of ‘profiling’.

Scott Adams, Dilbert’s creator, rightly called out Clinton News Network:

This is yet another example of distortion in Big Media reporting.

Are you picking up on the bias? I know a lot of people offline who aren’t.

Add to that the blame Clinton piles on Trump — a private citizen:

On a brighter note, this is a great little video featuring Germaine, a Starbucks employee, taking drinks and food to New York policemen investigating last Saturday’s bombing:

New York is a great city with great people. Long may it remain so.

On Monday, September 19, the main suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings at the weekend was finally arrested.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, of Elizabeth, NJ, was found asleep in the neighbouring town of Linden. He was slumped in the doorway of a tavern there.

The owner was at another establishment across the street. He thought Rahami was a drunk until he recognised him. He rang the police.

When police awakened Rahami, the suspect opened fire, wounding one policeman in the chest. The other officers pursued him on foot. Rahami shot at a police car. The bullet ricocheted and grazed another officer’s face. The chase ended when police shot him several times and took him to hospital.

Rahami was not particularly forthcoming when questioned after surgery.

The investigation is ongoing and, as I write, it is unclear whether there is a terrorist cell in greater New York and whether Rahami had help. CNN has full details of what happened at the weekend.

There have been extremist Islamic terror cells in the United States for many years. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that they exist. The map below, courtesy of Free Thought Nation, shows terror activity and compounds dating back to the 1980s:

CNN reported that Rahami’s family accused the city and police of Elizabeth, NJ, of discriminating against their First American Fried Chicken restaurant because they had to close at 10 p.m. while other establishments in the neighbourhood could stay open later. However (emphases mine):

In 2011, the city council voted to close the restaurant at 10 p.m. because of “all the people hanging out there” around the clock, Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage said Monday.

Owner Mohammad Rahami and his two sons filed a lawsuit claiming the city conspired to “discriminate” and “illegally harass” them by subjecting them to citations for allegedly violating a city ordinance on hours of operation.

The case alleged the Rahamis were “threatened and harassed” by a police officer. It argues that officers and city representatives said “the restaurant presented a danger to the community.”

It also accused a neighboring business owner of telling the Rahamis that “Muslims make too much trouble in this country” and “don’t belong here.”

The defendants, including police officers and city officials, denied the allegations.

Federal court records show the case ended in a “statistical closing.” Bollwage said Monday the 2012 ruling on the case favored the city, adding that the family’s restaurant was “disruptive in the city for many, many years.”

Rahami’s sister put up a post on Facebook asking for privacy at this time.

The Daily Beast reports that Rahami and members of his family have freely travelled to and from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Investigators are now trying to piece together his activities abroad.

Rahami’s father last travelled to Pakistan in July 2011 and stayed until September that year. Rahami had to appear for a court case — possibly the one connected with his restaurant — and, while he was present, his lawyer:

informed the judge that while the father had returned, his “family is in Afghanistan” but was expected to return within days.

Rahami’s brother is currently in Pakistan.

Rahami has a wife in that country:

U.S. Rep. Albio Sires told the Bergen Record that Rahami contacted his office via email in 2014 seeking an immigrant visa for his wife in Pakistan who was 35 weeks pregnant and whose Pakistani passport had expired. 

The Rahami family arrived in the United States in 1995 as asylum seekers from Afghanistan:

There has been some confusion over when Rahami or his family were officially granted legal residency in the country, but it may have taken some time for their application to be processed and approved.

In 2013, one of the suspect’s brothers, Mohammad K. Rahami, posted a Facebook message in 2013, accompanied by a photo. It read:

I bring the men who desire death as ardently as you desire life.

In another Facebook entry in April that year:

Mohammad posted a photo of himself with a man identified as Ahmad in a comment. The two men are sitting outside, grilling kebabs.

Currently:

Authorities have not named either brother as suspects or persons of interest.

Ahmad Khan Rahami is known to the police, with:

a series of escalating run-ins with the law beginning in 2008, when he spent a day in jail for unpaid parking tickets, and another in 2012 after he allegedly violated a restraining order, The New York Times reports. In 2014, Rahami spent three days in jail on weapons and aggravated assault charges, after allegedly stabbing a person in the leg, The New York Times reports. A grand jury dropped Rahami’s charges for the fight, which allegedly began as a domestic dispute.

Before Rahami was arrested in Linden, authorities raided his family’s home in Elizabeth at 3 a.m.:

according to time-stamped cellphone footage reviewed by The Daily Beast. The video, taken by a neighbor across the street, shows heavily armed officers at the family’s Elizabeth home waiting for family members to come out, one by one. Two of Rahami’s brothers came out first, followed by a woman and a young child. The father came out last, the neighbor said.

At the same time:

A Perth Amboy address linked to Ahmad Rahami and brother Mohammad Khan Rahami was subject to loud banging at 3 a.m., a neighbor told The Daily Beast. Police later confirmed they had investigated a Perth Amboy address. Maintenance workers were changing locks on the front door late Monday morning.

The explosive devices:

track closely to what was suggested in al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine in an article titled, “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.” The guide was written by Samir Khan, a U.S. citizen born in Saudi Arabia who fled to Yemen to join Anwar al-Awlaki, an American cleric turned al Qaeda propagandist.

Khan advised aspiring bomb-makers to make pipe bombs and link them together for greater effect, just as Rahami is alleged to have done at two sites in New Jersey. Khan advised building larger bombs using pressure cookers.

Similar devices were used in the Boston and San Bernardino attacks.

The First American Fried Chicken restaurant in Elmore Avenue became a magnet on Monday for patrons and friends of the Rahami family:

Patrons and public records say the family appears to have five sons and three daughters. Two of the children are minors. The status of their mother is unknown, the customers said.

A 60-year-old musician named Jacob said that he has known Rahami — the father — for 14 years:

“When I met them [the Rahami siblings], they were kids. But lately they’ve been holding down the store,” Jacob told The Daily Beast, as he watched police work the scene. “They seemed like normal people.”

The longtime neighbor called Ahmad Rahami’s father, Mohammad, a “pretty decent, guy” and “real quiet and laid back.”

The dad talked of visiting Afghanistan on vacations and would hook Jacob up with turkey sandwiches and gyros, he said.

“He was cool. I’m just sorry that this happened to him,” he said.

Saul Asian, a 21-year-old classmate of one of Rahimi’s brothers:

described the Rahimi chicken spot as a hangout for middle-schoolers of the nearby Abraham Lincoln School. He used to see Ahmad work as a cashier.

“I didn’t want to believe it… until I saw it on the news,” Asian said of Ahmad’s arrest.

But not everyone was so positive.

Fox News reports that a young woman named Maria fell in love with Ahmad when they were both in high school. She has a little girl. He is the father. She says that he:

didn’t pay child support and often railed against American culture. The 26-year-old, who spoke after her grandmother called her for a reporter who produced his press credential and identified himself at the grandmother’s home in Elizabeth, said she had not seen Rahami in two years.

He would speak often of Western culture and how it was different back home,” she said. “How there weren’t homosexuals in Afghanistan.

“He seemed standoffish to American culture, but I never thought he would cross the line,” she added.

The boy who was once a ‘class clown’ at Edison High School grew into a man who:

demonstrated his hatred for the U.S. military.

“One time, he was watching TV with my daughter and a woman in a [military] uniform came on and he told [their daughter], ‘That’s the bad person,'” she said.

Maria also told Fox that:

Rahami would often go back to Afghanistan to see family, and would stay for weeks, or even months. Right before their daughter was born, Rahami was in Afghanistan and had trouble returning because authorities in Afghanistan confiscated his passport for unknown reasons, Maria said. The last time Maria knows that Rahami visited his homeland was nine years ago. He brought back a wife and another child, she said.

She ended the interview by expressing why her former love made her afraid and why she cut off his visits:

My greatest fear is that he would try to take my daughter.

But, readers, as we all know, none of us must dare to call this man a terrorist.

On Monday, September 19, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spoke to their supporters.

Clinton held a small meeting with students at Temple University in Philadelphia, a city that is in the tank for her. Temple has an enrollment of 37,788.

Jesse Watters was on hand to take a photo of a dozing student:

So this is the vibe at the Hillary Clinton “rally” right now… #imwithher #turnup

Look at the enthusiasm from the students. They look as if they are being held hostage. Still, they probably got extra credit for attending:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CsuxVhgW8AAbefo.jpg

The Gateway Pundit reported that only a few hundred attended.

That might be because of Clinton’s health problems. She might need smaller venues.

She also needed to be helped up the stairs. Gateway Pundit has the photo.

Some readers might have seen a banner on Fox and Friends that morning (4:30-4:48) stating that Clinton was cancelling an appearance in California later that day. People’s Pundit Daily reported:

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has again cancelled an event in California as a result of her health and the campaign is claiming she is being treated for pneumonia. The cancelation marks the third day–following Monday and Tuesday of last week–that the candidate’s health has pulled her from the campaign trail …

On Sunday, Mrs. Clinton held a brief presser and spoke to reporters on her campaign airplane to respond to her rival Donald Trump regarding his comments after the terror attacks in Minnesota, New Jersey and New York. Critics claim she appeared to be heavily sedated, or at least extremely fatigue[d] …

That afternoon, Trump held a rally in Fort Meyers, Florida. People started queuing at 8:30 a.m. The event was sold out, with 8,000 in attendance:

On September 20, RealClearPolitics shows Hillary with only a 1.3% poll lead over Trump and a 1.1% lead if the other two candidates — Gary Johnson (Libertarian) and Jill Stein (Green) are factored in.

Big Media are panicking: ‘The fight isn’t going Clinton’s way’ (Boston Globe), ‘Dear Swing Voters: Please Don’t Do It’ (The Daily Beast) and ‘Wake up, Millennials, and back Hillary’ (New York Daily News).

Huffington Post went further with ‘Why Hillary Lost: A Premature Obit’.

The sites sceptical of or downright anti-Trump have these articles: ‘Trump Cutting Into Clinton’s Huge Lead With African-American Voters’ (Washington Examiner) and ‘Not Voting for Trump Is Republican Suicide’ (National Review).

Amazing.

Some say the turnaround is because of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, where this took place on September 15. The Left are complaining that Fallon ‘humanised’ Trump:

Referencing the HuffPo article, self-identifying Hillary supporter Scott Adams (Dilbert’s creator) tweeted:

We can but see when the first debate takes place on Monday, September 26.

On Friday, September 16, I posted on Donald Trump’s ‘basket of deplorables’.

Thank you, Hillary Clinton, for coining a marvellous phrase designed to denigrate millions of Americans. Instead, it became a joyous campaign cry.

The top image — in that post (as well as my About page) with appropriate credit — belongs to an artist who goes by the name of Keln. He adapted a Les Misérables image (at left).

Trump’s campaign team even used it as the backdrop for his rally on Friday, September 17 in Miami, complete with the song from the musical:

The image is now all over the world.

But what about Keln? Is he making any money off it? Can he copyright it and collect royalties?

Last Friday, on his site Nuking Politics, he wrote about what happened after he posted the image on Reddit. They banned him. (Maybe he should have posted on The_Donald subreddit rather than a general news one?)

Reddit mods didn’t even respond to his request for a reason why.

So, while the image was tweeted and posted on other social media all over the world, Keln was anathema to Reddit.

That is, until just hours before Trump’s Miami rally:

Reddit reinstated my account. Claimed I had been picked off by the spam filter. Uhuh…suuuure.

The Daily Mail carried Keln’s story on September 17:

He was pleased the Trump campaign used his artwork.

‘Thank you @realDonaldTrump for using my meme to stick it to Hillary and her ilk. #MAGA We are just gonna keep winning,’ he tweeted.

‘I made it, I am glad He used it,’ he added, insisting the Trump campaign had a right to turn his work into a campaign backdrop.

Less gratifying is that a tee shirt company is using Keln’s image without permission. Keln told his readers:

They did not ask for nor received my permission.

Let’s hope he can get that sorted out soon. He should be able to make some money off his intellectual property.

Moral of the story: protect your work! What seems like a small creation can turn into something ‘yuge’, as the Donald would say.

Speaking of whom, in Miami, he greeted his supporters:

Welcome to all you deplorables!

They responded with roaring applause.

Ex-Democrats at the Crawdad Hole point out that Trump has played this well (emphases mine):

Mic drop! Seriously! Turning negative campaigning/memes into a battlecry, amazing! This really is brilliant. Any other repub candidate would have had a weak spine by now and let her win.

Yep.

Hillary played an own goal here:

Not to mention he is actually paying attention to those that support him. Deplorable was met with laughter. T-shirts, mugs, pins user names. We have weeks to go. My prog friends don’t even dare debate. She has become a joke. That is never good …

This campaign will redefine politics for the foreseeable future.

Donald Trump has rewritten the playbook.

You can read more about Keln’s artwork and Trump’s rally at The Conservative Treehouse, where the image made its debut. He is a frequent commenter there.

On Friday, Donald Trump put an end to birtherism by saying the present incumbent was born in the United States.

McClatchy reported:

Donald Trump said that President Obama was born in the United States during an event at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. on September 16, 2016. He also claimed that the birther issue was started by Hillary Clinton’s campaign when she ran for president in 2008.

For several years now, the Democrats have alleged that the Republicans — particularly the Tea Party — were responsible for casting doubt over Obama’s origins and background. That is incorrect.

While it is true that Trump was responsible for getting Obama to finally come forward with his long form birth certificate in 2011 — just over two years into his first term in office — Trump did not start the birther movement.

Far from it.

In fact, everything started with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2007.

(Image credit: #NolteNC)

December 2007 — heated exchange between Clinton and Obama

Reggie Love served as Obama’s personal aide between 2007 and 2011.

In 2015, he released a book, Power Forward, a memoir of those years.

He described events in December 2007 which he said were the turning point in the campaign fortunes of the then-Senator Obama. The Washington Post covered this excerpt on January 29, 2015. A summary follows, supplemented by quotes. Emphases mine below.

The Clinton campaign put out information accusing the Illinois senator of using drugs and being a Muslim.

Billy Shaheen was the man who mentioned that the GOP would seize the drugs angle:

Billy Shaheen, then co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s New Hampshire campaign, had speculated to The Washington Post that Republicans would attack Sen. Barack Obama on the drug use the candidate had admitted to on the trail and in “Dreams From My Father,” his 1995 memoir. As Shaheen put it: “It’ll be, ‘When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?’ There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks.”

The next day, Obama and Clinton were at Reagan National Airport on their way to Iowa for a televised debate featuring the Democratic primary candidates. Reggie Love wrote in his memoir:

“I want to apologize for the whole Shaheen thing,” Clinton said. “I want you to know I had nothing to do with it.”

The candidate very respectfully told her the apology was kind, but largely meaningless, given the emails it was rumored her camp had been sending out labeling him as a Muslim.

Then:

Before he could finish his sentence, she exploded on Obama. In a matter of seconds, she went from composed to furious. It had not been Obama’s intention to upset her, but he wasn’t going to play the fool either.

To Love and Obama’s entourage witnessing this exchange:

it was an obvious turning point in our campaign, and we knew it.

From that point on through to Hillary’s standing down six months later, the tension between the two campaign teams was, in Love’s words, ‘electric’:

their respective staffs reflected the understanding that she was no longer the de facto Democratic candidate. Her inevitability had been questioned. . . .

Later that day, Obama told Love that:

he knew he was going to win the nomination after that moment on the tarmac, because Clinton had unraveled, and he was still standing and keeping his cool. It was just the confidence boost he needed.

Wow. It all boiled down to personal composure. What a lesson for the rest of us.

That is how an unknown junior senator from Illinois became a two-term president of the United States.

Incidentally, Billy Shaheen resigned from the Clinton campaign that day:

“I made a mistake and in light of what happened, I have made the personal decision that I will step down,” he said in a statement.

2008: Clinton campaign continued casting doubt

On September 16, in another McClatchy article reporter David Goldstein revealed more details about Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign and the way two people in particular sowed doubt about Obama:

Two supporters of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign reportedly shared the claim that then-rival Barack Obama was not born in the United States and thus was not eligible to be president.

One was a volunteer in Iowa, who was fired, Clinton’s former campaign manager said Friday. The other was Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, according to a former McClatchy Washington Bureau chief.

It’s interesting that the people David Goldstein interviewed for his McClatchy article have such differing views on whether the Clinton campaign was responsible for birtherism and other rumours.

Phil Singer, her press secretary in 2008, emailed to say:

The idea that the Hillary Clinton campaign had anything to do with spreading the birther issue has as much credibility as the birther issue itself: none. It didn’t happen.

However, Patti Solis Doyle, who was Clinton’s campaign manager at that time:

said she’d called Obama campaign official David Plouffe at the time “to apologize and basically say that this was not coming from us. It was a rogue volunteer coordinator.”

Sidney Blumenthal — who worked as an adviser to Bill Clinton during his time in the White House, then on Hillary’s 2008 campaign and later, for a time, at the Clinton Foundation — emailed the Boston Globe to say:

This is false. Period.

Yet, former McClatchy Washington Bureau Chief James Asher tweeted and emailed on Friday, September 16, that Blumenthal had given him information about Obama’s origins:

Blumenthal had “told me in person” that Obama was born in Kenya.

During the 2008 Democratic primary, Sid Blumenthal visited the Washington Bureau of McClatchy Co.,” Asher said in an email Friday to McClatchy, noting that he was at the time the investigative editor and in charge of Africa coverage.

During that meeting, Mr. Blumenthal and I met together in my office and he strongly urged me to investigate the exact place of President Obama’s birth, which he suggested was in Kenya. We assigned a reporter to go to Kenya, and that reporter determined that the allegation was false.

At the time of Mr. Blumenthal’s conversation with me, there had been a few news articles published in various outlets reporting on rumors about Obama’s birthplace. While Mr. Blumenthal offered no concrete proof of Obama’s Kenyan birth, I felt that, as journalists, we had a responsibility to determine whether or not those rumors were true. They were not.”

As Asher points out, McClatchy was not the only media outlet investigating these rumours.

The McClatchy journalist who went to Kenya is Shashank Bengali. His report from Kenya on Super Tuesday 2008 — February 5 — states that Obama’s African relatives were fed up with all the reporters:

Barack Obama’s extended family in Kenya issued this plea to journalists:

Please leave us alone.

The media outlets set up equipment in the small village of Nyang’oma Kogello to record family members’ reactions as the Democratic primary results rolled in that night.

Bengali’s article has a photo of Obama and Mama Sarah, his paternal grandmother. Mama Sarah had been besieged by reporters since … 2006:

Mama Sarah figures she’s been interviewed and photographed by hundreds of journalists in the past two years.

Bengali’s conclusion is interesting for Americans who hold that natural born citizenship — a requirement for the president and vice president of the United States — involves being born on American soil or military base overseas and both parents holding American citizenship at the time the two people occupying — or vying for those offices — were born:

Yes, Obama’s father was Kenyan, and yes, it’s mildly diverting that a man who has a better than reasonable shot of living in the White House has about 30 relatives living in a village of mud huts and fishermen. But haven’t we sort of covered the waterfront on this story?

Fast forwarding to 2016, McClatchy’s David Goldstein gave these details on September 16:

Clinton, at a speech in the nation’s capital, said Trump needed to apologize.

“For five years, he has led the birther movement to delegitimize our first black president,” she said. “His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie.”

The Trump campaign issued a news release with a portion of Solis Doyle’s interview and a link to memos back then to Clinton from Mark Penn, her 2008 pollster. One raises the issue of Obama’s “lack of American roots.” Obama was born in Hawaii. His father was Kenyan and his mother was from Kansas.

A former ‘Hillary insider’ writes

Before I get into further specifics of this issue, I remember the birther controversy as it unfolded after Hillary ended her campaign in the summer of 2008, weeks before the Democratic National Convention that year.

My better half and I watched Hillary’s lengthy speech explaining why she was withdrawing from the race in 2008. It was broadcast here in the UK in full on a Saturday evening in June, if I remember rightly.

We found it so astonishing that SpouseMouse suggested I go see how Democrats were reacting online.

That evening changed my outlook on the Democratic Party forever.

The first two sites I ran across were Hillary is 44 — which has supported the Republican candidates in 2008, 2012 and 2016 — and No Quarter.

I still read both every other day during general election campaigns and highly recommend them.

With regard to No Quarter, its founder and principal contributor is Larry Johnson, who worked for the CIA and is a recognized expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, crisis and risk management. He has his own business consulting firm which offers expertise combating terrorism and investigating money laundering. You can read more at the link.

On September 16, Larry Johnson wrote ‘Confessions of a Hillary Insider’, which I urge every Clinton supporter and active Democrat to read in full — including all his referenced 63 posts from the first half of 2008.

In his ‘confessions’, Johnson says that Sidney Blumenthal provided him with several sets of information about Obama in 2008.

This information concerned the then-candidate’s links to corruption via Chicago’s Tony Rezko, links to Palestinian radicals, ties to 1960s terrorist Bill Ayers and radical clerics, his citizenship status and childhood in Indonesia with stepfather Lolo Soetoro.

Johnson says:

I am shocked at the audacity of Hillary Clinton to decry Donald Trump as a birther because her campaign not only pushed that item in a bid to discredit Barack Obama, but mounted a sustained campaign attack Obama on a broad array of issues. How do I know? I was part of that effort and was in regular email and phone coordination with Sidney Blumenthal. Sidney was the conduit who fed damaging material to me that I subsequently posted on my blog.

In some cases Sid Blumenthal actually provided a draft piece that I would slightly modify and publish under my name. Most of the time, however, Sid provided background information and researched material that I would use to craft pieces.

By the time I discovered No Quarter, all of Johnson’s readers — also Hillary supporters — were well versed in the questions and issues surrounding Obama.

In fact, every Hillary supporter knew about these issues — regardless of what websites they read.

One of the big ticket items was a tape recording that never materialised. Allegedly, it featured audio of the present first lady using the term ‘whitey’. Hillary’s supporters waited and waited for nothing. Johnson regrets having fallen for the story:

I published that after being told about the “tape” by Sid Blumenthal. (I learned a few weeks later that the story of the tape actually originated with Media Matter’s David Brock and he confirmed its existence to me in person).

Now, it is true that Hillary herself never circulated or said anything about these rumours. However, other people writing about them helped sow FUD — fear, uncertainty and doubt — about Obama. Johnson says:

Hillary knew about all of these lines of attack on Obama. In fact I was told by Sid on one occasion in the summer of 2008 that the Big Dog (Bill of course) was very pleased with the pieces going up at NoQuarterUSA and thought they were helping Hillary.

But the biggest issue was Obama’s birth certificate, although, interestingly, Johnson states:

the Birth Certificate issue was not pushed hot and heavy by Sid to me.

However, it is equally interesting that conservative broadcasters and writers began to mistakenly credit Johnson with birtherism. Johnson reproduced a lengthy transcript from a Rush Limbaugh broadcast wherein the radio host named him personally.

Yet, Johnson has always shied away from the birth issue. I can vouch for that. When it was in full flow after Obama won the nomination, he never gave it credence:

I never argued or wrote that Barack Obama was not legally qualified. Never. Ever. Just the opposite. I am on the record that he is legally qualified to be President. The first time I ever wrote about the birth certificate controversy was 12 June 2008, “What Does an Authentic Hawaiian Birth Certificate Look Like?“. In July 2008 I was very clear that BARACK WAS NOT BORN IN KENYA

Today, in 2016, Johnson says:

It is true that I once believed Hillary was qualified by virtue of experience to be President. I was wrong and have written about my error in judgment. Her dishonesty and the incompetence she demonstrated while Secretary of State have convinced me beyond any doubt that she cannot be trusted with the power of that office. That does not mean I trust Donald Trump, but my focus here is in exposing the cynical propaganda that Hillary Clinton is trying to foist on the uninformed voter

I cannot stomach Hillary pretending like she had no role in attack[ing] Barack Obama on a host of issues that many would consider “racist” if pursued by Donald Trump or any other Republican.

As for Obama:

I only regret getting played on the Whitey Tape. The rest of the information was on target–Barack Obama, by virtue of his associations and friendships, was a terrible choice to be President. I can say now, with the benefit of 8 years of hindsight, that my concerns about his incompetence and ignorance have been confirmed and validated.

Obama’s birth certificates

The controversy about Obama’s birth certificate ramped up during the Democratic campaign following the convention in 2008.

He wrote in his memoir Dreams from My Father that he had lost his original birth certificate. He had been using it as a bookmark.

This modern Certification of Live Birth from the State of Hawaii is what his campaign team expected Americans to accept in 2008.

Not surprisingly, Hillary’s people and many Republicans were less than happy seeing a few bits of information about their future president. Obama’s lack of transparency on other issues — the absence of interviews with old friends, no photos of him at Harvard, among others — also raised legitimate questions in voters’ minds.

He just had — and still has — a lack of transparency about him and an insouciance that Americans had not seen before in a presidential candidate.

It was thanks to Donald Trump’s sustained efforts that the American public were finally able to see a copy of Obama’s original birth certificate in April 2011.

The difference between that and the earlier document is astounding.

Why did Obama not simply request a copy of the long form certificate in 2008? He could have done so and there never would have been any controversy.

To clarify: Trump was not among the original ‘birthers’. He came on board later after all the failed lawsuits, which I’ll get to in a moment. However, Trump was the catalyst for getting Obama to produce the ‘long form’ certificate in 2011. In March that year, he said:

“The reason I have a little doubt — just a little — is because he grew up and nobody knew him,” he told ABC News.

Original birthers and failed lawsuits

The first birthers were Democrats.

In fact, The Telegraph wrote in 2011 that the ‘Birther row began with Hillary Clinton supporters’.

Politico stated the same thing at the same time:

The answer lies in Democratic, not Republican politics, and in the bitter, exhausting spring of 2008. At the time, the Democratic presidential primary was slipping away from Hillary Clinton and some of her most passionate supporters grasped for something, anything that would deal a final reversal to Barack Obama.

After Hillary stood down, Pennsylvania lawyer and Hillary Clinton supporterPhilip J Berg — was the first to challenge Obama’s birth record. Wikipedia tells us:

Berg filed a complaint in federal district court on August 21, 2008, against Democratic Party presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic National Committee and the Federal Election Commission, alleging that Obama was born actually in Mombasa, Kenya and that the “Certification of Live Birth” on Obama’s website is a forgery. The court dismissed the complaint as “frivolous and not worthy of discussion.”[15][16] The judge also found that the harm Berg alleged did “not constitute an injury in fact” and that Berg’s arguments to the contrary “ventured into the unreasonable.”[15][16] Berg filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court and also sought an injunction to suspend the election. The injunction was denied by Justice David Souter on November 3, 2008. Berg also sought an application for injunction pending the disposition of the petition for writ of certiorari; Justice Souter denied it, Berg refiled and submitted it to Justice Anthony Kennedy (who denied it), then refiled and submitted it to Justice Antonin Scalia, who referred it to the Court. On January 12, 2009, the Supreme Court denied Berg’s petition for writ of certiorari (555 U.S. 1126),[17] and on January 21 the Court denied the application for injunction (555 U.S. 1134).[18]

In 2016, it looks as if Berg is aboard the Trump Train, judging from his Facebook posts.

By December 2008, several other Americans filed lawsuits.

Leo Donofrio of East Brunswick, NJ, also a lawyer, was one of them. He documented his lawsuit, citizenship research and other people’s efforts on his site, Natural Born Citizen.

Donofrio’s tack was different. He alleged that, not only was Obama ineligible because his father was a British citizen (Kenya was still a colony then), but so were John McCain and Roger Calero. McCain was born in Panama when his father was serving in the Navy; a signed Senate certificate had to be produced allowing him to run for the Republicans. Hillary Clinton was one of the signatories. Roger Calero was born in Nicaragua and ran for the Socialist Workers Party, no questions asked.

Donofrio was unsuccessful. Despite that, he also helped other plaintiffs with their lawsuits. All failed. That had nothing to do with him or them. In short — and avoiding legalese — the Supreme Court considered that all lacked standing. No one filing a lawsuit — even if in the military, as one plaintiff was — personally or directly would be affected by Obama’s natural born citizenship or lack thereof.

Most people concerned about the issue think the Supreme Court didn’t want to open a can of worms.

On March 13, 2012, Donofrio gave up practising law:

After long consideration and discussion with my family, I am saying goodbye to this blog and the law. I am retiring my law license and will be concentrating on making films, and writing music …

The other plaintiffs from 2008 and 2009 include — but were not limited to — Orly Taitz and Cort Wrotnowski.

By then, Democrats opposed to Obama and concerned Republicans started converging online.

By July 2009, the controversy ended up being more of a Republican Tea Party than a Democrat meme. It is possible that the Democrats were tired of it by then. For Republicans, it was a relatively new issue.

It is also worth pointing out that prominent Republicans and conservatives joined with Democrats in believing that Obama is a natural born citizen, whatever that means these days. At least three different definitions float around. According to one, Obama, Ted Cruz and others with one American citizen parent are natural born citizens. That is not what we 50+s learned at school.

Historical footnote – Chester A Arthur

Questions over an American president’s citizenship arose only one other time, back in the 19th century with Chester Allan Arthur.

Leo Donofrio relates the history, which I — and many others — did not know. It has never been in the history books we had at school.

In short (emphasis in the original):

Chester Arthur was a British citizen/subject by virtue of his father not having naturalized as a United States citizen until Chester Arthur was almost 14 years old.

That means Chester Arthur was a British subject at the time of his birth.

We’ve uncovered news clips exposing a thorough trail of lies, all of which served to obscure Chester Arthur’s true history of having been born as a British citizen.

Chester Arthur’s lies came during his Vice Presidential campaign in 1880.  His fraudulent attempt to obfuscate family history provides context and evidence that in 1880 it was recognized that having been born as a British citizen would make one ineligible to be President or VP.  His falsification of family history indicates he was aware of POTUS ineligibility.

Conclusion

This post, lengthy as it is, provides the history of those who questioned Obama’s origins or who wanted to smear him during his 2008 campaign.

Republicans were not the originators. Democrats were.

The End.

Bible and crossThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Matthew 21:44-46

44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”[e]

45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.

——————————————————————————————–

Today’s verses follow on from last week’s reading wherein the chief priests and the elders challenge Jesus’s authority.

After that challenge, Jesus related two parables to them. The first was the Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32). A father asked his two sons to work in the family vineyard. One initially declined, but decided to obey his father. The second son told his father he would work but did not. Jesus asked the religious leaders which son did the father’s will. All said that the first son did. Then, alluding again to John the Baptist’s exhortation to baptism and repentance, Jesus said that the tax collectors and prostitutes who took John’s call seriously would enter the kingdom of God before they would.

The second story was the Parable of the Tenants (Matthew 21:33-44). The owner of an estate with a vineyard leased the winepress to his tenants and left the country for a period of time. Before he returned, he sent word via his servants that the tenants were to prepare the fruit. The tenants killed or stoned one after another. They even killed the man’s son — taking him off the property to do so, just as Jesus was taken out of the gates of Jerusalem for His Crucifixion (Hebrews 13:12-13).

Jesus cited Psalm 118:22-23:

22 The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.[a]
23 This is the Lord‘s doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes.

He warned the religious leaders once again, delivering the same lesson as in the Parable of the Two Sons.

He passed judgement on them, saying that the Gentiles would inherit the kingdom of God instead:

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”[e]

John MacArthur explains:

Jesus says to the leaders of Israel, “You have lost the right to be in the place of blessing.” God turned from Israel.

Like they said, let’s seize that son and kill him, He is saying whoever tries to seize the Lord Jesus Christ to do harm to Him shall be broken into pieces. You do that to God’s Son and that’s what God will do to you. He will, in the words of the Jews who responded, He will miserably destroy those wicked men who seized His Son. You fall upon the Lord Jesus Christ to do evil to Him, to do harm to Him and you’ll be broken to bits. And then in the final judgment when He falls on you, you’ll be crushed to powder. That’s what it says. Oh my…strong words, strong words.

MacArthur discusses the phrase in verse 44, ‘broken in pieces’:

The Greek verb “grind him to powder” couldn’t be translated better than that. That’s the best translation of it. It’s not simply a crushing, but a scattering into nothingness. You do harm to Christ, you seize Christ and kill Him and you’ll be broken. And when He comes in judgment, He will crush. A parallel is Daniel 2:34 and 35 where it shows the empires of the world in that image, you remember? And the stone cut out without hands who is Christ smashes that thing. Christ will come as a crushing stone, a judge. And He will judge in a pulverizing eternal judgment those who have rejected Him.

So, the illustration, conclusion, given out of their own mouth. Jesus gives the explanation. And taking their own words that such people ought to be judged and replaced, He says that’s what you’ve done to Jesus Christ, you too will be judged and replaced in the sphere of blessing.

These men knew Jesus was talking about them in those two parables (verse 45). Yet — and yet — they feared the crowds more than He (verse 46). Was the only thing holding them back from arresting Him then and there the wrath of God? No, it was the wrath of … the crowds.

In other words, they feared men more than God. That sums up their whole outlook. They craved the approval and awe of men in everything they did. Yet, they posed as men of God, His representatives on earth.

Their hypocrisy was astonishing.

MacArthur compared them with Herod:

Herod Antipas was afraid to take John and kill him because the people thought he was a prophet. And now they’re cowards, they don’t want to touch Jesus because the people think He’s a prophet and they’re afraid. That’s the only thing that holds them back. They are so lost…so lost. The Sanhedrin wants Jesus dead but they’re afraid. They’ve just heard the truth about themselves, they could care less. They know He’s the Son of God, they don’t care about that either. Oh my, what unbelievable unbelief, but it is characteristic of all unbelievers who reject against the truth. So sad.

MacArthur reminds us that the Jews also rejected the prophets of the Old Testament:

They took Jeremiah and threw him into a pit and tradition says ultimately he was stoned. They rejected Ezekiel. Amos had to run for his life. Zechariah was rejected and stoned. Micah was smashed in the face, 1 Kings 22:24 says, by the people who would not hear the message that he gave. And this is the norm, this is how they treated the prophets, the kings and the high priests and the leaders of the people, the religious people. This is how they treated God’s prophets.

In a few weeks’ time, we will be coming to Matthew 23:31, which is on the same theme. So is Matthew 23:34, which is in the three-year Lectionary and read on the feast day of the martyr St Stephen. MacArthur summarises the overall message:

This is the norm. They have rejected the prophets. They rejected the son and they’ll continue to reject, He says. And they did.

This is another warning that God punishes conscious, willful unbelief. Lack of belief in His Son Jesus Christ also brings divine condemnation. This is because He sent Jesus as our Mediator and Advocate with Him.

Equally important in this second half of Matthew 21 is further proof that Jesus gives of His deity. MacArthur tells us (emphases mine):

I believe this is one of the most missed and yet most clear claims to deity that our Lord ever gave. He says here God sent you prophets and then God sent a son. And Mark 12:6, an only son. And so Christ distinguishes Himself as the Son of God, sent from God as different than the prophets. He’s not a servant like their servants, he’s a son. It is a claim to deity. And in the parable, this is the heir, to him belongs the inheritance, is the implication. This is the son. It is a remarkable claim by Jesus to be the Son of God, a claim for which they wanted Him dead. There’s no way around it. He claimed to be the only Son of God, not a prophet like other prophets, not even the best of the prophets. Nothing less will do than that He is the incarnate Son of God. He is either that or He is a false prophet and a liar …

Do you realize that Jesus is here telling them to their face that He knows they’ll kill Him? That’s right. There’s no surprise to Him. He’s not a victim. He said, “I am not having My life taken from Me,” in John’s gospel, “I lay it down of Myself.”

That Jesus is not a victim is important to remember, especially on Good Friday. We should make sure that young people and others learning about the faith understand and remember that.

Next time: Matthew 22:23-33

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