The Day America Was Changed Forever

NYTIt is difficult to believe that it has been fourteen years since the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington DC, and Shanksville, PA claimed thousands of innocent lives and forever changed the landscape of the United States, and the world for that matter. The images of planes flying into buildings, individuals jumping for safety, debris filled streets, acts of extreme heroism will be forever notched into the memories of a watching world. Prior to the terrorist attacks, September 11th was just another date on the calendar. After the attacks, September 11th became something entirely different. It became a rallying cry. It became a point of reference. It became, as Franklin D Roosevelt said before Congress after the attack on Pearl Harbor, “a date that will live in infamy.” It is a date, as former president George W. Bush said on the evening of September 11, 2001, “Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature.”

It is one of those days that everyone remembers their exact location. It is a date that everyone can recount exactly what they were doing when the planes struck the North and South World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon in Washington DC, and spoiled attacks of hijacked Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. Previous generations had such life-defining moments. Everyone remembers where they were when news came across the radio that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the empire of Japan. Everyone remembers where they were when news broke  that John F Kennedy had been assassinated. The events and horrors of September 11th, 2001 will be a day frozen in time for America, and the rest of the world.

I can remember where I was on that day. I was on the campus of North Florida Community College in Madison, FL in my first class of the day, Liberal Arts Math. I remember that the attacks came close to the end of that class. Students filed into the student center to hear the latest update. We were in there just a few minutes when we were told that all remaining classes for the day had been cancelled. As I made my forty-five minute drive home, I remember thinking about what had just happened. I remember thinking about the extreme loss of life. I remember wondering what would be next. I remember wondering whether or not those responsible would ever be found and brought to justice.

Much has happened in fourteen years. Responsible parties have been identified and for the most part brought to justice. As Americans, we have been introduced to phrases that we rarely considered before: terrorist, Islamic fundamentalist, extremists, and jihad.  We have engaged in a war on two fronts that is beginning to come to an end. Plans are being made to build an Islamic mosque very near the site of Ground Zero sparking heated debate. A tower has been erected on the site of the original towers to serve as a reminder (as if we needed one) of the events of that day, demonstrating the resiliency of the American people. On this day may we remember, reflect, and pray. Pray continually for the families whose lives were forever changed. Pray continually for our military who are fighting today to ensure these events are not repeated. Pray continually for our country’s leaders who wade through the aftermath of September 11th . May we also pray for the spirit of unity we all felt as Americans on September 12th, 2001.

Book Review : The Good Spy

good spyThe depth of American diplomacy and espionage around the world is a closely guarded secret. The American public is afforded little detail and insight into the workings of our most essential intelligence gathering agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. This is for a reason. Often the work of clandestine agents within these agencies, although hidden from view, have led to improved relationships with allies, uncovered information that has stopped potential attacks, and helped bring world players to the table of diplomacy. In his new book, “The Good Spy; The Life and Death of Robert Ames”, author Kia Bird tells the story of one such clandestine CIA spy. Robert Ames was a spy for the CIA during the early 1960’s through the early 1980’s. Ames’ career with the CIA included involvement with many now famous individuals and operations. The most well-known event surrounding his life was the bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut on April 18, 1983 where sixty- three people including Ames were killed.

After attending La Salle University on a basketball scholarship, Ames joined the Army where he found himself stationed at a base that was run by the NSA. It was here that he was introduced to the importance of intelligence gathering. After leaving the Army, Ames began working with the CIA in 1960. It was here that Ames excelled. He became an expert in Arabic language and custom (called an Arabist throughout the book). At any early point in his career, Ames became interested and involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict. He would be involved with this conflict his entire life. Bird chronicles his work assignments and travels, as well as his efforts to maintain a normal family life. This book is as much about American foreign policy in the Middle East in the 1970’s and 80’s as it is about Ames. While Bird details and helps the reader navigate the private meetings, back room negotiations, and fragile relationships with “assets” and other political players, he tells the story of the volatile atmosphere in the Middle East and America’s involvement in it.

One of the things I really liked about this book was the introductions that were made. Bird tells of Ames’ work in countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Iraq, the region of Palestine, Egypt, and others. Bird has done an excellent job of introducing the reader to figures such as Yasir Arafat, Ariel Sharon, Sadaam Hussein, and chronicles the rise of groups such as Israeli Mossad, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Osama bin laden, and the Taliban. “The Good Spy” is a great work. Intriguing. Informative. Prophetic. Honest. This is a book all Americans should read. It tells how arrived at where we are today and gives great lessons for moving forward into an uncertain future.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review : HRC

hrcSince the early 1990’s, there has been a Clinton in the news. It all began with Bill being elected as POTUS is 1992 and 1996. This was followed by Hillary’s election to the Senate. This was followed by a failed attempt by Hillary to defeat Barrack Obama for the presidency in 2008. Her defeat was followed by confirmation as Secretary of State, a cabinet office which she held well into 2012. Suffice to say that Americans have come to know the Clinton family very well through both scandal and service. In their new book, “HRC; State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Rodham Clinton” veteran Washington journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes have put together a snapshot of a very specific 4-5 year period of Hillary’s life. They chronicle her rise from the ashes of a failed presidential bid and subsequent work as Secretary of State in the Obama administration.

The opening of the books is reminiscent of a funeral service which lay to rest a failed political campaign. The authors reveal the thought process of Hillary’s camp, referred to as “Hillarylanders” as they attempt to determine what happened and who they need to blame. Allen and Parnes trace the steps and connect the dots as to how Hillary goes from defeated candidate and Obama’s most visible rival to Obama’s most trusted and influential cabinet member. The great majority of the book details the highs and lows of Hillary’s tenure as Secretary of State. The high points include the tracking and death of Osama bin Laden and the facilitation of the democratic efforts among nations involved in the Arab Spring. The lowest point of her tenure include the mishandling and leadership failure in protecting US personnel and American interests during the attacks in Benghazi, Libya where four American died. The authors dedicate an entire chapter to this tragedy, tragedy that will likely haunt Hillary the rest of her political life. The final part of this book deals with the possibility of Hillary’s presidential run in 2016.

There are two words that describe the Clinton political machine that comes through in HRC so very clear: loyalty and revenge. You need to look no further than the opening chapter, “Hillary’s Hit List”. One of the things that get in the way of the effectiveness of this book is the consistent muddying of the storyline through name-dropping. The authors seem to want the reader to know all of the people that personally know. This book is as much about Bill as it is Hillary. Although this book is intended to chronicle rebirth to the political landscape, the authors tell what Bill was to doing all along the way to facilitate that rebirth. This book proves a point that may have been unintended, but is still crystal clear. The point is that if it had not been for Barrack Obama and Bill Clinton, Hillary would likely have enjoyed a much smaller public stage.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review : Awakening; How America Can Turn From Economic and Moral Destruction to Greatness

awakeningI would dare say that little argument can be found over the notion that the United States has lost/is gaining ground as a leader among other nations. Signs pointing to this reality are clear and increasing. It seems every day that another block is removed from the conservative foundation that this great nation was built upon. It has been argued that Rome fell, not because of an outside military threat, but fell because of inward corruption. Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, in his new book, “Awakening; How America Can Turn From Economic and Moral Destruction Back to Greatness”, seems to agree as he writes, “Similarly in America, the most lethal threat to freedom today comes not from a foreign military opponent. It comes from within.” The faces of this internal corrosion include, but are not limited to tax-payer funded abortion, bi-partisan conflict in Congress, weakened foreign policy, economic slowdown bordering on depression, an overstretched and burdened military, exponential growth in the national debt, government sanctioned persecution of the Christian faith as seen in IRS harassment, assaults on the institution of marriage, rises in pornography, gambling, human trafficking, and many other moral issues.

Reed sets the stage for a comeback with a sobering picture of what a prosperous and conservative America looks like. He begins by describing what is a called spiritual cycles. This refers to the course that a country runs from prosperity to want. He uses the nation of Israel as an example. The Bible gives us an up close picture of a nation that went from good to bad to good. Spiritual cycles, as Reed writes, move through a series of six stages, “Faith leading to obedience to God’s laws, obedience creating abundance, abundance leading to pride, pride leading to apostasy, apostasy leading to defeat and judgment, and repentance leading back to faith.” Reed shows how America was on the front side of this cycle as a nation built upon Judeo-Christian values. He also shows how America prospered under the leadership of President Ronal Reagan. This is section entitled “In Motion”, or what America looked like before the wheels starting coming off the cart.

In the second section, entitled “Off Course”, Reed demonstrates how America, now under the leadership of a President Barrack Obama, who is the polar opposite of Ronald Reagan, is languishing in the fourth and fifth part of the spiritual cycle. Reed cites matters such as a disregard for sanctity of the US Constitution, his spoken support of same-sex marriage, failure to act decisively in foreign policy matters, and increasing the dependency of the poor on government services as the signs of a dangerous drifting from conservative roots. In Section Three, “Awakening”, Reed gives the steps that we can take to bring America back to greatness. His steps are: The Reenergizing of Lincoln’s Party, A Bold Pro-Family Plan, and A Call to Christian Citizenship.

Reed has written a great book. I really enjoyed Reed’s background on the forming of America as a conservative nation. This is very helpful. I also liked how Reed set the presidencies of Reagan and Obama alongside each other using the words and press reports from each presidency. The book becomes a summary of the failures of the current administration. I have no problem with this, but I am sure Democrats will take issue here. All in all, Awakening is a well-researched, passionately written clarion call to return to the moorings that made America great.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Worthy Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review : Implosion : Can America Recover From Its Economic and Spiritual Challenges in Time?

“The United States stands as the wealthiest, most powerful nation on the face of the earth. But now, in the midst of unprecedented and skyrocketing federal debt, severe economic troubles, political uncertainty, declining morality, a weak church, growing spiritual apathy and apostasy, historic disasters, and myriad of other daunting challenges, many wonder of America’s best days are behind her” are the words of best-selling author and political expert Joel Rosenberg in his latest book Implosion; Can America Recover From Its Economic and Spiritual Challenges in Time? Rosenberg gives an honest, eye-opening, and sobering assessment of the challenges and dangers facing our country today. Rosenberg gives four possible scenarios that he believes “could make America unable or unwilling to play a key role in the unfolding prophetic events of the last days.” Although these scenarios are only speculative, they are well supported by facts, statistics, and current events.

Scenario #1: Economic Implosion – The United States implodes financially and economically.

Scenario #2: War on Terrorism – The United States is devastated by a surprise military or terrorist attack or series of attacks.

Scenario #3: Natural Disasters – The United States is devastated by an unprecedented series of natural disasters.

Scenario #4: The Rapture – The United States suddenly loses millions, or tens of millions, of people when the Rapture happens, leaving the rest of the American people devastated and triggering any number of cataclysmic events.

Rosenberg offers a fifth scenario, one that is far more optimistic. This scenario is one of a Third Spiritual Awakening. He devotes an entire chapter to the people, events, and results of the First Great Awakening and an entire chapter to the people, events, and results of the Second Great Awakening. Rosenberg believes these two spiritual movements in the history of the United States gives hope for another movement of God across our country, despite the perceived lack of hope and vision that abounds.

Implosion is an excellent book. It has something for everyone. It is not a book on partisan politics and does not set out to blame the federal government solely for the ills of this country. It is not another “the sky is falling” doomsday project. Instead, Rosenberg lays out before the reader the current state of affairs in America. Rosenberg encourages the reader to incorporate a biblical worldview, a “third lens” as he calls it, when looking at the challenges we face. It is well written and researched, fair and balanced. An outstanding work that I highly recommend.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review : The Coming Revolution

I must admit that I have always had an interest in the political landscape of our nation. I do my best to keep up with the leaders, decisions, and trends that will affect, positively or negatively, the future of the nation of which I am a citizen. The current political climate in America reminds me of someone who continues to put air into a balloon, while all the while ignoring the warning signs of the impending burst. I cannot remember a time when the decisions being made on behalf of the people of these United States were so drastic and monumental. The current political setting has caused many to become discouraged and fearful; to wonder, at times out loud, what the future hold for the United States of America.

In Dr. Richard G. Lee’s new book “The Coming Revolution; Signs From America’s Past That Signal Our Nation’s Future”, Lee reveals through past history and present circumstances that our country is on the verge of another revolution reminiscent of 1776. This coming revolution is not one of bullets and battles, but one of the ballot box. Of this coming revolution, Lee writes, “What this book proposes is a revolution that is far superior to a violent rebellion. It is a revolution of faith and ideas, a new commitment to a higher cause. It is a revolution that will fulfill the charge our forefathers gave us during the founding era. A tremendous hunger for restoration of accountability exists in this country, and the popular reaction to the progressive agenda in Washington may be a blessing. Excessive control and a burdensome taxation are driving the people of this country back to the basics and, hopefully, leading to a renewal and resurgence of the American Spirit”. Lee begins his book by giving the reader a portrait of our nation. He does so by  taking a brief look at the founding of our country, the major advances that lead to America’s greatness, and the current social and political issues we face today.

Dr. Lee references many of the early documents that make up the scaffolding of what the values and principles of this country rest upon. He describes what is known as the “American Spirit” which is defined  as the sense of unity that existed between the early American colonies that allowed them to work together, grow together, worship together, and prosper together. He shows how this American spirit originated with the Puritans and the sermons of the Great Awakening. Lee lists the influences the Great Awakening had upon early America. These include unity and community among the colonies, moral and spiritual worldview, a spirit of independence, and a belief in manifest destiny, among others. Lee also shows the areas where America is losing ground to popular culture. He includes health care, education, the institution of marriage, to name a few.

A note to readers. Those who label themselves as moderates, progressives, liberals, or socialists will not enjoy this book. Lee often cites how the current administration has drifted from the intentions and principles of the founding fathers. This book is written in support of the Tea Party Movement that has taken a prominent position over the past year. He said this of the Tea Party, “the movement stands for a smaller government, fiscal responsibility, individual freedom, and a conservative view of the nation’s founding documents.”. Lee chronicles just how far the Obama administration has gravitated from these formative beliefs.

The best part of this book, in my opinion, is the fact that after Dr. Lee lays out the problem, he does not leave the reader there wondering what can be done. Instead, he lists ten things that can be done right now in order to make a difference. Some of these are pray for America, register to vote and know the issues, and let your elected officials know how you feel, to name a few. I highly recommend this book. It is not an easy read, in that there is a great deal of historical information which is necessary in order to understand Lee’s position. The Coming Revolution is great food for thought on the issues facing America today.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”