The Eternal Lure of Socialism

woody zimmermanSo what about socialism? Is it really so bad? Every new generation seems to ask this, as though it’s a brand-new idea that has never been tried, or simply has not been “properly applied.”

We’re hearing these questions again, as it becomes ever clearer that Barak Obama is a genuine, far-left, “command-economy” socialist who intends to remake America’s economic system as quickly as he can.  Mr. Obama wants government to take over banking and health care. He wants to tax carbon-producing fuels (like coal and oil) into oblivion. He wants to nationalize public education. His government plans to run General Motors. And he plans to triple the national debt, within a decade, with trillion-dollar deficits. This is just for starters, in his first two months in office. If that’s not a serious socialist, I’d like to know what one looks like. (Maybe Josef Stalin?)

All this, Mr. Obama evidently believes, will level the economic playing field, spread the wealth, and ultimately save us from our capitalist excesses, before it’s too late. Every tired nostrum we’ve ever heard about socialism, across its 150-year history, is being trotted out and applied at the highest levels of our government, in a mad rush to become the European Union, west branch.

The curator of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s historic home on the Potomac River, says visitors once came there to find out how George Washington lived and what his times were like. Now, visitors want to find out who George Washington was. It is a time of historical ignorance.

Just so, socialism’s comeback is partly due to poor education of younger people (and perhaps amnesia among older people). Millions seem clueless about what socialism is and, perhaps more importantly, what it has been. Socialism is not a brilliant, brand-new idea that hasn’t been tried. It is a thoroughly discredited, anti-human-nature, utopian dream that has repeatedly been tried, but has failed every time. To invert G. K. Chesterton’s famous observation on Christianity: socialism has not been found difficult and not tried – it has been tried and found wanting.

Massively applied in Russia, China and Sweden – and to lesser degrees in other countries – socialism has brought poverty, ruin and even violence in every case. Sweden – the very model of modern, enlightened “democratic” socialism – is going broke. China is moving inexorably toward capitalism and entrepreneurship, by degrees. (The Chinese are too smart to stay with socialism.) The USSR finally collapsed under its own weight when its supply side died. Russian friends say they had bushels of money that was essentially worthless because there were no products to buy.

Socialism has never worked – even under the threat and application of force – and there is no likelihood of its working at any time in the future. It fails because it is “systemically flawed” – a label that modern liberals like to hang on capitalism. Nevertheless, socialism rears its head in America every 15 or 20 years – currently under the rubric of “progressivism” – and makes a serious run for control of the country. Usually its champion is an attractive politician who promises utopia under a new, “compassionate” system where government takes from those who have “too much” and gives to those who have “too little.”

Past liberal presidents – e.g., Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – were either tepid socialists or unprincipled pols who implemented the ideology only timidly. Finally, though, we have elected a socialist president who outstrips all of his predecessors in confidence and conviction. He seems seriously determined to change the country, fundamentally, and he is on a roll to do it with the help of a radical congress, a stalled economy and a nation full of frightened people who have lost jobs and savings in a bank and stock-market crash that shook the country’s foundations. The emergency has allowed Mr. Obama to run around the country spouting nonsense – e.g., “we’re going to spend our way into fiscal responsibility” – without being called on it. Whether he can continue to get away with this remains to be seen. So far, he’s doing pretty well at it.

Despite its copiously documented failures, socialism keeps coming back because it always sounds so good. Young people – particularly those ignorant of socialism’s dreary history – are drawn to its promise of “social justice” – i.e., redistribution of wealth. As a young person, I often observed that salary and vacation are two issues that could easily turn young workers into socialists. Young people with young families never earn enough money or get enough vacation time from their jobs, while older people often have more than enough of both. Wouldn’t this be an ideal place for the “haves” to give to the “have-nots”?

The socialist idea is great in theory. The difficulty is that fundamental facets of human nature simply will not let it work. To demonstrate this, I cite an anecdote that I found on the web. I can’t attribute it, as no author was listed, but I think my readers will agree that it has the ring of truth.

An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student, but had once failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked; that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor proposed a class-experiment on socialism. All grades would be averaged, and everyone would receive the same grade. No one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged. Everyone got a grade of B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.  But as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too; so they studied little.  The second test average was D!  No one was happy. After the 3rd test, the average was F.

The scores never increased. Bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings. No one would study for the benefit of anyone else.  All failed, to their great surprise. The prof said socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great. But when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

A second anecdote originated in Russia. A close friend recounted it after his visit there.

An entrepreneur offered two menial workers – each earning two kopeks a day – a chance for increased pay. One of them would make four kopeks a day; the other would make eight kopeks. Both would have to sign up to make the opportunity work. Would they agree to it?

Their answer was “No.” They considered it “unfair” that one of them should earn more, and they were willing to forego the higher pay on that principle.

It took over 70 years of Russian socialism to deform work-attitudes in this way. No one knows how long it will take to undo them. Now Americans are being moved in the same direction by the siren song of “fairness.” Are we sure it’s where we want to go? And are we really prepared for what the world will be like when we get there?

Why Women Should Not Take Men Shopping

Anne MikolayThis column is strictly for laughs. Heaven knows, we could all use a good laugh nowadays!

I take no credit for the following, which landed in my email after making the rounds on the internet.  Thus, I do not know the real name of the man who wrote it, or if he, in fact, exists. Regardless of whether this is fact or fiction, it is funny stuff indeed! If you are a woman who has ever dragged her man shopping, or a man who has been forced to circle the mall more times than he would like, read on, and enjoy! Then share the laughter with someone else!

“WHY WOMEN SHOULD NOT TAKE MEN SHOPPING”

After I retired, my wife insisted that I accompany her on her trips to Target. Unfortunately, like most men, I found shopping boring and preferred to get in and get out. Equally unfortunate, my wife is like most women – she loves to browse. Yesterday my dear wife received the following letter from the local Target.

Dear Mrs. Samsel,

Over the past six months, your husband has caused quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and have been forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against your husband, Mr. Samsel, are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in other people’s carts when they weren’t looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

3. July 7: He made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the women’s restroom.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official voice, ‘Code 3 in Housewares. Get on it right away’. This caused the employee to leave her assigned station and receive a reprimand from her Supervisor that in turn resulted with a union grievance, causing management to lose time and costing the company money.

5. August 4: Went to the Service Desk and tried to put a bag of M&Ms on layaway.

6. August 14: Moved a ‘CAUTION – WET FLOOR’ sign to a carpeted area.

7. August 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told the children shoppers he’d invite them in if they would bring pillows and blankets from the bedding department to which twenty children obliged.

8. August 23: When a clerk asked if they could help him he began crying and screamed, ‘Why can’t you people just leave me alone?’ EMTs were called.

9. September 4: Looked right into the security camera and used it as a mirror while he picked his nose.

10. September 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, he asked the clerk where the anti-depressants were.

11. October 3: Darted around the store suspiciously while loudly humming the ‘Mission Impossible’ theme.

12. October 6: In the auto department, he practiced his ‘Madonna look’ by using different sizes of funnels.

13. October 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed through, yelled ‘PICK ME! PICK ME!’

14. October 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumed a fetal position and screamed ‘OH NO! IT’S THOSE VOICES AGAIN!’

And last, but not least:

15. October 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited awhile, then yelled very loudly,’Hey! There’s no toilet paper in here.’ One of the clerks passed out.

 

Ospreys Come Back Home to the Bay

joe reynoldsIt was a week after the vernal equinox and the last weekend of March. The sky was partly cloudy and water temperatures in Sandy Hook Bay and nearby Raritan Bay were still chilly with readings on the thermometer in the low 40s. Yet, air temperatures were mild with highs in the upper 50s and there was a gentle breeze at 7-10 knots from the south.

 

osprey bay nest landing

(It must be spring! The Ospreys are returning to the bay to repair their nesting platforms with large sticks and mud)

All things considered, it was a lovely spring day! I decided to take advantage of the pleasant weather to scout out for recent Osprey activity in the Bayshore region of Monmouth and Middlesex counties. It was time to see which nesting platforms had the first Osprey activity of the spring/summer breeding season.

As winter ends, the bay prepares itself for warm-weather residents, such as Ospreys. It begins late winter when the water is still cold to us. With increasing amounts of sunlight warming the mud and muck in wetlands, and with rain and snowmelt releasing more nutrients or food into bay waters, these actions help to encourage more photosynthesis of plankton and algae. These aquatic plants help to feed creatures that are about to become more active after their winter dormancy. Tiny aquatic critters feed on plankton, which in turn feed small fish, which in turn feed bigger fish, which in turn feed larger fish, which then feed the Ospreys.

Spring certainly seems certain when the Ospreys return to Sandy Hook Bay and Raritan Bay after migrating from the tropics. The birds fly as much as 100 to 200 miles a day to return to the northern Jersey Shore to begin another nesting season.

osprey nest roost

(Osprey lovemaking taking place in Sandy Hook Bay)

I remember growing up along the Jersey Shore during the 60s and 70s, I hardly ever saw an Osprey. Back then, Ospreys were uncommon and on the verge of disappearing in New Jersey due to the use of a toxic chemical DDT. Thanks to a huge public outcry, DDT has been banned from being used in the United States ever since the 1970s. Consequently, Osprey populations along the Jersey Shore have been increasing. Along the Bayshore region of Monmouth and Middlesex counties, there are now between 15 to 20 active nests.

According to NJ Fish & Wildlife & Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, there were fifteen active Osprey nests identified in the Bayshore region last year, which produced 25 baby Ospreys. That means on average a nest produced 1.67 young. This figure is up from 2007 when there was 1.38 young per nest in the Bayshore region. While Ospreys are still a threatened species in New Jersey, their recovery in the Bayshore region is something to be in high spirits.

osprey stand

(Ospreys can be found nesting out in the open near water. Their diet consists of 99% fish)

As I scouted along the bay, I observed quite a few active nests. My first stop was at Cheesequake State Park in Old Bridge Township. The park attracted its first pair of nesting Ospreys in 1997, which produced two fledglings. Since then, the park has produced many more young, thanks in part to volunteers erecting man-made nesting platforms. Since dead trees have become scarce in many saltwater wetlands, poles in open areas with wide platforms on top help to encourage Ospreys to nest. The platforms are the easiest way to see an Osprey nesting in the Bayshore region.

From Arrowsmith Point at Cheesequake you can still see the original Osprey nesting site and several more nesting platforms. From the point, I counted two active nesting platforms with adult Ospreys sitting on top. I also counted one nesting platform that was destroyed by winter storms with an Osprey sitting on top of the fallen platform, most likely waiting for its mate to return before seeking a new nesting site, and three empty nesting platforms, presumably waiting for last year’s adults to return.

Farther east, I counted one active nest with an adult near Whale Creek in the Cliffwood section of Aberdeen Township. I also observed two adult Ospreys on top of a nesting platform near the mouth of Matawan Creek across from Keyport.

osprey in meadow

(Three nesting platforms can be seen from Arrowsmith Point at Cheesquake State Park, with one nesting platform destroyed from winter storms and on the ground, but with an Osprey on top)

Continuing the survey eastward, I observed one inactive nesting platform near the IFF plant in Union Beach, and another inactive nesting platform near the shoreline of Natco Lake in Hazlet Township. Things picked up, however, when I reached Middletown Township and spotted an active Osprey platform near Pews Creek and another active nesting platform near Belford Harbor.

Upon reaching Sandy Hook, I was greeted by not only an active nesting platform within Spermacetti Cove, but I was privileged enough to catch a pair of Ospreys copulating. I was a little ashamed at first to watch, but I mean how often does one get an opportunity like this. The male was whistling loudly on top of the platform when all of sudden he picked up flight and dropped suddenly on top of his mate. He settled on her back with wings flapping for balance. The female tipped forward to raise her tail high. After about 30 seconds it was over. I guess I can expect to see some young at this site soon.

Northward at Sandy Hook, I spotted Osprey activity at Officer’s Row, building 14. I also spotted activity at one of my favorite Osprey nesting platforms at Sandy Hook. It is near the tip of the hook. The nest greets all the ships that enter the harbor. It is a tall wooden nesting platform that every year for at least the last several years has had nesting Ospreys. I observed both a male and female Osprey sitting on the nest, maybe taking a break after copulation or maybe resting after making repairs to their large nest made of sticks, which measures 3 to 5 feet in diameter.

osprey stand

(One of my favorite Osprey nests in the Bayshore region can be seen near the tip of Sandy Hook where it greets and bids farewell to all the ships of the harbor. The nest can be clearly and safely observed from the north observation deck at Sandy Hook)

For the naturalist who has put down roots in one place as I have, one of the thrills of observing nature along the Jersey Shore is to track the natural sights and sounds of the seasons. There is a real joy to be able to predict what will happen certain times of the year or when I might expect to see the first arrival of a certain species.

Having Ospreys return to the Bayshore region of Monmouth and Middlesex counties is a tell-tale sign that the estuarine waters of the NY-NJ Harbor are ever slowly healing after decades of miss-management that led to large-scale habitat loss and water pollution. Yet, there is no guarantee that Ospreys will return next year. Each citizen in the bay has a part to play. People must be active in cleaning up their communities, restoring waterways and wetlands, and preserving open space. Only by the dedicated work of everyone living in the NY-NJ harbor can we hope to truly enjoy the homecoming of Ospreys to the bay each spring.

Website Accessibility

daniel vanceWhen born in 1969, no one realized Lance Cariveau was deaf. “In fact, Lance was more than a year old before a doctor diagnosed him,” said 47-year-old Yvonne Cariveau, Lance’s sister, in a telephone interview. “We hadn’t been able to understand why he wasn’t talking or interacting well with people.”

After the diagnosis, Yvonne, at age nine, began taking her baby brother on as her “project” to help him become better adjusted to life.

“So when he was three, we began walking around the neighborhood holding hands,” she began, “and we would walk up to a tree together. I would put his one hand on my throat (to help him feel the vibrations) and make him look at me while I said ‘tree.’ I wanted him to learn how to talk so he could tell people what he wanted. We did that for about three years. We walked up to different trees, plants, and rocks, for example, and I would teach him the words. He felt the motion on my throat, saw my lips, and tried copying me. He said quite a few things, but wasn’t very clear. It is hard for deaf people to modulate their voice.”

Now fast forward to 2009: Today, Cariveau owns website services company VoyageurWeb and has become an expert on making business websites accessible for people with disabilities. She said an increasing number of businesses nationwide have been making their websites accessible in order to tap into the purchasing power of the millions of Americans with disabilities. (Remarkably, she said, many schools and government agencies still don’t have accessible websites.)

What makes a website accessible? “For one, many people with hand tremors have difficulty using a mouse and because of that can’t fill out online forms to make purchases,” she said. An accessible website lets customers move between sections of a form using only the tab key.

In addition, an accessible website has contrasting colors to help people with color blindness and a “clean” background for people with vision challenges, she said. It also has large-sized fonts, doesn’t use bright yellow or red lettering, and has alternative text behind every website image in order for blind people to “read” it. Also, an accessible website lets users change font sizes.

She advised, “It’s to the economic advantage of business owners selling online not to exclude any customers that have money to spend.”

Contact: danieljvance.com [All American Foods and Blue Valley Sod made this column possible.]

UMC ‘Rising Stars’ Talent Show

The United Methodist Churches of Atlantic Highlands and Navesink will be hosting a spring talent
show “UMC’s Rising Stars” on May 2nd, 2009. All proceeds from this benefit will go toward the
Sculthorpe-Whitney Marek Scholarship fund.

“UMC’s RISING STARS”:

Show Date: May 2nd 2009 7:00 pm
Entry Deadline: April 11th 2009
Entree Fee: $5.00 per act

  • A maximum of 15 Acts will be allowed – get your entry form in early!
  • Open to children and adults from age 11 and up
  • Final Acts subject to approval – The UMC reserves the right to deny
    participation based on age-appropriate content
  • All participants will receive a certificate of participation and, upon
    request, a letter for 20 community service hours.
  • Prizes will be awarded by a panel of independent judges:

*Most Entertaining* – *Most Original* – *Most Likely to Succeed*
Members of the audience will choose a *People’s Choice Award*

ADMISSION $10.00 (STUDENTS 11 & UNDER -$8.00)
(UNDER 5 YRS FREE)
REFRESHMENTS INCLUDED

LIMITED SEATING – Advanced tickets may be purchased at the UMC Office, 3rd and Gardfield Avenue, Atlantic Highlands.
For tickets or more information:
732 291 0485 or 732 977 2378 email [email protected]

Click here for:

Entry Form

Sponsorship Form

Flyer

 

Obama Bankrupting America on ‘Stimulus’ Spending

Gordon BishopAmerica’s Marxist President Barack Hussein Obama is ready to destroy the USA’s capitalistic economic system by borrowing $9.3 trillion in deficits over the next decade — more than four times the deficits of Republican President George W. Bush.

This is the guy who promised voters and taxpayers that he would reduce taxes for 95 percent of the working class.

His meaningless campaign slogans — “Hope and Change” — are simply hollow words that mean nothing in the real world of language.

As I warned in many of my columns last year that Obama was a “Snake Oil” salesman who has a smooth, slick tongue when it comes to speaking on his always ready TV prompters.

This fraudulent President looks good, speaks clearly and has been pumped up as the new “Messiah” to save our nation’s corrupt political system.

You gotta be kidding!

Obama is a product of the most corrupt city in America — CHICAGO! There is nothing original or moral about what he is doing to turn the United States — already a Socialist State — into a Marxist Communist society.

Before Obama was elected President last November, the stock market was hovering around 12 to 13 thousand points. It dropped in half that amount in his first 100 days in office. It’s now around 6,500 to 7,000.

Millions of working class investors lost trilions of dollars in the aftermath of an economic blood bath. It was almost like the beginning of another Great Depression, like the one that Americans suffered thorugh in the 1930s. I know because I was born in 1938 and my parents told me all about the millions of people out of work and couldn’t find jobs. Who knows how many unemployed works had to sell apples for a nickle on the street corners to feed their families.

The unprecedented borrowing and spending Obama is dumping on our nation’s economy is called “unstainable” by his own budget director.

Is that what all of the ignorant fools who voted for Obama really expected?

Not in a million years!

Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget for the 2010 fiscall year beginning October 1, contains overly ambitious programs to overhaul the U.S. health care system and launch a new “cap-and-trade” rules to combat “global warming.”

“Global Warning” is former Vice President Al Gore”s “Junk Science” publicity stunt.

The majority of America’s professional meteorologists don’t buy into the “Global Warming” projections concocted by the liberal Democrat party’s Far Left propaganda machine: “The sky is falling!…The Sky is Falling!…”

The Left always envisions “doom” and “gloom” in their radical speculations — and the liberal media immediately support such unscientific blather.

I know that as a fact. I worked for 27 years at New Jersey’s largest newspaper, The Star-Ledger (from 1969 to 1996). Page 1 was always reserved for “sensational” stories, whether they were true or false. That’s the way the liberal media works — like it or not.

Bad news sells. Good news winds up on the inside pages

My job at The Star-Ledger (a Newhouse paper) was as a columnist and investigative reporter. They were the best years of my 50-year career in journalism. My first job was as a reporter/columnist of The Herald-News, once the largest daily paper in North Jersey.

Daily papers have become dinosaurs in the news media. By the time the papers are delivered to the homes, businesses and newsstands, the electronic media (TV, radio and the Internet) have posted their news when it happens.

We live in an “Immediate Now” world of over-saturation of information. Most normal folks can’t process that much information — and commercials, or ads. They’re burned out!

I’m closing this column with another Obama promise: His budget will cut the deficit to $553 billion in five years.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says the red ink for that year will total $672 billion.

That could easily turn out to be a multi-trillion-dollar budget if all of Obama’s socialist programs are signed into law.

God Bless America!

(Gordon Bishop is a ‘Who’s Who in the World’ award-winning journalist and New Jersey’s first “Journalist-of-the-Year” — 1986/New Jersey Press Association.)

Picture This – 3/26/09

picture_this_090326

Identify the location and win

Picture This! We’ll show you a photo taken in Monmouth County. You tell us where it is located. If you have not won in the last 3 months and you know the answer, send your response to [email protected] This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Please include with your name and the town where you live. Be the first person to respond with the correct answer and we will publish your name and town.

Previous winner:

picture_this_090305_small

Andrew Crawford of Atlantic Highlands, NJ was the first person to respond with the correct answer.

A.  All Saints Memorial Episcopal Church (The Stone Church) in Navesink.

Atlantic Highlands Business Leaders Brainstorm at Meeting

jack_archibald_120The downturn in the economy has touched everyone, from Wall Street to Main Street as well as First Avenue in Atlantic Highlands.  In an effort to improve the business climate, Atlantic Highlands Mayor Fred Rast held his first summit of business owners this past Monday evening at the Shore Casino. Like most Atlantic Highlands events, the participants were passionate, opinionated and respectful of each other.

In a room with over 100 interested business owners and landlords, that is no small accomplishment. The Mayor took the lead and organized a meeting to brainstorm and listen to the concerns of our business community.  Mayor Rast had an ambitious agenda which included presentations from companies that could possibly produce savings on energy costs, as well as a local banker that promised to sit down with any business in town.

While a few participants grumbled about the presentations, most of the action came in the brainstorming portion of the meeting.  Mayor Rast had local officials, including the borough administrator, the borough attorney and the planning board attorney on hand to answer those questions that he could not.  As a local business owner himself, the Mayor understands the small businessman and has a fairly good idea about what is helpful for Atlantic Highlands.

At the very beginning, the Mayor urged business owners to stay together and offered suggestions of his own that could help the business climate.  Among his suggestions was the creation of a master list of available rental space, so that landlords could suggest other venues in town if their facilities do not match the prospective business.   He also promised to look into weekend ferry service, to attract visitors from NYC to Atlantic Highlands.  The Mayor also committed to streamlining the inspection and approval process at borough hall, so that businesses do not suffer an undue delay during the start up period.

There were suggestions from the audience to improve our economy as well.  Some ideas appear to be very workable, including a visitor’s service at the harbor or the placement of a sign at the First Avenue jug handle to alert travelers to Atlantic Highlands. Some suggestions won’t fly for legal reasons, such as the moratorium on certain types of businesses along First Avenue.  Zoning issues don’t allow for such restrictions while others gladly welcome competition as a means of getting more people into town.

Throughout the evening, the Mayor reiterated the governing body’s commitment to making the borough business friendly. He mentioned several steps that the borough has taken to help the local business, and promised to keep the dialogue open.  He believes that the business community will rise together, so long as they stand firm with each other.   Everyone knows that this is a difficult economy, and Mayor Rast should be applauded for his efforts to bring everyone to the table.

US Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers – pt 2

Daniel VanceRecently, I featured in this column 39-year-old Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), who in 2007 gave birth to a son with Down syndrome. Now age two, Cole is an inquisitive and happy toddler making his presence felt.

McMorris Rodgers is in her third term, Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference, and one of the House’s highest-ranking Republicans. Having Cole has opened up new avenues for her to represent families affected by disability all over the nation.

“I want to tell Cole’s story,” she said in a telephone interview from her Capitol Hill office. “Cole has given me a whole new reason and passion for life right now in Congress.”

Last year, along with others, McMorris Rodgers helped launch the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus, which claims 50 members. The other three founding members were Pete Sessions (R-TX), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI). Sessions and Norton also have children with Down syndrome.

She said, “Cole has opened doors for me to work across the aisle and even in the Senate in ways I could never have done on my own. People are aware of Cole and they often ask me about him and are very supportive. I’ve become acquainted with members of Congress because of Cole.”

She has talked over the telephone with Gov. Sarah Palin, who also has a child with Down syndrome. In their conversation, Palin mentioned having seen McMorris Rodgers’ YouTube video that helped launch the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus.

Overall, nonprofit groups representing people with Down syndrome haven’t been nearly as politically active as groups for people with other disabilities. Historically, Down syndrome groups have focused more on interpersonal support, she said.

“But I think it’s important the Down syndrome community get involved in the national debate over funding for research and educational opportunities,” she said. “A lot of the research with Down syndrome has been focused on prenatal diagnosis. But we believe there is potential for other research. Down syndrome is simply a duplicate No. 21 chromosome. The Alzheimer’s gene is also in the No. 21 chromosome. We believe if we were to study what is happening in that chromosome, the effort could also help adults with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Children with special needs often help families clarify life’s priorities, she added. She wants to do all she can to help Cole maximize his potential.

Contact: danieljvance.com. [Palmer Bus Service and All American Foods made this column possible.]

The Diplomatic Disciple

ImageIn the Gospel of St. John we have this introduction to the passage that is known as Peter’s Denial of Jesus – “Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus.  Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in.” (John 18:15-16)

In his gospel John has an interesting way of describing himself.  He does not want to say “I was there” when these things are happening.  His signature is ‘the other disciple’.  This is what I call the diplomatic identification because whenever other disciples are doing something, he refers to them by name.

At the Last Supper, we find this insertion, after Jesus reveals that one of the disciples will betray him. “His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which one of them he meant.  One of them, the disciple that Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.  Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said ‘Ask him which one he means.’  Leaning back against Jesus, he asked, ‘Lord who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’  Then dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot the son of Simon.” John 13:22-26) It is interesting that Peter and Judas are mentioned by name, but the other disciple is not.

The next event that we find this disciple is at the foot of the cross.  Again the text is clear. “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son!’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’  From this time on, this disciple took her into his house.” (John 19:25-27)

John reappears in the next passage after the soldier has pierced the side of Jesus. “The man who saw it has given his testimony and his testimony is true.  He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe” (John 19:35)

In the Resurrection chapter of John’s Gospel, John refers to himself again as the disciple that Jesus loved (20:2) when he races to the empty tomb and runs faster than Peter.  However, when he gets to the tomb he does not look inside.  The empty tomb is first seen by Peter.  However, John started to create a belief gospel now when he writes: “Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside.  He saw and believed.” (John 20:8)

In the 21st chapter which is the last chapter of the gospel, John inserts twice “the other disciple, the one that Jesus loved.”  In the first place, he is the one that recognizes that the man waiting on the shore is the Lord Jesus. In Peter’s reinstatement, he is trying to deal with the rumor that the loved disciple will not die until Jesus returns (21:7, 22-23). The penultimate verse of the gospel is, “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down.  We know that his testimony is true.”

We do not know exactly why John decided not to introduce himself.  Was this because of humility or because by the time of the writing of the gospel, the “we” of the penultimate verse was the entire church who accepted his testimony.  We also glean that he was well-connected with people in Jerusalem and for a Galilean fisherman to have entry into the high priest’s court it means that he had business dealings with people in the Jewish leadership.  Yet with all of these connections, he treasured his relationship with Jesus the most and he was known as the beloved disciple – the disciple that Jesus loved.