Our Rock Star Pope is More Popular than Ever

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

He’s bald, lives in a dorm, rides around in an old car, has one lung and a spreading waistband.

And he’s a rock star.

In fact, he’s the rock star on the planet today.

He is also living proof that love, goodness and the joy of Christ Jesus are what people want in this world.

Pope Francis, with his gentle ways and loving heart has taught us all a little bit of what Jesus meant when He used the word “shepherd.” I don’t know about you, but of all the rock stars and celebrities who are forever trying to get in front a camera, this is the only one I would give just about anything to meet.

Pope Francis isn’t just the world’s rock star, he’s my rock star.

Recent surveys show that Pope Francis’ popularity just keeps climbing. I think the reason for this is simple, and it has nothing to do with his “progressive” views. This is a man we feel we could go to and tell him the worst thing we ever did, or the worst thing that was ever done to us, and trust that he would respond with love and the forgiveness of Christ.

That is what draws people to him. He may stick his foot in his mouth once in a while. And he may not cut a dashing figure in his black shoes and simple zucchetto, but he’s everybody’s heart throb, just the same.

People everywhere, whether they will admit it or not, hunger for the love and forgiveness that only comes from Jesus. Pope Francis is a conduit of that love. He represents the hope of forgiveness and acceptance before the throne of God. He is Christ’s Vicar, and the love of Christ shines through him.

That’s why he’s a rock star.

From Crux:

Nine in 10 US Catholics now say they have a favorable view of Francis, including nearly 6 in 10 who have a “very favorable” view, according to a report released Thursday from the Pew Research Center to mark the second anniversary of the pope’s election.

… Among the findings:

  • Seven in 10 adults see the pope favorably, up 13 points from his election two years ago

  • Those who have an unfavorable view of the pope hovers at 15 percent, climbing just a few points from a low of 11 percent last year

  • And those with no opinion on the pope has dropped from a high of 30 percent to 15 percent

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Boko Haram Murders 47 Nigerian Villagers. ISIS Bulldozes Archeological Treasures.

Nergal Gate Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Nergal Gate Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The work of murdering innocents and destroying civilization continues apace in that part of the world afflicted by Islamic extremists.

Boko Haram’s latest atrocity was to attack a mosque in a village in Northern Nigeria named Njaba. According to witnesses, Boko Haram killers arrived at about 5:30 am and begin firing at people who were going to the community mosque. They specifically singled out men and boys to kill.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, ISIS bulldozed the ancient archeological site of Nimrud. This is part of a series of attacks on ancient structures which are treasure not only of Iraq, but the whole world. ISIS videotaped themselves last year destroying statues and artifacts in the Mosul Museum and also at the ancient Nergal Gate to ancient Nineveh.

From African News:

ABUJA, March 5 (Xinhua) — At least 47 villagers were killed in the latest attack by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno, one of the three most-hit states by the terror group, a local security source said Thursday.

Ahmed Haruna, a member of the civilian joint task force responsible for the security of lives and property in Damboa area of Borno said suspected Boko Haram fighters attacked Njaba village, about 87 km south of Maiduguri, the state capital, on Tuesday.

The incident was not immediately reported to local officials until Thursday, due to telecommunication challenge in the state, Haruna said.

According to him, a woman who apparently was a survivor of the attack reported the incident in Biu, some 100 km from the Njaba village where the attack took place.

From The New York Times:

BAGHDAD — The Islamic State militant group attacked the ancient archaeological site of Nimrud in northern Iraq and damaged it with heavy vehicles, Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said Thursday.

It was the latest in a series of attacks on ancient structures and artifacts in Syria and Iraq that the group has destroyed in the name of its harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Last week, Islamic State militants videotaped themselves destroying statues and artifacts in the Mosul Museum and at the Nergal Gate entryway to ancient Nineveh. The militants captured the city during its offensive blitz through much of Iraq last June.

From The New York Times:

ISIS destroys the tomb of Jonah. BAGHDAD — When the Sunni extremists ruling Mosul destroyed the shrine of a prophet whose story features in the traditions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism — the most important of nearly two dozen marked for destruction by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syriain the first seven weeks of its reign — small groups of residents gathered to mourn.

 

From New York Times:

ISTANBUL — The reports are like something out of a distant era of ancient conquests: entire villages emptied, with hundreds taken prisoner, others kept as slaves; the destruction of irreplaceable works of art; a tax on religious minorities, payable in gold.

A rampage reminiscent of Tamerlane or Genghis Khan, perhaps, but in reality, according to reports by residents, activist groups and the assailants themselves, a description of the modus operandi of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate this week. The militants have prosecuted a relentless campaign in Iraq and Syria against what have historically been religiously and ethnically diverse areas with traces of civilizations dating to ancient Mesopotamia.

 

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History of the Crusades: Richard the Lion Heart vs Saladin

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of a thousand years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost over a thousand years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

 

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/03/history-of-the-crusades-president-obamas-prayer-breakfast-comments/#ixzz3TZxemtjl

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Money Talks, Facts Walk in Oklahoma’s Three Horse Economy.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kool Cats Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsrcool/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kool Cats Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsrcool/

Oklahoma has a three-horse economy. Here it is in three words:

Agriculture.

Military bases.

Oil.

If you closed down those military bases and lowered the price of crude, Oklahoma’s three horse economy would dry up and blow away like a tumbleweed, bouncing before the wind.

Oklahoma has been riding the crest of an oil boom for years now. This has led to policy decisions at the capitol which will be disastrous for Oklahoma’s people in the long run. The reason they will be disastrous is that these decisions were based on the fantasy that Oklahoma’s current prosperity is a reflection of the genius of lawmakers and their half-brained policy decisions rather than the price of the black gold that comes out of Oklahoma’s red dirt.

Okies don’t like things that hurt the oil industry because the oil industry is the plate that everyone in the state feeds off of in one way or another. Not everyone is black gold rich. But just about every paycheck that gets cashed is related in some way to agriculture, military bases or oil.

You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The dumbest dog in the kennel knows that.

That’s the reason why the Oklahoma State Geological Survey has been oh-so-quiet about the cause of all those confounding earthquakes that have been shake-rattle-and-rolling the state in recent years. There’s a link between the broken glass from those quakes and the hand that feeds us. In fact, it appears that the hand that feeds us is also the hand that is rocking the earth we stand on.

There seems to be a link between all these Okie earthquakes and fracking. Fracking is a practice of the oil industry, one that makes it more profitable and that adds $$$ to Oklahoma’s money bins, both private and public. We’ve got an oil boom and an earthquake boom and it appears that one of them is causing the other. It also seems that the industry that puts food on our collective table and jingle-jangle in our pockets is rocking and rolling the foundations on which our homes are built.

I’ve read concerns that all these little quakes are building up to a big boy that will really do damage. If that happens, Oklahoma will be in the national news again. It seems that we never get noticed unless we are bombed, beheaded or blown away. If we end up rubble-ized by an earthquake shakedown, I imagine we’ll get noticed again.

A couple of years ago after one of our killer tornadoes, the national media wondered why Okies don’t build more storm shelters. They raised the legitimate question as to why we don’t have storm shelters in our schools. The legislature was unable to address these significant concerns that relate to the public health and safety because of pressure from the Chamber of Commerce, who, as anyone who knows anything about Oklahoma politics is aware, runs Oklahoma state government.

Now, it appears that somebody (any guesses who???) has been deep-sixing scientific data linking our earthquake boom (pun intended) to our oilies. I don’t need a psychic to know who’s going to win this argument.

When you’ve got a three-horse economy, you don’t shoot one of the horses.

From Newsweek:

For years, the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) avoided acknowledging that Oklahoma’s dramatic increase in earthquakes had anything to do with the oil and gas industry, even while federal scientists fully acknowledged the link.

According to new reporting from EnergyWire, OGS’s reluctance to point fingers may have been due to the industry itself.

In 2012, U.S. Geological Survey officials said that a step in the hydraulic fracturing process—the disposal of vast volumes of salty, chemical-laced wastewater by injecting it deep into the ground—was related to the massive spike in Oklahoma earthquakes. OGS, however, responded by criticizing their “rush to judgment.”

“Since early 2010 we have recognized the potential for the Jones earthquake swarm to be due to the Hunton dewatering [oil and gas project],” Austin Holland, an OGS seismologist wrote to USGS science adviser Bill Leith in 2013, according to documents obtained by EnergyWire. “But until we can demonstrate that scientifically or not we were not going to discuss that publicly.”

According to EnergyWire, Holland was called into meetings with his boss, University of Oklahoma President David Boren, and oil executives, to discuss the link.

From StateImpact:

Despite long-held suspicions that the state’s earthquake surge was linked to oil and gas activity, the Oklahoma Geological Survey stayed silent amid pressure from oil company executives, EnergyWire reports.

For this and other interviews, State Seismologist Austin Holland acknowledges “intense personal interest” from energy company executives, but told reporter Mike Soraghan it never affected his scientific findings:

But Holland and OGS have been the voice of skepticism in the scientific community about connections between oil production activities and the hundreds of earthquakes that have shaken the state.

From grist:

Oklahoma has been experiencing an earthquake boom in recent years. In 2014, the state had 585 quakes of at least magnitude 3. Up through 2008, it averaged only three quakes of that strength each year. Something odd is happening.

But scientists at the Oklahoma Geological Survey have downplayed a possible connection between increasing fracking in the state and the increasing number of tremors. Even as other states (Ohio, for example) quickly put two and two together and shut down some drilling operations that were to blame, OGS scientists said that more research was needed before their state took similar steps.

Now, though, emails obtained by EnergyWire reporter Mike Soraghan reveal that the University of Oklahoma and its oil industry funders were putting pressure on OGS scientists to downplay the connection between earthquakes and the injection of fracking wastewater underground. In 2013, a preliminary OGS report noted possible correlation between the two, and OGS signed on to a statement by the U.S. Geological Survey that also noted such linkages.

 

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Shades of Truth: A Film that Delves into the Legacy of Pope Pius XII

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Michele Madalena Oliveira https://www.flickr.com/photos/43747862@N04/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Michele Madalena Oliveira https://www.flickr.com/photos/43747862@N04/

I’ve been reading a book called The Myth of Hitler’s Pope. I recommend it.

I’m also going to check into this film as soon as I can.

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FBI Warns Law Enforcement that ISIS is Recruiting American Teens

 

This photo was taken in London, 2006. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tjebbe van Tijen https://www.flickr.com/photos/7141213@N04/

This photo was taken in London, 2006. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tjebbe van Tijen https://www.flickr.com/photos/7141213@N04/

From CNN:

Washington (CNN)The FBI and Department of Homeland Security sent a joint warning to law enforcement across the country about the concern over a growing trend of girls and boys wanting to fight with ISIS in the wake of the detention of a 17-year-old Northern Virginia teen last week, according to a law enforcement official who has read the report.

The source says law enforcement is tracking “lots of cases” like that around the country and they’re growing increasingly concerned about the issue.

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Netanyahu’s Speech: Is Beltway Partisanship Going to Get Us Killed?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by KAZ Vorpal https://www.flickr.com/photos/kazvorpal/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by KAZ Vorpal https://www.flickr.com/photos/kazvorpal/

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress this week.

The president of the United States went into full bully mode before this speech saying that the invitation was a partisan move to embarrass him. In the end, he managed to embarrass himself, and at least 50 of his fellow Democrats in Congress.

First, administration operatives chewed on the invitation to the Prime Minister. We’ve been treated to all sorts of press questions because Congress didn’t consult the president before issuing the invitation. There was tut-tutting about the prime minister trying to affect American policy with this speech.

That last complaint seems a bit coy considering the amount of lobbying that is thrown at Congress by foreign interests every day. That lobbying is hidden from the American people, but its affect on foreign policy is bound to be enormous. This speech was out there where we could all hear it. It brought we the people into the discussion, and that, I think, is the real reason the president was so irate.

When efforts to force Congress to withdraw the invitation failed, the president went to work on Democratic members of Congress. Most of the Ds who sit in the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives had the good sense to show up for the speech. They behaved like representatives of the people dealing with serious issues. However, at least 50 of them staged a grade school boycott.

This boycott accomplished nothing good. It’s primary affect was to pour gasoline on the partisan fires in our government and deepen the disrespect in which the American people hold Congress. It revealed just how bizarre and reality-deprived the thinking of these people has become.

I realize that they are inside a pressure cooker and that the whole world outside that pressure cooker is just a figment of memory to them. But their behavior about this speech, as well as the behavior of the entire Congress on most other issues, reveals more than a little bit of delusional thinking.

Did they really think that this puerile plan to boycott the speech of a head of state of a friendly nation was a good idea? Have they no sense of responsibility to the American people and our need for at least the appearance of a sane and functioning government?

We’ll get to the particulars of the speech itself in another post. For now, I want to address this partisan flap over the fact that the speech was made.

The first question is a simple one. Was the invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu a partisan political move on the part of Congressional leaders?

Rather than answer that, I’ll ask another question: Does Congress do anything that is not a partisan political move?

The next questions are, was President Obama within his rights to throw such a hissy fit about the invitation, and were the Democratic lawmakers right to boycott the speech?

The answer to those questions are no, and no.

Congress does not need the president’s approval when it invites someone into its house to speak. Congress can — as should be abundantly clear, after this speech — do that anytime it wants.

President Obama was not only out of line, he looked petulant and weak, pulling out all the stops to derail this invitation.

The Democratic members of Congress who chose to boycott the speech revealed themselves as blind party loyalists rather than representatives of the people. There is no requirement for anyone to agree with what Prime Minister Netanyahu said. Neither he nor President Obama has a vote in either the House or Senate of the United States.

As representatives of the people who should be engaged in making decisions about these serious issues, members of Congress have a responsibility to listen to the head of state of an affected nation who is also our ally. This speech was an opportunity, both for them and for the American people, to think more deeply about our position in that part of the world.

These members of Congress boycotted the speech because of party politics. I don’t have the words to appropriately characterize how shallow and callous that is.

This was another clash in these politician’s dangerous and absolutely vicious game of king-of-the-Hill. What’s sobering is that American foreign policy in this tinderbox part of the world appears to fall into that same category. The terrifying question of a nuclear Middle East with its deranged politics and mass murderers without limits seems to be just another battle in the great Congressional game of using the power of their elected offices to win the next election for their political party.

Yesterday’s boycott of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech by at least 50 members of Congress is not just another symptom of this partisan illness. It is an indication that the business of constantly jockeying for the next election has reached a lethal level.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech exposed the fact that the partisan gamesmanship has advanced to the point that it now controls what our Congress does in matters that concern issues such as nuclear war, with its potential for global annihilation. We are looking at an on-going holocaust in the Middle East. Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks for a tiny nation that clings to existence on the edge of a region of the world that has, quite frankly, gone mad.

The partisan wars are so out of control that our elected officials now use issues that could threaten the survival of much of the human race in their game of king of the Hill. The question of a nuclear Middle East is not a parlor game. Make no mistake about it, the issues that Prime Minister Netanyahu raised in his speech are issues of survival, and not just for Israel.

I am not saying that I agree with everything Prime Minister Netanyahu said. He is the leader of another nation. His interests do not coincide entirely with those of the United States. But he raised important issues that should be discussed in Congress and throughout these United States.

Should the Congressional leadership have used their power to invite a head of state to address their house to one-up the prez? No, they should not have done it to one-up the prez.

They should have done it because we the people have a need to know more about American policy in the Middle East. Too much of it is cloaked and kept away from the American people. It’s a sad day when we need the speech of a foreign head of state to bring the people of this nation into the conversation. For these reasons, I don’t have any problem with the invitation beyond the partisan motivations behind it.

We really need to demand better of our elected officials. We need more transparency in our government, more open discussion of real issues. We also need and deserve public servants who serve the public, not partisan brinksmanship.

If this country was not so strong, it could not have survived the past decades of bad governance. However, it has been greatly weakened by a long series of bad presidents from both parties and the abdication of responsibility by Congress.

If beltway partisanship replaces the good of America among our elected officials, even in matters this grave, it is going to get us killed.

Here’s a list of those who have admitted they took a powder on the speech. It’s from CNN:

At least 50 Democratic House members and eight senators who caucus with the Democrats said in recent weeks they wouldn’t attend the speech, many in protest to a move that they say is an affront to the president.

Rep. Charles Rangel (N.Y.) had originally said he would skip the meeting, but changed his mind on Tuesday.

A full list of the Democrats who confirmed they missed the speech follows:

SENATE – 8 members

Sen. Al Franken (Minn.)

Sen. Martin Heinrich (N.M.)

Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.)

HOUSE – 50 members

Rep. Karen Bass (Calif.)

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)

Rep. Corrine Brown (Fla.)

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.)

Rep. Lois Capps (Calif.)

Rep. Andre Carson (Ind.)

Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas)

Rep. Katherine Clark (Mass.)

Rep. William Lacy Clay (Mo.)

Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.)

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.)

Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.)

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.)

Rep. John Conyers (Mich.)

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.)

Rep. Danny Davis (Ill.)

Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.)

Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.)

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Texas)

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.)

Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.)

Rep. Chaka Fattah (Pa.)

Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.)

Rep. Marcia Fudge (Ohio)

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.)

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas)

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio)

Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.)

Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.)

Rep. John Lewis (Ga.)

Rep. Dave Loebsack (Iowa)

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.)

Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.)

Rep. Jim McDermott (Wash.)

Rep. Jim McGovern (Mass.)

Rep. Jerry McNerney (Calif.)

Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.)

Rep. Gwen Moore (Wis.)

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas)

Rep. Donald Payne (N.J.)

Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine)

Rep. David Price (N.C.)

Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.)

Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.)

Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.)

Rep. Mike Thompson (Calif.)

Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.)

 

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History of the Crusades: The First Crusade 1099

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of a thousand years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost over a thousand years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

 

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/03/history-of-the-crusades-pope-urban-ii-father-of-the-crusades/#ixzz3TR2tedYI

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Conversion on the Beach: One Man’s Conversion to Christ Before ISIS Execution

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab https://www.flickr.com/photos/harrystaab/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Harrison Staab https://www.flickr.com/photos/harrystaab/

ISIS march 21 men onto a beach in Libya. Twenty of these men were Christians. One, a Chadian Citizen, was not.

He watched the Coptic Christians die for Christ. When the terrorist murderer demanded that he reject Jesus Christ as his God, he replied, “their God is my God.” He was then beheaded with his Christian brothers.

The joy in this story is that 21 martyrs to Christ entered heaven that day. They are praying for us now.

From the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of the Diocese of Bombay:

ISIS announced the execution of 21 Copts but only 20 names were confirmed, most of them were from the province of Minya(Upper Egypt). There was an inaccuracy in the number of Egyptian Hostages; there were only 20 Egyptians(Copts). Then who was this remaining one non-Coptic victim?

Ahram-Canadian News was able to gather information about this man. He was a Chadian Citizen (Darker skin shown in picture) who accepted Christianity after seeing the immense faith of his fellow Coptic Christians to die for Christ. When Terrorist forced him to reject Jesus Christ as God, looking at his Christian friends he replied, “their God is my God“ so the terrorist beheaded him also.

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Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress: An Overload of Truth

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by IsraelinAmerica https://www.flickr.com/photos/israeldc/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by IsraelinAmerica https://www.flickr.com/photos/israeldc/

The Obama Administration has engaged in unseemly behavior, trying to block Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech before Congress.

I say it is unseemly because Congress is a separate body of government and it is their right to invite anyone they want into their house to address them. That simply is not the President’s call. I’m going to leave all the policy considerations alone, and leave it at that. I know how the Oklahoma House of Representatives would react if the Governor tried to tell them how to run their house. It wouldn’t be pretty.

Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a powerful speech that, frankly, was an overload of truth in our national capital. I say that because I sometimes get the feeling that our government is more concerned with manipulating and lying to the American people than it is with governing this great nation.

However, it is important to remember that he is the Prime Minister of Israel, not the United States. That doesn’t make anything he says untrue. But it does shift the concerns he raises.

As a side note, I think that the applause was at least in part a response to the president’s attempt to tell Congress not to allow Prime Minister Netanyahu speak. As I said, that is bound to rile just about any member of Congress, regardless of their party affiliation.

I’m going to write about this speech in detail in the next few days. But, in the meantime, I want you to hear it in its entirety and judge for yourself without me or anyone else telling you what to think. These are grave issues. The fate of the world rests on them. Americans are their government. So think carefully. Think deeply. Think prayerfully.  Think without partisan blinders.

To read the transcript of the speech, go here.

This is a video of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech, in full.

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