IT'S ALL ABOUT CHOICE - MY TAKE

CHOICEOne of the most powerful words under our control is the word “choice.” Webster defines “choice” as “the opportunity or power to choose between two or more possibilities : the opportunity or power to make a decision.” Choice has been around even before mankind. In fact, God chose to provide a choice even to the angels. While the Bible does not give many details regarding the rebellion of Satan and the fallen angels, it seems that Satan—probably the greatest of all the angels (Ezekiel 28:12-18)—in pride chose to rebel against God in order to seek to become his own god. Satan (Lucifer) did not want to worship or obey God; he wanted to be God (Isaiah 14:12-14). Revelation 12:4 is understood to be a figurative description of one third of the angels choosing to follow Satan in his rebellion, becoming the fallen angels—demons.

 

Unlike humanity, however, the choice the angels had to follow Satan or remain faithful to God was an eternal choice. The Bible presents no opportunity for the fallen angels to repent and be forgiven. Nor does the Bible indicate that it is possible for more of the angels to sin. The angels who remain faithful to God are described as the “elect angels” (1 Timothy 5:21). Satan and the fallen angels knew God in all His glory. For them to rebel, despite what they knew about God, was the utmost of evil. As a result, God does not give Satan and the other fallen angels the opportunity to repent. Further, the Bible gives us no reason to believe they would repent even if God gave them the chance (1 Peter 5:8). The angels had a free-will choice to make; God did not force or encourage any of the angels to sin. Satan and the fallen angels sinned of their own free will and therefore are worthy of God’s eternal wrath in the lake of fire.

 

Why did God give the angels this choice when He knew what the results would be? God knew that one-third of the angels would rebel and therefore be cursed to the eternal fire. God also knew that Satan would further his rebellion by tempting humanity into sin. So, why did God allow it? The Bible does not explicitly give the answer to this question. The same can be asked of almost any evil action. Why does God allow it? Ultimately, it comes back to God’s sovereignty over His creation. The Psalmist tells us, “As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30). If God’s ways are “perfect,” then we can trust that whatever He does—and whatever He allows—is also perfect. So the perfect plan from our perfect God was to allow sin. Our minds are not God’s mind, nor are our ways His ways, as He reminds us in Isaiah 55:8-9. God gave Adam and Eve the same choice He gave Satan and the angels to obey Him or not, but Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit.

 

God, therefore, has set the standard for “choice” and that same standard has always been an option to all of God’s creations. However, to mitigate choice, we must understand that there is at least one consequence of every choice, either good or bad. When Satan and the angels choose to disobey God, as a consequence, they were thrown out of heaven and will be thrown in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14). A consequence of Adam and Eve’s disobedience is that they were banished from the Garden of Eden and would endure suffering and hardships.

 

When David had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba and arranged to have her husband killed as a cover-up, one immediate consequence was that God took his son that resulted from that affair. When President Clinton had a sexual encounter with Monica Lewinsky, consequences included public humiliation and embarrassment for his family, and an action to remove him from office. As a consequence of George Bush’s choice to invade Iraq because of its oil resources, over 4500 Americans were killed, thousands wounded both physically and emotionally, and the start of Isis (formerly Al-Qaida). Had Coach Carroll called a run instead of pass, the Seattle Seahawks may have won the Super Bowl. Although every choice has at least one consequence, not all consequences are bad. For example, Jesus’ death on the cross resulted in his resurrection and eternal life for all who believed.

 

WHAT ABOUT ABORTION?
As a Christian, I believe that abortion is wrong except when the life of the mother is in danger. However, I also believe that every woman faced with the difficult choice to abort a pregnancy is attempting to make a decision appropriate for her situation. God has given her the opportunity and authority to choose and whether we agree or not, the U.S. Supreme Court has said that abortion is legal. I consider myself to be pro-choice as well as pro-life because pro-choice does not mean nor imply pro-abortion, and federal, state or local governing authorities do not have the right to impose their choice on a woman’s right to choose. In other words, it’s really none of our business.

 

WHAT ABOUT CAPITAL PUNISHMENT?
i believe that capital punishment is wrong except when it is used to punish a person for killing a child. According to the Bible, Jesus places high significant on children. . “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14) When a person chooses to take the life of a child, a consequence should be death because all children are precious.

 

WHAT ABOUT SAME-SEX MARRIAGE?
As a Christian, I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman. Some especially on the Right continue to try and convince us erroneously that same-sex marriage has something to do with religious rights, but it has everything to do with civil rights. When same-sex couples choose to marry, that choice does not affect my religious beliefs. God has not given us the right to impose our choice on others regardless of the circumstances, and while some try to vilify how others should love one another, they seem to accept the adulterous behavior and other “forbidden” actions of many. For example, the seventh commandment tells us not to commit adultery but says nothing about who a person can love. Even our forefathers understood God’s intent to provide free will when they penned these powerful words to the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Thus, every American has the absolute right to pursue happiness in any way that they may choose.

 

The freedom to choose is a God given right and an enormous responsibility. Each choice that we make should take into consideration that there will be consequences that can significantly impact our destiny, but that’s just my take.

 

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MY TAKE ON THE FERGUSON GRAND JURY DECISION NOT TO INDITE OFFICER DARREN WILSON

FergusonOn Monday, November 24, 2014, Ferguson Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced to the world in a press conference that the grand jury had declined to indict white police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked weeks of protests and inflamed deep racial tensions between many African-Americans and police. I don’t believe that anyone was surprised that officer Wilson was not charged in the killing of Michael.

 

 

 

It appears that Prosecuting Attorney McCulloch led the grand jury in a manner that I believe was designed to indict Michael rather than the man who shot him. Even at the start, many doubted whether the grand jury process would be fair since McCulloch had strong ties to the Ferguson Police Department and there had never been an indictment of any Ferguson police officer. In addition, McCulloch’s father was a St. Louis police officer killed in the line of duty by a black man when McCulloch was 12; his brother, nephew and cousin all served with the St. Louis police; and his mother worked as a clerk for the force for 20 years. Given these possible biases, there were many calls for McCulloch to recuse himself from the grand jury proceedings, but he refused. Even Governor Jay Nixon refused to relieve McCulloch as the prosecuting attorney and appoint a special counsel as many folks requested.

 

 

The way McCulloch conducted the grand jury investigation was anything but ordinary. Evidence is usually presented in a manner most favorable to the prosecution; the main purpose is to seek an indictment and then determine guilt or innocence at trial. McCulloch presented both sides of the case in great detail basically asking grand jurors to function as adjudicators of the facts. During his news conference, McCulloch was very clear that he believed the eye witnesses who supported Wilson’s version of events were more credible than those who did not. In fact, the only witness worthy of him quoting was Witness Number 10.

 

 

On August 11, 2014, when detectives interviewed Witness Number 10, a detective asked, “Would you just retell your account of what took place?” We all know that retell means that this witness had already told his story at least on one previous occasion without being recorded, so there is no way of knowing just how consistent his police statement was with his testimony before the grand jury. Here is what witness 10 said on August 11th: “I seen the two young guys walking down the street on the same sidewalk that I was on…”. Six weeks later during his testimony before the grand jury while under oath, Witness Number 10 changed his story. He then said, “I seen Mike Brown and his friend walking down the street close to the curb, not on the sidewalk.”

 

 

McCulloch also stated during his press conference that witnesses were changing their story before the grand jury on Wilson getting out of the car to chase Brown. Here is what Witness 10 said, “[Michael Brown] stopped. He did turn, he did some sort of body gesture. I’m not sure what it was, but I know it was a body gesture, and I could say for sure he never put his hands up after he did his body gesture, he ran towards the officer full charge.” When asked by the assistant prosecuting attorney in the grand jury room what he meant by body gestures, Witness Number 10 said, “I can’t say for sure what sort of body gesture, I cannot fully recall. All I know it was not in a surrendering motion of I’m surrendering, putting my hands up or anything, I’m not sure if it was like a shoulder shrug or him pulling his pants up, I’m not sure.” McCulloch’s favorite witness is saying, “I can’t recall,” “I’m not sure?” The only thing he is sure of is that Michael Brown did not so a surrendering motion. Yet many witnesses who came forward were consistent in saying that Michael Brown had his arms raised in a surrendering position.

 

 

The assistant prosecuting attorney then asked: “Let me ask you how is your vision?” Witness 10, “pretty good.” Question: “Okay, do you wear glasses or contacts.” Witness 10, “no.” The assistant prosecuting attorney did not ask when was his last eye examination or had he ever had his eyes examined. We do not know how old this witness is, but we do know that his eyes must be perfect to offer the grand jury the precise observations that he did. During his police interview on August 11, 2014, two days after the killing of Michael Brown, Witness 10 was asked how far away he was from the confrontation between Michael and Wilson, and he said, “…To guess maybe 100 yards, I would say. Maybe less.” However, on September 23, 2014, six weeks later, when asked under oath in the grand jury room, how far away he was, he said, “I would give it 50 to 75 yards.” Witness 10 reduced the distance in half while under oath before the grand jury, but the grand jury was not told by the assistant prosecutors what he said previously. Witness 10 changed his testimony while under oath.None of us know anything about witness 10 because he never came forward publicly, but he turns out to be the only witness to fully support Wilson’s version of what happened. I believe that the prosecutors willfully did nothing to help the grand jury judge the reliability of witness 10.

 

 

Prior to Wilson’s testimony to the grand jury, Ms. Kathi Alizadeh, one of the assistant prosecutors presenting the case, said this to the grand jury on September 16, 2014: “I’m going to pass out to you all, you all are going to receive a copy of a statute. It is Section 563.046, and it says law enforcement officers use of force in making an arrest, and it is the law on what is permissible, what force is permissible and when in making an arrest by a police officer.” Ms. Alizadeth then handed the jury a copy of a 1979 Missouri law that was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1985. Ms. Alizadeth handed the grand jury a copy of an unconstitutional law that said incorrectly that it is legal to shoot fleeing suspects simply because they are fleeing. By handling the grand jury that outdated law, Ms. Alizadeth deliberately lowered the legal standard upon which Wilson could be judged. With that law, she was telling the grand jury that Wilson had the legal right to shoot and kill Michael Brown as soon as Michael started to run. She was also informing the grand jury that Wilson did not have to believe that his life was being threatened by Michael.

 

 

That portion of the Missouri law, Chapter 563.046 says,“….Justified in the use of such physical force as he or she reasonable believes is immediately necessary to effect the arrest or to prevent the escape from custody.” As stated previously, that portion of the law was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in 1985. The grand jury then listened to Wilson’s testimony based on the belief that his shooting of Michael was fully justified because of that law since Michael ran away from Wilson.

 

 

What is equally astonishing about how this case was presented is that several weeks after Wilson testified and as the grand jury was about to consider whether or not to indict Wilson, Ms. Alizadeth told the grand jury on November 21, 2014 the following: “Previously in the beginning of this process I printed out a statute for you that was the statute in Missouri for the use of force to effect an arrest. So if you all want to get those out, that we have discovered, and we have been going along with this during research, is that the statute in the state of Missouri does not comply with the case law. This doesn’t sound probably unfamiliar to you that the law is codified in a written form in books and they’re called statutes, but courts interpret those statutes, and so the statute for the use of force to effect an arrest in the state of Missouri does not comply with Missouri Supreme, I’m sorry, United State Supreme Court cases. So the statute I gave you, if you want to fold that in half just so that you know don’t necessarily rely on that because that is a portion of that that doesn’t comply with the law.” How can the grand jury understand such legal jargon when they are not attorneys?

 

 

Ms. Alizadeth then gave the grand jury the revised law dealing with police use of force and then she said, “That does correctly state what the law is on when an officer can use deadly force in effecting an arrest, okay. I don’t want you to get confused and don’t rely on that copy or than print-out of the statute that I’ve given you a long time ago. It is not entirely incorrect or inaccurate, but there is something initially that’s not correct, ignore it totally.” The grand jury then asked, “The Supreme Court, Federal court overrides Missouri statutes?” Instead of a simple yes, Ms. Alizadeth said, “Just don’t worry about that. As far as you need to know, just don’t worry about that.” Ms. Whirley, the other assistant prosecutor added, “We don’t want to get into a law class.” Neither assistant prosecutors explained what was incorrect about the Missouri law nor did any of them inform the grand jury what the correction was.

 

 

I believe that this case was fraught with a blatant attempt by McCulloch to obtain a decision not to indict by the grand jury for several reasons: (1) the grand jury consisted of twelve (12) people, 9 white and 3 black jurors; only 9 votes were required for decision; (2) McCulloch did not present the case to the grand jury as most prosecutors do; two of his female assistants had the honor, which is generally inconsistent with how prosecutors use the grand jury process; (3) it is unheard of for a possible defendant to testify before a grand jury. Wilson testified for over 4 hours giving his side of what happened; (4) the only witness that passed McCulloch’s “credibility” test was witness 10, the only witness to support Wilson’s testimony. Remember, this witness saw everything clearly at originally 100 yards but changed that to 50 years during his testimony, but the grand jury was never informed about the his previous statement; and (5) McCulloch’s staff initially presented the grand jury with an old Missouri law on an officer’s use of force on September 16, 2014, that was ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court in 1985, but they deliberately withheld the correct law from the grand jury until November 21, 2014, when it was about to render a decision.

 

 

Except what the family may do in a civil court, what happens now will depend on the outcome of the U.S. Department of Justice investigation on whether Wilson violated Michael Brown’s civil rights as well as the overall conduct of the entire Ferguson Police Department in its policing efforts against the Ferguson African American community. If McCulloch wanted an indictment, he could have obtained it as most prosecutors do when convening a grand jury. It was never McCulloch’s intention to seek an indictment nor did he want to blemish his perfect record for never indicting any Ferguson police officer, but that’s just my take.

 

 

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MY TAKE ON SHAMEFUL REPUBLICAN LIES AND SCARE TACTICS ABOUT EBOLA

EbolaOn October 24, 2014, during a committee hearing, Darrell Issa, Republican Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, stated on the record that the new Ebola outbreak occurred in Guyana, South America. Issa also referred to Ebola as Eboli. In spite of his “expert Ebola knowledge,” Issa should have known that Guyana, South America, has nothing to do with Ebola because Ebola occurred in Guinea, Western Africa, a continent away. So much for artificial intelligence.

 

Issa also stated on the record during that hearing that the doctors at the Centers for Disease Control were lying when they said that you can’t catch Ebola on the subway since Dr. Craig Spencer, a recent Ebola patient, was riding on the subway (not sure which medical school Issa attended). While Issa’s comments were apparently made to instill fear in his Republican base in time for the November 2014 elections, it was a blatant lie–Ebola cannot be contracted on a subway. To debunk Issa’s lies and to counter some Ebola false statements, New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo both decided to take a ride on the New York subways.

 

Issa is not the only Republican employing lies and scare tactics about Ebola – New York Republican Representative Peter King went on Long Island News Radio on October 16, 2014, and said the following:

 

“The doctors were absolutely certain that this [Ebola] was not airborne.” “it’s time for the doctors to realize that they were wrong.” “Maybe this is a mutated form of the virus.”

 

So Representative King’s theory is that the Ebola virus mutated and is in the air that we breath? Yet another Republican who knows more about Ebola than the doctors. I guess King gets most of his Ebola information from Isaa and Paul.

 

But still more – another Republican “Ebola expert,” Dr. Rand Paul, said that “you can get Ebola at a cocktail party.” Dr. Paul is a self-certified Ophthalmologist and nothing in his medical background suggests that he has any knowledge about Ebola, but facts don’t matter when it comes to some right-wing radical Republicans like Paul.

 

Ebola has not mutated and is not in the air that we breath, nor can it be contracted on the subway or even a cocktail party. Competent medical experts agree unanimously that the only way that Ebola can be contracted is through the passing of bodily fluids. Perhaps Issa, King, Paul and others should check out the facts before engaging their mouth.

 

Nurse Nina Pham was the first recorded US case of someone contracting Ebola. Nurse Pham was one of the medical professionals attending to Thomas Eric Duncan who died because of the disease. She tackled one of the toughest jobs any nurse could take on — treating a highly contagious Ebola patient. And somehow along the way, she contracted the deadly virus herself. Nurse Pham was transferred from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas to the National Institutes of Health for treatment, and on Friday, October 25, 2014, she was publicly declared cured of the Ebola disease. To head-off any right-wing comments about whether or not she was “really cured,” the doctor that treated Nurse Pham deliberately gave her a public hug to further prove that she has been cured and is no longer contagious. That same day, Nurse Pham was invited to the Oval office at the White House and there was greeted by President Obama who also gave her a huge hug. Medical authorities also say that she is now immune from that disease.

 

Ebola is a terrible disease that has taken the life of thousands of African men, women and children. It is shameful and unfortunate that there is such a partisan divide in response to Ebola where some Republicans are attempting to gain cheap political points through the use of lies, fabrications and scare tactics to excite their base for the elections. In all likelihood, many Republicans who are fixated on Fox News and similar “so-called” news outlets will continue to buy-in to bogus theories about Ebola and will act accordingly, but that’s just my take.

 

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