2013 American of the Year: Ted Cruz

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The junior U.S. Senator from the great state of Texas, Ted Cruz, has been selected as this website’s 10th annual American of the Year, marking the first time that someone born outside of the country has been so honored.

Cruz was born in Canada, in the city of Calgary and province of Alberta in December of 1970 to a Cuban father and American mother from Delaware who were there to work the oil business.

Cruz’ parents moved to Houston, Texas in 1974, and he went to a Baptist high school, becoming Valedictorian of his 1988 graduating class. He then went to Princeton University, where he became a debate champion and noted speaker, graduating in 1992. He then attended Harvard Law School where he graduated magna cum laude, while also dealing with his parents divorce during this time.

In 1995, Cruz served in Virginia as law clerk to a true, great conservative jurist, J. Michael Luttig of the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and in 1996 became the first Hispanic to clerk for the Chief Justice of the US when he worked for William Rehnquist.

After working a few years in private practice, Cruz joined the presidential campaign of George W. Bush in 1999 as a domestic policy advisor, and was influential in the court process during the contested Florida election results battle at both the state and Supreme Court levels. This led to a role in the victorious Bush administration for a few years before a return to Texas.

During the Bush campaign, Cruz met his wife, Heidi Nelson, a New York investment banker who would go on to work for Condoleezza Rice at the White House and who now works for Goldman Sachs. They now have two daughters together.

From 2003 to 2008, Cruz served as Solicitor General of Texas, arguing numerous cases before the US Supreme Court including landmark victories in which he stood up for 2nd Amendment rights, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, and on behalf of a Ten Commandments monument at the Texas State Capitol.

Cruz returned to private practice from 2008 until his surprising Senatorial election battle of 2011. In what was described as a stunning grass-roots victory for fiscal conservatism, he defeated the sitting Lieutenant Governor and heir apparent. He then trounced his Democratic opponent in the November general election.

In the last few months, a poll by the respected Rasmussen organization found that Ted Cruz was the 3rd most influential world leader, following behind only President Barack Obama and Pope Francis. That position comes squarely from his emerging leadership as the most forceful, outspoken critic of what are proving to be disastrous liberal political programs, policies and ideas.

Particularly in 2013, Cruz emerged as a vocal opponent of Obamcare, the President’s attempt to socialize the American healthcare system. Cruz publicly and aggressively attacked the program at a time when many even within his own Republican Party were treading lightly.

What Ted Cruz has done is stand up and give voice to the massive base of the Republican Party that has felt left behind by the Party’s political leaders in recent years. As spending has exploded, war droned on, and deals been cut with Democrats that have allowed disastrous socialist programs to continue, that base has grown from restless to revolutionary.

While that Republican Party leadership cut those deals and smiled for the cameras, talking words like “compromise” and “collaboration”, the old “reaching across the aisle” stuff, Cruz not only recognized these continuing methods as disastrous for the Party politically, but for the nation intrinsically.

In 2013, Senator Cruz has invigorated the Republican Party base, which the Party will need if it is to have any chance at taking control of the full Senate in 2014 and then winning back the White House in 2016. Properly motivated, that base has the ability to make just those very things happen.

Republican control of both Houses of Congress, combined with control of the White House, in the next few years gives us the best, perhaps the only chance to reverse the disastrous liberal socialist spending programs instituted under Obama. That can only happen if more politicians become as publicly aggressive and fearless as Cruz was this year. Reaction to his style makes that possible now.

For his aggressive, principled, public stands on behalf of truly Conservative political values during a period when far too many Party leaders have been cow-towed into political cowardice, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is selected as the American of the Year.

NOTE:

In an original version of this article, I posited that Cruz was not eligible to become the President of the United States himself. This was based on an improper reading of materials which I believed stated that, with his having clearly been born outside of the U.S., both his parents needed to be U.S. citizens in order for him to be eligible for POTUS.

This is not so. On further research, the key information relating to Cruz comes from the ‘Citizenship Clause’ of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, as well as from the Nationality Act of 1940. Ted Cruz, with his mother clearly a U.S. citizen for more than 10 years, was considered a U.S. citizen himself at birth.

Basically, Cruz enjoyed ‘dual citizenship’ from the U.S and Canada. He has chosen to retain counsel in order to prepare the paperwork necessary in order to renounce his Canadian citizenship. This is clearly a precurssor to a projected run for the US Presidency in 2016 or sometime in the future. He does indeed enjoy such eligibility. My earlier comments were in error, and are well corrected here.


AMERICANS OF THE YEAR:
2004 – Pat Tillman
2005 – Bill O’Reilly
2006 – Rev. Billy Graham
2007 – P/O Chuck Cassidy (for the American police officer)
2008 – George W. Bush
2009 – Glenn Beck
2010 – Ron Paul
2011 – Seal Team 6
2012 – Michael Phelps

TO VIEW all articles relating to the previous ‘American of the Year‘ award honorees, simply click on that below ‘Tag’

A&E Crucifies ‘Duck Dynasty’ Patriarch Phil Robertson

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The reality series ‘Duck Dynasty’ about the Robertson family of Louisiana is easily the most-watched program on the A&E cable network.

The family became wealthy operating a duck-hunting product company, ‘Duck Commander’, and the show features the colorful bunch of long-bearded, no-filters Robertson men and the women who love them.

The patriarch of the clan is Phil Robertson, who began the business by making duck calls from area cedar trees in a family backyard shed for a quarter century. Two days ago, the show, network, and Phil Robertson began making headlines in the mainstream news.

Robertson was placed “on hiatus” indefinitely by A&E, which said in a statement that the network was “extremely disappointed” in remarks that he had made in an interview for ‘GQ’ magazine which were deemed offensive by the gay community. A&E further stated they “have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT (gay) community.

In the interview, Robertson is quoted as saying “Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong…Sin becomes fine art. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there.” He later says “It seems like, to me, a vagina – as a man – would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me.

In a follow-up to his remarks, Robertson was quoted as speaking to his own sinful past, his acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Savior, and his role in evangelizing that faith to others.

I myself am a product of the 60’s; I centered my life around sex, drugs, and rock and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people…what the Bible teaches. Part of that teaching is that men and women are meant to be together.

But that isn’t where Robertson left it, not that there should be any problem with anything to this point. He goes on to elaborate on how his own personal feelings would relate to his treatment of others who might feel or believe differently.

I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would be better off if we loved God and loved each other.

The picture that emerges from this entire sorry affair is of a cable TV network running for cover when it didn’t need to, simply because the executives who run the place didn’t have the courage of their convictions. A&E put the show on the air faithfully (pun intended) every week, knowing the family was going to “keep it real”, and sucking up the ratings and subsequent advertising dough.

The network has now placed Robertson in a hiatus that basically means nothing, since the show is not currently filming anyway, with the most recent season having recently completed production. They are simply trying to look good to that LGBT community they want to embrace. Meanwhile, they slap all Christians who support the show in the face.

Robertson made no statement regarding homosexuality that is not supported by the very teachings of the Holy Bible.

In the Old Testament’s book of Leviticus, for a perfect example, in chapter 20, verse 13 it explicitly states: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, they have committed an abomination; the two of them shall be put to death; their bloodguilt is upon them.

Now of course, no one, including Phil Robertson, is calling for anyone to be killed, or to suffer any type of physical judgment against them. Final judgment on all of our unforgiven moral shortcomings, will be dealt with in the next life.

The New Testament taught us all forgiveness, and the importance of loving even our enemies and those who would persecute us. But it did not challenge basic Biblical teachings on sexuality or morality.

In his own ministry, in both public exhortations and in private thought to his Apostles, who related these ideas in their own later teachings, Jesus Christ himself preached of marriage and relationships as between men and women, husband and wife, and spoke of the sinfulness of sexual immorality.

The A&E network has every right to make any statement they wish, and to discipline or fire any employee or entertainer based on what it feels are violations of it’s most basic principles and rules.

We as consumers of their product have the same right, to not watch their network when they violate what we know to be the most basic truths of life.

Far too often in today’s world, people of faith are cowed into silence, driven to trembling in a proverbial corner when the immoral shout for “rights” that have never existed.

It is far past time that we began to band together, standing up for those principles, for our own “rights”, for people like Phil Robertson, and for Christ Himself.

As with Phil, we believers won’t hate anyone. We won’t act with prejudice against anyone. We won’t treat people as lesser human beings than ourselves, who we all know are also sinners.

We will pray for them as we pray for ourselves and our loved ones, to both overcome their sinful weakness, and to turn from acting on those same proclivities.

In publicly admonishing Phil Robertson for taking an outspoken position regarding basic teaching of the planet’s more than 2 billion Christians, they have effectively crucified him.

Anyone calling themselves a fellow Christian needs to immediately let A&E know just how you feel about that. The 21st century is not the 1st. We will not stand by and allow it to ever happen again. Not quietly. Not on our watch.

Christians Need to Love One Another

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As a lifelong Catholic who loves the Church, defends her publicly, and tries my best to follow her teachings, I have observed a phenomenon over the years.

It has become very obvious to me that some of my brothers and sisters in the Church have a serious moral superiority complex in regards to other Christian faiths. And I believe that this attitude has played a major part in continuing a divide in Jesus’ Church.

Let’s remember that one simple fact to begin with: it’s not our Church. It’s not mine, or yours. It doesn’t belong to Pope Francis, or any other human being. The Church belongs to Jesus Christ. He is it’s founder, and he is it’s genuine leader still today.

Throughout centuries past, the sometimes immoral actions of Popes and other Church leaders directly led to many of the major schisms that have occurred which have separated believers from one another. Catholics need to recognize the truth in that burden before judging any Protestant, Episcopalian, or other Christian denomination.

The most important thing for any Christian is that they believe in the fact that Jesus Christ suffered and died for their sins, and that as followers of the Lord we have a responsibility to learn about his teachings and spread his Word, both to unbelievers and to those who have never heard it in the first place.

We also have a responsibility to share our faith with one another. Jesus began our Church when he passed that responsibility directly on to Peter: “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.

Jesus didn’t say “churches”, plural. He didn’t say: “Now just basically go with what I taught you, and the rest, well, doesn’t matter.

No, Jesus also gave his Church power: “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

In those words, Jesus established his Church here on earth, to continue his work here on earth, led by men beginning with Peter and guided by the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, as in the Garden of Eden, that Church was entrusted to men. Frail, sinning human beings.

At various times in the history of the Church, the men leading her have turned from the Spirit, turned from their mission, and sinned, sometimes in the most sinister, vile, and inhuman ways. These sins led to the Church fracturing and splintering.

I heard it said recently that I should “read the Catechism” in order to learn what the Church teaches on some issue. The fact is, I read the Catechism daily. But it’s not the only book of faith that I read. I also read the Holy Bible, the direct Word of God.

Catholics who point solely to current Church leadership teaching, the current version of the Catechism, the reforms of Vatican II, and the sermons of their local priests are selling their faith short. Those things are all very important, and should be experienced with sincere faithful discernment.

But all Catholics should also be picking up and reading their Bibles as well, learning the direct teaching of Jesus Christ, and fashioning their lives after him. Every single Catholic, from the Pope down to any lay person reading this article, including the one writing it, is a sinner.

Stop judging, that you might not be judged,” said Jesus.

“For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.”

Catholics have no business holding themselves up as in any way better than any other believer. We have no right holding on to any type of superiority complex over followers of another Christian faith.

Now this is not to say that those Protestants and other so-called Bible-based churches are without fault in this Christian schism either. And those believers also do plenty of judgmental criticism of the Catholic Church and it’s adherents.

All Christians need to follow the teaching of Jesus again: “This I command you: love one another.

There is far too much judgmentalism taking place in modern day Christianity, and nowhere near enough loving taking place.

I call on my fellow Catholics to set aside your air of superiority and embrace your fellow Christians. I call on Christians of other denominations to recognize that Jesus founded one Church, that he wants us to all be as one, and that we are to work to come together as often as possible.

There is one final fact to remember. It is clearly taught in the Book of Revelation, chapter 19, verses 11-21 that Jesus will return at the end of time, unite his Church, and win victory over evil, establishing the Church again as one as told in Revelation 21.

No Pope, no church leader, no great preacher will ever unite the Christian church on earth again under one banner, as Christ intended when he founded her. Only Jesus himself will accomplish that at the end of the current age.

It is our duty during our lifetime here on earth to do all that we can to perpetuate love and peace with, between, and among our fellow believers. It is all of our duty to spread his Word to any non-believers in a loving, thoughtful manner.

Catholics, Protestants, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Adventists, whatever you call yourself, wherever you practice your faith, and especially now at Christmas when we celebrate the birth of the Savior of us all – we must love one another, as Jesus loved us. God bless you.

Brothers in Christ

In the Old Testament, the Book of Proverbs 27:17 reads: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

In the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew 18:20 quotes Jesus Christ as teaching: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

We modern men can be funny creatures. There are many who consider themselves to be men of faith, yet find themselves trapped by fear or embarrassment when faced with the challenge of publicly professing that faith, especially among other men.

In a world that is rapidly deteriorating all around us in matters of faith, spirituality, religion, and morality, we no longer have the choice to seek comfort in private prayer. We must come together, publicly, and call this world to order in the name of Jesus Christ.

There are many ways that you can individually participate in this calling. First, of course, you can simply go to Mass. Attending a service at Church on a regular basis establishes a personal and community base. It is only a minimum, but it is a must.

God commanded us all to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy”, and we must set that time aside to publicly visit His house in the company of our family, friends, and neighbors.

Next, seek opportunities to expand your public prayer life within your community. Your own church community will likely have such opportunities. That is always a great place to start.

A few years ago, I began to serve my local parish as a Lector, and it has been greatly rewarding. I always feel that I am helping spread his Word by using the gifts that God gave me in this manner. You have gifts to use as well.

There are numerous groups on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites specifically established for men to join together and praise the Lord publicly, drawing strength and encouragement from one another. One has it’s own ‘hashtag’ of #BIC, standing for “Brothers In Christ”, and joins together posts mostly by men supporting the faith.

Finally, continue your private prayer. It is of vital importance as well. If you have never done so, consider learning to pray the rosary. I took up the practice of daily rosary prayer about a month ago. It takes only about 20 minutes to complete, and there are numerous resources in print, online, and even in apps, to teach and guide you.

We are all “Brothers In Christ”, as Matthew again quotes our Lord: “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.

We need one another to magnify our prayer, and to stand stronger during these days of great challenge. The forces of darkness and despair grow daily. We must emerge from our prayer closets and begin to shine our light in the world, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Jesus ‘Lost Years’ far from a teenage wasteland

Approximately 2,000 years ago today, Jesus Christ was alive and walking the earth – and he was becoming a teenager! Wrap your mind around that one.

What must life have been like for, and with, a teenage Jesus? The last thing that we know for sure about him is just before this period, and comes from Luke’s Gospel.

At age 12, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem during the Passover festival. When the festival was over they left, and at some point realized that Jesus was not with their traveling party.

The worried parents returned to the city and searched for three days. Finally they found him, sitting in the courtyards at the Temple, questioning the teachers.

It was at this point, if they didn’t already have an idea, that Mary and Joseph got some sense of what was in store for the family. Jesus was amazing the teachers with both his questions and with his own comments in his understanding.

But while they were themselves impressed to hear their pre-teen son, they were also worried parents. Have you ever lost a child, even for a moment? Remember how frantic those few moments were? How about three days lost?

Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you!” said Mary, his mother. And what was Jesus’ reply? An apology? To run crying into his mommy’s arms? Not even close. “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?

By all accounts, his tone was innocent and matter-of-fact, not wise-cracking. Luke relates that he returned to Nazareth with them, and was obedient to them, and that Mary treasured all she had seen and heard in her heart. So she obviously took it well, not as an incidence of insolence or disobedience or disrespect.

Luke then goes on to tell the only ideas that we know about Jesus from that point until his public ministry begins a decade and a half later: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” What must those years have actually been like? Especially those next few teenage years, with puberty and hormones and body growth for our Lord?

Anything that anyone tries to say, and many have, is purely speculation. But there are some things that we should be able to surmise as being fairly certain, especially in light of Luke’s glowing words about his apparently steady growth as a young man.

Jesus did not grow through those teen years in isolation. His mother and father were with him, of course. His mother for the entirety, and his father for a significant portion of his teenage years. Various accounts of his later life also refer to brothers and sisters. This could, however, mean almost anything.

A respected account written in the years immediately after Mary’s lifespan known as the ‘Protoevangelium of James’ teaches that she was indeed a virgin for life, raised holy by her own mother Anne, to be devoted in service to the upbringing of the Lord. It is not hard to accept that Mary, a teenager herself when Jesus was born, would remain a virgin devoted to raising, educating, and serving him. A real key to his teenage years lies with his earthly ‘father’, Joseph.

So what was Joseph’s role and why was it so vital? James tells that even though Mary was dedicated to her purity, her family still required a guardian, or a chaperone of sorts, to guarantee this reputation of her cleanliness. Joseph was a respected elderly widow in the community who already had children, and was chosen for all these reasons by the family for the role.

So Jesus was raised in a household that included his mother and father, his stepbrothers and sisters, and possibly even more children from extended family such as cousins, as put forth by Jerome in his fourth century scholarly writings. A bustling home where Jesus got to play, work, learn, and otherwise interact with others in a family setting.

It is not too hard to understand how Jesus spent his time in these years either. With Joseph known to have been a carpenter, likely a highly skilled and well-paid one with a strong professional reputation, Jesus would have been taught this craft from his earliest years. He and his male family members would have been raised to be such craftsmen as well, and they would likely have been working regularly.

So for those who need a clearer picture of the teenage Jesus, and then on into his early-mid 20’s during his pre-ministry life, the picture is simple: a young man growing in an active, large family setting, working in his father’s business, and also being trained religiously and spiritually by his mother. It is a decade and a half to be noted for it’s normalcy in the human world of 1st century Palestinian Judaism.

As Jesus emerged into his public ministry, we can also glean another important incident that happened at some point during those ‘missing’ years: the death of Joseph. Such an important event would absolutely have been documented by his followers during the Gospel years. And at his crucifixion, he entrusts Mary’s care to one of them, not to Joseph.

Joseph was much older than Mary. He took on the role as protector of her honor. When she turned up pregnant due to the Incarnation of Jesus, he continued to fight for her honor, and in part thanks to his own spiritual awakening and inspiration he raised Jesus as his own. And then at some point, most likely when Jesus was well-trained, Joseph passed away.

It is not hard to imagine the family, with Jesus around 20 years of age, having been formally trained and working with his father and his ‘brothers’ for years in the surrounding community, suffering the loss of this elderly patriarch. They would have mourned and buried Joseph together, and Jesus would have provided both emotional support for his mother, but also material support in continuing his earthly work.

This was the life of the teenage Jesus of Nazareth: learning the carpentry and artisan craft from Joseph, gaining a familial and spiritual foundation from Mary, interacting with his adoptive brothers and sisters in this setting. He helped support his family during the period around the death of Joseph, and into his early adulthood.

It is here that we formally pick up the story in the Gospels. Jesus’ life will change forever with two primary spiritual events: his baptism at the river Jordan by his cousin, John the Baptist, and his subsequent 40-day and night stay in the Judaean desert where he meditated and where he was tempted by the devil. On emerging from the desert, Jesus will begin his public ministry.