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Alcatraz

It was 83 years ago today – August 11, 1934. The first civilian prisoners arrived at the federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.

The United States Disciplinary Barracks on Alcatraz was acquired by the United States Department of Justice on October 22, 1933, and the island became a Federal Bureau of Prisons federal prison in August of 1934. Alcatraz was designed to hold prisoners who continuously caused trouble at other federal prisons. At 9:40 am on August 11, 1934, the first batch of 137 prisoners arrived by railroad from the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas. Most were notorious bank robbers and murderers.

During the 29 years the prison was in use, the jail had some of the most notorious criminals in American history, such as Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Bumpy Johnson, and Alvin
“Creepy” Karpis (who served longer than any other Alcatraz inmate). It also provided housing for the Bureau of Prisons staff and their families.

I can’t imagine living a life behind bars. Yet, millions of people do just that – not behind the bars of a federal prison, but the bars of their own making. Fortunately, we don’t have to live in the prison of our guilt or sin. We have been paroled. Jesus says, “Go and sin no more.”

Nagasaki

An atomic bomb known as “Fat Man” was dropped by a United States B-29 bomber this day in history, 1945. The target was Nagasaki. The number dead – 39,000.

For 12 months prior to the nuclear attack, Nagasaki had experienced five small-scale air attacks by an aggregate of 136 planes which dropped a total of 270 tons of high explosive bombs, 53 tons of incendiary bombs, and 20 tons of fragmentation bombs.

But none of these compared to the utter devastation of the atomic bomb.

Within less than a second after the detonation, the north side of the city was destroyed. At least 39,000 were dead – possibly as many as 80,000. About half died immediately, some after days and even weeks. This second atomic bomb was more powerful than the “Little Boy” bomb that had been dropped over Hiroshima.

There are many lessons to be learned from the atomic bombs that ushered a close to WWII. I will leave the political and military analysis to those qualified to address such issues. But we do know one thing. The Japanese had prior warning of both atomic drops. Even after Hiroshima, they did not surrender. It was only after the horror of Nagasaki, 72 years ago today, that they surrendered.

We are still like that today. It takes more to get our attention than it should. And most of us, like Japan, are unwilling to surrender until after the devastation of non-surrender becomes too real.

The key to peace and victorious living is to surrender to God through Jesus Christ. There is no need to wait. There is no need to suffer the carnage of sin first. Jesus already did that for us on the cross.

The Rushmore Report: You Think Politics Is Rough Now – The VP Who Killed a Man

You think politics is rough now? We cringe when we hear of President Trump’s daily tweets. Then we hear the despicable things many in the media say about him. Democrats blast Republicans and Republicans blast Democrats – daily. But this is nothing compared to what happened this week in history. On July 11, 1804, the sitting Vice President of the United States killed the former Secretary of the Treasury in a duel.

It was the culmination of a long and bitter rivalry between the two men.

In the early morning hours of July 11, 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr and former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton departed by separate boats from Manhattan and rowed across the Hudson River to a spot known as the Heights of Weehawken in New Jersey, a popular dueling ground below the towering cliffs of the Palisades. Hamilton and Burr agreed to take the duel to Weehawken because although dueling had been prohibited in both states, New York more aggressively prosecuted the crime. (The same site was used for 18 known duels between 1700 and 1845.)

In an attempt to prevent the participants from being prosecuted, procedures were implemented to give all witnesses plausible deniability. For example, the pistols were transported to the island in a portmanteau, enabling the rowers (who also stood with their backs to the duelists) to say under oath that they had not seen any pistols.

All first-hand accounts of the duel agree that two shots were fired; however, Hamilton’s and Burr’s seconds disagreed on the intervening time between the shots. It was common for both principals in a duel to fire a shot at the ground to exemplify courage, and then the duel could come to an end. Hamilton fired first, and into the air, though it is not clear that Burr perceived him to be “throwing away his fire” (as it did not follow the standard protocol).

Burr returned fire and hit Hamilton in the lower abdomen above the right hip. The musket ball ricocheted off Hamilton’s second or third rib – fracturing it – and caused considerable damage to his internal organs, particularly his liver and diaphragm before becoming lodged in his first or second lumbar vertebra. Hamilton collapsed immediately, dropping the pistol involuntarily, and Burr moved toward Hamilton before being hustled away behind an umbrella, as rowers were already approaching.

Hamilton was carried away, to the home of William Bayard, where he died the next day with his wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, at his side.

Is politics rough today? Sure it is. But things could be worse. So the next time you feel things have really gotten out of hand, remember Mr. Hamilton.

The Rushmore Report: America – Why Didn’t Someone Do Something?

“There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence.” Those were the words of Daniel Webster. Why didn’t someone do something? Those five words still haunt my thoughts today.

Sometime ago, I sat speechless as I listened to a man recount his trip to a holocaust museum with his young daughter. As they walked by photos of the death camps, gas chambers, and countless bodies piled one upon another, his daughter silently contemplated the horrors that were unfolding before her eyes.

When the tour ended, they drove home without saying a word. The father wondered if she truly understood the significance of the event. Was she too young to view such depravity? Was she too fragile to cope with the truth of the holocaust? Would it make a negative impact on her life? Would it leave her fearful and wounded? Would she begin to doubt God?

His questions were answered nearly two hours later when his daughter finally spoke. She looked at her father and asked, “Daddy, why didn’t someone do something?”

Will we hear those same haunting words from our children and grandchildren? Yes! if we fail to contend for what is right, we may see a time in our history when our children will ask, “Why didn’t someone do something?” Sadly, we may not be able to answer.

America can been desensitized one generation at a time, one court decision at a time, one compromise at a time, and we are drowning in a cesspool of relativism. “The wicked freely parade and prance about while evil is praised throughout the land” (Psalm 12:8).

What can I do? What can we do? People are often willing to help, but they lack motivation; they also don’t know where to begin. How can we honor God and preserve our values? Here are just a few ways:

1. Lead a life of integrity regardless of what society promotes.

Although only a select few can change government policy, all of us can build a life of moral integrity while staying committed to God’s Word. Certain “rights” and “wrongs” called absolutes are given by God to save man from himself. One of the best ways to make a difference is to live a life based on moral absolutes, and by letting honesty and integrity guide our decisions. Society changes as individuals change.

M. H. McKee states it well, “Integrity is one of several paths. It distinguishes itself from the others because it is the right path, and the only one upon which you will never get lost.” Proverbs 11:3 adds, “The integrity of the upright will guide them.”

2. Pray and fast for our nation.

Prayer is more powerful than protest! We should not rely on political power, but on the power of God through prayer. The great preacher, C. H. Spurgeon, once said, “I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.”

For those who doubt the power of prayer in America’s history, consider this excerpt from the book, One Nation Under God – The History of Prayer in America. “Prayer stands as one of the most critical and indisputable factors to have influenced the course of American history.”

3. Vote for principles, not parties.

“He who rules over men must be just” (2 Samuel 23:3). We need more humble, God-fearing leaders. The Lord hates pride, arrogance, and self-centeredness. Without humility and a teachable spirit, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to govern properly. Humility does not mean that leaders become passive pawns, but that they live in total surrender to God; they’re more concerned with God’s opinion than opinion polls.

We can no longer hide behind the excuse, “I don’t want to get involved.” As citizens, we are given the privilege, for now, to place people in positions of leadership. Whether we like it or not, we are involved. Millions are not registered to vote; and millions of registered voters stay at home. We’ll stand in line to see a movie, but we won’t stand in line to vote and elect leaders who will affect the direction of our country. This makes a statement about what we value.

God is our only hope. “Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee?” (Psalm 85:6).

About the Author

Shane Idleman is a contributor to ChristianHeadlines.com.

Continental Army Established – 242 Years Ago Today

On this day in history, 1775, The Continental Army was established by the Continental Congress, marking the birth of the United States Army. This happened after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The Army was created to coordinate the military efforts of the 13 colonies in their revolt against the rule of Great Britain. The Continental Army was supplemented by local militias and other troops that remained under control of the individual states. General George Washington was the commander-in-chief of the army throughout the war.

Most of the Continental Army was disbanded in 1783 after the Treaty of Paris ended the war. The 1st and 2nd Regiments went on to form the nucleus of the Legion of the United States in 1792 under General Anthony Wayne. This became the foundation of the United States Army in 1796.

The United States Army has a rich and glorious history. So find a military person today and tell them “Thank you.” And “Happy Birthday.”

 

 

The Rushmore Report: My Advice to President Trump

President Donald Trump has hit the 150-day mark of his administration. He has much to show for it – an acclaimed Supreme Court Justice, a record Dow Jones, a lower unemployment rate than was seen at any point of the Obama Administration. Still, many of his priorities are stalled – a budget and healthcare reform to just name two. So what does the president need to do to move the ball forward? What can he do to become truly successful? I offer a blueprint for success, proven to work by great presidents who preceded Mr. Trump. Mr. President, you should do seven things.

1. Stop tweeting.

Or at least, run your tweets past your communications team. Yes, your tweets connect you with the American people in an instant. But you have proven, Mr. President, that you cannot tweet without stepping on your own message. So far, you have been two presidents – the one who has taken decisive action to advance your agenda, and the one who tweets off-message on a daily basis. If you want your agenda to be heard, lose your Twitter account – now.

2. Put extreme vetting in place and move beyond the travel ban fiasco.

You said you wanted extreme vetting for a few designated countries. That made sense when you said it and it makes sense today. Unfortunately, your plan has been overturned by every court that has heard it. Now it is before the Supreme Court. But here’s the problem, Mr. President. You told us you needed 100 days to put procedures of extreme vetting in place. That was 150 days ago. Nothing has happened that kept you from doing this. If you had done in those 100 days what you said you needed 100 days to do, this would all go away. And every day extreme vetting and the travel ban are in the news is just another day your other initiatives will go nowhere.

3. Work with moderate Democrats.

Get to know Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He is the most right-leaning Democrat in the Senate. But he’s not alone. There are 12 Democratic senators from states you carried in 2016 who are up for re-election next year. Be their friend. Work with them. Many of them will support your budget ideas and much of your healthcare plan. After the last eight years, when President Obama did nothing to work with Republicans, any move toward unity you make will be magnified. And it makes for good politics.

4. Follow the Reagan blueprint.

In his article, Why Ronald Reagan’s Example Is Still Relevant for America Today, Ben T. Elliot reminds us that President Reagan did four things well. First, he united America. Second, he inspired America. Third, he emboldened America. And fourth, he protected America. What worked for President Reagan, Mr. Trump, will still work today.

5. Stay focused.

When you think of great presidents, you think of less, not more. Take Harry Truman, for example. One of the most unpopular presidents in American history – during his time in office – Truman did one thing really well. With laser focus, Truman was committed to ending – and winning – World War II. Similarly, Reagan won the Cold War, FDR ended the Depression, Lincoln reunified the nation, Jackson brought about major American expansion, and Wilson ended World War I and formed the League of Nations. Great presidents stay focused. They do a few things well.

6. Limit your personal attacks.

Mr. President, study Abe Lincoln on this one. He famously said, “The best way to beat your enemy is to make him your friend.” Following the heated election of 1860, Lincoln named his three top opponents to his cabinet. Consider JFK 100 years later. He named his bitter rival, Lyndon Johnson, as VP. Embrace your adversaries. If Ronald Reagan could work with Tip O’Neil and Bill Clinton could work with Newt Gingrich, you can work with Nancy Pelosi. Ok, that might be a stretch – but it’s worth the effort.

7. Own your administration’s mistakes and share your successes.

It’s a key principle of leadership. Own the mistake and share the credit. The classic example is that of President Reagan. He once followed the advice of Gen. Colin Powell, who served in his administration. That particular advice resulted in the loss of a dozen American soldiers. When asked why he took the action he took, the President glanced back at Gen. Powell, then said, “It was a horrible miscalculation, but it was my mistake alone. I take full responsibility for what happened.” Hearing the president own the blame, Powell turned to a man standing next to him and whispered, “I’ll die for that man,” pointing at Mr. Reagan.

Rarely have there been more trying times to be a president. And the Democrats and media certainly aren’t doing anything to help, Mr. Trump. But you still have the bully pulpit. You have nearly four more years to make a difference. And you have the power to make a wonderful, historic difference. So, with all the fake humility I can muster, Mr. President, I suggest my seven recommendations are right. Follow this blueprint and you will be successful.

More importantly, America will be successful. You can make America great again. But you need to hurry, because you have less time left in your presidency than ever. As Yogi Berra used to say, “It’s getting late early.”

You can do this, Mr. President. Ronald Reagan’s vision of America as the “shining city on a hill” can still come to fruition. America can be great again. But more than anyone else’s, it’s in your hands. We’re pulling for you.

Televised Watergate Hearings Begin – 44 Years Ago Today

It’s hard to believe it’s been 44 years. On this day in 1973, a U.S. Senate committee headed by Senator James “Sam” Erwin of North Carolina began televised hearings on the June 1972 break-in at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. The Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities was investigating the incident at which police had arrested five men for the unlawful entry to the Democratic National Committee headquarters, where they installed illegal wiretapping equipment.

Information obtained from the wiretaps would have been useful to those who wanted to assist President Richard Nixon in obtaining a second term in office. Erwin’s folksy approach, combined with his extensive knowledge of the law and the Constitution, made him an ideal choice to head the controversial investigation. The Senate hearings gripped the nation, especially when former White House counsel John Dean testified that Nixon himself had been aware of the crime and subsequent cover-up. Nixon resigned the presidency on August 3, 1974, rather than face impeachment and removal from office.

Here’s the lesson. No man is above the law. And when we break the law – man’s or God’s – there is always a price to pay. From Richard Nixon we know this: we choose our actions, but not the consequences.

Looking Back – OKC Bombing, Lessons Learned

It happened 22 years ago today. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, while injuring 680 others. Their motive was to retaliate for the wrongs of the sieges of Ruby Ridge and Waco.

The blast destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a 16-block radius, shattering glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroying or burning 86 cars. This was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil in history to that point.

What are the lessons from the Oklahoma City bombing? I see three.

1. Evil still persists in the world – and that includes America. This should come as no surprise. The Bible is clear. In the end times, things will get worse, not better. The enemy is still at work, man’s heart is still desperately wicked, and evil is still with us.

2. God has created man with a free will. Could God have stopped the bombing? Of course He could have. But we are not robots. We all make daily choices to do good or evil. That is what makes God’s relationship with His children so special. We enter into our relationships with God by choice.

3. Judgement will always come. Man picks his choices, but not the consequences. God always gets the last word. There used to be a preacher named R.G. Lee. He preached one sermon thousands of times. It was called “Payday Someday.” Lee made the point that justice always prevails – eventually.

All in One Day

It all happened in one day – April 3.

April 3, 1860 – The first successful Unites States Pony Express run from Saint Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, begins.

April 3, 1865 – In the Civil War, Union forces capture Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederate States of America, signaling an end to the war between the states.

April 3, 1882 – In the American old west, outlaw Jesse James is killed by Robert Ford. (Some claimed he actually escaped and died in Texas some 40 years later.)

April 3, 1948 – President Harry S. Truman signs the Marshall Plan, authorizing $5 billion in aid for 16 different countries.

April 3, 1968 – Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., delivers his famous “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, shortly before his assassination.

A lot can happen in a day. And on this day in history – April 3 – a lot has happened. But this particular April 3 has never come this way before, and it will never return to us again. So go out and make today the best April 3 you ever had.

A lot can happen – in one day.

John and Abigail Adams’ Letters – This Day in 1777

On March 7, 1777, Continental Congressman John Adams wrote three letters to his wife, Abigail. On that same day, he received two letters from her. Mr. Adams was with the Congress in Philadelphia, while she maintained their farm in Braintree, Massachusetts. The remarkable correspondence between John and Abigail – numbering 1,160 letters in total – covered topics ranging from politics and military strategy to household economy and family health.

But these letters went far deeper than that. Their mutual respect and adoration for each other served as evidence that even in an age when women were unable to vote, there were marriages in which wives and husbands were true intellectual and emotional equals.

In the second letter John drafted to Abigail on this day, he declared that Philadelphia had lost its vibrancy during Congress’ removal to Baltimore, and he described Loyalists as “sordid Scoundrels.” In the letters from Abigail, written in February of 1777, she bemoaned the lack of military fervor demonstrated by the New Englanders around her.

These amazing treasures tell us a lot about what made our second president tick. These five letters, along with 1,155 others, remind us that behind every good man is patriotism, courage – and a good wife.