If you believe the mainstream media and Hollywood celebrities, you’d think Americans with faith in God are fools, stooges or nutcases. But nothing can be further from the truth.

Until recently, progressives kept their disrespect for religious faith under wrap, but today they openly ridicule people who offer prayers for the victims of tragedies. They have no qualms about belittling individual believers like Vice President Mike Pence, whose faith in Christ was attacked by the cast of “The View” a few days ago.

Fortunately, I come in contact with a radically different America every week.

For nearly three years, I have been a patient visitor for the Spiritual Care Center at a local hospital. I’ve visited nearly 3,500 patients and countless loved ones while making my weekly rounds. In all that time, only 12 people have spurned me after I identified myself as a faith-based visitor. The rest have welcomed me with warmth and gratitude.

That’s certainly not what I expected when I started. When I report to the center, I’m given a list of patients, their room numbers and their church affiliation. From the first day, the church affiliation for at least half the patients was “None.”

But that information proved to be misleading. I found out many were uncomfortable about telling the hospital about their church, and the others professed a strong faith in God even if they weren’t currently active church-goers.

A good number of patients were surprised the hospital provided spiritual services. Almost invariably, they said they hesitated to talk to strangers about their faith because newspapers, internet sites, television and movies implied they were yokels, misguided or psychologically defective. Some said I gave them a chance to talk about God for the first time in ages. Many also expressed relief that they weren’t alone in cherishing their faith secretly.

While I’m not a proselytizer by any means, some have told me my visit has inspired them to rejoin a church.

The overwhelming majority of patients I’ve encountered are Christians, but I’ve also visited Jews, Hindus and Muslims. Only atheists, it seems, are averse to hearing that I will pray that God relieves their pain and grants them a speedy recovery.

I’ve visited a variety of patients, from recovering stroke victims and dementia sufferers to people who have had shoulder, knee or hip replacements. Sometimes, when a person with dementia is agitated, he or she will calm down and join me when I recite the Lord’s Prayer. That’s when I see the power of prayer in action.

The patients are as likely to inspire me even more than I do them

One whom I’ll never forget was a woman in her mid-50s who was being visited by two of her sons when I stopped by. She was bursting with laughter while the men sat grim-faced in chairs at her bedside.

She continued laughing as she greeted me. Rarely had I seen a patient in such high spirits, but her story was anything but funny. She had been diagnosed with cervical cancer a few months earlier and had been told earlier that day that the cancer had spread to several vital organs. Before I walked in, she had been arguing with her sons about her future treatments.

Her sons were trying to persuade her to forgo the agony of surgery and chemotherapy, but she would have none of that.

“My mother had the same kind of cancer, so I’m thinking it’s probably genetic,” she told me. “If I go through all these treatments, they might find one that works. I owe it to my kids and grandkis to help find a cure if this really something that I’ve passed on to them.”

I found myself a new hero that day.

Yes, visiting the afflicted is a two-way street. And I can’t think of a better way of learning how everyday folks are bolstered by their faith in God even when the mainstream media offers them nothing but mockery and disrespect.

When the Senate passed the the National Defense Authorization Act in November of 2017, it was unclear whether President Donald Trump would sign off on the bill. There had already been significant differences between the House and Senate versions of the critical compromise defense policy bill before the final draft was passed by the House.

One month later, Trump made the bold move to espouse this landmark piece of legislation. The bill allocates just under $700 billion in national defense spending at a time when America needs a stronger military than ever before.

As attacks by the Islamic State continue to proliferate, we face an ever-more-pervasive threat. But it’s not just ISIS that we have to cope with. There is the far more vast problem of cyberwarfare. Now that the fiscal year has begun, we will begin to see the sundry areas in which the military budget will be spent.

Cyber crime damage costs are expected to hit $6 trillion by 2021 as more and more far flung cyber attacks proliferate across the globe. Last year, Russia-backed hackers were believed to be behind interruptions in Latvia’s mobile communications network. Syrian cybercriminals targeted activists opposed to the Syrian president’s regime with malware.

And the Wannacry ransomware attack perpetrated by North Korea proves beyond a reasonable doubt that cyber attacks are the future of modern warfare. Fortunately for Americans, the NDAA of 2018 is the future of the US military.

The bill includes a mandate for a blockchain cybersecurity research study, something that will mobilize the Armed Forces, better equipping them to deal with all contingencies that can arise in the field. The language of the bill is part of the wider MGT (Modernizing Government Technology Act) which revolves around improvement of the government’s IT and cybersecurity systems.

The bill establishes a Technology Modernization Fund that will shake the cobwebs off the government’s antiquated and outmoded information technology infrastructure. By rolling legislation from Rep. Will Hurd and Steny Hoyer into one, the bill promises to ascertain how these technologies are being harnessed by the enemy and how the US government can implement them.

As the bill puts it, the blockchain study will be “an assessment of efforts by foreign powers, extremist organizations, and criminal networks to utilize such technologies;…[and] an assessment of the use or planned use of such technologies by the Federal Government and critical infrastructure networks.”

The results of the study due to be delivered to Congress before July and will be prepared by the Department of Defense. The DoD is no stranger to the technology, having released their Cyber Strategy back in 2015.

As then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter explained at the time, “The United States relies on the Internet and the systems and data of cyberspace for a wide range of critical services. This reliance leaves all of us – individuals, militaries, businesses, schools, and government – vulnerable in the face of a real and dangerous cyber threat.”

Trump has been adamant about putting more money into the military since before he took office, vowing to rebuild it and eliminate the defense sequester. Obviously, he is a man of his word as he has granted the military “total authorization” to make combat decisions which has enabled the armed forces to be “more aggressive” in the War on Terror.

Even the liberals have been enthusiastic about the Trump administration’s decision to continue and intensify the US military mission in Afghanistan which includes cyber missions.

Some arms of the US military have already taken measures to train their officers in computer science. The Cyber Ops Squadron at Arkansas’ Little Rock Air Force Base offers the Cyber Skills Validation Course for both active duty and reserve forces. They have long been committed to cyber awareness and use state-of-the-art facilities to explore ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) and Command and Control in and through cyberspace.

Subjects include encrypted networks, secure web hosting, coding, preliminary surveillance and threat identification.

As for the NDAA, it is likely we will see some of the bill’s alotted money going to improving cyber facilities, such as the 13 cyber units of the National Guard and US Army Cyber Command.

In December of 2017, it was reported that the National Guard was still having trouble filling cyber positions with National Guard Chief Gen. Joseph Lengyel telling Federal News Radio, “Our cyber pipeline is still constrained. Some of it is constrained by our ability to find people that can fill it, who can actually qualify to go to the slots.”

Perhaps, the Trump administration will see fit to sink some of the bill’s 2018 monies into payroll for the Cyber Mission Force whose agenda is to protect Defense Department networks, protect our homeland from cyber intrusions and assist in offensive missions.

Other areas that could be beefed up include firearms financing as the military makes the move to the M17 and needs for new magazines and other accessories become necessary.

No matter what they decide to do, it seems obvious that they’re on the right track with this exciting bill that will no doubt bolster military efforts here and abroad.

By:  Pat Austin

Instagram logo

SHREVEPORT —  As a high school educator I have spent the last several years of my career lamenting the distraction that is social media in the classroom.  When I started teaching twenty-two years ago I didn’t own a cell phone.  Not many of my students did either and at that time I taught in a school with a fairly affluent student body.

Things have changed.

Schools have struggled with the rapid advancement of this technology, too.  Initially, the devices were banned from school, then banned from the classroom, then banned from being visible (“we know you have a phone, just keep it in your purse or backpack so it’s not a distraction”), and eventually we’ve ended up where classrooms are embracing cell phone technology.

There are many ways the phones can be used in the classroom and thousands of educational apps that kids can use either independently or as a class activity.

There is always some district policy on phones, then it filters to the school level, then to the classroom and at that point there is a wide diversity of how teachers deal with them.  Some have very strict “no phones!” rules, some have “cell phone jail” systems, and some just don’t care, defeated, and will turn a blind eye to it.

Social media is a big deal: there are 800 million monthly users on Instagram as of September 2017 and half of these users are between 19 and 29 years of age.  For marketing your brand, Instagram is huge, and getting bigger:

Due to the apps visual nature and high user engagement rate, Instagram is also a valuable social media marketing tool. As of March 2016, 98 percent of fashion brands had an Instagram profile. As of December 2016, average number of image brand posts on Instagram was 27.9 posts per month.

This is not your Snapchat teenager group.  As of January 2017, there were 300 million Snapchat users.  Forty-five percent of Snapchat users are between 18-24 years old.

As for Facebook, research shows that people use Facebook primarily for keeping up with family and friends. With two billion monthly active users, Facebook is still alive and well.

Twitter is still huge with over 300 million active monthly users, but Twitter’s growth has stalled.  Twitter is still very popular for news sharing and for celebrity stalking.  With American presidents using Twitter to broadcast policy these days, it’s impossible to deny Twitter’s viability, but there are some troubling signs:

Despite a steady revenue growth – the company’s 2016 revenue amounted to 2.5 billion U.S. dollars, up from 2.2 billion in the preceding fiscal year – Twitter has yet to report a positive net income. In 2016, it’s annual net loss amounted to almost 457 million U.S. dollars.

These are all very big numbers and it’s clear that social media is the new frontier for pushing your brand.  I’ve spent some time researching Instagram over the past few days and experimenting with my own feed.  I started an Instagram account several years ago only to keep up with photos of my new grandson who lives in another state.  I never posted to it and had about thirty followers.  I just enjoyed looking at everyone else’s photos. Now I’m engaging with the platform more and the followers are coming fast. (In the Instagram world I’m barely a blip on the radar when it comes to followers.)

It’s easy to see why Instagram is such an engaging platform.  Everyone has their own niche and the big brands and celebrities are there as well.  Currently, National Geographic has over 86 million followers.  Nike is right behind them.  Celebrities with huge followings include Selena Gomez with 133 million followers and Beyonce with 111 million followers.

On a more real level, people are using Instagram more than ever to promote their brand.  Consider Hilary Rushford, New York stylist and former Radio City Rockette, who decided a day job cubicle wasn’t for her and formed the Dean Street Society which is a motivational company helping people develop the best of themselves, whether it’s personal style, entrepreneurship, defining a business model, or marketing. She has 167 thousand followers and is growing fast.

So back to the classroom: how does this all tie in?  The kids in my classroom have never known a life without digital technology.  They are totally connected and invested in their phones.  Teachers today must find a way to make that work for you instead of against you.  It’s hard to engage a kid in the merits of Macbeth when they’re more interested in the latest cat video on YouTube or taking a selfie with a cute Snapchat filter.  The reality is there.  As educators we have to embrace it and work with it,  otherwise you are doomed to one semester after another of frustration.  There are many ideas out there to help figure out ways to engage students through social media.

Social media is here to stay, and it’s growing.  Make it work for you, whether you’re in the classroom or promoting your brand, blog, or posting a cat video.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.  Follow her at instagram.com/patbecker25

The Current dispute between Poland and Israel over the history of the Nazi Occupation of Poland during World War two is one of the most foolish things I’ve seen two countries do in a long time.

It not only serves the purpose of their common enemies, of which there are many, to foment trouble between common friends made to take sides but clouds a fact so obvious that it’s almost embarrassing to have to say it:

Poland and Israel are natural allies.

Think about how many things Poland & Israel have in common:

Both Poland and Israel are dealing with a left that berates them for defending their boarders.
Both Poland and Israel have forcibly made stands against Islamic Terror
Both Poland and Israel are threatened  by Russian Allies
Both Poland and Israel and have been invaded by either the Russians or their allies during their countries lives.
Both Poland and Israel have found themselves in longshot wars against multiple enemies in the last century.
Both Poland and Israel have minorities (Russian & Arab) within their borders that are natural allies of their enemies.
Both Poland and Israel have historically had their countries overrun conquered, and wiped off the map and know what is to lose their homeland


Both Poland and Israel are strongly pro-america, strong allies and part of United States Defensive Planning.

That’s why this dispute over history is not only dangerous but plays right into the hands of those who today, not 30, or 50 or 75 years ago directly threaten both Poland and Israel.

No country likes to be the subject of mendacity and to state that the Polish State was complicit in the Holocaust, when it was overrun by BOTH the Nazi’s and the Soviets in WW2 and  furthermore was subject of an armed occupation that didn’t end until 1992 (a full 44 years after the state of Israel was established) is not only the height of absurdity but a legitimate insult. Israel who has been the subject of international blood libels can appreciate that

At the same time to deny that, like in every country that the Nazi’s occupied, there were Polish collaborators both willing and unwilling who aided Nazi attempts to exterminate the Jewish race, or to deny any existence of antisemitism, either current or past, on the part of Polish nationals is also hogwash. Pols who had to deal with 40 years of occupation as a Russian satellite and force fed propaganda in an attempt to whitewash their history can appreciate that.

Now I’m a free speech guy and I think Poland is making a mistake with this law targeting speech, even libelous speech against their government. It’s much too easy for such a law to be abused, further if you can ban one type of speech you can ban another. If a person chooses to make an ass of himself by saying outrageous things I say let that person freely do so and let others freely call out such people for the liars and asses they are. This is something Israel has to deal with all the time.

So in the interest in uniting these national allies, both of whom I admire, may I humbly suggest the following joined declaration by the Polish and the Jewish states:

We the states of Israel and Poland Jointly Affirm the Following:

That both Jewish people and Polish people were victims of the 2nd World War

That the Polish State bears no responsibility for the atrocities of the Holocaust and any attempt to declare it so is a base lie

That any attempt to deny the Holocaust, or to deny that some individuals from occupied countries, including Poland, collaborated with Nazi attempts to destroy European Jewry is also a base lie.

That the scourge of antisemitism, both in the past and its current resurgence, both in the Arab world and within Europe particularly among Islamic migrants  is an international disgrace.

Poland and Israel both not only condemn antisemitism but commit themselves  as nations to opposing its spread.

The states of Poland and Israel both have the right to exist, secure within their own borders and have the right and obligation to protect and secure those boarders for the sake of their people.

That Israel commits itself to the protection of and the free access to sites in the Holy Land that are considered sacred not only to the Polish People but to Christians worldwide moved by the love of God and the desire to serve him.

That Poland commits itself to the protection of and the free access to sites in Poland that are considered sacred not only to Jews but to those worldwide who wish preserve the memory of those who the Nazis attempted to exterminate and to unite in the cry of “Never Again!”

Finally both Poland and Israel both affirm their commitment to fight the war against international terrorism and, when possible cooperate to bring the scourges of ISIS and Al Qaeda and all terrorist who would target the innocent to their knees.

I can think of no better way to not only defuse this crisis but to send a message to Poland’s and Israel’s common enemies that while like all friends there might be occasional disagreements between the two, they will stand united against the common enemies seeking to bring them both down.

If you’d like to continue to support independent journalism, and help defray the $140 a month extra I’ll need for my new hosting site) not to mention the payless week covering CPAC next week please consider hitting DaTipJar here.

Consider subscribing. 7 more subscribers at $20 a month will pay the monthly price for the new host/server.

Choose a Subscription level

Finally might I suggest my book  Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer makes an excellent Gift.