Archive for January, 2012

Enemies Do Exist

A sense of reality has deserted us. Well, I suppose I shouldn’t count all of us in that, only those who seem oblivious to the threats that continue to emanate from enemies. Yes, there are enemies; they aren’t all just a bunch of misunderstood people. Believe it or not—and some find this hard to believe—some people want to kill us. They don’t like the Judeo-Christian roots of our social order. They seek to set up a new law—Sharia—that will destroy the basis for all law in the Western world. Yet some just don’t get it.

Have you seen those bumper stickers? The message is that all religions are really the same; we all simply need to get along. This is the height of naiveté. Those who don’t recognize the danger, and who desire to avoid confrontation with evil, will eventually succumb to it. Neville Chamberlain, anyone?

There are those on the progressive/liberal wing of politics who are far more concerned for the welfare of enemies than their own fellow citizens. In some cases, it’s downright despicable:

How foolish we have become—and callous to the true moral horrors of the age.

King David, the psalmist, said it well:

Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. …

Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life; let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me.

Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them on. Let their way be slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them. …

Let destruction come upon him unawares, and let the net which he hid catch himself; into that very destruction let him fall.

Amen. May it be so.

Dedicated to the Culture of Life

Rick Santorum had to leave the campaign trail this weekend as his three-year-old daughter Bella was hospitalized with pneumonia. Her condition was serious, but now seems to be improving. Santorum was up with her most of one night; he said she was really struggling. What makes this even more poignant is that Bella has Trisomy 18, a genetic disorder that usually takes a child’s life in the first year. Her prognosis is not good; only rarely does one with this condition last until the teenage years.

What this whole episode underscores is the Santorums’ dedication to the culture of life. Most parents nowadays, when informed of a birth defect, opt for abortion. The Santorums refused to do so—not just this once, but twice. Back in the mid-1990s, they had another birth trauma. Their unborn child at that time also had a birth defect. The doctor said, rather bluntly, that the child would die. Santorum and his wife, Karen, didn’t follow the advice of many to abort the child. Their pro-life convictions dictated otherwise. Santorum writes in his book It Takes a Family,

I must tell you that our reaction, after the shock and grief, was not to avoid the pain, the cost, or the struggle; it was not to get rid of the “problem,” and it was not to put the baby out of his misery like something that was less than human. Karen and I couldn’t rationalize how we could treat this little human life at twenty weeks’ gestation in the womb any different than one twenty weeks old after birth. At either age, he is helpless, unaware, and thoroughly dependent on us, his parents, to protect him, care for him, and love him unconditionally. So instead of giving our child a death sentence we gave him a name: Gabriel Michael, after the two great archangels.

Santorum then tells how it affected his family and him personally:

No, we had no choice but to fight to save our son’s life. We did all we could, including intrauterine surgery, but our son was born prematurely, and after two hours in our arms, he died. Gabriel died as a cherished member of our family—forever—having known only love in his brief time on earth. Life changes us all, but often nothing like death. At that moment, eternity became reality. After Gabriel, being a husband and father was different, being a legislator was different. I was different.

I honor that kind of commitment. It’s a commitment based on the Biblical principle that each person is made in the image of God and deserves to be treated as a valuable member of a family and a society. Later in his book, Santorum clearly identifies the seared conscience this society has developed over the years:

The social critic Christopher Lasch was right when he said, “Every day we tell ourselves lies so that we can live.” Americans get up every day in a country that permits, fosters, and on some levels even encourages the killing of the same number of children every year as there are people in Maine. And yet the vast majority of us do nothing. We tell ourselves that there is nothing we can do; or that it is sad, but necessary; or that the country is better off without those unwanted children; or that having an abortion is wrong, but you can’t impose your values on someone else. Many Americans simply don’t think about it at all, because they aren’t getting hurt. As another saying goes: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Santorum and his family are exhibiting for the entire nation what a Christian family ought to be. We need more of those models. We need people like Rick Santorum in positions of leadership for the sake of the moral foundation of our society.

Luke 16:10-15

[Jesus said]: “He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?

“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them,

“You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”

Don’t Sign Up for This Cruise

With the primary season so hot, and with my desire to share excerpts of Santorum’s book, I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately. I’d like to slow down a bit today. How about if we catch up on some political cartoons that deal with two significant events this past week or so? First up, the Keystone Pipeline that President Obama refused to okay, thereby not creating somewhere between 20,000-100,000 jobs, depending on whose estimate you follow. His reason? Environmental concerns. His real reason? Making sure the environmental movement doesn’t desert him in the upcoming election. This decision has met with derision not only from Republicans but those blue-collar workers who would like those jobs. He’s now tempting them to desert. Here’s how the cartoonists have portrayed this issue:

There was also the annual State of the Union Address, or as some have called it, “The Class Warfare Rally.”

You had to be careful not to listen too closely. It might have led to damage to the powers of reasoning:

The president is in perpetual campaign mode. He can’t wait to set out on a second term, and he wants us to be on board:

I would like to cancel my reservation, please.

Constitutional Liberty

Rick Santorum has a concept of freedom that is closer to the Founding Fathers’ definition than anyone else running for president. It’s also a concept that is in line with Biblical presuppositions. In his book It Takes a Family, he lays it out clearly [I urge you to read this rather lengthy quote carefully]:

The freedom talked about at our Constitutional Convention did not mean the village elders’ self-centered, No-Fault Freedom. It wasn’t a freedom that celebrated the individual above society. It wasn’t a freedom that gave men and women blanket permission to check in and out of society whenever they wanted. It wasn’t the freedom to be as selfish as I want to be. It wasn’t even the freedom to be left alone, with no obligations to the people we know and to the people we don’t yet know. The Constitutional Convention’s freedom, America’s traditional freedom—or the better word, as I defined it earlier, liberty—was a selfless freedom, freedom for the sake of something greater or higher than the self. For our founders, this liberty was defined and defended in the context of our Judeo-Christian understanding of humanity. Often, in fact, American liberty meant the freedom to attend to one’s duties—duties to God, to family, and to neighbors.

Santorum then explains that he’s not negating rights that belong to individuals, just that these rights were never intended solely for one’s individual welfare, but the general welfare, or the common good. His greatest concern is that the No-Fault Freedom of what he calls “the village elders” will become dominant, if it hasn’t already:

The multiculturalist village elders deny there is such a thing as “common,” and the relativist elders deny there is such a thing as an absolute “good.” As a result, families trying to live and to raise children as decent citizens suffer. When, in the name of “freedom,” public virtue is sunk so low that families must swim against a toxic tide to raise children to be decent and public-spirited adults, something has gone terribly wrong with our understanding of freedom.

Society, he argues, is not just “an unconnected group of individuals, each pursuing his own idiosyncratic vision of his self-centered good.” That perspective is “an image of society as a pile of sand, each grain unconnected to all the others.” Jesus said something about a house built on sand—it will sink and fracture.

If only voters would look past outward displays of bombast and petty arguments and focus instead on substance. If they did, they would appreciate Santorum a lot more.

My Quandary

I’ve traveled a circuitous route to get to the place where I am today in deciding whom to support in the Republican primary. I began with an interest in Bachmann, but soon concluded she didn’t have the experience for the job. I then turned to Perry for a brief while, hoping he would be the political “savior,” but that soured for me pretty quickly, particularly after a few debates. Herman Cain came on my personal radar after I was his table companion at a Republican event. I liked his attempt to get us to a fair tax. When he imploded over what I still think may have been false accusations, I toyed for a while with the idea that Gingrich could be the man. But then I took a fresh look at Santorum and came away impressed with his foundational understanding of principles of government and society based on a Christian worldview. That’s where I am today, and next Tuesday, I will cast my vote for him in Florida’s Republican primary.

Some may ask why I cannot go for Ron Paul, since he mirrors my constant calls for a return to constitutionalism. The reasons are many, but they boil down to two: his doctrinaire libertarianism and his foreign policy. Paul would have no problem with a state allowing abortion and same-sex marriage; I want an amendment to the Constitution protecting innocent human life and one clearly defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Those are God’s standards for society, and I argue they should be national in scope. On foreign policy, he really doesn’t grasp the threat of Islamic radicalism. I don’t believe we would be safe on his watch.

That leaves the two frontrunners, Romney and Gingrich. What’s my beef with them? Let me be as specific as I can for each one.

Romney

  • A new book, Mitt Romney: An Inside Look at the Man and His Politics, written by a fellow Mormon, tells how Romney followed the advice of a pollster who said he could never win elective office in Massachusetts as a pro-life candidate. So he abruptly switched to pro-choice in his run for the Senate against Ted Kennedy. Both in that race and in the later gubernatorial race, he did his best to go to the left of his Democrat opponent. There is a viral video making the rounds of Romney pledging to uphold Roe v. Wade and a woman’s “right to choose.” Another video shows him saying that a minor seeking an abortion without her parents’ consent can go to the courts to get permission. It’s not that he has made a conversion to pro-life; in fact, he started out that way and changed to pro-choice for purely political reasons. Now he’s pro-life again, and I believe the reason is once again political.
  • When the Massachusetts Supreme Court simply declared it was irrational not to allow same-sex marriage and told the legislature it needed to rectify the situation, Romney didn’t even wait to see what the legislature would do but took the lead in personally granting 189 marriage certificates to same-sex couples. He didn’t have to do that. It wasn’t mandated. So now when he says he’s opposed to same-sex marriage, why should we trust him?
  • He still has the albatross of Romneycare hanging on him. Only Santorum has had the courage to take him head-on on this issue. His plan was a precursor for Obamacare. It has the identical individual mandate. It rests on the same philosophy. As I’ve said before, how can he credibly attack Obamacare when he refuses to acknowledge the wrongness of his own plan? And just in the past few days, comments from one of his advisers indicate he really doesn’t expect to repeal the entire Obamacare monstrosity after all, no matter what he has promised on the campaign trail. Can he really be trusted to keep his word?

Gingrich

  • While he can talk a good talk, I have serious doubts that he is willing to walk his talk. Why? The many reports about how he carried out his speakership in the 1990s—from those who were with him in Congress—gives one pause. Testimony from reputable legislators such as Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Santorum himself paint a picture of a man with an outsized ego who was more than willing to break the pledges in the Contract with America for political gain.
  • He lost the confidence of his fellow Republicans in the House, and thereby lost his speakership. He resigned from the post [and from Congress itself] when he realized he wouldn’t be reelected their leader.
  • Like Romney, Gingrich supported the individual mandate in healthcare, advocated policies to fight man-made global warming [when its existence is doubtful], and toyed with cap-and-trade legislation. And, like Romney, he supported the TARP bailout.
  • His tactics in attacking Romney have come from the Left, using the same arguments Obama will undoubtedly use about greed, “vulture” capitalism, and now even accusing Romney of being anti-immigration. These smack of political opportunism and deliberate misrepresentation. Of course, Romney is not innocent on this point either.
  • His moral failings are an open book. Yes, I believe in redemption. I hope he has experienced it. But it becomes difficult to defend a man and promote him for the highest office in the land when he has that kind of background.
  • He is a superb speaker, but also one who may doom himself one day with his unrestrained commentary. As Santorum noted, do we want a nominee who may embarrass himself and the entire party with his loose tongue?

This is my quandary: what to do if Santorum cannot win—and his chances are slim at this point. I will have no option but to vote for whoever wins this race because Obama is far worse than either Romney or Gingrich, and his party stands for ideas repugnant to a Biblical worldview.

Some Republicans are hoping for a stalemated primary season where no one receives the majority needed to clinch the nomination. That would mean the convention would later make the choice. While this would be a potential problem for party unity and might project to the electorate an image of a party in disarray, it could be worth it in the end. If a brokered convention can provide a nominee with a minimum of baggage and an ability to communicate the conservative message effectively, we will all be better off. It worked in 1880 when James Garfield got the nod and won the general election. Could it work again?

On Economic Freedom & Selective Outrage

Let’s take a break from deep thoughts today and let the cartoons dominate. Did you hear that the U.S. has slipped to #10 in the ranking of countries that have the greatest economic freedom? Now why might that be?

Some commentators are trying to make us believe the economy is turning around. You know, like a cruise ship changing course. But who’s our captain?

Being rich seems to have become a great sin lately, so for those associated with the Occupy Wall Street Movement, let me show my sympathies for you:

And here’s a tribute to the selectively outraged on the Left:

Let’s put our outrage where it truly belongs.