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When the Weird Becomes Normal

Bruce JennerLet’s get down to the basic facts here. Bruce Jenner is still Bruce Jenner. He may call himself Caitlyn, but he’s only given a man a woman’s name. He may look different now, but the changes to his sexuality are external only.

Neither is he brave or courageous for doing what he has done, no matter what ESPN decides. In fact, he is going with the flow now, since everyone in the elite circles, including his former wife and his children, are applauding his makeover. Let’s be honest: he will now make millions with a “reality” TV show.

There’s nothing courageous or real about what Bruce has done or what he has become. And I am not the least bit mollified that he calls himself a Republican; all that does is water down the traditional Republican values for which the party says it stands.

Rachel DolezalRachel Dolezal is white, not black. Her parents are Caucasian; she is Caucasian. She may want to “self-identify” with blacks, but she is not black. It’s one thing to align philosophically with a cause, but something else entirely to pretend, lie, and deceive—words that all mean the same, by the way.

If you go into her “story” even more, you discover she has concocted an entire mythology: she had to hunt with a bow and arrow as a child, she actually has a black father, etc.

Here are some more facts: when she was a student at predominately black Howard University, she sued for discrimination against her as one of the white students. Hmm, she apparently wasn’t always “black.” She also has claimed to have been threatened by racists, pointing to a letter she supposedly received in a post office mailbox. One problem: the “letter” had no postmark; it obviously was placed in the box by someone with a key to the box—Rachel Dolezal.

What we have here is someone living in a fantasy world. Yet she is allowed to explain herself on NBC’s Today show as if she is a rational person. She is living a lie; she is the epitome of a liar.

It’s not that I don’t have compassion for her, but she is not a victim of anything or anyone; she has made so many bad choices in her life that she has ended up where she is now. The delusion is self-induced and she is responsible for her behavior.

By the way, I can see a bright future for her as well on reality TV or some other venue.

Bruce Jenner and Rachel Dolezal: the new face of America? When the weird becomes normal, we are on the verge of cultural collapse.

Only a Biblical foundation to our thinking can reverse course for the culture. Those of us who still “cling to our religion,” as Barack Obama so artfully put it, are the hope for our future. We need to be about our Father’s business.

On Kingship (Presumed) & Cynicism

I have a lot to say about President Obama’s little speech on immigration last night, and the ramifications of his actions. Yet what irks me right up front is his attempt to use the Bible to justify what he has done. In his remarks, he solemnly intoned, “Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too.”

First, I don’t believe for a moment that Scripture informs his life and actions; using it as a prop was purely political. But there is also the insinuation that the one nation on the face of the earth that has been most open to a flood of immigrants throughout its history is bent on oppressing strangers in its midst.

Frankly, that’s just insulting.

Legal immigrants—people who follow the rules—have never been oppressed, and illegal immigrants—those who chose a different path—have hardly been lined up and executed for their illegal crossing of the border. Never has a country treated a group of lawbreakers with so much magnanimity.

Try crossing into Mexico illegally sometime. That’s when you will witness oppression.

So please, President Obama, don’t insult either our intelligence or our heartfelt receptivity toward immigrants.

The problem with what the president has done is twofold: it defies the entire concept of the rule of law and it is a blatantly cynical political stunt for his own partisan advantage.

While claiming fidelity to the Constitution, Barack Obama has declared that document null and void.

Got a Pen

Too many commentators are acting as if this is the first time he has done this. I would argue he has done it many times, but this blog today doesn’t need to turn into a dissertation—it would be too long to read. And I would argue further that he isn’t the first president to overstep his boundaries. Franklin Roosevelt, by executive order, forced all Americans to turn in their gold to the government. That was pretty dictatorial. He got away with it only because we were in the midst of the Great Depression and he had a stranglehold on Congress.

Additionally, as I’ve taught students over the years, Congress itself has routinely overstepped its constitutional authorization by legislating on matters that are not found anywhere in that document.

So, ignoring the Constitution is not a new thing. But President Obama has highlighted this trend by simply claiming publicly that he has the authority to do on his own what he has no constitutional authority to do. He basks in his own illegal actions, so why should illegal immigration bother him?

He claims Congress has abdicated its responsibility to act, so therefore he must. His rationale for doing so wouldn’t wouldn’t pass the logic test in other circumstances:

Couldn't Wait

He says that other presidents, both Democrat and Republican, have acted in a similar fashion on immigration, citing Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush. There’s one glaring difference, though. Both Reagan and Bush issued executive orders solely on the manner in which a congressional action would be carried out. You see, Congress passed an immigration law in 1986; those two presidents were simply laying out a few rules for how to put it into effect. Our current president decided to make his own law instead.

In case you’re wondering: no, the president, in our constitutional system, cannot make laws.

Without a Single Vote

The president oversees the executive branch of the government; he is not the government. When he tries to be the entire government all by himself, he’s no longer a president but a monarch of some kind. The political cartoonists have rightly skewered him for this amazing abuse of power:

Not a King

What makes this cartoon particularly effective is the undeniable fact—recorded for all to see now and throughout future generations—that President Obama, on something like 26 occasions, publicly declared that he had no authority to act on his own on the immigration issue. Yet that now seems to have changed, at least in his own mind. Frankly, I don’t think he ever believed what he said about the limits on his authority; he only said so because he didn’t think he could get away with it. Now, with a stinging electoral defeat and no more elections to worry about, he has cast aside that fiction and acted on what he has really believed all along.

Another cartoonist, though, decided a different image was more appropriate:

Not the Emperor

‘Tis the season.

He will sign the executive order today. I hope he will understand if the general public might see it as something more:

Executive Disorder

The other half of the problem, as I mentioned at the beginning of this rather long post, is the pure cynicism and political nature of this action. It’s Barack Obama rubbing it in the face of his political opposition and casting them as the villains who want to “oppress” the strangers in our midst. They need to acknowledge his power and wisdom:

Kiss My Ring

To further my thesis of his cynicism, I need to point out that as he embarked on his presidency six years ago, he claimed that immigration reform was his top priority. Yet, for two full years, with complete control of Congress at his fingertips, he offered no leadership on the issue. It was all political rhetoric. He’s far more interested in scoring political points against Republicans than solving a very real problem with compassion and respect for the rule of law simultaneously.

You see, his executive order solves nothing permanently. All it does is provide a greater incentive for future illegal immigration:

Welcome Mat

If he is a king, this might be the most accurate description of his reign:

King of Denial

The problems with this presidency go far beyond his response to illegal immigration. They run the gamut of the entire policy spectrum, and we will continue to be subjected to his reign of error for two more years. How will Republicans respond to it? Hopefully, with wisdom and an ability to communicate truth to the public. This “kingship” must be challenged.

Short Break

I will be out of town this week, and without a sure internet connection on my laptop, so I’m taking a short break from my ponderings. I will be back, though, one week from today. Join me again next Saturday.

Why “Pondering Principles”?

Every once in a while, I like to remind readers of this blog just why it’s called Pondering Principles. A principle is a general truth from which one can begin reasoning to proper conclusions with respect to God, man, and society. One must make sure, of course, that the principles one espouses are valid.

Self-Indulgence Principle

Here are some principles I believe are demonstrable in Scripture, and that are confirmed throughout history. These form the basis for all my commentary, whether on faith, culture, education, government, or a score of other subjects:

  • We all bear the image of God within us. We are inherently valuable because of that image. Each of us is distinct and unique, called by God for the purpose for which He created us. That’s why I am strongly pro-life in my views. To destroy innocent children who never have made any choices in life is to destroy someone made in the image of God. The same applies to the handicapped, the seriously ill, and the aged.
  • We were created with free will, and therefore accountable for our actions. God expects us to govern ourselves according to His precepts. We have the capability to make right choices. Sin is a voluntary rebellion against the reasonable and righteous commands of God. This ability to govern oneself extends as well to families, churches, various voluntary organizations, and civil government.
  • The model for civil government can be found in the basic principles God established for ancient Israel. Contrary to popular perception, He didn’t ordain kingship, but instead gave His approval to a system that allowed for representation, the separation of powers, and different levels of government authority. Totalitarianism, in whatever form, is not God’s goal because it violates the first two principles mentioned above.
  • God has given man property, both internal and external, over which He wants us to exercise control. Internally, we have the ability to think, feel, and choose (as already noted), and we must never go against our conscience, which informs us of basic right and wrong. Externally, He has ordained private property of various types so we can learn how to manage things properly. Any economic system that denies private property hinders us from learning in this “school of accountability.” Therefore, I believe that a free-market, private-enterprise system is what this principle supports.
  • Due to that free will given by God, we are to enter into cooperation with others voluntarily. All external unions should be based on internal unity. Forced unions without unity will eventually fail. This applies to marriage, church, all clubs and associations, and even civil government. The United States is the prime example of a government that was deliberated, ratified, and established by the voluntary consent of its citizens. All collectivist forms of government, whether called socialist or communist, destroy the inherent, God-given value of the individual and violate self-government and the voluntariness of union.
  • Only by taking on the character of God, i.e., becoming Christlike, will this world operate in the way God intended. Every deviation an individual makes from the righteousness of God has a ripple effect throughout society. When a society accepts sinful actions as normal—abortion, homosexuality, theft, racism, etc.—there will be disastrous consequences. This flows smoothly into the final principle, which is . . .
  • We reap what we sow. If we sow Biblical principles in our society, we will reap blessings. Conversely, if we sow unbiblical, humanistic seeds, we will suffer the bad effects of those corrupted seeds. In my view, the wide acceptance of evolutionary theory spawned a wide array of evil applications in America. Biological evolution morphed into a social Darwinism that has led us away from God’s path. The key to any sowing of seeds is the education system. When it is controlled by government (first mistake) and then an unbiblical philosophy is inserted into it (second mistake), we create a society that ultimately rejects Biblical truth and the morality that stems from it. This is why I write often about education and its failures.

These principles don’t necessarily cover all of God’s truth, but they are a good start. They form the basis for all of my thinking about how Godly principles should apply to us individually and to our society as a whole. That’s why this blog is called Pondering Principles.

America, Russia, & Israel

There will be wars and rumors of wars, Jesus told His disciples. They will end only when He returns. I don’t know if there are more wars and disturbances now than ever, or if we simply are more aware of them due to mass communications. But the underlying cause for them is the sinful heart of man. People want something, and they do not have it, so they strike out at others, the apostle James declared. Biblical instruction from thousands of years ago remains true today.

In the past week, the world has been rocked by two major events. The first is the downing of a Malaysian airliner carrying nearly 300 people. All perished in the attack by dissidents/terrorists in Ukraine who want to unite with Russia. This is an outgrowth of Vladimir Putin’s encroachment on Ukraine and his desire to take it over, piece by piece. While the international community—such as it is—wrings its hands over this atrocity, few doubt the hand behind it:

Heat Signature

Then there’s the Middle East, always ripe for violence. Those of us who pay attention to Biblical prophecy and try to sort it out are not surprised. We also know this area will never be at peace. Again, it is the sinful heart of man that has led to the latest round of violence. Let’s be clear, though: when it comes to Israel and its enemies, this is not a moral equivalence situation. As noted by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the difference can be expressed this way—if Hamas lays down its weapons, there will be peace; if Israel lays down its weapons, there will be no more Israel.

It’s Hamas that started the rain of rockets into Israel that has led to most of the citizens living in shelters. A nation can’t put up with that for long. Israel had to respond and try to destroy Hamas’s capability to continue those attacks (missiles supplied by Iran, by the way). Their invasion of Gaza is completely justified. They warn Palestinians to get out of the way; Hamas tells them to stay put so that many will die and they can use the deaths for propaganda purposes:

Death to Israel

The foolish among us then blame Israel for what is happening. The U.S., historically, has been Israel’s staunchest ally. We have helped them install the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system that has effectively neutralized many of those missiles. Hamas has an Iron Dome of its own, but entirely different:

Iron Domes

Yet Israel’s strongest supporter in the past is no longer its greatest ally, if it is an ally indeed. Both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry mouth the usual platitudes about Israel having the right to defend itself, while simultaneously casting aspersions on Israel for actually doing it. Their public statements seem to imply that Israel is the real problem. They point to the loss of life in Gaza as if this is Israel’s fault. Kerry even was caught on a “hot mic” before his Fox interview sarcastically commenting on Israel’s precision strikes in Gaza. No longer can Israel count on the American government:

Stands Behind Israel

In both these situations—in Ukraine and the Middle East—where is the American president? Out fundraising. Some commentators are beginning to refer to him as the semi-retired president. He’s no real leader.

Leading from Behind

As I’ve said repeatedly, and will say again here: we’re in trouble.

Nothing to Fear?

The scandals continue apace, and it doesn’t seem as if they’re going away soon. A new one was added on in the past couple of days. More on that later. But first, let’s update what we know. Well, keep in mind the only reason we know anything is because whistleblowers and some reporters who still cling to the old idea of ferreting out the facts have overcome the fear of White House retaliation and come forward to present their evidence. If it were up to the White House and the various executive departments it oversees, we would remain in the dark. They want you to believe they are clueless about any wrongdoing, yet should receive total credit for anything that goes right:

Not Me

At the almost-daily press briefings and on news shows, members representing the administration have one talking point only:

Scandalous

On Benghazi, we haven’t heard as much in the last few days, but it’s still bubbling under the surface. Rumors are that more whistleblowers are about to tell their tales. That can’t be good for those who may have tried to put a cone of silence over their testimony:

Air Strike

One commentator, Andy McCarthy, reminds us of an overlooked part of the Benghazi timeline: President Obama and Hillary Clinton had a 10:00 p.m. phone call the night of the attack, which was just after receiving news that our ambassador had been killed. The next day the false story about the anti-Islam video became the “explanation” for the attack. Coincidence?

We also know now that the administration has identified at least five individuals in Libya who were responsible for carrying out the attack, but have done nothing to get them. Apparently, they are waiting until there is enough “evidence” to try them in a civilian court. Again, this betrays the administration’s worldview. Obama and his people, especially Eric Holder at the Justice Department, believe foreign terrorists are entitled to all the legal protections of American citizens. Wrong.

The IRS scandal currently dominates most of the news cycle for the scandals. I think that has something to do with how every citizen feels about that particular agency. We all know it can come after each one of us individually. There’s not a whole lot love there. And even though we’re told it’s not a partisan agency, facts seem to indicate otherwise:

Only a Left Wing

We also now know that on March 31, 2010, President Obama met with the anti-Tea Party IRS union chief at the White House. The very next day the “jihad” against Tea Party and other conservative organizations began. Another coincidence?

Lois LernerTea Parties across the nation held rallies yesterday outside IRS offices, protesting the unfair and illegal treatment they have received at its hands. The main person responsible for that treatment, Lois Lerner, is supposed to appear today before one of the congressional committees investigating the scandal. The word is that she has decided to take the Fifth Amendment, which is a little peculiar for someone who claims she has done nothing wrong. Now, I realize the Fifth Amendment is there to protect against incriminating oneself, but one has to wonder what she has to hide—or who else she might be protecting. What promises have been made to her to secure her silence? In the law, a prosecutor must provide evidence for a conviction, so taking the Fifth is an established practice; we are told not to consider anyone guilty until proven so. However, this is not yet a legal court case where those standards exist. There’s another court, that of public opinion, and we are free to believe what we wish about this tactic being used at this point.

Another reason to be concerned about how the IRS handles its business is that it is slated to oversee the implementation of Obamacare, a law frightening enough in itself, even before the IRS is attached to it:

Member of Tea Party

Under New Management

This whole thing has taken on monstrous proportions. How long will American citizens put up with it?

Villagers with Torches

James RosenThe tapping of the phones of the Associated Press is now an old story compared to recent revelations. Obama has never liked Fox News. Now we know, for a fact, that this organization also has been the subject of scrutiny. It started with the exposure of the Justice Department secretly reading the e-mails of James Rosen, one of Fox’s reporters. Rosen was merely doing what all reporters do—trying to find out information on a story. In this case, it had to do with the North Korea nuclear program. Something about that ticked off the powers-that-be. The DOJ somewhere found a judge who signed off on the secret reading of Rosen’s e-mails because he was called a “co-conspirator” in a criminal investigation.

This jarring news sent a chill through the entire press. Never in the history of this country, except perhaps after the passage of the Sedition Act of 1798, has a member of the press been accused formally of criminal activity simply for pursuing information. Then it came out that the DOJ had targeted other Fox employees as well; a further revelation is that the department also tapped into Fox phone lines. This is unprecedented.

Doing My Job

But don’t worry. We’re told the president is a great supporter of the First Amendment. All we have to fear is fear itself.

Nothing to Fear

This is a tyranny in the making. It needs to be stopped. Let the investigations proceed.

Welcome to America 2013

Every once in a while, I don’t focus on one particular topic. Sometimes, there are a number of things happening simultaneously that are worthy of commentary. I’ve drawn attention this week to the inaugural. On Tuesday, I provided my interpretation of what President Obama really said. Here’s a cartoonist’s stab at the same thing:

I believe he caught the essence of the address.

Then there was Hillary Clinton’s testimony—sort of—before a congressional committee the other day. She was supposed to be telling what she knew about the Benghazi fiasco. Liberal news outlets praised her defiant performance, yet the only thing they got right about it were the words “defiant” and “performance.” She said virtually nothing. While making it sound like she took responsibility, in fact she spent the entire time defending her failures and saying she was not to blame. There’s an end game here; she’s looking ahead:

If we still have a country in 2016, she wants to be poised to lead it. After eight years of Obama, that’s all we need. Her defiance also manifested itself in an outburst of feigned outrage when questioned about why the administration misled the people for a few weeks, claiming the incident was the result of an anti-Mohammed video:

In answer to her angry question, “What difference does it make?” I would suggest it makes a whole lot of difference. If the administration, with her at the top of the foreign policy apparatus, deliberately tried to deflect the public’s attention away from its obvious failure to protect our diplomats by blaming a filmmaker, that would be despicable to the utmost. Beyond trying to shift the blame, it also became an attack on the First Amendment’s guarantee of free political speech. That filmmaker is the only person associated with the Benghazi event who has suffered any consequences—a chilling precedent for anyone else who may critique Islam or the current administration’s policies.

Then there’s the ongoing issue of looming national bankruptcy, which has been studiously ignored by Obama and his acolytes. They continue to act as if it’s not a real disaster–in-waiting. The president’s only nod toward the problem is to—surprise—blame the Republicans:

And his “solution” is just as out of touch with reality:

Welcome to America 2013. When I say we need to pray for the future of our nation, I’m not simply mouthing a pious cliché. It’s a cry from the heart. Acknowledging our dependence on the grace of God and getting our priorities straightened out are our most pressing needs.