A New National Conversation

I’m fighting the temptation to write a blog that lists every action of the Obama administration that manifests scandal, deception, misinformation, racial division, or astounding incompetence, but I don’t have the time to write that long of an article—nor would many readers make it to the end. So I have to break up those incidents into bite-sized pieces.

Let’s just focus for now on the latest manifestations. Jonathan Gruber of Obamacare deception infamy will be testifying before a congressional panel soon. That will put him back in the limelight, which is important, because the public needs to be constantly reminded of what has been foisted upon them. When that happens, I fully expect this type of response from the White House:

Most Transparent Admin

The president’s chief enablers will probably step in at that point, and it will be hard to tell the difference between the White House spin and what the enablers are saying. But if they could be totally honest, we would hear something like this:

Our Job

Also, since Ferguson has been our obsession for the past week and a half, and we’ve made a hero out of a thug/thief, the administration has decided that we once again need a national conversation on race. If I had the authority, I think I would ban the phrase “national conversation on race” indefinitely. Why? The administration’s definition of any such national conversation only goes one way—blaming law enforcement for all the problems. In the past, we’ve had presidents who acted racially—think of Woodrow Wilson, a staunch supporter of segregation who acted it out during his administration—but now the pendulum has swung in the other direction:

Racial Profiling

Translation: guilty until proven innocent, and in our eyes, you are never innocent.

Almost unnoticed while the fallout from Ferguson continues is the new barrier we’ve broken with our national debt. The $18 trillion mark is now in our rearview mirror as we head on to new heights in the next two years. It is now an established fact that the Obama years have added more to the national debt than all other years in our nation’s history combined. Yet the president brushes it off as inconsequential while he seeks to add even more to that total:

How Much

What makes this particularly galling is that while running for president back in 2008, he specifically targeted the debt George Bush contributed, calling it “irresponsible” and a “failure of leadership.” Then, to add to the rhetorical flourish, he said that amassing a debt such as Bush had done was clearly “unpatriotic.”

By your own words, you will be judged.

Might I suggest a new national conversation? How about we talk nationally about the voters’ responsibility to place men and women of honor and integrity in office? For some reason, I doubt the eagerness of the Obama administration to take part in that national conversation.

Personal Accountability & Ferguson

The smoke (literally) has not cleared totally on the Ferguson riots. Since I wrote my blog a couple of days ago, protesters/criminals have continued to cause problems. The National Guard, which was conspicuously not called in by Missouri governor Nixon on the night of the grand jury decision, has helped calm the area, working in tandem with the police and state law enforcement officials. That’s probably not what most National Guardsmen signed up for. Our military is supposed to protect us from invasion, not from ourselves:

Danger Zones

The looters and rioters, setting fire to businesses and endangering lives, are not exactly focused on the presumed reason for the protest. Michael Brown doesn’t seem to be in the forefront of their thoughts; they are far more interested in destruction and grabbing “stuff” for themselves:

Stand for Justice

For instance, what did the woman who ran a cake bakery do to incite riots? Wasn’t she in business to offer a product to the community? Yet the destruction was indiscriminate.

Black Friday

Perhaps the most redeeming story to come out of this fiasco is that this woman has now received over $200,000 from Americans across the nation to help her rebuild her business. That’s the real America, which is far different than the racially divided country the media portrays.

Speaking of the media, some have pointed fingers at them as possible co-conspirators in this unfolding story:

Ideas

I have no problem with the media being on the scene to describe what’s happening on the ground, but whenever the line is crossed from reporting to agitation, there can be grounds for pointing those fingers.

But if we really want to get to the source of what occurred in Ferguson, there’s only one place to go:

Brown

It’s called a principle of personal accountability for one’s actions. It’s a principle that can be forgotten in the midst of turmoil, yet we need to constantly remind one another that each individual is a free moral agent given the ability by God to make decisions. Ultimately, no matter how one is raised, no matter how many wrong influences there are in one’s life, we all have to answer for ourselves. Our decisions are not predetermined; we still have the ability to choose, regardless of our environment. Society is not to blame.

Ferguson & the Rule of Law

Robert McCullochAt about 9:15 last night, I, along with countless other Americans, started listening to St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch provide the factual information that led the grand jury to refuse to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

McCulloch went to great pains to explain that decision. He also went into the kind of detail that prosecutors don’t normally go into publicly in an attempt to appeal to the reasonable portion of the citizenry that justice was served. In fact, after the press conference, all the testimony from the grand jury deliberations was released for the public to read. That’s called transparency.

He was both sympathetic to the family that lost its son and methodical in his rundown of the events of that day when Wilson shot Brown. The evidence, he said, showed Brown’s DNA inside Wilson’s car, on Wilson’s shirt and pants, and, most significantly, on the policeman’s gun. The evidence, therefore, backed up the story that Brown attacked Wilson while the officer was still inside his car.

McCulloch then thoroughly explained the various eyewitness accounts and how some of them didn’t comport with the facts. The majority of the eyewitnesses, though, were clear in their testimony that once Wilson got out of the car, Brown again came toward him menacingly. That’s when the fatal shots were fired. McCulloch also emphasized that those eyewitnesses were black, not white.

The grand jury, which was selected to represent the entire county, and included various minorities, three of whom were black, came to their decision after weeks of attention to the details. He praised the grand jury members for their willingness to extend their time on this jury by two extra months, just to ensure that the truth could come out.

Overall, I was impressed by McCulloch’s professionalism and desire for an honest outcome. He spoke both movingly and convincingly, even when answering questions from hostile members of the press in the courtroom. He was decorum personified. Yet one of those reporters had the nerve to shout at him as he left the room, “Are you going to sleep well tonight?”

Ferguson RiotsThat shout was the signal that this was going to be a long night. All that professionalism and appeal to reason went for naught, as the assembled crowd rose up in anger and began destroying their own city. Stores were looted, buildings burned (some businesses will not ever reopen again), and chaos ensued. The police are coming under fire today for their weak and inadequate response. Apparently, the desire not to be seen as oppressive overcame common sense. Appeasement of violent civil disobedience is a recipe for further violence.

The rioters were both local citizens and those from groups outside the city. They were a motley assemblage of Marxists, anarchists, and just plain old criminals who wanted to get something free for themselves. Reporters on the scene showed live shots of people breaking into stores and taking out everything they could carry; alcohol seemed to be high on their “shopping list.”

All of this in the name of justice? What justice was meted out to local businesses that were devastated? How did that help the community?

And what of Michael Brown himself? Was he a hero? A martyr for some cause?

Evidence shows that just prior to the shooting, he had robbed a convenience store, treated the store employee roughly, and then scuffled with Wilson. The toxicology report after his death revealed he had marijuana in his system. Is this really the poster child for innocence? For what cause is he a martyr—the right to steal?

Obama Ferguson StatementPresident Obama chose to come out and make a statement right after Mr. McCulloch finished his press conference. Perhaps the most ironic comment of the night was his opening line about how we are a nation that abides by the rule of law. After his executive order on immigration last week, it was nice to witness his “conversion.” Rule of law is a useful concept, depending on the circumstance.

I listened to his entire monologue. After a while, it rambled and seemed to lose a lot of coherence. I don’t think it inspired confidence in many. And while he was speaking about the need for peace, the split-screen showed the beginnings of a riot as a police car was in the process of being overturned.

Something else was missing from the president’s statement: any concern whatsoever for Darren Wilson, who has been exonerated of murder, who acted in self-defense, and whose life from now on will be forever changed. Will he have to live “underground,” in fear of retaliation? What occupation is now open to him? Will he be given a new identity? Facial reconstruction? The president never even mentioned him by name.

In my opinion, both the president and Eric Holder have done nothing but inflame this situation from the start. Their public empathy for Brown and his family only made things worse, implicating Wilson as the culprit before all the facts were obtained.

Racial Fire Dept

Al Sharpton is due to arrive in Ferguson today. I don’t use the “Rev.” in front of his name; it’s an oxymoron. Not only is he one of the primary racial agitators in America today, and has been for decades, but he also is considered a special outside adviser to President Obama. He goes to the White House often. That, in itself, is a disgrace to this administration.

Sharpton

They should be embarrassed by this connection, but embarrassment is a quality to which they seem immune.

The activities last night were a blot on America, but not for the reason the protesters believe. The rule of law was attacked once again and emotion took precedence over reason and the facts.

John AdamsI’m reminded of a famous quote from John Adams as he defended the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre trial. This was a highly unpopular thing for him to do, with possible repercussions to his career and life. Yet he did what was right, and he ended with this statement:

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

Wishes, inclinations, and dictates of passion ruled the night. What awaits us in the aftermath? Continue to pray for God’s mercy on a nation that increasingly doesn’t deserve it, yet desperately needs it.

A Tale of Two Speeches

So there was President Obama, standing before the UN, sounding like a true warrior against Islamic terrorism. But was the speech all sound and fury, lacking in substance? It certainly wasn’t the same type of speech he gave to the UN last year.

Never Mind

On Fox’s The Kelly File, an interesting comparison was made between what Obama said in his newest UN speech with what George Bush said in 2001. They were strikingly similar:

United Nations Hosts World Leaders For Annual General Assembly

Both speeches spoke of the bloodthirsty, evil enemies who have to be destroyed. What makes this ironic, of course, is that Obama ran in 2008 on the premise that Bush was practically a warmonger and, if we would elect him [Obama], the Islamic world would embrace us as true friends. Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows forever.

Yet even in this ostensibly tough speech this week, Obama hedged. In an almost apologetic tone for being forced to act, he found it useful, for some reason, to point to what he considers America’s faults. For some reason, he inserted Ferguson into the speech as an example of America not being perfect. That episode is still under investigation, the policeman has not been indicted, and there’s no evidence yet that racism played a role. Yet he has already given his verdict.

He also praised a Muslim cleric who has publicly stated that it is right for Muslims to kill American soldiers. Mixed message? Does Obama really believe all his tough talk, or is this primarily an attempt to shore up his approval rating and help Democrats in the upcoming elections?

If there’s one thing we have learned about our president over the years, he is good at making promises he never intends to keep:

Here Is the Promise

We’ve also learned that his ego seems to know no bounds. He actually believes—and has stated publicly–that he is better and smarter than all of his advisers. When it comes to the military, he has a habit of rejecting the seasoned advice of his generals. He’s proven that in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Reports are bubbling to the surface even now that he is dismissing what they are telling him about the needs of this current counterterrorism endeavor.

Better

Remind me again what military experience our commander in chief has in his background. Oh, that’s right—none. In fact, as many critics pointed out from the first day he ran for the highest office in the land, he’s never run any organization or made executive decisions at any point in his life.

Yet here we are with a president who knows nothing about being the chief executive of a nation. This, along with his radical ideology, is why I have no confidence in his decisions, even when they appear to be correct.

Liberty vs. License: Where I Stand

Comments from one reader of yesterday’s blog post leads me to want to explain something further. Yesterday’s post was concerned with the rush to judgment in Ferguson and the possibility that the greatest potential victim in this entire episode is the death of due process. There has been, in my opinion, too much pre-judging taking place. You saw it in the many nights of protest that included looting and rioting. You saw it in the statement of Missouri’s governor when he said a vigorous prosecution had to go forward. You saw it also in the arrival on scene of Eric Holder, who made it clear he empathized with the protesters. I questioned whether the DOJ would really conduct a fair and balanced investigation, based on Holder’s public position on the event.

Yes, I have serious doubts about the storyline being promoted by Michael Brown’s defenders. First, the main eyewitness was Brown’s partner in the manhandling of a store clerk and the robbery of the store just prior to the fatal incident with the policeman. Is this a trustworthy witness? There are also accounts of the policeman who fired those fatal shots being attacked by Brown. Who is telling the truth? All I’m asking for is an approach that gets all the facts first, then makes a judgment as to guilt afterwards.

I was asked by one commenter if I wasn’t concerned about how the police acted, and that this might be an indication of statist control of society. Let me be very clear here. Anyone who has ever read this blog on a regular basis cannot fail to understand that I sound the alarm on statism constantly. I firmly believe in the rule of law. The end-run the Obama administration always tries to make around the Constitution is a genuine threat to liberty.

That word “liberty” requires some explanation as well. Some people have a terrible understanding of what liberty actually comprises. It is not licentiousness. That’s why I can never be a libertarian politically. Ideological libertarians want nearly a non-existent government, not only in the economic and educational spheres (where I have substantial agreement with them), but also in the moral sphere (where I disagree with them vehemently). They replace the God of the Bible, who has ordained civil government for very specific purposes, with the god “Liberty.”

True liberty always includes personal accountability and a framework, in society, for order. Liberty to do whatever one wants is not true liberty, but license. What I saw on the streets of Ferguson, as business owners had to defend their private property from those who wanted to just grab things for themselves, was license. A police force must stand against those actions. The responsibility of the police is to protect the innocent from those who are out to hurt and destroy.

Did the Ferguson police go too far? There is an honest difference of opinion on that. I suspect that some of those business owners wish the police had been more of a presence than they were. Did the police charge the protesters, killing and maiming everyone in their way?  I didn’t see any footage like that, did you? In fact, they seemed rather tentative at times, worried perhaps about the reputation they were getting. That never would have stopped Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Castro. We are hardly on the verge of a police state, at least at the local level.

Now, does that mean I have reached a definite conclusion about the events of that night when Michael Brown died? Regardless of my leanings, which are based on what I have read and seen thus far, I nevertheless would have to continue to suspend any final judgment. If I were a resident of Ferguson, I would have a clear conscience sitting on a jury to decide this matter. I would look carefully at all the evidence and make my final judgment only after reviewing the facts as presented by both sides.

But there are some things that are clear to me:

  • Scripture requires an orderly society based on the rule of law.
  • Government is not a necessary evil, but an institution established by God to restrain evil and maintain order.
  • Rioting and looting are sinful actions that need to be met with the force of the government and put down with a force equal to the sinful actions themselves.
  • Guilt or innocence will be decided in a court of law, not in the media or on the streets by the loudest voices.

This is where I stand, and I make no apologies for my stance.

Fairness & Due Process under Obama

Michael Brown’s funeral is now over. Nightly unrest seems to have left Ferguson, Missouri, for the present. However, expect it to return if the legal process doesn’t go as some desire. This incident is not unique with respect to making a judgment before all the facts are known; it’s becoming alarmingly common in matters touching on race.

All the Facts

Gov. Nixon of Missouri and the Obama administration, represented by Attorney General Holder, have made it clear they have prejudged the situation. Nixon tried to walk back his comment about a vigorous prosecution of the police officer, but few are buying his semi-retraction. Holder says the DOJ will investigate fairly, but that is difficult to accept, given his predisposition to believe the narrative offered by Brown’s advocates. The loss of one life is always a tragedy, but less so if that person attacked the policeman. We’re still waiting for all the facts to come out. While we wait, we must ensure we don’t suffer an even greater tragedy that would affect everyone:

Due Process

My reluctance to give the Obama administration the benefit of the doubt when it comes to fairness and the rule of law stems from a long train of abuses in the past 5-plus years. The president seems to take any and every opportunity he can to blame Republicans for all the ills of society, never once taking any blame for himself:

Teenage Girl

Anyone who would use the IRS in an attempt to destroy political opponents has a lot of nerve casting blame on others:

Free T-Shirt

Congressional elections are drawing near. Prospects for Democrats are not good. They have to hope all these issues can somehow be buried and that the electorate will suffer from collective amnesia:

Election Issues

Unfortunately for the Republic, they’ve been able to do this before. Only an alert and principled citizenry can ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The Ferguson Debacle

I’m glad having a black president and a black attorney general has taken care of the racial issues in America once and for all.

Yes, I’m being slightly sarcastic.

I’ve watched the unfolding events in Ferguson, Missouri, as I’m sure everyone else has also, but have refrained from commenting until all the facts are established. That may not happen for some time, though, so I do want to offer some thoughts on what is already obvious.

First, the killing of Michael Brown has exposed once again the deep racial divide that exists in the minds of some. I emphasize “in the minds of” because it’s rather baffling to me how anyone can call America a basically racist society when the president, attorney general, and key figures in the media, academia, and the sports world are now black. I guess it depends on one’s perspective:

Long Way

I freely admit I’m of the opinion that we truly have come a long way. Now, a critic would say that’s simply because I’m white, but I would counter that critique with my bedrock conviction that God created only one race—it’s called “human”—and that He sees us all as His potential children. I firmly believe there is no Scriptural basis for setting people against each other for any external reason, whether that’s the color of one’s skin or ethnic background. God looks at the heart.

That leads me to another observation: what’s in the hearts of those who think that justice is served by rioting, looting, and destroying legitimate businesses in the Ferguson community? Looting and destruction are not racial issues; they are sin being manifested. I don’t know if hatred was at the root of the Brown shooting; I can’t see into the policeman’s heart. But when I see resentment blazing into outright hatred and destruction of other people’s property, it’s not hard to read the hearts of those involved in such actions. Of course, what they don’t realize is that their selfish, sinful actions are only destroying what they claim they want to preserve. That’s what sin always does.

Back Off

The media has focused on the reaction of the police force and has condemned what it calls an “overmilitarization” of the police. Here’s how one cartoonist has expressed that feeling:

Tear Gas

Not being on the ground in Ferguson myself, I don’t know if the police have overreacted. However, I do know that some of the business owners don’t believe the police have done enough. The rioting and looting continue, and their livelihoods may be destroyed. Police also are being criticized for releasing a video that seems to implicate Brown in a convenience store robbery just prior to his death. I’ve seen the video; it looks pretty conclusive to me that Brown was acting like a thug. At 6’3″ and 300 pounds, I hope you might forgive me if I wonder if the policeman who came upon him later might have felt rather intimidated. The police are also criticized for having only 3% of the force black in a city where nearly 70% of the citizens are black. The former mayor was on TV this morning, though, explaining that they have an active search for black officers, but the pool is small from which to choose. In other words, racism is not the cause of the ethnic composition of the force.

On top of that, we now have the federal government getting involved. Both President Obama and Attorney General Holder are now inserting themselves into this local problem. How is this a federal government responsibility? Look at the pattern: these two men have spoken out on previous events that they concluded were racial, even when that was not necessarily the case—the Louis Gates incident in Boston and the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman spectacle in Florida. If they can fan the flames of racial division, they seem intent on doing so.

Let all the facts come out. If the policeman was out of bounds, acted wrongly, and his actions led to a death that should not have occurred, he should be punished for that. If Michael Brown was the one initiating the action, let’s don’t put him on a pedestal as some kind of martyr.

Above all, don’t let these incidents become trigger points for increased racial tension. Recognize that there are sinful people of all races and ethnicities who would like nothing better than to use such events for their own selfish purposes. Let’s be wise in our analysis and try our best to see this through the lens of Biblical principles.