Principles, Courage, & the Budget

A budget vote is coming. I’ve done my best to read both sides of the debate on what the Republican Congress has come up with this time. Yesterday, VP Pence was on the Rush Limbaugh program proclaiming it’s a win for the president, primarily because it increases defense spending.

Well, I’m glad it does that, given the various global crises we face: ISIS, Iran, North Korea, just to name the most prominent.

But what about the rest of this $1 trillion bill?

It continues to fund Planned Parenthood, that vile organization that has created a modern holocaust.

It continues to send money to sanctuary cities that are thumbing their noses at any type of curtailment of illegal immigration. Why should they be rewarded?

Some extra money is in it for border security, yet there is no mention of anything even remotely connected to Trump’s promise of a wall (not that I think he ever really believed in that long of a wall in the first place).

We’re told we must support this budget to keep the government running until September, then the Republicans in Congress will finally get down to business on what they said they would do.

The main reason why they don’t seem prepared to fight for anything substantive at this point is fear that they will be blamed for a government shutdown. That’s always the fear, and fear appears to drive their decisionmaking.

As a historian, I do understand that you can’t always get everything you want in legislation. Yes, there are compromises to be made. But how about compromises that don’t sacrifice basic principles such as the inherent value of human life? Allowing the funding of Planned Parenthood is a participation in murder. When will Republicans draw a line that cannot be crossed?

The litany of excuses grows:

  • We only have one house of Congress; how can you expect us to get anything passed?
  • We have Congress, but not the presidency, so anything we send to the White House will only get vetoed
  • We have Congress and the presidency, but we don’t have a 60-vote majority in the Senate to get what we want

If they were ever to get that 60-vote majority in the Senate, I’m almost convinced the argument will be that they don’t want to be portrayed in the media as heartless, so they will have to bow to what the Democrats want in order to be liked.

Whatever happened to principles? Why has spinelessness become the Republican fallback position?

In that interview that Pence did with Limbaugh, the host’s frustration came to the forefront in these words:

Okay, but why then is the president now suggesting a budget shutdown in September or October? If it’s no good now, why is it good then?

You guys were sent there to drain the swamp. There’s a clear Trump agenda that just isn’t seeable. It’s not visible in this budget, and some people are getting concerned that there’s more concern for bipartisanship and crossing the aisle, working with Democrats, than there is in draining the swamp and actually peeling away all of the roughage that is preventing actually moving forward here on so many of these issues that affect people domestically.

I’ve been a critic of Limbaugh ever since he jumped on the Trump Train with apparently no reservations, but he’s voicing a very important concern here, and he’s right to do so.

I’m reminded of this quote from Whittaker Chambers in Witness:

Men have never been so educated, but wisdom, even as an idea, has conspicuously vanished from the world.

I would add that principles and courage have dissipated along with wisdom.

The Greatest Oxymoron of All?

We are a spiritually lost, logically challenged, perpetually confused people manipulated by a small group, aided by the media, that seeks to impose even greater evil upon us in the name of equality. I am unaware of any other sinful practice that has been so successfully foisted on this nation as that of homosexuality. Abortion, of course, is far worse in its consequences because of the stark fact that every abortion is a murder of an innocent child. Yet abortion hit us in one fell swoop via Roe v. Wade in 1973. We hardly saw it coming. The homosexual rights bandwagon, however, has been gaining momentum one step at a time for the past forty years. Now we find ourselves in a heretofore unimaginable position, on the verge of legalizing same-sex “marriage” nationwide.

I’m not usually all that surprised at the depths to which man’s depravity can sink, but I admit to amazement at the way this abomination has come to the forefront all of a sudden. One could say it began with Joe Biden’s public support, followed soon after by Obama’s. Now, nearly everyone on the Democrat side of the political spectrum is falling over themselves to voice their “evolved view.” The rest of the country, prepared for this like the proverbial frog in the pan of boiling water, having become accustomed to watching one television program after another showcase “normal” homosexuals who are being “bullied” by the rest of society, now seems to be calmly accepting what they consider to be inevitable.

I had thought the law might be one bulwark against this invasion of decency and common sense, but that is deserting us as well:

Even more disturbing is the erosion of moral principle on the conservative side of the political divide. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a Republican, recently came out in favor of same-sex “marriage” because his son has declared himself to be homosexual. Is that how we are to make decisions in life, tossing aside morality to accommodate a family member’s sinful lifestyle? This was followed by the Republican National Committee telling fellow Republicans not to push disagreement with the gay agenda so as not to lose votes. I have news for the RNC—you are going to lose a whole lot more votes with that stance.

Even erstwhile conservative commentators are wobbly on the issue, as can be demonstrated by a political cartoon from someone who normally understands morality. Note how people who support Biblical moral stands are depicted in this one:

Rush Limbaugh intoned this past week that the battle on this issue is lost. He says it was lost as soon as we allowed homosexuality any legitimacy in our discourse. I agree with that last part. When we allowed civil unions, we gave it legitimacy. When we even gave in to the “marriage” talk, we gave it legitimacy. That’s why I’ve put quotation marks around that word in this post—same-sex marriage is an oxymoron of the highest caliber. Yet we now have serious debate about it, as if there is some ground for debate. There is not.

We have been swept along on a tidal wave of popular opinion, a popular opinion based mostly on emotion and misleading political rhetoric. Inevitability may be too strong a term, but we are dangerously close to it.

 

Meanwhile, where are the Christians? Some are fighting valiantly for the truth. Others who call themselves Christians have given themselves over to the emerging consensus. Anyone promoting sin cannot be a genuine Christian. A sin-promoting Christian may be the greatest oxymoron of all.

The Election: An Analysis

I spent a good part of my day yesterday culling through analyses of the election in preparation for my talk to a local Republican club last night. But I did more than just gather information; I prayed as I gathered, seeking to know how the Lord wants me, and all Christians in particular, to respond to the results. In today’s post, I’m going to share what I told that group. Tomorrow, I want to address the perspective Christians should have on what has transpired.

Election Results

Obama won nearly every swing state, which was a shock to most prognosticators, myself included. The popular vote was 50-48 in Obama’s favor, but he received about ten million fewer votes than in 2008. Romney underperformed also, receiving nearly three million fewer than McCain did. The great opportunity for Republicans to take the Senate dissipated; not only did they not retake it, but they lost two seats, despite the fact the Democrats had more seats to defend—nearly 2/3 of the races. The House stayed in Republican hands, but even there they lost a few seats. The lone voice for some sanity in Washington, DC, is slightly weakened.

What Does This Election Say about the Electorate?

 We are a severely divided people. The split is almost even, but that masks the downward trend away from a Christian culture. Consider that Obama won without any agenda for a second term, that experiencing the worst economic time since the Great Depression made no difference, and neither did the massive national debt nor Obamacare, which will now surely be fully implemented. Astonishingly, some polls indicated that voters trusted Obama more with handling the economy than Romney, and that 53% still blamed Bush more for the current state of the economy.

One exit poll (I don’t recall where this was asked) sought to measure the impact of Hurricane Sandy on voters. In that poll, 42% said Obama’s response to the hurricane—interrupting his campaign to “take care” of the emergency—was an important factor in their vote for him; 15% said it was the most important factor. What exactly did Obama do besides get a wonderful photo op out of it? Yet these voters “felt” good about his response, so much so that it either solidified their vote or caused them to change it. All too often in politics, perception rules even when it doesn’t comport with reality. These people were voting primarily on emotion, not principle.

In Ohio, the majority approved the government auto bailout. Of that majority, 75% voted for Obama, believing the false narrative the Obama campaign fostered that Romney was a coldhearted vulture capitalist who would have let GM fail completely.  These voters were not thinking about the good of the nation as a whole; they were focused entirely on their own well-being. In this case selfishness won over principle.

Obama promised more goodies that Romney did. Rush Limbaugh nailed it, I believe, when he commented that Romney’s recipe was the traditional route to success called hard work, whereas Obama took the government-will-take-care-of-you path:

In a country of children where the option is Santa Claus or work, what wins? And say what you want, but Romney did offer a vision of traditional America. In his way, he put forth a great vision of traditional America, and it was rejected. It was rejected in favor of a guy who thinks that those who are working aren’t doing enough to help those who aren’t. And that resonated.

When Romney proclaimed that Obama was the candidate of “free stuff,” the voters took him at his word and grabbed for the “stuff.”

We witnessed a populace more concerned about free contraception than the taking of innocent lives through abortion. We saw three states vote in favor of same-sex marriage [if Washington eventually did so—I don’t have the final word on that] and the election of the first openly homosexual senator, Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin.

The maxim that so many conservatives want to believe, that we are a center-right nation politically, has been proven shaky, if not false. I already questioned that; now we have more evidence that we are more center-left and that the real definition of “moderate” in American politics is “liberal.”

What Does This Election Say about the Republican Party?

Republican turnout was not as high as anticipated. We can legitimately debate the specifics of how the Romney campaign was run—not forcefully combating the false images; expecting the bad economy to carry him to victory by itself; avoiding the ripe topic of Obama’s Libyan foolishness; the adoption of the play-it-safe mentality that worked so well for President Thomas Dewey in 1948 [?]—yet those are tactical questions only. The real issue is what the party is willing to stand for. What is its soul?

American conservatism—which is not the same as the Republican party, but ought to be—is a three-legged stool: economic liberty, moral values based on the Biblical worldview, and commitment to a strong national defense. Romney enunciated the first, hinted at the third, and only vaguely accepted the second. He always has been weaker on abortion and homosexuality, and much of the mainstream Republican establishment agrees with him on those issues. Some Republicans tolerate those evangelicals in their midst because they form a key foundation for political victories, but they don’t really like them.

So what will the party become in the post-2012 age? Will it swing toward a tepid middle-of-the-road philosophy or offer a stark contrast to the statist and antichristian stance of the Democrats? As Grover Cleveland noted after losing his reelection bid in 1888 when he rejected the advice of his advisors to change his political views on one issue: “What is the use of being elected or reelected unless you stand for something?”

To those who say a Biblically based, conservative message will not work, I say it depends on the messenger. There is a way to communicate truth and its application to policy that can win over people. They key is finding the principled politicians who can convey that message effectively. We had some principled politicians this time around—Akin in Missouri, Mourdock in Indiana—who lost due to their verbal stumbles. What the Republican party needs are articulate leaders who can guide those who are open to hearing the truth about how government is supposed to work.

What Does This Election Tell Us about the Future of America?

As I watched the tragedy unfold Tuesday evening, and I came to the realization that Barack Obama will be president for four more years, a profound sadness enveloped me. Some of you know I have a book manuscript that compares the optimism of Ronald Reagan with the pessimism of Whittaker Chambers. I want to be a Reagan optimist, but I admit, by nature, I’m more of a Chambers pessimist. I always need a reason for optimism because I know the human condition too well: sin/selfishness dominates this world. In a letter to a friend, Chambers wrote this in the early 1950s:

On one side are the voiceless masses with their own subdivisions and fractures. On the other side is the enlightened, articulate elite which, to one degree or other, has rejected the religious roots of the civilization—the roots without which it is no longer Western civilization, but a new order of beliefs, attitudes and mandates. The enemy—he is ourselves. That is why it is idle to talk about preventing the wreck of Western civilization. It is already a wreck from within.

Is this true? How far gone are we? While I believe Reagan had good reasons for his optimism in the 1980s, can we say the same today, or has the cultural transformation gone beyond the point of no return? Is there really such a point or is it possible to turn this around? The culture has changed; that much is undeniable. We are undergoing what one commentator calls a “tsunami of secularism.”

We need to rebuild our foundations as a society, but it must begin with a return to the Biblical worldview, which will then lead us back to principles—the general truths that must undergird a society. If that happens, we will then see a renewed commitment to constitutionalism and the rule of law. Only by taking these steps will we be able to restore what has been lost.

I agree with Reagan when he said, “I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing.”

What are Christians to do? How are we to respond to this election? I’ll try to deal with that tomorrow.

On Unity & Polarization

I hear the word all the time: polarization. It’s always used disparagingly. I understand why. There’s a great desire for unity, as in “can’t we all just get along?” No less than anyone else, I would rejoice if unity prevailed, both culturally and politically. Yet one must always ask what the basis for that unity might be. A false, forced unity would be no unity at all. It must be voluntary, and it must be grounded in reality.

Is unity at any cost the goal? Or is truth the goal? I cannot be united with the sins of this culture, but am called by God to stand against them. If I do so, am I the cause of divisiveness or merely the one pointing out that a great divide exists? If I speak out against the policies of the Obama administration, am I an unpatriotic citizen who should keep his mouth shut for the sake of unity, or am I instead one who seeks to right a ship that is listing and in danger of sinking?

Rush Limbaugh, at the beginning of the Obama regime, made a statement that caused a considerable stir. He said he hoped Obama would fail. That brought down on him not only the wrath of the Left but criticism from the vast mass of so-called independents. Yet they didn’t grasp what he meant. He had familiarized himself with the Obama worldview and agenda, unlike so many that—starry-eyed and naïve—had hoped the political messiah had arrived. He realized that if Obama succeeded in taking the nation where he wanted it to go, we would no longer be the nation that was founded over two centuries ago. He was correct in his analysis. Now, more than ever, people are waking up to the shipwreck that is about to occur if we stay on the Obama path. Limbaugh was prescient in his view of our future if Obama were to make his plans reality.

Yes, we are a polarized nation.

But polarization is not always bad. When one side of that polarization leads to disaster, it is incumbent upon the other side to speak up forcefully and with conviction. Right now, polarization is the key to turning things around.

Interestingly, Jesus never said that His message would bring unity. Rather, He said it would divide families because some would reject His words. The same is applicable for all truthful messages. There will always be those who reject and resist the truth, but that doesn’t negate the truth. I am not divisive by nature; I like agreement. But I will never agree with sin or falsehoods. I must stand for truth and allow truth to penetrate the fog of sin and falsehood that threatens to overwhelm us. That is the calling for every Christian. We need to be faithful to it.

The Real War on Women

We’ve been treated to a media blitz about the presumed Republican war on women. All it took to set it off was for Rush Limbaugh to use derogatory terms to describe a Georgetown law student who was pushing for government-provided contraception, supposedly because it was too expensive for her and her ideological soulmates who apparently believe they should be free to have taxpayer-sponsored sex anytime, anywhere. As noted in a previous post, Limbaugh apologized for using those terms, but it does him no good on the Left to have done so.

Meanwhile, we have countless examples of Leftists using far more insulting and obscene words to describe conservative women. One of the most blatant is Bill Maher, whose word choice I refuse to print in this blog, particularly the vitriol he has used to describe Sarah Palin. He, and others like him on that side of the spectrum, show no remorse whatsoever for their verbal abuse.

There’s a Scriptural axiom that comes to mind when contemplating this episode:

But as I’ve said countless times before—what can we expect? Those who disparage Christian beliefs have little or no conscience anyway, and surely have no desire to change their stripes. We have to get used to the double standard. What makes it particularly disreputable in this case is that Maher has donated $1,000,000 to the Obama SuperPac. Calls for the Pac to return the money go unheeded.

Lost in this dispute is the real war on women that is being waged in this country. A couple of cartoonists were able to pierce the verbal fog and point to the real outrage:

The slaughter of innocent lives trumps any sleight the Left may perceive. This is the real war on women.

Framing the Debate: Religious Liberty, Not Contraceptives

It all began with George Stephanopoulos—of Clinton White House infamy—asking a question at one of the Republican debates. He wanted to know if states had the authority to ban contraception. The question baffled the candidates, particularly since no one had ever brought up the issue. Perhaps it was intended to stem the rising candidacy of Rick Santorum, who was becoming more prominent at that time. Yet Santorum, despite his personal views on the subject, had never indicated any interest in banning contraception; in fact, he had stated the exact opposite.

Why did Stephanopoulos broach this non-issue? No one could quite figure it out, except as a way of stopping Santorum.

Then, not long after, the Obama administration came up with its mandate that religious organizations had to offer contraceptives and abortifacients in their hospitals and healthcare plans. Was Stephanopoulos’s question the preliminary to the mandate, getting the public used to it ahead of time? Was he in collusion with the White House? Those queries remain unanswered, but the timing was unusually fortuitous for the administration.

Those plans went awry when the religious community cried foul and cited First Amendment protections for religious liberty. That seemed to throw the Obama team off-balance for a while, but then they attempted a new tactic—change the issue from religious liberty to the right of women to have contraceptives. Convince the public that conservatives are anti-women and are bent on setting up a theocracy. In other words, scare the public by constructing a straw man, a technique used by progressives ad nauseum.

When Darrell Issa, the congressman who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, held hearings on the religious liberty issue and its violation in the HHS mandate, the Democrats were able to offer their own witnesses at the hearing. At the last minute, they wanted to change one of their witnesses so that Georgetown student Sandra Fluke could testify. Fluke, a feminist birth control advocate whose goal is to change the Catholic university’s policy on not providing contraceptives, was not an expert on the First Amendment or religious liberty, and was denied a spot at the hearing for that reason, as well as for the late notice.

So what did the Democrats do? They arranged their own “hearing,” which was not official but primarily a publicity stunt, so that Fluke could “testify” to the hardships students face by not having contraceptives provided for them via the taxpayers. She made it sound like contraceptives were somehow scarce and extremely expensive; they are neither. In effect, she wanted a subsidy for herself and other students.

We have become a society so seared in our consciences when it comes to sex that dissent over a policy that promotes promiscuity is liable to get one in trouble.

That’s where Rush Limbaugh came in. He saw how ludicrous the entire proceeding had been, and commented on the blatant hypocrisy of the progressives, turning a religious liberty concern into a “threat” to women’s “rights” for political purposes. As he ridiculed the idea that taxpayers should pay for a woman’s sexual activities, he used a couple of words to describe Fluke that got the media in an uproar. First of all, never mind that the Left says far worse things daily—one need only replay the constant derogatory and disgusting comments about the Palin family. Yet the progressive Left demanded that advertisers drop Limbaugh’s program.

Over the weekend, Limbaugh issued an apology for the use of words he regretted uttering. I listened to his explanation yesterday. He said his apology was heartfelt; he had lowered himself to the level of his accusers and had played into their hands. Some say he apologized only because he was losing sponsors, but I believe he meant what he said. The apology was appropriate; we should never mirror the traits of those who dishonor themselves by their despicable words and actions. By the way, I expect him to weather the storm; the attempt to shut him down won’t succeed.

But what has happened? The real issue—religious liberty—has been overwhelmed by a non-issue—contraception—and the Left has successfully framed the debate. This is what they always attempt to do. We have to stand against such tactics and respond in ways that show we have a different character.

The debate needs to be reframed in a proper way. There is much at stake as Obama tries to run roughshod over the Constitution and religious liberty. He must not be allowed to win this debate. We must walk in wisdom. May God grant us His mind and heart as we proceed.

A Funeral Oration

Today is a day of national mourning. Not for everyone, mind you, but for a select group. The mainstream media are putting on their black arm bands as they grieve over the death of one of their dearest, most intimate beliefs: that Sarah Palin is nothing more than an empty-headed, incompetent, tundra-loving Barbie doll whose very presence on the planet is an insult to the intellectual and political elite who have a sort of divine right to rule over the rubes in flyover country.

You see, the media pushed and pushed for the release of all Palin e-mails pertaining to her governorship of Alaska, relishing the opportunity to expose her once and for all as the embodiment of all that is backward about America. Once they got their wish last Friday, they even sent out an appeal to all right-thinking citizens to help them wade through the 24,000 pages in their attempt to put her influence to rest forever.

But something went wrong.

All reports, no matter which news organization one chooses for getting the latest information, are indicating that Palin does not fit their stereotype. Those eagerly sought e-mails are revealing a governor who was intelligent, focused, hardworking, and concerned about integrity in government. How awful! How can any self-respecting mainstream media outlet cover its tracks now? How are they going to maintain any credibility at all after this unforeseen calamity?

Well, they could begin questioning why there are no records for Barack Obama’s years in the Illinois state senate. Or they could start wondering why he has never allowed anyone to see his college records or any of the papers he wrote as a university student. I’m sure there’s a treasure trove awaiting them out there, if they have the desire to be investigative journalists once more. In fact, I’m expecting an announcement any day now that they are going to pursue all those unanswered questions about our commander-in-chief because, you know, their primary aim is to get at the truth in all matters of public interest. Surely they will now redirect their attention to the One who was going to heal the planet and stop the rise of the oceans.

Right.

There was a very interesting caller to the Rush Limbaugh program the other day. The man identified himself as a liberal political science professor in Missouri; I believe he was legitimate. This professor said he couldn’t believe how fortunate liberals were in that Republicans were trashing the one potential candidate on their side who could pull it all together for them and beat Obama. He was referring to Palin. He said liberals fear her more than anyone else the Republicans might put forward as their candidate. That’s why they are so anxious to portray her as brainless and frivolous. It was an enlightening interchange.

Pundits like to point to the polls and to Palin’s high unfavorability numbers. They try to make the case that she is unelectable. I had been thinking that myself—there’s just too much negative publicity to overcome. But the more I ponder it, the more I believe that liberal professor might be correct. For one thing, why should any decisions be based on opinion polls this far out from an election? Public opinion is the most changeable feature in modern politics, primarily since so few of the electorate have any principles upon which they base their opinions. If Palin can come across as knowledgeable on the issues while maintaining the “everywoman” quality that drew people to her in the first place, there’s no reason why she can’t beat a failed president who presides over the worst economy since the Great Depression, and whose policies have been the primary reason for this prolonged recession.

She may not run, of course. The important pundits [self-proclaimed] have declared she won’t. That, by itself, is probably a reason she will run, if only to tweak them. If she does run, I’m not saying I’m committed to her candidacy; there are others with valid claims on the nomination as well. Yet I refuse to accept the phony argument that she cannot win. The future is open; anything can happen.