Archive for the ‘ Politics & Government ’ Category

A Righteous Anger

I spend a lot of time in this blog critiquing current events: our government and its policies; the unbalanced media coverage; the antichristian aspects of our culture; the way Christians sometimes go along with ungodly practices.

It’s easy to get angry when you focus on such things. I can say, though, that most of the time it’s not anger that motivates me, but anguish over the path we have taken as a society—a sadness that we are throwing away the many advantages and blessings we’ve received, and that we are trashing our heritage.

Anger is not always wrong, however. The prime Scriptural example in the New Testament has to be when Jesus took a whip and drove the moneychangers out of the Temple. I don’t think He asked them politely to move. He was angry with how they had cheapened the worship of God.

Jesus didn’t sin when he displayed His anger. His was a righteous anger. One key passage in the book of Ephesians gives insight into the anger issue when it admonishes,

In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

What does this teach us? First, anger is not necessarily sin. Second, it can become sin if it festers, so don’t allow it to direct your actions. Third, if you do give in to anger and do something foolish while angry, you’ve just provided an opportunity for Satan to use it to his advantage.

Sometimes I do worry about Christians who get involved in trying to change the society. Don’t get me wrong—we are to be involved, and God tells us to be the change agents. But we have to do so in the right spirit.

When is anger allowed?

  1. Sin should always make us angry, since the selfishness at the root of all sin destroys everything good that God has created. It devastates people and makes their lives miserable.
  2. A culture that rejects God’s standards should make us angry as well. When we see men setting themselves up as the determiners of good and evil, right and wrong, and their ways are not God’s ways, they are leading others into a horrible deception that will separate them from God and His love.
  3. Government policies that make civil government into the ultimate authority in people’s lives should engender anger. The arrogance that accompanies “government as savior” is the opposite of the true spirit of the Gospel.

Yes, for all these reasons, we can be angry. The key is to direct that anger into a God-inspired response, a response that certainly calls out sin for what it is, but simultaneously reveals the heart of God. What is that heart? More than anything else, God wants to rescue men and women from the pit into which they’ve placed themselves.

The rescue He wants to achieve must begin with a clear message that sin is sin and that repentance is required. Then it moves on to the revelation that God has provided a way for that sin to be forgiven by sacrificing Himself for humanity. The love displayed through that sacrifice can break down man’s wall of stubbornness and rebellion that he has erected against the One who reaches out to him.

What begins with anger should end with a deep desire to “salvage” those caught in deception. That’s what the word “salvation” really means. We’re involved in a salvage operation.

My admonition to my fellow Christians who want to see change is to be wise. Don’t let your anger carry you into sin yourself. Be open to how God wants you to respond and do so intelligently. Only then can we make a difference.

John Adams, Facts, & Brett Kavanaugh: A Primer

It was March 1770 when a crowd of Boston colonists began angrily harassing a British sentry. Soon other soldiers came to his aid. In the confusion, amidst the clamor, the throwing of snowballs, ice, and stones, and even being threatened with clubs, the soldiers misunderstood a command from the officer in charge and began firing into the crowd. Five colonists lay dead and six more were wounded. It became known as the Boston Massacre.

Emotions ran high. Would the soldiers have any hope of a fair trial? Into this tension-packed atmosphere, John Adams entered and volunteered to defend the soldiers. Adams was not in favor of British policies, but he believed the soldiers had been provoked into the attack, and therefore all the facts had to be taken into consideration.

He took a chance by standing up for them. He could have become the most hated man in Boston. Yet he showed that the crowd had been more of a mob than a simple crowd of people standing around. He argued for the soldiers while simultaneously critiquing the British government’s decision to place soldiers in the streets, thereby increasing the tension.

The result? The officer in charge was acquitted, as were most of the soldiers. Two were found guilty of manslaughter and sent back to England. Given that death would have been the sentence if a guilty verdict of murder had been returned, this was quite an achievement for Adams as he stood for the concept of the rule of law—a concept that is currently little understood, even less appreciated, and constantly under attack.

One of Adams’s statements in these trials has come down to us today, repeated by those who understand the basis for the rule of law. Here’s what he said:

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.

At different times in American history, emotions have run rampant and caused no small amount of anguish, civil disturbances, and assaults on the rule of law. I point out John Adams’s strong character in this blog today as a reminder that we must not allow passions to run wild. We must always make all our decisions on the basis of evidence, not mere emotion.

All I have seen in the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh up to this point is pure emotion, stripped of any genuine evidence of wrongdoing. The FBI has now been tasked with another round of interviews to find out if there is any corroboration at all for the allegations against him. This came about through one of the most disgusting displays of partisanship ever seen in Congress, and that’s saying a lot considering what has transpired many times before.

Thus far, all we have is the word of women who are basing their testimony on strong emotion . . . yet without even one piece of corroborating evidence. We are supposed to believe them because they are women.

Do women never lie? Are they always to be believed? Do they not also have agendas at times? Has the media looked into the backgrounds of those who are making the accusations, or are they focused on Kavanaugh only?

Whatever happened to the need for real evidence before convicting someone?

Yes, I know this is not a court of law, but someone can be convicted in the arena of public opinion to the point that truth no longer matters. Just believe, even when there’s no reason to do so.

Could Kavanaugh be lying? Well, if he is, he’s survived six previous FBI background checks. Further, women who have known him in high school have testified that he never acted like the accusers have said. Even further, dozens of women who have worked with him in government have stood solidly with him, attesting to his impeccable character.

But we’re supposed to believe someone, in the case of Prof. Ford, who has escaped all media scrutiny. Where have you seen any in-depth treatment of her background, moral behavior, or current political agenda? Maybe I missed it, but nothing I’ve seen has even broached the subject.

No, she’s a woman who came across as credible. Yet by “credible,” what is really meant is she came across as emotional enough to convince people she must be telling the truth.

Yet where is the evidence?

Thomas Sowell has been a favorite writer and commentator of mine for decades. I’ve come across a couple of his most poignant quotes lately, and they are appropriate for what we have been experiencing in this current controversy.

Facts are seldom allowed to contaminate the beautiful vision of the left. What matters to the true believers are the ringing slogans, endlessly repeated.

Emotions neither prove nor disprove facts. There was a time when any rational adult understood this. But years of dumbed-down education and emphasis on how people ‘feel’ have left too many people unable to see through this media gimmick.

He’s one of the new John Adamses in our day. May there be more.

Kavanaugh, Accusations, & Evil Intent

As I’m sure many of you have, I’ve listened carefully to all the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh. Why? I want only people of sterling character in important positions in government. I also watched the interview Martha McCallum of Fox News conducted with him. I wanted to see how he would respond to the controversy that has erupted concerning his nomination to the Supreme Court.

By the way, a Supreme Court nomination never should have this degree of importance. It is important, true. Yet our system of governing is so out of line with what the Founders intended that we now deem a seat on the Court almost as significant as the choice for president. Any conservative who seeks to accept that nomination is usually in for a trial by fire. One must be willing to have one’s reputation blown away.

Kavanaugh, in the interview, was obviously tense. Who wouldn’t be, after all the sordid accusations? He also kept repeating the same lines: his desire for a fair process; the opportunity to defend his reputation and integrity. While he could have been less robotic in his responses, I understand his concern to keep the focus where it belongs—that there is no substance to the charges being leveled against him.

He came across to me as a kind, thoughtful man, seeking to exhibit grace under duress. He refused to speculate about the motives of the accusers, both the women themselves and the Democrats who want to ensure he never takes that seat on the Court.

Clarence Thomas, when he suffered the same type of trial during his confirmation hearings, didn’t hold back. He let the world know that there was evil intent in the effort to block him. I respected that because the intent was so blatantly obvious. That same animus is evident toward Kavanaugh. A man with an unblemished record prior to these accusations (the FBI already did a full background check) has been dragged through the mud.

Of course, he’s not the only one in the mud. He didn’t choose to be there, but others have jumped in voluntarily.

If anyone ever had any doubts about the level to which we have sunk in our current politics, the Democrats have now erased all such doubts:

Kavanaugh has been a victim, to be sure. Yet there’s another victim rarely mentioned:

Why, some may ask? Why have all the stops been pulled out in this attempt to derail someone who is so greatly respected as a judge that even the liberal-leaning ABA gave him its highest rating? What is behind it all?

I have a simple answer: abortion.

If Kavanaugh were merely replacing another conservative justice—as when Gorsuch replaced Scalia—the animus would never have been this great. The problem is that he’s replacing Kennedy, and the fear on the Left is that this means the Court will now have a solid conservative majority for many years.

At the root of that fear is the moral depravity of abortion-on-demand. Nothing, in the fevered brains of the Leftist radical feminist movement, can be permitted to interfere with the “right” to kill unwanted, yet innocent, children.

Yes, this is where we are now as a nation.

My hope for Brett Kavanaugh—and for the nation—can be found in the poignant words of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 54:

No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.

May it be, Lord. May it be.

Bring Down the Curtain on This Theater of the Absurd

Just when we thought the Brett Kavanaugh hearings were over, the judge is hit with an eleventh-hour accusation of sexual harassment. From his high school days. Thirty-six years ago.

The hearings themselves were a ludicrous display of manufactured outrage and protests as extremists deliberately disrupted the proceedings. The screaming and hysterics were carefully timed to erupt every half hour or so, it seemed.

Yet Kavanaugh is the extremist?

As the vote for confirmation was about to happen, suddenly Sen. Diane Feinstein leaked the harassment allegation. From a letter she had in her possession since July. Keep in mind that Feinstein had met with Kavanaugh one-on-one while in possession of that letter, yet never mentioned it to him. There were private hearings before the public ones in which she could have questioned him about it, but didn’t.

No, it was kept back until it could do the most damage. Actually, I’m not sure she really thought it would ultimately undo the nomination, but it was at least the kind of distraction that might delay his elevation to the Supreme Court. That part might be working.

The accuser, Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, is a Bernie Sanders supporter (which undoubtedly makes her a socialist). Although I haven’t read this specifically, can anyone believe she is pro-life on the abortion issue? Really?

There is no corroboration from anyone she knows about the alleged incident. She can’t even remember many of the details herself. It’s all kind of a muddle. Yet we are supposed to take her word for it regardless. All such accusations are to be accepted as fact simply because she is a woman making the accusation.

Never mind that 65 women who know and have worked with Kavanaugh over those last thirty-six years signed a letter attesting to his honor and decent behavior toward them. Somehow that doesn’t count. Never mind that two of those women even dated him when they were all in high school and attest that he was always a perfect gentleman. No, we must believe Ford instead. Both Democrats and the media (I repeat myself) are convinced of his guilt.

Now Ford, who at first said she wanted to be heard, has declined to testify before the committee. She’s been offered a closed-door meeting, she doesn’t have to be in the same room with Kavanaugh, and the committee has even gone out of its way—far beyond what is required—to say it will come to her in California to hear what she has to say.

No, she now demands that there be an FBI investigation first. The accusation is not a federal crime; the FBI has no jurisdiction. And what about all those background checks the FBI has already conducted on Kavanaugh’s past? Why did nothing of this nature surface? He seems to have an impeccable past.

What we are seeing here is theater of the absurd taken to new levels of absurdity. Kavanaugh is the victim, not his accuser.

It’s an established fact that most of the senators, Republican and Democrat, already knew how they would vote before any hearings convened. Democrats were poised to discredit whoever the nominee would have been. It didn’t matter who it was; that person, male or female, would be depicted as an ogre of some type.

When President Obama put forward his nominees for the Court, you never saw this kind of hysteria among those who questioned his choices. Decorum prevailed even on the side of those who opposed them. Why is it that only Republican nominees have to face this kind of whirlwind?

I have my answer: Roe v. Wade. That’s what it’s all about for many on the Left. They are afraid that Kavanaugh on the Court will finally deal the death blow for that supposed right to abortion. It’s about as simple as that.

It’s time to bring this lunacy to a close. It’s time to vote and then move forward.

Prophet? Priest? Both?

As a Christian, what am I supposed to be when commenting on politics? Am I to be the prophetic voice, warning against the dangers of voting wrongly and following wrong policies? Am I to be the compassionate voice that draws people to God by staying away from controversy?

Is it possible to be so prophetic in one’s approach that people are turned away from the truth? Likewise, is it possible to be so open and compassionate toward those with differing views that you never lead them to the truth, for fear of offending?

For those of us who believe that the Lord is the be-all and end-all of life, that nothing is more important than a relationship with Him, it may appear unseemly at times to get embroiled in the criticisms of the political scene. After all, isn’t this life just a temporary waystation on the way to eternity?

Yet God has put us in this world to make a difference while we are here. What we do–and how we do it–will influence the future of this nation as well as the eternal destiny of individuals. And there can be a link between the two. In a nation that honors God and follows His principles, there is liberty to teach His ways openly to all. If that nation instead passes laws that shut down those who teach the Gospel truths, more people will remain lost in spiritual darkness.

How do we combine the prophetic role with the priestly one? I look at the example of Jesus, who welcomed all who came to Him, whether prostitutes or Pharisees. Yet He was direct and harsh at times with those who set themselves up against the ways of God. He called some Pharisees whitewashed tombs, pretty on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones within. He did turn over the moneychangers’ tables in the Temple.

We can speak forcefully and directly. Being a Christian does not mean you have lost a backbone; in fact, it means you have finally found one. Yet we are always admonished to speak the truth in love. Notice both parts of that: we are to be loving in everything we say, but we speak the truth simultaneously. And that truth can be pointed and contain dire warnings. We must continually check our hearts to be sure we have the proper attitude. This portion of Psalm 51 jumps out at me today:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.

Great Power or Great Responsibility?

So many people want to be president. Perhaps it would do them some good to remember comments by America’s first three presidents.

When Washington was elected to the presidency, he wrote to Henry Knox:

My movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution: so unwilling am I, in the evening of a life nearly consumed in public cares, to quit a peaceful abode for an Ocean of difficulties, without that competency of political skill, abilities and inclination which is necessary to manage the helm.

Washington understood the immense responsibility that would rest upon him.

When John Adams succeeded him eight years later, as he and Washington were leaving the scene of his inauguration, he later wrote:

Methought I heard him think, “Ay! I am fairly out and you are fairly in! See which of us will be the happiest!”

Adams had reason to be concerned. Imagine what it would be like having to be Washington’s successor, having to follow the man considered to be the Father of the Country. Regardless of Adams’s many accomplishments, he didn’t measure up to Washington in the eyes of the nation. Certain congressmen and senators, in a rather direct display of disrespect, even referred to him as “His Rotundity.”

Then there was Jefferson. He added the Louisiana Territory to the country, thus doubling its size. He sent out the Lewis and Clark expedition to see what he had bought. He was reelected easily. Yet, at the end of his second term, when he signed a bill stopping all shipping (in order to avoid a European war), he alienated all of the New England states, which made their living by that very shipping. The historian Paul Johnson comments that Jefferson left office a beaten man. Jefferson said:

Oh for the day when I shall be withdrawn from [office] ; when I shall have leisure to enjoy my family, my friends, my farm and books!

Too many individuals seek what they think will be greater power, only to come to the realization that the responsibilities can be overwhelming. I prefer to entrust power and authority to those who don’t want it so badly. Perhaps they will handle it more wisely.

I first posted this in January 2009. The message is still relevant nine years later.

Not Even a Pretense of Civility

David French has an excellent article posted today in National Review detailing the unseriousness of Democrat opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The teaser at the top reads:

The sordid spectacle that opened Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings put the lie to left-wing laments about the decline of civility in American politics.

I agree with the basic premise that civility is in decline—one might legitimately call it a “collapse”—and that we are at a point where reasoned discourse is virtually at an end.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing has only proved to highlight that lack of civility. And when civility does on occasion peek through the tortured screams of protesters and the antagonistic attitude of Democrat senators, it is like that brief breath of fresh air we all crave.

French continues: “We hear a lot about norms these days. We live in a time when alleged pre-existing norms of decency, civility, and respect are being cast aside for the sake of ‘winning.’ The ends justify the means, and a dignified loser is just that: a loser.”

It didn’t matter who Trump nominated for the Court; the decision was made beforehand to call that person a hatemonger, racist, toady, etc., etc. Yet, as French notes, that’s hardly the Kavanaugh persona:

Before I continue, let me remind you that Kavanaugh is the opposite of a norm-violating, civility-straining, Trumpist jurist. He is the very definition of a GOP-establishment lawyer. He would be a front-runner for a SCOTUS nomination in any Republican administration. He is not only solidly within the mainstream of originalist legal thought, he’s so respected across the aisle that Elena Kagan hired him to teach at Harvard Law School.

In other words, throughout his career, Kavanaugh has helped maintain norms rather than violating them. He’s the living embodiment of the kind of person — and the kind of politics — that Democrats now claim they miss in the age of Trump.

Right from the start of the hearing, Democrat senators demanded that the hearing be adjourned. Why? Well, they needed to see more documents. You know, documents that they weren’t really going to read with an open mind anyway. French points out the absurdity and hypocrisy of the claim:

The pretext was one of those eye-glazing Washington debates over document production, in which senators who’d already vowed weeks ago to vote against Kavanaugh claimed they couldn’t possibly evaluate him properly based on the hundreds of thousands of pages they already had (including more than a decade of judicial opinions). They instead absolutely needed every scrap of paper he ever touched, so . . . what? They could cast a more emphatic no vote?

I think one cartoonist captured the Democrat approach rather convincingly:

And then the craziness of the Lunatic Left surfaced with the outraged cry that a woman lawyer, Zina Bash, sitting behind Kavanaugh was flashing a “white power sign,” which, if you look closely was simply her hand resting on her arm and her finger touching her thumb. Oh, the horror!

French clears up this phony charge:

For those wondering, Zina Bash is one of the more respected and talented young conservative lawyers in Washington. As her husband — John Bash, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas — explained on Twitter, she’s Mexican on her mother’s side and Jewish on her father’s side. Her paternal grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and she was born in Mexico. So, no, it’s not remotely credible to believe she was flashing a white-power symbol.

Those facts didn’t deter the online left, though. The claims kept spreading until they turned into an instant left-wing version of the legendary Pizzagate conspiracy —unsupported by any meaningful facts yet fervently believed by thousands.

As if that wasn’t sufficient, there was the father of a student killed at Parkland who showed up determined to do his part to derail Kavanaugh. How do we know? He tweeted about it beforehand.

Then there was Snubgate, the claim that Kavanaugh deliberately refused to shake the hand of a father of a slain Parkland teen. The man, Fred Guttenberg, approached Kavanaugh in the scrum during a break in the hearing, he stuck out his hand, security approached, and Kavanaugh turned away. . . .

Almost instantly, this momentary encounter was transformed into an intentional, crass snub of a grieving father by an evil, uncaring judge. Guttenberg went on CNN and made an unsubstantiated claim that Kavanaugh not only intentionally snubbed him, but personally asked that he be removed.

A complete stranger walked up to the judge in a hearing disrupted by multiple protesters, security moved in immediately, and Kavanaugh was supposed to do . . . what, exactly? Push aside security to engage with the man, despite not knowing who he is?

The angry activists in the room, who apparently have their own PR firm currently fishing for media interviews for those who created shrill outbursts, were particularly abhorrent. French notes the double standard:

Let’s be clear, had angry Tea Party protesters caused the same scale of disruption at a Democratic hearing, news outlets would be shaking their heads at the dangerous lack of respect for a dignified nominee. Instead, all too many folks think this is what democracy looks like: serial attempts to exercise an incoherent, screaming heckler’s veto.

I’m not going to conclude that we are living in the most dangerous time in our republic’s history. As a historian, I note the polarized 1850s that led to the Civil War. However, I am seeing the same kind of vitriol, unwillingness to speak to the other side civilly, and outright hostility that marked the 1850s.

We should be concerned. Very concerned.