A flood of evidence

Scientists are still seeking an explanation for a significant gap in the geological record:

When the famed explorer John Wesley Powell bumped, splashed and thrashed his way down the Colorado River in 1869, he discovered one of the most striking geologic features on Earth. Not the Grand Canyon — although that too is a marvel — but a conspicuous boundary between the sunset-colored sediments of the upper walls and the dark, jagged rocks below them.

Powell had learned to read the layers of desert rocks like pages in a book, and he recognized that the boundary represented a missing chapter in Earth’s geological history. Later, researchers realized it was more like an entire lost volume, spanning roughly one-fifth of Earth’s existence, and that a similar gap existed in many places around the world.

There must have been some sort of special event in Earth’s history that led to widespread erosion,” said Steve Marshak, a geologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who studies what has come to be known as the Great Unconformity. (emphasis added)…

Since there are so few rocks from that period, the researchers had to look for other kinds of clues to figure out what happened. They reasoned that the missing layers probably went through the full geologic spin cycle: They would have been broken down into sediment and washed out to sea, then deposited on the ocean floor and recycled into the mantle during subduction before finally melting into the magma that feeds volcanoes.

Keller’s team found stark variations in the oxygen and hafnium in zircons, consistent with the continents losing an average of 2 to 3 vertical miles of rock.  “We are talking about an absolutely huge amount of crust being eroded,” he said. “In which case, we should have noticed it missing — and we have.”  (emphasis added)

The story’s headline notes a leading theory for this erosion being repeated eras of glaciation — “snowball earth” — but the story also notes the theory may not explain the rate of erosion.  Here’s another idea:

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.  And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights… The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. (Genesis 7:6-10, 24; emphasis added)

The Flood was more than just torrential rain.  The “springs of the great deep” imply massive tectonic upheaval — just the sort of thing to produce the enormous recycling of crust described in the linked article above.  There’s no question these combined effects could account for the erosion and “Great Unconformity,” because Scripture also tells us:

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.  By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.  (2 Peter 3:3-7; emphasis added)

There IS a ‘great unconformity’ between the world that is, and the world that was.  There is an even greater unconformity between the world that is, and the world that is to come. The present world is filled with evidence of the Creator and the truth of His Word — for those who “have ears to hear.”

No matter what credentials are attached to one’s name, there is no excuse for denials.  Sadly, that won’t prevent many of today’s most brilliant scientific minds from reflexively ruling out any chance that Scripture has something to tell them.

Advertisements

Substituting factions for faith

A person’s life is meant to have meaning, and for that meaning to derive from a relationship to their Creator.  It’s no surprise, then, that those who reject God are driven to seek meaning anywhere they believe they can find it.  Some turn to self-destructive vices in an ever-more-vain pursuit of moments of perceived happiness.  Other alternatives, though, while not as immediately and physically destructive, ultimately lead to the same futility.  One important current example is in our political climate.

Seduced by scientism, distracted by materialism, insulated, like no humans before us, from the vicissitudes of sickness and the ubiquity of early death, the post-Christian West believes instead in something we have called progress — a gradual ascent of mankind toward reason, peace, and prosperity — as a substitute in many ways for our previous monotheism. We have constructed a capitalist system that turns individual selfishness into a collective asset and showers us with earthly goods; we have leveraged science for our own health and comfort. Our ability to extend this material bonanza to more and more people is how we define progress; and progress is what we call meaning…

But none of this material progress beckons humans to a way of life beyond mere satisfaction of our wants and needs. And this matters…

[S]ocial-justice ideology does everything a religion should. It offers an account of the whole: that human life and society and any kind of truth must be seen entirely as a function of social power structures, in which various groups have spent all of human existence oppressing other groups. And it provides a set of practices to resist and reverse this interlocking web of oppression — from regulating the workplace and policing the classroom to checking your own sin and even seeking to control language itself. I think of non-PC gaffes as the equivalent of old swear words. Like the puritans who were agape when someone said “g–damn,” the new faithful are scandalized when someone says something “problematic.” Another commonality of the zealot then and now: humorlessness.

The same cultish dynamic can be seen on the right. There, many profess nominal Christianity and yet demonstrate every day that they have left it far behind… This is why they could suddenly rally to a cult called Trump. He may be the least Christian person in America, but his persona met the religious need their own faiths had ceased to provide. The terrible truth of the last three years is that the fresh appeal of a leader-cult has overwhelmed the fading truths of Christianity.

This is why they are so hard to reach or to persuade and why nothing that Trump does or could do changes their minds. You cannot argue logically with a religion — which is why you cannot really argue with social-justice activists either. And what’s interesting is how support for Trump is greater among those who do not regularly attend church than among those who do…

And so we’re mistaken if we believe that the collapse of Christianity in America has led to a decline in religion. It has merely led to religious impulses being expressed by political cults… And this is how they threaten liberal democracy. They do not believe in the primacy of the individual, they believe the ends justify the means, they do not allow for doubt or reason, and their religious politics can brook no compromise.

I found these to be interesting thoughts, particularly coming from a writer who seems to believe he can reconcile his Roman Catholic practice with being an openly gay political pundit.  One of my first thoughts is that perhaps the Spirit is getting through to him.  I hope that’s the case.  He is correct about politics replacing theological faith as a source of meaning in our culture.  He is also correct about the effect of that on both Left and Right.  I supported Trump in 2016 because I thought that, even with his personal baggage, he’d do less damage than Her Hillariness.  I still hold a modest hope that he’ll be able to enact long-lasting reforms in some critical areas.  But unlike other Trump supporters I’ve encountered (who’ve made me very uncomfortable at times), I do not see him as America’s secular messiah, and I remain well aware of his flaws.

Sullivan may or may not have grasped the deeper point of his ponderings.  Reading the entirety of the piece, I’m not sure.  He compares the “Great Awokening” of modern times to the “Great Awakening” of old.  Only if we have another “Great Awakening” will our people once again channel their energies toward pursuing Christ.  And it is that pursuit that produces the fruit which previously sustained our society.  May God grant us revival, from “Awoke” to “Awake.”  As we’re painfully finding out, finding our identities in anything other than Him is a very poor substitute indeed.

The true fault line

Our political differences as a nation are not defined by a simple Republican-Democrat binary choice.  The real issue is whether the Constitution means what it says regardless what year it is, or whether is can be folded, spindled and mutilated by every generation’s interpretation of the day.  It should not come down to the viewpoints of nine unelected people to determine how our future unfolds.  But since that’s the reality of how our system now works, selecting the right people for that job is paramount:

If you think things are bad now, just wait a bit. It’s about to get worse, much worse.
A war is coming over the Constitution between those who would defend it and those who find it a nuisance. …

To Brett Kavanaugh’s foes, the Constitution stands in the way of grand designs they have for the federal government and your lives.

They want to control things in your lives — your healthcare, your lightbulbs, your land, your neighborhood, your dishwasher, your electric bill, your employer. That’s why a wartime coalition of Leftist interest groups have mobilized to battle over the future of the Constitution.

Kavanaugh’s foes want the Constitution to mean whatever suits their transformative agenda. Kavanaugh believes the Constitution means what it said when it was written. That it was written in 1787 doesn’t trouble him at all. …

The coming fight over Brett Kavanaugh will feature two sides with almost nothing left in common. Sure, we live in proximity to each other. But one side defends the Constitution and the other side will stop at nothing to replace it.

One side believes words have specific, objective meanings that transcend fads.  They are consistent, predictable and stand the test of time.  The other subverts words to suit their agenda and will even quibble over the definition of “is.”  Who would you rather have governing you?

A spineless Congress

It’s no wonder Americans have such a low regard for Congress, when government officials are allowed to thumb their noses at it with impunity.  In recent memory the worst sanction the legislature has given to a recalcitrant official has been to hold Eric Holder in “contempt of Congress” — the first sitting Attorney General ever to be so designated.  That only has effect if the target has any sense of shame, which few in D.C. Mordor do anymore.  Official designation or not, it’s clear much of official Washington shares that contempt.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s no coincidence that defiance from Holder, Lerner, Rosenstein and Wray parallels the public’s near-record low approval of Congress, which, according to the RealClearPolitics average, hit a meager 14.2 percent earlier this week.

But Congress has only itself to blame because the Constitution gives the first branch it created “all of the ultimate weapons in any showdown with either of the other two branches,” in the memorable phrasing of professors Willmoore Kendall and George Carey in their classic “The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition.”

Here are five of those “ultimate weapons,” whose deployment ultimately depends on the will of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to defend the right of Congress to be the people’s representatives…

Put somebody in jail.

Impose a big fine.

Invoke the power of the purse

Cut the workforce.

More political appointees.

It’s worth reading the description of these five options at the link.  Despite the frequency of choreographed televised hearings, Congress has largely abdicated its oversight role with regard to the Federal bureaucracy.  This was apparent at least by the time of the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal and the IRS investigations, during which the agencies slow-rolled Congress’ requests for information with impunity.  True oversight involves exercising the power to compel compliance.  The Founders intended the legislature to be “first among equals” within the branches of government.  They, not unelected paper-pushers, represent the people.

The president has less power than people imagine over employees in the Executive Branch.  While he can fire political appointees, career bureaucrats have created a byzantine disciplinary process that, in effect, prevents nearly anyone from losing their job.  I encountered this while supervising relatively low-level “civil servants” — I can only imagine how much more difficult things are in the executive suites.

With a majority in Congress, however, it should be a simple thing to put entire departments like the FBI on notice: comply with legislative directives and requests, or perish as an agency.  Congress can defund any activity of the government with a simple vote.  Unfortunately, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have shown zero interest in actually asserting Congress’ prerogatives.  They are as much a part of the swamp as the agencies running amok, as the recent omnibus bill debacle shows.  That should be a key issue during these midterms — voters need to seek candidates who will support Trump’s “swamp draining,” and that includes pledging to vote in new Congressional leadership.

But for any of this to happen, We the People will need to be more focused than ever this election cycle.  The election of Trump will accomplish little if voters allow the legislature to defend the status quo by resolute inaction.

Strong words rooted in history

But meaningless unless backed by equally strong action:

The morning after the Trump administration sued California over its immigration policies, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Wednesday appeared in downtown Sacramento to say states cannot defy the federal government when it comes to immigration

“A refusal to apprehend and deport those, especially the criminal element, effectively rejects all immigration law and creates an open borders system,” Sessions declared. “Open borders is a radical, irrational idea that cannot be accepted.

“There is no nullification. There is no secession,” Sessions said. “Federal law is ‘the supreme law of the land.’ I would invite any doubters to Gettysburg, and to the graves of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln.”

The invocation of John C. Calhoun and nullification is particularly appropriate.  Calhoun’s South Carolina in 1832 claimed the power to “nullify” a hated Federal tariff by simply refusing to collect it within the State’s borders.  The president at the time, Andrew Jackson, was emphatic about Federal supremacy within its Constitutional sphere.  At his behest, Congress passed the Force Act, essentially giving Jackson the power to use military force if necessary to compel compliance and collection of duties.  It never reached that point, in no small part because of Henry Clay’s gifted statesmanship in Congress.  But the situation emphasized the power struggle over Federal versus State prerogatives nearly two decades before Southerners fired on Ft. Sumter.

One interesting aspect of the “Nullification Crisis” was that it pitted a sitting president (Jackson) against his own vice-president (Calhoun).  Two years prior to the crisis this conflict had been made apparent at the 1830 Jefferson Day dinner.  The president, aiming a barb at Calhoun and signaling his waning support for Southern arguments about States’ rights, toasted “Our Union; it must be preserved.”

Calhoun shot back: “The Union, next to our liberty most dear.  May we all remember that it can only be preserved by respecting the rights of the States, and distributing equally the benefits and burdens of the Union.”

What, you thought today’s political divisions were unprecedented?  Hardly.

Here’s the point of the history brief: the immigration confrontation flips the usual situation where “conservatives” advocate the 10th Amendment’s reservation of power to the States while “liberals” seek to use Federal supremacy in everything — the better to force change they likely could not through the electoral process.  As recently as the Obama administration Arizona attempted to strengthen border security, only to be sued by the Feds for stepping into an area of Federal supremacy.

Now the shoe’s on the other foot, with the parties in power reversed.  Arizona allegedly couldn’t strengthen its border security beyond the Federal level of enforcement, but California can loosen it?  While both sides are guilty of putting power over principle, it’s both more obvious and dangerous with the sudden liberal embrace of claiming exceptions to Federal power.  The same leftist groups who argued before Federal judges in 2016 that North Carolina couldn’t ban confused men from women’s restrooms is now arguing California can have its own foreign policy in the area of immigration.  Okay…

Here’s what California and Calhoun have in common (besides both being Democrats, but I digress…): both were/are Constitutionally wrong.  Some readers may be surprised to see me write that, because Constitutionally I am a strict constructionist who interprets (in keeping with the 10th Amendment) the document as a constraint on Federal power, and am generally sympathetic to defending States’ rights.  That said, if the document expressly gives the Feds a particular power, there’s no arguing it.  In the case of Calhoun’s fight against tariffs, Article 1, Section 8 (*) of the Constitution clearly grants Congress the power to levy taxes, duties, imposts and excises, provided they are uniform throughout all States.

The Constitution does not contain the word “immigration,” but in the same section cited above grants Congress the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.  This means States and cities have no authority to establish “sanctuaries” where illegal immigrants are given the same privileges as citizens.  Those local authorities who do so are in defiance of the Constitution, and have abrogated any oath they took to support and uphold it.  They should be held appropriately accountable for that.

Because the “sanctuary” concept has become so trendy in Leftist circles, the Trump administration now faces widespread defiance of Federal authority.  Trump is sometimes compared to Jackson (faulty personality and all).  One wonders whether he will rely solely on the courts, where your mileage varies considerably concerning Constitutional interpretation, or whether he will follow Jackson’s more direct approach.  Or, for that matter, President Lincoln’s:

WHEREAS the laws of the United States have been, for some time past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law. (emphasis added)

Now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed…

It’s a simple thing to substitute  California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont for the list of States in the first quoted paragraph above, and have the declaration apply to the issue of whether or not the United States can control its borders without local interference.

Given how divided we are as a nation, I have no doubt such a declaration would precede the same kind of national tragedy that Lincoln’s did.  It’s not the outcome I’d want, but reality has a way of disregarding our personal desires.   More than at any time since 1865, Americans need to rediscover how easy it is to read their own Constitution, and understand what policies are and are not acceptable under it.  That document used to be a unifying force in our national fabric.  Our current collective ignorance of it is a significant contributor to the political climate in which we find ourselves.

The tinder is very dry, and matches abound.  Pray for the best but prepare accordingly.

********************

(*) on a lighter note, I should point out I’ve long thought it funny that Article 1, Section 8 spells out the powers of Congress, while fans of the TV show M*A*S*H will recall the Army’s version of “section 8” refers to discharges due to mental unfitness.  Make of that what you will.

No more compromise. Period.

I guess the next two days will feature obligatory public pearl-clutching that the president asked why America would want immigrants from “s***hole nations,” instead of from more Western countries like “Norway.”

Yes, he absolutely shouldn’t have phrased it that way.  But I’ve traveled myself, courtesy of Uncle Sam’s Armed Forces, to a few “s***hole nations.”  Trump is imprudently making an important point that will be entirely overlooked: the only question that should drive policy in this area is:  ‘What does an unchecked flood of migrants from failed societies do for Americans already here?’ Answer: become a net burden.  Enough with the ‘diversity’ experiment.

The public displays of moral outrage over Trump’s latest remarks will push the real scandal off the front pages.  That scandal is that once again our lawmakers are proposing a compromise deal on immigration that is bad for America.  “Just let the Dreamers stay,” they preen, “and we’ll get serious about immigration enforcement this time.  No, really.”

They said that in the 1980s, too.  And the 1990s.  “Wiping the slate clean” as the 1986 law was supposed to do clearly didn’t solve the issue, because we have more illegal immigrants in America today than we did then.  And “amnesty” by any other name is just as unjust.  Lucy is simply preparing to yank the football away from Charlie Brown once more.  This is the best comment I’ve seen on the compromise proposals:

The basic problem with trading amnesty for so-called “Dreamers” (illegal aliens brought to America as children) for increased enforcement of laws against illegal immigration and greater border security is that those aims are fundamentally in contradiction…  (emphasis added)

So when it comes to the shell game negotiations now going on in Washington, as of now, I’m voting for gridlock.

Despite his appalling tendency toward diarrhea of the mouth, Trump’s administration has accomplished some noteworthy goals on behalf of America during this first year.  Some have compared him favorably to Saint Ronald of Reagan.  That should be a warning: Reagan’s two fatal errors were agreeing to the immigration compromise of his time, and not demanding spending cuts to offset the military buildup that allowed the U.S. to reengage the Cold War on a stronger footing after Vietnam.  The first created a demographic time bomb, the second a fiscal one.

As currently practiced, immigration to the United States changes our country more than it changes the immigrants.  We are expected to adapt to their norms, rather than the other way around.  And since norms in many of the countries of origin can be fairly described as producing “s***holes,” one wonders what future immigration advocates desire for America.

“Magic Dirt theory is a key component of immigration romanticism, too. Sure, Mexico and Central America are messed-up places, and presumably their inhabitants played some role in messing them up. If we just move thirty or forty million of those people to the U.S.A., though, our Magic Dirt will transform them into civic-minded Jeffersonian yeomen!”

I recently visited my parents, and some observations come to mind.  Their neighborhood has never been wealthy, but it has deteriorated noticeably over the four decades they’ve lived there.  The two houses across the street now each house multiple families of foreign origin who do nothing to keep their houses up, park semi-abandoned cars all over the yards, and party so loudly my parents have had to call the police multiple times.  One of the neighbors bragged to my father that he has 18 children by different women.

My formerly small-town home has seen wave after wave of migrants from all over the world, and I don’t see the “enrichment” such diversity was supposed to bring.  What I *do* see is the old YMCA where I took swimming lessons is now a Buddhist meditation center.  Large piles of trash litter the side of the road for a mile leading to the dump because avoiding the landfill fee is now common practice.  Similar disregard for the law manifests in myriad other ways as well.  My parents didn’t install a security system in their house until after I graduated college, and they now have concealed carry permits.  Sure, you can get authentic Thai, Mexican and Chinese food.  Few of the people I grew up with there would consider that a positive tradeoff.  In fact, few of the people I grew up with are still there.

For all of these and many other reasons, I will not support ANY compromise on DACA, which was an openly admitted executive usurpation of legislative authority by the former president.  We’ve been sold this kind of “relief” too many times, and our good-hearted nature has been used to play us for fools.  Those who come here illegally have already shown disregard for our laws.  What makes us think that attitude will change once they’re here?  Particularly if we so obviously don’t intend to enforce our laws?

Mr. Trump, you were elected in no small part because after half a century of constant betrayal, the “posterity” of those who fought the American Revolution have run out of places to flee from the effects of these policies imposed on us by our self-proclaimed “betters.”  Many of your supporters in 2016 overlooked your personality and character flaws in the hope that maybe, just maybe, you would listen to the concerns of what some of our those ‘betters’ now openly dare to call “deplorables.”  If you sell us out, too, there is likely no chance those concerns will ever be addressed.

At least, within the system we used to respect.  This country was founded on the idea that systems sometimes fail the people.  Something about “altering or abolishing” government when it becomes destructive of life, liberty and property.  Despite the best efforts of today’s education system Marxist indoctrination factories, some of us still remember that legacy.  It’s our heritage and birthright.  And we’ll defend it.

Your move.

A greater tragedy

In no way is this post meant to take way from the fact nearly 60 people died, hundreds more were injured, and thousands subjected to terror in Las Vegas Sunday night.  But after reading and watching this, I realized there is a much greater loss we’ve sustained as a nation:

FBI special agent Aaron Rouse said at a press conference Wednesday that the FBI has leads in the investigation of the Las Vegas shooting “all across the United States and all across the world.” …

“This is about informing on an investigation, this is about resolving an investigation, so specifics regarding any individual contact cannot be answered. You need us, you trust us, and the way we have that trust is by using good discretion about what we share.”

At that point I realized: “I DON’T trust the FBI.”  Or the Justice Department.  Or the Department of Homeland Security.  Not at all.  Not anymore.  And I’m certain I’m far from alone.

Isn’t it odd our investigators insisted within 12 hours of the attack that despite the terror organization’s repeated claims, the gunman had no connection to ISIS — but after more than several months and more than 100 witnesses testifying, the Senate Intelligence Committee is still clinging desperately to the idea the Trump campaign colluded with Russia somehow?  How can they be so sure in either case, unless it’s a predetermined outcome?  Isn’t it odd the FBI can remain tight-lipped about investigating Las Vegas, but leaks like a sieve when it comes to investigating a sitting president?  Isn’t it odd that last year the former Director of the FBI, James Comey, could read off what was in essence an indictment of Hillary Clinton and her team’s use of an unauthorized email server, and yet claim there was no need to press charges?  Isn’t it odd that despite conclusive evidence the IRS illegally discriminated against conservative political groups that former IRS official Lois Lerner won’t face any penalties?  Isn’t it odd that a man who boasted to employees on Capitol Hill about his ability to get people “worked over” in Pakistan was allowed to remain in charge of the Democratic National Committee’s information technology support? (And isn’t it odd how supportive–even threatening–the former DNC chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has been of Awan, considering he was in a position to know a lot of unpleasant secrets?)

It’s sad that in the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history I have no confidence our government will level with the public about what happened.  It’s sad that I believe the most sincere participation by concerned citizens in our process of governing is unlikely to produce the desired changes, because of the action of unknown, unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who thwart any attempt to “drain the swamp.”

What’s saddest is that being patriotic may soon mean choosing between country and government.  That’s what happens when the latter forfeits the public’s trust.