Information overload

It’s good that there’s so much discussion of “fake news,” but the problem is that the discussion isn’t focusing on the problem: a lack of discernment and desire to find truth.  Partisans of every stripe grasp onto every little rumor, leaping to conclusions as recklessly as one would leap over the Grand Canyon.  Meanwhile, there isn’t a single major news outlet that hasn’t sold its political soul to one faction or another.  We’ve developed two hermetically sealed echo chambers in this country and neither has the pursuit of truth as its top priority.  We’re told (incorrectly) the First Amendment has exceptions to defend people from being “uncomfortable” or “triggered.”  This is merely suppression of opposing ideas.  I’m concerned this is the first step in our cultural cold war becoming a hot one.  People are no longer “of a different opinion;” rather, they’re evil opponents.  Hostility is projected, received and internalized.  With all the careless talk about impeachment, or obstruction of Trump’s initiatives (which still have a sizable backing in the nation’s heartland), the ability of our political processes to address the issues is coming apart.

What happens after that step is likely going to be very ugly.  What are you doing to prepare?

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Half-century of hysteria

On this 47th Earth Day (which I prefer to call Creation Day), it’s worth noting the carnage of past predictions of doom and gloom that were made during the first observance in 1970:

  1. “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” — Harvard biologist George Wald
  2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.” — Washington University biologist Barry Commoner
  3. “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”New York Times editorial
  4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” — Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich
  5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born… [By 1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” — Paul Ehrlich
  6. “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” — Denis Hayes, Chief organizer for Earth Day
  7. “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions…. By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.” — North Texas State University professor Peter Gunter
  8. “In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.” — Life magazine
  9. “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.” — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
  10. “Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” — Paul Ehrlich
  11. “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate… that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, ‘Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, ‘I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’” — Ecologist Kenneth Watt
  12. “[One] theory assumes that the earth’s cloud cover will continue to thicken as more dust, fumes, and water vapor are belched into the atmosphere by industrial smokestacks and jet planes. Screened from the sun’s heat, the planet will cool, the water vapor will fall and freeze, and a new Ice Age will be born.”Newsweek magazine
  13. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” — Kenneth Watt

Good thing these would-be prophets aren’t subject to the Old Testament penalty for being wrong (that would be death, by the way).  So this is worth remembering when folks like “The Goreacle” make their thundering pronouncements of catastrophe unless we allow the elite to run everything.

God created us to be stewards.  But not to worship the creation over the creator.

Casting off Castro

Fidel Castro has died.  It’s informative to compare the statements made by our current president, versus our future president on this event:

Trump: “Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.  Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.

While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.

Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannnot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.  I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day seeing a free Cuba.”

That is how you mark the passing of a totalitarian thug.  I truly hope that this message about Castro’s real legacy burrows in until there’s no more chic in Che shirts.

If Trump can be on message consistently like this during his administration, foreign policy is going to be interesting to watch.  Maybe our nation will stop being taken in so easily.

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Answering the question

Many people, including me, are asking frequently this year how our electoral choices came to be so ridiculously horrid.  Where is the honorable candidate?  The one who has been consistently honest and not self-serving?  Why are there no leaders we can trust?

We have to admit we ourselves are at least partially to blame.  Humanity is a lousy judge of character, because the “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick.  Who can understand it?”

Let’s face it, at least today of all days: when the Perfect Leader showed up, many centuries ago, this is what we did to Him:

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We were offered the Bread of Life, and the crowd called for Barabbas instead.  It shouldn’t be a surprise to realize our choices have been ever-more problematic since then.  Just remember that Christ still wears the crown He won that day, and no matter who wins the Presidency, they will one day bow the knee to the One who is Faithful and True.

Confronting reality

This is a longer-than-usual post.  Only read if you have time to think (not emote) it through.  Much time has gone into synthesizing my thoughts on the topic (hence the dearth of posts lately)

I’ll give Donald Trump this: he knows how to get people talking.  Unfortunately, most of what I’ve been reading online (while not having much time to blog) has been pure emotional reaction and not careful consideration.

If we, as a people, are to set good, solid policy that will “secure the blessings of liberty, to ourselves and our posterity,” we must rise above gut reactions and soberly assess the regrettable environment in which we find ourselves.  I’ve already stated on this blog that I find Trump personally distasteful.  He is not what I envision when I imagine ‘presidential,’ with one important exception: he does not fear the backlash from saying what he thinks.  If only more of our alleged ‘leaders’ (who, in truth, are mere followers of what certain chattering classes have deemed ‘acceptable’) would do the same.  Our political ‘elite’ has yet to get the fact that this one element alone accounts for most of Trump’s popularity.

But I’m not writing today to blog about Trump the man.  I’m writing about some of the things he’s said, and it’s high time Americans learn to separate the two.  Failing to do so has already turned this election cycle into one long fallacy of ad hominem appeals.  That’s not how you arrive at informed judgments.

So here we go: The Donald has proposed that we ban immigration by Muslims and/or from Muslim countries until we can get a handle on the jihadist problem.  Naturally, half or more of the electorate immediately shrieked “Hitler!” (has there ever been a more rapid example of Godwin’s Law?) and started quoting Martin Niemöller.   This is what’s known as ‘false equivalency.’  Preventing a foreign group of people from immigrating TO your country is undeniably NOT the same thing as rounding up a group of people already IN your country and sending them to gas chambers.  So get off the fainting couches, folks.

“But… but… that’s discrimination!”  the shrinking violets protest.  So is ANY limitation on immigration, since that means some people are allowed to come and others are not.  Let’s get to the heart of the issue, then: is there an automatic, inviolable right for anyone in the world to be able to move to the United States?  If you say yes, then you might as well leave your house unlocked every day and open so anyone whose economic condition is not as good as yours can move right in.  Otherwise, I call hypocrisy.  Claiming a nation has no right to secure its borders and bar entry has economic and social consequences every bit as much as claiming families have no right to secure their home and property.  The consequences of the former take longer to manifest, but 50 years after the Immigration Act of 1965 it should be apparent to anyone with a clear head that these consequences are already occurring.

“But… but… you can’t discriminate against Islam, because it’s a religion of peace!”  Like hell it is (and I mean that in the most literal sense).  There are individual Muslims who may be peaceful (I’ve met–even befriended–a number), but Islamic civilization and society is one a long, sad history of repression, regression and violence against outsiders.  Historically, there is no denying that when Islam is allowed to take root in a new land, it provides a growth medium in which extremism and jihad flourishes until that land is under submission to the same misery as the rest of the Dar-al-Islam.  Therein lies the problem: individual Muslims may not pose a threat, but Islam itself does.  We don’t have to like that fact any more than we like the other imperfections of this world.  We DO have to confront it, though.  As a system Islam does not seek to coexist; as soon as it is in a position to do so (say, through mass migration of its adherents…), it seeks to dominate.  Our nation’s early leaders were far more clearheaded about the incompatibility of this militant cult with Western Civilization:

Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. That war is yet flagrant; nor can it cease but by the extinction of that imposture, which has been permitted by Providence to prolong the degeneracy of man. While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and good will towards men. The hand of Ishmael will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. It is, indeed, amongst the mysterious dealings of God, that this delusion should have been suffered for so many ages, and during so many generations of human kind, to prevail over the doctrines of the meek and peaceful and benevolent Jesus.  (John Quincy Adams, 1830)

“But… but… it’s unconstitutional to single out a specific group and refuse them entry!”  Thus does ignorance blather on yet again.  First of all, the Constitution and its protections apply to citizens of the United States, NOT to the entire world (unless people are suggesting we are responsible for all of humanity at all times and places.  Ready to take on that burden?).  In our historically generous spirit, prompted by the influence of Christ on our society’s development, we do seek to treat even foreigners according to the general principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  That’s all well and good.  But what happens when allowing the “pursuit of happiness” by foreigners directly threatens the “life and liberty” of those already in America?  Our government cannot and should not be neutral in such instances: its first duty is to its own people and their descendants (the machinations of traitorous globalists notwithstanding).  We used to understand this, which is why we didn’t allow unrestricted immigration from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan at the same time we were at war with their societies, and why (Democrat) President Jimmy Carter barred travel to the U.S. by Iranians after their new (Islamic fundamentalist) regime became fond of the phrase “death to America.”

“But… but… Trump’s also proposed rounding up Muslims in the U.S., like we did the Japanese.”  He’s done no such thing.  Trump is but the blowhard center of a raging national conversation that, frankly, is long overdue.  Those around him sometimes seek to add or subtract their own agendas.  For instance, it was a reporter, not Trump, who suggested a Muslim-American database.  You can legitimately choose to criticize Trump for not dismissing the notion, and for some serious ambiguity in his follow-on communication, but it was not his talking point to start with.  As for his comment that we need to look at mosques very, very carefully, events in France should suffice to show the man has a solid point.

To sum up, there are a large number of Americans who believe we should continue to allow the immigration of large numbers of people whose social system has historically been highly problematic, and that once in the U.S. we have to treat them with kid gloves and not keep an eye on their community.  This is simply a national suicide wish painted over with a veneer of humanitarianism.

But I ask you this: which is more humane… to stop the continued mass immigration in the first place, or to allow it to reach a point where Americans may one day beg not just for databases but for the wholesale roundup and violent removal of that community (as was done with the Japanese)?  The former option causes inconvenience and hurt feelings; the latter is a road we don’t want to go down as a nation.  So why continue a status quo that leads that direction?  As for the Syrian refugees, the excuse everyone wants to use to prop the door open for everyone, would it not be equally humane to carve out a safe place for them to live in their own homeland?  How many of those touting their plight so earnestly would be willing to join the military and be the boots on the ground in the Middle East to protect them?  …That’s what I thought.  Since we know ISIS and others intend to take advantage of our open doors, exactly how many dead Americans is this utopianist posturing worth to you?

You see, ultimately a lot my take on this is influenced by my time in the military (at least I admit and try to control for my biases).  I spent an inordinate amount of time away from my family after 9/11 under the idea that we would fight Islamic extremism “over there” so we wouldn’t have to fight it “over here.”  How’d that work out for us?  If America submits to the “we are the world” utopian impulse that allows our nation to be overrun with immigrants not just from the Middle East, but from many places whose culture and norms are incompatible with our historic form of society, it owes an apology to every servicemember who died trying to keep the nation both independent and secure.

You want to “thank me for my service?”  CLOSE THE FREAKING BORDER.  And if you want to ensure nobody calls it discriminatory, here’s a suggestion: STOP LETTING ANYBODY IN.  (Maybe there’d be more jobs for Americans, then.)  Be serious about confronting the problems, or stop complaining when a jihadist shoots up a neighborhood, or mass immigration continues to cause American workers’ wages to plummet.

We’ve got enough problems here already.  We don’t need to import more.  My biggest concern about Trump is that he’s a harbinger.  You don’t have to like the messenger (I don’t), but the message cannot be ignored, unpleasant as facing reality is.  Most importantly, if our ‘leaders’ don’t figure this out soon, the next standard bearer for these concerns may be the actual devil that people currently want to cast Trump as.  If our ‘leaders’ want to reduce the growing nationalist sentiment, then it’s high time they take care of the nation.  The longer we put our heads in the sand about the world we now live in, the worse it will be in the very near future.

Civil and profitable discussion is welcome in the comments.

“Christian” =/= “doormat”

I’m always amused by those who profess no interest in the Christian faith except to quote selected snippets of Scripture (usually with little or no context) in an attempt to get the faithful to see things their way.

Since the shooting last week in Oregon, the debate over firearms rights has heated up once more.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen allusions to “aren’t Christians supposed to turn the other cheek,” etc, etc.

This is what happens when you quote the Bible (usually via some agenda’s talking points) but never study it.  Yes, Jesus commanded his disciples to ‘turn the other cheek.’  The Apostle Paul in his letters also gives detailed instructions for how churches should deal with recalcitrant members, outlining a series of escalating steps that end in expulsion.  These instructions are about personal relationships — and remaining open to reconciliation.  But even Jesus acknowledged it takes “two to tango” in that regard, and that not everyone will respond in kind.  Most of these “turn the other cheek” quoters never touch on that time when Jesus fashioned a whip and drove the profiteers out of the temple.  Jesus was not a milquetoast, and He did not expect His disciples to be, either.

So, my question to those who love to spout just enough Scripture to confuse the issue: what does any of the above have to do with a scenario where a complete stranger who cares nothing for relationships is only hell-bent on murder?  Answer: nothing.  There are indeed other scripture that are applicable here: “greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,” for instance.  There are some online who have pointed out the instruction from Jesus to his disciples “let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”  The all-important context for that: Jesus is preparing for His death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven.  He will not be physically present with His disciples.  Instead, they will remain as ambassadors in a world completely hostile to their faith.  Which brings me to one more verse from our Lord:

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”  – Matthew 10:16

It is unwise to unilaterally disarm in a world demonstrably filled with evil.  Christians should never seek conflict — that is against the ‘innocence’ we are commanded to maintain.  And we should not be strutting about like Dirty Harry, begging some ‘punk’ to “make my day.”  That is certainly not a Christlike attitude, and I fear too many display it without thinking, which harms the reputation of Christ and His Church.  If, God forbid, we find ourselves in a situation where we have to choose between taking the life of an assailant, or allowing carnage among others, we should not hesitate to act… and to have been prepared beforehand to act responsibly and decisively.  But never should this be taken lightly: even these mass murderers were created with the imago dei, and it grieves the Father to lose anyone so irretrievably to the influence of sin and a hardened heart.  It is not His wish that any should perish, but in His wisdom He knows that some will use the free will He gave them to pursue just that road.  Still, nowhere in Scripture can I find a command to stand by, passive and unarmed, and allow one who has made such a self-destructive choice to inflict destruction on others.

Which brings me to a final, related thought: if it looks like an invasion, and acts like an invasion, what are we to deduce from the above?  The same voices claiming Christians should forego the right of individual self-defense would seem to apply the same view to national defense.

That is neither “wise” nor “innocent.”  And it’s about time we push back–hard–against such Wormtongue-like advice, and tell them to “keep your forked tongue behind your teeth.”  The devil himself is known to quote scripture.  That doesn’t mean he’s using it correctly.