Sunday, July 24, 2016

Abraham Lincoln and RNC Prayers

Pastor Mark Burns concluded Monday's Republican National Convention session with a prayer that called Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party the "enemy" for Republicans.
Hello, Republicans! I’m Pastor Mark Burns from the great state of South Carolina! I’m going to pray and I’m going to give the benediction. You know why? Because we are electing a man in Donald Trump who believes in the name of Jesus Christ.
And Republicans, we’ve got to be united, because our enemy is not other Republicans, but it’s Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.
Let’s pray together. 
Father God, in the name of Jesus, Lord, we’re so thankful for the life of Donald Trump.
We’re thanking that you are guiding him, you are giving him the words to unite this party, this country, that we together can defeat the liberal Democratic Party, to keep us divided and not united. Because we are the United States of America, and we are the conservative party under God to defeat every attack that comes against us. 
Protect the life of Donald Trump. Give him the words, give him the peace, given him the power and authority to be the next president of the United States of America.
In Jesus’ name—if you believe it, shout “Amen!” 
Pastor Burns walked that back a bit the next day by saying he wished he would have used the words "political opponents" rather than "enemy". But, he didn't seem to understand the dangers, theological and national, of talking about God as though He is a local god who picks American conservatives over liberals, Republicans over Democrats. Unfortunately, Pastor Burns and all the delegates who roared approval appeared to forget that God is the God of all mankind and Creator of everything--even the "liberal Democratic Party".

detail from photo of Lincoln's second inaugural address
Compare this with the understanding of Abraham Lincoln. In the midst of a horrible civil war that resulted in 620,000 military deaths on both sides, Lincoln gives a speech that is one of the greatest speeches in American history. In his second inaugural address Lincoln seems to start into the Burns' channel by blaming the South for making the war and being the main locus and defender of the cause of the war--slavery.
While the [first] inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.
One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. 
But, Lincoln goes on. He recognizes that both sides read the same Bible and pray to the same God. And that slavery is an "offense" that comes from the entire nation--not just the South. For as Lincoln points out, slavery has been going on 250 years (that's rounding it up from the first legalization of slavery by Massachusetts in 1642) in what was to become the United States of America.
Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
Thus, it is "true and righteous" that both North and South suffer the "mighty scourge of war" in which profits of "unrequited toil" and "blood drawn with the lash" be repaid by the entire nation.

There is no good side. No godly side. No God's side. All hands are dirty.

Lincoln has already gone deeper into morality and theology than any president before or after. He then does an amazing thing. He tries to reconcile "love your enemies" (Matthew 5:43-48) with rulers being "God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." (Romans 13:1-7)

One phrase of Lincoln's final paragraph is devoted to punishment: "finish the work". Surrounding that are calls for "charity", "bind up", "care for", "do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace".
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Lincoln knew that "a just and lasting peace" will only come, if it does come (and it may not), from love to real enemies (not just political opponents). In the speech, Lincoln doesn't explain how he will do this, but he wanted a short, easy reconstruction process.

Lincoln's speech was not popular*. It did not receive resounding cheers, applause** and "amen"s. But, it was full of a greatness that has enriched our nation to this day.
*A good resource for understanding the profound nature of Lincoln's second inaugural address is a lecture given by Ronald White.
**only four occasions of applause

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Palin and Carson Say Cruz Is Finished

Heh. You can't make this stuff up.

Sarah Palin is giving Ted Cruz advice on how he went wrong politically.
“Cruz’s broken pledge to support the will of the people tonight was one of those career-ending ‘read my lips’ moments. I guarantee American voters took notice and felt more unsettling confirmation as to why we don’t much like typical politicians because they campaign one way, but act out another way. That kind of political status quo has got to go because it got us into the mess we’re in with America’s bankrupt budgets and ramped up security threats.”
This from the woman who resigned as governor for what she said was the good of the people of Alaska even though she ran for a four year term. Donald Trump has pointed out that not running for an office you said you would run for is defrauding the voters. So, actually quitting an office you won is far worse.

Then, of course, there's Palin's absence at the Republican National Convention this year. Because . . . she lives so far away.
"She was asked," Trump told the Washington Examiner in a phone interview on Thursday. "It's a little bit difficult because of where she is. We love Sarah. Little bit difficult because of, you know, it's a long ways away."
Though, of course, she managed to campaign for Trump in Florida, which is a little farther away from Wasilla than Cleveland. But, nothing says you're politically powerful like not having even a minor speaking slot at the national convention which nominates the candidate you were the first major political figure to support.

Then there is the fall off in her PAC donations since she endorsed Trump. It's a 40% drop from the first half of 2015 compared to the first half of 2016.

Here's a contrast. Palin received $149,000 in donations for 2nd quarter 2016 compared to Cruz's senate campaign (not presidential) receipts of $290,000 almost double Palin's amount in the same period. Even more striking is that Cruz's first itemized receipts are dated May 11, 2016, after he dropped out of the presidential race. So, he raised almost twice as much as Palin in about half the time period.

Then there's Ben Carson who also assures us that Cruz is now a dead duck.
“Well, I was quite disappointed,” Carson said on Fox News radio. “I thought it was a splendid opportunity for him to bring significant unity to the party and also to enhance his own political career in the future. He was unable to bring himself to do that unfortunately.”
Carson said it would be hard for Cruz to recover.
“I believe it’s gonna be a very difficult task for him to recover from this, because of the alienation factor is significant at this point,” he said.
This from the guy who, after running on campaigning with civility, has said we have to accept the politics of personal destruction, political lies and offensive rhetoric as part of politics.
"And some people said but well you know he said terrible things about you how can you support him. Well, first of all, we buried the hatchet. That was political stuff. And you know that happens in American politics. The politics of personal destruction. All that is not something that I particularly believe in or anything that I get involved in. But, I do recognize that it is a part of the process."
Carson also has trouble understanding parts of the Constitution. For example, he wants to get rid of the electoral college and "a lot of different things" in our governmental system, including unneeded parts of the Second Amendment.

Too bad neither Palin nor Carson have figured out what went wrong with their own political careers, but are eager to help Cruz, the only one of them to currently hold high political office, figure out how to be a political success.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Republican Party Just Left Me

They've nominated a man who is for war crimes.

They've nominated a man who believes President George W. Bush lied us into war.

They've nominated a man who has said dangerous, "idiotic" things about NATO and basically invited Russia to invade the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia). They have nominated a man who supports the president of Turkey who is installing an Islamic state in Turkey!

They've nominated a man who thinks the National Enquirer is a credible news source.

None of those things have been supported by any candidate I've knowingly voted for or any party I've knowingly been a part of. The Republican Party has never held any of those positions. Now it does through it's presidential candidate. So, I am no longer affiliated with the Republican Party.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

2016 Cruz Like 1976 Reagan
UPDATE: Byron York has pointed out an ad Reagan did for Ford during the campaign. But, York is obviously wrong on Reagan giving an endorsement in the convention speech. However, Reagan did praise Ford for Ford's good treatment of Reagan's wife, Nancy.
I’ve seen also the warmth with which you greeted Nancy and you also filled my heart with joy when you did that.

There's a funny thing about the outrage by some over Senator Ted Cruz not endorsing Donald Trump in his convention speech last night. They love Ronald Reagan who did the same thing (did not endorse Ford) in 1976.

President Gerald Ford was a decent man, who was more of a centrist Republican. In 1976 Ronald Reagan challenged Ford for the Republican presidential nomination. Reagan lost. Still, Ford called for Reagan to speak at the convention, but Reagan did not endorse Ford then or later.

In the primaries Reagan campaigned against Ford on Ford's lack of seriousness about the nation's debt as well as his soft policy on the Soviet Union.
In 1976, Reagan decided to challenge President Gerald Ford for the Republican presidential nomination. Although Ford was the incumbent Republican President, he had been appointed rather than elected to office, and Reagan felt Ford had not fought sufficiently against growing budget deficits and that his foreign policy of d├ętente was too accommodating to the Soviet Union. (emphasis added)
Sound a little like the current positions of Donald Trump? Trump says he would get along well with Putin and wants a better relationship with Russia.

Trump not only has said nothing about cutting government and its spending, he's for massive federal infrastructure spending (like Obama's $787 billion 2009 stimulus package which only three Republicans voted for).

Trump's major ideas on cutting the national debt have gone from disastrous to lame. First, pay back less than you owe. The pay back less than you owe comes from a business bankruptcy model where you stiff people for money you owe them by paying cents on the dollar. When the disastrous effects were pointed out to him, he went to his second plan. Print more money. Well, that wasn't such a good idea either. Trump's third idea was do a bond switch. Buy back older bonds with slightly higher rate bonds which would "result in only a minuscule reduction in our total debt, and it would do so by increasing the interest rate the U.S. is paying on that debt".

Currently, Trump doesn't even address the issue with specific proposals. The Trump site doesn't include the national debt in his position papers. However, he does have a 26 second "issues" statement where he says he is going to get rid of the national debt but gives no plans.

Amazing how much this election is like 1976--except Jimmy Carter was an unknown and neither he nor Ford were as unpopular as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Chaffetz Shows His Dark Side on Freedom of Religion

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah)
In 2012, I thought Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was an overgrown junior higher. His idea of first rate campaign strategy was crashing Newt Gingrich's campaign events. But Chaffetz has graduated to the dark side of procedurally opposing legislative attempts to enhance First Amendment religious liberty protection. Protection which he supposedly supports enough to co-sponsor a bill he won't allow through his committee.

Chaffetz refuses to carry out his power as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to forward a bill preventing the federal government from discriminating against government contractors and stripping institutions of tax exempt status if they hold standard Judeo-Christian views on marriage and sexual identity. The bill has 171 co-sponsors including Chaffetz himself (!) and every Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee except Michael Turner and Justin Amash. But Chaffetz won't allow it out of committee for a floor vote.

From Daniel Horowitz:
Exhibit A for why the sexual identity movement is so emboldened to pursue their fascistic disruption of the civil society and private property is Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah (B, 80%). 
One of the first responses to the growing trend of anti-religious bigotry was the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), introduced by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah (A, 100%) and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho (A, 95%) last June. To stem the tide of criminalizing all the world’s major religions, including our founding Judeo-Christian values, this legislation would have prevented the federal government from discriminating against government contractors who don’t follow the culture warriors of the Left on questions related to same-sex marriage or other items on the sexual identity menu. It would also protect the tax exempt status of those institutions that don’t subscribe to Hollywood’s sense of morality. It was really very limited in scope and didn’t even address the broader issues of states and judges coercing individuals to service gay weddings or provide contraception coverage or transgender bathrooms. Nor did it address the actual jurisdiction of the judiciary over marriage, something Congress can easily remedy, as I detail in Stolen Sovereignty. But it was at least something. 
The bill has 171 co-sponsors, including almost every Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the panel with jurisdiction over this particular issue. Yet, Rep. Chaffetz, the committee chairman, at the behest of House leadership has refused to schedule a markup for the bill in committee. After much pressure from outside conservative groups, Chaffetz will finally hold a hearing on Tuesday, but from what I’m hearing there is no intention to schedule a markup, much less a floor vote. The committee hearing will offer the Democrat minority a number of their own witnesses, beyond the customary single minority witness. Aside from Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La. (D, 66%), not a single other member of the leadership team has signed onto the bill. That is not a coincidence. 
Keep in mind how swiftly Republican leaders bring politically correct legislation to the floor without any committee process or any member co-sponsors when it suits their needs. They brought this ridiculous Muslim Brotherhood/gun control bill to the floor out of thin air until it was opposed by rank-and-file members.
Why would Chaffetz stonewall a bill he's supposedly co-sponsoring? Horowitz says it's because House leadership isn't for it. But, maybe it's because Chaffetz has no principles. He signed on as co-sponsor because it would look good. But, he doesn't really care about protecting the religious liberty of those with traditional religious values. Chaffetz is not only an embarrassment because of his juvenile campaign tactics, but he is a part of the rot that has made Republican congressional leadership a mere appendage of the liberal Democrat agenda.

Monday, July 04, 2016

240 Years Ago: Endowed by Their Creator with Certain Unalienable Rights

Two hundred forty years ago today.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

self-evident truths:
1. all men are created equal
2. endowed by their Creator
3. certain unalienable Rights
4. among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

Friday, July 01, 2016

Oregon Privacy Petition Needs a Few Thousand More Signatures within a Week

The Oregon Privacy Petition seeks to stop easy access by third parties to Oregon voters' private information such as birth date, phone number, email address, and ballot status information.
Oregon ranks as the third worst state in the nation for identity theft. That’s because the state gives out your private information to anyone who asks!
Imagine, then, how easy it is for thieves to find your social security number.
Your private information is found in the state voter file. Your birthday is on record to prove you’re a citizen. Your phone number and email address are on file so they can contact you. But you’ve never given them permission to disclose that private information to telemarketers and strangers.
Stop the open vault of personal data secrets for identity thieves, spammers and telemarketers!
The Protect Our Private Information petition removes your date of birth, phone number and email from public view unless you give permission.
Here's the text of the measure.

You can print out an individual copy of the petition, sign it, and mail it in to be included in the petition process.