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Published: 235 articles

The No Fun Campaign

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates were held in seven of the nine Illinois Congressional Districts as the two men sought a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois.  In each debate Douglas or Lincoln would open with an hour long address.  The other would then speak for an hour and a half.  The first then had 30 minutes of rebuttal.  The only debate site still standing is Knox College in Galesburg, IL where the two debated on October 7, 1858.  I have been to that site and stood where the two men stood.  It is a thrilling moment to be at Knox College and think of these two giants of our past and to know that, though Lincoln lost the election, his skill in debate helped lead to his election as our greatest President.  These debates were held in an election of national significance.

In 1960 the first televised Presidential debates were held between two undefeated titans.  Neither Jack Kennedy nor Richard Nixon had ever lost an election.   Radio was still prominent in that day and those who listened thought Nixon won;  those who viewed the debates thought the charismatic Kennedy won.   It is quite likely that Nixon won the election but for voter fraud in Chicago, IL and in Lyndon Johnson’s Texas.  But Jack Kennedy by a razor thin margin of 100,000 votes (about the size of a small city) went to the White House.

Presidential campaigns are never perfect but they are serious events.  This year, however, one Party is led by a liar of first magnitude who may be indicted over improper handling of the nation’s secrets and her opponent cannot promise to give things away fast enough.  The other side is a food fight between three candidates, one of whom, Marco Rubio, seems uncomfortable in the mud.   Trump and Cruz seem to thrive there.  But neither debates on the Democrat or the GOP side seem to be serious moments like Lincoln-Douglas or Kennedy-Nixon.

Fred Barnes writes in the 2/29/16 issue of The Weekly Standard that the 2016 race has its own set of imperfections.  He begins with the fact the Republican side attracted 17 candidates, most of whom had no shot at the nomination.  This required an undercard debate where only Carly Fiorina shone as a bright light.  The problem with too many candidates is that they clogged the process which made it more difficult for credible candidates to get their message across.

His second point is likability.  A candidate does not have to be liked to win as Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon proved.  But appealing personalities like that of Ronald Reagan, Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton helped them enormously in their winning the White House.

But who among the 2016 candidates is likable.  Certainly not Hillary Clinton who was found believable by only 5 % of the voters in N.H., a state she lost badly.  Perhaps the now departed Ben Carson was the only really likable person on either side.  In many ways, debates are personality contests where candidates wish to persuade voters that it would be nice to sit down with a candidate and discuss issues.  Anyone want to sit down with Hillary?   It might be fun to sit down with Marco Rubio but hard to imagine Ted Cruz sitting down and relaxing.

Barnes then moves to electability which the Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone says motivates the GOP having been out of the White House for the past seven years.  Yet, according to Real Clear Politics, Marco Rubio by 48-43 % has the best chance of defeating Hillary Clinton (provided she is not indicted and gets the Democrat nomination).   Ted Cruz is statistically tied with Clinton and frontrunner Donald Trump trails her 46-42 %.   According to Barone, one of the deans of Presidential and Congressional politics, Rubio runs particularly well in FL (though he trails Trump in his home state), VA, CO, PA, NH and IA.

Fourth, Fred Barnes feels there have been too many debates and too many polls.  In debates issues are reduced to sound bites rather than being fully explored.  Trump is a master at making debate points.  For example, on the wall on the southern border for which he says Mexico will pay, he evades how he will pull this off.

Polls corrupt reporting.  They tend to become the main influence on political analysis.  And polls leading up to caucuses and primaries are often mistaken and not predictive.

Barnes’ final point may be the most relevant to what is missing in 2016:  the joy deficit.  Presidential races should be serious but they can have an element of fun.  Hubert Humphrey was the happy warrior.  Ronald Reagan loved to campaign.  Gerald Ford had a loud speaker installed over his limousine and would address the occupants of other cars as he rode along the road.  He enjoyed it and so did his fellow travelers.

The book of Proverbs was written mostly by Solomon early in his reign  around 970 B.C.   Proverbs 25-29 indicate the book was put in place after  Hezekiah’s reign (715-686 B.C.).  Proverbs 17:22 reads:  “A merry heart is good medicine.”  As always the ancient Scriptures are up to date.

We are a nation in a rut with most Americans believing we are on the wrong track.   We faced similar prospects in 1980 when a man named Ronald Reagan lifted the national spirit through his campaign and his Inaugural Address in which he asked rhetorically if we could rebound and answered, “Of course we can!  We are Americans!”  A Republican candidate would be smart to stop the food fight, adopt a merry heart and say, “Of course we can!  We are Americans!”

Eutychus

 

Just Say No

This was a theme developed by then First Lady Nancy Reagan to encourage young people to stay away from drugs.  But “Just Say No” also fits the GOP controlled U. S. Senate right now.  Just tell President Obama “No” on any nominee he sends up to replace the recently departed Justice Anonin Scalia as that nominee will tip the Court Far Left.

The President says the Senate would be acting irresponsibly if it blocks his nominee.  In fact, as a U.S. Senator from IL he tried to block George Bush’s nominees to the Court.  And his V.P. Joe Biden, said in 1992 as a Senator, that George H.W. Bush should not send a nominee to the Court but to wait for the next President.  Senator Grassley of IA and chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee says he will adopt the Biden rule and no nominee will be heard by his committee.

The relevant Constitutional Text is the Appointments Clause found in Article II, Section 2 which reads:  “The President  . . . shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint . . . judges of the Supreme Court.”  Northwestern University Law Professor, John McGinnis writes that the President can nominate someone to the Court and the Senate has every right to refuse to act on that nominee.  That is part of advise and consent.  This is what happened to Robert Bork who was as brilliant a jurist as America had when Ronald Reagan nominated him in 1987.

Historically, many Supreme Court nominations made in a President’s final year in office are rejected by the Senate.  That started with our sixth President, John Quincy Adams, and last occurred during the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson.

If the Republicans are serious about waiting for the next President to act on a Supreme Court nominee then it will be critical that they hold pro forma sessions as Barack Obama would make a recess appointment to the Court if the Senate goes out of session.  There is a two-week recess scheduled in April.  There have been 12 such recess appointments to the High Court.  A recess appointment lasts until the end of the Senate’s next session.

Historically there have been several lengthy vacancies when the Senate refused to play ball with controversial Presidents or controversial nominees or some combination of both.  According to Gabriel Malor of The Federalist, President John Tyler had a particularly hard time filling vacancies.  One vacancy lasted 424 days and another 835 days because the Senate refused to work with Tyler.  President Tyler saw the Senate reject nine of his Supreme Court nominees!  More recently Abe Fortas resigned May 14, 1969 and his replacement, Harry Blackmun, was not seated until June 9, 1970, making the gap over a year.

Several cases today were expected to be 5-4 including the immigration (DAPA) case, United States v. Texas;  the mandatory dues case, Fridierichs v. California Teachers Association;  and the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell case on the contraception mandate accommodation.  As a side note I wonder if Barack Obama minds being attached to a case suing the Little Sisters of the Poor.  Probably not though he is exposed as the bully he is.  Suing the Little Sisters of the Poor.  Really?

Decisions that are tied 4-4 have no binding precedent and the decision of the lower court is upheld.  This would be good in the TX immigration case because the lower court ruled that states have standing to sue against Obama’s policy that muzzles states from enforcing immigration laws.  But it would be bad in the CA union case as the lower court ruled that teachers must pay union dues even though those dues are used for political causes that violate a union members’ beliefs.  Likewise, the lower court ruled against the Little Sisters of the Poor, forcing them to fund contraception though that violates their Christian beliefs.

If everything is put on hold until Election Day there are four possible outcomes:  There could be a Republican President and a Republican Senate (this would be ideal);  a Republican President and Democrat Senate;  a Democrat President and a Republican Senate (as we have now);  or a Democrat President and a Democrat Senate as we had when Obamacare passed.  May the American People choose wisely which means the first option rather than the last as that will wreak havoc on the rule of law.

Cicero warned that “to know nothing of what happened before you were born is to remain ever a child.”  But as Mark Steyn says, that warning loses its bite in a society that aspires to remain childlike–that is, aspires to live, as children do, in a perpetual present with others meeting their needs.  Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton anyone?   Let us make an adult choice when we vote in 2016.  God help us to grow up and to be as we once were–strong and independent.   If not, the days of a free Republic as envisioned by our Founders are numbered.   May we catch their vision once again!

Eutychus

Antonin Scalia, Wise & Brilliant Christian Jurist

In addition to being an exceptional Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia was a powerful Christian.  Newt Gingich, former Speaker of the House, and fellow Catholic writes in The Washington Times that Justice Scalia would often say to an audience:  “I  hope you have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity.”  He was not addressing young attorneys engaged in the ongoing battle to defend the Constitution with these words.  They were directed, not at fellow lawyers, but fellow Christians.

Scalia said to one such gathering of believers that surely those who adhere to the most traditional beliefs of the Christian faith are regarded in educated circles that we travel in as simple minded.  To make his case, he noted a recent story in The Washington Post that called Christian fundamentalists poorly educated and easily led.  But he urged that rather than retreat, Christians confront such contempt head-on, and be willing in the words of St. Paul, to be “fools for Christ.”  (I Cor. 4:10)

Of course, Scalia saw the obvious parallel to his day job on the Supreme Court.  Just as cultural elites look down on the Christian faithful as ignorant simpletons, so too our political elites look with scorn at “We the People” who believe in being faithful to the Constitution.  This is one of the reasons a brilliant man like Ted Cruz is so despised even by fellow Republicans in Washington.  He stands up for his faith and for his belief in the Nation as Founded.

Justice Scalia personified that those who believe in the Constitution are no fools.  He bested those who doubted the wisdom of the Founders with his arguments from the bench and in written opinion–sometimes especially when writing a dissent.  Along the way he became one of the most consequential defenders of the Constitution ever to sit on the Supreme Court.  He reduced arguments to one simple question for matters that came before the Supreme Court:  “Who decides?”

In answering the question, Justice Scalia employed originalism, a mode of constitutional analysis that interprets the Constitution according to the meaning of the text as it was understood at the time it was established.  Originalism thus rejects the notion that modern judges substitute their own views about the meaning of the Constitution. Instead he argued judges should be guided by the original meaning in their decision making.

Back in 1969 I took a graduate course in American Political Theory at the University of CO, Boulder, taught by a Dr. Wilson.  One evening he asked us why our Constitution was such a brilliant document.  We said such things as our Enlightened Founders brought with them the best thinking of freedom from Europe.  And that we were a wide open new nation where ideas on a free society could be practiced.   He said we were not wrong but that some thought God intervened and inspired our Founding Documents.  Being young we scoffed at this but I noticed Dr. Wilson was not smiling.  He said, “Young Gentlemen, the theory of divine directions makes as much sense as any other explanation I have heard for the brilliance of the Constitution that has stood the test of time.”   I rather think Antonin Scalia would agree with that.

Gingrich goes on to note Scalia’s dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges.  The Justice argued that when judges substitute their own thinking about the meaning of the Constitution:

“This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776:  the freedom to govern themselves.”

The ongoing struggle to protect the freedom of Americans to govern themselves was at the heart of Scalia’s approach to judging during his long tenure on the Supreme Court.  Self-governance is also at the heart of the choice to replace Scalia on the Court.

A constitutional conservative in the mold of Antonin Scalia sees the role of the judge as one of self-restraint, guided by the meaning of the Constitution as understood by the Founders.  Those guided by progressive legal theories do not consider themselves limited by the original meaning of the Constitution.  They believe the Constitution is a living document such that new realities require new laws.

Though Thomas Jefferson feared judicial tyranny, most of the Founding Fathers believed the Supreme Court to be the weakest branch which would be amply checked by the Legislative and Executive Branches.  But over the past 50 years the Supreme Court has become a permanent Constitutional Convention whereby the whims of five appointed judges have rewritten the meaning of the Constitution and assigned to themselves the last word in the American political process.

This is the type of Justice President Obama will appoint.  He has that right just as the U.S. Senate has a right to reject his nominee(s).  They are under no obligation to confirm the President’s choice.  But will they wait for a new President to decide?   Given the record of the Republican Senate so far, many of us are not sanguine.

Fortunately, the Republicans have a model to follow in this newest battle to protect self-government–Antonin Scalia himself who for 29 years showed us how to defend freedom.   Again and again he reminded us of the wisdom of the Constitution’s deference to the people and its system of checks and balances.

A number of years ago a Washington Redskins running back by the name of John Riggins was sitting at a banquet table with Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor  and her husband.   Riggins, in his cups and overflowing with advice, said, “Lighten up, Sandra baby.”  His manners were bad but his advice good for the majorities of five justices who have been kicking over our liberties.  Lighten up on us already.   It might be good for the GOP members of the U.S. Senate to remember this story as well and to stall until we have a new President in January 2017 who might give us a fifth Justice more like Antonin Scalia.  Barack Obama certainly will not.  God grant us such wisdom and the courage of a Justice Scalia once again.  Let us be willing to be fools for Christ’s sake.

Elutychus

No Defense

As a native of CO who saw Denver Bronco games in old Bears Stadium as early as their inaugural 1960 season, we are still in the afterglow of last Sunday’s Super Bowl.  It really proved true that “while the offense may win some games, defense wins championships.”  My son and I went to the first game of the season on September 13, 2015.  We saw the defense score in that game and stop the Baltimore Ravens through an interception in the north end zone as time ran out.  We could not know then that Denver would be world champions but we saw the blue print of a great defense.

The Carolina Panthers were a proud team with a self-centered quarterback who was humbled by an incredible performance by Vaughn Miller and his teammates which led to fumbles, recoveries and interceptions.  Denver never trailed the Panthers who themselves had never trailed in the playoffs until they ran into the Broncos.  Announcer Phil Simms (who picked Denver) said, “Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers have never seen anything like this.” They would have done well to ask New England and Tom Brady about the Broncos defense.  Cam Newton would also have been wise to look at Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

I would move now to another type of Defense–our National Security.  I think it is unprecedented for three Defense Secretaries in a row to emerge as some of the toughest critics of their former boss, Barack Obama, and his foreign policy.  Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel (who was forced out for questioning Obama’s acumen in foreign affairs) have all indicated that the President should retool his national security process.

Robert Gates, who was also Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush, wrote in his memoir that Mr. Obama did not always live up to budget agreements with him.  Gates suspected that top brass (warriors not political generals) conspired against the Commander-in-Chief.  Obama suspected it as well as he once said to a commander, “That’s an order.”  Mr. Gates was “shocked” at this and found it unprecedented.  Gates called the order “unnecessary and insulting, proof positive of the depth of the Obama White House’s distrust of the nation’s military leadership.”

Mr. Gates’ successor, Leon Panetta, wrote that the President, “misses opportunities” to act, such as in the Syrian civil war.  He roundly criticized Obama’s swap of five hardened Taliban leaders for one Army soldier, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Leon Panetta is part of a rapidly vanishing breed–a sensible, moderate Democrat with a sense of humor.  He was on KOA radio in Denver from his walnut farm in CA after he resigned as Secretary of Defense.  He was asked if he was thinking of running for President.  He said, “Heavens no!  I prefer working with these nuts in CA rather than those nuts in Washington, D.C.”

Chuck Hagel did not wait to resign to be critical of the President.  He was particularly upset with Obama’s decision to draw a “red line” that Syrian President Bashar Assad should not cross.  But once Assad breached the supposed line in the sand, Hagel was even more upset that Mr. Obama ordered a stand-down on our forces who were ready to bomb military targets in Syria.

Leon Panetta’s book, Worthy Fights, like Chuck Hagel also goes after Obama for nixing military action in response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people in Syria.  Panetta goes on to say that, “Too often, in my view, the President relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.”

All three former Defense Secretaries seek to balance the books by saying that they admire Mr. Obama and Mr. Hagel adds that he holds him in “high regard.”  One suspects there are some crossed fingers behind the backs in these latter assessments.

What might a normal person do in response to three confidants’ being universal in their concerns and criticisms of one’s actions and lack thereof.  Most sensible people would reflect and quite likely change course.  But not Barack Obama, whom psychiatrist and political commentator, Dr. Charles Krauthammer, calls “delusional.”

Let us return to the world of sports and the Carolina Panthers.  They could learn from the wisdom of Proverbs 16.  So could the President of the United States.  But he will not as he still believes he is always right and it is his critics who are wrong.  Delusional is the right call.  And when it is the President of the United States it is also dangerous.

Lord, grant us, the American People, the wisdom and humility to elect a sensible person to lead us next time.  Hear our prayer O Lord, and let it be so.

Eutychus

 

Zechariah & the Four Empires

The Prophets make up a large part of the Old Testament.  There are 17 books which are divided into “Major” and “Minor” Prophets.  This does not mean some books are more important than others;  rather they are so designated by the length of the books.  The longest book of the Minor Prophets is Zechariah which is nearly as  long as Daniel, the shortest of the Major Prophets.

Names in the Old Testament carry meaning and Zechariah means “Jehovah Remembers.”  A Prophet’s primary task was to proclaim the Word of the Lord, pointing out sin, explaining its consequences, and calling men and women to repentance before God and obedience to Him.  Nestled near the end of the Old Testament, Zechariah, is the 11th of the 12 Minor Prophets.

His ministry began in 520 B.C.  Babylon had destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple of the Hebrews in 586 B.C.  In 539 B.C., the Persians under Cyrus the Great, conquered Babylon and Persia became the leading Empire of the time.  In 538 Cyrus began to let the captive people, including the Hebrews, go home.  In 536 God’s Chosen began to rebuild their Temple, but the work stalled in 530.  In 520 Zechariah called the People to begin again in Temple reconstruction and, thus, the rebuilding of their Nation.  The Temple was completed in 516.  Until that was done the Hebrews were not really home.  This is why the Babylonian Captivity of God’s People is said to have lasted 70 years.

How was this done?  The key verse of the book, Zechariah 4:6, tells us:  “This is the word of the Lord. . .not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty.”  Zechariah goes on with spectacular apocalyptic imagery and graphic detail to tell of the Messiah, the One whom God would send to rescue His People and to reign over all the earth.  The rebuilding of the Temple, he says, is the first act in the drama of the end and the ushering in of the Messianic age.  Zechariah proclaimed a stirring message of hope to these ex-captives and exiles–their King is coming!

In chapter 1 he also looks at history and what the Hebrews have faced.  Zechariah has a vision of four horns that had scattered God’s Chosen.  Most likely these are the four world powers that have oppressed the people–Egypt, Assyria, Babylon (present day Iraq) and Persia (present day Iran).  The horns may also symbolize foes from the North, South East and West who are sworn to resist their efforts to rebuild the temple and to renew their national live.  But there are advocates (four craftsmen) who throw down these horns.  The purpose of this vision is clear:  The Lord will deliver His People that His promises my be fulfilled.  (Zechariah 1:16-21)

We live on this side of the Cross and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We can clearly see that these visions of Zechariah mean that all the enemies of Israel will ultimately be defeated.  This brings us to modern Israel and our nation which I believe to be a Second Chosen People.  Since the founding of modern Israel in 1948 the United States has been their leading advocate (craftsman), and we have faced down some of the horns such as the Soviet Union.  It is critical to remember that any nation that stands against Israel (Zechariah 2:8 calls the Chosen “The apple of His eye”) is ultimately destroyed whether it be ancient empires or modern like the Nazis and the Soviets.

This puts our nation in a very precarious position as President Obama stands with Iran more than Israel.  He seems to fear military action which has emboldened Russia (recall Obama’s laughing at Mitt Romney in the 2012 campaign for stating that Russia was our number one threat), China, N. Korea and Iran.  Our own military recently called these our four most dangerous foes.  It is as if we have four horns standing against us just as the Hebrews did.  A weakened America leads to evil on the march, and we see it all about us.  And Israel sees themselves also surrounded by foes WITHOUT America as an advocate.

God employs human instruments.  Let us all pray that the next President after Barack Obama will restore our relationship with Israel and stand against evil just as Ronald Reagan did after Jimmy Carter.  But we also know the end of the story and God and good win–not the devil and evil.

My Old Testament professor, Dr. Dennis Kinlaw brings as much depth to our faith as anyone I know.  I once heard him introduced as “A man on a first name basis with God.”  I agree.  Dr. Kinlaw has written a marvelous devotional book titled This Day With The Master, 365 Daily Meditations.  He writes that God employed the vision of Zechariah to remind Israel that ultimate power is in His Hands and the He will determine the rise and fall off all the forces that fall upon them.  None can get beyond His control and outside forces touch us only with His permission.  And they have no power to destroy us.

Dr. Kinlaw closes the devotional with the priceless scene from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.  Christian and his companion are faced by two ferocious lions who block their path.  The pilgrims are terrified until they see that the lions are chained and cannot quite reach the path they travel.  The lions roar at the travelers but they cannot touch them.  The pilgrims tremble as they walk through, but they are safe.  The lions in the believer’s path are chained.  And the One who holds the chains is a carpenter (a craftsman) from Nazareth named Jesus Christ.

Come what may the Lamb wins.  And so de we who follow Him and walk His Path.  Praise be to God!

Eutychus

Update

Did a post today on the Old Testament Prophet, Zechariah–his times and ours.  From time to time a post does not publish.  If there is interest and you hit the blue link, a pretty mountain scene should appear with that post just below this one.

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Zechariah & the Four Kingdoms

The Prophets make up a large part of the Old Testament.  There are 17 books of Prophets which are divided into “Major” and “Minor” Prophets.  This does not mean some books are more important than others;  rather they are so designated by the length of the books.   The longest book of the Minor Prophets is Zechariah which is nearly as long as Daniel, the shortest of the Major Prophets.

Names in the Old Testament carry meaning and Zechariah means “Jehovah Remembers.”   A Prophet’s primary task was to proclaim the Word of the Lord, pointing out sin, explaining its consequences, and calling men and women to repentance before God and obedience to Him.  Nestled near the end of the Old Testament, Zechariah, is the 11th of the 12 Minor Prophets.

His ministry began in 520 B.C.  Babylon had destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple of the Hebrews in 586 B.C.  In 539 B.C., the Persians under Cyrus the Great, conquered Babylon and Persia became the leading Empire of the time.  In 538 Cyrus began to let the captive people, including the Hebrews go home.  In 536 God’s Chosen began to rebuild their Temple, but the work stalled in 530.  In 520 Zechariah calls the People to begin again on Temple reconstruction and thus the rebuilding of their Nation.  The Temple was completed in 516.  Until that was done the Hebrews were not really home.  This is why the Babylonian Captivity of God’s People is said to have lasted 70 years.

How was all this done?  The key verse of the book, Zechariah 4:6, tells us:  “This is the word of the Lord. . .not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.”  Zechariah goes on with spectacular apocalyptic imagery and graphic detail to tell of the Messiah, the One whom God would send to rescue His People and to reign over all the earth.  The rebuilding of the Temple, he says, is the first act in the drama of the end and the ushering in of the Messianic age.  Zechariah proclaimed a stirring message of hope to these ex-captives and exiles–their King is coming!

In chapter 1 he also looks at history and what the Hebrews have faced.  Zechariah has a vision of four horns that had scattered God’s Chosen.  Most likely these are the four world powers that have oppressed his people–Egypt, Assyria, Babylon (present day Iraq) and Persia (present day Iran).  The horns may also symbolize foes from the North, South, East and West who are sworn to resist their efforts to rebuild the Temple and to renew their national life.  But there are advocates (four craftsmen) who will throw down these horns.  The purpose of this vision is clear:  The Lord will deliver His People that His promises may be fulfilled.  (Zechariah 1:16-21)

We live on this side of the Cross and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We can clearly see that these visions of Zechariah mean that all the enemies of Israel will ultimately be defeated.  This brings us to modern Israel and our nation which I believe to be a Second Chosen People.  Since the founding of modern Israel in 1948 the United States has been their leading advocate (craftsman), and we have faced down some of the horns such as the Soviet Union.  It is critical to remember that any nation that stands against Israel (Zechariah 2:8 calls the Chosen “the apple of His eye”) is ultimately destroyed whether it be ancient empires or modern like the Nazis and the Soviets.

This puts our nation in a very precarious position as President Obama stands with Iran more than Israel.  He seems to fear military action which has emboldened Russia (recall Obama’s laughing at Mitt Romney in the 2012 campaign for stating Russia was our number one threat), China, N. Korea and Iran.  Our own military recently called these our four most dangerous foes.   It is as if we have four horns standing against us just as the Hebrews did.   A weakened America leads to evil on the march, and we see it all about us.   And Israel sees themselves also surrounded by foes WITHOUT America as an advocate.

God employs human instruments.  Let us all pray that the next President after Barack Obama will restore our relationship with Israel and stand against evil just as Ronald Reagan did after Jimmy Carter.  But we also know the end of the story and God and good win–not the devil and evil.

My Old Testament professor was Dr. Dennis F. Kinlaw.  He brings as much depth to our faith as anyone I know.  I once heard him introduced as “A man on a first name basis with God.”  I agree.  Dr. Kinlaw has written a marvelous devotional book titled, This Day With The Master, 365 Daily Meditations.  He writes that God employed the vision of Zechariah to remind Israel that ultimate power is in His Hands and that He will determine the rise and fall of all the forces that fall upon them.  None can get beyond His control and outside forces touch us only with His permission.  And they have no power to destroy us.

Dr. Kinlaw closes the devotional with the priceless scene from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.   Christian and his companion are faced by two ferocious lions who block their path.  The pilgrims are terrified until they see that the lions are chained and cannot quite reach the path they travel.  The lions roar at the travelers but they cannot touch them.  The pilgrims tremble as they walk through, but they are safe.  The lions in the believer’s path are chained.  And the one who holds the chains is a carpenter (a craftsman) from Nazareth named Jesus Christ.

Come what may, the Lamb wins.  And so do we who follow Him and walk His Path.   Praise be to God!

Eutychus

 

Carter, Obama, Hillary, Titanic

Jimmy Carter’s domestic policy was disastrous in its results with high unemployment, high inflation and high interest rates.  His foreign policy was even more so.  Henry Kissinger summarized it in 1980:  “The Carter Administration has managed the extraordinary feat of having, at one and the same time, the worst relations with our allies, the worst relations with our adversaries, and the most serious upheavals in the developing world since the Second World War.”  This is cited in Nathan Miller’s Star-Spangled Men:  America’s Ten Worst Presidents.

One can put the name Barack Obama in for Carter and it is also accurate.  Some think Obama is the worst President since James Buchanan who served just before Abraham Lincoln.  Americans give Carter and Obama about the same marks for leading the nation on to the wrong track.

There are also differences.  Jimmy Carter gained more spine toward the Soviets after they invaded Afghanistan and began to arm the Afghan rebels.  Barack Obama shows no sign of learning that ISIS is a real threat.  Mr. Carter had a sense of failure when he told his fellow Georgians that he was sorry he let them down after Ronald Reagan’s blow out victory in the 1980 elections.  Mr. Obama really believes his Administration has been a great success.  Dr. Charles Krauthammer, psychiatrist as well as columnist, calls this “delusional.”

Because she needs his constituents,  Hillary Clinton has embraced the Obama Administration and is rather open about wanting his third term.  It is a good guess that there will be more distance between the two if she gets the Democrat nomination.  Hillary will probably try to appear as moderate as Bill Clinton which is not her natural inclination.  But she knows that neither Obama nor his policies are popular outside the Democrat Party.

After Jimmy Carter there was Ronald Reagan, now considered to have been a great President.  One felt that from the moment of his Inauguration someone was in charge again.  One has to admit that Bill Clinton, while not a great leader, had a rather successful Presidency as well.   Hillary could choose a worse model and right now has done so.

Some believe on the Republican side that this is the greatest slate of candidates since 1980 when George H.W. Bush, John Connally  and Howard Baker joined Ronald Reagan in seeking the GOP nomination.  We can hope that one of them can take on the mantle of Mr. Reagan.  Right now it appears to be coming down to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as final contenders with possible space for Chris Christie.  If they run a good campaign, one of them should be able to defeat Hillary as she, unlike fine wine, does not improve with exposure.  In fact, the more she is in the public eye the less popular she is.  Doubtless this is the reason the Democrats are hiding their debates in the thicket of college football playoffs and late on a Saturday evening.   This also explains why Mrs. Clinton gives few interviews.

There is another parallel between Jimmy Carter’s Presidency and that of Barack Obama.   Mr. Carter himself said it was possible we had seen our high water mark as a nation and that our children would have to scale back on their expectations.  He felt that they might not exceed the success of their parents.  This was new for our nation which was seen as exceptional.   Though he did not employ the word, Carter’s views became known as “Malaise.”

If Carter indicated our best days might be behind us, Obama has openly indicated we are not an exceptional nation and said to entrepreneurs in 2012, “You didn’t build that.”  What a pair.  And Hillary promises more of the same.  Her election may make disaster irretrievable.  This is the reason that 2016 must be a Republican year.  And they have the far stronger candidates to face either an open Socialist or a closet one.  But the GOP is also perfectly capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  Hopefully there will be fewer candidates after Iowa and New Hampshire which means, with fewer distractions, we can begin to focus on a winner.

But Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Convergence of the Twain:  Lines on the Loss of the Titanic,” also comes to mind:

And as the smart ship grew

In stature, grace and hue,

In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.

Alien they seemed to be:

No mortal eye could see

The intimate welding of their later history.

Are there icebergs in America’s path?   Lots of them.  And the mortal eye can see them.  They are placed there by the Left and can bring the great ship down–Socialism, Malaise, Delusion, and more.

Staying with The Titanic, when the great ship hit the iceberg there was a ship, The California, near enough to negotiate a rescue but the ship’s wireless man had fallen asleep and missed the desperate S.O.S. signals of The Titanic.   The Carpathia came to the rescue but it was much further away and there was great loss of life by the time this ship could get there.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Sometimes events get in the saddle and ride mankind.”  Let this not be such a time.  Let us not fall asleep at the switch.  Let us elect a strong, savvy leader in 2016.  Let us not be the generation that has to say to our children and grandchildren and the larger world beyond:  “Behold a Pale Horse and its rider’s name was Death.” (Revelation 6:8)  Restore us again, O Lord.

Eutychus

 

Hill, Bill & Barack

Monica Crowley is editor of online opinion at The Washington Times.  She has a PhD in International Affairs from Columbia University.  From 1990 (when she was 22 years of age) until his death in 1994, she was a research assistant to former President Richard Nixon.  She speaks of how intelligent he was and how well versed in foreign affairs.  David Gergen worked for five Presidents including Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton and says Nixon, for all his awkwardness, was the smartest of the bunch.

In a recent column, Dr. Crowley takes note that, though Hillary Clinton has been on the national political scene for a quarter century, she is still scrambling to find a compelling reason for her candidacy.  This is partly because she is a small person, a poor candidate and not likeable as she is all about power and self-aggrandizement.

There is another factor in her panic stricken campaign:  Hillary is struggling to navigate her way through the radical new Democrat Party of Barack, Liz  (the Squaw) Warren, Bernie Sanders and New York Mayor Bill De Blasio.  Mrs. Clinton has been a Leftist since she studied under the Communist radical Saul Alinsky.  She is not an effective politician as she demonstrated when she faced the more natural Alinskyite Barack Obama in 2008.  But she is a Leftist temperamentally and ideologically.

Her husband is not a Leftist ideologue.  Bill is a moderate Democrat, a Southern pragmatist who did not seek to destroy the existing order as Barack has done but to work within it.  As a result he was elected President twice and remained successful and popular even in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  Hillary hungers for that kind of political success and says she is a member of the Bill Clinton economic order.  But that Democrat Party no longer exists.  She has to live in Barack Obama’s Democrat Party which is not popular and considered off track.

In light of this reality, Monica Crowley would submit this question for Hillary in a future Democrat debate:  “Mrs. Clinton, your husband successfully moved the Democrat Party from the radical left to the center and was rewarded with two terms of a relatively successful Presidency.  President Obama has successfully moved the Party back to the Far Left.  This partially explains the success of your primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders.  In which version of the Democrat Party are you most comfortable?  Do you prefer your husband’s moderate Party or Mr. Obama’s Far Left one?”

This matters as the last pro-America Democrat ticket (other than Bill Clinton in the 90’s) was the Hubert Humphrey-Ed Muskie team of 1968.  Since then the radical wing of the Party nominated George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama.  Other than Obama all these candidates lost as centrist Democrats became Reagan supporters or fled the Party all together.

These moderates supported Democrats Harry Truman, Jack Kennedy, Henry “Scoop” Jackson and Humphrey.  During the moderate ascendancy of Bill Clinton his fellow leaders included Sens. Sam Nunn, Joseph Lieberman, Evan Bayh and Charles Robb and Congressmen such as Harold Ford and Democrat National Chair, Ed Rendell.  These men are all off the stage now and the remaining “Blue Dog” Democrats were whipped into submission by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid (what a pair).  As they voted for big government programs such as Obamacare and the Stimulus they were voted out by the sensible people back home.

Democrat centrism is now irrelevant and practically non-existent in the Alinskyite Party of Obama.  This is the sea where Hillary now swims.  She may find she is floundering in a Far Left Party going extinct in Obama’s America.  Her answer so far to Monica Crowley’s question seems to be that Mrs. Clinton is Barack Obama’s bosom buddy and his third term.  This is to secure the nomination in face of Bernie Sanders challenge and to stay in the good graces of Obama.

If she gets the nomination, it seems likely she will rush back to Bill Clinton as the country is not Far Left or Alinskyite.  But by then the damage may be done as Bill’s moderates no longer exist and Americans appear to have already decided they do not like Hillary whether her suit of clothes is Far Left or moderate.  Here’s hoping that is the scenario.  One Clinton is enough for anyone.  And this country is simply not the one envisioned by Saul Alinsky or his followers, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Eutychus

Sand(ers) in the Engine

In the winter of 2015 the conventional wisdom was that if there was to be a challenger to Hillary Clinton from the Left it would be Senator Elizabeth Warren of MA.  Rush Limbaugh lovingly calls her The Squaw as she falsely claimed First American blood to advance her academic career.  Warren’s running was the preferred scenario among the cognoscenti.  Warren had the “intangibles” and who would not enjoy a fight between two formidable women?

But Bernie Sanders?  He was an angry, elderly white man from the fringes who honeymooned in the old Soviet Union. He was more kooky than conventional and would feed on scraps the media threw his way and small campaign contributions that college students could scrape together.

Geoffrey Norman is a writer from Sanders’ state of Vermont who has taken note of his campaign.  Though a conservative he has also attended Sanders rallies and the Democrat debates–if their little noted forums can be called debates.  To the surprise of all Bernie’s campaign has become real and has gained traction.  He is close in Iowa and leading in New Hampshire.

This is a real irritant to Hillary (sand in the Clinton machine) as evidenced by her attacks on Sanders.  Before Clinton was benevolent toward Bernie Sanders as she treated him with some condescension as a crazy uncle not allowed out of the basement till after dark. Doubtless Hillary is haunted by what happened to her in Iowa in 2008 at the hands of young, black upstart named Barack.  Now it is an old white guy named Bernie.

Basically Sanders campaign decries the gap between billionaires and millionaires who are the “malefactors of great wealth–the one-tenth of one percent” who control as much as the 90 % at the bottom.  His “democratic socialism” will close the gap by making college free for all, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure (remember Obama’s shovel ready jobs that were not shovel ready?), increasing the minimum wage and Social Security benefits, ending global warming and on and on.

Strangely the Sanders campaign reminds many of another improbable run by an angry man named Donald Trump. There is great irony here as Trump is one of the billionaires Sanders has set up as the reason for the great gap between wealth and the lower classes.  It is also one of the reasons many among the Leftist intelligentsia are not happy with Bernie.  They are not only for Hillary, Sanders is too much like Donald Trump for their tastes.

Norman attended a Christmas rally for Bernie in New Hampshire.  Radical professor, Cornel West gave Sanders a fiery introduction: “Brother Bernie manifests that justice is what love looks like when it goes out in public.”   No one seemed to know what that meant but it sounded good and the crowd went wild.

But even with all the enthusiasm, Geoffrey Norman writes that one had the sense that Bernie knew as he addressed his supporters that his was the longest of long shots.  He may win Iowa and New Hampshire and his crowds are large and he is raising vast amounts of money, but it is not to be.

Even if Hillary is indicted by the F.B.I. this would most likely lead to Joe Biden’s entering the race not unlike Bobby Kennedy did in 1968 when Eugene McCarthy drove Lyndon Johnson from the White House by a strong New Hampshire showing.  There is some evidence that Vice-President Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren would then team up. This might deny Mrs. Clinton the nomination but it would not win the nomination for Senator Sanders.

But in a year of unconventional candidates Bernie Sanders heads the list followed by Donald Trump.  None of this bodes well for Hillary Clinton, an aging woman with little to commend her for the Presidency nor for the Washington D.C. Establishment that has let down so many.  No one knows who will win but it makes for good theater and hopefully leads us to a leader worthy of the name.  Perhaps like no time since 1980 or even the Civil War, our times cry out for such a person to take the reins.  Let us pray for a Lincoln or a Reagan.  No need for more sand in the engine–be the name Bernie or Hillary.

Eutychus