3.31.2015

You're In Control...Or Are You?

While we're on the topic of freedom and the political/social left's inability to tolerate it, let's go to that forum I sometimes frequent and its ads.

The last one I talked about was the ad where we are told to select the age to view women.

This one is for Bose audio.  The tag line is: "Control what you hear and what you don't."


Advertisement

I can't speak to the technology of the headphones, but if ever there were a slogan for our times, this would be it.

There are those who want to control what you hear and what you don't - from all political stripes, mind you, not just the left.  The efforts to stamp out Indiana's Religious Freedom law, the hatred aimed at Rush Limbaugh, the pining away for the days when there were only 3 news outlets and pretty much no difference between them in the slant given the news of the day, and the ubiquitous political correctness are all aspects of this.  But so are earlier efforts to silence flag-burners, anti-American protesters, and so on.

Parallel to this is the panoply of options available to us via the Internet these days.  Most of us very quickly settle into an informational ghetto of sorts where we control what we hear and what we don't.  We settle into a routine where we block out anything we don't want to hear, whether it's opinions, topics, individuals, or just things we might find unpleasant.  We control with far more intensity and far greater efficiency what ideas, facts, people, and information comes our way.  The rising claims by many that their emotional fragility and sensitivity means nobody should be allowed to express an opinion or thought that might possibly distress them is an outgrowth of this.

All this control leads us to believe we can create our own reality - a delusion that is relatively harmless when we are children, but one that can be deadly when we get older.  It's one of the reasons I link to and frequently read far-left blogs as well as conservative ones.

Reality is hard, and doesn't give a rat's rear-end about my emotional fragility or sensitive psychological state.  We do better to prepare our children and ourselves to deal with that, but instead we are bent on controlling what we hear and what we don't.

Liberals vs. Freedom Yet Again

The political left is, yet again, showing that they really are not interested in freedom.  Between the speech codes at universities, the efforts to drive Christians out of academia entirely, and the militant homosexual lobby's patent inability to tolerate anyone who might possibly disapprove, the U.S. Constitution's first amendment is a thorn in their side.

The claims being made about Indiana's recent law are patently false.  It is simply a state-level enactment of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  That act requires that the government, if it is going to pass laws or regulations that burden religious freedom, must show that it has a compelling interest in the law or regulation being passed AND that the regulation or law passed is the least burdensome method of attaining the compelling interest.

It does not allow bakers to refuse to bake cakes for gay weddings.  The hyperbolic pantings of delusional leftists notwithstanding, this is not the first step on a return to Jim Crow.  The ravings of misguided idiots who happen to get large turn-outs at concerts and movies are based almost entirely on ignorance of both this law in particular and of the law in general.  It is, in short, a repeat of the rush to judgment, deliberate falsehoods, and mob-stoking lies we saw in the aftermath of Michael Brown's death in Ferguson, Missouri.

President Obama voted for an almost identical law in Illinois when he was in the state senate there.  The federal law was passed on a bipartisan basis with the support of many of those legislators and politicos who now condemn Indiana.

But liberals are afraid when others are free to think for themselves.  To the purveyors of leftist groupthink, whether on campus, the media, the NBA, NCAA, or in the government, protecting freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly is dangerous.  Oh, you may speak - but only approved words and approved thoughts.  And you may be religious, provided your religion supports the government takeover of nearly every aspect of life.  You may assemble, too, but only in support of leftwing causes.  Anything else might burst the illusion, point out the emperor has no clothes, and the entire economic, philosophical, anthropological, theoretical, and psychological model that underlies the political left is simply not true.  The dream they have is a dream so detached from reality that one might just as well insist a hamster is really a unicorn and all the little mice larking about are just fairies.

P.J. O'Rourke once described the difference between liberals and conservatives as the difference between those who believe in Santa Claus and those who believe in God.
    God is an elderly or, at any rate, middle-aged male, a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations.  He holds men strictly accountable for their actions.  He has little apparent concern for the material well-being of the disadvantaged.  He is politically connected, socially powerful and holds the mortgage on literally everything in the world.  God is difficult.  God is unsentimental.  It is very hard to get into God's heavenly country club.
    Santa Claus is another matter.  He's cute.  He's nonthreatening.  He's always cheerful.  And he loves animals.  He may know who's been naughty and who's been nice, but he never does anything about it.  He gives everyone everything they want without thought of a quid pro quo.  He works hard for charities, and he's famously generous to the poor.  Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus. (Parliament of Whores. New York: Vintage Books, 1992. xx)
I have a somewhat different view of God, but there's no denying O'Rourke is on to something.  The problem we're seeing is that the entire progressive project is built on the insistence that Santa Claus does exist.  If it becomes widely known that he doesn't, then all those people whose power and wealth depend on you believing that he does are suddenly powerless and poor.  They must stifle those voices, then, that speak this truth.

3.27.2015

The Splendid Isolation of Self-Fulfillment

There's this annoying ad - a redundancy, I know - that keeps coming up on one of the forums I participate in.  It includes a few pictures of women and then the query comes out over top of them "Select Age to View Women in Sioux Falls."

What an odd imperative.  I don't get to select my own age.  It's a given.  Am I supposed to select what I think is an appropriate age for people to go around looking at women in Sioux Falls as if this is some sort of poll or petition?  Or am I supposed to select an age range of women I might want to look at in Sioux Falls?  Isn't that treating women kind of like cars?  I want to look at women from these model years with fewer than 100,000 miles on them...Presumably I'll be able to narrow the search to find ca- sorry, women with certain types of motivations (engine and transmission), colors (exterior and interior), and options (do women come with CD players and air conditioning?).

I've never actually gone on a dating site - no need.  I've been married for over 30 years and happily, contentedly so.  But if this is the way they approach dating and marriage it strikes me as rather inhuman.  I know some couples who are also contentedly married after having met through such dating sites, so I don't mean to say they're all bad.  Still, it is hard for me to imagine the desperation that would drive me to submit to trying to describe my own person as if it were no different from a car or a house being marketed.

An essay by another CRC pastor on his blog talked recently about the way the prosperity of our market economy has enabled us to take individualism to an extreme.  Everything, even sex, companionship, and religion itself - everything is viewed as merely a means to my own sense of fulfillment.  The reality of community and covenant and mutuality that includes things like sacrifice, forbearance, forgiveness, humility, is all lost in that extreme of individuality where, even if we get all the things we think we want (and in that extreme, other people and our relationships with them are treated as things, too), we find it all meaningless.  It is just a splendid isolation and to have the whole world all alone is not heaven, but a kind of hell.

It's coming up on the week Christians often call "holy week."  Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter.  It is the most important celebration in the Christian year.  What we celebrate is covenant, communion, sacrifice.  As Christians, our model and our God is Jesus who did not seek self-fulfillment, but emptied himself, took on the form of a servant, became obedient.  Our model and our God is one for whom the covenant and the companionship of communion with his people is so important that he was willing to have his son die for us.

Yes, the Father did exalt him and fill him and raise him up.  But Jesus did not fill himself up.  He emptied himself.  And it is only when we empty ourselves, take on the form of a servant, and become obedient that we begin to know what it is like to be truly filled.  We may find that our circumstances are dank and dark, but we will also find that we are never again isolated and alone.  That doesn't mean we'll have the spouse of our dreams with the 3-stall garage, picket fence and 2.3 children.  But it does mean we'll never have to wonder if we're supposed to be in the house, or parked in the garage.

3.24.2015

Obama Shocked to Find Israel Acts to Protect Itself

The Obama administration wants us to be shocked that Israel spied on the nuclear talks with Iran.  Given that the outcome of those talks directly impact the ability of Israel to survive as a nation state, I would think it far more shocking, even to the point of being an indefensible failure to meet their minimal responsibility as a government, had Israel not done so.

Of course Israel spied on those talks.

Want to know something else?  So did the Russians, the Chinese, the Australians, the Saudis, the Turks, the Egyptians, and the Japanese.

Do I have evidence?  No - other than the fact that these are reasonably competent governments to which the outcome of those talks is of more than passing interest.

Want to know a little more?  The general incompetence and downright naïveté with which the Obama administration has conducted its foreign policy from the very beginning - and that includes Mrs. Clinton as well as Mr. Kerry in addition to their boss - has made it incredibly easy for them to do so.

NOTE: Edited - forgot a clause in the first paragraph. -PNR

3.20.2015

Palestinians Rejected 2-State Peace Plan 3 Times

Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel said there would be no two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict while he is prime minister.

This has been touted as some nefarious rejection of peace and embrace of war by the evil right-winger Netanyahu.  It is no such thing.  It is simply an acknowledgement of fact.

The Palestinians were offered a state - in 2000, 2001, and 2008.  They could even have Jerusalem as the capital of that state.  They needed to do only two things: stop attacking Israel and accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

Since both al-Fatah and Hamas are committed heart and soul to the absolute destruction of Israel and the elimination of the Jewish people in Israel, they rejected those offers.

Despite the foolishness of my own denomination's most prominent voices on this question, despite the outright lies of the New York Times, despite the cherished hopes of liberal sycophants around the world, Israel is not the reason there is no peace in the Middle East generally and with the Palestinians in particular.

The Palestinians are.  They and their allies have been the aggressors in every war involving Israel since 1948.  The fact that they have lost every war since 1948, however, has turned the criminals into victims in the eyes of the world.  It isn't fair that they should be so inept, so incompetent, so impotent in comparison to the Israeli Defense Forces.

It may not be fair, but it is eminently just.

In any event, since the Palestinian terrorist organizations that run their pseudo-state now - Hamas and al-Fatah mostly - have no intention of ever accepting the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, there is no possibility for peace, with or without two states.

That's not Netanyahu's fault.  It's just the facts.

3.19.2015

More Reasons Why GOP Should Ignore Media

Typical.

When Republicans filibuster in the senate and block a bill, according to the media, they are intransigent stuffed shirts who just say "no."

When Democrats filibuster in the senate and block a bill, according to the media, Republicans are intransigent stuffed shirts who just say "no."

Democrats are filibustering in the senate again - just like they did the DHS bill.  And just as the GOP was warned they would if the GOP caved on the DHS funding.  This time, Harry Reid has decided that the so-called "Hyde Amendment" blocking taxpayer funding of abortions is just to onerous for a free people to bear.  So he's blocking legislation that includes this bipartisan, non-controversial language.

The bill, by the way, is one that provides assistance to the victims of human trafficking in the U.S.

That's the compassionate Democrat party for you - holding sex slaves hostage to baby killers.

And the GOP should see this and realize they might as well just give up on ever being honestly reported in the press.  They're going to vilify the GOP no matter what Republicans do.

3.13.2015

It Would Be Easier to Take if It Were Not from Eric Holder

Sheriff Clarke of Milwaukee, WI is, I think, quite correct to be suspicious of anything and everything that comes out of the Eric Holder Department of (In)justice.  He has thoroughly politicized that agency, often at the expense of truth.  He has used his position to create division, exacerbate racial tensions, and generally run roughshod over the limits on federal power embodied in our Constitution.  So when Sheriff Clarke says the Holder report on Ferguson is bunk, junk science, and primarily a tool for fueling cop-hatred, I'm inclined to believe him.  The kinds of people inclined to assassinate police officers - as the person who shot two Ferguson cops recently - have been encouraged and supported by the rhetoric and public actions of people like Eric Holder and President Obama.  Neither of them seem the least concerned with the safety and security of the people who put their lives at risk to protect us from barbarism and anarchy.

Jason Lee Steorts over at National Review Online, however, has deigned to read the Ferguson Report with a more open mind.  His summation of that report does leave me wondering if perhaps Sheriff Clarke and I have not also rushed to judgment.  Just because Eric Holder is a despicable man doesn't mean he's always wrong.

Certainly there are plenty of e-mails running around the Ferguson police and court systems.  A few cherry-picked pieces of racist "humor" don't define the entire system.  But what's telling is the report claims there is no evidence anyone - anyone - receiving these emails objected to them, reported them as inappropriate, or in any way suggested they were out of line.  Instead, most seem to have forwarded them on to others.  That's more significant to my mind than the original e-mails themselves.

Some of the incidents described do indeed seem to be motivated by an assumption that a Black man is a criminal just waiting for an opportunity to actualize this inherent quality of his nature.  The officers involved in these incidents were not disciplined or taken to task.  Instead they were approved and the charges made against citizens minding their own business were not dismissed but forwarded.

It is certainly appropriate to tell Black people to comply with the lawful instructions of the police, to not antagonize them or force a confrontation.  But it is also appropriate for Black people to expect that if they are minding their own business, creating no disturbances, harming no one, that the police will leave them alone.  And if they are not left alone, it is easy to see how Black people might begin to resent and resist even reasonable and lawful commands from law-enforcement.  Which, of course, feeds the police assumption that a Black person must be either doing, or about to do, something wrong.

We could argue as to which came first, but the police force is supposed to be a disciplined force, that is, controlled force.  Part of that discipline is waiting until the line is in fact crossed.  When I tell my son that if he does X, he will be punished, he may do "almost-X" as often as he likes and I will not respond.  When he goes across the line and does X, though, the hammer falls.  This is how he learns where the boundaries are and to accept limits, but also learns how to handle responsibly the freedom he has within those limits.  As the disciplinary arm of society, police also must tolerate an awful lot of "almost-X" without responding, but be ready to drop the bar when the line is crossed.  In other words, as the ones in authority and supposedly disciplined, it is the police who must break this escalating cycle.

What is more, the fact that the city almost boasts of the ability to rake in the money through its fines and penalties for petty infractions leads one to believe there is more than a little pressure on the police to be a profit-generating arm of the city's government.  Naturally, the tendency is to impose this heavy-handed taxation on "the Other."  It seems clear the police primarily viewed the Black population of Ferguson as the "Other" most suitable for such imposition.  That would also lead one to place the primary responsibility for the cycle of antagonisms and aggressions that culminated in the death of Michael Brown on the local government, including the police.

I'm inclined to ignore the statistics Steorts reports on the grounds that, while figures don't lie, liars figure, and there is no doubt in my mind that Eric Holder is the sort of liar who figures.  Perhaps Sheriff Clarke is correct when he says the report cherry-picks data to support its pre-conceived thesis and he is certainly correct when he says the report was, in many ways, created to support conclusions reached ahead of time.  But I have a harder time dismissing the DoJ report when I read of clear violations of good practice in city government not only going unpunished, but unchallenged.  Steorts' piece leads me to believe that there is a very real problem in Ferguson's police department and the county courts.  A more objective and trustworthy report would have been preferred, but that would require a more objective and trustworthy Attorney General and Department of Justice, which we are not going to have for some years to come.

And it would have been easier for us if Michael Brown had indeed been a gentle giant instead of the bully, thug, and petty-thief that he was.  If Officer Wilson had indeed been clearly in the wrong instead of - as the DoJ report itself indicates - entirely justified in his action, things would also be so much neater for the community of arm-chair moralists that are the blogosphere.

Life isn't neat or easy, and sometimes pre-judging liars actually speak the truth.  As the people of Ferguson, both governed and governing, police and civilians, try to sort this out, pray for patience, wisdom, forbearance, and forgiveness all around.