6.29.2012

Two Thirds of House Dems Abandon Eric Holder

The House voted to hold Eric Holder in contempt.  This is reasonable - the man is contemptible.  I notice that the vote was 255-67.  Some 108 Democrats did not vote at all.  Another voted "present" (a more respectful way of abstaining than casting no vote at all).  Then there were seventeen Democrats who voted in favor of the contempt motion (and two Republicans who voted against it).

Note that - one hundred and eight Democrats did not want their names recorded as having voted against holding the attorney general in contempt and seventeen did want their names recorded as being in favor of it.  Out of 190 Democrats in the House, 126 abandoned the attorney general.

If you're over at the White House, considering the management of your own political party, and 2/3 of your own party members abandon you, that's not good.

You Think a Little Head-Jiggle Is Supposed to Make Me Happy?

I've seen some columns and posts from conservatives suggesting that, as the majority opinion regarding Obamacare shut down the Commerce Clause argument, it's a net win.  I'm reminded of Westley's line from Princess Bride, "My brains, his steel, and your strength against sixty men, and you think a little head-jiggle is supposed to make me happy?"

Has freedom really died?  Yes.  Or rather, freedom has been restricted to those wealthy enough to pay the taxes for it.  If you don't want health care insurance, you don't have to buy it.  You must then pay a tax on that inaction, so if you're wealthy enough to afford the tax, you can continue to not buy insurance.  And they can compel you to buy their kind of insurance - even if it violates your religious convictions.  The health czarina has alread issued a decree that you must buy insurance that covers contraception and abortifacients even if you have religious convictions against it.  There's an exception clause for churches (houses of worship, not church-run schools, church-run hospitals, etc.) but that is only due to the magnanimity of the czarina.

Suppose the government - owners of GM - decides that owning an electric car is a vital social-justice, national-interest, requirement.  After all, we must reduce our carbon emissions or we're all going to die, drowned by rising sea levels or sickened by the rotting corpses of disappearing polar bears.  You must purchase a Chevy Volt!  Don't want to?  Fine.  Then you must pay a tax equivalent to the annual cost of owning a Chevy Volt until such time as you buy one.  If you're rich enough, you're free to not buy a Volt, or a pink tutu, or fresh vegetables, or...

Notice also how all of this depends on the personalities involved, not the law itself.  Get a different person in at the EPA, and suddenly everything changes.  A different person residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C., and suddenly the law is very different.  Change czarinas over at Health & Human Services, and suddenly you not only don't have to buy insurance that covers abortion, you're not allowed to.  Everything depends not on the Constitution, not on the law, not on any objective, hard-to-change legal framework, but solely on the individuals who occupy these positions.  Law is irrelevant, only the whimsy of those educated into lunacy, who think they can run our lives better than we can ourselves.

Say we elect Romney - and I pray we do - if we elect a Democrat 4 or 8 years later, then it's a whole new ball game all over again.  Now you're not an illegal alien.  Change presidents and suddenly you are - or vice versa.  Change one man on the Supreme Court, and we're free again.  Change another and we're slaves once more.

Ordered liberty, rule of laws rather than men, freedom - all the things bequeathed to us in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence have now been taken away.  So the chain that makes us slaves of the government is a tax, not a commerce regulation.  What is that to those of us enslaved?

6.28.2012

June 28, 2012 - The Day Freedom Died in America

In upholding the individual mandate, deciding that the government can dictate to its citizens what they must buy as well as what they must not buy, the Supreme Court of the United States essentially eliminated freedom in the United States of America.

There is now no limit to federal power.  We are all mere servants of the all-powerful, all-knowing, dictatorial state as of this date.

It has been a nice couple hundred years as a free republic, but now we have the answer to Abraham Lincoln's question at Gettysburg - how long can a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal endure?  It seems 236 years.

I won't live long in this slavery.  I'm already 48.  I won't see another 48 years.  It will be some time before the full effects of this horrible decision and the enslaving legislation it upholds will be felt.  We will not be in chains tomorrow.  There is also an election in November that may allow us to mitigate the effects of it.  So I'll be OK.  My children, by the time they're my age, will start to feel its effects.  If I have any grandchildren, they will never know the liberty I was born to.

For the concept is now enshrined in our law by judicial fiat and congressional act.  You no longer have the freedom to participate in the market as you will, to associate as you will, to speak as you will.  Government may dictate any and all of that - and will.  Power, once conceded to the government, is almost never returned to the people.

It is conceivable that this decision will be overturned - Dred Scott was.  But then, Dred Scott was overturned by a bloody civil war that raged over our soil for nearly 5 years.  I don't know that we have a people willing to stand up to this any more.  We have been cowed by the soft tyranny of liberalism since 1932 and no longer have the will to be free, it seems.  At least, a majority don't seem to have such a will.

The Importance of Unimportance

David French on humility, vocation, duty - I can't improve on it, so I won't.  Go read it.

Schadenfreude Over CNN Ratings

CNN is in trouble.  Their audience during prime time amounted to about 400,000 - and 25% less during non-prime time hours.  FoxNews' audience is around 1.5 million.

It's a blow for all the folks at the big TV news stations that like to sneer at and mock somebody like Rush Limbaugh, who regularly claims about 20 million listeners every week.  TV and radio ratings are figured differently, and I'm not sure that figure refers to 20 million different listeners or if it means 4 million each day.  But even if you look at it in a light most favorable to television, Mr. Limbaugh gets between 3 and 10 times the daily audience of any cable news network.

For going on 25 years, the major media outlets, both print and broadcast, have diligently sought to destroy Rush - they've tried to get his program banned (via the so-called "Fairness Doctrine"), tried intimidating advertisers, lied and misrepresented him, gotten leading politicians to threaten him (Harry Reid, Bill Clinton), disparaged him as a lightweight (he never finished college), and anything else.  They have publicly invited his death, described with delight the prospect of his being tortured or otherwise abused, revelled in his pain (hearing loss, drug addiction, divorce), and mocked his appearance.  They have tried not only to get his show off the air, but destroy his character, his reputation, his very life.

And at the end of all that - well, we're not at the end yet.  They're still trying.  But at the end of 25 years of this concentrated effort, 400,000 watch CNN while 4,000,000 listen to Rush.  Who, really, is the most trusted name in news?

6.27.2012

Composite Obama?

It has come to light that several of the details in Obama's "autobiography" are, to put it nicely, embellished.  It seems his father never was arrested and imprisoned, much less tortured, by the British in Kenya, although it is possible that his father told the tale and President Obama never really bothered to investigate it.  I'm inclined to give him a pass on that one - how many of us in adulthood seriously investigate or fact-check the stories our parents tell us about themselves when we were children?

More serious, though, are the "composite" girlfriends.  It's not because he is combining several different young ladies into a single one for the purpose of story-telling, as well as to protect the identity of the women in question.  It's that these women are key steps in his developing sense of racial dislocation and injustice, and yet the stories connected with them never happened.  The same is also true concerning his young "Black" friend who was really Japanese and not really his friend, just a classmate.  How does one experience some slight or insult and then use the experience to base one's sense of self-identity and - in Obama's case - victimhood if those slights and insults never occurred?

Then there's the fact that his step grandfather in Indonesia wasn't killed fighting the Dutch colonialists, but died when he fell of a chair while hanging curtains.  And his maternal grandfather was not a tanker in Patton's 3rd Army during the drive through France, either.

How much of his story was made up by him and how much by others and simply not questioned by him, is not known and not knowable.  What is known, now, is that the basis for his self-identity as recorded in his own "memoirs" is a fiction, his history is as opaque as ever.  So much of deceit, embellishment, hyperbole, and exaggeration runs through the President's written and oral statements on his past that it is nearly impossible to discern his origins.  Far from wondering if he was born in Hawaii, one starts to wonder if he was really born at all.  Perhaps he is himself just a composite of Axelrod, Ayers, and Alinsky.  Then again, the title of the book is Dreams of My Father, so one should expect it to be a bit, well, dreamy.

Unions & Democrats Keeping the Little Guy in His Place

Republicans are keeping the pressure on unions.  Sen. Rubio introduced legislation in the Senate (which every Democrat voted against) that would make it illegal to prevent employers from giving their employees more money for doing better work.

You read that correctly.  The Democrats in Congress - those people supposedly working hard to take care of the little guy - have acted to make it harder for employers to give their best employees more money.  In union shops, the current National Labor Relations Act forbids merit pay without the express permission of the union.  Unions don't like it when some people get paid more for doing more.  They want employees (union members) to aim for a comfortable mediocrity so that everyone gets paid the same no matter how lousy they are.

Republicans wanted to allow employers to reward their employees when they do superior work or display superior effort - when they've earned it.  Democrats want to keep employees totally dependent on unions and stifle any potential for competitive improvements in the work place.

So why, exactly, does anyone with actual talent and ability want to be part of a union?  Judging by the mass exodus from unions when given the opportunity in Wisconsin and elsewhere, I'd say they don't.

6.26.2012

Banner Editor Gets One Right

If the editor of the CRC's magazine, the Banner, had been following the kinds of guidelines he lays out here in this editorial over the last several years of his stint in that position, much of the irritation, mistrust, and alienation felt by members of the CRC would have been averted.  I fear now, however, that it is too little, too late.

I hope it isn't, and I also hope he adheres to these guidelines.  I won't hold my breath, but I hope so.

It's interesting to note that, had I written such an editorial for the CRC's network, they'd have gone into hyperventilating indignation.  For all my frustration and irritation with the Banner, they have been remarkably open to the myriad views reflected in the comments on those editorials and articles.  That, too, is worth pointing out.  I pray they continue along that path.

Obama Can't Balance Any Budget...

The Democrat Party is struggling for money.  In the same way they've lavishly spent taxpayer funds to little or no purpose, so also they've spent the money of their donors.

Unions, having spent millions in a failed attempt to undo the reforms Scott Walker instituted in Wisconsin - along with losing the millions in union dues no longer being sent in now that people have a choice - are unwilling to spend money on the Democrat Party convention in North Carolina.  Why?  Ostensibly, it's because it's a state with a rather robust right-to-work law and none of the hotels are apparently unionized.  I'm sure that's part of it.  The fact that they're fighting for their survival as political players is in the mix, too.  They just lost a significant Supreme Court decision and even California is looking at moving in the direction of right-to-work.  In any event, several Democrats from the highly unionized coal industry (an industry targeted by Obama) have already announced they won't be going to the convention anyway.  Photos of them with the president would be, shall we say, "inconvenient".

Hollywood donors got their bone in Obama's advocacy of gay "marriage", but that's hurt him in the Black community.  Even the Hollywood types are getting tired of dropping money into the bottomless pit that is Obama's pursuit of cash.  They don't see it being spent wisely and, in any event, they recognize the incongruity of a purportedly "populist" candidate fueled primarily by donations from Wall Street and Hollywood.

Now comes word that President Obama's campaign is spending campaign cash faster than they're raising it.  In May.  This isn't October, as the campaigns make their final push before election day.  This was in May, before there's even an official Republican nominee, though Mitt Romney is obviously the guy.  (Mitt, by the way, spent significantly less than he took in.)  All that money has not moved the general polls the tiniest fraction, which means it has almost all been defensive - spent to make sure the polls don't get worse.

Black people will vote for the Democrat as they have for the last 50+ years in the 90% range.  You could get 90% of Black people to vote for David Duke if you ran him as a Democrat these days, so reflexive is that bloc.  The rest, however, is up for grabs.  Obama is making a strong play for the Hispanic vote, though largely by trampling the Constitution and gutting enforcement of immigration law.  That will not be sufficient.

Obama is in serious trouble.

Administration's Petulant Response to Arizona

It is interesting that a Supreme Court decision which affirmed the central core of Arizona's law aimed at identifying illegal aliens has been portrayed as a defeat for Arizona.  That it is not a defeat is made manifest in the response of the administration.  They have again affirmed that they will simply ignore or not enforce certain provisions of the law.  They will not respond to those referred to them by Arizona as illegally in the U.S.

As a petulant display of presidential lawlessness, it would be difficult to find one better.  For now, however, Arizona and the rest of the country will have to wait until after the November elections to see if we will actually enforce the nation's laws.

Don't hold your breath.

Stupidity? or Dry Run?

Adding to the list of calumnies, indignities, and stupidities perpetrated by the Transportation Safety Administration, we see that a certain Alija Abdul Majed caused the evactuation of an entire terminal (#7) at John F. Kennedy airport, forced several aircraft back to the gate, disrupted thousands of people's travel plans, added untold expense to airlines, and generally screwed up air traffic across the eastern seaboard.  He did this by - according to news reports - failing to notice that the scanner he was monitoring was not plugged in.

The official line is that this was simply incompetence writ large.

I have some questions in regards to that. 

First, if Alijah Abdul Majed is that stupid, has he been fired?  If not, why not?

Second, how many other incompetent nitwits who cannot tell whether or not a machine is actually turned on or plugged in has TSA hired to "make air travel safe"?  What measures are in place to ensure the basic competence of those responsible for the safety of air travel?  Will there be any changes in those measures in response to this?

Third, is Alijah Abdul Majed that stupid?  That is, was this a "dry-run"?  I know nothing bout the man other than his name, but that name says "muslim" in the same way the name MacCleod says "Scots or Irish".  Are we sure he was merely dumb, or is the same tyranny of political correctness that opened the gates for Maj. Hassan to murder soldiers at Ft. Hood operating here, too?

From groping toddlers to abusing 90-year-old, wheel-chair bound grandmothers, from systems that create a tempting target rather than minimize terrorist opportunities, from incompetence to indiscipline at all levels, the TSA is routinely demonstrating why government bureaucracies should be trusted with as little as possible.  It is certainly not keeping anyone safe, no matter how many bottles of shampoo and conditioner they confiscate daily.

6.22.2012

EPA Running Amok

The EPA is running amok.  There was the incident not long ago in Texas where a senior official was shown on camera declaring the EPA would "crucify" legitimate businesses who were doing nothing wrong just to send a message to the rest.  There was another recent incident in which an Idaho couple took their case to the Supreme Court just to affirm the right to sue the EPA.  The EPA in that instance had told them they couldn't build a house on a lot in a housing development because some puddle made it "wetlands" or something like that (I'm working from memory) and the couple wanted to challenge the EPA ruling.

And now we learn that the EPA is requiring fuel refiners to use a fuel that doesn't exist because the EPA hopes it will be produced some time, maybe, perhaps, soon.  Since refiners can't do that, they are required to pay fines to the EPA.  The Fox News article here does not make it clear whether this was simply an EPA regulation imposed (in 2005) or an act of Congress, but either way it is an indication of the absurdity inherent to the regulatory state. 

Too many in government think that a law, a regulation, a legal ruling, or some similar decree from government can simply change reality.  If we establish CAFE (automobile fuel economy standards) at level X, then automobile manufacturers will find a way to profitably make and sell cars that meet it.  So they'll set the standards ridiculously high and ignore the jobs lost (lighter materials are more expensive so fewer cars are sold), the lives lost (lighter cars aren't as safe), or anything else.  We'll issue a decree that feed lots need to contain bovine flatulence, and who cares whether that's possible or not, or if it is, how much more expensive meat will be?  Require the reduction of chemicals in your water to the limits of our ability to detect them, no matter how safe the water was before and regardless of what that means for your water bill - after all, it's not their problem.

The EPA isn't about protecting the environment.  It's about thwarting freedom.  It needs to go.

6.21.2012

European Leaders Propose Economic Folly Once More

It seems, in the midst of a financial melt-down in the Euro-zone, various political leaders are proposing a "financial transaction tax".  This would be a tax on banks and other financial institutions whenever they borrow, lend, purchase securities or derivatives, buy or sell stocks (and certain other classes of assets), and so on.

Taxes function in a similar way to that of resistors in an electronic circuit board.  Tax gasoline, and the flow of gasoline in the market is impeded.  Tax income, and there's less income.  Tax profits, and there will be less profit.

Just as there are good reasons for resistors, there is also a valid use for taxes.  There are negative effects to excessive alcohol consumption, so we tax it not to raise money to but so that less is sold and consumed, preventing some (not all) of that negative effect.  We create "resistance" to a negative circuit.  Government does also need to raise money.  The government mostly needs to spend less, but insofar as there are legitimate functions of government, these require some revenue.

To continue the circuit-board analogy, it makes a significant difference where the resistors are placed in the circuit.  So also, it makes a significant difference where the taxes are placed in a political economy.  Put them in the wrong place, and you wreck the circuit.

For an economy to function and wealth to be created, goods and services have to be able to flow from lower value uses to higher value uses.  We have a ton of steel.  We can make a ton of butter knives, or we can make a ton of construction equipment, or we can make a ton of girders, or we can make a ton of automobile parts, or we can make a ton of some combination of these things.  How do we know what is most valuable to a society?  Price.  If the car-part maker is willing to pay more, it's because he thinks he can sell more - which would only be the case if the general population (the "market") wants more car parts than butter knives and is willing to put more of their money into cars than silverware.  But if the reverse were true - people wanted more knives and forks than engine blocs and starters - then the silverware maker would pay more for the ton of steel because he could sell it (as silverware) for more than the car-parts guy.  This is how markets direct goods and services (including labor, knowledge, and so on) to the most highly valued uses and create wealth in a society.

Money, in addition to being the tool we use to measure relative value, is also itself a commodity that moves from low-value uses to high-value uses.  When I put my money on deposit, the bank pays me interest (not very much right now) and in turn loans that money out to somebody else, also at interest (and also not very much).  Interest is in effect what the borrower pays to use my money, and he's willing to pay that (and I'm willing to accept it) because he values the use to which the money will be put (say, buying a house) greater than I value the use to which I would put the money (like, buying carpet).  This greatly facilitates the process of accumulating capital to make higher-value use of the actual physical commodities, such as steel or land.

Part of the problem that Europe is having is that the commodity that is money is not flowing as freely as it used to, which means nothing else is flowing as freely, either.  This is understandable.  When people don't think they'll get their money back, then keeping it is a higher-value use than lending it is.  The collapse of the home mortgage derivative market, the massive public debts in Europe and America, and so on are causing people to have exactly that worry.  Remember what taxes do.  They impede the flow of the thing taxed.

In other words, the natural resistance of the wires is already impeding the circuit so thoroughly that electricity isn't flowing, and the EU leadership is proposing, as a solution to this, adding resistors to the circuit.  If the problem is that the water isn't flowing, building a dam will not help.

Obama's Record Was Never Sufficient

I've seen a lot of statements like this concerning the upcoming election:


"Because if it’s a referendum [on his record], he loses. This is a de facto concession that Obama’s record, by itself, is not sufficient to warrant another four years." (Jim Geraghty, National Review Online Campaign Spot, 14 June 2012)

Excuse me, but his record was not sufficient to warrant the first four years.  The only people who are surprised by the damage this man has done to our international relations and domestic economy are those who weren't paying serious attention in 2008.  Remember how the governor of a state with a lengthy political track record wasn't qualified to be vice-president?  But this guy who was a community organizer (aka, professional agitator) and spent most of his time in elected office running for another elected office was somehow qualified to be president of the United States?

If Barack Obama had gotten a job as a junior partner in a Chicago law firm, he would have been fired at the first opportunity.  His rhetorical gifts would soon be overshadowed by his intellectual laziness, judges (and juries) as well as opposing attorneys would have latched on to that, and he'd find himself losing case after case.  He'd probably get a job as a public defender where he'd still lose all his case but because his clients were poor criminals nobody would notice or care.  Beyond the flashy exterior making exhorbitant claims, there was never any real substance.  All there was were the tired, adolescent clichés in which simply wishing makes it so.

I hope Obama is soundly trounced in November as I think he needs, for his own sake, a solid dose of humility.  But I would hope that many of those who sang his praises four years ago are also seeing this as a humbling experience.  The hubris and arrogance that lay beneath both the criticism of Bush and the elevation of Obama was not merely that of an individual - President Obama - but of a large swath of the American public who really believed a mere mortal, simply by showing up, could solve all our problems.  Let this be a lesson to the public as well as to the man - no more messianic presidents.  We must be content to be governed by human beings.

6.20.2012

Incompetence Lives On

I see that the incompetent teacher in North Carolina who became agitated and bullying when her fidelity to Obama was challenged has been allowed to keep her job.  Another year of students will be forced to slog through her ignorance it seems, so that she can "be given a chance to improve her teaching skills."

How many children need to be sacrificed so the obviously incompetent can be given such chances?  This is why we need to privatize the schools, create competition, and put parents back in control of their kids' education.

Bad for Obama, Good for the Country

I've said enough for the time being on Christian Reformed Church matters.  I'm sure I'll come back to these things once I have the actual acts of Synod in hand and can read precisely what they did or didn't do.

I see that, after ignoring the law as regards to immigration, President Obama has pulled out the ol' "Executive Privilege" card regarding Fast & Furious.  Fast & Furious was a program of the Justice Department that let Mexican drug cartels purchase assault weapons in the U.S.  This is only partially behind the escalation of drug violence in Mexico, but a big part.  These weapons have been connected with the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent, numerous Mexican nationals, and a few Americans on both sides of the border.  As near as we can tell, the hope was that by letting Mexican drug cartels get these weapons and then ratcheting up the violence, political pressure could be created to ban assault style weapons in the U.S.

Attorney General Eric Holder has been caught lying - excuse me, "making misstatements" to Congress and the investigating committee has voted now to hold Holder in contempt.  The claim of "Executive Privilege" is one that is frequently taken to be the equivalent of pleading the 5th Amendment.  That is, there's no reason for asserting it unless one has something to hide, so even if the court has to say you're not guilty, everyone knows you're guilty.  It's not that, by the way.  It's just frequently taken that way.

Given that Obama roundly criticized his predecessor for claiming "Executive Privilege" and promised the "Most Transparent Administration in History", this all is providing considerable grist for the election mill.  Democrats, as you might expect, are claiming that this is all "politically motivated" as if their own actions are purely disinterested and wholesome.  Of course it's politically motivated! These guys are all politicians!  To them, everything is politics!

But it's not good for Obama, which means it's likely a good thing for the country.  The more we can bring into the open the dismal performance, the machinations of the Obama administration, the less likely they'll get a second term.  The less likely Obama is to get re-elected, the more likely it is that the economy will recover and we'll get our debt back in hand.  Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to have trouble finding anything that will actually stick to Romney.  Expect them to get nastier soon.

Gagged

I have, on occasion, posted parallel comments over on the CRC's Network forums.  This has discombobulated folks over there.  Although ostensibly there to foster honest conversations and debates, they apparently believe there is such a thing as too much honesty.  So, in response to a post over there very similar to the one below, noting that the CRC's Office of Social Justice has endorsed presidential disregard for the law and violation of his oath of office, I have been given a gag order.  To whit, I am no longer allowed to comment on OSJ matters at CRC's Network.

I think the honest word for that is, uh, well, one hates to be too harsh about it, but maybe "cowardice"?  It seems the Office of Social Justice is not accustomed to having to defend what they do and doesn't like being called out on their contradictions, foolishness, and errors.

Speaking of contradictions, by the way, in regards to that OSJ endorsement of breaking laws and violating oaths that went out yesterday, it is ironic that in today's mail I got a news item from OSJ concerning "Evangelical Principles for Immigration Reform".  There are five of them.  Number three is "Respects the rule of law."

Unless you're President Obama issuing an Executive Order that bypasses Congress, ignores the law, and violates the Constitution, I guess.

UPDATE: I've come to learn that the head of OSJ has registerred his disagreement with the gag order.  I am very pleasantly shocked by this, but it needs to be out there.

6.19.2012

CRC Office of Social Justice Endorses Breaking Laws and Violating Oaths

The Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action is at it again.

President Obama, as all presidents have, made the following oath upon assuming that office: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

According to that Constitution, Congress shall have the power to "establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization", which has been taken to mean Congress has the power to regulate immigration.

President Obama has issued a decree that he will simply ignore the law duly passed by Congress, that he will establish a non-uniform rule of naturalization on his own, and that therefore the illegally present children of illegal immigrant parents (and those law-breaking parents) need not fear.

The CRC Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action comments in an "ACTION ALERT!" e-mail that this is "an exciting promise for Christians to celebrate! The executive order, issued on June 15, is not a permanent or long-term solution, but it does provide hope for the estimated 800,000 young students who will be eligible to receive temporary legal status under the arrangement."

In other words, my denomination has officially endorsed law-breaking and oath-breaking.

Great.

CRWRC Outgrows CRC?

Synod also approved changing the name of Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) to World Renew - with the tag line "living justice, loving mercy, serving Christ".  This is because, according to the agency's director, they have "outgrown the name 'Christian Reformed World Relief Committee'."  Where they changed it is indication of what in particular they think they've "outgrown". 

They dropped the last word - committee - which is no big deal.  They are no longer a committee, but a board-run institution with a global reach. 

They also dropped the first two words - Christian Reformed - which is a big deal.  It says they wish to be able to plausibly deny their affiliation with the Christian Reformed Church, or at least ignore it when it suits them.  There are various reasons for this - they don't like having to explain what this tiny denomination is to those who have never heard of it; they want to get more money from non CRC sources (particularly secular and non Christian sources); and they see overt affiliation with a denomination that makes rather specific truth claims to be a burden - an interference with their work.  In this, it is worth noting that "Christ" has been moved from the essential (their name: Christian) and relegated to a third-place slot in the subtitle ("serving Christ", after justice and mercy).  Subtitles are there so they can be easily detached while names can't be avoided so easily.  Why do they want to make "Christ" detachable?  Follow the money.

Finally, they changed the name from "relief" to "renew".  This also is a big deal.  The former is a recognition that in this life there is pain and suffering, poverty and want, and we cannot change it - but we can offer comfort and relief and so we do.  The latter, however, is an allusion to Revelation 21:5

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Rev 21:1-5 NIV) [emphasis added]
Notice that these verses refer to the end of time, when Christ returns and everything is made whole.  That is when all things are made new - renewed.  To be sure, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation and for those who believe there is a way in which the end is as real as the beginning, but this is a mystical reality, not a physical, immanent one. By making the change to "renew", however, they are asserting the ability to, at least in part, immanentize the eschaton - that is, to make heaven a physical reality now.

When I look back over the last couple hundred years of Western Civilization's history, I see that quite a bit of pain and suffering has been caused by those impatient for heaven, who wish to build their social-justice Tower of Babel and reach heaven without waiting for Jesus.  The stated objectives of Communists and National Socialists and Fascists are that we should all have what we need regardless of ability, that we should all be one (though their understanding of unity has at times been wickedly perverse), that... well, that justice and mercy should prevail in society.  They want no more sickness, no more hunger, no more privation, no more war, and they want it now.  In order to achieve it, they have made war, spread hunger, guaranteed privation, and left the sick untended.

The folks pushing this name change are, naturally, blind to this tendency and temptation just as are those who approved of it.  It is certainly not their intention to abandon Christ or to foster injustice and poverty.  But it will, in time, be the result.

6.18.2012

CRC Approves Heresy?

Synod apparently approved the revision to the Form of Subscription - the one that contains the statement that office bearers in the CRC "affirm the witness of Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony as a current Reformed expression of the Christian faith that forms and guides us in our present context."

That is, as I've said before, problematic for me.  I cannot in conscience affirm that document in its entirety.  In some respects, it is decidedly not Reformed and deviates from the Christian faith as expressed in the confessional standards of the church.  Nor can I affirm that it has ever, or that it ever will, form or guide me in this present or any other context.  At least, not in its entirety.

So I will be submitting to Classis (and perhaps to Synod), some specific objections to the doctrines assumed by Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony.  We will see whether they are willing - or able - to revise it or make it less of a burden to me.  But I fear too many people have been captivated by its paeons to contemporary leftist politics phrased in ways that make it seem as if opposition is either nit-picking or just mean.

It could well be that my days as a minister in the CRCNA will not be very many more.  Not sure what I'll do if they kick me out, but I'm sure God will provide.

For a highlight of my objections: 1)I object to the assertion that the image of God constitutes a basis for us to claim anything by right - we deserve death for having marred that image with sin and that is all we can claim by right.; 2)I object to the assumption that human beings have inherent ("natural") rights, much less that groups or organizations do, for the same reason; 3)I object to the pacifist assumptions in declaring that we must call all governments to reduce their arsenals; 4)I object to the assumption that freedom and justice automatically go together; 5)I object to the inclusion of anthropogenic climate change as (a) certain and (b) evil.

These objections center on biblical teachings regarding the purpose of government, the nature of justice, the law of God, the wages of sin, and the competence of the church as an institution.  I know I'm right, but I don't know that the CRC or subsequent synods will recognize it.  They are, I'm afraid, rather worldly right now.

UPDATE: I have been informed that Synod changed the Covenant for Office Bearers in regards to the Contemporary Testimony.  We now simply recognize it as a current Reformed expression.  Unfortunately, we still must claim that it forms and guides us.  It's a step in the right direction, but doesn't go quite far enough.

Back from Vacation

Yes, I'm back from vacation.  Got back today.

Alaska is a beautiful place.  In the summer, it's a very pleasant place.  I don't think I'd want to live there in the winter.  I'm not a fisherman or a hunter, either, so just going through to look is probably about right for me.

I can now say that I have visited all 50 states of the United States of America.  I've also visited all but Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada - and I haven't been to the Northwest Territories.  Not sure that there's anything particularly meritorious in that, but I've done it.

I will also say that TSA is efficiently managing the bureaucracy, but whether it actually keeps anyone safe or not is a different question.  You just follow the procedure.  All that matters is the procedures mandated by the regulations.  Hundreds of people massed together in this snaking line before they get a chance to take off their shoes, belts, and jackets, empty their pockets, place their laptops in a separate bin and their toiletries in a zip-lock bag, and then stand with their feet apart and hands upraised for some silly scanner - that's not security.  That's a target.  If I were of a terrorist bent of mind, I'd get one of my eager suiciders to buy a plane ticket, check in, get his boarding pass, start through the line when it's a huge mass of people (as it was this morning at the Denver airport), get about to the center of it, and KABOOM!!!!  With one of those nail-bomb vests like they use in attempting to murder Israelis, they could take out somewhere between 50 and 150 people outright, about 200-400 wounded, several seriously, chaos, traffic through the airport disrupted for days afterwards...

There was exactly one TSA agent on overwatch and he was rather lacadaisical about it.  He was also unarmed, as the TSA agents all are (not that I'd trust them with weapons - they're generally a slovenly looking, undisciplined, bureaucratic bunch by all appearances).

By going after specific weapon systems rather than weapon users, TSA is creating a lovely target, not a safe travelling environment.

I will also note that it has been several years since I have flown with United Airlines and not had a screw-up of some sort.  Once it was partly my own fault - I didn't make sufficient allowances for the bureaucratic nightmare that is TSA and thus missed a flight.  The airline, however, acted in a way to maximize the inconvenience of the error.  The other half dozen times or so have all involved failures on the part of United - rearranged schedules (once they rebooked a flight so that I arrived after my connecting flight had departed), cancelled flights, lost luggage, and all the rest.

But Alaska is a beautiful place.

Synod 2012 - Mostly Bad

So, Synod 2012 of the Christian Reformed Church was largely a bust.

Sure, they did vote to not give the Belhar the status of a Confessional statement, which was good.  But then Synod went and adopted the statements that:
1) There is a near-consensus in the scientific community that climate change is occurring and very likely is caused by human activity. 2) Human-induced climate change is an ethical, social justice, and religious issue. 3)The CRC is compelled to take private and public action to address climate change, especially since those who are already most impacted by it live in poor countries.
There are a few problems with this.  First, it is absolutely certain that climate change is happening.  It's been happening for millenia - for as long as the world has been.  What is happening now is the presumption on the part of a few - not "the scientific community" but a select few who have decided to use climate change to push a command economic model - that human beings can control climate change.  We cannot.  All the Kyoto Accords that could possibly be adopted won't change the temperature outside enough for you to measure it.  It's all just a big guess - a guess by people who have been consistently wrong for the last 50 years, which is why they call it "climate change" now instead of "global warming" or, when I was a kid, the "coming global ice age".

Second, there is no scientific consensus that human activity is causing climate change.  It simply does not exist.  It is an illusion created by the popular press and carefully cultivated by the alarmists (most of the relevant scientific publications are controlled by alarmists who consider being a climate alarmist a necessary prerequisite for publication).  What is more, even if there were such a consensus, why is it the church's business to pronounce on it?  There was a scientific consensus in Galileo's day, too - it was wrong, but it was the consensus.  The church, however, acting on the assurance of this scientific community's consensus, made bold pronouncements outside her competence, and found itself for a while an enemy of the truth.  The Synod of the CRC is repeating that error.

Third, there is throughout this whole mess an assumption that the present climate, or the climate of 20 years ago, is the absolute ideal climate for all times and eras, but on what basis can we make such an assumption?  The effects of climate, as well as those things that affect it, are multitudinous, diverse, and incredibly complex.  We haven't even begun to discern just what it is we don't know.  But somehow we can declare that any deviation from the present climate, no matter what causes it, is harmful to those who live in poor countries.  We don't know that.  We can't know that - not in the long run, anyway.  We can't know it, because we don't really know what climate change will mean in terms of world economics and markets.

Finally, in all the blather about climate change, there is this notion that if we act against it all that happens is that we have a cleaner place to live.  But at what cost?  And what else could have been done with the resources dedicated to combatting climate change were dedicated to other things?  Say we had not built these wind farms - how many more birds would we now have?  What would have been done with the materials, manpower, intellectual investments, and other resources that have gone into them?  What about using the land for other activities?  It is simply not the case that we can "fight climate change" and not harm anyone or anything.  Everything has a cost.  There are always trade-offs.  Are we absolutely certain that building a wind farm instead of drilling for oil in ANWR or off the Gulf coast is really best for the poor?  From where I sit, I think that proposition is highly doubtful, but what is even more evident to me is that the cost of this response to climate change isn't even being seriously considered.

But that's because seriously taking care of the poor or caring for creation isn't the object.  Feeling better about the poor and the climate is the goal.  That, at any rate, they've achieved.

6.03.2012

Vacation

I'm going to be out of pocket for the next 2 weeks taking a bit of vacation.  As part of that vacation, I will not be paying any particular attention to the news of the day, what happens at the CRC's Synod, or anything other than the scenery and my lovely bride.

If you really need a P&R fix, there's lots of stuff from the early days that you may have missed and even a few that are worth re-reading.  I can also direct you to the blog list to the left which really should include Powerline, but I haven't gotten to it yet.

Enjoy.

6.01.2012

That's Gotta Hurt

The forced collection of union dues is one of the primary sources of Democrat Party cash and it has long been a staple of union contracts, especially in non-right-to-work states (states where union membership may be mandatory for employment).

It's not the collective bargaining, or the requirements to pay into pensions or insurance that really got the American Education Association and other unions upset over Gov. Scott Walker's reforms.  It was the fact that he told state public employees that the state would no longer force collection of union dues.  This is what hit them where it hurts - right in the pocketbook.

As an early intimation of what results from this, we find, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal and The American Thinker, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 24 (Wisconsin state workers) saw its membership go from 22,300 to 7,100.  The state's total membership in the union went from 62,818 to 28,745.  I couldn't find much in a cursory look to see what AFSCME union dues are in Wisconsin, but the teachers paid a little more than $1,000/year into their unions.  Using that as a rough figure for AFSCME dues, it seems the union just lost about $34 million in annual dues.

Can you imagine what's going to happen if something like that goes national?  Now you know why the unions are so determined to get rid of Gov. Walker, and it's got nothing to do with protecting the interests of workers.  Seriously.  If unions are so great, why would somewhere between 55 and 68% of members decide they'd rather spend their money elsewhere once they have that option?  Could it be that these union leaders don't really represent the workers the way they claim to do?  A majority of their members seems to think so.