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Updated: 1 hour 51 min ago

AiG’s abuse of alcohol texts

5 hours 31 min ago

AIG just posted an interesting piece confronting the claims of an evolutionary biology study that humans evolved the ability to metabolize alcohol which helped them survive by eating fermented fallen fruits that would make other primates feel sick. “Yay!” said the researchers, since “the holidays are packed with opportunities to raise a glass of our favorite boozy beverages . . . this holiday season we’ll be partaking in a very ancient tradition indeed.”

An authoress for AIG, Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, deftly seized the moment to upturn the ridiculous evolutionary reasoning, which is great. But then she somehow squeezed in the opportunity to spin an anti-alcohol campaign, too.

Now, this might be understandable coming from certain traditions of Christianity still under the influence of prohibition. And I grant that most of the language used is careful to condemn “abuse,” not mere use. But the way Scripture passages are edited and leveraged, and the arguments used in support, convey a bit of a different message.

And that’s a shame, because not only does Scripture not say what this creationist author claims, the selective quotations could lend one to question the credibility altogether. If only her use of scripture was a focused and accurate as her scientific details.

For example, she turns to the classic drunken Noah story. She writes, “The Bible records that Noah, sometime after the Flood, became drunk and passed out from drinking wine. . .”

But the Bible “records” no such thing. Here’s what that passage actually records:

And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent (Gen 9:21 KJV).

And he drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent (Gen 9:21 NAS).

He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent (Gen 9:21 ESV).

The text does not say that he “passed out from drinking wine.” It does not say that he did anything indecent or sinful because of the wine. These are interpretations that later readers have added to the story, or assumed to be implied.

But Noah was “uncovered” in the privacy of his own tent. Who knows what all this entails. He may have actually just enjoyed his wife. We don’t know anything. It was Ham’s behavior that was sinful—not anything that Noah did. So not only does the text not say what Dr. Mitchell claims, it does not mean what she implies either. In fact, viewed from the actual text of the passage, the culprit was the sober person (Ham), not the one who was “drunken.” Write an article about that, why don’t you?

But what about being “drunken” here? Isn’t that a sin in itself? The commentators are almost universally ruthless on Noah here. But as I explain in What Would Jesus Drink, this interpretation of Genesis 9:21 is hasty and not well compared to other instances of the Hebrew word. The verb for “became drunk” here is shakar. It can possibly mean drunk in the modern sense of excess, but need not. It can and often does merely refer to the simple influence of alcohol which is not sinful, but makes the heart glad. The exact same verb is used, for example, at Joseph’s reunion dinner with his brethren in Egypt: “And they drank and were merry [shakar] with him” (Gen. 43:34).

Does this mean Joseph and his brothers were inebriated, slobbering, slurring, vomiting, and passed out? Does this indicate excess? Not at all.

Calvin, ignoring this sense of the same word in regard to Noah, notices it here:

For the word שׁכר (shakar,) they “were merry,” signifies, either that they were not always accustomed to drink wine, or that there was more than ordinary indulgence at the sumptuous tables spread for them. Here, however, no intemperance is implied, (so that drunkards may not plead the example of the holy fathers as a pretext for their crime,) but an honorable and moderate liberality. I acknowledge, indeed, that the word has a double meaning, and is often taken in an ill sense; as in Genesis 9:21, and in similar places: but in the present instance the design of Moses is clear. Should any one object, that a frugal use of food and drink is simply that which suffices for the nourishing of the body: I answer, although food is properly for the supply of our necessities, yet the legitimate use of it may proceed further. For it is not in vain, that our food has savor as well as vital nutriment; but thus our heavenly Father sweetly delights us with his delicacies. And his benignity is not in vain commended in Psalm 104:15, where he is said to create “wine that maketh glad the heart of man” (quoted in my What Would Jesus Drink, 30–31; my emphasis).

I simply disagree with Calvin that the word has a different sense in Genesis 9:21. And since Calvin (or anyone else for that matter) provides no exegetical reason why it should be taken differently, we ought to be very careful to attribute shame and sin to Noah here—for neither the text nor the word itself do.

In fact, the noun form of that same word, shekar, appears not only in positive senses, but as part of God’s commands and law for His people. In Numbers 28:7, God’s own requirement for His food offering included “strong drink,” that is, shekar. Is the Lord thy God a drunkard?

Likewise, God commanded His people to hold a yearly festival in the fall (Deut. 14:22–26). It was to be funded by their tithe money. In this festival, God commanded His people to enjoy themselves through wine and “strong drink” (shekar) and “whatever your appetite craves” (Deut. 14:26) (see WWJD, 28–29).

Was God commanding, or even allowing, His people to get drunk and pass out? Hardly. Yet the same word is used here for this positive sense of feasting and making merry. We should attribute something closer to the same positive sense with Noah.

Likewise, Dr. Mitchell mishandles Isaiah 5:11–12. She says this passage “adds the warning of spiritual danger, for those who ‘follow intoxicating drink . . . do not regard the work of the Lord, nor consider the operation of His hands.’”

Ellipses can be useful devices, but can be misleading if in the service of an agenda. I am afraid such may be the case here. The full text says this:

Woe to those who rise early in the morning,
that they may run after strong drink,
who tarry late into the evening
as wine inflames them!
They have lyre and harp,
tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts,
but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord,
or see the work of his hands (Isa. 5:11–12).

Dr. Mitchell’s edition makes it sounds like anyone who “follows intoxicating drink”—i.e. anyone who drinks alcohol much at all—will thereby disregard God and His work. But this is not the sense of the text. The text actually only condemns those who drink constantly morning to evening to the point that the alcohol “inflames them” (a metaphor in Hebrew: literally “sets on fire”). These are people who spend all day partying—who have waste their lives. It is by their overall behavior that they have disregarded God—not by the mere act of drinking alcohol. This is a condemnation of both excess and lifestyle, not enjoyment of alcohol.

Besides, the text also notes their inclusion of lots of music in their forgetfulness of God. Why not toss music out, too, then?

Finally, Dr. Mitchell chases her scripture usage with a classic emotional appeal: alcohol causes so many terrible things in society—so many car accidents.

Yes, and so do sober people. In fact, the vast majority of car accidents are caused by people not under the influence. There are so many foibles involved with the reporting of alleged “alcohol related” automobile accidents that it would take a separate article to explain it all. The stats are weighted strongly to scare people. For starters, only a small percentage of automobile accidents are actually 1) caused by 2) drivers who are 3) actually inebriated.

In short, if you have a problem with fatal car accidents, you should have a much bigger problem with people driving cars in general than you do merely with the alcohol issue.

Of course, this is no defense of drunk driving at all, nor of abuse of alcohol in general. It is merely a check upon the emotional arguments used by some Christians to spike weak exegesis. It is a logical check we should use for all of our argumentation—especially when Scripture teaches something a bit contrary to our wishes.

Worst of all, it is a shame when the pagans and humanistic evolutionists have a better understanding of biblical concepts than Christians do. When it comes to feasting and joy, some of them have a better Christian worldview than some Christians.

Categories: Worldview

Why Christian Reconstructionists complain about being misrepresented

Thu, 12/18/2014 - 12:10

In some of the pre-debate banter about my upcoming debate with Hall, some blogger and employee of John MacArthur suggested on Facebook that they should dig up and reprint the old critique of Christian Reconstruction by Tommy Ice and H. Wayne House, Dominion Theology, Blessing or Curse?: An Analysis of Christian Reconstructionism (Multnomah Press, 1988).

After the suggestion, if I remember correctly, there were crickets.

I have talked to Hall a couple times. He seems reasonable. I hope he is beginning to learn better not to rely on those old fallacies. Of course, it doesn’t matter to me. It will be a fun debate either way.

But once I learned that Hall had been counseling with Ice and with Brannon Howse, I had to recall how I’ve already critiqued Howse for relying uncritically on some of the inaccuracies in that old work.

I suspect that some people are fooled into thinking that a book with footnotes must be accurate by virtue of the fact that it looks scholarly. But that does not mean it is. That does not mean it is accurate or sound. Yet, our critics have recently even tried to create a meme by painting us theonomists as whiners who can do nothing but complain about being misrepresented.

That may help them keep some of their more ignorant and credulous followers, but those who care for ethics and veracity may actually look things up. And they’ll find the truth.

For example, rereading the Ice-House work again last night, a radical claim caught my eye. In the chapter on “What Would a Reconstructed America be Like?,” they claim Rushdoony saw the blue fringe and garment tassels of Old Testament law to be an obligatory civil law for us today. They write:

Must men wear Jewish borders and fringes on their garments, in strict obedience to Deuteronomy 22:11–22? Absolutely yes, says Rushdoony, to preserve unity and holiness (Dominion Theology, 74).

Well, I know Rush held to some aspects (such a dietary restrictions) that most other theonomists don’t, but this claim struck me as really odd. So, I did what any self-respecting—not to mention brother-loving—reader ought to do, I actually looked it up and read through it.

Rush’s point on pages 22–23 of Institutes of Biblical Law was that these laws should not be viewed as “coarse rudiments” to be scoffed at as odd, outdated, difficult, harsh, etc.—but his point was not that Christians and societies must obey them today. On the contrary, on the very paragraph after the ones referenced by Ice and House, Rushdoony finishes his thought regarding this particular law by saying,

It is not observed by Christians, because it was, like circumcision, the Sabbath, and other aspects of the Mosaic form of the covenant, superseded by new signs of the covenant as renewed by Christ. The law of the covenant remains; the covenant rites and signs have been changed (p. 23).

So let’s put this in scholarly perspective. The question is, “Must men wear Jewish borders and fringes on their garments, in strict obedience to Deuteronomy 22:11–22?”

Ice and House say that Rushdoony says, “Absolutely, yes.”

Rushdoony himself says, “It is not. . . .”

Here is a perfectly good example of why we “complain” of being misrepresented: because we are. And we “complain” of it often, because we are misrepresented often.

And the nature of the misrepresentations is egregious and clear to all who have eyes to see. When we say, “No,” and our critics say that we say, “Yes,” that is about as egregious as it can get.

For the ignorant and credulous, there is little hope unless their teachers get straight first themselves. Sometimes they do. There is actually a decent amount of accurate comment in that old House and Ice book, despite its innuendo. But there is a significant amount of foible and cherry-picked quotations, too—enough to render the book generally unreliable for anything more than a starting point to go check actual sources.

But for that purpose, why not just start with our stuff to begin with? There’s hardly ever a substitute for going to the source. It’ll make you a much better critic, and likely a convert.

Categories: Worldview

Saving, Saving Christmas (from the insane reviewers)

Tue, 12/16/2014 - 16:34

I can’t for the life of me figure out why otherwise sane Christian friends of mine didn’t care much for Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas. I finally watched it and, I feel free to admit, I liked it quite a bit.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the blockbuster of the century, but it was far better than the blockheads who busted on it have let on.

After all the negative reviews I read of Saving Christmas, I expected Kirk and director Darren Doane to have laid a huge egg—and epic, titanic, eggnog- and tinsel-laced failure. But it is the reviewers who failed—largely because they just don’t get it. The movie is about one thing: celebrating Christ’s kingship and rule over all of creation: every single detail. It is about celebrating not so much just Christmas, but all of life, according to Paul’s teaching: “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). And the emphasis here is on celebration.

Let’s be honest: the vast majority of the negative reviews came from two quarters: angry atheists and a handful of Christians beset by fears of paganism (a tiny few because of the so-called regulative principle of worship—but these are negligible imo).

I understand a bit how a large segment of the viewing populace of evangelicals, however, could have been upset and confused by the film, too. I suspect many could have been drawn in by the timely title “Saving Christmas” and thought this was about bashing those godless liberals who have destroyed the sacred season with the blasphemous phrase “Happy Holidays.”

Such people would rightly have been disappointed that there were no appearances by the Hannity-O’Reilly industrial complex, and would rightly have smarted from the conscious realization that much of the theological lessons taught actually convicted their denuded conceptions of “Bible,” “God,” “Jesus,” and “Church.” But I admit, such assumptions about conscious realizations do, indeed, assume such people are conscious.

Beyond the category of mere sheeple, there are those pious fundamentalists—the number of whom once included me—who crusade against pagan holidays being “adopted” into Christian life. I have to admit, I was once—influenced by the marginal teachings of Garner Ted Armstrong on Halloween—among this fold, and I understand its bleat.

But it is wrong, for reasons I have begun to explain here. At the very least, those who complain of the “adoption” of pagan practices might ought to stop and think how God has first “adopted” pagans themselves (John 1:12–13; Eph. 1:5; 2 Cor. 6:8; Gal. 4:7; for starters)—that is, these people themselves. If God can indeed adopt pagans and make them holy and sanctified, surely He can “adopt” and sanctify their eating, drinking, singing, dancing, giving, and whatever we do for His glory. At the very least, I don’t think He feels threatened by it.

Atheist and liberal attacks aside (and assumed, btw), the finer point of this movie is that it is Christians more often than not who denude good hearty Christian celebration through their Pharisaism and groundless naysaying. For such holier-than-thous Kirk has great advice: “Sometimes you have to be humbled, like a little child, to get the right perspective on Christmas.”

It is indeed difficult to out-Christian your neighbor over pine-needles when the true measure is actually peace and humility.

For those who decry “pagan” traditions, the movie’s point is that all the pagan traditions are petty and pointless—but so are all “Christian” traditions, if we do not recognize the true greatness of the sovereignty of Christ over all. Kirk breaks through the pseudo-spirituality: “We need to make traditions of our own. We need to infuse old symbols with new meaning. We need to rearrange our lives and our homes so that every single thing points to Jesus.”

And what is this, except to say we should obey God in every area of life—even when we rejoice and make merry?

And it’s a great move for family relations, as well. How often do you see real manliness, in which a jerk of a husband humbly repents and actually apologizes to his wife? Not many. But this one has it.

And it should. For, as Kirk points out, “Christmas is ultimately, after all, about making all things right.” That’s right. Despite some regulative-type Christians desperately decrying what Christmas should not  be, and liberals off in who-knows-where la-la-land, Christmas is actually about a God who becomes man, in the flesh, in the real world—not just in the human condition, but in the most humble and dejected of it—is killed by it, and yet rises again to redeem it—that is, to make set things right.

If this creation is so good that it is worth such a God becoming part of and dying for, then it ought to be at least as good as to partake in and celebrate in His honor and glory.

Some critics found the beginning of the movie slow. I’ll second that to a degree—but the rest will make up for it. Some found too much dancing and boisterous celebration at the end. Humbug. Kirk is exactly right when he says we should have as big a celebration as we can comfortably afford. Go for it! God would have us rejoice with trumpets if we have them.

One Christian critic had some very harsh words for the movie—on style-points at least—but I found these points to be majoring on minors. Despite that, however, the same critic noted the following in fairly powerful praise:

The explanation of the history of St. Nicholas was helpful and fairly well done.  The explanation of the nativity scene was spot on.  Cameron’s explanation of the Christmas tree required a bit more artistic license to pull off but has an interesting point if you follow it through to the end of the movie.   As I said, I think the message is good and my entire family was encouraged by it. . . .

This movie acts on these convictions when it states that (despite pagan claims to the contrary) Jesus actually exercises His Lordship over the Christmas observance.  Producing such a movie and getting it into theaters is totally consistent with such a theology.  Secularists hate that message because they hate Jesus.  Christians hate that message because they like their pessimism, thank you very much.

So we know leftists will hate it, and we can be sure that some hard-core indy-fundy baptistic types will despite it, too. And many average evangelicals with their evangeli-glazed eyes will not get the point.

But for those who want to get a glimpse of the sovereignty of God, and the communicative power of biblical theology, will find Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas actually inspiring and uplifting—far beyond what both the Christian and secularist critics want you to believe, and reasonably so.

I remember an anecdote told after the Wilson-Hitchens debates and the subsequent movie Collision. Christopher Hitchens had been invited to dinner at Wilson’s house, and to tour the Wilsonite community in Moscow, ID. Far from the scorn his followers hoped, Hitchens actually complimented those true believers in Moscow: their women were the most beautiful he’d ever seen, and their families and people among the most genuinely happy.

Well, that’s the same people and the same community that made, and is in, Saving Christmas. It is literally the same people in this movie. And they are, literally, just as happy. They genuinely enjoy life. And it definitely comes through in their unabandoned, triumphant celebration of Jesus during Christmas.

It is enough to make one jealous—which probably stands behind some of the criticism, both secular and fundy alike. And both can—well, who cares? I’m with Kirk on this one.

As for the critics, they were once worthily characterized Hemmingway’s Old Man and the Sea as sharks whose only contributions to society are discarded, half-eaten, unrecognizable carcasses. The explanations of what happened, or why, gets lost in translation, and the ignorant tourists who would otherwise be impressed with a trophy remain unenlightened, clueless, because of the critics.

My recommendation: Saving Christmas is still playing in 180 theaters or so. Look one up in your area, and go see it. Or wait for DVD. But see it, nonetheless. The theological lessons alone are worth it.

Categories: Worldview

Christmas Sale – 45% to 65% OFF Everything @ American Vision

Sat, 12/13/2014 - 22:28

I know you’re sad you missed our amazing cyber-Monday sale. But we’ve got another great one that’ll bring you some holiday cheer!

Thru Sunday: take 45% OFF your entire online purchase from American Vision. PLUS, email subscribers will receive a coupon code for an additional 20% OFF.

Looking for last-minute gifts? Just look at the scores of resources we’ve got! Books, eBooks, audio, video — you name it — including streaming audio/video and audio/video download.

We’ve got theology, eschatology, government, biblical law, apologetics, history, Christian Reconstruction, Bible commentary, ethics, war and more!

Along with our classics, God and Government and Last Days Madness by Gary DeMar, and Restoring America One County at a Time by Joel McDurmon, you’ll find scores of resources for study, Sunday school, home schooling, debates, and much more.

Many of these are already at low, low prices. Take 65% OFF and you’ve got more than sale—you’ve got a Holiday steal!

Spend a few minutes today browsing our store. Look at all you’ve been missing. Grab that resource you’ve been wanting, find others you didn’t know about, and grab extra copies for friends and family. Load up while you can.

Need a special gift for that Christian friend or family member? Find a unique and perfect fit here, and only here, at American Vision.

But don’t browse too long. This Holiday Sale ends at midnight Sunday, December 14.

Categories: Worldview

Theonomy Debate: McDurmon vs. Hall

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 20:44

I am pleased to announced that I have reached formal agreement for a debate on the subject of theonomy with Jordan Hall of PulpitandPen.org and Reformation Montana. The debate is scheduled to be the highlight of a joint two-day conference with Apologia Radio and American Vision to be held Thursday and Friday, February 19–20, 2015, at Arizona Community Church in Tempe, AZ. The debate will occur on Friday, Feb. 20., at 6:30 p.m. MT.

The resolution is: “Mosaic civil laws are obligatory for civil governments today.” I will affirm. Hall will deny.

Jordan Hall is a Calvinistic Baptist and Historic Premillennialist, pastor of Fellowship Church in Sidney, MT, and regular podcaster and blogger. You may recall that I responded recently to his podcasts criticizing theonomy and gave notice of a potential debate to come. What was initially planned as a radio debate has now been promoted to a live, in-person event. I have spoken with Hall in person and believe he is sincere and devout, of essential integrity and manliness. I expect a godly and stout exchange in Tempe come February.

Further conference details will be posted as soon as they are available.

[An earlier version of this post stated that Hall is a Dispensationalist. This has been corrected.]

Categories: Worldview

Prophecy Writers Making Predictions Again

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 11:34

I was doing my typical daily research when I came across the article “The Jews in End Time Bible Prophecy” written by David R. Reagan of Lion and Lamb Ministries. In it he claims the following:

“We are living in exciting times when we can witness Bible prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes. Many of these prophecies relate to the Jewish people and their nation.”

As I and others have written over the years, the New Testament does not say one word about the reestablishment of the Jewish people in their land as being a prophetic indicator of end-time events.

Prior to 1948 and after, prophecy writers have claimed that the reestablishment of modern-day Israel would have prophetic significance. In fact, predictions were made about when the “rapture of the church,” prior to the seven-year post-rapture tribulation period, would take place. Hal Lindsey, Chuck Smith, and others argued that it would take place within 40 years of 1948. Sixty six years have passed and nothing has changed except for the way prophecy writers are trying to explain why they were wrong about the significance of 1948.

The year was changed from 1948 to 1967, and a generation was stretched from 40 to 60 to 70 to 80 to now 100 years. In 1977, Lindsey said in an interview with W. Ward Gasque that he didn’t “know how long a Biblical generation is. Perhaps somewhere between sixty and eighty years.”(1)

It’s obvious that there is no set number for the length of a generation. In biblical terms, however, if length of a generation is measured, then we would have to look at Matthew 1:17: “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.”

The average length in terms of the number of years of a generation, we find that “from Abraham to David (Matt. 1:17) was approximately 64 years, while the average generation for the other two groups was 38 years. The time span covered by each generation is not the emphasis, but rather the fact of the passing of the number of successive generations.” It’s most likely that when Jesus told His disciples that “this generation” will not pass away until all the stated non-specific signs (e.g., earthquakes, wars, famines since these are present in every generation) and prophetic signs (e.g., abomination of desolation, fleeing to the mountains, signs in sun, moon, and stars, coming on the clouds of heaven) took place He had in mind the generation that was in the wilderness – 40 years (Num. 14:33-34; 32:13; Ps. 95:10; Acts 7:36; 13:18; Heb. 3:10, 17).

But no matter what the duration of the generation that Jesus references in Matthew 24:34, He was addressing the generation that was alive in His day. The use of “this generation will not pass away” makes it clear that Jesus had His contemporary’s generation in view. Any other interpretation is forced.

Consider these comments on Matthew 24:34 from Henry M. Morris, a dispensationalist and founding father of the modern-day six-day creationist movement. They are taken from his creationist themed Defender’s Study Bible which was first published in 1995:

“The word ‘this’ is the demonstrative adjective and could better be translated ‘that generation.’ That is, the generation which sees all these signs (probably starting with World War I) shall not have completely passed away until all these things have taken place” (1045).

Morris describes the use of “this” as a “demonstrative adjective,” but it is better designated as a “near” demonstrative adjective identifying what generation will see what Jesus describes in the Olivet Discourse. Prior to his comments in his Defender’s Study Bible, Morris wrote the following extended comments on Matthew 24:34 in his Creation and the Second Coming:

“In this striking prophecy, the words ‘this generation’ has the emphasis of ‘that generation.’ That is, that generation — the one that sees the specific signs of His coming — will not completely pass away until He has returned to reign as King.(2) Now if the first sign was, as we have surmised, the first World War, then followed by all His other signs, His coming must indeed by very near — even at the doors!(3) There are only a few people still living from that  generation. I myself was born just a month before the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. Those who were old enough really to know about that first World War — ‘the beginning of sorrows’—would be at least in their eighties now. Thus, we cannot be dogmatic, we could very well now be living in the very last days before the return of the Lord.”(4)

As of late 2014, any survivors from the World War I era would be more than 100 years old if they were infants when the war started (1914-1917). Morris died in 2006. The last surviving veteran of World War I died in 2012 at the age of 110.

Matthew 24:33 tells us what audience Jesus said would see “these things,” and it wasn’t the World War I generation: “so, YOU too, when YOU see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door” (see James 5:7-9). It is obvious, and without any need for debate, that the first “you” refers to those who asked the questions that led to Jesus’ extended remarks (Matt. 24:2–4). Jesus identifies those who would “see all these things” by once again using “you.” If Jesus had a future generation in mind, He could have eliminated all confusion by stating, “when THEY see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, THAT generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

At the same time I saw this particular article, I came across a new book by Ron Rhodes who writes a great deal on the subject of Bible prophecy. His latest book is The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy: Understanding the Ongoing Controversies. I found this comment in a review of The 8 Great Debates:

“Some issues, orthodox preterism specifically, are treated to no more than one page, dismissed with the prefatory ‘evangelicals in general believe,’ as if that were representative of past or contemporary preterist enthusiasts. RC Sproul is mentioned, as is Gary DeMar. But none of their particular arguments are presented. Only their names are listed as advocates of a position that is untenable for no apparent reason other than the rejection of their interpretation of one word by ‘general evangelicals.’”

Rhodes’ book covers a lot of material, so he can’t expect to cover everything, but at least a book like this should present the best argument for a position, offer some supporting material from those who advocate for the position, and then list the major works of those who hold the position so readers can do their own independent research.

I have to agree with the above reviewer that Rhodes’ section on preterism, the belief that the Olivet Discourse prophecy (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) has already been fulfilled (preterist = past) is poorly presented. In addition, his section on postmillennialism is also lacking (132-134). While he mentions a few postmillennialists, all of whom are dead, he doesn’t mention the most prolific and cogent postmillennial author writing today, Kenneth L. Gentry (233). Gentry has written He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology, the definitive work on postmillennialism, now its third edition and in print for more than 20 years. He has also written the definitive work on the dating of the book of Revelation: Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation. He has contributed to The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? (with Thomas Ice), Four Views on the Book of Revelation, and Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond: How is it possible that Rhodes would not mention him and his body of work?

A book on “great debates” should present the material of those who are actually engaged in the great debate. Gentry is the leading advocate for postmillennialism, and he and his body of work on the subject don’t even get mentioned under the postmillennialism section.

Now back to David Reagan who lists a number of examples in an attempt to make the case that Bible prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes. In all of the examples he cites, there is no indication that there are alternate interpretations. These types of prophecy writers simply dismiss competing positions out of feat that their readers might take a look at them and be persuaded.

Here’s is first claim:

  1. The Jewish people will be regathered in unbelief from the four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:11-12). Fulfillment: 20th Century and continuing.

No Jew reading Isaiah 11 would ever have considered such an interpretation given that the chapter mentions Assyria, Shinar, the Philistines, Edom, Moab, “and the sons of Ammon” (vv. 11, 14). These people groups existed at the time when the prophecy was given, and the fulfillment was expected when those people groups still existed. New Testament scholar William Hendriksen writes:

“[T]hose who believe that now, in the twentieth century A.D., these Philistines, Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites must still be destroyed or plundered or subjected will have a hard time even finding them!”(5)

This prophecy was fulfilled when the people of Israel returned to their land, rebuilt the temple, and reestablished the priesthood and the sacrificial system after their 70-year captivity (Dan. 9:1-2; 2 Chron. 36:21; Ezra 1:1; Jer. 25:11-12; 29:10; Zech. 7:5). Note what Isaiah 11:1 states: “Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people. . .”

If this was to be the “second time,” then when was the first time? Isaiah tells us in the same chapter:

And there will be a highway from Assyria
For the remnant of His people who will be left,
Just as there was for Israel
In the day that they came up out of the land of Egypt (11:16).

If the second gathering of the remnant back to the land comes by way of Assyria, and Assyria does not exist today, the first return was when Israel “came up out of the land of Egypt.” Reagan misses the Egyptian exodus as the first time Israel was recovered and brought into the Promised Land. Hendriksen states:

 “The fact that Isa. 11:11 refers to a second recovery has nothing whatever to do with recent events, for according to the context the first recovery or exodus was the one under Moses. It was the return from the house of bondage (11:16). Hence, the second recovery was fulfilled when in stage, the Jews returned from the Assyrian-Babylonian captivity, and were established in their own land. All this took place long, long ago. There is, accordingly, no justification for interpreting these prophecies as if they refereed to events happening in the twentieth century.”(6)

Nothing is said about returning “in unbelief.” Reagan throws in this claim in order to maintain the fiction that Israel becoming a nation again in 1948 is the fulfillment of this particular prophecy.

We know that Israel returned in belief from their post-Babylonian and earlier Assyrian captivity in the events recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah. “The sons of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man in Jerusalem” (Ezra 3:1). The Jews considered themselves to be an “escaped remnant” by god’s grace.

“But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage. For we are slaves; yet in our bondage our God has not forsaken us, but has extended lovingkindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us reviving to raise up the house of our God, to restore its ruins and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem” (Ezra 9:8-9).

This is a description of a believing remnant returning according to God’s promise a second time. The admit their “great guilt” (9:13-15): “behold, we are before You in our guilt, for no one can stand before You because of this.”

“Now while Ezra was praying and making confession, weeping and prostrating himself before the house of God, a very large assembly, men, women and children, gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept bitterly. Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, said to Ezra, ‘We have been unfaithful to our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. So now let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. Arise! For this matter is your responsibility, but we will be with you; be courageous and act.’ Then Ezra rose and made the leading priests, the Levites and all Israel, take oath that they would do according to this proposal; so they took the oath” (10:1-5).

God would not have regathered Israel if they had not first been faithful:

“Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell’” (Neh. 1:8-9).

The people were so moved because of God’s loving kindness to them that they “were weeping when they heard the words of the law” (8:9-10). No such thing happened in 1948. Israel did not return believing. In fact, the Jews return with no regard for Jesus Christ.

The “four corners of the earth” or “land” is no difficulty since the Israelites that were taken into captivity were often sold to other neighboring nations (Ezek. 27:13; Joel 3:7; Amos 1:6, 9). Four corners means the same thing as it does today – the four points of the compass.

David Reagan and other modern-day prophecy writers who believe that Israel becoming a nation again, returning to their land in unbelief, is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy do not rightly interpret Scripture. If such a singular prophetic witness is so significant, we have to wonder why Jesus and the New Testament biblical writers never mentioned it.

If the land was so important to Jews after the “It is finished” (John 19:30) work of Jesus on the cross and His subsequent resurrection, ascension, and enthronement, then why did “all who were owners of land or houses” sell them? (Acts 4:34). The world was now open to the gospel. Jews and Gentiles were now one new person in Christ:

“Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands — remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:11-22).

Being in Christ means that Gentiles are included in the “Commonwealth of Israel.” If this includes the land promises, then believing Gentiles would have to have the same access to it. But is not what dispensationalists teach.

Reagan and his fellow dispensationalists want to rebuild the wall and divide Jews and Gentiles and make Gentiles strangers once again. This is a false gospel.

 Endnotes:

  1. W. Ward Gasque, “Future Fact? Future Fiction?,” Christianity Today, 21 (April 15, 1977), 40.
  2. There is nothing in Matthew 24 that says Jesus is going to return to earth to reign as king. Even Revelation 20 doesn’t say that Jesus is going to reign on the earth.
  3. Why does “near” mean “even at the doors” for Morris in the twentieth century, but it did not mean “near” in the first century? See James 5:7-9.
  4. Henry Morris, Creation and the Second Coming (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1991), 183.
  5. William Hendriksen, Israel and the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1968), 21.
  6. Hendriksen, Israel and the Bible, 21.
Categories: Worldview

The white cops who didn’t get away with it

Thu, 12/11/2014 - 11:42

Buried deep beneath the national outrage over Ferguson and Staten Island was a story about just the opposite: a white cop who shot an unarmed black man allegedly resisting arrest was just indicted for murder. In this case, it appears that the prosecutor actually did his job.

After waiting a couple years for the Feds to clear a civil rights investigation—ending in no charges—a grand jury in Orangeburg County, SC, was finally able to begin hearings in 2013. By August of that year they had found cause to charge the officer with misconduct in office, which could bring a ten year sentence. In seeking an additional charge for murder, the grand jury had to wait until a judge ruled whether or not the officer could leverage the state’s “stand your ground laws.”

That defense was denied late last month, and murder charges were filed last Wednesday against Michael J. Combs, the former police chief of tiny Eutawville, SC.

Combs is charged with the murder of Bernard Bailey, an unarmed black man resisting arrest. According to accounts (here and here), Bailey had visited the town hall to fight a traffic ticket issued to his daughter. When leaving the facility, Bailey was confronted by Combs over an outstanding warrant for arrest (another account claims it was an obstruction of justice charge).

Bailey, however, continued to leave, entered his vehicle, and started it. With the vehicle door still open, officer Combs reached in and tried to shut off the vehicle. When unsuccessful, he tried to grab the gear shift. Unsuccessful again, the truck (according to his own testimony) was put in reverse and began moving backward. This pinned Combs in at the door hinge with his arm locked behind the steering wheel. His hand cuffs fell and he pulled his gun. He says he feared for his life, and thus ripped off two .40 rounds point-blank into Bailey’s chest and abdomen.

Then his testimony gets really odd. He says he fell down. He says that after those first two shots, Bailey then rose up and came towards him. At this point, Combs says he fired a third shot. Coroner’s report shows that this one travelled through Bailey’s shoulder, into his jaw, and finally lodged inside the upper right side of his cranium. Combs also testifies that he had no idea how the truck finally came to a stop, and yet also testified that he himself had to put the truck in park after incapacitating Bailey.

But this means the truck must have continued in reverse until stopped. Thus, Bailey either had to have exited the vehicle and stepped around the open door to go after Combs before that third shot, or that Combs fell on the open side of the door and Bailey merely leaned out after him. Yet this still leaves the mystery of the moving vehicle. How could a man with two bullets in his torso have the presence of mind to step on the brake? If he did, how could a man with his foot on the brake be a threat “coming back at” Combs? If he didn’t, then how did the truck not continue past where Combs claimed he fell?

Prosecutor David Pascoe hinted at this inconsistency somewhat for the grand jury. In a publicized portion of the hearing, Pascoe sat on the floor, mimicking Combs’ alleged position on the ground while aiming up at a another attorney as a prop, and challenged (mildly) Combs’s testimony:

You’re telling the court, that he’s coming toward you, after you shot him two times at point-blank range with a .40-caliber pistol in the chest? . . .

Are you sure that the third shot didn’t happen after you’ve already stuck bullets in his chest, .40-caliber, which would knock him back that way [angling his prop sideways, back towards a mock-passenger side], and that third shot didn’t go through his shoulder, through his jaw, and into the back of his head? . . . That’s not how it happened?

I think this was very mild examination considering the inconsistencies already noted in Combs’s testimony. Nevertheless, whatever else may have been included in the hearings, the prosecutor did enough to secure an indictment for murder.

The prosecutor thus gave the police something closer to what everyone else gets in a grand jury process. As of late, there has been an outcry over kid-gloves treatment by prosecutors given to police officers involved in questionable deaths of suspects. Further furor has erupted in the many attempts to exploit racial differences in recent cases such as Michael Brown and Eric Garner. “White cop kills black guy and gets away with it.”

Well, here’s a case where that’s not true. Whether the racial element had anything to do with it or not, here’s a clear case where the justice system has, so far, pushed through. Here’s a case where white cop kills black man and gets indicted for murder.

And this is not the first. Combs is the third white police officer in the past year to have been indicted in similar instances:

In August, a North Augusta officer was charged with misconduct in office in the shooting death of a 68-year-old unarmed black man at his home after a chase. A state trooper was charged with assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature in September when he shot a driver he had pulled over as the man reached in his car to get his wallet. That shooting was captured on the trooper’s dashboard camera and shown around the world. Both officers are awaiting trials.

Here’s a case where the real issue at hand can come to the fore: not race, but excessive use of force, and the immunities and benefit of the doubt for police that so often come with it.

The judge who ruled out a “stand your ground” defense agrees with this assessment. He previously commented:

In a situation such as this, where the arrestee poses no threat to the public, there are other means of executing an arrest warrant if initial service is unsuccessful. . . .

There was no need for Mr. Combs to act as he did on May 2, 2011, when Mr. Bailey refused service, as Mr. Combs expected would happen. Mr. Combs should have allowed Mr. Bailey to leave and enlisted the assistance of other officers or serve the warrant at court as he originally planned.

Of course, all that has occurred so far is an indictment. It is only the initial phase of a trial. But now, unlike Ferguson or Staten Island, we will actually get to sift through the evidence, weigh and strongly challenge both sides of the facts against the law. A man may actually be held accountable for something.

And I will also add that Combs is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. But now we at least have a chance to find out.

If anything, this ought to quell the outrage and total despair over the system just a bit. God has not left us totally destitute in our sins, yet.

Categories: Worldview

Cromnibus bill contains stealth bank bailout provisions

Wed, 12/10/2014 - 10:45

It’s bad enough that Congress is about to pass a $1 Trillion-plus spending bill while simultaneously praising themselves for “thoughtful” decisions, “wise” investing, and “savings.” But under the guise of a concern “to protect farmers,” Committee members have included provisions that will provide essential bailout money for banks engaged in risky derivatives investing (you know, the thing that got us into the great financial mess in ’08).

If Hollywood were to write a script for the two-faced, double-speaking, corrupt, careless politician-lobbyist complex, they couldn’t do it better than this. But hey, after all, this is not Hollywood acting; this is real-life acting.

And it turns out that the provisions were written by bank lobbyists themselves, then handed to their puppeticians in Washington who inserted them into this bill nearly verbatim.

Legislators attempted to do this early last year, but were stymied in the Senate:

Last year, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) introduced the same provision under debate in the current budget talks. The legislative text was written by a Citigroup lobbyist, according to The New York Times. The bill passed the House by a vote of 292 to 122 in October 2013, 122 Democrats opposed, and 70 in favor. All but three House Republicans supported the bill. . . .

With Democrats voting nearly 2-to-1 against the bill in the House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) never brought the bill up for a vote in the Senate.

Just like with the 2008 bailout, however, if at first the banker-politician complex doesn’t succeed, try, try again! But this time they grew savvier. Not much was in their favor back during that bland October of 2013. There was no real impetus; no . . . crisis to leverage (and you know how bankers love their leverage).

Now, however, we have a minor crisis to exploit: the ever-dire threat of a government shutdown; the looming need to pass a spending bill virtually no matter what, and “Right Now!”TM—U.S. CONGRESS. A more recent NYT article gets behind the curtain:

With the clock ticking on a budget bill — lawmakers have vowed not to shut down the government, but need to act by Thursday night — banks are seeking to tuck their proposals into the giant federal spending package. . . .

It also epitomizes a textbook Washington play: use a must-pass bill, on the eve of the holidays, as a vehicle for changing unrelated policies. . . .

The White House has previously threatened to veto this bill and others that take aim at the core of Dodd-Frank. But with a government shutdown on the line, the White House may not be as willing to fight the measure.

This is supposedly, remember, a measure “to protect farmers and other commodity producers.” That may be a side-effect of it. What it mainly does, however, is give investment houses access to FDIC insurances to cover riskier investments formerly removed from that coverage on purpose—because of their higher risk. With government insurance—a virtual bailout guarantee—the credit rating for such swaps goes up and interest rates goes down, increasing the prevalence of such deals. Will this help farmers? Probably in some circumstances—as a side-effect in commodities markets. But the largest payoff will be for certain investing houses, and the associated risks will be assumed by taxpayers—just like the good ol’ days before 2008.

We should all be proud of our Congressional leaders for their creativity and leadership. It takes profound insight to see through all the silly trillions on the surface and the back-room lobbyist deals, and instead to see the heart of a valiant effort “to improve accountability and transparency . . . and to put the brakes on harmful overregulation by federal agencies.” It takes a tremendous gift to communicate how letting Wall Street lobbyists write their own checks out of the public treasury lends itself (no pun intended) to “wisely invest the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”

You’ve got to hand it to these guys: they’re really sticking it to the White House. Or somebody.

Categories: Worldview

Russell Moore on Eric Garner is misguided and shameful

Tue, 12/09/2014 - 10:45

What happened to Eric Garner was undeserved, unnecessary, and tragic. But the reaction coming from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore only distracts from the real problem and panders to political correctness.

In an attempt to use this event to lead a prophetic discussion on race relations on behalf of white Christians, Moore diverts the discussion from the real injustice in this case. The attempt is as shameful as it is wrong.

There is no doubt that a tremendous injustice occurred with Garner, and that someone should be held accountable for it. But the immediate agenda to make this primarily about race relations is an even greater injustice. While race relations no doubt need great emendation still in this country, in this case the subject distracts from the real roots of the real problem.

I watched with pain and sympathy at the arrest and slow dying of Eric Garner. But I did not watch with disbelief. I have no illusions about current law regarding taxation, resisting arrest, use of force to effect arrest, legal justification for these actions, burdens of proof for criminal intent, and, among other things, the double standard used on behalf of police before grand juries.

In short, I had no illusion that Pantaleo would ever be prosecuted for anything. The law protects him in various ways as a person and as more especially as a police officer effecting arrest, and where the law may be questionable, there are always helps—for or against—available in the process.

That is part of the real problem here, but the origin of Eric Garner’s death lies ultimately in unbiblical tax law. It is, I will grant for the moment, arguable (though I will go through this critically at a later date) that police, as agents of the court, should be allowed the use of reasonable force in making arrests. It is even arguable that unintended and justifiable deaths could occur when arrests are resisted. But under biblical law, for what should the state be allowed to make such arrests, or any arrests for that matter?

The bottom line is that there would have been no confrontation at all were it not for the ridiculous tyranny in which we live, in which the state demands taxes on everything that breathes, and most things that don’t. Taxation is unbiblical and unjust, according to biblical law. Yes, as I have argued, it is an evil which we are called to endure when we must; but it is an evil we are ultimately called to eradicate.

As I, and others, have argued continuously, taxation is armed violence. It is mandated with the threat of violence and enforced ultimately with the barrel of a gun. Despite the somnolent consent given by the vast majority of Christians, taxation is backed by deadly force in society. Eric Garner’s death shows this in its most extreme form.

There have been myth-busting and “facts” articles coming from different angles on the facts of this case. Here’s one pro-cop and conservative, and here’s another from a a more critical side. Let it be said loud and clear that as bad a race relations and racism may still be in this or any country, both informed sides agree that Garner’s death was not about race.

Even the critical factoid article above made a point to condemn liberals for making this about race. Citing “Myth #10. It was about race.” The article responds:

This is actually one the Liberals are crying. Garner’s family have repeatedly said that their husband and father’s death was not about race. The supervising officer at the scene was a Black woman. It’s about police thinking they are above the law. It’s about government taking taxes more seriously than real crime. It’s about placing the collective above the individual in importance. Power-mad cops kill white people, too. It’s not about race.

Whether you agree with them as to what it was about, it is clear what it is not about: race.

This is why I find Russell Moore’s reaction to be so outrageous. He joins the chorus of the racemongers in making this about race. He can’t get out more than the bare statement of the facts before he leaps to make it about race:

[A] government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice or any recognizable definition of justice. We may not agree in this country on every particular case and situation, but it’s high time we start listening to our African American brothers and sisters in this country when they tell us they are experiencing a problem.

The statement is confusing in context. According to the law, Eric Garner was not choked to death for “selling cigarettes.” He was choked for resisting arrest. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, as I have argued already, that the taxation of those cigarettes is unjust. From this point of view, biblical justice was indeed violated—because the law is unjust and therefore the arrest was unjust. From a biblical perspective, you could indeed sustain the argument—by extension—that Eric Garner was choked to death for selling cigarettes.

But Moore is not making this argument. It is not clear whether Moore is arguing from biblical law, or from current law. If he’s arguing from biblical law, why does he not state his case and follow it through? If not, then why say Garner was killed over cigarettes?

Does Moore follow the logic of his statement and turn his guns of rhetoric on unjust tax laws? On unjust prosecution standards? On a thousand other official state evils? No. He turns his guns on the one thing we know this case was not about: race. He says, “It’s high time we start listening to our African American brothers and sisters in this country when they tell us they are experiencing a problem.” While that may be true, it is hardly relevant to Eric Garner. Why bring it up when the case offers the opportunity to address much greater underlying issues?

Moore elaborates further on the race problem in relation to Garner in a brief audio segment. I kept listening for qualification. I kept listening for him to address the real legal problems. I heard nothing. I heard a desperate attempt from a mainstream religious leader to get out in front of the politically-correct parade and pretend to lead it. I heard an attempt on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention to leverage a tragedy for its own shining culturally-relevant glory. I heard a shameful PR attempt from a powerful body that could really do much more if it had the insight, the worldview, and the desire to attack the real problem.

It is important for Christians not only to be involved in social problems, but to stand ready with biblical answers to those problems. This requires two things: 1) we must know what the real question is to begin with; and 2) we must be willing and able to state the biblical (as opposed to popular, mainstream, current law, or politically correct) answer to it.

As it is, Christians overwhelmingly stand behind those sin taxes, and most taxes, including those for public schooling, D.A.R.E. programs, and hundreds more—as well as the widespread use of force to uphold them. In short, Christians’ refusal to address real social and political issues from the standpoint of biblical law makes them complicit in Eric Garner’s death.

And when the day comes that the SBC has thoroughly purged itself of its own racist past and become outspoken leaders of race relations in this country, people will still be killed based on unjust laws that the great Christian leaders refused to address. Those poor people will be black, white, brown, yellow, red, rich, poor, man, woman, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, atheist, gay, and straight. And the ethics and religious liberty commissioners will congratulate themselves on what a fine multicultural mix we’ve achieved.

Categories: Worldview

Is it Time to Disarm the Police?

Mon, 12/08/2014 - 10:10

I begin with an insight offered by Professor Carroll Quigley (1910—1977), who taught history to Bill Clinton at Georgetown University. He had such a profound impact on Clinton that Clinton referred to him in his 1992 nomination acceptance speech. Quigley is famous among conservatives for his book, Tragedy and Hope (1966), in which he devoted 20 pages to the connections between Wall Street banking firms and American foreign policy, which has been dominated by the liberal left (pp. 950ff). But Quigley was also an expert in the history of weaponry. One of his books, Weapons Systems and Political Stability: A History, was printed directly from a typewritten manuscript and is known only to a handful of specialists, was a 1,000-page history of weaponry that ended with the Middle Ages. In Tragedy and Hope, he wrote about the relationship between amateur weapons and liberty. By amateur, he meant low cost. He meant, in the pejorative phrase of political statists, Saturday-night specials.

In a period of specialist weapons the minority who have such weapons can usually force the majority who lack them to obey; thus a period of specialist weapons tends to give rise to a period of minority rule and authoritarian government. But a period of amateur weapons is a period in which all men are roughly equal in military power, a majority can compel a minority to yield, and majority rule or even democratic government tends to rise. . . .

But after 1800, guns became cheaper to obtain and easier to use. By 1840 a Colt revolver sold for $27 and a Springfield musket for not much more, and these were about as good weapons as anyone could get at that time. Thus, mass armies of citizens, equipped with these cheap and easily used weapons, began to replace armies of professional soldiers, beginning about 1800 in Europe and even earlier in America. At the same time, democratic government began to replace authoritarian governments (but chiefly in those areas where the cheap new weapons were available and local standards of living were high enough to allow people to obtain them).

According to Quigley, the eighteenth-century’s commitment to popular government was reinforced — indeed, made possible — by price-competitive guns that made the average colonial farmer a threat to a British regular. Paul Revere’s midnight warning, “The regulars are out!” would have had no purpose or effect had it not been that the “minute men” were armed and dangerous.

With this in mind, let me present my thesis.

THE SECOND AMENDMENT IS FAR TOO WEAK

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution asserts the right — the legal immunity from interference by the State — of American citizens to keep and bear arms. This means a rifle strapped to my back and a pistol or two strapped to my hip, day or night.

It doesn’t go far enough. It leaves guns in the hands of a subculture that has proven itself too irresponsible to carry them: the police.

If I were called upon to write the constitution for a free country, meaning a country no larger than Iowa, I would require every citizen to be armed, except members of the police. A policeman would have to apply for an on-duty gun permit. He would not be allowed to carry a gun on duty, just like England’s bobbies are not allowed to carry them.

Every child, male and female, beginning no later than age six, would be trained by parents regarding the moral responsibility of every armed citizen to come to the aid of any policeman in trouble. Unarmed people deserve protection.

Children would be also taught that the first person to pull a gun to defend an unarmed policeman or any other unarmed person deserves the lion’s share of the credit. Late-comers would be regarded as barely more than onlookers. This is necessary to offset the “Kitty Genovese phenomenon.” In 1964, this young woman was attacked and murdered in full view of 38 onlookers, in their Queens, New York, neighborhood. Despite her screams for help, no one even bothered to call the police. This is the “who goes first?” problem.

Anyone so foolish as to attack a policeman would be looking down the barrels of, say, a dozen handguns. “Go ahead, punk. Make our day!”

A policeman would gain obedience, like James Stewart in Destry Rides Again, through judicial empowerment. He would not threaten anyone with immediate violence. He would simply say, “Folks, I’ve got a problem here. This person is resisting arrest. Would three of you accompany me to the local station with this individual?”

He would blow his whistle, and a dozen sawed-off shotguns accompanied by people would be there within 60 seconds.

Every member of society would be trained from an early age to honor the law as an adult by being willing to carry a handgun. Everyone would see himself as a defender of the law and a peace-keeper. Guns would be universal. Every criminal would know that the man or woman next to him is armed and dangerous. He would be surrounded at all times by people who see their task as defending themselves and others against the likes of him.

The only person he could trust not to shoot him dead in his tracks for becoming an aggressor would be the policeman on the beat. The aggressor’s place of safety would be custody.

There would be another effect on social life. When every adult is armed, civility increases. In a world of armed Davids, Goliaths would learn to be civil. The words of Owen Wister’s Virginian, “Smile when you say that,” would regain their original meaning.

The doctrine of citizen’s arrest would be inculcated in every child from age six. Then, at the coming of age, every new citizen would take a public vow to uphold the constitution. He or she would then be handed a certificate of citizenship, which would automatically entitle the bearer to carry an automatic. Note: I did not say semi-automatic. . . .

SELF-GOVERNMENT UNDER LAWFUL AUTHORITY

Unarmed police, now fully deserving of protection by gun-bearing citizens, would gain immense respect. They would rule by the force of law, meaning respect for the law, meaning widespread voluntary submission by the citizenry. This is properly called self-government under lawful authority. The policeman’s word would be law. He just wouldn’t be armed.

A criminal would not escape from the scene of the crime by shooting the cop on the beat. He would not get 20 yards from the cop’s body.

Citizens would regard a law enforcement officer as they regard their mothers. They would do what they were told with little more than rolling their eyes. If anyone physically challenged a police officer, he would risk facing a dozen Clint Eastwoods who have been waiting for two decades to get an opportunity to make their day.

To make this system work, the courts would have to enforce strict liability. Injure the wrong person, and (assuming you survive the shoot-out) you must pay double restitution. Kill the wrong person, and you must pay the ultimate restitution: eye for eye, life for life. But no faceless bureaucrat hired by the State would do the act. A group of armed citizens will execute you under the authority of the court. Remember, the police are unarmed.

The fact that citizens in no society think this way is evidence of how well the defenders of State monopoly power have done their work. They want their agents armed and the rest of us unarmed. A free society would reverse this arrangement.

CONCLUSION

There are those who will reply that my proposal is utopian, that civilians do not have sufficient courage to come to the aid of an unarmed policeman. Furthermore, they will complain, the common man is not sufficiently self-disciplined to live under the rule of law as I have described it. Both objections have validity. I can only respond by pointing out that a society in which its citizens possess neither courage nor self-discipline is not a free society. I am not here proposing a technical reform that will produce a free society. Rather, I am describing why freedom has departed from this nation ever since, for lack of a better date, 1788.

[Gary North is the author of the 31-volume An Economic Commentary on the Bible and scores of other books. He publishes daily at his subscription site GaryNorth.com. This article originally appeared in expanded form as “Disarm the Police,” LewRockwell.com, August 18, 2003.]

Categories: Worldview

American Atheists Hide Behind the Fairy Tale of Evolution

Sun, 12/07/2014 - 22:53

American Atheists, who represent the religion of the New Atheist movement in the United States, have “launched a billboard campaign in several Bible Belt states urging people to skip church this Christmas and stop listening to ‘fairy tales.’”

The billboards contain this message showing a child writing a letter to Santa Claus: “Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales.

“‘Even children know churches spew absurdity, which is why they don’t want to attend services. Enjoy the time with your family and friends instead,’ said American Atheists President David Silverman. ‘Today’s adults have no obligation to pretend to believe the lies their parents believed. It’s OK to admit that your parents were wrong about God, and it’s definitely OK to tell your children the truth.’”

I find everything that David Silverman and the American Atheists do quite amusing. How does he know if anything he is claiming about his worldview is true? Talk about fairy tales.

Here’s the sign that best fits Mr. Silverman’s fairy tale atheism:

“Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is to skip science class! I’m too old for fairy tales that teach that I evolved from pond scum.”

In order to be an atheist, a person must forget everything he learned in his high school science classes and adopt the long-refuted belief in spontaneous generation – life from non-life – a fairy tale that was

“decisively dispelled during the 19th century by the experiments of Louis Pasteur. He expanded upon the investigations of predecessors (such as Francesco Redi who, in the 17th century, had performed experiments based on the same principles). However, the experimental difficulties are greater than people might think, and objections from persons holding the traditional views persisted. Many of these residual objections were routed by the work of John Tyndall, succeeding the work of Pasteur. Ultimately, the ideas of spontaneous generation were displaced by advances in germ theory and cell theory. Disproof of the traditional ideas of spontaneous generation is no longer controversial among professional biologists. Objections and doubts have been dispelled by studies and documentation of the life cycles of various life forms.”

Even with the long ago burial of spontaneous generation, the evolutionists writing for the Wikipedia article try to resurrect the long-dead corpse with fanciful pixie dust: “However,” the Wikipedia article adds, “the principles of the very different matter of the original abiogenesis on this planet — of living from non-living material — still are under investigation.”

There must be an “original abiogenesis” because life from non-life evolution is the basis of all science in academia today. To admit otherwise would throw the entire system into disarray and ask many uncomfortable questions about the origin of life.

The evolutionary worldview that stands behind the atheists’ religious belief system is built on the biggest fairy tale of them all, that matter, to which atheists have no way to account for, became David Silverman and the rest of us.

Not only can’t Silverman and his fellow atheists account for matter, but they can’t account for the information necessary to animate the organic machines that they claim developed and evolved without any outside intelligence.

“It thus could be said that the proposition that the universe hand an Intelligent Designer is the most fundamental of all scientific theories and that it has been successfully put to empirical tests again and again. For, as Albert Einstein once remarked, the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible: ‘A priori one should expect a chaotic world which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way. . . . That is the “miracle” which is constantly being reinforced as our knowledge expands.’”(1)

Given the evolution model, chaos is the operating premise, but the world is not chaotic, an important point that atheists can’t explain considering the complexity of every aspect of our world.

Consider this from the people who are trying to create artificial life. First, designers are involved in the process. Artificial life has not and will not come into existence and “evolve” on its own. Second, “With 100 billion neurons and 37 trillion cells, the human body is simply too complex to be artificially designed by modern computers.” But we’re to believe that the complexity of the human body came into existence and evolved to its present capacity on its own. There is no history or testable evidence for the evolutionary worldview. Keep in mind that changes within species is not evolution.

Atheists must deny what they were taught in science class in order for their belief system to be considered valid. Spontaneous generation, the necessary basis for evolution, is the stuff of fairy tales. It’s the world of “abracadabra,” “open sesame,” and “poof,” a frog has been turned into a prince! As ridiculous as all this sounds, it’s the essence of evolution, at least the atheistic kind advocated by David Silverman.

In his book The Greatest Show on Earth, Richard Dawkins lays the groundwork for the Darwinian fairytale:

“We have no evidence about what the first step in making life was, but we do know the kind of step it must have been. It must have been whatever it took to get natural selection started. Before that first step, the sorts of improvement that only natural selection can achieve were impossible. And that means the key step was the rising, by some process as yet unknown, of a self-replicating entity.”(2)

This isn’t science! It’s no wonder that one of Dawkins’ books is titled The Magic of Reality. He writes that “rocks don’t feel joy or jealousy, and mountains do not love. These emotions are intensely real to those who experience them, but they didn’t exist before brains did.”(3) According to evolutionists, we were once the stuff of rocks and mountains. So how did we become what we never were?

Evolution is about magic, conjuring something out of nothing. Until evolutionists demonstrate (1) the origin of matter out of nothing (abracadabra), (2) how inorganic matter evolved into organic matter (abiogenesis), (3) the origin of information and its meaningful organization (DNA programming), and (4) a genetic explanation for why it is mandatory that anyone be moral (ethics), evolution is little more than a fairytale dressed up in shining armor.

Consider the following on “Probability and the Origin of Life” by Robert E. Kofahl:

“For roughly fifty years secular scientists who have faith in the power of dumb atoms to do anything have been carrying on scientific research aimed at finding out how the dumb atoms could have initiated life without any outside help. Since they believe that this really happened, they believe that it was inevitable that the properties of atoms, the laws of physics, and the earth’s early environment should bring forth life. More sober minds, however, have realized the immense improbability of the spontaneous origin of life (called ‘abiogenesis’). Some have made careful investigations and mathematical calculations to estimate what the probability is for abiogenesis to occur. Their calculations show that life’s probability is extremely small, essentially zero.”

Start with nothing  . . . absolutely nothing. No air. No matter . . . not even an atom. No energy. No space. No thought. No time. Just a long dead silence. This is the evolutionist’s reality before the dawn of something becoming everything. At some infinitesimal moment in time all the stuff that makes up our world came into being, the atheists tell us. Like the Millennium Falcon coming out of light speed, the cosmos appeared, the difference being, there was no Millennium Falcon or light to measure its speed. Once there was nothing, now there is everything.

If as Dawkins says, teaching fairytales to children is dangerous, then teaching them the fairytale of evolution is the most dangerous fairytale of them all.

Now that would make a great billboard!Endnotes:

  1. Rodney Stark, How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity (Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2014), 317.
  2. Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth (New York: The Free Press, 2009), 419.
  3. Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True (New York: Free Press, 2011), 19.
Categories: Worldview

Deadly justice: Ferguson and beyond

Thu, 12/04/2014 - 18:02

What follows are my comments on the Ferguson non-indictment, and to a lesser degree on the more recent similar episode in New York. I hasten to warn you that mine is a highly qualified conclusion which will probably not be what you expect. I also want to discuss a couple of massive media mistakes, as well as suggest the most frightful prospect of all of this: the federal reaction.

I believe injustice could have been done for two main reasons (though the second one is the one that concerns me most). First, many have noted that in both of these incidents the prosecutors did not prosecute, but that they threw the fight. Was it in fact an injustice that Wilson never went to trial? All the informed and experienced lawyers I have read, or talked with, on this issue concur (and that’s a huge point in itself) that if a prosecutor desires an indictment, they will generally get it. I had one, whom I respect, tell me she’s seen indictments delivered based on a single piece of paper (although, granted, this assumes something about the nature of that piece of paper as well).

Enough people have discoursed on this point that I need not elaborate here on the differences between indictment hearings and an actual trial, and the nature and control of the presentation of the “evidence” in the indictment hearing—the standard of which is far, far lower, even allowing hearsay, and tons of it. Couple this with the near total ignorance in which the average jury member sits, and this puts the conclusion almost totally in a prosecutor’s discretion from the beginning.

At this point I should mention that several people have noted Antonin Scalia’s past opinion in regard to the matter of defense testimony in indictment hearings. I will address that in the section on media mistakes below. I don’t think it is applicable in the way it has been presented.

But the fact that prosecutors traditionally can, as they say, indict a ham sandwich, says nothing about what ought to be the case in any given case. As always, traditions must always be judged in the light principle, especially biblical concepts of justice. It may be the case that we have been traditionally prosecuting far too many people to begin with.

I will be totally honest and say that I am not uncomfortable with the defense and exculpatory evidence being presented to the grand jury. But the real issue here is the fact that this practice is not done in a large number of other cases, and that is my second main point.

This has been well noted by criminal defense attorney and blogger Scott Greenfield. In reference to the more recent event with Eric Garner in New York, Greenfield writes,

[Staten Island District Attorney Daniel] Donovan chose . . . to engage in presentation that putatively allowed “all evidence” to be presented, both that showing probable cause as well as that disputing the occurrence of a homicide at all.

Whether the presentment was conducted in a manner that reflected a desire to obtain an indictment, or a desire to quash one, is not yet clear and will likely never be clear. What is clear, however, is that the expansive nature of the presentment is something that happens only when the target of the grand jury is a police officer. While this grand jury proceeding was ongoing, maybe ten thousand others were indicted by New York grand juries. They weren’t given the opportunities that Donovan gave [NYPD Officer] Pantaleo.

It is clear that there is some double-standard at work here, at it is pro-police. But while most people are decrying the fact that these police officers receive better treatment, the greater tragedy is not that police officers received it, but that thousands of non-police officers do not—when they in fact probably could and should. Now this is of course a mass generalization which requires some case examples to illustrate, and I do not have those right now—I rely mainly of Greenfield’s expert opinion above. But the point of concern should not be that officers get this treatment, but rather that everyone else does not.

Why shouldn’t the entrance of defense or exculpatory evidence be mandatory for all grand jury indictment hearings? This is a question we should consider foremost. In places where it would be critical, it ought to be obligatory. And by the way, Scalia agrees with me here, as we shall see.

So, in my opinion—and this would of course require qualifications for special cases, etc.—I am not in favor of tightening the process down on police indictments to match the rest of us—unless, of course the “traditional” process is totally 100 percent just and true. Rather, to solve the inequality, we should expend the process for everyone else to match what they do for police. Greatest protections for all, I say.

Wilson’s Non-Indictment

Having said that, I am still a bit torn as to whether Darren Wilson should have been indicted or not.

I spent a large part of the last day reviewing testimony and commentary on Ferguson. Yet, I have not covered even a tenth of it. I read over 250 pages of the transcript, which is actually 4,799 pages long. I read mainly the transcript of September 16 which contains the testimony from Wilson’s sergeant and squad commander who was probably the first to interview Wilson, the St. Louis County detective who escorted Wilson to the hospital and also interviewed him very shortly after the event there, the FBI detective who interviewed him almost three weeks later, and finally Wilson himself.

Aside from these, I saw the report from NPR on the various alleged eyewitnesses who testified as well. I did not read their 500 pages of testimony, but find NPR report informative enough for my purposes. I also read a few pages regarding the use of force statute, which I will address with Lawrence O’Donnell below, and I also read part of the toxicologist’s testimony, from which it was clear that Brown had high levels of THC in his system—high levels especially for a man his size—and would have logically been under the influence at the time.

All of the police and detective interviews—Wilson, Ferguson Sergeant, St. Louis County Detective, and FBI detective—are substantially the same where it matters. On the basic testimony I have read, I cannot see how anyone would find probable cause against Wilson. The problem is, there was tons of contradictory testimony. Among the eyewitnesses, there was widely divergent testimony, usually evenly divided on two sides of a contradiction on almost every point. Just look at the chart NPR compiled.

But then after that, it turns out many of these “witnesses” were not actually witnesses to the shooting. The lead prosecutor said in the following press conference:

In subsequent interviews with law enforcement, or their testimony before the grand jury, many of the same witnesses acknowledged that they didn’t actually see the shooting. . . . Some were running for cover. Some were relating what they heard from others or as I said, what they assumed happened. . . . Several other witnesses maintained their original statement that Mr. Brown had his hands in the air and was not moving toward the officer when he was shot.

One alleged “witness” actually admitted to being a “few blocks” away. And yet while corroborating most of Wilson’s version of the story, also claimed that Wilson fired at Brown while Brown was fleeing.

Is there enough in any of this to indict? I think it hinges upon the quality and positions of the witnesses. And this is a point I have not really seen addressed anywhere. Among all these contradictory witnesses, which ones were the ones who actually were in a good position and saw what happened? And how do we know that?

The one witness we know was in the best position possible was Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson, and his testimony has be shown to be incredible as several points, and thus in general. He changed it as time went along.

The most troubling contradictions to me, however, appear in the testimony of Wilson’s sergeant. While his version of the story had all the main points, he had some details out of place. For example, Brown allegedly told Wilson, “You’re too big of a pu**y to shoot me.” The sergeant said this happened after Wilson had exited the vehicle. Wilson and all his other interviewers related this happened when Wilson was inside the vehicle.

That could be an understandable point, but this one is not. The sergeant claims, definitively, that Wilson told him he had not heard the dispatch regarding the “stealing” at Ferguson Market. Wilson himself, being specifically questioned on this point, says he had heard the call prior to stopping Brown and Johnson, and the fact that they fit the description is the reason he pulled back and stopped them. The St. Louis County detective and the FBI detective both say Wilson told them the same thing.

The sergeant, however, even after being asked twice, specifically on this point, was adamant that Wilson told him in a phone conversation that Wilson had never heard that “stealing” call at all. This was not a case of someone forgetting or misplacing a detail; this was a clear contradiction in the story which was held adamantly by the sergeant even when questioned twice on it.

Now does that mean Darren Wilson lied or changed his testimony? I don’t think we can determine that merely from this. It is contradiction that someone should have pursued. But even if an indictment had been given because of this (I do not see how it could have), this alleged phone call was never recorded, and the sergeant’s testimony of what Wilson once said would be hearsay and probably inadmissible at the trial. I don’t see, as odd as it is, what it could have mattered.

Another contradiction was in how the sergeant and Wilson each described the police’s relationship with the Canfield Green Apartments neighborhood where the shooting took place. This was asked of both Wilson and his sergeant specifically. The sergeant said it was simply a “business relationship.” Although there were “numerous calls” to that neighborhood over the years, when asked if the residents despised the police in general, or “just hated the police,” he responded, “No, ma’am, no.”

But when Wilson testified, he said the opposite: “It is an antipolice area for sure.” Asked to explain this, the flowing exchange ensued:

[A]: There’s a lot of gangs that reside or associate with that area. There’s a lot of violence in that area, there’s a lot of gun activity, drug activity, it is just not a very well-liked community. That community doesn’t like the police.

Q: Were you pretty much on high alert being in that community by yourself, especially when Michael Brown said, “f**k what you say,” I think he said?

A: Yes.

Q: You were on pretty high alert at that point knowing the vicinity and the area that you’re in

A: Yes, that’s not an area where you can take anything really lightly. Like I said, it is a hostile environment. There are good people over there, there really are, but I mean there is an influx of gang activity in that area.

This may be true, but it does not necessarily square with the sergeant, an officer of over 38 years, who said the neighborhood was not anti-police.

It also does not seem to square with Wilson’s earlier testimony. After asking Brown and Johnson to get out of the road and walk on the sidewalk, that’s when Brown allegedly said, “f**k what you have to say.” Wilson said that response was “very unusual and not expected.” Perhaps that is true relative to any mild request in general, but for a full uniformed police officer in an allegedly “hostile” “antipolice” area, how is it a surprise?

A final, for now, unanswered question is, where did the blood on Wilson’s hand come from. He said he noticed it after firing the first shot, but that his shot did not strike anyone. It went into the Tahoe door, from the inside, and did not exit the other side of the door. Yet it was at this moment that Wilson says he noticed blood on his hand. He did say the shot shattered his rolled-down window, but also said he was not cut by it. So the glass must have cut Brown somehow, and in such a way as to splatter blood on Wilson’s hand, too. But this sounds really confused, because Wilson says that first shot, though it did not hit Brown, shocked him and he backed up for a minute. So where did the blood come from? This is simply a mystery to me.

But again, none of this is, I don’t think, enough to find “probable cause” that Wilson committed murder or manslaughter. I would have liked to see this case go to trial, just to get to the bottom of some of these questions, but I don’t think at trial he could have been convicted, and I don’t know that a lot of the contradictory witnesses (so-called) would have ever made it into evidence anyway. But the part that bothers me is that we now won’t have a chance to find out or not whether those witnesses and contradictions are reliable and true or not.

In general, my gut feeling is that the prosecutors did not want this to go to trial. They threw the case, not out of conviction that the evidence exculpates Wilson, but for some other reason. I don’t know what it is, and I think speculation is dangerous here. But then again, allowing police special immunities can be even more dangerous. I’ll come back to my thoughts here in a bit.

The purpose of the indictment hearing was to determine probable cause—either for murder, armed felony, or voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. It was not reasonable suspicion, or “fishy,” or “gut feeling.” It was “probable cause.” I don’t see probable cause against Wilson in what I’ve read. The last point regarding the “hostile environment” comments may be enough for Eric Holder to push for a federal indictment. Maybe. But this will be for civil rights violations, not murder.

Media Mistakes

Lawrence O’Donnell and the Missouri Statutes

There were a few media blunders which confused and deceived people, and they need to be addressed. Some were massive.

The worst I saw actually shocked and convinced me temporarily at first. It was from Lawrence O’Donnell, who is such a rabid, and probably conscienceless, hack I should have known better. He pointed out that the prosecutors at first gave the jurors an old and outdated statute about officers’ use of force in making arrest. It would have been a lower standard for conviction. Then, near the very end, right before deliberation, they switched and gave them the updated, corrected one.

The old statute allows for officers to shoot suspects even when fleeing, but this was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1985. O’Donnell says that by giving this law “right before” Wilson testified, it dramatically lowered the bar by which he would be judged, all but guaranteeing he would get off.

This is shocking at first, especially when you watch it and read it as O’Donnell presents it. But it is inaccurate, twisted, and irrelevant. A legal blog has taken this up at length, here. To begin with, O’Donnell says they gave the jury this statute “just before” and “right before” Wilson testified. This is wrong. They handed out that statute first thing that morning. Wilson did not testify until 3:20 that afternoon. There were hours in between the giving of that piece of paper and the testimony. Second, it is not even clear whether any of the jurors read, let alone retained, the minutiae of that statute in that interim. Considering that they heard hours of testimony from three other witnesses, I doubt they retained much of the legalese at all.

Nevertheless, there are even more important issues here. O’Donnell argues that by slipping in a corrective statement at the very end—weeks and weeks later—she was trying to be sly and cover her bases but in such a way that would be ineffective to counter the damage allegedly already done. I think this is a huge stretch. If it was her purpose to hide something nefarious she had done, she should have slid that correction in after Wilson, but much earlier than—duh—right before deliberation. And since she told them to “ignore” “totally” the previous sheet, she was hardly giving it, or any part of it, credence, and at the most crucial time.

But all of this is moot, as the legal blogs noted, for two reasons. The Supreme Court ruling that revised that statute actually applied only to non-dangerous criminals, which would most likely not have applied to Brown. Second, and more importantly, Wilson’s defense would not have rested upon “use of force in arrest” anyway (!), but upon simple self-defense. The statute and Supreme Court opinion are therefore moot.

In retrospect, I think the issuance of the bare, unqualified, Missouri statute was an oversight and not nefarious. I don’t think it was part of an agenda. It was sloppy and unprofessional, but it was not a conspiracy, and most importantly, it would not have mattered if it was. And I also think Lawrence O’Donnell is an extreme partisan hack who is careless with facts and probably doesn’t care.

I am more concerned, however, that a libertarian source like thefreethoughtproject.com rendered O’Donnell’s position uncritically, practically verbatim, with no critical analysis whatsoever. On civil rights, there can be a fine line between leftists and libertarians. Libertarians need to work hard to distinguish themselves from partisan hacks, and as true critical thinkers—and they must do so beyond reproach so that they are not lumped in the with known partisans hacks through their behavior. “Freethought,” after all, is supposed to be critical thought by definition. I think FTP failed on this one. When we follow our prejudices (anti-cop or whatever) to the point that we miss vital analysis, then we weaken the case for our cause, our agenda, and our own integrity. Let it not be!

The Daily Mail and Darren Wilson’s “changed” testimony

An article by the British source Daily Mail claimed that “Darren Wilson CHANGED crucial elements of his story in aftermath. . . .” (emphasis theirs). This headline and the story are simply factually incorrect. The claim revolves around the contradictory statements of Wilson and his sergeant who said Wilson told him he had never heard of the “stealing” call (mentioned earlier). But it gets its facts wrong. It says,

Wilson’s supervisor was the first officer to speak with the 28-year-old cop following the shooting. The men spoke before St Louis County Police had even been notified of the incident and before the medical examiner or investigating officers had arrived on the scene.

At that time, the supervisor said: ‘He [Wilson] did not know anything about the stealing call.’

I read the transcripts of that testimony, and it is clear that this was not part of the conversation that the two had “at that time” “on the scene.” Instead, it was the sergeant’s recollection of a phone call conversation he says he had with Wilson “probably five or six days after the incident” (see p. 721 of the PDF transcript).

The article claims, “In fact the squad supervisor stated that, in several subsequent conversations, Wilson said ‘he did not have that call.’” This is simply not in the transcript. The sergeant did mention a few other conversations with Wilson, but not “several,” and only that particular one (p. 721) in which he gave any detail at all, let alone specifically about the stealing call. This is simply sloppy, irresponsible journalism. That a man’s life could be on the line, it is inexcusable.

Finally, since, as the Daily Mail acknowledges, it was only two hours after the incident that Wilson allegedly told the St. Louis County detective that he did in fact hear the stealing call, then it means that if Wilson changed his story, he only did it in one private phone conversation six days after giving the now official version.

That is possible, and like I said earlier it is fishy. I would love to know why that one outlying officer maintains this claim, and adamantly so even when pressed. But is it not enough for probable cause? And since it would be hearsay, it would never be admissible into the trial anyway. It is also definitely out of the badly mistaken order in which the Daily Mail presented it. Shame on them.

So did Wilson “CHANGE” his testimony? Only if you consider hearsay “testimony,” only  if you believe that one particular account against all the others, and only if you consider one divergent account a purposeful “change.” Considering that this was the same sergeant who had a few other notable details out of place in his narrative (compared to all the others), I’d say his memory may not be so reliable.

Scalia “explains”

Leftist source ThinkProgress jumped on a quotation from Antonin Scalia which was intended to shame the jury process for allowing exculpatory and defense evidence. Here is what was quoted:

It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880). As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.

This was, again, picked up uncritically by thefreethoughtproject.com. It likely convinced many libertarians and conservatives. But again, I don’t see any critical analysis.

It turns out that the excerpt is a bit cherry-picked. All you have to do is read the conclusion to that opinion, U.S. v. Williams (1992), to realize it has a larger and qualified context:

What, then, is the proper disposition of this case? I agree with the Government that the prosecutor is not required to place all exculpatory evidence before the grand jury. A grand jury proceeding is an ex parte investigatory proceeding to determine whether there is probable cause to believe a violation of the criminal laws has occurred, not a trial. Requiring the prosecutor to ferret out and present all evidence that could be used at trial to create a reasonable doubt as to the defendant’s guilt would be inconsistent with the purpose of the grand jury proceeding and would place significant burdens on the investigation. But [!] that does not mean that the prosecutor may mislead the grand jury into believing that there is probable cause to indict by withholding clear evidence to the contrary. I thus agree with the Department of Justice that “when a prosecutor conducting a grand jury inquiry is personally aware of substantial evidence which directly negates the guilt of a subject of the investigation, the prosecutor must [!] present or otherwise disclose such evidence to the grand jury before seeking an indictment against such a person.” [Emphases added—JM.]

On the basis of this “must,” Scalia’s opinion threw out a grand jury indictment that had been secured without presenting vital defense evidence.

So, far from confirming the position of those who condemned the grand jury, Scalia’s opinion actually gives fairly strong support to it. And again, those media outlets that created this false impression ought to be ashamed; and those that promulgated it need to check their own critical apparatus.

Going Forward

I know there are more issues to address, and I have not addressed them here. I think this is enough for you to get my general drift.

I think the media blew this far beyond what it needed. In doing so, the media created false narratives and mistaken notions, and some outright agenda-driven falsehoods. And I think those falsehoods deceived many people, including some conservatives and some otherwise good thinkers. The polarization between left and right cable media these days only made things worse.

I think the most frightening aspect in all of this, however, is that the federal investigation is still pending, and the federal reaction could be even more dangerous than the local looters were, in the big picture. We have already heard the call for federally-funded police cameras. Folks, I am all in support of the transparency and accountability police cameras can bring, but if they are tied to federal funds, federal programs, federal mandates, federal anything, no thank you. That is one step further in the centralization and even nationalization of police, and that is about the most dreadful think you could think of: creeping police-state statism.

And I think this is the ultimate goal of leftists. If there was any conspiracy among the prosecutors to let Wilson walk, it has to do with a larger leftist eye to centralization of policing. Rushdoony warned about this exact thing way back in 1965, in his essay “Localism and the Police Power,” in Nature of the American System. When local control is lost over police, you have lost true police. You have entered, instead, into a totalitarian system just like the old Soviet KGB. That is not an exaggeration, and it is not a joke. We are watching this happen already by small increments and degrees. We must not let it proceed further.

Rushdoony also noted that one step in undermining that localism would be through continuous portrayals of police abuse. Now, I believe we do have some problems, but they more often than not stem from centralized laws already in place. More nationalized solutions are not the solution. What problems we have we must solve without federal help, or else all will be lost.

And this is just the type of issue—civil rights, preventing riots—that can be used to motivate and to scare people into accepting centralized solutions. And we hear today—I get confirmation even immediately as I write this!—that this is the same road being sought because of Eric Garner. A congressional panel of liberals is crying up the “problem with police and communities of color.” And their solution: “We renew the call for the Department of Justice to step in.” Watch out: the solution is the real choke hold. Whatever tragedy has happened, it will be worse to put the entire nation under a tyranny in an uncritical attempt to fix it.

Does this mean we have no problems with policing in the country? By no means. Does this mean that we have no problems with double-standards in regard to police? By no means. I hope to address much of this in the coming months. For now, I merely say, watch out for the solutions from Washington, even from the State level. Watch out what the politicians call for. That could very well prove to be the worst thing that could come out of all of this. And it is indeed what I fear is the statist agenda in the works of it all, too. Preserve your freedom even over safety, or lose both.

Categories: Worldview

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Mon, 12/01/2014 - 09:21

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Categories: Worldview

Don’t blame illegals, blame grandma

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 10:38

A couple people responded to yesterday’s article on executive power by informing me of all the terrible effects Obama’s immigration action will have. Chief among these, it appears, is the fear that adding a few million more people to the Social Security and Medicare rolls, especially at the lower end of the pay scale, will burden the system. One writer opined that this is a “big deal” because,

Generally, these immigrants are on the lower-end of the pay scale throughout their careers and people on the low-end are the ones who end up pulling more out of SS and Medicare than they ever put into it. Those systems are already basically broke, and this could make it much worse.

These are valid complaints: 1) taking more money out of a government system than you put in, and 2) the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare, i.e., that these systems are “basically broke.” Let’s talk about these.

First, wealth redistribution is, in my opinion, a national sin. Given that these systems are both predicated on wealth redistribution to a large degree, and that they are mainly compulsory, I consider them among the greatest evils in our nation.

I think it is basically immoral to have a system in which some people are compelled to pay, and their money taken and given to others who did not, or at least did not pay as much as they put in. But if this is a problem for 4 million new immigrants, it is a far greater problem that scores of millions of citizens already doing it. Legal status of the individual does not change the moral nature of a corrupt system.

Some will disagree that these systems are socialistic. As I related in Restoring America, however, the former Comptroller General of the U.S. admitted otherwise:

The Social Security system is designed to provide a better deal for workers who make less money because the replacement ratio that you receive compared to your earnings is much higher for lower-income workers than it is for higher-income workers. . . .

Social Security is not an investment program. You shouldn’t look at it as a rate of return. It’s intended to provide a safety net of retirement income. By definition, it’s structured so lower-wage workers will get a higher relative benefit. So, by definition, there’s an element of transfer payment.

When people look at it as, “Give me the money, I’ll invest and do better,” it depends on what your income level is. Middle and upper incomes would do better because it would eliminate the subsidy to the lower income. But that’s not what the program is. I hear young people saying, “I’m not getting a good deal.” That’s technically right, but it doesn’t reflect the nature of what Social Security is.

The poster child for these programs is the first lady who ever cashed a Social Security check: Ida Fuller. She retired only three years after the act went into effect, and then lived to be 80. She had put in less than twenty-five bucks, and proceeded to draw out almost $23,000 over the rest of her life.

She is still upheld as an icon by the Social Security Administration today. And there are millions upon millions of grandparents and great grandparents like her. They are the ones who voted in these systems in 1935 and 1965, and they are the ones all along who have presided over its continual decline, mounting indebtedness, and lack of reform or replacement.

So, on the issue of wealth redistribution, we have less of an immigrant problem than a grandma problem. Of course, the real problem is not grandma, but a shameful and unbiblical policy.

Second is the issue of bankruptcy. Really, this is no different than the first issue in principle.

Just look at the real numbers here. A Heritage Foundation pundit estimates that 4 million more on the rolls will cost taxpayers $2 trillion dollars over their lifetimes. Even if that number is accurate, as Gary North pointed out a few days back, the unfunded liabilities of the two systems as they are already dwarf this paltry $2 trillion number. Estimates vary, but range anywhere from $100 trillion to $200 trillion for the rest of us. (This does not include the trillions already sunk into the system over previous lifetimes up to today.)

Again, I’d say the systems don’t have an immigration problem as much as a citizen problem. And again, if you’ve got a problem with the solvency of the system, don’t blame immigrants, blame grandma. Yet again, really, it’s not grandma but the policy that is the real problem.

There is of course more that could be said, but these to me seem to be by far the most important aspects. And I have discussed them more at length in the Welfare chapter of Restoring America.

In the big picture, these systems are massive national sins. In the immediate picture, the ruffle against adding a few million more people to our national sin seems misguided to me—a bit like getting angry over sharing the brothel because you don’t want a few more people in it, and citing fire safety capacity as your excuse.

Will adding a few more million to the system make it worse? Sure it will—because it’s a bad system to begin with. But as the mean philosopher once said, “That which is about to fall should be pushed.” While certainly not the remedy for everything, for corrupt beasts like SS and Medicare, I’m all for pushing. If we cannot cure the system through electoral process, then the sooner it falls the better.

Categories: Worldview

Misguided outrage on Obama’s “unconstitutional” executive action

Tue, 11/25/2014 - 13:15

The Obama administration just made a publicity stunt out of a minor executive procedure and Republicans erupted in furors—mostly of fallacy and misinformation. When the dust settled, Republicans sat space-eyed, holding their boxer shorts, while Obama walked off with their rear-ends in his brief case.

In that case also were copies of the Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act—things the Republicans apparently did not bother to consult.

My point here will be this: Republicans and conservatives have just received a tough lesson on our beloved Constitution. The only question is whether we will learn from it or not.

After the President announced his “deferred action” plan for certain immigrants, certain Republican leaders like Ted Cruz and John Cornyn denounce his actions as “unconstitutional,” “illegal,” “abuse of power,” and “rule by dictate and decree,” among other things.

I believe this is nonsense, and I’ll tell you why in a minute. But the biggest proof of my position is this: If these guys were anywhere close to right about the illegality, they would shut up and file a lawsuit. It’s that simple. But they haven’t, and they won’t. And they know why. And now you will, too.

Whatever our opinions on immigration itself may be, all of these arguments about illegality and unconstitutionality are absolute nonsense. And this is not my opinion: it is the opinion of those who debated during the constitutional era. It is also the opinion of both liberal and top conservative constitutional scholars today.

It is easy enough to get clarity from the liberals. You may not like the sources, but the legal explanations are some of the clearest, simplest, and most accurate available. Slate author Walter Dellinger provides clear reasoning as to why the President is 1) not acting unilaterally, 2) not acting illegally, 3) is not even doing anything very remarkable from a legal viewpoint, and 4) not acting unconstitutionally.

The synopsis is simple: First, the act is not unilateral because it is acting according to laws already made by Congress, and which the Constitutional says he must enforce. He is acting not contrary to, but under the authority of, other branches.

Second, he is not acting illegally because of the already-written law that he must enforce. The immigration laws currently charge the president with “Establishing national immigration enforcement policies and priorities.” Obama is acting within the law by establishing those very policies and priorities. More on this part in a minute.

Third, it should be easy to see from points 1) and 2) why this action is hardly remarkable. According to former legal counsel to George Bush, Sr., the action is actually “routine.”

Finally, therefore, the action is obviously not unconstitutional since he is doing exactly what the Constitutional calls any president to do: “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

Another liberal gives an even more systematic view here.

But it is not just liberals and perhaps one squishy conservative who make these arguments. It is the more substantial right also. Again, this is not my opinion. It is the opinion of a broad swath of people who are informed on how law works, what the Constitution actually says and means, and how it has been applied and judged historically.

For example, a panel of law scholars at the conservative Federalist Society recently arrived at the same conclusion—even if reluctantly. The Federalist Society was created three decades ago by Reaganites specifically to challenge liberal interpretations of the Constitution. It boasts a membership now of over 40,000 lawyers, professors, and law students. As far as mainstream conservative legal scholarship goes, this is the big leagues.

Their panel was not tangential. It was directed at the very question and the very part of the Constitution that is at question. The panel discussion was titled, “The President’s Duty to Take Care that the Law Be Faithfully Executed.”

And what did they conclude? With one outspoken exception, they concluded that this move from Obama is constitutional, but even the one dissenter agreed that the Executive has, in general, the power of discretion in regard to interpretation and enforcement of laws. The conclusion is that sometimes (often!) laws are written that leave certain “discretionary” details up to the executive branch to design and enforce. Duke Law professor Christopher Schroeder summed it up: “I agree this can make us very uncomfortable. I just don’t see the argument for unconstitutionality at this juncture.” The panel gives much discussion, teaching, and some examples behind this consensus. Watch the entire 1-plus hours of video for yourself.

Schroeder argued the case:

There is a difference between executing the law and making the law. But in the world in which we operate, that distinction is a lot more problematic than you would think. If the Congress has enacted a statute that grants discretionary authority for the administrative agency or the president to fill in the gaps, to write the regulations that actually make the statute operative, those regulations to all intents and purposes make the law.

From the framers’ angle, the president’s discretionary authority has been noted from day one. I make the point in the chapter on executive power in Restoring America:

Another antifederalist warned about what has turned out to be a real danger of the President: his actual job description for executing the law. This appears in Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution and is left extremely broad (not an uncommon feature in our Constitution): “he shall stake Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” In a letter to Captain Peter Osgood Massachusetts, William Symmes described the problem:

Can we exactly say how far a faithful execution of the laws may extend? or what may be called or comprehended in a faithful execution? If the President be guilty of a misdemeanor, will he not take care to have this excuse? And should it turn against him, may he not plead a mistake! or is he bound to understand the laws, or their operation? Should a Federal law happen to be as generally expressed as the President’s authority; must he not interpret the Act! For in many cases he must execute the laws independent of any judicial decision. And should the legislature direct the mode of executing the laws, or any particular law, is he obliged to comply, if he does not think it will amount to a faithful execution?

In other words, the Constitution defines the President’s power so broadly that he can essentially create new laws by interpreting undefined areas of existing law according to his own agenda, interpreting how to implement existing laws, or he can perhaps even ignore specific laws of Congress if he deems them to infringe upon the broad interpretations he comes up with. In this way, the President has great latitude under the guise of his “care” to faithfully execute the laws.

And woe is us when our Congress actually passes a law so vague as to hand such discretion to the president. With these things in mind, read that statute for yourself once again: the President’s secretary of DHS, and thus under the duty of the president, is charged with the duty of:

“Establishing national immigration enforcement policies and priorities.”

Did Congress provide any detail in this statute? Are these “policies” defined, delimited? Are the “priorities” outlined? Is the president even given guidelines for these things? No. These are broad, undefined, discretionary powers handed by Congress directly to the president. And this was a law passed by an overwhelmingly bipartisan Congress.

So when the President turns and actually follows that statute, he may be acting contrary to the desires of some on the subject of immigration itself, but he is doing nothing illegal or unconstitutional.

So when the first and most vigorous action of conservative leaders is to hit the airwaves with cries of “unconstitutional” and “illegal,” I shake my head. This is the worst kind of political posturing imaginable: it is uninformed and misguided. They are not exposing his fallacy, but their own. And I have a hunch they know better.

I can’t imagine what they think they’re accomplishing. Perhaps it’s an unconscionable, shameless exercise in fundraising—unconscionable, that is, if these Republicans know they’re on the losing side for perfectly good reasons. They know that Supreme Court decisions, statutory authority, and the Constitution itself are all against their argument. Yet they hit popular conservative media outlets with shouts of “unconstitutional!” and stir up their base anyway. For what end?

There’s no need to speculate too much on motive. Assuming the motives are absolutely pure, then the reason must be ignorance and misinformation. Perhaps they don’t know that Supreme Court opinions, statutory authority, and the Constitution itself are all on the President’s side in this matter. If that’s the case, then these guys may be exonerated generally on the moral front, but it speaks loudly of incompetence. Either way, these guys are demonstrating nothing but their own weaknesses.

As I have said a hundred times now, if we want to make real lasting change in this society, we have to get honest about the real problems, and the real nature of the real problems. That may make us uncomfortable in some ways, but it has to be done. Skewed hype will only profit a few politicians for a short time, and only at their individual level.

Categories: Worldview

Yes, Pope Francis is a Socialist

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 12:25

You’ve heard of “legitimate rape,” now meet its state-sanctioned cousin, “legitimate robbery.” Or, at least, hear it in the euphemized form pronounced by the People’s Pope, Pope Francis: “legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State.”

For those of you mainstreamers who actually believed the media when they condemned Sarah Palin for calling this guy a “liberal”—folks, that was mild, and for whatever her faults and foibles otherwise may be, Palin should never have apologized for that statement. And for those of you, also, who actually believed this Pope when he assured the world he is no communist—only “caring for the poor”—well, let’s talk a little bit about walking and quacking, shall we?

Whether something wears the label of “communist,” or “socialist,” or “liberal,” or not, doesn’t matter. What matters is substance of their social ethics. As I argue throughout God vs. Socialism, the moment the state begins to redistribute wealth for any reason other than punishment for crime (and that only in very specified ways), it is defying the biblical doctrine of private property, defying biblical law, defying God. I label such activity by the state “socialism,” and I argue it applies across the board whether any given version of the practice meets certain technical definitions of “socialism,” “communism,” “liberation theology,” etc., used by some today.

I don’t care about the labels. I care about the substance.

So I get my jimmies rustled a bit when I hear this self-proclaimed not-a-communist advocating socialistic doctrines which he euphemistically terms “legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State.”

This came during a brief speech before world leaders at the U.N. “Agencies, Funds and Programmes” group last May, where Francis called for “equitable development” by the aforementioned means. His full comments go like this:

I do not hesitate to state . . . that equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level. A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.

Honestly, had he left out the phase “by the State,” I would have been less disturbed. We do need legitimate distribution of wealth, and it is only by such means that poverty can truly be addressed in any lasting way. But “legitimate redistribution by the State” is a whole different animal. Now you’ve moved from sharing, giving, and charity into the realm of coercion at gunpoint—i.e. armed robbery.

To call such activity “legitimate” is to deny Scripture in the name of the poor.

It is no surprise, then, to see Pope Francis mangle a classic passage of Scripture—Zacchaeus—toward this end. He brings forth the wee little man for a whopper of a tale:

Zacchaeus made a radical decision of sharing and justice, because his conscience had been awakened by the gaze of Jesus. . . . The account of Jesus and Zacchaeus teaches us that above and beyond economic and social systems and theories, there will always be a need to promote generous, effective and practical openness to the needs of others. Jesus does not ask Zacchaeus to change jobs nor does he condemn his financial activity; he simply inspires him to put everything, freely yet immediately and indisputably, at the service of others. 

Sure, if it were all about “sharing and justice,” who could be opposed? And to be sure, what Zacchaeus did was indeed about justice—but not some scheme of redistribution like Francis promotes. Read the text (Luke 19:1–10). You will find nothing in there about Zacchaeus putting “everything . . . at the service of others.” You will certainly not find anything about state-run wealth redistribution. (That was in part the very thing Zacchaeus had been doing wrong to begin with!)

Sure, Zacchaeus voluntarily gave half his goods to the poor. That was giving, and that was good. And yes, Zacchaeus proclaimed that if he had defrauded anyone of anything (verse 8), he would restore it fourfold. This was restitutional justice according to Mosaic law (Exodus 22:1–14). Zacchaeus was willing to repay with penalty anything he had stolen—again, justice for crime—not to institute a state-run program of wealth redistribution.

When Francis notes that Jesus never asked Zacchaeus to change jobs or amend his financial activity, it’s simply an argument from silence. The text records absolutely no ethical instruction from Jesus to Zacchaeus on anything. For example, Jesus also did not tell Zac not to murder anyone. Was he free therefore to do so? No, the law remained in force, in total, and Jesus did not have to tell him rules which he already knew well. The problem was that Zacchaeus was transgressing the law up to that point, and that’s how he got so rich. Now he repented of his sin and crime, and willing to uphold the law.

The same rules apply to the State. The mad twist of irony here is that by supporting the State in its coercive taxing and redistributing activities, Pope Francis is actually advocating the crime of which Zacchaeus was actually guilty before the law of God.

Of course, before meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus would probably have referred to his trade as “cooperation between the private sector and civil society.” Roman tax collection actually was a public-private partnership, after all. Zacchaeus would likely have defended himself against advocates of Mosaic law by calling the Roman State system “legitimate.”

Well, Rome continues it euphemizing of state-sanctioned robbery. Today it flows from the lips of His Holiness, head of the People’s Liberation Front of the Vatican, Pope Francis. Reiterating his previous sentiments, this Pope recently made all headlines when he addressed another UN group, “with the aim of studying together the forms of intervention necessary in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.”

He spoke of the “right to food” for which “States” should be “inspired.” In this process, he argued, “We ask for dignity, not for charity.”

This is a frank admission: the leftist, socialist program is always against charity. They believe in entitlement and material equity. Francis has tipped his hand once again. Out with charity! In with “dignity.” In with “justice” in terms of “distribution.” Read: in with state-enforced material equality. Read: in with socialism and communism-lite.

We are not left wondering what type of “intervention” he has in mind: it involves “States, too.” In regard to “feeding the human family,” he said, “Every woman, man, child and elderly person everywhere should be able to count on these guarantees. It is the duty of every State that cares for the wellbeing of its citizens to subscribe to them unreservedly, and to take the necessary steps to ensure their implementation.

Toward this end he preaches “the relationship between rights and food” as part of “the right to life and a dignified existence” which ought “to be protected by law.” It is nothing less than a “moral obligation to share the economic wealth of the world.”

Call it what you will, but if it walks and quacks like a socialist, no degree of pious rhetoric and personal example will change the fact that it is a socialist. No cope and miter can hide the socialist feathers.

There is one thing, however, Francis said with which I agree. It was certainly unwitting on his part. He uttered, “There are few subjects about which we find as many fallacies as those related to hunger. . . . This is the first challenge to be overcome.” Yes!

So I have a couple pieces of advice for Pope Francis. First, attend to your own fallacies regarding poverty and justice. That must be the first challenge you overcome.

Second, if you’re so worried about the poor, how about a Vatican-sanctioned auction of treasures, paintings, gold, properties, etc., with the proceeds going to feed the hungry and institute voluntary programs of charity? We’ll even let you call it dignity instead of charity. How about pouring out the Vatican billions for that?

Granted, this current Pope has done more personally to encourage simplicity and giving than many others. If only his teaching and lecturing of world leaders carried over that example of voluntarism and charity. Instead, his proclamations repudiate those principles and embrace State socialism.

Next thing you know, Jim Wallis of Sojourners will be leveraging Pope Francis for fundraising and inviting him to Washington, D.C.! My oops. He already did.

Categories: Worldview

And then there’s the “you professed it all right, but still missed by a mile” Jesus

Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:09

Kevin DeYoung recently asked and answered afresh the most important question in the world, and I totally agree with his answer; yet for all its orthodoxy, it leaves me a bit sideways.

The question is, of course, Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” Peter’s answer was and still is the correct one: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This answer received the blessing from Jesus Himself, and His revelation that His church is built upon this foundation.

‘Nuff said. Or, apparently not.

In this season approaching the celebration of Christ’s Incarnation among us, it is certainly appropriate to reflect upon all that “Christ, Son of the living God” means. And it means a lot. DeYoung gives us His expanded answer:

And then there’s Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Not just another prophet. Not just another Rabbi. Not just another wonder-worker. He was the one they had been waiting for: the Son of David and Abraham’s chosen seed, the one to deliver us from captivity, the goal of the Mosaic law, Yahweh in the flesh, the one to establish God’s reign and rule, the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim good news to the poor, the lamb of God come to take away the sins of the world.

This Jesus was the Creator come to earth and the beginning of a new creation. He embodied the covenant, fulfilled the commandments, and reversed the curse. This Jesus is the Christ that God spoke of to the serpent, the Christ prefigured to Noah in the flood, the Christ promised to Abraham, the Christ prophesied through Balaam before the Moabites, the Christ guaranteed to Moses before he died, the Christ promised to David when he was king, the Christ revealed to Isaiah as a suffering servant, the Christ predicted through the prophets and prepared for through John the Baptist.

All of this is true, good, and beautiful—and it all resonates. But part of the point DeYoung makes with it does not so much. Aside from seasonal paeans, he wishes to correct a problem in our culture. It is the problem that we too often see Jesus as “a reflection of the current mood or the projection of our own desires.” DeYoung wants to help us instead find “the real Jesus.” He says, “The question is doubly crucial in our day because not every Jesus is the real Jesus.”

Well, he’s absolutely right about that. But we must be careful when pontificating about our own real Jesus and criticizing that of another. DeYoung has a long list he seems to find inadequate (though he didn’t directly say this, it is implied, I believe). Here are a few samples:

There’s Republican Jesus who is against tax increases and activists judges, and for family values and owning firearms.

There’s Democrat Jesus who is against Wall Street and Walmart, and for reducing our carbon footprint and spending other people’s money. . . .

There’s Starbucks Jesus who drinks fair trade coffee, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid and goes to film festivals. . . .

There’s Touchdown Jesus who helps athletes run faster and jump higher than non-Christians and determines the outcomes of Super Bowls. . . .

There’s Hippie Jesus who teaches everyone to give peace a chance, imagine a world without religion, and helps us remember all you need is love.

There’s Yuppie Jesus who encourages us to reach our full potential, reach for the stars, and buy a boat. . . .

There’s Platitude Jesus, good for Christmas specials, greeting cards, and bad sermons; he inspires people to believe in themselves, and lifts us up so we can walk on mountains.

There’s Revolutionary Jesus who teaches us to rebel against the status quo, stick it to the man, and dream up impossible utopian schemes. . . .

There’s Good Example Jesus who shows you how to help people, change the planet, and become a better you.

Before we go any further, let me just say that if you believe Jesus does not determine the outcomes of Super Bowls, then you have denied the Reformed faith. As Calvin would say, “Mark that for one point.”

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that many factions and persons in our culture—and in all cultures of all times—have created many an idol under the name of Jesus. But looking over DeYoung’s list of correctables, I don’t find a whole lot that is in itself objectionable given a little perspective.

You see, from the perspective of Jesus’ unfathomable perfection, Lordship, love, mission, providence, and so much more—of all those things DeYoung listed in his own theological answer—Jesus can and often is all of these other things to all of these other people in different ways, times, and stations of life.

While in no circumstance is Jesus ever limited or circumscribed by any of those things (thinking so is what makes the idol), He nevertheless is many of those things—and it is just as much idolatry to deny this as it is to reduce Him to a purely Starbucks or Touchdown Jesus.

This is the great tragedy of saying “not that but this” in regard to Christ, the Son of the living God. No matter how theologically correct we get, we can never be exhaustive and perfect enough.  If we’re going to be serious about the game of criticizing other people’s Jesus-facets, we need to be aware that even our own super-creedal, super-scriptural, super-orthodox definitions will also fall if we are so brave as to apply the same standard to ourselves. It is simply a fact, especially for us theologians, that our purely theological definitions of Jesus are sometimes “a reflection of the current mood or the projection of our own desires,” as much as anything else can be.

This reminds me of a quip once repeated by N. T. Wright, which he said he had heard from another theologian (I paraphrase): “The problem with theology is that if you don’t say everything all the time, someone will accuse you of leaving something out on purpose.”

Yes, and they will also sometimes accuse you of intending things you didn’t say that they themselves imply unnecessarily. Proof of these problems is the fact that some readers are (probably) uncomfortable right now merely because I just quoted N.T. Wright.

DeYoung rightly wants us to know the “real Jesus,” and everything He said about Jesus is correct, but it’s not nearly enough—not if you’re going to hold people accountable for their inadequate answers to that question.

But if we’re more understanding as to why Jesus reaches people through mundane ways and even, gasp, popular culture, then we will probably learn a few things about His omnipotence and His character that we’ve neglected so far.

Years ago, I read the book The Real Jesus written by cult leader Garner Ted Armstrong. By no means do I endorse his heresy, the Arianism, millenarianism, etc. But there was a lot in that book that I still find very helpful and corrective to the super-righteous, overly pietistic, or overly theologized—in short, traditional—portrayals of who Jesus is. There are simply some boxes outside of which we need to think.

It was enough for Jesus himself to hear the answer, “Christ, the Son of the living God.” He required nothing more in order to give one of the most memorable blessings in all of Scripture. That should content us, too. Because from that short title, Jesus goes on to reach, save, and inspire all kinds of people in a million different ways and walks of life—even some with which we are sometimes uncomfortable. Like Paul being all things to all men that by all means he might save some, we need to learn to let our periphery be a bit more relaxed and adaptive, even while the core of our orthodoxy remains immovable.

Categories: Worldview

“Passionate” hero cop turns out to be rabid gun-grabbing tyrant

Thu, 11/20/2014 - 09:56

Milwaukee police chief Edward Flynn is being portrayed as something of a flash hero as he blasted reporters with what has been described as “passionate authority.” But no one has yet noted the far more important issue that surfaced in his tirade: his passionate anti-gun agenda.

Flynn was allegedly “verbally attacked” for paying attention to his cell phone during a press conference last week. Since the conference was to discuss the officer-related shooting of a black individual, Flynn’s cell-phone focus was taken as “disrespectful,” and, it has been assumed, perhaps reporters were fishing for him to say something they could interpret as racially disrespectful. But Flynn exploded on them:

Well I was on my phone, yes. That is true. I was following developments about a 5-year-old girl sitting on her dad’s lap who just got shot in the head by a drive-by shooting. If some of the people gave a good g****mn about the victimization of people in this community by crime, I’d take some of their invective more seriously.

The greatest racial disparity in the city of Milwaukee is getting shot and killed. Hello! Eighty percent of my homicide victims every year are African-American. . . .

Now they [protesters] know all about the last three people who’ve been killed by the Milwaukee Police Department over the course of the last several years. There’s not one of them that can name one of the last three homicide victims we’ve had in this city.

The last two sentences are, of course, an indictment of both the protesters and the media who inform them. And everybody loves it when the liberal media get a hypocrisy wedgie and have it pulled up over their heads. But wait just a minute, something stinks far worse here.

These outlets even related the words, and yet gave no notice of what Flynn said next:

[T]his community’s at risk all right. And it’s not because men and women in blue risk their lives protecting it. It’s at risk because we have large numbers of high-capacity, quality firearms in the hands of remorseless criminals who don’t care who they shoot. . . .

[The cops are] the ones who are going to be out there patrolling and stopping suspects who may have guns under the front seat.

The community’s at risk because of a prevalence of “high capacity” firearms. Sound like political trade language to anyone? You bet it is.

Some will note that he only objected to the firearms in the hands of “remorseless criminals,” but note that he also referred to the implied threat of mere “suspects” who “may” have guns. I am getting a clearer picture of this guy’s agenda.

But then it gets really clear. Flynn has an outspoken history of anti-gun activism.

Back in 2009, when the Wisconsin attorney general affirmed the state’s recognition of open carry laws as a clear Second Amendment right, Flynn spoke up in tyrannical defiance. You won’t believe how far he took it:

My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it. . . . It’s irresponsible to send a message to them that if they just carry it openly no one can bother them.

Flynn is so rabid against guns that even liberals cringed when he was chosen to testify before Congress when liberals recently tried to leverage Sandy Hook to renew an assault weapons ban. No not this guy! He’ll actually spill the whole liberal agenda and make it look bad! Huffington Post shuddered:

Flynn was openly boasting that he had instructed Milwaukee police officers to harass, assault, and willfully violate the rights of Milwaukee citizens when Flynn knew they weren’t violating any laws. . . . That he was never really held accountable for his comments is bad enough. That he’s now being put forward as a spokesman for gun control is really pretty awful.

But spokesman he was. In that 2013 hearing, Flynn eagerly lectured Congress on the need for strict gun control: “The notion that innocent, law-abiding citizens will use an assault weapon or high-capacity firearm to protect themselves is not our experience.”

When pushed on enforcing the laws we have rather than expanding new ones, Flynn interrupted, spoke over, and rebuked the Senator: “If you think we’re going to do paperwork prosecutions, you’re wrong!”

After the hearing, Flynn continued his pontifications with reporters:

Don’t sit there crying crocodile tears for the victims of mass murders and the number of police officers shot every year and then blithely say, “Oh, and by the way, we can’t do anything about it. It would inconvenience someone.”

Imagine that: a police chief who believes your stand for Second Amendment rights— God-given rights—is nothing more than an excuse to do nothing and a petty personal “convenience.”

And now, just a few months ago in the midst of the Ferguson furor, Flynn found a way to squeeze his name into the media spotlight again on the same issue. Surprise, there was that same calculated political language again: “We have remorseless, reckless criminals in possession of high-quality firearms.”

At that time, Flynn boasted his officers were confiscating as many firearms from people as was done in the much larger NYPD:

As of July 6th, the New York City Police Department had confiscated approximately 1,350 firearms from the streets of a city of 9 million. . . . So far this year, the Milwaukee Police Department in a city of 600,000—15 times smaller than New York—has seized 1,340 firearms from the streets of this city.

Remember, this is the guy who promised to put people “on the ground” and take their guns regardless of their rights to begin with.

Flynn’s anti-gun activism and statements have been so bad in the past, that his own Sheriff (the county jurisdiction above the City of Milwaukee), apologized to the Senate committee Flynn had disrespected.

David A Clarke, Jr., the Sheriff of Milwaukee County who became famous when he instructed all law-abiding citizens to arm themselves, sent the following letter to the committee chairman Lindsey Graham. In it, Clarke apologized “on behalf of my constituents” for Flynn’s “embarrassing behavior,” stating,

Please do not see his arrogance as exemplary of the people in Milwaukee County. His views on gun control are his and he is entitled to them, but he has no constituency of his own. He is an appointed bureaucrat. I do not remember him emphasizing that fact and I want to you to know that his viewpoint does not represent either my view on gun control nor countless other law-abiding citizens and gun owners in Milwaukee County. Chief Flynn has been a mouthpiece for the Mayors Against Guns group that has made no secret of their desire to obliterate the Second Amendment. Chief Flynn should have made his bias clear before speaking.

This recent “blast the media” story was upheld by TheBlaze and other alternative news outlets for Flynn’s daring to confront the assumed racist implications of reporters’ questions. Perhaps that is true and laudable to a degree. But it should be viewed mainly as one rabid leftist chiding other leftist pawns regarding what their real issue of the day needs to be: not racism, but gun control.

We should get on the side of Sheriff Clarke and see through the façade of these biased bureaucrats and activists, and focus on the real important issue.

Categories: Worldview

We have returned to ground zero for liberty; fix this or else

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 13:30

Dear friends, you are watching Washington politicians wrangle about the exigencies of tyranny under the banner of the land of the free, and meanwhile the real castle walls of freedom have already crumbled and fallen around you. You toss and banter canned news articles like grand artillery in the war of the worlds, yet in the trenches around you, the most important death of liberty trolls unimpeded, in virtual silence, busily preparing your graves.

What I am talking about is the issue on which John Adams chronicled as none other than the issue by which “American independence was born,” “the seeds of patriots and heroes were sown.” He meant no exaggeration by this. This was literally ground zero for liberty from arbitrary government.

And we’ve totally blown it.

And we virtually ignore it in the headlines. Of all major news stories about liberty, this one gets less traction than any. At stake is nothing less than the practical abolition of the fourth amendment. I have detailed this before case in my exclusive interview with James Otis, Jr. If ever we have been serious, now must be the time.

Last week, I related an article on the topic of civil forfeiture in which police and attorneys at a private seminar boasted of how they can abuse these laws to the max. The article had been run in the New York Times. Perhaps that’s what turned people off. It got little notice.

But now, news outlets all over—conservative, liberal, and libertarian alike—have picked it up. Still, few of these, even from major sources like National Review, got much traction at all, considering. Maybe it’s because “civil forfeiture” just doesn’t make stimulating headlines for the masses addicted to political rage porn. “Obama kills babies,” works better, I suppose.

But move over mainstreamers: by far the best analysis has come from a freelancer who posted on BuzzFeed. His diligent review of conference video reveals that the unconscionable hubris among these police and prosecutors is far worse than all the other articles combined led us to imagine. Combing through over ten hours of video, the editor found nuggets like this:

1. City attorney Pete Connelly muses about “what a trap” it will be to seize property in states where marijuana sales have been legalized.

Imagine that: it’s profitable enough where pot is illegal. But even where it’s legal, it will still be illegal to sell it privately—though many won’t know that or won’t care. The increase in low-level circulation will be a paradise for seizure parasites. Oh, what a wonderful trap!

Connelly quips: “You know, ten bucks of marijuana, and you get a $300,000 house. What a deal! That’s really exciting.” He adds, “What’s theirs is yours.”

And boy what a trap the system is. Connelly revels that they have designed their program to eliminate objections or oversight by involving other agencies in the share: “We’ve tried to make it so that everybody’s intertwined. The police department, they run the hearings; we don’t have attorneys go to the hearings unless there’s some exceptional circumstance, like . . . the defense bar will show up and all of the sudden start to raise the Constitution. . . .”

Imagine that: a defense attorney appealing to the Constitution is considered an “exceptional circumstance.”

He admits that he police departments, as policy, don’t even consider the Constitution. They only care whether or not their own ordinances give them cover to seize.

And in the maze of civil ordinances that give such cover, there is ample opportunity to weave and deceive and spring this trap:

2. Connelly brags that his legal filings are a “masterpiece of deception.”

While defense lawyers and defendants may not like that, the practice is useful to place impediments and legal mazes between rightful owners and the predatory department that seized their property. And the practice is very effective:

3. The government wins 96 percent of its cases.

In the few percent that it doesn’t win, it makes deals, often resulting in the sale of the property anyway and splitting the proceeds with the rightful owner. Thus the innocent owner gets back only a portion of their wrongfully seized property.

And in all of this seizing, they know that they’re not really punishing the real bad guys:

4. Connelly quips, “We’re not dealing with the Beemer crowd.”

The article’s author notes why this is important. It reveals the racket is against the common folk, not the real drug dealers they want us to believe:

If civil forfeiture truly targeted drug kingpins, then police would regularly seize all kinds of high-end, flashy cars. But according to Connelly, “we’re not dealing with the Beemer [BMW] crowd so much. We deal with just down-to-earth human beings that have their cars seized.”

He even joked, “Under our ordinance, we have cornered the 1978 Cadillac motor vehicle part of southern New Mexico.”

In addition to the “good car” anecdote covered last week, there is much more:

6. Civil Forfeiture is “self-serving.” . . .

But that’s OK, he says, “that’s why you’re doing the ordinance to begin with.

He argues that it will be difficult to eradicate these self-dealing laws, too, because of political spin. Your city council or governing body “has to be supportive” because “it will be very hard politically . . . for a . . . politician not to be for ridding the streets of nuisances that injure people, cause damage, and so forth.” Even though injury and damages are not what a large portion of the cases really deal with, it makes for potent propaganda.

He goes on to silence some critics of civil forfeiture profiteering by citing a U.S. Appeals Court decision that says it’s a good thing to have laws that simultaneously raise revenue and enforce traffic laws—as if that was apples and apples for civil forfeiture. He soothes cops’ consciences, however, saying, that the “Supreme Court” says, “It’s OK. Don’t feel bad.”

So cops, be happy, be assured, and seize! Just don’t tell the public:

7. The Government Doesn’t Want To Disclose Data on Civil Forfeiture Because It Might Help “People That Are Trying to Fight the Program”

When an Albuquerque officer asked, literally laughing, “How much do you pull in per year?,” a panelist clammed up: “I think they would rather not talk about those numbers because then it starts becoming more of a bullet-point for people that are trying to fight the program.”

The officer, Stanley Harada, then said straight-faced: “What we’re talking about are salaries for people who administer the program.”

We can’t subject self-serving to public awareness, now, can we? But we can train our officers about it in private:

8. New Jersey Legal Academy Offers “Entertaining” Course on Civil Forfeiture.

While this may seem like a more trivial point, the substance of this “entertaining” course is not. In it, a New Jersey prosecutor reveals his policy for civil forfeiture in general: “IF IN DOUBT … TAKE IT!” (all caps in original).

The BuzzFeed author notes,

[T]he presentation reveals the government’s “WORST CASE SCENARIO” for property seized under civil forfeiture: “WE GIVE IT BACK.”

Give it back, that is, after putting the owner through months of legal hurdles, hoping they’ll give up and just quit. And remember, only a few percent actually get their property back.

A different, nearly 2-hour, video reveals more:

9. Police departments now target valuable items desired for their own use or pure cash value (such as flat-screen TVs).

10. Most of the cars seized belong to innocent third parties, not the criminals. The government keeps them anyway, as much as it can.

11. A prosecutor explains how to defeat the “innocent owner” defense in court, which he calls “very weak” and “easy” to overcome.

And there’s more:

12. One Philadelphia bureaucrat in an interview announces that even if you’re acquitted of a crime, you’re not innocent, you’re just “not guilty,” and the city can, and will, still proceed against the property.

13. When asked if the proceeds from forfeiture might go to pay her salary, the same bureaucrat clammed up: “I cannot comment on that.”

14. One lecturer declares that the civil forfeiture racket is a “gold mine,” proclaiming, “We could be Czars.”

He muses: “Just think what you could do as the legal department. We could be czars. We could own the city. We could be in the real estate business. . . . [I]t’s amazing that is going on.”

We could go on and on. This is being done, and is being expanded rapidly, all around us. It means the walls of liberty have crumbled and we have returned to the same position our forefathers bled and died to save us from. The only difference is, we don’t have a distant tyrant searching and seizing, we are doing it from within, to ourselves.

And our police and greedy city attorneys are bragging about having destroyed it behind our backs. In the face of critics who cry that it’s openly unconstitutional, destroying the fourth amendment, Connelly has nothing but contempt. He laments, sarcastically, the fact that “there is a limit,” because we are still somewhat bound by Common Law theories of our founding and heritage from ancient England. Oh what a hindrance! Connelly retorted in dry sarcasm, ridiculing the Constitutional framers:

The founders all say—the institutors of the Constitution, the framers and all—they knew all about atomic bombs and everything else—so why can’t our city people have the same foresight. Because we started in 1987. We’re up to date.

This confusing joke—which no one in the room seemed to have gotten—was meant to say that the founders and their Constitution are outdated and no longer relevant today. The implication is that since these men could not have imagined the progress of society today—e.g. atomic bombs, etc.—their Constitution and legal theory must be just as behind the times as they are in comparison to our technology. Let’s forget our Common Law heritage and the Constitutional protections against search and seizure enshrined within it. Let’s scrap those protections. Goodbye fourth amendment. Goodbye privacy. Good bye “yours,” and hello “mine,” says this city attorney—and all the thousands of police and attorneys who are watching, being trained, and ready to imitate him.

Folks, this is ground zero for liberty. If we cannot stop and change this system, then our nation is already gone. All the wrangling in the world about Obama, Boehner, 2016, or whatever else means absolutely nothing until this issue is addressed—and remedied.

It is time for a major reassessment of our land. It is time for a major reassessment of our liberty, and of We, the People, who have allowed it to be destroyed.

Categories: Worldview

Police departments boast about civil forfeiture abuse

Thu, 11/13/2014 - 09:21

There’s a fine article in the NY Times regarding police abuses with civil forfeiture laws. Not only are some police departments conscious they’re abusing people with these laws, but they boast about it and even cover in seminars how best to abuse it and get away with it.

Legal activist group the Institute for Justice caught at least three departments nationwide passing along tips for purposeful and selective asset forfeiture during seminars and conferences. The article relates:

Much of the nuts-and-bolts how-to of civil forfeiture is passed on in continuing education seminars for local prosecutors and law enforcement officials, some of which have been captured on video. The Institute for Justice, which brought the videos to the attention of The Times, says they show how cynical the practice has become and how profit motives can outweigh public safety.

In the sessions, officials share tips on maximizing profits, defeating the objections of so-called “innocent owners” who were not present when the suspected offense occurred, and keeping the proceeds in the hands of law enforcement and out of general fund budgets. The Times reviewed three sessions, one in Santa Fe, N.M., that took place in September, one in New Jersey that was undated, and one in Georgia in September that was not videotaped.

Officials offered advice on dealing with skeptical judges, mocked Hispanics whose cars were seized, and made comments that, the Institute for Justice said, gave weight to the argument that civil forfeiture encourages decisions based on the value of the assets to be seized rather than public safety. In the Georgia session, the prosecutor leading the talk boasted that he had helped roll back a Republican-led effort to reform civil forfeiture in Georgia, where seized money has been used by the authorities, according to news reports, to pay for sports tickets, office parties, a home security system and a $90,000 sports car.

The article relates an interview with Sean McMurtry, chief of police of Mercer County, NJ (Trenton area), who says, “We’re very proud of our forfeiture operation,” because it’s a good deterrent to crime. But the conference talk captured on video reveals perhaps the real reasons he favors the “operation” so much:

[I]n the video, Mr. McMurtry made it clear that forfeitures were highly contingent on the needs of law enforcement. In New Jersey, the police and prosecutors are allowed to use cars, cash and other seized goods; the rest must be sold at auction. Cellphones and jewelry, Mr. McMurtry said, are not worth the bother. Flat screen televisions, however, “are very popular with the police departments,” he said. . . .

Mr. McMurtry said his handling of a case is sometimes determined by department wish lists. “If you want the car, and you really want to put it in your fleet, let me know — I’ll fight for it,” Mr. McMurtry said, addressing law enforcement officials on the video. “If you don’t let me know that, I’ll try and resolve it real quick through a settlement and get cash for the car, get the tow fee paid off, get some money for it.”

In another video, Harry Connelly Jr., city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., referred to seized assets as “little goodies,” and said, “We always try to get once in a while, maybe, a good car.” He advised police officers to be mindful of legal loopholes that could allow people to regain their property easily. He detailed one incident that occurred outside a local bar:

“A guy drives up in a 2008 Mercedes, brand new,” he explained. “Just so beautiful, I mean, the cops were undercover and they were just like ‘Ahhhh.’ And he gets out and he’s just reeking of alcohol. And it’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness, we can hardly wait.’”

But, he goes on to say, the cops in question arrested the guy as he exited the bar, and just before he actually touched his vehicle. Since he had not yet touched it, he was not legally “in control” of the vehicle, and it therefore could not legally be seized. Connelly laments:

Lo and behold, we finally get the facts that he didn’t have control [of the vehicle], and so we, like, “gulp”—back goes his car, because . . . we didn’t wait. We should have let the door open, sit down, “hello?” pop! [simulating handcuffs]. Then we’d have been alright. But so, we gave it back.

Further,

Prosecutors boasted in the sessions that seizure cases were rarely contested or appealed. But civil forfeiture places the burden on owners, who must pay court fees and legal costs to get their property back. Many seizures go uncontested because the property is not worth the expense.

And often the first hearing is presided over not by a judge but by the prosecutor whose office benefits from the proceeds, and who has wide discretion in deciding whether to forfeit the property or return it, sometimes in exchange for a steep fine.

The article relates that, despite growing popular opposition to such laws, “many cities and states are moving to expand civil seizures of cars and other assets.” Indeed, from just what is related here, it is clear that the practice that was first justified specifically as part of the War of Drugs has now been expanded to more common issues such as DWI and domestic abuse.

Yes, we all want such things to stop, but further expanding already unconstitutional police powers to do so is a recipe for destroying civilization in the name of deterring a few criminals. And laws that give police departments financial incentives—indeed, party incentives!—to expand tyranny is socially insane. It is social suicide. Folks, with these laws, we are subsidizing the trampling of the Constitution and freedom in general.

Categories: Worldview

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