Monday, April 24, 2006

This and That

I missed '60 Minutes' the other evening, but apparently the broadcast included an interview with Tyler Drumheller, who was a top CIA liaison officer in Europe before the war. Drumheller told Ed Bradley that the Central Intelligence Agency warned President Bush before the Iraq war that it had reliable information that Iraq did not posses weapons of mass destruction. According to Drumheller, the White House was "no longer interested" in intelligence because the policy toward Iraq had been already set.

In Lexington, MA, a teacher used the children's book, "King & King," as part of a lesson about different types of weddings. In the book, a prince marries another prince rather than a princess. Gives new meaning to the term "fairy tale." Lexington Superintendent of Schools Paul Ash says the school has no affirmative duty to tell parents it is teaching perversion. In fact, it's all about celebrating diversity. Ash says, "Lexington is committed to teaching children about the world they live in, and in Massachusetts same-sex marriage is legal." On a related note, if anyone is interested, Kathy has created a page over at my website that contains homeschooling links. Hopefully, we will be adding more information as time goes by.

A fine column by William Lind looking at a study published by the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute. Here are a couple tidbits:

"Though the critics have made a number of telling points against the conduct of the war and the occupation, the basic problems faced by the United States flowed from the enterprise itself, and not primarily from mistakes in execution along the way. The most serious problems facing Iraq and its American occupiers – 'endemic violence, a shattered state, a nonfunctioning economy, and a decimated society' – were virtually inevitable consequences that flowed from the breakage of the Iraqi state. "

"It is now clear that the insurgency enjoys advantages on its own terrain that are just as formidable as the precision-guided weaponry deployed with devastating effect by the United States. Because U.S. forces can destroy everything they can see, they had no difficulty in marching into Baghdad and forcing the resistance underground. Once underground, however, the resistance acquired a set of advantages that have proved just as effective as America's formidable firepower. Iraq's military forces had no answer to smart bombs, but the United States has no answer – at least no good answer – to car bombs. "

"The assumption that the United States would have won the hearts and minds of the population had it maintained occupying forces of 300,000 instead of 140,000 must seem dubious in the extreme."

"Rather than 'do it better next time,' a better lesson is 'don't do it at all.'"

Thomas Fleming with some thoughts on Mexican immigration:

But even though the primary motives are economic, we would be making a big mistake if we failed to realize that Mexican immigrants generally—not just spokesmen for Aztlan or LULAC—have not absorbed the ideology of the Reconquista. The Spaniards stole the land from the Indians; the Norteamericanos stole the land from the Mexicans; and now it is time to get back a little of what they are owed. It is this ideology—and not merely a typically Latino skeptical view of law and order—that gives illegal immigrants their puzzling self-righteousness in defying US laws.

On "The Trinity and Race." Interesting thoughts from Chris Ortiz:

"This ideal of the one-race of humanity lies behind much of the evangelical rhetoric on reconciliation. And, unless the emphasis of "unity" is placed squarely upon the foundation of Biblical justice -- rather than base sentimentality -- the coercive power of the state will impose harmony with the sacramental "sprinkling" of the church's endorsement. The unity of humanity that disregards Biblical distinction is a social pillar to the totalitarian state."

On Libertarianism

Baptists for pagan schools.

A few billion here, a few billion there, and pretty soon you're talkin' about some big money:

"According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, the combined costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan this year will hit $117.9 billion - about $9.8 billion a month - if Congress passes the White House's emergency money request, as is virtually certain.

About 80 percent of the cash goes to Iraq, where costs have risen from $48 billion in 2003 to a projected $94 billion this year - for a total of $282 billion, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a think tank."

De Borchgrave and Cohen on The Lobby.

A defense of Christian activism by John Frame. Gene Veith assess four ways that Christian can engage culture. I'll cast my lot with Frame.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

On the Necessity of Christian Engagement

The Purpose of the Christian Life

Before getting too far ahead of ourselves, we should think about and define the purpose of the Christian life. The Westminster Catechism begins by saying that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. In other words, Christianity isn’t primarily about individual soul-saving, but glorifying the Creator of the cosmos.

Today, there is a tremendous need for Biblical evangelism that surpasses tract passing, personal testimony, and "Just As I Am." What is needed is a comprehensive program that brings the comprehensive message of salvation to every individual—and institution.

Evangelicals tend toward an extremely narrow view of God’s Kingdom and His purposes. What is the purpose of the Great Commission? Is it merely an edict to the Church to witness in a hopeless and dying world, snatching a few desperate souls from the fiery cauldron of the lake of fire? Or should Christ’s directive give us hope that the Holy Spirit will empower the Church to promote salvation against the world, the flesh, and the evil one?

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus asks His disciples the BIG question that we must all answer—"Who do you say I am?" Peter responds by saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Next, Jesus tells Peter that upon his confession, "I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." The picture painted by our Lord is of a militant and empowered body of believers, taking the light of the Gospel message into the world and scattering the darkness. It is the forces of evil manning the barricades against the Church, not visa versa.

Though Satan is a mighty enemy, described as a roaring lion, Scripture gives us comfort that in light of Christ's victory at Golgotha, the strong man has been bound, and we are to plunder his house (Matt. 12:29) and occupy it until Jesus returns.

Thankfully, we have not been left powerless to fulfill our mission. We have the Word of God, which is sharper than a two-edged sword, and access to God through prayer. Most importantly, we have Jesus’ promise that He will be with us always in the person of the Holy Spirit, who was sent to be our counselor and minister.

Aside from the purpose of the Great Commission, Evangelicals also frequently misunderstand its nature as well. Is it merely individualistic, with the hope of saving individual lost sinners and training them in their private "walk with God" and public worship? Or is its goal to transform individuals with the expectation that they will make a difference in the world, creating a Christian culture?

Discussing the perversion of the “individualistic” Gospel, Dr. David Alan Black writes:

One of the perversions of the Gospel I think needs eliminating today is the emphasis upon personal evangelism to the detriment or exclusion of any social emphasis. I do not question the fact that salvation is personal and individual, but it is far more than that. However, for many evangelicals the emphasis on the personal and individual has increasingly made salvation individualistic. The whole of the Christian experience is thought to be one’s personal relationship to God – often to the exclusion of one’s relationship with others or to the culture in general.

Salvation is both personal and social. Since sin is personal, each individual is guilty of sin and must be forgiven for his sin, not someone else’s. However, salvation is also social. Jesus is Lord of all. Politics, education, economics, the arts – all these are included under His divine Lordship. Thus Christians must come to understand that although salvation is individual and personal, the kingdom of God is far broader than just our personal salvation experiences.

It is true, as Dr. Black says, that sin is personal, as are the consequences, and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is the starting point for Christians. Those who are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) must be given a new heart and a new spirit. The Apostle Paul tells us "the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law" (Rom. 8:7).

Regeneration, however, is just the beginning. In Christ, we become a new creation and are prepared to accomplish the good works for which we were created (Eph. 2:10). We are dead to sin, and slaves to Christ. In the strength of the Holy Spirit, we also have the ability to obey the commands of the King, and we are obligated to do so out of love (John 14:15, I John 2:3-5). The theological term for this growth process is progressive sanctification. In effect, we become more Christ-like in our attitudes and actions. This process of progressive growth ought to be foundational to any Christian strategy of cultural and political activism. In other words, the transformation of individuals must precede the transformation of institutions and culture.

Discerning God’s Will

The "purpose driven life" is a life lived seeking conformity to the will of God. But what is God’s will for us? D. James Kennedy writes, "God's answer to the question of human purpose and meaning centers around two great mandates He has given us in His Word. A mandate, of course, is a directive or command that points us in a specific direction." Those two mandates are the Cultural Mandate, given at the creation of man, and the Great Commission, given with the creation of the new man.

The first of God's two mandates - the Cultural Mandate - is found in Genesis 1:26-28:

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Nancy Pearcey says that to "'be fruitful and multiply,' means to develop the social world: build families, churches, schools, cities, governments, laws. The second phrase, 'subdue the earth,' means to harness the natural world: plant crops, build bridges, design computers, compose music. This passage is sometimes called the Cultural Mandate because it tells us that our original purpose was to create cultures, build civilizations—nothing less."

Here we see the Trinity conferring upon man the role of vice-regent, ruling and reigning with God, bringing the world under His dominion. Man’s task in accordance with God’s command and our own nature, having been created in His image, is to exercise dominion and develop culture. As a "federal head," Adam did not merely act on his own behalf, but as a representative for all of mankind. The command to Adam, which is stated again in the Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9) is still in force today. To quote Kennedy again, "As the vice-regents of God, we are to bring His truth and His will to bear on every sphere of our world and our society. We are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors - in short, over every aspect and intrusion of human society."

Adam’s fall into sin was imputed to all humanity and perverted the God-given desire to exercise authority in God’s name, and replaced it with a desire to become God ourselves. Consequently, Christ’s representative and vicarious death was necessary to restore and renew the image of God to allow redeemed men to bring the creation into submission to God. It is only in Christ, through the power of the Holy Sprit, that man can fulfill his original mandate. Thus, there is an intimate connection between the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate, for without salvation, we can do nothing. Therefore, evangelism and discipleship takes precedence over other activities.

However, as Christians our duty is not simply to fill our churches and drag new converts into the baptistery. We are to make disciples for our Lord, and teach them to obey everything God has commanded.

True Christian discipleship recognizes that every sphere of life is under the authority of God, and Christ’s salvation and healing is not merely for individuals, but also for the creation that groans under the impact of sin (Rom. 8). As Gary North has written, "Nothing is to be excluded from Christ’s healing: not the family, not the State, not business, not education, and surely not the institutional church. Salvation is the salve that heals the wounds inflicted by sin: every type of wound from every type of sin."

Too many of my fundamentalist and evangelical friends (and I would claim to be both an evangelical and a fundamentalist) think that Christians must merely preach the Gospel, bring souls to Jesus, and everything else will simply fall into place. But this is a denial of a Christian worldview. Chuck Colson writes:

The only task of the church, many fundamentalists and evangelicals have believed, is to save as many lost souls as possible from a world literally going to hell. But this [is an] implicit denial of a Christian worldview. It is unbiblical and [it] is the reason we have lost so much of our influence in the world. Salvation does not consist simply of freedom from sin; salvation also means being restored to the task we were given in the beginning—the job of creating culture.

We must also recognize that God created the world and called it good. Thus, though contaminated by man’s sin, the created order is still good, and the redeemed in Christ are called by God to work toward restoring the world to a Godly order.

What Has This Got to do With Politics?

Thus far, I have attempted to demonstrate that the purpose of the Christian life is to pursue God’s glory in obediently seeking to fulfill the Great Commission and the Cultural Mandate. But what has any of this to do with politics?

The word politics comes from the Greek word "polis", meaning the state or community as a whole. Politics is the means of organizing a just, equitable, and peaceful society by providing mechanisms to resolve conflicts that arise between men, by means of discussion and rational compromise. Politics is not feasible without government and authority.

However, for Christians, Christ has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, and the government, all government, rests upon His shoulders. The Scripture is clear that Christ holds all things together and through Him, all things will be reconciled to the Father. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross" (Col 1:15-20).

When Paul says "all things" does he really mean all things except politics, economics, literature, and culture? Similarly, when Paul says that we are to take every thought and make it captive to Christ (I Cor. 10:5), does that exclude politics? When he writes that we must do all things to the glory of God (I Cor. 10:31) does Paul really mean "all things other than politics?"

Also, Jesus says that His people are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and the rule and reign of Christ is extended by His people. Christians perform a common grace function. Our presence serves as a preservative and a light scattering the darkness. Does God desire justice, equity and peace and is He the source of those blessings? If so, why would it make sense that His followers and disciples should flee the battlefield and leave society in the hands of humanists?

The Bible describes believers as exiles in the world (I Peter 1:17, I Peter). Typically, my brothers and sisters use that passage to defend obscuratinism and retreat from the culture. "We're just passin' through, 'cause our citizenship is in heaven," they say. At the same time, they recite the Lord’s Prayer and sing "This is our Father’s world" without any recognition of cognitive dissonance.

Christians are indeed exiles in this world, captives if you will (I Peter 1:17, I Peter 2:11, etc.). So how do we seek dominion at the same time that we are "exiles?" Dominion is achieved primarily by service. Jesus, King of Kings, came to be a servant, and as His disciples we are to be conformed to His image and follow His example. But it is through true servanthood that dominion is established. Writing to the Jews is captivity, Jeremiah explains what it means to be an exile:

4This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. (Jer. 29:4-7)"

This sounds strikingly like the Cultural Mandate—have babies, build houses, till the soil and grow crops, seek prosperity and wealth. This is the heart of loving God with our whole being and loving our neighbors.

What is Government?

Modern man frequently makes the error of equating "government" with the State. The Cambridge Dictionary defines government as "the group of people who officially control a country." In fact, government belongs to God. He has established numerous "governments" with various prerogatives and powers to advance His holy purposes.

For example, God created the family as the primary source of earthly government. The family, has been given stewardship over children, authority over property and inheritance, and control over education. The family is also the institution preeminently responsible for social welfare. Paul says that the failure to care for our own marks us as "worse than an unbeliever" (I Tim. 5:8) and James says that "pure and undefiled religion…is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble" (James 1:27).

The early church did not depend on the Roman civil authorities to meet social needs. Likewise, we see Jesus on the cross with His dying words ensuring that His mother is taken care of by John (John 19:25-27). The modern State has encroached into all these areas that rightly fall under the purview of family government. Strong and stable families, jealously guarding their prerogatives, are the foundation of strong and stable communities, and only these mediating institutions can protect the naked individual from the maniacal, power-hungry State.

There are other "governments" as well, foremost among them, the school and the church. The point here is a simple one – God has established various institutions and given them responsibilities in their spheres of influence. More importantly, the jurisdiction of these institutions has been limited and circumscribed by the Scriptures.

Christians need to realize that the State is not sovereign. Only God is absolutely sovereign. All human agencies have limited degrees of authority. Scripture tells us that all power and authority reside in the resurrected and ascended Christ who is enthroned at the hand of God (Matt. 28:18) and that it is in Christ that all things are held together (Col. 1:17). The institutions created by Him are to serve as His ministers, working out His will.

The State’s power is also limited and circumscribed by the Word. According to the Bible, God established civil government for three primary reasons:

1. To protect human life that is made in the image of God: "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man" (Gen. 9:6);

2. To defend the law-abiding from lawbreakers: "For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer" (Rom. 13:3-4);

3. To provide for a peaceful, orderly society: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone-- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (I Tim. 1:1-2).

Today, however, the State has usurped virtually all power to its bosom. Historically, the State has been an object of worship, God walking on earth, as Hegel says. Rushdoony has written that the state is intrinsically religious, "Every state or social order is a religious establishment. Every state is a law order, and every law order represents an enacted morality, with procedures for the enforcement of that morality. Every morality represents a form of theological order, i.e., is an aspect and expression of a religion."

Is there any doubt that a cosmopolitan, anti-Western, and vigorously anti-Christian elite has established control of virtually every viable institution, including the instruments of cultural dissemination and political control (i.e., the State)? Is there any question that said elite is an ally of humanism? Should such a state of affairs be endorsed or accepted by God’s people?

Many Christians point to Romans 13 as a proof text for inaction, or even retreat in political and cultural matters. However, I think these texts are frequently misunderstood in such a way as to leave the State free to rampage about in an unbiblical way. Paul says, "there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God" (Rom. 13:1). So even the State is established and ordained by God for the purpose of being God’s servant (deacon) "to do you good" (v. 4). In other words, the State is also under the authority of God, accountable to Him, and must rule in accordance with His divine rule as revealed in Scripture. The Church, therefore, must prophetically proclaim the Lordship of Christ in all spheres of life, and as a Christian who takes God’s Word seriously, I have an affirmative duty to speak and toil for the establishment of a social order that takes God’s law-word seriously.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Meaningless Thoughts

U.S. sees spike in Iraq deaths

"U.S. military deaths in Iraq have increased sharply in April after reaching the lowest level in two years last month. The increase was fueled largely by recent fighting in volatile Anbar province, west of Baghdad.

The U.S. military said Sunday that four Marines died over the weekend. In the first half of April, 48 American troops died in Iraq, according to Pentagon statistics."

Iraq's civil war is underway

"Despite President Bush's repeated denials, the figures are clear: 900 sectarian killings in a single month in Iraq means a civil war is well under way.

Iraq is a nation of 25 million people. In the United States, that level of killing would proportionately equal almost 11,000 people killed in riots, reprisal killings and sectarian clashes in a single month."

Retired Generals Call For Rummy's Head
One wonders where these guys, other than Zinni, were before the war started. Doug MacArthur, God bless him, had the fortitude to speak the truth about Truman's no-win war in Korea. Shouldn't these fellas have done the same?

In a similar vein, why didn't Colin Powell tell the truth earlier?

"I queried Powell at a reception following a talk he gave in Los Angeles on Monday. Pointing out that the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate showed that his State Department had gotten it right on the nonexistent Iraq nuclear threat, I asked why did the President ignore that wisdom in his stated case for the invasion?

'The CIA was pushing the aluminum tube argument heavily and Cheney went with that instead of what our guys wrote,' Powell said. And the Niger reference in Bush's State of the Union speech? 'That was a big mistake,' he said. 'It should never have been in the speech. I didn't need Wilson to tell me that there wasn't a Niger connection. He didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. I never believed it.'

When I pressed further as to why the President played up the Iraq nuclear threat, Powell said it wasn't the President: 'That was all Cheney.' A convenient response for a Bush family loyalist, perhaps, but it begs the question of how the President came to be a captive of his Vice President's fantasies.

More important: Why was this doubt, on the part of the secretary of state and others, about the salient facts justifying the invasion of Iraq kept from the public until we heard the truth from whistleblower Wilson, whose credibility the President then sought to destroy?"

A fantastic column by Michael Kinsley on the unintended consequences of mindless, meddlesome interventionism--all in the name of freedom, don't forget:

"So, after more than a half-century of active meddling -- protecting our interests, promoting our values, encouraging democracy, fighting terrorism, seeking stability, defending human rights, pushing peace -- it's come to this. In Iraq we find ourselves unwilling regents of a society splitting into a gangland of warring militias and death squads, with our side (labeled "the government") outperforming the other side (labeled "the terrorists") in both the quantity and gruesome quality of its daily atrocities. In Iran, an irrational government that hates us with special passion is closer to getting the bomb than Iraq -- the country we went to war with to keep from getting the bomb -- ever was.

And in Afghanistan -- site of the Iraq war prequel that actually followed the script (invade, topple brutal regime, wipe out terrorists, establish democracy, accept grateful thanks, get out) -- the good guys we put in power came close a couple of weeks ago to executing a man for the crime of converting to Christianity. Meanwhile, the bad guys (the Taliban and al-Qaeda) keep a low news profile by concentrating on killing children and other Afghan civilians rather than too many American soldiers."

Richard Land continues to baptize the war in Iraq. If you can read this without 1) vomiting, or 2) numerous outbursts of uncontrolled belly-laughter, you're a better man than I. Here are a few choice quotes, but read the entire thing if you are able.

On progress in Iraq, Land says that things are going just swell.

" I think that the progress in Iraq has been very encouraging."

So why should we be about the business of waging war for democracy? Land bases his support for messianic warfare on the principle that because as Americans we have been given much, we owe much to the rest of the world.

"But we have been given much. And to whom much is given, much is required. And I believe that makes it incumbent upon us as Americans to help others when we can to secure the same freedom that we have. The idea of American exceptionalism is not a doctrine of empire, it's not a doctrine of domination, it's a doctrine of responsibility and obligation. We have a responsibility and an obligation based upon the blessings that have been showered upon us as a nation and as a people to help others when we can."

Apparently, Land believes that the primary foreign policy error of the 1990's was failing to invade enough countries.

"I argued for intervention in Rwanda. If we had intervened in Rwanda, it would have taken probably 10,000 Marines to save about 750,000 Africans from being hacked to death. I think we're morally culpable for not having done so. I think we should have intervened in Bosnia, and I argued in 1991 that we should have. One of the biggest tests that we face as an international community today is not how we deal with aggression from one state to another, but how we deal with a state that is committing crimes against humanity and is acting in an aggressive way that amounts to genocide against its own people. I argued for American-led NATO or U.N. intervention in Bosnia, and I argued for the same thing in Kosovo."

Since we didn't go into Rwanda, we need to do a little penance and be sure to head into Sudan, too.

"We could stop what's going on in Darfur, and I believe that we should. I would not use American troops, except as a last resort, but I would use American logistics, and I would use American leadership to say, we must do this. This is not the kind of thing that human beings should allow to happen to other human beings in the 21st century. We as an international community must act to stop it."

Even if Iraq devolves into a bloody civil war, we need to stay the course and find "moderate Iraqis" to run the show.

"The consequences of failure in Iraq are horrific for the security of the United States, and for the security of moderate Islamic regimes and moderate followers of Islam around the world. The consequences of failure in Iraq are too horrendous to allow failure to happen. So, I would argue that it must be the policy of the United States to help bring about a stable democratic government in Iraq and take whatever steps we can, along with moderate Iraqis, to ensure that civil war doesn't happen."

Oh yeah, one more thing. If you don't like the Bush Doctrine, it's because you're a racist.

"For me, the overriding argument was always the President's argument that after 9/11, we had to acknowledge that the way we'd been doing business in the Middle East for the last 50 years, under both Democratic and Republican presidents, was erroneous and wrong. We had been supporting fascistic and oligarchical regimes, first in the name of anti-communism, and then in the name of stable oil supplies, but these repressive and terrible regimes were the breeding ground for terrorism.

The only way to adequately address long-term the question of radical Islamic jihadism was to help build stable democracies in the Middle East. The idea that Arabs don't want stable democracies is, in my opinion, at root a racist belief."

Cal Thomas is a Loon

Shortly after 9/11, former Moral Majority poohbah Cal Thomas wrote a column defending the use of nuclear weapons in Afghanistan:

President Bush should consider emulating his predecessor, Harry Truman, and employ the use of at least tactical nuclear weapons against the Taliban should it be concluded that such a weapon might produce better results than the current bombing campaign. If this is war, why pull any punches?

Perhaps nothing short of nuclear weapons will deter for another generation the enemies of freedom. Like the fanatical Japanese of Truman’s day, the fanatical Taliban will not be dissuaded from murdering as many Americans as they can. This is not a time for diplomatic or political niceties. It is a time to wipe them out before they wipe any more of us out.

That’s the kind of fanaticism the United States faces in Afghanistan and in countries like Iraq. If we show them that our sword is bigger than theirs and, more importantly, that we will not shrink from using it to defend our people and our values, the likelihood we will have to do so again in the near future will be diminished.

Thomas, a syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor, has consistently flakked for the administration's interventionist hoohah. In a recent column entitled "Bush and Blair Get It," Thomas again chides war critics.

So what do Bush and Blair "get" that the rest of us don't? Well, says Thomas, "it is clear the terrorists intend to take their war inside Britain and the United States, as they did on 9/11 and in the train bombings in London and Madrid. There can be no conscientious objecting to this war if we want to remain free."

In response to Thomas, David Henderson asks, "Why are they the targets? Why doesn't Thomas mention Switzerland, Sweden, Holland, or any of the other countries in Europe in his list of targets? Why doesn't he mention Canada? Presumably, he doesn't think that people in these countries would also be victims of terrorists. But what distinguishes these countries from Britain and the United States?"

Henderson answers his own question:

There is one main difference: the U.S. and British governments have intervened in the affairs of Iraq and other countries in the Middle East, while the governments of Switzerland, Sweden, Holland, and Canada have not. So the lesson seems to be not that the U.S. and British governments should continue intervening, but that it should imitate these other governments and refrain from intervening. If you complained to me that you had been stung by hornets, and I wanted to help you avoid such bad consequences in the future, the first thing I would ask is whether you had stuck your hand in a hornets' nest. If you told me you had, I would suggest that you quit sticking your hand in hornets' nests.

Indeed, let us stop looking for monsters to destroy.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Messianic Immigrationism

One of the most annoying qualities of the immigration debate is that enthusiasts for immigration often seem to detest their own countrymen and impute to foreigners character traits that we natives are obviously lacking. Here is an extended quote from a recent column by NY Times columnist and Neocon-at-large, David Brooks, that I hope makes my point. Brooks writes:

My first argument is that the exclusionists are wrong when they say the current wave of immigration is tearing our social fabric. The facts show that the recent rise in immigration hasn't been accompanied by social breakdown, but by social repair. As immigration has surged, violent crime has fallen by 57 percent. Teen pregnancies and abortion rates have declined by a third. Teenagers are having fewer sexual partners and losing their virginity later. Teen suicide rates have dropped. The divorce rate for young people is on the way down.

Over the past decade we've seen the beginnings of a moral revival, and some of the most important work has been done by Catholic and evangelical immigrant churches, by faith-based organizations like the Rev. Luis Cortas's Nueva Esperanza, by Hispanic mothers and fathers monitoring their kids. The anti-immigration crowd says this country is under assault. But if that's so, we're under assault by people who love their children.

My second argument is that the immigrants themselves are like a booster shot of traditional morality injected into the body politic. Immigrants work hard. They build community groups. They have traditional ideas about family structure, and they work heroically to make them a reality.

This is evident in everything from divorce rates (which are low, given immigrants' socioeconomic status) to their fertility rates (which are high) and even the way they shop.

Hispanics and Hispanic immigrants have less money than average Americans, but they spend what they have on their families, usually in wholesome ways. According to Simmons Research, Hispanics are 57 percent more likely than average Americans to have purchased children's furniture in the past year. Mexican-Americans spend 93 percent more on children's music.

According to the government's Consumer Expenditure Survey, Hispanics spend more on gifts, on average, than other Americans. They're more likely to support their parents financially. They're more likely to have big family dinners at home.

This isn't alien behavior. It's admirable behavior, the antidote to the excessive individualism that social conservatives decry...

My fourth argument is that government should be at least as virtuous as the immigrants themselves. Right now (as under Bill Frist's legislation), government pushes immigrants into a chaotic underground world. The Judiciary Committee's bill, which Senator Brownback supports, would tighten the borders, but it would also reward virtue. Immigrants who worked hard, paid fines, paid their taxes, stayed out of trouble and waited their turn would have a chance to become citizens. This isn't government enabling vice; it's government at its best, encouraging middle-class morality.

Social conservatives, let me ask you to consider one final thing. Women who have recently arrived from Mexico have bigger, healthier babies than more affluent non-Hispanic white natives. That's because strong family and social networks support these pregnant women, reminding them what to eat and do. But the longer they stay, and the more assimilated they become, the more bad habits they acquire and the more problems their subsequent babies have.

So if Brooks is to be believed, mass immigration from Mexico will produce the following:

1) Less violent crime
2) Increased chastity
3) Fewer teen suicides
4) Patriarchal families
5) Less divorce
6) Higher fertility rates
7) More gift giving
8) More family dinners
9) Healthier children
10) The end of rapacious individualism.

I'm sure I've missed something, but doesn't that sound great? I had no idea that there was a causation between immigration and all those social benefits.

Ron Maxwell on the Invasion

Director Ron Maxwell, who brought the epic "Gods and Generals" to the big screen, penned an open letter to the president on immigration that was published in the Washington Times. I'm not sure why Maxwell bothered. The president already told anyone who would listen that he doesn't bother to read newspapers--well, except for box scores and the funnies.

In any case, Maxwell's letter is must reading, and he cuts to the heart of the matter in ways you won't find on the Wall Street Journal editorial page or listening to Christian "ethicists." Here is a taste:

What is happening on the southern border is unprecedented. Not only in our own history, but in the history of the world. No country at any time anywhere has sustained the influx of tens of millions of foreigners across its borders. A wave of anti-American leftism is sweeping Latin America. A socialist radical may soon be elected as the president of Mexico, a country which officially encourages its emigrants to vote in Mexican elections, urging them to think of themselves as Mexican first and perhaps only. The eventual outcome is plain for anyone with eyes to see. This is invasion masquerading as immigration.

It may already be too late to avoid a future annexation of the Southwest by Mexico or the evolution of a Mexican-dominated satellite state. This is not to say Mexican people are better or worse than any of God's children. It is to say that millions of ethnically and culturally homogeneous people will seek self-determination in a land they will increasingly feel justified in claiming as their own. Especially when the natural weight of demographic change is accompanied by the soundtrack of radical demagoguery which seeks to legitimize and moralize this phenomenon as a "reconquista." Many pundits claim you will be remembered in history as the president who won (or lost) the war in Iraq. I see it differently. I believe you will come to be seen, in the years and decades to come, as the President who saved (or lost) the Southwest of the United States...

When I watched the Senate Judiciary Committee's one-day public session on immigration reform (I suppose we should be grateful that Sen. Arlen Specter devoted one whole day out of his busy schedule for the public discussion of a problem regarding 20 million illegal aliens) it was remarkable for the near absence of any senator speaking on behalf of the American people or their own constituents. It seems the overriding concern of most senators of both parties is for the illegal immigrant population. Perhaps these senators should be reminded that they are supposed to represent and defend American citizens, not foreign nationals, illegal aliens or indeed anyone else. Listening to the self-serving and pandering speeches, you'd think the senators were elected in Mexico or any other country on the globe except America.

Where was the concern for American schoolchildren forced to sit in overcrowded classes, for American patients forced to wait in overcrowded hospitals, for American workers whose wages are being undercut, for American drivers forced to sit in interminable traffic jams in over-whelmed freeway systems, for the victims of organized gangs, for the American college students who are turned away from publicly funded state universities, for many African Americans who are being literally displaced from their neighborhoods while being moved figuratively, once again, to the back of the bus, for those environmentalists and conservationists who want to protect open space and slow down urban sprawl, for the American taxpayers who have had to bear the burden of billions of dollars in increased welfare costs, over-burdened prisons, extra police and security and even, adding insult to injury, for bilingual education?

Where was the concern that we as a people are compelled to deal with these "in your face" issues which have been imposed upon us by external forces, instead of focusing our time, energies and capital on our own indigenous, urgent concerns, like for instance, the medical care for our own countrymen and women. Might it be irresponsible to mislead the 20 million illegal foreigners already here and might it be immoral to encourage the yearly arrival of millions more when we cannot even take care of our own millions of poor and sick and hungry and, yes, dare I say it, our unemployed?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Neocon Nativism and Iran in the Crosshairs

Apparently Charles Krauthammer has become a raving nativist. Maybe he didn't get the memo from Bill Kristol. Krauthammer says the Senate should forget about amnesty until we build a wall and there is demonstrable empirical evidence showing that the flow of illegal immigration has ceased. Krauthammer writes:

Forget employer sanctions. Build a barrier. It is simply ridiculous to say it cannot be done. If one fence won't do it, then build a second 100 yards behind it. And then build a road for patrols in between. Put in cameras. Put in sensors. Put out lots of patrols.

Can't be done? Israel's border fence has been extraordinarily successful in keeping out potential infiltrators who are far more determined than mere immigrants. Nor have very many North Koreans crossed into South Korea in the past 50 years.

Of course it will be ugly. So are the concrete barriers to keep truck bombs from driving into the White House. But sometimes necessity trumps aesthetics. And don't tell me that this is our Berlin Wall. When you build a wall to keep people in, that's a prison. When you build a wall to keep people out, that's an expression of sovereignty. The fence around your house is a perfectly legitimate expression of your desire to control who comes into your house to eat, sleep and use the facilities. It imprisons no one.

Twenty-four questions to ask you elected "representatives" about any guest worker program.

Supporters of mass immigration argue that if American taxpayers are just patient, the masses of Mexican "immigrants" will assimilate into American life, become highly educated neurosurgeons, and probably vote Republican. But according to numbers compiled by Ed Rubenstein, the high school dropout rate for Hispanics increases over time. Meanwhile, while 5.4% of first generation Mexicans have a post high school degree by the FOURTH generation, that number climbs to just 9.6%. In short, poorly-educated immigrants produce poorly-educated children.

Corporate profits are an increasingly large share of GDP. Even as the efficiency of American workers continues to increase, as measured in output per worker, median family income declined in 2003 and 2004. As George Borjas has demonstrated, the primary impact of mass immigration is shifting wealth from native workers to employers. Ed Rubenstein provides some relevant facts ignored in places like the NY Times and Washington Post--not to mention the Cato Institute:

Recent data seem to confirm this. The construction industry is booming, home builders are racking up record profits, yet average construction wages have fallen between 15 percent and 35 percent across the country—the result of cheap immigrant labor.

Similarly, the service industries—restaurants, hotels, motels, cleaning companies, etc. – are major employers of immigrant labor. These industries are booming, creating wealth for executives and shareholders. But average real wages of service industry workers have declined since 2001.

The saber rattling over Iran continues. The President has initiated discussions on plans for military action against Iran with a few key senators and members of Congress, including at least one Democrat. The unnamed Democrat says:

No one in the meetings "is really objecting” to the talk of war. "The people they’re briefing are the same ones who led the charge on Iraq. At most, questions are raised: How are you going to hit all the sites at once? How are you going to get deep enough?" (Iran is building facilities underground.) "There’s no pressure from Congress" not to take military action, the House member added. “The only political pressure is from the guys who want to do it." Speaking of President Bush, the House member said, "The most worrisome thing is that this guy has a messianic vision."

One initial option provided by the military calls for the use of "bunker buster" nuclear weapons to make certain that all of Iran's potential nuke sites are destroyed. The nuclear option is apparently being resisted within the military establishment and as with the Iraq fiasco, it appears to be civilians in the bureaucracy pushing the envelope. One Pentagon advisor has

Confirmed that some in the Administration were looking seriously at this option, which he linked to a resurgence of interest in tactical nuclear weapons among Pentagon civilians and in policy circles. He called it "a juggernaut that has to be stopped." He also confirmed that some senior officers and officials were considering resigning over the issue. "There are very strong sentiments within the military against brandishing nuclear weapons against other countries," the adviser told me. "This goes to high levels." The matter may soon reach a decisive point, he said, because the Joint Chiefs had agreed to give President Bush a formal recommendation stating that they are strongly opposed to considering the nuclear option for Iran. "The internal debate on this has hardened in recent weeks," the adviser said. "And, if senior Pentagon officers express their opposition to the use of offensive nuclear weapons, then it will never happen."

The adviser added, however, that the idea of using tactical nuclear weapons in such situations has gained support from the Defense Science Board, an advisory panel whose members are selected by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. "They’re telling the Pentagon that we can build the B61 with more blast and less radiation," he said.

Where is the pressure for immediate action coming from? According to the Washington Post, "The administration is also coming under pressure from Israel, which has warned the Bush team that Iran is closer to developing a nuclear bomb than Washington thinks and that a moment of decision is fast approaching."

From Joseph Sobran:

Back in the real world, as it is affectionately nicknamed, the war in Iraq is steadily losing favor. Even Bill Buckley, the retired founder of a pro-war magazine, says it’s time to admit defeat. This causes the magazine’s current editors, who favor nuking Mecca, to write that Buckley’s opinion is “premature.” After all, the war is not yet three years old, and you have to give these cakewalks at least a decade to work.

Politics is actually a lot of fun, if you observe it with a sense of humor and don’t get your hopes up. After all, politicians are basically just like the rest of us, and they behave just the way you or I might behave if we had the power to jail or shoot our creditors. In a democracy, the creditors are called “citizens” and the really gullible ones are called “voters.” Look in the mirror and ask yourself — honestly, now — which category you fall into. Keep the number of your local suicide hotline at hand.

It’s bad enough being a “citizen,” so I decided some time ago not to compound my troubles by being a “voter” too. This enabled me to see the world with an exhilarating clarity. Suddenly all the politicians bidding for my vote became comical little butts, like the figures in a Bruegel painting. At least I didn’t feel I was their butt anymore. Their slave, maybe, but no longer their butt.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Random Thoughts on Immithusiasm

Teddy Kennedy managed to dredge up a few hours away from his favorite local watering hole to team up with a cabal of GOP senators to craft a "compromise" on immigration legislation pending in the Senate. The most important provision in the bill says, effectively, that the longer you have engaged in law-breaking, the more likely you are to be rewarded. Here are the main provisions:

Illegal immigrants who have been in the country for at least five years could receive legal status after meeting several conditions, including payment of a $2,000 fines and any back taxes, clearing a background check and learning English. After six more years, they could apply for citizenship without having to leave the United States.

Illegal immigrants in the country for between two and five years could obtain a temporary work visa after reporting to a border point of entry. Aides referred to this as "touch base and return," since people covered would know in advance they would be readmitted to the United States.

Officials said it could take as long as 13 to 14 years for some illegal immigrants to gain citizenship. It part, that stems from an annual limit of 450,000 on green cards, which confer legal permanent residency and are a precursor to citizenship status.

Illegal immigrants in the United States for less than two years would be required to leave the country and apply for re-entry alongside anyone else seeking to emigrate.

The best argument immigration enthusiasts have was summed up by New York Mayor Micheal Bloomberg: "You and I are beneficiaries of these jobs. You and I both play golf; who takes care of the greens and the fairways in your golf course?" Ah, a red-blooded populist.

Hospitals may soon be closing throughout the Sunshine State as a result of costs associated with the treatment of illegal aliens. Meanwhile, 84 hospitals have already closed in California, and between 1/4 and 1/2 of the uninsured in America are illegals.

According to the NY Times, 72% of black men in their 20's who lack a high-school diploma are jobless. Hmm, wonder who is doing the jobs they used to do? Yet the black elite continues to support mass immigration.

John O'Sullivan is one of the saner figures in America. Formerly the editor of National Review, O'Sullivan was a victim of a purge in the late 1990's and ultimately replaced by "girly man" Rich Lowry. Here O'Sullivan succinctly dissects the intentions of the United States Senate: "In order to halt illegal immigration, we must legalize it. And in order to enforce the law, we must reward those who have broken it."

It is interesting that Jewish groups are overwhelmingly in support of mass immigration. There is nothing new here, as Jews have typically supported open-border immigration policy. Matt Yglesias tries to explain why this is the case. Steve Sailer responds.

The much underappreciated Jim Pinkerton says that the elite is beginning to fracture in its once solid support of mass immigration: "Finally, the ruling class is suffering dissolution; some members are even switching sides, joining the one-nation-building, border-securing revolution. Writing in the Post, centrist columnist Robert Samuelson declared that the guest-worker program, jointly championed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), was a 'bad bargain' that would have the United States 'importing poverty.' Liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman joined in, denouncing the guest-worker program as 'deeply un-American.' Instead, Krugman offered a Tancredo-esque solution: 'Reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.'" I wish Pinkerton were right, but as I've read the papers and listened to commentary on the issue over the last few weeks, there is near unanimous support for a "comprehensive" solution to the immigration problem and nearly universal condemnation of the House's "punitive" measures.