Uranium One

Been watching this one? I have but it has seemed about as clear as mud. Well, that starts to change. Thanks to John Hinderaker at PowerLine here and here, and The Hill. John Hinderaker did a superb job of excerpting The Hill’s story, so I’ll mostly use his with my comments.

This looks like some really big time corruption, on at least the level of Teapot Dome with the addition of Russians and uranium. Quite the deal, huh?

Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

Think about that some. This was all known before we (the Obama Administration) transferred a bunch of American Uranium assets to Russia. Yet Holder’s Justice Department did absolutely nothing.

Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefitting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.

The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.
***
In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. …

“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it, as the Democrats try to prove what appears to be illusionary collusion between Russia and Trump.

Also, to no thinking person’s surprise, the Obama Administration officials attempted to defend themselves by lying. Well, standard operating procedure, of course.

The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal.

But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.

Then-Attorney General Eric Holder was among the Obama administration officials joining Hillary Clinton on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States at the time the Uranium One deal was approved. Multiple current and former government officials told The Hill they did not know whether the FBI or DOJ ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered.

Worked out really well for them too.

The case also exposed a serious national security breach: Mikerin had given a contract to an American trucking firm called Transport Logistics International that held the sensitive job of transporting Russia’s uranium around the United States in return for more than $2 million in kickbacks from some of its executives, court records show.

Which was known early in the administration, but Holder’s Justice Department covered it up.

Bringing down a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme that had both compromised a sensitive uranium transportation asset inside the U.S. and facilitated international money laundering would seem a major feather in any law enforcement agency’s cap.

But the Justice Department and FBI took little credit in 2014 when Mikerin, the Russian financier and the trucking firm executives were arrested and charged.

The only public statement occurred an entire year later when the Justice Department put out a little-noticed press release in August 2015, just days before Labor Day. The release noted that the various defendants had reached plea deals.

By that time, the criminal cases against Mikerin had been narrowed to a single charge of money laundering for a scheme that officials admitted stretched from 2004 to 2014. And though agents had evidence of criminal wrongdoing they collected since at least 2009, federal prosecutors only cited in the plea agreement a handful of transactions that occurred in 2011 and 2012, well after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’s approval.

The final court case also made no mention of any connection to the influence peddling conversations the FBI undercover informant witnessed about the Russian nuclear officials trying to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons even though agents had gathered documents showing the transmission of millions of dollars from Russia’s nuclear industry to an American entity that had provided assistance to Bill Clinton’s foundation, sources confirmed to The Hill.

Of course, they told almost no one.

The lack of fanfare left many key players in Washington with no inkling that a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme with serious national security implications had been uncovered.
***
Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, told The Hill he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case by the counterintelligence side of the bureau despite the criminal charges that were being lodged.

“I had no idea this case was being conducted,” a surprised Hosko said in an interview.

Likewise, major congressional figures were also kept in the dark.

This is one of those stories that should be on the front page of every newspaper, above the fold, should have been last week, actually. But it won’t be. You know why. As fully dues paid members of the Democratic Party the Fake News Media won’t print anything against their masters who have bought and paid for them. But like always, it will get out because, against all appearances, there are some very good people in Washington yet. There are a few who don’t subscribe to the swamp that Iowahawk describes so well when he says, “Journalism is all about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.” But this one was and is too big to suffocate, I think.

John adds a fascinating footnote to the whole story especially as it interacts with President Trump.

Ironies abound: who supervised the Russia investigation? Rod Rosenstein. Who was the FBI director when the Russia probe began in 2009? Robert Mueller. Who was running the FBI when the case ended with a whimper and an apparent cover-up? James Comey. How any of these people can participate with a straight face in an investigation into President Trump’s purportedly nefarious (but, as far as we know, nonexistent) relationship with the Russian regime is beyond me.

Bigger than Watergate? As a crime, undoubtedly. As for the damage from the coverup? Well, we’ll see, won’t we?

A bit of a footnote, Wikipedia reminded me of something about Teapot Dome, “Another significant outcome was the Supreme Court’s ruling in McGrain v. Daugherty (1927) which, for the first time, explicitly established that Congress had the power to compel testimony.” Not much is new under the sun.

 

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Week in Pictures: Honoring Warriors

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith

2 TIMOTHY 4:7

A man who knows whereof he speaks

Seems a bit tacky, but some things are eternal verities


The business of the week. Snark, irony, and pictures to do with the events of the week. Mostly from Powerline and The Bookworm Beat.

Steve over at PowerLine says this may be their mascot for a while. I can see why. IDF veteran soldier Orin Julie.

Have a better week.

The Immortal Memory

During the negotiations with France when we were trying to buy New Orléans President Jefferson wrote an open letter regarding the return of Louisiana to France from Spain, where he commented that “on that day we shall have to marry ourselves to the British fleet and people”, meaning if France took control of Louisiana it would mean war between France and the United States, and later commented “that from that day forward France shall end at her low water mark” Of course we know that France sold Louisiana to the US so it ended well.

But, this is the day that France (and Spain) would forever lose control of the sea to Great Britain.

Today is the anniversary of a battle to rank with Salamis, with Waterloo, and with Yorktown. For today the English-speaking peoples with our concepts of individual liberty and rights took control of the sea.

That battle is Trafalgar. The battle was fought off of the south-west coast of Spain between the British Squadron with 27 Ships-of-the-Line and the combined French and Spanish fleets with 33.

The Franco-Spanish fleet was under orders to sail for Brest to help accomplish the invasion of England, which was, by far, Napoleons most steadfast enemy.

Remember these were sailing ships, completely dependent on the wind. and at Trafalgar there was very little. The French and especially the Spanish were short-handed and had to fill their ship’s companies with soldiers. The British on the other hand had blockaded the coast for years and had been drilled mercilessly. Their commander, himself, had not been off the flagship for more than two years.

Alfred Thayer Mahan in his classic The Influence of Sea Power upon History puts it this way: “Those distant, storm-tossed ships, never seen by the Grande Armee, were all that stood between it and world domination.

And so today, in 1805, the battle was joined. The British had the weather gage, and a very unusual plan. Because of the light wind (and against standing orders) they would divide their battle line in two, with each squadron approaching the Franco-Spanish line at an acute angle. With a well-trained enemy, this would have been nearly suicidal but, under these conditions it allowed the British to engage the entire fleet and win the battle in a single day.

The British were under the command of a man who had his introduction to naval war in the American Revolution, he fought in several minor battles off Toulon, was integral in the capture of Corsica, was captain of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. At the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he lost his right arm, he won a decisive victory over the French at The Battle of the Nile and against the Danes at the Battle of Copenhagen.

At Trafalgar the British fleet went into battle with this signal flying from the flagship:

That flagship is, of course, the HMS Victory, which is now the oldest naval ship in regular commission in the world.

HMS Victory

HMS Victory , HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

The Admiral in command was Horatio, Lord Nelson.

Or to give him his full name:

Admiral Lord Nelson

The Most Noble Lord Horatio Nelson, Viscount and Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough in the said County, Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Vice Admiral of the White Squadron of the Fleet, Commander in Chief of his Majesty’s Ships and Vessels in the Mediterranean, Duke of Bronté in the Kingdom of Sicily, Knight Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit, Member of the Ottoman Order of the Crescent, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of St Joachim

as it is inscribed on his coffin in St. Paul’s Cathedral, for he was killed by a French marine during the battle.

The first tribute to Nelson was fittingly offered at sea by sailors of Vice-Admiral Dmitry Senyavin’s passing Russian squadron, which saluted on learning of the death.

It is also interesting Nelson being Vice Admiral of the White is the reason that the Royal Navy from that day flies the White Ensign, before it flew all three depending on the fleet commander’s rank. The black hatband on British, American, and Russian naval enlisted caps all memorialize Nelson as well.

King George III, upon receiving the news, is reported to have said, in tears, “We have lost more than we have won”.

And the Times reported:

We do not know whether we should mourn or rejoice. The country has gained the most splendid and decisive Victory that has ever graced the naval annals of England; but it has been dearly purchased.

Great Britain would hold uncontested command of the sea, even joining World War I partly to prevent Germany from overtaking the Royal Navy until, in 1921, she agreed to parity with the United States at the Washington Naval Conference. And it should be noted, that even then, it was not willingly, Britain was exhausted and bankrupt from the Great War, and probably recognized that the US would use her sea power much as Britain had, which has proved to be the case. It is also from this date that the United Kingdom began to recede from the first rank of great powers, although her legacy has been for the most part upheld by the US and the Commonwealth.

That’s fine, I hear you say, what’s that got to do with me, especially as an American, these 212 years later? Several things which we will talk about a bit here.

  1. The Atlantic Slave Trade ended because the British decided that it should and the Americans agreed. This led to the establishment of patrols by both navies off the west coast of Africa, effectively ending the trade. Without this, and without the Abolitionist sentiment in the United Kingdom, it is almost inconceivable that slavery would have ended in the western world.
  2. The South and Central American Republics remain independent (and sometimes free) countries. After the Napoleonic wars Metternich’s Council of Vienna considered all of continental Europe helping Spain recover her American colonies, until they found out that they would have to go through the Royal Navy. Yes, we proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 after Prime Minister George Canning proposed a joint statement, the story is that Secretary of State John Q. Adams said that would make us look like a cockboat in the wake of the British man-of-war. Therefore, we proclaimed it unilaterally. But it was enforced almost exclusively until the Spanish-American War by the Royal Navy because it was to the advantage of British mercantile interests. Britain thereby performed the same service for the New World that the US would for Europe in the last half of the Twentieth Century.
  3. The growth and development of America, if a continental power had regained control of Mexico there is a very good chance that it would have expanded into the heartland of America, certainly Texas and entirely possibly all or most of the Louisiana Purchase.

And so we, as Americans, even as the British, should remain grateful for those ‘distant storm-tossed ships’ of the Royal Navy, led by one of the great commanders of history.

And so, I give you the toast that will be drunk tonight in the Royal Navy and the Commonwealth navies, and at least in some places in the United States Navy and even in other navies and places. It is the one traditionally naval toast that is drunk in total silence:

The Immortal Memory of Lord Nelson and those who fell with him”

The traditional music to follow the toast is: Rule Britannia.

And so today as the Queen Elizabeth, the first of the CVFs prepares to join the fleet, we again see the Royal Navy prepare to take on all the tasks that the Anglo-Saxons have performed for the world’s benefit since the Armada, itself.

In a remarkable coincidence, the other remaining warship of the period USS Constitution was christened on this day in 1797 at the Boston Navy Yard. While HMS Victory is the oldest ship in commission, USS Constitution (nicknamed “Old Ironsides”) is the oldest warship still afloat and able to sail on its own. Victory is in permanent drydock.

The Left’s Last Spasm

Bring it on.

I think the author here, J.r. Dunn, may well be correct. I can think of no other reason, other than perhaps mass delusion, which isn’t all that different. And do read it all, I’ve just excerpted a few of my favorite parts.

As far as anybody knows, the November 4th revolution/tantrum/jamboree planned by Antifa and its associate organizations remains on schedule. The “Opposition” – Antifa, the John Brown Clubs, Refuse Fascism, and assorted other scraps have announced that on that date the revolution will begin with a mass nationwide uprising that will continue until the Trump/Pence regime is overcome. Dozens of hundreds of the people’s vanguard will hit the streets, squatting at intersections and holding their breaths until the fascists are exorcised and the new epoch of light is fully underway. (Further details can be found here.)

Conservatives, as is all too often the case, have overreacted.  Numerous sites, publications, and radio shows have featured rhetoric such as “Antifa Planning Communist Revolution for America on November 4,” “Patriots beware! ANTIFA plans armed uprising on November 4!,” and “The Leftist Chaos Will Be Coming On November 4th.” (Links withheld to protect the guilty.)

But the truth, if anything, is exactly the opposite. What we are experiencing, far from a deadly revolutionary upsurge threatening everything of value, is a historically unique situation where, for the first time on record, a leftist movement is in complete and accelerating collapse within a democratic polity. The upcoming people’s revolt is simply another symptom of this.

The Democrats, America’s de facto leftist party (note how a sworn socialist, Bernie Sanders, is effectively exercising leadership of the party without anyone so much as blinking) have lost over 1,000 offices nationwide in the past year. The GOP controls nearly two-thirds of all governorships and nearly half of state governments. The left’s political presence and influence is negligible across vast areas of the heartland. They have abandoned the working class, the bedrock of any leftist movement, in favor of representing transsexuals, ball club millionaires, and noncitizen criminals, not a strategy with much of a future, on the face of it.

The year since the 2016 electoral debacle has witnessed a number of off-elections to replace cabinet picks, each one hailed by the media as the turning of the progressive tide, each one won by the GOP.

Thus leading many of us to recall Trump’s prediction, “So much winning. You’re going to get tired of winning”. Well, I haven’t, yet. It feels real good.

[…]

Then we have the NFL. The national anthem uproar is the fruit of the latest attempt by the left to turn American workingmen’s institutions – sports and country music in particular – into left-wing systems to shunt the regular Joes into the arms of the commissars, where they belong. Its failure, at the hands of an irate public (not to forget Donald Trump, certainly, here as in many other instances the indispensable man), is one of the most encouraging developments in the wake of 2016. Colin Kaepernick, who attempted to revive a foundering career on the field though political posturing, can serve as an object lesson to all the others attempting to follow in his wake. The NFL, already on the skids, now faces an accelerating and well-deserved financial hemorrhage. (I say that even though my grandfather helped found the organization.)

Finally, we get to Harvey. Harvey Weinstein was a bicoastal combination of Graydon Carter and George Soros, acting as a facilitator between left-wing politics and popular culture while at the same time financing left-wing politicians – including the Clintons, the millennial Borgias – to the tune of millions. All this bought him immunity for decades of sex offenses. The fact that it came to an end in large part due to the efforts of Rose McGowan, onetime inamorata of Marilyn Manson and collaborator with Quentin Tarantino, and Ronan Farrow, a virtual stereotype of the Manhattan liberal, makes his fall even sweeter.

I like many of you, wasted many hours watching the NFL, and like others, I have noticed the quality of play decrease, and then this silliness during the Anthem. Well, I really can’t say I miss it much and see no reason to ever start watching again. Those hours are far better spent now. Buh-Bye NFL!

[…]

Yet all attention on the right seems to be focused on a gang of undergrads in black hoodies and Guy Fawkes masks. How can we correlate the two – black-clad militants brash enough to threaten the government itself while their entire political/social superstructure collapses in ruins around them? On the face of it, it seems paradoxical. But there’s actually no contradiction at all. The one follows the other as sure as Stalin followed Lenin. The left has turned violent because it’s falling apart. They don’t have anything else. No plans, no prospects, no leadership. The left has failed, and violence is all that remains.

Left-wing failure is not arguable. The international record stands for itself, having become a truism without ever quite attaining the status of a cliché. Though the academy and the media have tried their best to bury the record (while earnest and naïve types such as Anne Applebaum scratch their heads as to why it lacks the immediacy of the Nazi crimes), it’s impossible to hide failures so gargantuan as to have left mountainous piles of corpses across the entire landscape of Eurasia. (Every few years the spring thaw in Siberia and the Urals uncovers mass graves, the legacy of the Gulag, sending thousands of mummified, nearly intact corpses drifting down the rivers. This is what Weinstein, Antifa and the rest would wish on us.) The same pattern is occurring at this moment in Venezuela, a wealthy nation reduced first to pauperdom and soon to open massacre.

Something to interject here is that the reason that America leads the free world, is because we fought very hard to be free, and we all know hard lessons stick. And then our founder’s had the gumption and foresight to write it all down so that we could refer back to what they had said and done. And they even had the foresight to make their plan the supreme law of the land, subject to change only with great difficulty and with the consent of a supermajority of citizens, and legislators at all levels. It is something that even our near peers, like the UK lack. Their rule, that one Parliament may not bind another, means that it can all be lost in an instant. And finally, our leadership is based on our passionate defense of liberty which hasn’t waned since before 1776. We lead because we tend the flame of freedom, we were the first and if necessary we will be the last, but the flame shall not go out again.

I have Brits tell me every day that demographics will destroy us (and them). My standard answer is (although more politely) “Here, hold my beer”. We were the first, and we have kept the faith. It is nearly 120 years since the first Progressive Teddy Roosevelt, (who actually wasn’t all bad) was elected, and watch us, of all the people in the world, while we’ve been hurt, sometimes badly, by the disease, yet here we still stand, and get this: WE ARE WINNING! Mostly because we have the guts and the means to fight back. Something else the smarter ones tell me often is to never, ever let them take your guns. You’d be surprised how often I hear that from Brits I respect highly.

What I tell them is that it is a long process, and they went much further down the road than we did. They need to get control of the Conservative Party, even as we are starting to do the Republican Party, another place where Trump is proving indispensable. But Corbyn’s Labour party is showing the same signs as our left. They need to quit making excuses and just do it.

It’s best to ignore them, and let the law take its course. We hold all the cards. The thunderous, nationwide shout of “No!” that greeted the NFL “protests” clearly demonstrates that the United States remains solid. The greatest public humiliation endured by the American left in this century proved that the bedrock of this nation still exists, uneroded by ephemeral entities like Obama and the Clintons. The teenage ninjas think they can take that down with a few slingshots and Molotov cocktails. Let them try.

I think the best thing to do with the leftists is simply laugh at them, and then use their tears as a mixer in our whiskey. It also reminds me of a bit of graffiti from when I was in college back in the early seventies. Carved on the stall wall in the Union was this,
Workers of the World arise,
So that we may more easily gun you down.
Bring it on, I’m tired of this nonsense, even as my dad was in the sixties.

Donald Trump: An American Patriot of the Same Stripe as Ronald Reagan

From my friend, Danmillerinpanama whom many of you will know, but if you happened to miss the post, you’re missing a good one. A bit…

 

To my mind, that unholy dialectic between political power and an agenda of enforced dependency is one of the most despicable and destructive coefficients of the administrative state. It is despicable because it deploys power for personal aggrandizement under the camouflage of helping (i.e., pretending to help) others (the “Great Society,” etc.). It is destructive because its end is the eclipse of liberty for the sake of expanding and institutionalizing the apparatus of bureaucracy (and the perquisites of the bureaucrats running it).

So I applaud the president’s plan to cut taxes and allow Americans to keep a bit more of what after all is their own money. (We tend to forget this.)

But although taxes formed the official centerpiece of the president’s speech last night, and though I liked what he said about taxes, I thought the most impressive part of the speech was its rhetorical setting.  The occasion was a meeting of Heritage Foundation supporters. Accordingly, President Trump began by talking about the importance of embracing our history, our heritage. “For America to have CONFIDENCE in our future, we must have PRIDE in our HISTORY.”

I think that is right, and I think it is worth pondering each of the three stressed words.

One of the great liabilities of so-called identity politics is that, ironically, it acts as a solvent on shared cultural confidence. The irony flows from the fact that identity politics is supposed to leave its partisans with an enhanced sense of self-worth and solidarity but in fact it tends to isolate them in rancid grievance ghettos.

Along the way last night, the president spoke up for preserving our heritage, our history, an enterprise that encompasses not just the preservation of monuments and other historical markers that commemorate our past, but also extends to the spiritual decorum of civic respect: standing for the national anthem, for example, or (since this multiethnic country was and is, as Samuel Huntington observed, a country of “Anglo-Protestant” values) wishing people “Merry Christmas” in due season.<

It is worth noting, by the way, that saying one should have  pride in our history and confidence in our culture is not thereby to issue a plenary indulgence for past wrongdoing.  The fact that people erect a statue commemorating Gen. Robert E. Lee does not in any way imply that they are racist advocates of chattel slavery, any more than erecting a statue of JFK implies that one is an advocate of satyriasis.

Do read it all at Donald Trump: An American Patriot of the Same Stripe as Ronald Reagan. Because what Dan sees is what I also see, an American patriot, who will do his best (and his best is proving pretty damned good) for America. Perfect? No, he’s a man, and an imperfect one, as we all are. And that post from Theodore Roosevelt in my sidebar is my measure of a president.

“Every man, who parrots the cry of ‘stand by the President’ without adding the proviso ‘so far as he serves the Republic’ takes an attitude as essentially unmanly as that of any Stuart royalist who championed the doctrine that the King could do no wrong. No self-respecting and intelligent free man could take such an attitude.”

And the inverse is just as true, any man who parrots the cry of stand against the president, so far as he misserves the Republic, is as unmanly as TR said. And yes, I’m looking at you, Bill Kristol, who was one of the people in the conservative movement I admired most, until last year.

And Dan’s ending for his post will do admirably for this one as well.

That is no surprise. The history of the world is full of redemption and conversion stories, from Saul of Tarsus to Henry V and beyond. Quoth the King at the end of Henry IV Part 2:

Presume not that I am the thing I was;
For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,
That I have turn’d away my former self.

The proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating.  It seems to me that in just nine months Donald Trump has given us a lot of savory tidbits to chew on.  Some people might object to the style.  But how about the substance?  In any event, it seems ungracious, not to say short-sighted, to withhold any possibility of reformation from a man just because he had the temerity to win an election without the permission of the would-be governing class.

Safety First?

Should we really be putting safety first? Sure, it’s important to us all, and we should try to be safe. But does it override all other conditions? There was a story a few years ago about police and fire responders who watched a man drown because they didn’t have the proper personal protective equipment. Is that proper? If not, why not? Anna Mussmann over at The Federalist thought about this the other day.

“Be safe,” we shout. It would be nice, of course, if everyone also made an attempt at kindness, wisdom, courage, and compassion; but safety is the one thing we demand.

Safety is a code of conduct that transcends class and creed. It is a duty all have been raised to acknowledge, and therefore it allows us to speak to others, to tell them what to do. We aren’t supposed to chastise other people’s children in matters of morals or manners, but no one blinks at, “Don’t do that, or else you’ll get hurt.” No one is shocked at rules developed “for your own safety.”

In a religion of safety, it is only natural that suffering is the ultimate sin. […]

And we are reminded that safety isn’t a virtue at all. Because when a shooter is active, real virtue doesn’t hog the safest spot. Virtue tells others, “Here, stand behind me.” When fires roar through neighborhoods, virtue runs toward the smoke and flames to evacuate hospital patients from buildings surrounded by scorching wind. Real virtue is dangerous. Real virtue actively chooses the path of pain and potential suffering.

The violence in Vegas and the destruction in California’s wine country are both terrible reminders of the brokenness of our world. Yet in the dark shadow of these events we see also the breathtaking beauty of love and self-sacrifice. We see that the cold faith of materialism—the brutal selfishness of a religion that puts our own physical wellbeing above all other things—is not enough.

Because, of course, self-sacrifice-as-virtue doesn’t make any sense unless reality is bigger than human life. People who give up their own lives in order to save others are either the ultimate criminals against truth, or else they are witnesses to the truth of an eternity that changes the meaning of what is good and what is evil.  And national tragedies force us to ask which of those statements is a lie.

She’s right, you know. We don’t honor Audie Murphy, or George Washington, let alone The Light Brigade because they put themselves first. They cared about themselves and did their best to protect themselves, but it wasn’t the most important thing, was it? That was the mission, whether it was taking the Russian guns, founding America, or protecting his comrades, something mattered more than their safety.

Granted we are well advised to attempt to be safe, we are not likely to accomplish much by throwing our lives away, but ‘Safety First’ is a false religion. Other things, other people are more important.

If one talks to almost any of the many military heroes of America, one finds that whatever they did to earn that bauble was done to save somebody else. That is our definition of a hero, a man or women who is prepared to sacrifice himself for another. Anna ends with this, and it summarizes quite well.

Our neighbors suffer because they are sinners. So are—and will—we all. The question is not how to escape the pain of being human. The question is: how ought humans to suffer? We have seen the first responders, the courageous bystanders, and the self-sacrificial victims who tried to shelter others. All are witnesses to the truth that humans are more than a body to be kept safe. Humans possess a soul. As the old revival meetings told us, souls can be saved; but Jesus also tells us “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Our culture values safety above all things. In the end, this teaches us to value only ourselves. The real tragedy is that as we rush about protecting our bodies, we are losing our souls.

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