Starting the Week.

Now that is a nice start to the week. The opening ceremony from last weekend’s Army-Navy game. If you haven’t heard, Army went, Beat Navy, in a very good game.

To Hell and Back

Tyler Durden tells us

Well informed sources have said the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp Brigadier General Haj Qassem Soleimani sent a formal verbal message, via Russia, to the head of the US forces command in Syria, advising him to pull out all US forces to the last soldier “or the doors of hell will open up”.

“My message to the US military command: when the battle against ISIS will end, no American soldier will be tolerated in Syria. I advise you to leave by your own will or you will be forced to it,” said Soleimani to a Russian officer. Soleimani asked the Russian officer to make known the Iranian intentions towards the US: that they will be considered as forces of occupation if these decide to stay in northeast Syria where Kurds and Arab tribes cohabit together.

Well, it seems to me that American forces have received such messages before, leading to some of the best quotes in American history. My favorite is also the shortest.

“Nuts,” The American Commander.

Melanie Phillips did truth-telling on the Palestinians as well.

The Palestinians’ violent reaction also demonstrates beyond doubt that, far from wanting to share Jerusalem with the Jews, they won’t permit the Jews to be there at all. Trump’s speech did not foreclose the option of a Palestine state, nor the prospect of the Palestinians having control of part of Jersualem. Their fury at the endorsement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital at all shows how much they depend on the west facilitating their strategy.

Which is why the reaction of the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, is so stupid. She is far from hostile to Israel; but clearly, she hasn’t got the faintest idea of what the Arab war against Israel is about. It is not, as she appears to think, a conflict about the division of Jerusalem or the land. It is about destroying Israel altogether, and to that end an attempt to write the Jews out of their own history.

If Britain and Europe west followed Trump’s lead and moved their own embassies, and moreover told the Palestinians they no longer believed their lies or that their intentions were benign and started instead to treat them justifiably as pariahs, the war against Israel would end. Yet to its eternal shame, even though the US Congress is now passing legislation which will end American funding for murderous Palestinian incitement, Britain is continuing to fund the Palestinian Authority, thus making Britain complicit with incitement to hatred and murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel.

The Palestinians now find themselves in a fix. Saudi Arabia and associated Arab states will simply not allow them to get in the way of the all-important US and Israeli alliance against Iran. America has now shown it will no longer be manipulated in the campaign to destroy Israel.

So all the Palestinians are now left with is British and European support, and the old tactic of ramping up murderous violence against Israel to provoke it into actions which will cause the all-too reliable British and Europeans to try to punish Israel yet again.

British Prime Ministers should, I perceive, refrain from getting off airplanes with scraps of paper, far too often it has the result of encouraging enemies and discouraging friends. Right, Neville?

Advertisements

Welcome to December

Well, another week, for a lot of us Christians, we start a whole new year today, as we anticipate the birth of Jesus. I’m ready for one, and suspect you are too. He’s back!

Well, the President retweeted some British group (that hardly anybody had heard of, although they have now) and HMG came unglued. I wonder of it was because Britain First was correct. Less NSFW than usual, BTW.

Well, another week, another bunch of unemployed famous men who can’t seem to understand that women are not their property, or something.

More palatably

Christmas shopping?

And, of course

Mostly from PowerLine, Sleeping Beauty from Ace.

Railsplitters, Tailors, and Government Bureaus

Speaking of the CFPB, this is interesting, from The Federalist.

Although the Reconstruction Era has gotten more mainstream attention lately, to most Americans the Andrew Johnson administration is still a part of the dusty past. The CFPB dispute is, as David Harsanyi explained earlier this week, about which employee has the right to occupy the office of CFPB director. So did the dispute that led to Johnson’s impeachment and near-conviction. Only in that case, the office in question was of much greater importance: secretary of war.

In the days following the Civil War, the secretary of war (a predecessor to the secretary of defense, but without jurisdiction over the navy) occupied an important position in domestic politics, as his job included presiding over the reconstruction of the conquered Confederacy. After Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, his successor, Johnson, seemed to be in accord with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and the Republican-dominated Congress on how to accomplish this.

Things soon changed. Johnson returned to his pre-war Democratic Party loyalty and worked to re-admit the Southern states to the Union quickly, with no other changes than a de jure abolition of slavery. Stanton and congressional leaders saw their task as larger, and wanted to ensure greater equality for the former slaves in fact as well as in law. As Johnson gradually replaced Lincoln appointees in the cabinet, Stanton was increasingly the only voice in the administration for a vigorous scheme of occupying and rebuilding in the South.

Stanton’s allies in Congress worked to protect him by passing the Tenure of Office Act in 1867. The act decreed that any officer appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate could not be removed by the president unless the Senate approved. Johnson saw the act for what it was—a curtailment of executive power—and vetoed it, but Congress overrode the veto and the bill became a law. The president no longer had control over his own appointees.

Johnson initially acted in accordance with the law and suspended Stanton while Congress was in recess, selecting Commanding General Ulysses S. Grant to serve as acting secretary in his stead. Stanton went along with this, as Grant was closer to congressional Republicans in his views than to Johnson. When the recess ended, the Senate refused to concur in Stanton’s removal, and Grant returned the office to him. Then Johnson declared the Tenure of Office Act unconstitutional and said Stanton’s removal was valid. He appointed Maj. Gen. Lorenzo Thomas to the “vacancy” and instructed him to report to the War Department for work.

Stanton refused to accept Thomas’s appointment and declined to yield the office. Thomas took the office across the hall, and both men declared themselves the true secretary of war. Stanton retained the keys to the office and did not leave the room, eating and sleeping there for months to prevent Thomas from seizing it.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives voted articles of impeachment against Johnson, specifically for his open violation of the law, but more generally for his obstruction of Congress’s plans for Reconstruction. The Senate fell one vote short of conviction, and Johnson remained in the White House. With Grant nominated for president and Johnson on the way out, Stanton gave up the fight and relinquished the office.

Rule Without Consequences

The stakes of the fight over the CFPB directorship are far lower, but the precedents of the Stanton-Thomas affair provide a guideline for how the current quarrel should proceed, both legally and politically.

The Tenure of Office Act of 1867 and the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB, both aim at the same result: removing the power from the president to control members of his administration. The Tenure of Office Act’s authors were concerned with keeping Johnson from overturning Lincoln’s legacy. Dodd-Frank’s authors had a wider goal in mind: removing politics from government. This fits the general progressive belief that we would be better governed by unelected technocrats than by politicians who must take popular opinion into account.

It is a strange take on a republic, and at odds with the Founding Fathers’ opinions. They knew that the government would contain officers who wished to trample the people’s rights. It has been true of every government, elected or unelected, since mankind emerged from the state of nature. The government of the people, by the people, and for the people acknowledges that the people in question are all flawed. As James Madison famously wrote in Federalist 51:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

Do read it all.

And, in fine, that was much of the point of the Constitution, to throw sand in the gears of the government.  The founders knew, even better than we do, the cry of the American to his government, “Leave me alone!”. After all they fought a war, against the greatest empire of the age for that very reason. But as long as men (and women) seek personal advantage from government (and that is until Christ returns) the vigilance of the citizens will always be required.

Ronnie was absolutely right about the most feared words in the language, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.

Happy Thanksgiving

Today, in America is Thanksgiving Day. It is a day of celebration of what we have made of God’s gift to us all. Its history reaches all the way back to our Pilgrim forebearers, who felt called to thank God that they had survived the first year in the Massachusetts Bay.

Now it is a day of parades, football, serious overeating, and sleeping off that overeating by sleeping through the football on TV. But I think we all deep in our hearts do remember to thank “The Big Guy” for all we have, and the freedom to enjoy it.

President Washington certainly knew something about dark days, far darker than ours are today, and he (and Congress) thought it fit to remember the Author of our blessings. So should we.

From the Heritage Foundation

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

That’s the reason for the day put as well as anyone has, ever.

My family’s traditional table grace is this

Now for something much lighter. You know these guys, we’ve loved them most of our lives.

 

# Red Wednesday

Westminster Cathedral (Photo: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk) courtesy Catholic Herald

You know me well enough to know you won’t find an article here on Friday about which of the sales are the best – my advice is if possible sleep of the food from Thursday. 🙂 But while I often denigrate virtue signaling, signals remain important. Today is a signal, churches in the United Kingdom, including Winchester Cathedral and a dozen other cathedrals, Walsingham and about 80 other churches, and the House of Parliament will be floodlit this evening in Red, as a reminder of Christian persecution.

Many churches in the US will follow suit, although I don’t have numbers here.

In Iraq, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, says that Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church will also be lit in red.

In the Philippines, according to GMA News Online,

The Philippines is joining for the first time Red Wednesday, a worldwide religious activity geared towards raising awareness on the “ever-increasing” trend of Christian persecution in the world, set for November 22, in scores of cathedrals, dioceses and Catholic universities in the country.

On Wednesday, the façades of 82 participating churches, ecclesiastical territories, and universities will be bathed in red light, “the color of martyrdom,” to bring attention to the suffering of Christians being persecuted in many parts of the world, said Jonathan Luciano, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Philippines.

The international event, which is mainly marked by a Mass and the symbolic lighting, was first held last year, but Luciano said he hopes it will be an annual event for the church in the Philippines.

Luciano, quoting Pope Francis, said “there are more martyrs now than at the beginning of the Church,” referring to the large numbers of Christians who are in varying situations made to suffer for their faith.

Reading from a report, meanwhile, Mark von Riedemann of ACN’s parent office in the United Kingdom, outlined some of the scenarios of persecution Christians face.

In Iraq, the Christian population has dwindled from 1.5 million in 2003 to 250,000 to 300,000, prompting the European Union to call the situation a “genocide of Christians,” he said.

ACN’s report found 75 percent of religious persecution occurs against Christians through three main categories: state-sponsored persecution, fundamentalist nationalism, and extremism.

According to the report, religious freedom in Sudan, for example, is seen to be “spiraling downwards” because of government-issued Islamist threats, such as the tearing down of churches, the fining of women for dressing “immodestly,” and the mass exodus of Christians after the state removed citizenship rights of people with origins outside of the country.

For an illustration of extremist-fueled violence, one need not look further than the Philippines’ own experience in Marawi City.

And such examples of persecution are not only a threat to the Christian faith itself, but to the “plurality of society” in general, said von Reidemann.

“The survival of Christianity is a test case for the survival of plurality as a whole,” he said.

Red Wednesday will not end persecution, its organizers conceded. After all, Christians have been facing persecution for thousands of years, said Luciano.

He’s right of course, and that is why I, and many others, are often critical of these symbolic demonstrations. Too often they substitute for actually doing something, and that is a danger here. But it is also true, that if people are not aware of how extreme persecution has gotten, and the media isn’t telling much of anyone, then it is worth doing, simply to raise awareness. But it needs to be followed up with serious proposals, and even more important: action.

Symbols without follow-up are futile, but symbols are important.

#RedWednesday

Saints and Sinners

Pastor Hans Fiene.

There something interesting going on lately, particularly in conservative blogging. There are suddenly a certain number of the best writers going who write from a Christian, specifically Lutheran, perspective. A surprising number of them get highlighted here, not specifically because they are Lutheran, but because they are so good.

One of them is Rev Hans Fiene, a pastor in the LC Missouri Synod. Thos of you who know the Lutheran synods will know that the LCMS is pretty conservative, which means essentially that they teach the theology that Rev Dr Luther taught. And so Pastor Fiene does. Sound dry boring, and hard doesn’t it? Well, yeah, No. One of the things he does is Lutheran Satire. Here’s another sample that I don’t believe I’ve used before.

He’s very productive so you can find many on YouTube, it’s one of those places where I can spend days, and will if I’m not careful.

In any case, what Pastor Fiene teaches is pure Christian orthodoxy, and in most cases, he does it by making reasonably gentle fun of heterodoxy. All good and well. But he, like any good pastor, can bring it home when it needs to. And after Sutherland Springs he needed to.

I do my best to avoid the most sewer like areas on Twitter but sometimes they flood over like the Mississippi in spring, and this was one of them. Stuff like this.

or this:

Lovely, eh?

Well, Pastor Feine wasn’t amused either, and he thought a bit of a sermon might be in order. So, he wrote this.

However, we should all recognize that pointing to a couple dozen warm corpses and saying, “Fat lot of good your Jebus-begging did you” is an act of profound ugliness.

It’s also an act of profound ignorance. For those with little understanding of and less regard for the Christian faith, there may be no greater image of prayer’s futility than Christians being gunned down mid-supplication. But for those familiar with the Bible’s promises concerning prayer and violence, nothing could be further from the truth. When those saints of First Baptist Church were murdered yesterday, God wasn’t ignoring their prayers. He was answering them.

“Deliver us from evil.” Millions of Christians throughout the world pray these words every Sunday morning. While it doesn’t appear that the Lord’s Prayer is formally a part of the worship services at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, I have no doubt that members of that congregation have prayed these words countless times in their lives.

Evil Isn’t Just Temporal

When we pray these words, we are certainly praying that God would deliver us from evil temporally—that is, in this earthly life. Through these words, we are asking God to send his holy angels to guard us from those who would seek to destroy us with knives and bombs and bullets. It may seem, on the surface, that God was refusing to give such protection to his Texan children. But we are also praying that God would deliver us from evil eternally. Through these same words, we are asking God to deliver us out of this evil world and into his heavenly glory, where no violence, persecution, cruelty, or hatred will ever afflict us again.

We also pray in the Lord’s Prayer that God’s will be done. Sometimes, his will is done by allowing temporal evil to be the means through which he delivers us from eternal evil. Despite the best (or, more accurately, the worst) intentions of the wicked against his children, God hoists them on their own petard by using their wickedness to give those children his victory, even as the wicked often mock the prayers of their prey.

During Christ’s crucifixion, for example, the same chief priests, scribes, and elders who conspired to put Jesus to death mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God’”

Yet God proved his son’s divinity by, three days later, lifting him up out of the death those men gave him. Despite the chief priests, elders, and scribes doing all they could to silence the one who claimed to be the savior of the world, God turned their hatred into the catalyst of the world’s salvation.

Well, as is normal for Christians these days, especially orthodox ones, he pinned a great big target on his back, as I suspect he intended to.

Kim Quade, another one of us Lutherans out here described the shitstorm that enveloped Hans in her article, Lutheran Pastor Sets Off Storm with Article About Texas Massacre. It’s a good article, as well.

And, because Hans Fiene is a pastor with a German name in a German heritage Lutheran church body, someone blew the Nazi dog whistle:

There is absolutely no doubt that the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) – the ‘mainline’ strand of Lutherdom – would never condone such a remark by this right-wing Lutheran pastor. indeed, this right-wing Lutheran pastor happens to be a member of LCMS (Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod). . . Whereas the membership of the LCMS is predominantly German-American, the membership of the ELCA is primarily Scandinavian-American and Finnish-American. . .

And they went on and on. As my husband said, the intellectual wattage demonstrated in that comments thread couldn’t power a 40-watt bulb.

Hans Fiene himself said, in a podcast on the controversy released on Tuesday, that this sentiment is part of ‘outrage addiction,’ which ‘makes us all stupider.’ These people are ‘chasing a dopamine release.’ Fiene also adds that ‘outrage addiction’ exists on the right, as well. Neither camp is exempt.

Sadly, for the hearer of dog whistles, unlike Pastor Fiene and Kim, I’m an ELCA Lutheran, and have been for 30+ years. Much of what the ELCA has temporized out of the basic doctrines of Christianity is pretty bad, just as it is in the Episcopal Church, but the basic doctrine is exactly the same as taught here. Do I personally have problems with a lot of the revisionism in the ELCA? Yep, but not quite enough, yet anyway, to change.

Frankly, I think  Pastor Frank Pomeroy of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, TX, who lost his 14-year-old daughter in the massacre, said it best.

“I don’t understand, but I know my God does.”

“Whatever life brings to you, lean on the Lord rather than your own understanding.”

It’s enough for me, anyway. And I am reminded that Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, long before the Nazis hanged him.

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

 

%d bloggers like this: