Atheists & secularists, like anyone else, will sometimes speak of what gives their life meaning and purpose. It might be fighting against religious dogma, or helping people think rationally, or spending time with their family, or "making the world a little better place", or... whatever. Note that these are self-imposed "purposes" or "meaning", often involving leaving some sort of intellectual or philosophical legacy. But, is this really consistent with their worldview? Have you ever heard of Lawrence M. Krauss or Glenn D. Starkman? Even if you don't run in scientific circles, you may be familiar with Krauss, who is a well-known ...
"Those who are unwilling or incapable of discerning or judging between good and evil are in this manner revealing either their disobedience or their immaturity." -- Pastor E.L. Bynum In our last "episode", we began to address the issue of what it means to "judge" others. Specifically, we took a practical, nonsectarian look at why people cry, "Don't judge me!" and why we should, in fact, make fair judgments about others' behaviors & beliefs, always with the welfare of them and others around them in mind. Now, what about Christians, in particular? Aren't we supposed to be extra loving and kind and ...
If you are at all familiar with Christian apologetics, whether engaging challenges from non-theists or from Christians with different views, you know that the topic of pain, suffering, and death is a major issue. (In fact, Darwin's struggle with this was the impetus for developing his theory.) These things are considered "evil", so the question is "Why would a 'good' God make a world full of pain, suffering, & death for His creatures to endure?", or "How could God include pain, suffering, & death (for millions of years) in His 'very good' creation?" The Young-Earth Creationist (YEC) solution is that none ...
Welcome to the 3rd and penultimate installment of this series, in which I explain how self-deluded I have been about my own hatred and bigotry regarding, well, just about everyone but straight, white, white-collar males between 18 & 65 years of age (or thereabouts). Where was I? Oh... [caption id="attachment_1341" align="alignleft" width="225"] Pro-choice Activists[/caption] 7) I hate women. And it's not just because I'm single. (Or, should that be the other way around?) ;-> In particular, I think most of today's "feminist" positions and causes reveal a certain level of narcissism and another excuse to play the blame game for ones woes, real ...
"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." -- Abraham Lincoln "AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!" That was my response (posted on Facebook), give or take an "R" or two, to the 2012 Election results. Actually, that was my second FB post. My first was, "Crap on a stick! I'm so depressed." But, that's not quite right. I'm very disappointed, obviously. And a bit morose. But, really, I'm angry. So, here goes the rant... Are you freakin' kidding me?!! Do we really have to listen for 4 more years to this pompous, Marxist ...
Sometimes, I can't help myself. I mean, people make spurious claims and ridiculous accusations against God, Christians, "the Church", etc., all the time. Usually, I let it go. Can't be constantly getting into long, drawn-out internet debates ALL the time, after all. But, sometimes, I just have to say something. And, so it went the other day, when a FB friend of a FB friend, amidst generally mocking comments, claimed that Christians were responsible for "lots of mass murders." Of course, I had my suspicions about what she was referring to. There are some nasty stains on Christianity's record. But, I also ...
"I am pro-life. I believe that abortion is the wrong choice except in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of the mother." -- Mitt Romney, in an op-ed piece in The Boston Globe (7/26/2005) In "The Pro-Life Position: Just One Question", I argued that if the unborn is indeed a member of the human family, no matter how small or odd it looks, then "no justification for killing it is adequate." But, then I left a footnote saying that there are rare exceptions to that rule. So, I figured I may as well address those now.... When the ...
Part 1: Firm Foundation "I yam what I yam, and that's all what I yam." -- Popeye, the sailorman Given the subjects that I usually read and write about on this blog, critical thinking really comes in handy. Not that I'm some great logician or anything. Far from it! But, over the last few years, I've been exposed to the discipline of informal logic by some pretty darn good thinkers. (At least, I think they are.) I've noticed that I am now more apt to notice logical errors & fallacies when reading or listening to someone's arguments for his/her position on a ...
[caption id="attachment_1464" align="alignleft" width="300"] Original Star Trek bridge crew[/caption] I remember when, many years ago, I first found out that the cast of the original Star Trek series did not always get along and a huge part of the problem was William Shatner's ego. Star Trek was one of my all-time favorite TV shows (and the movies and the books), and Shatner was a favorite actor when I was growing up -- right up there with Lee Majors, the Six Million Dollar Man, and later Tom Selleck of Magnum, P.I., fame. So, I was understandably disappointed to find out my "heroes" ...
"[S]cience and religion are two essential components in the search for truth. Denying either is a barren approach." -- Dr. Martin Andreas Nowak, mathematical biologist Once upon a time (actually, it was about a year ago) in a land far, far away (OK, it was here in NE Florida), I had a brief but interesting discussion. I had been taking a few skills & personality assessment tests, which involved identifying what I thought my strengths & weaknesses were, figuring out my personality traits, etc. While discussing the results with a couple family members, the religiously-agnostic one noted, "Huh! You consider yourself ...
“[I]f the Republican Party does not start positively responding to grassroots conservatives, these key activists may bolt the GOP…. If the GOP in Congress will not stand up to Obama, what good is having the leadership positions?” — Jeff Crouere, media host and columnist at Townhall.com
The recent midterm elections and discussions of “lame duck” bills and executive actions, etc., got me thinking again of who might be good replacements for Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House and for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Senate Majority Leader. Don’t get me wrong; I like them OK. Sometimes, I like what they say and do, but all too often I find them rather aggravating. Both of them are entrenched, “establishment” Republicans with an apparent disdain for — or, at least, distrust of — Tea Party types, whether over policy (e.g., immigration, taxes, agricultural programs) or strategy/tactics (e.g., whether or not “government shutdown” should even be on the table during budget negotiations) or both. Since I lean toward Tea Party thinking on many things, this attitude by Boehner and McConnell and other GOP leaders troubles me. Plus, as Crouere intimated above, they have not been very effective — cowardly, in some cases — when it comes to countering the administration’s “progressive” agenda.
Unfortunately, Republican majorities in both chambers just recently (re-)elected both gentlemen to their respective positions for the 114th Congress (beginning Jan. 3, 2015) with little-to-no opposition. But, if either should die or resign for some reason, his leadership position would (obviously) become open and a new election scheduled. So, who would be good candidates, if the need arises? (Of course, in 2016 normal elections will force the issue, anyway.) When considering who might fit the bill (pun intended) for these offices, I looked at:
1) Length of time in House and/or Senate. Seniority is a measure of automatic (though limited) respect, but it is also a factor in determining who knows whom and “how things work” in Congress and in Washington, for good or for bad. Plus, it is only natural and fair to not give top leadership positions to relative newbies but to preserve them as “rewards of service” to more senior members. For these reasons, I lean towards those with more years and experience.
2) Memberships (and especially chairmanships) of important committees and subcommittees in their respective chambers. These positions are given out by party leaders, often as rewards (or punishments, depending on the committee) and/or as shows of trust that an individual will represent the party’s interests well. If they stay there awhile, it (hopefully) means they are doing a decent job. (Unfortunately, it can also mean that the person is simply “towing the party line” and doing what they are told, when the party line may have strayed in some areas from what is truly best for the American people.) More to the point, such appointments are a major method by which U.S. Representatives and Senators gain influence and respect among peers and non-peers alike.
3) Lifetime scores on most recent Congressional Scorecards put out by Heritage Action, Club for Growth, and American Conservative Union. These are excellent barometers for the relative “conservativeness” of politicians, since these three groups are known for supporting and promoting consistent conservatism and challenging GOP “establishment” leadership. (Club for Growth focuses on key economic legislation, whereas the other two cover a broader range of issues and may be better overall guides.) Although I would prefer a House Speaker and Senate Majority Leader who rank near the top on all of these lists, I tried not to let that be the driving force in my selection.
4) General sense of how they might do as a leader (e.g., fairness, respect, courage in fighting liberal “progressive” agenda, etc.) and being in the spotlight. This may be the most important criterion. Unfortunately, I don’t have a whole lot to go on, other than what I can glean from seeing/hearing each via articles, interviews, press conferences, and the like.
So, after looking at several Representatives and Senators in light of the above criteria, trying to find those with a good balance, who do I suggest? I have three potential candidates for each position:
Speaker of the House first…
o Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ): Franks is my first choice. He has 12 solid years in the House and is considered one of the “most conservative” members of the House by The National Journal. He is a member of several caucuses, including Tea Party Caucus, Liberty Caucus, and International Religious Freedom Caucus. He serves on two subcommittees within the House Armed Services Committee, as well as on two subcommittees within the House Judiciary Committee, chairing one of them. His lifetime scores are: Heritage – 97%; Club for Growth – 98%; ACU – 98.91%.
o Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): Gohmert is another strong conservative, with 10 years in the House, who is sometimes seen as a thorn in Boehner’s side. He is a member of three caucuses, including the Tea Party Caucus, as well as the Republican Study Committee. He is a member of two subcommittees and a task force within the House Judiciary Committee. Gohmert also serves on two subcommittees within the House Committee on Natural Resources. His lifetime scores are: Heritage – 92%; Club for Growth – 89%; ACU – 96.44%.
o Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): Jordan is another solid conservatice and an excellent choice. He has 8 years of service in the House so far, and he chaired the Republican Study Committee during the 112th Congress. He is a member of the House Budget Committee; serves on two subcommittees within the House Judiciary Committee; serves on two subcommittees within the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; reportedly turned down a position on the powerful House Appropriations Committee; and is a member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi (chaired by Trey Gowdy). Jordan’s lifetime scores are: Heritage – 93%; Club for Growth – 98%; ACU – 100%.
What do you think? Tom McClintock is a “runner up”, I suppose. He has very good lifetime scores (Heritage – 90%; Club for Growth – 98%; ACU – 98.4%.), but he only has 6 years in, so Gohmert stays. I also really like “young guns” Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Justin Amash (R-MI), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Steve Stockman (R-TX), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), and Trey Gowdy (R-SC), all of whom have very solidly conservative ratings and are gaining “notoriety” as pains in the collective butts of Democrats and establishment GOP alike. However, none of them has more than 4 years’ congressional service, yet. I look forward to seeing them all do a lot of good for the conservative cause and, by extension, for America in the years to come. Eventually, maybe one or more will become Speaker of the House — or, even POTUS.
Of course, the House rules do not demand that the Speaker be an actual member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In fact, not long ago former Speaker Newt Gingrich was nominated for the position. (I wonder if he knew?) Also, although he had just lost his Nov. 2012 bid for re-election, outspoken Rep. Allen West (R-FL) was nominated for Speaker for the 113th Congress by Rep. Gohmert, thereby breaking ranks with GOP leadership (who put/kept Boehner in).
As for Senate Majority Leader, if Jim DeMint (R-SC) hadn’t already taken over as head of the Heritage Foundation, he would probably be at the top of my list. He retired from the Senate after 6 years in the House and 8 years in the Senate with the following lifetime scores: Heritage – 99%; Club for Growth – 100%; ACU – 97+%. He is articulate and comfortable in front of the camera and known for playing fair and by the rules. Normally, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) would be at or near the top of the list, too, given his years in Congress (16 in the House, 18 in the Senate) and experience on various (sub)committees. But, his lifetime scores of 79% and 74% from Heritage Action and Club for Growth, respectively, disappoint me and knock him down a few notches. I didn’t have time to investigate, but if Roberts started out a moderate and became increasingly conservative over the years, then that would be a legitimate reason and enough to put him back in the running. A third Senator I wanted to put on the list was Tom Coburn (R-OK), who currently scores Heritage – 87%; Club for Growth – 96%; ACU – 98%. He spent 6 years in the House and is finishing his 10th year in the Senate. Unfortunately, he is taking early retirement at the end of the 113th Congress, to be succeeded by Rep. James Lankford (R).
There are not many really strong conservatives in the U.S. Senate, right now. Most of those who are are relative newcomers and, therefore, not on the most powerful and prestigious committees (e.g., Appropriations or Finance). Without DeMint, Roberts, or Coburn, options are limited, but here are my three top recommendations (in no particular order):
o Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID): Risch is perhaps not that familiar a name, but he has been a U.S. Senator for 6 years, following stints as Lieut. Governor (twice) and Governor or Idaho. He is a member of three subcommittees within the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; serves on four subcommittees within the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship; member of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics; and, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. His lifetime scores are: Heritage – 87%; Club for Growth – 90%; ACU – 95.8%.
o Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): Sessions should be a familiar name to those who keep up with the U.S. national political news. He has been climbing the Capitol Building steps for 18 years and is a member of the International Narcotics Control Caucus. He is the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee; member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; serves on three subcommittees within the Senate Armed Services Committee; and, serves on four subcommittees within the Senate Judiciary Committee. His lifetime scores are: Heritage – 81%; Club for Growth – 86%; ACU – 92.24%.
o Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK): Inhofe is another familiar name among the politically informed. He has been a fixture in Congress for 28 years (8 in the House, 20 in the Senate)! He is a member of several caucuses and, though he has dealt with his share of personal & professional controversies over the years, he is the first recipient of the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Character and Leadership Award for his character and leadership in public service. Inhofe currently serves on three subcommittees within the Senate Armed Services Committee and is the ranking minority member on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. His lifetime scores are: Heritage – 84%; Club for Growth – 93%; ACU – 96.82%.
You might notice the conspicuous absence of Tea Party favorites Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. I like them a lot, and they are all solid conservatives who are making names for themselves as gadflies to the Obama administration and the “progressive” agenda. But, they are also junior Senators with no more than 4 years apiece in Congress. I would not object very strongly if any of them were elected Senate Majority Leader, but, as I said, I generally prefer to see a respected senior member get the honor. On the other hand, someone like Richard Shelby (R-AL) has an impressive record of service (8 years in the House, 28 years in the Senate), serving on several (sub)committees — including chairing the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1997-2001); chairing the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs (2003-2007); and now a member of six subcommittees within the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee –, but he is way too moderate (Heritage – 73% (lifetime); Club for Growth – 77% (lifetime); ACU – 76.46% (lifetime)) for my comfort level. (Compare to McConnell below.)
The downside, then, is that all of these “more senior” Senators are probably considered members of the GOP “Establishment”. I can only hope that, if one was made Senate Majority Leader, he would be fair, strong in the face of adversity from the Left, ready to work more closely with grass roots conservatives, and, most of all, an effective and honorable leader.
P.S. Just for comparison, here are a few more notables and their lifetime scores:
Rep. John Boehner (R-OH): Heritage – N/A; Club for Growth – 83%; ACU – 86.99%. (Note: The Speaker of the House doesn’t normally vote, so his lifetime scores for CfG and ACU are as of 2010. Heritage doesn’t provide one, but it couldn’t have been too high, since he has voted contrary to the Heritage position on almost all of the major bills since.)
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT): Heritage – 81%; Club for Growth – 93%; ACU – 94.4%.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI): Heritage – 67%; Club for Growth – 85%; ACU – 90.67%.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA): Heritage – 63%; Club for Growth – 81%; ACU – 89.77%.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): Heritage – 49%; Club for Growth – 78%; ACU – 90.43%.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): Heritage – 72%; Club for Growth – 85%; ACU – 90.16%.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): Heritage – 76%; Club for Growth – 78%; ACU – 83.6%.
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA): Heritage – 76%; Club for Growth – 83%; ACU – 92.4%.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ): Heritage – 80%; Club for Growth – 98%; ACU – 95%.
Sen. John Thune (R-SD): Heritage – 67%; Club for Growth – 80%; ACU – 87.18%.
Also, re the Heritage Action scores, average for House Republicans is 62% and average for Senate Republicans is 64%. Pitiful.
“[W]e can surely find ways to work together on issues where there’s broad agreement among the American people.” — President Barack Obama, post-midterms news conference (11/5/2014)
A lot of the news these days is filled with talk about Obamacare (Grubercare?), immigration/amnesty, net neutrality, and climate change. But, I don’t feel like wading into those messes. There’s no way any of them will be “resolved” by the end of the year, so I’m not even going to suggest it. Instead, I wanted to focus on three other areas of public interest that I think can be productively addressed during the Lame Duck Session by passing bipartisan bills.
Of course, President Obama would still need to sign them into law. Neither Party has enough votes in the Senate to override his veto on their own, but they could if they worked together. If Obama was “smart” — pragmatically, strategically –, though, he would get behind them. Well, imho, that is. Not that I want to see him (or any Democrats) get credit for doing anything actually good for the republic, thereby distracting from the mountain of negatives he/they have done. But, on the other hand, the benefits of passing the below bills would, I think, outweigh the downside of the Left getting some positive press. (Heck, the MSM praises them no matter what, anyway.)
So, here are my suggestions:
Now, this one has gotten a lot of press over the past week or so, since it figures into the runoff election coming to Louisiana early next month. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) really needs a push to help keep her seat against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), so she’s revived her promotion of the pipeline. Landrieu isn’t the only Democrat who realizes what a boon this would be for her state and every state involved and the nation as a whole. (Or, at least, they realize their constituents are for it.) In fact, in the ninth & latest vote, the House of Representatives passed a bill (252 to 161) approving the federal government to proceed with Keystone expansion plans. Now, Landrieu has convince Harry Reid to have an up-or-down vote in the Senate this week on the Hoeven-Landrieu bill, which would green-light the Keystone project. There are at least 11 Dem supporters in the Senate, so it just may go through.
As Christine Rousselle of Townhall.com reminded us a few days ago,
“The Keystone XL pipeline is widely approved by members of both parties, as well as the general public. The Senate has already voted in several non-binding measures to approve the pipeline, but President Obama has final say about the project’s approval.”
The White House has implied continued reluctance on the part of the President, primarily tied to environmental concerns. But, multiple studies/reviews have determined that the pipeline poses minimal environmental risk to soil, water, wildlife, etc., and negligible climate impact. So, Mr. President, what’s the problem?
2) Fix Dodd-Frank
We are all familiar with the “too big to fail” doctrine. This is the idea that certain banks and other firms are too big and important to the economy to let fall into bankruptcy, so they are bailed out (with taxpayer money) by the government. This encourages risky behavior and gives government officials authority to choose who to help, thereby typically saving the least efficient and most troubled firms. (Does that make sense?) In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Dodd-Frank Act was the primary piece of regulatory legislation that was supposed to end this practice. Unfortunately, the extensive Dodd-Frank regulation appears to have made matters worse.
In a recent piece for The Heritage Foundation, Norbert Michel explains why and offers a few suggestions to Congress (as summarized by the NCPA):
If wholesale repeal of the act is deemed impossible, Paul Kupiec suggests three steps to at least improve it:
For a fuller explanation, see Kupiec’s article at the Wall Street Journal, “Three Easy Fixes to Dodd-Frank”. (Or, if you don’t have access, check out the NCPA summary here.) I’d like to think we could get bipartisan congressional buy-in for some or all of these changes, and it would be a feather in the cap of all involved. Chances would be stronger once the new Congress is sworn in, of course, but doing it this Nov./Dec. would give another win to the outgoing legislators. I wonder what the President would think….
3) Repeal/Neuter ‘Common Core’
The Common Core State Standards Initiative was sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). It was supposed to ensure consistent standards across the states and prepare students for college or, at least, basic employment. It had bipartisan support both in Washington, D.C., and among the public, though much of the push seemed to be from the Left (e.g., President Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). Forty-four states plus the District of Columbia adopted the Common Core standards & materials.
As time has passed, though, its “shortcomings” in content, structure, and administration have become glaringly obvious to more and more people. Criticism of the initiative, in part or as a whole, have come from politicians, policy analysts and think-tanks, teachers’ unions and educators, civil rights groups, etc., as well as thousands of parents, and it crosses party lines. Several states have since voted to repeal or replace Common Core, while others are moving to at least review and possibly revise. (Keep the good and throw out the bad, right? Are states actually smart enough to do that?!) Even the phrase “Common Core” has become divisive in some places.
“[I]t’s not surprising that we find, as people get more aware of the details and as implementation begins, that there are problems that arise and that give people a chance to think about whether they are as supportive as they were when this first started.” — Michael Feuer, dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University
“[S]upport will continue to drop as people no longer see the standards or standardized tests as helping children. They, like many teachers, see them instead as setting up public education for failure.” — Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
OK, so this one may not seem like a matter for the U.S. Congress and the President to address. Indeed, most of the decisions regarding adoption, repeal, or replacement of Common Core standards are in the hands of state board members, legislators, and governors. However, I see at least one way Congress could discourage participation. (There may be others.) Participation is incentivized by the Race to the Top contest, in which states vie for financial funding from the federal government (via the ED Recovery Act), based on how many children each state has and the degree to which the states adopt the common standards. If the U.S. Congress were to change the rules and/or defund these awards/grants, the states would have to decide whether sticking with the controversial Common Core program was still worth it.
Perhaps they should start over with a “clean slate”, come up with an agreed upon minimum set of standards, so that they have some common ground and can do comparisons, and leave the rest up to the individual states to decide for themselves? (Of course, I also think that educational institutions of all levels should not be reliant on — and, therefore, beholden to — the federal government.)
“The failed promises of No Child Left Behind account for Americans’ skepticism about the federal government’s role in public education, and Common Core is viewed through that lens.” — Bill Bushaw, chief executive officer of polling firm PDK International
I honestly think the above three measures could be win-wins for both parties, including the President, even if somewhat reluctantly approved by some. It would show the American public that our leaders in Washington can actually come together, set aside ideological bickering, and pass bipartisan solutions for the benefit of the nation, her citizens, and their children. I think it rather unlikely this will happen, but a boy can dream….
“With impressive erudition and polemical panache, David Hart smites hip and thigh the peddlers of a ‘new atheism’ that recycles hoary arguments from the past. His grim assessment of our cultural moment challenges the hope that ‘the Christian revolution’ could happen again.” — Richard John Newhaus, former EIC at First Things
Continuing from last week, I am citing selections from the “Introduction” to David Bentley Hart’s Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (2009, Yale University Press), winner of the Michael Ramsey Prize in Theology. Here, Hart gets to the, er, heart of why he wrote the book….
“My chief ambition in writing [this book] is to call attention to the peculiar and radical nature of the new faith in [its original] setting: how enormous a transformation of thought, sensibility, culture, morality, and spiritual imagination Christianity constituted in the age of pagan Rome; the liberation it offered from fatalism, cosmic despair, and the terror of occult agencies; the immense dignity it conferred upon the human person; its subversion of the cruelest aspects of pagan society; its (alas, only partial) demystification of political power; its ability to create moral community where none had existed before; and its elevation of active charity above all other virtues.
Stated in its most elementary and most buoyantly positive form, my argument is, first of all, that among all the many great transitions that have marked the evolution of Western civilization, whether convulsive or gradual, political or philosophical, social or scientific, material or spiritual, there has been only one — the triumph of Christianity — that can be called in the fullest sense a “revolution”: a truly massive and epochal revision of humanity’s prevailing vision of reality, so pervasive in its influence and so vast in its consequences as actually to have created a new conception of the world, of history, of human nature, of time, and of the moral good. To my mind, I should add, it was an event immeasurably more impressive in its cultural creativity and more ennobling in its moral power than any other movement of spirit, will, imagination, aspiration, or accomplishment in the history of the West. And I am convinced that, given how radically at variance Christianity was with the culture it slowly and relentlessly displaced, its eventual victory was an event of such improbability as to strain the very limits of our understanding of historical causality.”
“There is also, however, a negative side to my argument. It is what I suppose I should call my rejection of modernity — or, rather, my rejection of the ideology of “the modern” and my rejection, especially, of the myth of “the Enlightenment.” By modernity, I should explain, I certainly do not mean modern medicine or air travel or space exploration or any of the genuinely useful or estimable aspects of life today; I do not even mean modern philosophical method or social ideology or political thought. Rather, I mean the modern age’s grand narrative of itself: its story of the triumph of critical reason over “irrational” faith, of the progress of social morality toward greater justice and freedom, of the “tolerance” of the secular state, and of the unquestioned ethical primacy of either individualism or collectivism (as the case may be).
I want in part to argue that what many of us are still in the habit of calling the “Age of Reason” was in many significant ways the beginning of the eclipse of reason’s authority as a cultural value; that the modern age is notable in large measure for the triumph of inflexible and unthinking dogmatism in every sphere of human endeavor (including the sciences) and for a flight from rationality to any number of soothing fundamentalisms, religious and secular; that the Enlightenment ideology of modernity as such does not even deserve any particular credit for the advance of modern science; that the modern secular state’s capacity for barbarism exceeds any of the evils for which Christendom might justly be indicted, not solely by virtue of the superior technology at its disposal, but by its very nature; that among the chief accomplishments of modern culture have been a massive retreat to superstition and the gestation of especially pitiless forms of nihilism; and that, by comparison to the Christian revolution it succeeded, modernity is little more than an aftereffect, or even a counterrevolution — a reactionary flight back toward a comfortable, but dehumanizing, mental and moral servitude to elemental nature…. The central concern of what follows is the early centuries of the church, but I approach those centuries very much from the perspective of the present, and I return from them only to consider what the true nature of a post-Christian culture must be. Needless to say, perhaps, my prognostications tend toward the bleak….”
Ouch! Tell us what you really think, Dr. Hart!
“What, however, animates this project is a powerful sense of how great a distance of historical forgetfulness and cultural alienation separates us from the early centuries of the Christian era, and how often our familiarity with the Christianity we know today can render us insensible to the novelty and uncanniness of the gospel as it was first proclaimed — or even as it was received by succeeding generations of ancient and medieval Christians. And this is more than merely unfortunate. Our normal sense of the continuity of history, though it can accommodate ruptures and upheavals of a certain magnitude, still makes it difficult for us to comprehend the sheer immensity of what I want to call the Western tradition’s “Christian interruption.” But it is something we must comprehend if we are properly to understand who we have been and what we have become, or to understand both the happy fortuity and poignant fragility of many of those moral “truths” upon which our sense of our humanity rests, or even to understand what defenses we possess against the eventual cultural demise of those truths. And, after all, given how enormous the force of the Christian interruption was in shaping the reality all of us inhabit, it is nothing less than our obligation to our own past to attempt to grasp its true nature….
At a particular moment in history, I believe, something happened to Western humanity that changed it at the deepest levels of consciousness and at the highest levels of culture. It was something of such strange and radiant vastness that it is almost inexplicable that the memory of it should have so largely faded from our minds, to be reduced to a few old habits of thought and desire whose origins we no longer know, or to be displaced altogether by a few recent habits of thought and desire that render us oblivious to what we have forsaken. But, perhaps the veil that time draws between us and the distant past in some sense protects us from the burden of too much memory. It often proves debilitating to dwell too entirely in the shadows of vanished epochs, and our capacity to forget is (as Friedrich Nietzsche noted) very much a part of our capacity to live in the present.
That said, every natural strength can become also an innate weakness; to live entirely in the present, without any of the wisdom that a broad perspective upon the past provides, is to live a life of idiocy and vapid distraction and ingratitude. Over time, our capacity to forget can make everything come to seem unexceptional and predictable, even things that are actually quite remarkable and implausible. The most important function of historical reflection is to wake us from too complacent a forgetfulness and to recall us to a knowledge of things that should never be lost to memory. And the most important function of Christian history is to remind us not only of how we came to be modern men and women, or of how Western civilization was shaped, but also of something of incalculable wonder and inexpressible beauty, the knowledge of which can still haunt, delight, torment, and transfigure us.”
And that was just the opening salvo, if you will. Intrigued? Challenged? Annoyed? I was (though, mostly the first). I can hardly wait to delve deeper, as Hart lays waste to the typical “new atheist” assaults on Christianity with an informed, thoughtful, and articulate gentility, while also reminding believer and non-believer alike of the importance of studying history and learning from the lessons of the past.
“Few things are so delightful as watching someone who has taken the time to acquire a lot of learning casually, even effortlessly, dismantle the claims of lazy grandstanders.” — Stefan Beck, New Criterion
If you thought from this post’s title that I was going to enumerate several “delusions” of the “new atheists”, then I am afraid you were mistaken. However,… what I am going to do here is cite the bulk of Dr. David Bentley Hart’s “Introduction” to his book, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies. (So, you see, my title, while slightly open to misinterpretation, was quite literal.) In the book, Hart does indeed expose and correct such delusions. But, this post is meant merely to spark your interest.
I found Hart to be quite eloquent and honest in his self-examination and exposition. In introducing his work and explaining his method and purpose in writing, Hart touches on several things that I could identify with and echo (in my small way) as a blogger and apologist-in-training who sometimes addresses the same or similar issues. From receiving unreasonable demands for “proof” to being accused of supporting historical atrocities (however they may be misunderstood or misrepresented) to simply being called an anti-science dolt, Christian theists can get pretty frustrated trying to carefully articulate their case before individuals who often don’t take the time or have the patience to listen and give fair consideration. (This, despite their supposed dedication to truth and/or reason.) Hart’s focus is on defending historical Christianity against… well, I’ll let him explain it.
The citation might seem a bit lengthy (and part 2 is even longer), but I couldn’t bring myself to cut anymore out than I already did. I hope you find it illuminating, challenging, something you too might be able to appreciate, or perhaps only “interesting”, but hopefully more than merely entertaining.
“Perfect detachment is impossible for even the soberest of historians, since the writing of history necessarily demands some sort of narrative of causes and effects, and is thus necessarily an act of interpretation, which by its nature can never be wholly free of prejudice. But, I am not really a historian, in any event, and I do not even aspire to detachment. In what follows, my prejudices are transparent and unreserved, and my argument is in some respects willfully extreme (or so it might seem). I think it prudent to admit this from the outset, if only to avoid being accused later of having made some pretense of perfect objectivity or neutrality so as to lull the reader into a state of pliant credulity….
This is not to say, I hasten to add, that I am in any way forswearing claims of objective truth: to acknowledge that one’s historical judgments can never be absolutely pure of preconceptions or personal convictions is scarcely to surrender to a thoroughgoing relativism. It may be impossible to provide perfectly irrefutable evidence for one’s conclusions, but it is certainly possible to amass evidence sufficient to confirm them beyond plausible doubt, just as it is possible to discern when a particular line of interpretation has exceeded or contradicted the evidence altogether and become little better than a vehicle for the writer’s own predilections, interests, or allegiances….
Such honesty costs me little, as it happens. Since the case I wish to make is not that the Christian gospel can magically transform whole societies in an instant, or summon the charity it enjoins out of the depths of every soul, or entirely extirpate cruelty and violence from human nature, or miraculously lift men and women out of their historical contexts, I feel no need to evade or excuse the innumerable failures of many Christians through the ages to live lives of charity or peace. Where I come to the defense of historical Christianity, it is only in order to raise objections to certain popular calumnies of the church, or to demur from what I take to be disingenuous or inane arraignments of Christian belief or history, or to call attention to achievements and virtues that writers of a devoutly anti-Christian bent tend to ignore, dissemble, or dismiss….”
“Some of the early parts of this book concern the Roman Catholic Church; but whatever I say in its defense ought not to be construed as advocacy for the institution itself (to which I do not belong), but only for historical accuracy. To be honest, my affection for institutional Christianity as a whole is rarely more than tepid; and there are numerous forms of Christian belief and practice for which I would be hard pressed to muster a kind word from the depths of my heart, and the rejection of which by the atheist or skeptic strikes me as perfectly laudable. In a larger sense, nothing I argue below — even if all of it is granted — implies that the Christian vision of reality is true. And, yet, the case I wish to make is intended to be provocative, and its more apologetic moments are meant to clear the way for a number of much stronger, and even perhaps somewhat immoderate, assertions….”
Yeah! What HE said!
Stay tuned for part 2, when Hart discusses the true impact of the “Christian Revolution”. He also lays a smackdown on “the ideology of ‘the modern’” and “the myth of ‘the Enlightenment’.” Good stuff!
This month marks the 5th anniversary of the maiden post for “A View from the Right”. I can hardly believe it has been that long! That first post was the beginning of a 9-part series called “What’s So Bad (or Great) about Obamacare?”, and it was my first attempt at writing anything of the sort. Sure, I had done a bit of creative writing in school, status reports and system documentation in the workplace, etc. But, up to that point, I had never tried to write any sort of “article” for an online (or offline) publication. Not even a guest post.
It took a little while, but I eventually found my “voice” — a tone and style that I was comfortable writing in. I might vary in the degree of levity, and some posts are slightly more didactic or authoritative in tone, I suppose. But, overall, I try to remain fairly informal, writing as a “fellow traveler”, sharing knowledge and encouraging thought on various important topics involving science, politics, and religion. I have even received a few compliments on my writing from regular readers, and I very much appreciate the encouragement!
Sometimes, milestones like this are a time to shake things up. But, while I will be looking at a few minor things I might do over the next couple months or so (e.g., maybe a new plug-in or something behind the scenes; possibly new links in the blogroll), I probably won’t be changing much. (However, if you think the blog could benefit from some functionality that it doesn’t have, let me know via the About page, and I’ll consider it.) I’m very happy with the blog theme, so no changes there, unless the creators update it for more color/design variations. The themes and schedule for my posts will remain as is, too. After all, it seems to work for my readers and me — which reminds me…
BIG SHOUT OUT TO MY READERS, ESPECIALLY THE REGULARS! Your taking the time to read my compositions — and, hopefully, leave a thoughtful comment — helps make the agony of the writing process more tolerable! Muchas gracias!
I’m not a political analyst, historian, theologian, scientist, or journalist, and I’ll never have the skills, insights, or depth of knowledge that (usually) come with those professions. But, I’ll do my best to continue providing valuable information and my (semi-)informed, mostly rational “view from the right”, as well as a fair dose of humor, on important matters of the day. (And, maybe a few not-that-important.) I hope you’ll
join me! Bring a few friends with you, okay?
Now, if you will allow me, I would like to suggest some posts that you may not have read, yet. Those of you who have been following the blog for a few years will probably recognize most of the titles. But, whether you never got around to reading them or you are relatively new and never saw them, I have selected a “Top 10″ list (unranked) for you to check out. (I confess, though, I cheated a little by linking to the first parts of multi-part posts, with hopes that you’ll continue reading the rest of the series.) It’s hard to pick one’s favorite “children”, but these are definitely among those that I am most pleased with. I hope you enjoy them, too!
“Top 10 Things Liberals Have Taught Me about Myself” (4 parts, written tongue-in-cheek)
“You know, sometimes you just need someone else’s perspective. Another viewpoint to explain reality to you and show you things about yourself that you never knew. Things that even your friends won’t tell you, or don’t know. Heck, they’re probably guilty of it, too, and don’t even realize it. Let me give a few examples of how my eyes have been opened….”
“The Right to Judge Others” (2 parts)
““Don’t judge me!” How many times have you heard that? When said seriously, the person’s tone is usually quite defensive. They don’t want someone else telling them that they are behaving in a bad, foolish, or ethically questionable way…. Should we never be allowed to form an opinion about other people and things, let alone pronounce them to be in some sense “bad” or “wrong”?”
““AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!” That was my response (posted on Facebook), give or take an “R” or two, to the 2012 Election results. Actually, that was my second FB post. My first was, “Crap on a stick! I’m so depressed.” But, that’s not quite right. I’m very disappointed, obviously. And a bit morose. But, really, I’m angry. So, here goes the rant…”
“Christian Mass Murder Through the Ages” (2 parts)
“Sometimes, I can’t help myself. I mean, people make spurious claims and ridiculous accusations against God, Christians, “the Church”, etc., all the time. Usually, I let it go. Can’t be constantly getting into long, drawn-out internet debates ALL the time, after all. But, sometimes, I just have to say something. And, so it went the other day, when a FB friend of a FB friend, amidst generally mocking comments, claimed that Christians were responsible for “lots of mass murders.””
“Once upon a time, I had a brief but interesting discussion with a religiously-agnostic relative. “Huh! You consider yourself ‘scientific’?”, he asked. I could hear the condescension in his tone. Suspecting where this was going, I asked, “Why don’t you think I am (or can be) ‘scientific’?” His response was very telling: “Because you believe in ‘revealed wisdom’.””
“Earlier this week (er, I guess it was last week, now), a FB friend shared the following post: “Good morning american FB family, here’s something you should know about. You may be familiar with the Smoothy drinks from a company called NAKED that’s owned by Pepsi. Well, it seems that the contents of these drinks aren’t as all-natural or non-gmo after all. Naked has just agreed to settle a 9 million dollar class action lawsuit for false labeling….””
“A non-believer offered the following comment: “There’s no such thing as a real Christian these days. Christians I’ve come to find are the MOST judgemental and hypocritical people on the planet.. Hearing Christians talk has literally made me look into Muslim faith…. [T]he bible says you should act a certain way. 99.9% of Christians completely ignore what their holy book tells them. That book you’re supposed to live by, right?” This was sad, because far too many Christians are judgemental and/or hypocritical. It was also frustrating, because not all “Christians” are true followers of Jesus and because what constitutes “judgemental” and “hypocritical” is, you might say, up for debate. Also, skeptics often speak from (partial) ignorance….”
“The Pro-Life Position: Just One Question” (not numbered, but technically Part 1 of a series of 4 posts (as of this writing) beginning with “The Pro-Life Position”)
“The abortion controversy is not a debate between those who are pro-choice and those who are anti-choice. It’s not about privacy. It’s not about trusting women to decide. It’s not about forcing one’s morality. It’s about one question that trumps all others.” — Scott Klusendorf, Life Training Institute
““American exceptionalism” is the notion that says the United States of America, as a nation, is “exceptional” both in the sense of being very unusual and in the sense of being special and, yes, better at some things or in some areas. I suppose one might say that it is the collective “Spirit of America” that makes it superior. Grounded in its founding ideals, this spirit has led to America’s economic success and ability to be a huge force for good in the world…. This exceptionalism is not dependent upon what others, here and abroad, think or feel about America, its history, or current events. It is not based upon popularity. It simply… is.”
“Living on a Razor’s Edge” (3 parts, despite the first one saying ‘(Part 1 of 2)’)
“Scientific discoveries over the past couple decades have been revealing just how amazingly, finely tuned the universe is; and, if things were just a minute bit different in any one of a multitude of conditions, we wouldn’t be here. Nor would any other living creature. The degree of precision needed for this balance is incredible! And this fine-tuning begins with the very fundamental forces and physical constants of the universe. For instance, …”
Honorable mention: The “Informal Logic 101″ series, which has a page of its own linked at the top of this one (and every other page).
“I want Obama to go through the [impeachment] process because he has it coming…. Obama should be forced to defend his contemptible lies and actions. If for no other reason than his unbearable arrogance, the schmuck should have to pay a penalty.” — columnist Burt Prelutsky
On the other hand,…
“[W]e should focus our attention on winning elections. We win this election and we regain control of the United States Senate, we can be far more effective than an effort to impeach the president, which has no chance of succeeding.” — Sen. John McCain
As much as I agree with Prelutsky (and many others), a president (or any other high public official) cannot be impeached merely for being a contemptible, lying, arrogant schmuck. Nor can he be impeached for being timid, petty, obnoxious, stubborn, apathetic, imperious, or otherwise difficult to work with, though those and other unfortunate traits may play a part in his/her committing impeachable offenses. On the other end of the scale, a public official may commit any number of crimes (e.g., drug use, larceny, fraud, murder, rape, etc.) which in themselves are not necessarily impeachable offenses. (Criminal prosecution may be conducted later or separately, however.) Remember, impeachability hinges on whether or not the offenses constitute Treason, Bribery, or “other High Crimes and Misdemeanors”. This may be summed up as a betrayal of the political trust placed by the people in the official to uphold the law and fulfill his/her oath with integrity. In short, such offenses may fall under abuse of official power, dereliction of duty, or action outside the Constitution.
The first question I asked in Part 1 was:
1) Is there a legal, Constitutional case to be made for impeaching Obama?
I think the clear answer to that is “Yes”. Andrew C. McCarthy, Judge Andrew Napolitano, the three legal scholars I quoted in Part 2 (Fein, Fisher, & Titus), and many others agree. They may not agree on the particular strengths of various offenses or on the best approach to take (if any) regarding impeachment proceedings, but everyone seems to agree that at least 2 or 3 of the major charges clearly qualify as “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”. I didn’t see any of the legal minds pushing for charges of Treason, but, I think there is evidence of “adhering to [the U.S.'s] Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort” on the part of Obama and this administration.
I haven’t read McCarthy’s book (Faithless Execution), yet. But, from what I understand and the more I think about it, the more I like McCarthy’s approach of having indictments for types or categories of behaviors (e.g., “Willful refusal to execute the laws faithfully”, “Usurpation of Congress’s legislative authority and other constitutional powers”, “Willful undermining of our constitutional rights”), each of which references several examples of offenses. This makes sense, since it helps to demonstrate patterns of offensive (and impeachable) behavior as part of Obama’s overall plan to “transform America”, and because many individual (in)actions and incidents violate multiple areas of the public trust.
However, if the House moves forward, it might be decided to only select a few individual (in)actions or incidents for inclusion in the official impeachment articles. One might think that we may as well throw everything at him and “see what sticks”. But, some have uttered concerns about the message it sends to the American public regarding any offenses for which Obama might be found innocent. In that case, we should concentrate on those offenses most likely to “stick”.
To be clear, all responsibility for the executive branch is placed by the Constitution in the president, so s/he is ultimately accountable for all activities performed by his appointees and other subordinates in the various executive agencies (e.g., IRS, ATF, NSA, DoJ) while he and they are in office. That said, I think the emphasis should be on those offenses that are most clearly the result of President Obama’s knowledge and intent and which exhibit(ed) the clearest examples of gross negligence and/or abuse, rather than on things about which he was arguably ignorant/misinformed or which can be attributed to mere incompetence — which is technically impeachable, mind you — and/or a misguided understanding of the way things are and work (e.g., re economics, labor, military strategy). This is not to say, however, that I am excusing him for being ignorant on relevant subjects, intel, or for ignoring advice and evidence (e.g., historical, observational, scientific) that his “progressive” policies and methods are detrimental to the well-being of the nation.
Furthermore, for reasons that should be apparent but which I’ll get into later, it is important to have as much bipartisan support as possible.
“This is not about borders or lawsuits. It’s about one man, one President who believes he is above the law. Any public official, including the President, who’s told by the highest court in the land to cease and desist and blatantly says no, I’ll do what I want, should never be sued. He should be immediately impeached regardless of Party or philosophy.” — columnist Bill Tatro
At a minimum, I would begin with the two offenses rated “Severe (impeachable high crime)” by the WND analysis: “Illegally conducting war against Libya” and “Obama’s U.S. citizen ‘hit list’.” Then I would add the audacious and ill-advised “Bergdahl prisoner exchange”. These offenses involve clear violations of congressional authority and of U.S. citizens’ rights and the irresponsible and unnecessary placement of citizens in increased danger. Not only do most legal scholars and pundits agree that these three are impeachable, but they also seem to be the ones that Democrats — including Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and the powerful and influential Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) — are most upset about for one reason or another.
Next, although the WND analysis only ranked it “Elevated (dubious action)”, I would include “Illegal-alien amnesty by executive order”, because the damage is and will be so far-reaching, plus it is such a hot topic on everyone’s mind. Perhaps combining it with other immigration-centric offenses (e.g., Refusing to enforce immigration laws, Release of illegal alien criminals from prison) would make it strong enough for serious consideration. I would also like to see a solid and comprehensive case made that connects the dots between all of Obama’s connections with and deference to Muslim groups and rulers, funding of Islamic radicals (i.e., Hamas), inclusion of Muslim Brotherhood activists in his administration, continuing to weaken our military in the face of growing (Islamist and Communist) threats, etc., so that a charge of Treason can be included in the articles.
I am tempted to include a few more. For example, “Cap & Trade” (for using the EPA to regulate gases without congressional approval) and “Obamacare” (for ‘taxation without representation’ and betraying the people’s trust via consumer fraud), since they are also so incredibly far-reaching in the damage they are doing and will do (though the former seems less of an issue at the moment). But, I’m not sure that impeachment proceedings are the best place to address them. Similarly, I would like to add the “IRS Scandal”, which is clearly an abuse of power, but unless the current congressional investigation can firmly establish that this was done in response to a presidential directive, I am not convinced that it’s impeachable. Finally, “Fast & Furious” (the DoJ’s refusal to share information with Congress = obstruction) is another high-profile scandal, but I have a feeling we would be better off leaving this one out of presidential impeachment articles. (Otoh, if the Attorney General hadn’t just announced his resignation, I’d say F&F would be at the top of the list for impeaching him. It might still be used in a lawsuit against Holder.)
There you have it re the legal case for impeachment. I will conclude this series with Part 4 later this week. Hang in there….
It happened again. I realized early this week that I was not going to be able to finish “To Impeach or Not to Impeach” in time to publish on Sunday as planned. This time, I am travelling out of state to spend several days with my brother and his family. (I think that’s a pretty good excuse.) Of course, that meant coming up with something to fill in that was more than just empty “filler”. Also, it had to be something I could get mostly done before leaving, then complete while in Baltimore this weekend. As it happens, this week I started reading Dinesh D’Souza’s controversial new book, America: Imagine a World without Her. Keeping my eye open for a memorable passage to cite, I came up with the following from the first chapter. It helps lay the foundation for his arguments in the rest of the book.
“The survival instinct of nations is the collective survival instinct of the people in those nations. Why, then, would a nation attempt to destroy itself or commit suicide? Nations sometimes are conquered by other nations, or they collapse from within, but they never seek self-destruction. Yet Abraham Lincoln observed, a century and a half ago, that if America were ever to fall, it would not be by external means or even by internal collapse. Rather, it would be by the actions of Americans themselves. In his Lyceum Address, Lincoln said:
Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the Ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth, our own excepted, in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
Surely Lincoln is not suggesting that America — or Americans — might voluntarily seek destruction. Undoubtedly Lincoln believed that such an outcome would be the unfreseen consequence of calamitous misjudgment and folly. Yet I intend to show in this book that the American era is ending in part because a powerful group of Americans wants it to end. The American dream is shrinking because some of our leaders want it to shrink. Decline, in other words, has become a policy objective. And if this decline continues at the current pace, America as we know it will cease to exist. In effect, we will have committed national suicide.
America’s suicide, it turns out, is the result of a plan. The plan is not simply one of destruction but also one of reconstruction — it seeks the rebuilding of a different type of country, what President Obama terms “the work of remaking America.” While Obama acknowledges the existence of the plan, he is not responsible for the plan; it would be more accurate to say that it is responsible for him. The plan preceded Obama, and it will outlast him. Obama is simply part of a fifty-year scheme for the undoing and remaking of America, and when he is gone there are others who are ready to continue the job. What makes the plan especially chilling is that most Americans are simply unaware of what’s going on. Their ignorance, as we shall see, is part of the plan.”
I think it is a “conspiracy” of sorts, in that various individuals no doubt have made secret plans together to push this “progressive”, transformative agenda over the years. But, I am skeptical about there being an overall, master plan being orchestrated by some Illuminati-like cabal. Still, when like-minded people of influence find each other and determine that they can help a common agenda along with key, strategic actions (e.g., infiltrating and, eventually, dominating academia), they can do a lot of damage. And, as he states above, the majority of the populace has no clue they are being manipulated. I am curious to see what else D’Souza has to say along these lines, and I look forward to the rest of the book. You might want to check it out, too!
The title above makes what seems like an obvious statement. Yet, they exist, and they travel using U.S. passports. A recent email from Michele Bachmann reminded me,
“Currently, Americans fighting with terrorists abroad are allowed free access to re-enter the United States, as some already have! They are likely put on a terror watch list and have to go through SOME screening, but that’s it! …
The bill I introduced states that if someone has joined with a radical Islamic terrorist Jihadist state, then they will lose their passport, begin the process of losing their United States citizenship, and will not be allowed to re-enter the United States.
…[W]e have to do this to protect ourselves. This is common sense. We cannot allow these American Islamic terrorist fighters to come back into our country and have the opportunity of creating a terrorist attack right here.”
Absolutely! This should be a bipartisan no-brainer! (Yes, yes, there are a myriad of jokes to be made about Congress there.) In fact, IMHO, if there is reasonable proof that any American (other than an undercover intelligence operative, of course) is training/fighting, or has done so, with Muslim extremists from ISIS or any other group, not only their passport but their U.S. citizenship should be revoked ASAP!
By adopting that twisted worldview — which is antithetical to the principles laid out and implied in America’s founding documents — and adopting its brutal practices, any such person has, I believe, implicitly committed treason. America was founded on a set of ideas and ideals, which they have rejected by becoming Islamic jihadists. They are traitors to America and all it represents, as they themselves often state so clearly. As such, they no longer deserve the protections and other benefits that U.S. citizens enjoy. No further trial or due process is necessary.
It’s really that simple!
Earlier this month, Sen. Ted Cruz introduced a bill called the “Expatriate Terrorists Act”, which would revoke U.S. citizenship from anyone fighting for or supporting ISIS. Because he tried to fast-track it for a vote, it only needed one objection to stop it. Freshman Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) was that objection, explaining, “legislation that grants the government the ability to strip citizenship from Americans is a serious matter raising significant constitutional issues.” (She also cited letters of objection from the Constitution Project and the ACLU.) Normally, I would agree. And, I’m pretty sure most of my Libertarian and Constitutionalist friends would, too. But, as indicated by my reasoning above, I stand with Cruz when he said,
“ISIS is a study in oppression and brutality. We should take common-sense steps to make fighting for ISIS a formal renunciation of U.S. citizenship.”
The fight for this isn’t over. If you agree with me and Sen. Cruz, or at least with what Bachmann’s bill proposes, please sign the petition here: “Lose Your United States Passport”