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Archive for November, 2015

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ISIS fighters

 

As the war in Syria heats up and greater attention is focused on events there, a disturbing fact has come to light from several credible sources. The terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), rather than being a foe of the United States and the West, is actually their agent, acting to carry out the West’s stated agenda of ousting Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad.

Ron Paul talked about the alliance between ISIS and the US in a recent video posted on his YouTube channel titled Does ISIS Exist?. A transcript of this video can be read here. At about the 1:38 mark in the video Paul comments,

But the question is raised, Where did ISIS come from? And there are so many questions: how did it pop up, and gained so much favor and have financing putting out magazines and you know where do they get their weapons and it’s pretty easy to put some of these pieces together and find out that they probably were working to some degrees with some of the people in the West like the United States and maybe some others and got some advantages rather than it being a spontaneous small group of people that all of the sudden took over a large swath of land in Syria and in Iraq. That is probably not true.

As supporting evidence for US involvement with ISIS, Paul’s co-host Daniel McAdams paraphrases a report released by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) which calls for the establishment of a, “Salafist [Sunni extremist] principality…in eastern Syria,” which is exactly what ISIS is. Paul gives the reason why he believes the US has elected this course of action, explaining,

I think their [the US government] goal probably was to use ISIS to do our battles, because we are the ones who declared war against Assad, to go in there and get rid of Assad and then they think this is a cheap way. We don’t have to put boots on the ground, we get them to do the fighting and American people will think they are fighting radical Islam and will win the victory, will have this victory in a short period of time, but that’s where things go wrong, because no victory arrives.

And not only does no victory arrive, but to horror of the US foreign policy establishment, Vladimir Putin has involved Russia in the war in support of Syria’s government, the very government they are attempting to oust.

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Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees

 

The uproar surrounding how to deal with the waves of Syrian refugees surging through Europe and the US reached a new high this past week, with several governors and Republican presidential candidates pushing back on President Obama’s refugee resettlement plan. While opinions on how to handle this situation run hot, what generally is not well understood is what caused the crisis in the first place. It is well worth asking, why is it that so many people just now have decided to flee an ancient nation dating back to the time of the Old Testament?

Regime Change Blowback

Since the end of WWII, the US federal government has engaged in what amounts to a high-stakes, global game of thrones, overthrowing regimes its views as hostile to perceived US interests and installing compliant puppet rulers who will go along with the State Department/CIA program. In short, the US has acted less like a republic and more like a global empire, which indeed it has become. And, as was the case with its imperial predecessors, imperial Washington sees nothing wrong with this high-handed policy. It’s just business as usual.

Bashar Assad

Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria

 

The situation in Syria is just one of the more recent examples of this long-standing policy. Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, the US has supported the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group attempting to overthrow the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. According to an article the New York Times, “Under the administration’s division of labor, the State Department is in charge of supplying nonlethal aid, while the C.I.A. runs a covert program to arm and train the Syrian rebels.”

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Yellen_2

Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen

Reading the comments of Janet Yellen and other Federal Reserve officials this past week brought to mind the words Jesus used to rebuke his disciples when they argued about who was t he greatest, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors” (Luke 22:25). “Benefactors” translates the Greek word “euergetes,” a title adopted by many kings in the ancient Greek speaking world. To be known as a Euergetes was a way for the king to boast, letting all the world know what a charitable fellow he truly was.

 

But Christ did not leave it at that. In addition to telling his disciples what not to do, he also provided positive instruction about how those in positions of authority ought to behave, telling them, “he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves” (Luke 22:26). It is this passage that serves as the basis for the idea of government as a servant of the people.

I bring up Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve, because by their comments this week in opposition to a bill (H. R. 3189) before Congress, they once again they showed they think of themselves as “Benefactors” and lords rather than servants of the people. Established in 1913, the Federal Reserve is the central bank of the United States, and as the issuer of the US dollar, world’s reserve currency, it is among the most powerful institutions in the world. But despite the fact that its decisions affect the lives of every single American citizen, not to mention pretty much every person on the planet, the Federal Reserve conducts its business behind a veil of secrecy. H. R. 3189 would pull back the curtain on the Fed, allowing Congress and the American people better information on how the Fed goes about its business. Naturally, Yellen and others are appalled at the thought.

When asked to comment on the bill, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker huffed that its provision to audit the Fed amounted a, “mechanism for high-frequency harassment.” In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic Leader Nancy Peolsi, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen complained that the legislation requiring greater transparency from the Fed, “would severely damage the U.S. economy were it to become law.” In what amounts to something like comic relief, Yellen continued in the same letter by commenting that, had the bill’s provisions been law in 2008 during the financial crisis, “inflation would be even further below the FOMC’s [Federal Open Market Committee, the body of Federal Reserve governors tasked with setting interest rates] 2 percent objective. Indeed, a recent study by Federal Reserve economists suggests that…inflation would now be running somewhat below zero, if the FOMC had not taken the actins it did.” In other words, Yellen is complaining that had the Fed been held accountable by the provisions in H. R. 3189, she and her colleagues would be unable to destroy the value of your hard earned dollars as fast as what they are now doing. In fact, were this bill to become law, your money may well gain in value, as this is what Yellen means when she says, “inflation would now be running somewhat below zero.” Horrors! H. R. 3189 would stop the crony capitalists at the Fed from ripping off the rubes in fly over country. At all costs such madness must be stopped!

The Eccles Building, main office of the Federal Reserve located in Washington D.C.

 

In evaluating these comments it is worth noting what the Fed actually is, a private cartel of the bankers, by the bankers and for the bankers. The Fed does not have and never has had the best interests of the American people in mind. It’s overriding purpose is and always has been doing what is right by the private member banks that own it. The fact that it was given its charter in 1913 by an act of Congress means that it represents the merger of state and corporate powers, which is the very definition of fascism. Simply put, the Fed, far from being and exemplar of constitutional capitalism, represents instead monetary fascism. In light of this, it is not surprising that then Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke moved heaven and earth to bail out the banks-too-big-to-fail [n.b. in capitalism there is no such thing as too-big-to-fail; individuals and institutions reap what they sow] during the 2008 financial crisis.

The behavior of the Federal Reserve over the past 100 years – its secrecy, favoritism and cronyism – is a perfect example of the sort of unaccountable power and arrogance that is characteristic of the “rulers of the Gentiles” Christ spoke about. The Fed has lorded it over the people of the United States for over one hundred years and impoverished all of us in the process. It’s high time to audit the Fed. Then end it.


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God's HammerGod’s Hammer: The Bible and its Critics by Gordon H. Clark (Unicoi, Tennessee: The Trinity Foundation, 304 pages, 4th Ed., 2011), $5.18.  Also available in E-Book format.

Chapters include: How May I Know the Bible is Inspired?; The Bible as Truth; Verbal Inspiration: Yesterday and Today; The Evangelical Theological Society Tomorrow; Special Divine Revelation as Rational; Revealed Religion; Holy Scripture; The Concept of Biblical Authority; Hamilton’s Theory of Language and Inspiration; What is Truth?; The Reformed Faith and the Westminster Confession.

According to the back cover of the fourth edition, “God’s Hammer is a collection of essays on the inspiration, authority, and infallibility of the Bible by one of the greatest defenders of the Christian faith in modern times.” These words, in the opinion of this reviewer, are an accurate summary of the book.

The title God’s Hammer comes from Jeremiah 23:29, “Is not My word like a fire?” says the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?,” Here, Jeremiah contrasts the lying words of the false prophets of Judah with those of the Lord delivered through his true prophets. And what was true for the words spoken by God through Jeremiah are true for those set forth in the rest of Scripture

It may come as a surprise to some, the doctrine of Scripture is the most important of all Christian

doctrines. For the 66 books of the Bible are the very word of God and the only means by which man can come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Apart from God’s gracious written revelation, we would have no knowledge of creation, the fall, or the atonement. We could never deduce the Trinity or man’s ultimate destination in heaven or hell from our own experiences or by using logic alone.

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Republican Sen. Marco Rubio at the Republican debate, November 10, 2015.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio at the Republican debate, November 10, 2015.

There is no bigger swear word in the neo-conservative vocabulary than “isolationist,” and Marco Rubio showed his true neo-con colors by employing it against Rand Paul during Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate. Said Rubio of Paul, “I know that Rand is a committed isolationist; I’m not.” When a neo-conservative uses the “I” word, his intention is not to have a discussion, but to smear his opponent’s foreign policy views as beyond acceptable and shut down the debate.

In truth, the term “isolationist” is simply a caricature of the historic foreign policy of the United States: non-interventionism. As proof, consider the following statements on foreign policy from the founding fathers;

  • “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none” (Thomas Jefferson).
  • “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible” (George Washington)
  • “Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her [America’s] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own” (John Quincy Adams).

To put it another way, the foreign policy of the United States originally was based on Christ’s Golden Rule, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). From the response Ron Paul received in South Carolina four years ago, apparently Jesus would not be welcomed in today’s Republican party.

But a neo-conservative of Rubio’s ilk isn’t happy unless the US is bombing, strafing or droning some hapless third world country, all the while uttering self-congratulatory platitudes about the world’s need for a strong America. But neo-conservative boilerplate aside, is it too much to ask Rubio and other militarists to provide even one coherent reason why, after 14 years, US forces are still in Afghanistan? Can he give us even a single coherent purpose behind America’s current attempt to overthrow the government of Syria? Why is it he wants to increase Pentagon funding at a time when US defense outlays are greater than those of the next ten biggest military spenders combined?

The United States is going bankrupt, in part due to the out of out of control militarism espoused by neo-conservatives such as Senator Rubio. He would do well to stop with the name calling and consider what the Bible, the only source of knowledge about foreign policy, has to say on the subject.


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Transgender Caitlyn Jenner accepts ESPY's Arthur Ashe Award for Courage on July 15, 2015 in Los Angeles. (AP photo)

Transgender Caitlyn Jenner accepts ESPY’s Arthur Ashe Award for Courage on July 15, 2015 in Los Angeles. (AP photo)

Ideas have consequences. Indeed, only ideas have consequences, for ideas alone are the basis for all our actions. Everything you and I do is done because of some prior idea we have in our minds.

Many times, a person’s ideas will have consequences he never foresaw. Eve had the idea, planted in her mind by the serpent, that she would not die from eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. She induced Adam to follow her in her sin. And the rest, as they say, is history. It is doubtful that either one of them had any idea about the disastrous chain of events that would result from their decision to disobey the clear revelation of God. Caiaphas held that it was better for one man to die than for the whole nation to perish. Of course, he was quite correct in what he said, but just not in the way he meant. His idea had consequences other than what he intended.

This tendency of ideas to go in directions unanticipated by their originators was brought to mind recently by a story I read about a dust up involving noted feminist Germaine Greer. Greer had been invited to deliver a talk at Cardiff University in Wales, but has since cancelled her appearance as a result of a petition circulated by Cardiff University women’s officer Rachael Melhuish. The petition accused Greer of heretical opinions on the subject of transgenderism, saying Greer, “has demonstrated time and time again her misogynistic views towards trans women [N.B. a trans woman is a biological man who has had medical procedures done in order to take on the physical characteristics of a woman], including continually misgendering trans women and denying the existence of transphobia altogether.”

What prompted this outcry of anguish?, you may ask. Apparently, at least in part, it was Greer’s less than enthusiastic endorsement of Glamour Magazine’s decision to name Bruce Caitlyn Jenner as one of its 2015 Women of the Year. According to an article in the Guardian, Greer opined to the BBC that Jenner, “wanted limelight of female Kardashians.” Things continued to going downhill for Greer when in the same interview she let it be known that transgender women are “not women,” and that they do not, “look like, sound like or behave like women.” Greer even claimed to see misogyny at work in Glamour’s decision. Said Greer, ” I think misogyny plays a really big part in all of this, that a man who goes to these lengths to become a woman will be a better woman than someone who is just born a woman.”

Let’s see. A feminist icon acknowledges what has been the common opinion mankind since the time of Adam – that men and women are different and that those differences cannot be erased no matter how many surgeries one receives – and Cardiff University has a collective philosophical freak-out. It’s hard to fathom, but such is the world we live in. How did we get here?

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The Saintly Junipero Serra.

The Saintly Junipero Serra.

Back in the day, 1517 to be exact, it was Johannes Tetzel’s selling of indulgences – a sort of early release from purgatory bought with a price – that prompted Martin Luther to write and his famous 95 Theses and post them on the Wittenberg door.

And what do you know. 498 years later the folks at the Vatican are still up to their old tricks. When pope Francis was in the US in September, one of the key events of his visit was the canonization of a Junipero Serra. Serra, a Franciscan monk who founded several missions in California, was elevated to sainthood by the Francis, marking the first time a canonization ceremony was held in the United States.

The canonization was controversial with some, as Serra’s missions had a reputation for brutality. According to one report, “Indians brought into the missions were not allowed to leave, and if they tried they were shackled and severely beaten…When the Native Americans rebelled, which they did on at least two occasions, their rebellions were put down in brutal fashion. When Native American women were caught trying to abort babies conceived though rape, the mission fathers had them beaten for days one end, clamped them in irons, had their heads shaved and forced them to stand at the church altar every Sunday carrying a painted wooden child in their arms” (Andrew Gumbel, “Junipero Serra’s brutal story in spotlight as pope prepares for canonisation“). Beatings, imprisonment, ritual humiliation. Such a lovely place.  In truth, it sounds a lot more like the Hotel California than anything resembling an actual Christian mission.

At any rate, this raises the question of just how the Church selects whom to canonize. According to a new book by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, money helps. As the AP reports, “In his book “Merchants in the Temple,” obtained Tuesday by the Associated Press two days ahead of publication, Nuzzi estimates the average price tag for a beatification cause at around 500,000 euros ($550,000) – and some have gone as high as 750,000 euros ($822,000). Causes of saintly candidates who don’t inspire rich donors can languish.”

Amazing.  The more things change with the Roman Catholic Church-State, they more they stay the same.  Of course, Rome even boasts about this. Semper eadem, always the same, is their motto.  Which does kind of make you wonder, just who was it that greased the skids for Serra?

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