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G20 Hamburg_2017

Group photo of the 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. 

To one and all, happy belated Independence Day. Yes, this past week Americans celebrated the fact that, twelve score and one years ago, “our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

As a kid, July 4th was always one of my favorite times of the year. How could it not be. It was summer. School was out. And it was all about baseball, backyard barbeques with family, and lots of stuff that went boom!

America’s Bicentennial year of 1976 I remember as if it were yesterday. Recently I was reminded how long ago it really was when President Trump made some comment about the upcoming 250th anniversary of America’s independence. Good grief! Where did time go?

Well, even thought a lot of Independence Days have come and gone since 1976, I still love the day for all the same reasons I did back then. An a few more to boot.

You see, when I was a child, I didn’t really grasp the importance of liberty and freedom from tyranny. But as an adult, and one who has been eyewitness to the kind of gross usurpations of liberty governments are capable of, I have come more and more to appreciate the bold stand for liberty of America’s founding generation.

One important facet of the American Revolution that is almost entirely forgotten in the present day is that it represents the political flowering of the Protestant Reformation. Simply put, no Reformation, no United States of America.

In the beginning all America was Protestant – 98 percent of the people. The numbers we have for church affiliation in the seventeenth and eighteenth century America show that three – fourths of Americans were Calvinists of one flavor or another. Puritan, Pilgrim, Presbyterian, Baptist, German Reformed, Lutheran, Congregationalist, and Episcopal. There were few Catholics, almost no Jews or Methodists, and no Muslims, Mormons, Moonies, Buddhists, Confucianists, Hindus, or atheists. Had there been any large numbers of these groups, there would have been no America as we have known it, not because the people who hold these views are somehow inferior, but because the views themselves are inferior: They are logically incapable of creating and sustaining a free society (John Robbins, Rebuilding American Freedom in the Twenty-First Century).

It was biblical political philosophy, not the thought of ancient Greece and Rome, that is the cause of America’s historic, if not present, commitment to limited constitutional government and private property.

The widespread preaching of, and belief in, the Gospel of Justification by Faith Alone created a whole new civilization in the nations influenced by the Reformation. And not only that, but the political implications of the Reformation created a whole new system of international relations called the Westphalian World Order (WWO).

Pre-Westphalian Europe was a mixture of declining empires, retreating feudal lords and an emerging class of traders and capitalist entrepreneurs with the Church remaining very influential as an instrument of European governance. The Treaty of Westphalia of 1648, brought to an end the Thirty Years’ War, the first pan-European war in history. Under the terms of the peace settlement, a number of countries were confirmed in their sovereignty over territories. They were empowered to contract treaties with one another and with foreign powers. In a nutshell the central authority of the empire was replaced almost entirely by the sovereignty of about 300 princes. The Peace Treaty was a turning point in the mutual recognition of sovereignty rights. Although the signatories of the treaty had only the peace of Europe as their ultimate objective, the unintended consequence of their efforts was to create a global order based on a “State System” (KImon Valaskakis, Westphalia II: The Real Millennium Challenge).

While it may seem like common sense to some, the idea that a nation state has the right to conduct its own affairs free from outside influence was a revolutionary idea in its time. Inspired by the Reformation, the vested powers of the day, most notably the Roman Church-State – note well that Valaskakis mentions that “the Church remain[ed] very influential as an instrument of European governance – fought against Westphalian Sovereignty and the emerging WWO with all their might. But simply put, the good guys won, the bad guys lost, and a new and better civilization emerged from feudal darkness.

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FNN-Fake-News-Network-900While reflecting on the big story this past week, the name Mike Tyson came to mind. Now that’s a name you probably didn’t expect to see, but go with me on this one.

From those under the age of 40 or so, I suppose the name Mike Tyson evokes more snickers than anything else. But trust me, it wasn’t always so.

Tyson took the boxing world by storm back in 1985. Tyson didn’t just win fights, he didn’t just knock guys down. He didn’t settle for mere knockouts either. No, Tyson devastated his opponents. Quite simply, I’ve never seen anyone hit harder or attack more ferociously than Tyson in his prime.

By the age of twenty, Tyson was the heavy weight champion of the world.

So why do I bring up Iron Mike? Because this week James O’Keefe of Project Veritas delivered what amounted to a journalistic version of a Tyson uppercut to CNN.

In the segments released so far, O’Keefe’s exposé has caught a CNN producer admitting that the whole Trump-Russian collusion meme is a bunch of hooey (the producer used a different word) and that the only reason CNN spent so much time on it is that it’s good for ratings. CNN anchor Van Jones was caught on tape admitting the much the same thing, that the Russian collusion story is nonsense (he used a different word, too).

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F18

An F-18 takes off from a US aircraft carrier.

My apologies for the rather bland headline this week. I just couldn’t think of a catch title for this edition of the Review. Well, I’ll try to do better next week. And without further ado, let’s dive into this week’s stories.

Syrian Crisis Escalates

Perhaps the biggest story this past week was the downing of a Syrian government SU-22 jet by US F-18s from the aircraft carrier George Bush. The incident, which occurred Sunday 6/18, is said to represent the first time a US jet has downed a foreign manned aircraft since 1999.

The US has claimed that the jet was attacking fighters of the US backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), but, as Ron Paul and Daniel McAdams reported this week, this clam has been contradicted by the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights, which stated “sources confirmed that the warplane did not target the Syria Democratic Forces in their controlled areas.”

As Daniel McAdams pointed out, the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights is generally considered to be pro- US backed rebels. The group has even been cited the US government. As such, it is surprising for this group to contradict the storyline put out by the US.

The Syrian government claims that the jet, rather than attacking the SDF, actually was going after ISIS at the time it was shot down. If what Damascus says is true, it would be another piece of evidence backing the contention that the US, in fact, supports ISIS.

Although this may sound like a shocking claim, the logic of it is simple and compelling. The US and ISIS have a common goal in Syria, both want to overthrow Syrian president Bashar Assad. And if they have this common goal, would it be such a stretch to believe that the US would shoot down a Syrian government jet that was attacking ISIS?

Syria’s ally Russia reacted angrily, announcing it would no longer us a communication channel designed to prevent the targeting of US aircraft operating in Syrian airspace.

The big takeaway in all this is that the US and Russia took another step closer to war in the middle east, a place where the US has no legitimate security interests, but which could serve the powder keg that sets off a major regional or world war.

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Hodgkinson Shooting

The baseball field where James T. Hodgkinson carried out Wednesday’s attack.

Shots fired! Whither America? I refer, of course, to the latest violent outrage committed by a representative of the political left and what it means for America’s future.

By now, you’ve doubtless heard about how the former Illinois home inspector James T. Hodgkinson walked up to a Washington D.C. baseball diamond, asked if it was the Republicans out there, and upon being told yes, opened fire, wounding four and dying in a shootout with the D.C. police.

While liberals sought to deflect blame, putting the onus for the shooting on conservative support for Second Amendment gun rights, a more likely cause can be found in the violent rhetoric and actions of the left itself.

For more than a year, liberals and progressives have engaged in a hate campaign against Donald Trump and his supporters that brings to mind the sort of violence committed at the hands of the Nazi Brownshirts of yesteryear.

And the violence has come, not just from fringe elements of the left such as Antifa, but remarkably enough from the DNC itself.

In fact, given the shrill, over-the-top, non-stop, anti-Trump, anti-Republican vituperation from the left lo these many months, Wednesday’s attack seems less a surprise and more an unavoidable consequence.

Just days before the shooting, reports were circulated about Free Shakespeare in the Park’s staging of Julius Caesar, in which an actor playing the part of Caesar, dressed as Donald Trump, was stabbed to death.

It’s hard to view an outrage such as this as anything other than the expression of the heartfelt wish of many progressives. Whether it’s Snoop Dog taking a .38 to the head of a Trump-like clown, Madonna openly admitting she often thinks about blowing up the White House, or the profanity laced rants of washed up actor Robert De Niro, the entertainment community has done much to incite the sort of violence seen Wednesday.

One might even say these individuals have blood on their hands.

And in case anyone has doubts about just how far beyond the pale the left’s rhetoric has become, just substitute Barack Obama for Donald Trump in any of the above examples. Said one attendee at the staging of Julius Caesar, “To be honest I thought it was shocking and distasteful. If this had happened to any other president – even as recently as Barack Obama or George W. Bush – it would not have flown. People would have been horrified.”

Indeed.

Whither America? I wish I knew. Progressives love to boast about their tolerance, lover and compassion. But those who are on the receiving end of their vitriol may not be so convinced of their goodwill.

As Christians, let us seek the peace of the city, let us pray for our country, and let us not be afraid to condemn those who seek to achieve by violence and threats of violence what they could not at the ballot box.

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Comey

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before Congress. 

I’m sick unto death of hearing about James Comey. But no more than I’m sick of hearing about Russian collusion, FISA warrants, special prosecutors and impeachment. Enough already! Anybody with me on this?

 

After watching Democrats and the mainstream media – I know, they’re substantially one and the same thing – work themselves into a tizzy about supposed Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, I just can’t take it anymore.  They had high hopes that their new found fair-haired by James Comey would deliver a death blow to the Trump presidency, but that appears not to have happened. 

Even liberal commentator Chris Matthews (no relative) admitted as much.  Said Matthews, “But the big story has always been the assumption of the critics of the president…that somewhere along the line in the last year, the president had something to do with colluding with the Russians…And yet what came apart this morning was that theory.” So for you Democrats, take it from one of your own and just stop it with the Russia, Russia, Russia thing, ‘k?

Here’s the deal: you guys lost the election, not because of the Russkies, but because you had an epically horrible candidate. And you had an epically horrible candidate because the epically corrupt DNC epically rigged the primaries to ensure Hillary was your nominee, paving the way for the Trump administration, the very thing you hate the most in all the world.

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cinco de mayo battle of puebla

The Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862.

Welcome one and all to this year’s TWIR Edition Cinco de Mayo! For those of you not down with the whole Cinco de Mayo thing, it’s a Mexican holiday celebrating the Mexican army’s 1862 beat down of the French at the battle of Puebla.

While reading through the Wikipedia entry on the Cinco de Mayo, I found this interesting little bit,

Cinco de Mayo has its roots in the French occupation of Mexico, which took place in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48 and the 1858-61 Reform War. The Reform War was a civil war which pitted Liberals (who believed in separation of church and state and freedom of religion) against the Conservatives (who favored a tight bond between the Roman Catholic Church and the Mexican State).

The article doesn’t say where the liberals’ got their idea about the separation of church and state, but one would suppose that the US Constitution, ratified less than a century before, had at least some effect on their thinking.

Contrary to what the ACLU would like you to believe, the separation of church and state is a Biblical idea, one that took root in nations influenced by the Protestant Reformation. Long before Clarence Darrow showed up for the Scopes Monkey Trial, Calvinists were diligent about keeping government out of their churches and churches out of their government.

On the other hand, the Roman Church-State does not look too kindly on this idea. For Rome, church and state are one, which goes a long way to explaining the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition. Roman prelates would find some poor soul guilty of heresy against Holy Mother Church, say, disbelieving the doctrine of the real presence of Christ in the mass, and then proceed to turn him over to the civil authorities who could carry out the “appropriate” punishment for the “crime.”

On a slightly less serious note, the Cinco de Mayo has become, in recent decades in the US, another excuse to party.

For example, when I went to the University of Cincinnati back in the day, there was this annual thing called the Cinco de Stratford. Stratford was a street near campus where a lot of the frat houses were located. And every May 5th they’d hold a big bash.

This was a long running event, until finally one year things got a bit out of hand. As I recall, the evening’s festivities turned into something of a riot, the crowning glory coming when some joker decided to set fire to a couch in the middle of the street. Neither the University fathers nor the Cincinnati cops were terribly amused. And that, as they say, was that.

But enough already about the Cinco de Mayo. Let’s look at the goings on from this past week.

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North-Korea-condemns-US-for-ICBM-launch-from-California

North Korea expresed outrage after the U.S. Air force announced the successful launch of an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile, the Minuteman III, on Wednesday.  Photo by Ian Dudley/U.S. Air Force/UPI.

Long long ago, in a strip mall far far away, nerdy teenagers used to hang out in now almost mythical places known as video arcades.

 

For a quarter, you could zap space invaders, blow up asteroids, or play the part of some Italian plumber named Mario.

I know all this, you see, because I lived it. Yes, I was a first generation gamer, tokens in pocket, hanging out with my fellow freaks and geeks in the backroom of Baker Street Books – yes, believe it or not, the local bookstore had a game room – to see who could get high score on Gorf.

In an age of Xboxs, 60 inch flat panel monitors, and online gaming, I suppose all that sounds pretty quaint. But this was the golden age of the video arcade, and we had a blast.

One of the most popular games from this period was Missile Command. The goal of the player was to protect his cities from being nuked by using anti-ballistic missiles to shoot down the enemy’s incoming ICBMs. If you lost your cities, it was, in classic video game lingo, GAME OVER.

In retrospect, I suppose a game like that, inspired by the Cold War as it was, served to add a bit a levity to what was the deadly serious, ever present threat of nuclear war between the US and the Soviet Union.

And speaking of the Cold War, all the headlines about North Korea and nuclear bombs this past week brought back memories of those bad old days when we were regularly treated to newscasts featuring stony faced Leonid Brezhnev, massive eyebrows and all, watching columns of Red Army soldiers, tanks and missiles pass before his reviewing stand in the Kremlin.

Those same headlines also got me to thinking about the foolishness of America’s interventionist foreign policy, and how intervention, once the decision is made to start it, can take on a life of its own.

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