Archive for December, 2008

Why Obama’s Energy Plan Will Cripple US

December 30, 2008

A BBC story begins to put Barack Obama’s energy dilemma into perspective:

As environment ministers from all over the world prepare for negotiations on climate change at Poznan in Poland this week, all eyes are on the future president of the United States.

Barack Obama has pledged to overturn George Bush’s policies by pushing for deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

But he inherits an energy system dependent on a heavily polluting fuel – coal.

The question absolutely BEGS to be asked: “Why is our energy system so heavily dependent on coal?” The answer should have a profound impact on our thinking: because it is the cheapest source of energy, bar none (see here also).  And because it is abundant.  The United State has been called “the Saudi Arabia of coal for good reason.  We have more coal than the Arabs have oil, with a supply that will easily last us another 200 years.

Should we turn our backs on such cheap domestic energy?  Let us consider carefully the course that Barack Obama proposes to lay out for us.

Obama is cited in a major television ad campaign saying,

“This is America.  We figured out how to put a man on the moon in ten years, and you’re telling me that we can’t figure out how to burn coal that we mine right here in the United States and make it work.”

President Obama intends to make “clean coal technology” a hallmark of his energy policy.

For all the soaring rhetoric, Obama makes two crucial concessions here: 1) the clean coal campaign is currently largely theoretical; and 2) it will be massively expensive to bring it into the real world.

Consider Kennedy’s speech on the need to put a man on the moon.  We needed to race to the moon, he said, in order “to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny.”  We had to maintain the vital technological edge over our enemies.  The race to the moon was part of the Cold War effort.   The technologies necessary to put a man on the moon were also necessary to develop the best Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile systems.  It was part of our vital national security.

And it would be expensive.  Incredibly expensive.  In Kennedy’s own words: “No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”

Now contrast this with other Obama quotes, which put his goals into much better perspective:

“So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can — it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

And the result of shutting down plants that produce half our electricity in Obama’s own words:

“Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi revealed her megalomania when she said, “I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet,” she says impatiently when questioned [on energy policy].

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might be even worse:

“The one thing we fail to talk about is those costs that you don’t see on the bottom line. That is coal makes us sick, oil makes us sick; it’s global warming. It’s ruining our country, it’s ruining our world. We’ve got to stop using fossil fuel.”

With Barack Obama – who is on the record favoring the green, global warming alarmist agenda – in the White House, along with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in total control of Congress, you can rest assured that we will see shocking increases in our energy costs as we transition to “alternative energy.”  Coal is cheap; “clean” coal is not.  Coal is plentiful; “clean coal” won’t be when much of the coal industry is bankrupted by Obama’s “cap and trade” policies.

Let’s understand something: we voted for this.  We are going to get it, and we deserve to get it.  To put it without tact: a great many families will freeze in the dark at night because they voted for Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid.

While the United States massively increases the cost of its energy in order to conform to the pseudo-science global warming hype, will our economic competitors so hamstring themselves by running away from low cost energy?

Absolutely not.  China is building coal-fired plants as fast as they can, and India is on their heels:

China is the dominant player. The country is on track to add 562 coal-fired plants – nearly half the world total of plants expected to come online in the next eight years. India could add 213such plants; the US, 72.

China is building about two coal-fired plants a week, according to the BBC, while Barack Obama is talking about bankrupting much of our coal industry and sending the cost of electricity soaring.

Let me ask you a question: let’s say for the sake of argument that Barack Obama – after a massive social spending program – is actually able to produce a fuel that replaces oil.  How much will this new “spaced-out” version of Kennedy’s space program” cost?  And how much will the fuel cost?  Will it even begin to compete with oil on a bang-for-your-buck basis?

No way, say the experts.  To quote the Global Education Project:

The energy stored in oil is significantly greater than in any other currently available source. There is no other equivalently cheap and powerful energy available from nuclear energy, natural gas, solar power, wind power, hydrogen, biomass or coal.

Now, imagine what will happen to the cost of oil as oil-demanding America pulls out of the oil market.  The price of oil will drop dramatically, as per the law of supply and demand.

And who will directly benefit?  Our competitors.  The energy that will fire their industrial base will cost them a fraction of what ours will cost us.

And who will subsidize low cost oil that will give our competitors an insurmountable competitive advantage over America?  That’s right.  Put your “Kick me because I’m stupid” sign on your backs.  We will hamstring ourselves, perhaps fatally, because at a critical time we elected leaders who live in a world of bogus theory while those who would gladly dance on our graves choose the real world.  China, India, and other growing economic powerhouses – who are NOT crippled with leaders like Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid – will outproduce us on a scale that we have never seen because they will be able to add the cost of cheap energy to the cost of cheap labor.  You think “outsourcing” is bad now?

We need to move to domestic sources of energy, and we need to keep do so as inexpensively as possible.  That means drilling for domestic oil offshore, and developing shale oil technology to harness our massive shale deposits, which Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi have opposed.  It means taking full advantage of the fact that we have more coal in this country than Arabs have oil, which Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi oppose.  And it means building nuclear power plants, which for all practical purposes Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi oppose (by laying so many predonditions on nuclear power that we will never be able to actually develop it).

Obama compares his alternative energy program to Kennedy’s space program.  But Kenndy’s program was intended to promote our national security interests and give us a competitive advantage over our enemies, while Obama’s program comes at the expense of our competitive advantage, and undermines our national security interests.  Even if we “win” by developing alternative energy sources, we will lose.  We just can’t make alternative energy cheap enough to compete with the coal and oil used by our competitors.

This country has a rendezvouz with mediocrity coming.  We voted for it, and we’re going to get it.

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Why Israel Was Wrong To Attack Hamas

December 28, 2008

Did Israel have a right to attack Hamas?  You betcha, they did.  As an Associated Press article points out:

The offensive began eight days after a six-month truce between Israel and the militants expired. The Israeli army says Palestinian militants have fired some 300 rockets and mortars at Israeli targets over the past week, and 10 times that number over the past year.

“There is a time for calm and there is a time for fighting, and now is the time for fighting,” said Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, vowing to expand the operation if necessary.

If someone had fired 300 rockets at you in the last week, and 3,000 at you over the past year, you would either know that you were justified in going to war with them, or you would be a complete idiot.

John Bolton once famously said that if the United Nations lost the top 10 floors of its 39-floor building, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference.   The UN losing ten floors would be like a million lawyers on the bottom of the ocean (i.e., A GREAT START).  The more floors the United Nations lose, the better.  In addition to being corrupt and incompetent, the UN is too often immoral.  The United Nations has condemned Israel again and again for protecting itself from its most bitter enemies and from the terrorists who want to murder its women and children.  But they just can’t seem to bring themselves to condemn those who would murder Jewish women and children.

Given the United Nation’s heinous past regarding understanding good and evil in the Middle East, it comes as no surprise that the UN immediately called upon Israel to cease fire against Hamas, even though it has rarely managed to muster up such outrage over the thousands and thousands of rocket attacks launched on Israel for the past eight years.  And the UN talks about Israel’s “disproportionate response” – as though the “proportional response” of sending thousands of missiles into Arab territories to indiscriminately murder innocent civilians would have been deemed appropriate.

Hamas has launched an all-out war against Israel.  It’s literally their reason for being.  No civilized government in the world would allow their citizens to be so endangered without doing anything to stop it.  Which is why it is right to call every nation that condemns Israel “uncivilized.”

So I would I title my article, “Why Israel Was Wrong To Attack Hamas”?

There’s a line from one of my favorite movies, Silverado:

“The problem is, Emmett, you killed the wrong McKendrick.”

It wasn’t that the one Emmett killed wasn’t bad; it was the fact that the one he didn’t kill was even worse.

Fortunately, by the end of the film, Emmett rectified his error.

In this reality-version of Silverado, Israel-as-Emmett should have gone after Iran instead of Hamas.  Israel’s chief terrorist enemies – Hamas and Hezbollah – both receive major funding from Iran.  In effect, Israel is sharing a border with Iran, which uses these surrogates to attack it.

Iran is the real enemy.

And if they are allowed to obtain nuclear weapons, they will be an even greater enemy.  It would not merely the threat of a nuclear attack that Israel would need to fear; it would be the development that Iran – which already acts outrageously – would be able to launch virtually any form of attack against Israel with impunity.

My problem – and my ONLY problem – with Israel attacking Hamas is that it very likely means that they won’t be attacking Iran any time soon, even as the time clock toward nuclear weapons capability draws nearer and nearer to zero.

I could be wrong, but I just don’t see Israel subjecting itself to bitter international criticism twice in short succession.

As an American, who would like to see the United States defend Israel even to its own hurt, I would like to think that the US has Israel’s back.  But I don’t think we do.

President-elect Barack Obamahas offered Israel a ‘nuclear umbrella’ to protect it against a possible nuclear attack by Iran,” which was described by the media as a tough stance.  The problem is that it is in reality a severe weakening of the previous US position that the United States would not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons under any circumstances.

The rest of the world won’t do a damn thing to confront Iran with the only thing that will stop them from developing nuclear weapons: the commitment of raw force.  Western nations have become the worst kind of cowardly cynics, in that they depend on us to do what they themselves aren’t willing to do even as they criticize us for doing it.  And tragically, the United States itself under the leadership of Barack Obama – who wants us to become more like Europe – will most likely also fail to do what needs to be done.

That leaves Israel on its own against an Iran that has vowed to destroy them.

Israel certainly has a right to go after terrorist entities such as Hamas.  I just hope that in going after Hamas they aren’t attacking the wrong terrorists.

Why Christmas Matters

December 23, 2008

Christmas is quite simply the most significant holiday in the world.  It would be difficult to come up with a single day or event that is more celebrated globally than Christmas.  And, in a way, every single human being celebrates Christmas every single day whether they like it or not, as our very calender is a recognition of that day when Christ came to the world: Anno Domini Nostri Iesu (Jesu) Christi (”In the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ”).

But what is it about this day?  Why do people all over the world give gifts to one another?  Is it merely a day celebrating commerce transactions?

Clearly, there is much more to Christmas day.

“Christmas” derives from “Christ Mass.”  Who and What IS Christ, and why would anyone celebrate His birth?  What is a “Christ”?

The best place to begin is usually at the beginning.  So let us turn to the book of beginnings, the Book of Genesis.  We find the parents of the human race  in a terrible dilemma of their own making.  A Deceiver had crawled in their midst in the form of a serpent, and had so twisted the words of God that Eve disobeyed God’s one and only command, and in so doing introduced sin to the human race.  Adam and Eve were banished from their garden paradise, and were told that they would toil and struggle for survival as a result of their rebellion.

But God did not leave them naked and hopeless.  He provided the first substitutionary sacrifice, providing the first cover for the human race in the form of skins to wear.  And God provided a promise that the God would one day rescue the human race from their predicament of alienation from God.  In Genesis 3:15 – often referred to as the “protoevangelium” or “first Gospel” – God promised Eve that one day one of  her descendants would crush the head of the serpent Satan.  God promised to provide an antidote for the terrible state that sin has introduced into the world. He would do so through the seed of a human woman.

Much of the rest of the historical books of the Old Testament predict and trace the line of this “Seed of a woman,” this promised Deliverer, by means of what scholars call “the toledoth formula” (”These are the generations of”).  The account of sacred Scripture traces the line of the Deliverer from Adam (and Eve) to Noah.  It tells us of Noah’s sons Shem (Genesis 9:26), Ham, and Japeth, and then directs us to the line of Shem (Genesis 11:10-32).  In the same way, we continue to learn that the Deliverer, or the Christ, would come through the line of Terah, and then through Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, 7), and then Isaac (Genesis 17:15-19), and then Jacob (Genesis 26:1-5), and then Judah (Genesis 49:8-12).   The promise of the Deliverer narrows.

The day would come when Jesus said to the descendants of Abraham, reflecting over the meaning of God’s promises to him, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day” (John 8:56).  And, given the fact that God told Abraham that all the families of the world would be blessed through his seed.

We can understand why the Jews longed for the day that the Deliverer would come.  Told to pronounce a curse upon Israel, Balaam instead received a divine prophecy promising blessing and the coming of a great Deliverer who would come as a “star” out of Jacob, and bear a scepter which He would use to crush the nations that opposed them (Numbers 24:15-19).

We find that One would come who would reveal the very words of God and teach the people in the power and authority of Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-18).  And the Jews believed that this great prophet who was to come would be the Christ, the anointed one of God.  And since He would be a prophet “like Moses,” this coming Prophet would be a Deliverer just as Moses had been (Exodus 6:1-8).

It should therefore be no wonder that Philip found Nathaniel and announced to him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote” (John 1:45); that the Samaritan woman whose life appeared as an open book to Jesus concluded that He must be a prophet and the Christ (John 4:19;29); that the crowds exclaimed after the feeding of the 5,000, “Surely this is the Prophet!” (John 6:14).

The Apostle Peter certainly understood Jesus to be the fulfillment of Moses’ prophecy in his sermon (Acts 3:11-26) in which he quoted Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19 as properly pointing to Jesus as the Prophet who was to come and who had now come. And Stephen in his martyr’s speech made the same connection between Jesus and the prophet predicted by Moses (Acts 7:37).

We can turn to the writings of Job – the most ancient book in the Bible – and see more about why the Jews so longed for this incredible Christ. Borne from out of a deep pathos and torment of soul, Job longed for some type of relief and vindication from God. He called for one who would be a divine go-between, a mediator, a witness in heaven, who would act as his kinsman-redeemer and interpreter who could explain the enigmas of existence and deliver him from his pit of despair. As we read passages such as Job’s call for a divine mediator (Job 9:33); his faith in a witness in heaven (16:19-21); his faith in a Redeemer who would stand victorious on the earth at the last (19:23-27); his faith in one who stands out even among angels who would mediate with God on his behalf.  The figure he envisioned would clearly be none other than the Christ of God!

This coming Deliverer would be a great and powerful priest-king through whom God would one day judge the ends of the earth and rule the world (1 Samuel 2:10; Psalm 2:1-6; Psalm 110:1-4).  When King David thought to build a house for God, God told David that he would instead build a house for him, a house and a throne that – through his descendant – would endure forever (2 Samuel 7).

Imagine how David must have felt!  The hope of the entire human race had been placed upon his lineage!  All the ancient prophecies that David had grown up with and counted upon as his foundation for his own hope of salvation and for the future of his nation were now being repeated to HIM and placed upon HIS offspring – forever and with NO strings attached! David was so overwhelmed by what was happening that he prayed his own version of what would one day be echoed by his descendant Mary (2 Samuel 7:18-29 cf. Luke 1:46-55).

And thus we see the line of thought developed by Scripture: we move from the “seed of the woman” who will be victorious over Satan, to the “seed of Abraham” who will be a blessing to all the earth, to the “seed of David” who will have a rule that will never end.

We learn so many things about the coming Christ.  We learn that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), and that the government of the world would rest upon the shoulders of this child who would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).  We find that this child – “whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” – and who would be ruler of Israel would come from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).  So many prophecies came to find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

And how would this King of kings and Lord of lords, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days, come into the world?

If I were God, I would come to the world in a demonstration of awesome majesty.  I would come as a glorious giant, floating down from the sky as an awestruck people looked up at me in dread.  But that wasn’t the attitude of Christ.

The Apostle Paul summed up the attitude of God as found in Christ when – describing both the majesty and humility of God – he wrote in Philippians 2:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also in the interest of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus came in as lowly and humble a manner as one could come, born in a stable with a teenage girl and a common laborer looking down at Him.  The Creator of the universe, the maker of all matter, and energy, and space, and time, had chosen to restrict the expression of His divine attributes and take on a human nature.  And to come into the world as a helpless newborn human baby, struggling to keep His eyes open while He lay in a wooden box that was used to feed animals.

Why would God the Son do such a thing?  He became fully human in order to save humanity.  As a human man, He could fully identify with mankind.  Just as by man sin came into the world, by a man the dilemma of sin would be resolved.  As a human man, Christ could resist temptation even as He lived a morally perfect life.  God can not be tempted.  So the Son added to Himself a human nature by which He could experience every temptation common to man.  As a human man, He could be our model, our paradigm of virtue and humility and love and righteousness and grace and peace.  Christ experienced the same temptations, the same human frailties, the same weaknesses, as all of us; and He yet triumphed by relying upon the same Holy Spirit that is available to every believer.  And as a human being, Christ could pay the penalty for the sins of the world – a penalty that had been due to mankind since that terrible day in the Garden – and restore the soul harmony and the divine fellowship that God intended for man.

Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 (see also Zechariah 12:10) are among the most powerful passages in Scripture describing the mission of the virgin-born Immanuel, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14), whose name would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6).  He was to die a death on behalf of many, and it would be by His stripes that human beings could be healed (Isaiah 53:5).  He would die on our behalf, but God would not let His holy One see decay (Psalm 16:10); He would rise again.  As a human, He could die in our place so we could live; as God, death and hell could not hold Him.

God intended man to have shalom in the full sense of the word: not just absence of conflict, and not merely peace, but wholeness, harmony, well-being, joy, love, restoration, and abundance.  And He so He sent His Son into the world to secure true shalom for mankind.

The Apostle Paul wrote that the coming of Christ had been part of God’s divine plan for the human race from the very foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:1-12).  The writer of Hebrews tells us that the entire Old Covenant sacrificial system looked ahead to the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ.(Hebrews 9:11-15).  And so Paul writes, “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

This is more than just a bunch of dusty old prophecies and religious doctrines, and more than just a claim a bunch of sectarian Christians claim for their religion and their religious leader.  Christianity – the gift of Christ secured by His Incarnation – has been a blessing to the entire human race.

Take one of a myriad of examples.  In Neo-Hindu Views of Christianity, we find that:

In the cross of Christ, Gandhi found the supreme example of satyagraha: Christ was the ‘Prince of satyagrahis’.  “It was the New Testament”, wrote Gandhi [on page 92 of his autobiography], which really awakened me to the value of passive resistance.  When I read in the Sermon on the Mount such passages such as, ‘Resist not him that is evil: he who smiteth thee on thy right cheek turn to him the other also, and love your enemies, pray for them that persecute you, that ye may be the sons of your Father which is in heaven’, I was overjoyed.”

The idea of passive resistance and its accompanying non-violent movement, by which Gandhi was able to lead India to its peaceful independence and give it the impetus to become a democracy, could not be found in the doctrines of Hinduism, but only from the sublime teachings and example of Jesus Christ.  And it was through the Christian British intolerance of sati that the practice of wives throwing themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre was outlawed, just as it was through the Christian message that the tragic status of the ‘untouchables’ was eased within the Hindu caste system.

Our founding fathers, for their part, well understood the essential role of the Christian religion to the success of their democratic experiment:

“We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
– John Adams

“…And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion…reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
– George Washington, Farewell Address, Sept 17, 1796

“Religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness.”
– Samuel Adams, Letter to John Trumbull, October 16, 1778

“The great pillars of all government and of social life [are] virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor…and this alone, that renders us invincible.”
– Patrick Henry, Letter to Archibald Blair, January 8, 1789

“Without morals, a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”
– Charles Carroll (signer of the Constitution), Letter to James McHenry,November 4, 1800

“Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man towards God.”
– Life of Gouverneur Morris, Vol III

“Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age, by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity…in short of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.“
– Samuel Adams, Letter to John Adams, October 4, 1790

“In contemplating the political institutions of the United States, I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes, and take so little pains to prevent them. We profess to be republicans and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government. That is, the universal
education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible.”
– Benjamin Rush, “A Defense of the Use of the Bible as a School Book”, 1798

“In my view, the Christian Religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed…no truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian Religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”
– Noah Webster, Reply to David McClure, Oct. 25, 1836

“Information to those who would remove (or move) to America”: “To this may be truly added, that serious Religion under its various Denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practised. Atheism is unknown there, Infidelity rare & secret, so that Persons may live to a great Age in that Country without having their Piety shock’d by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel. And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his Approbation of the mutual Forbearance and Kindness with which the different Sects treat each other, by the remarkable Prosperity with which he has been pleased to favour the whole Country.”
– Ben Franklin, 1787 pamphlet to Europeans

“Independent of its connection with human destiny hereafter, the fate of republican government is indissolubly bound up with the fate of the Christian religion, and a people who reject its holy faith will find themselves the slaves of their own evil passions and of arbitrary power.”
– Lewis Cass, A Brigadier-General in the War of 1812, Governor of the Michigan Territory, a Secretary of War, a Senator, a Secretary of State.  The State of Michigan placed his statue in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

“I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with His providence and our riper years with His wisdom and power, and to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me that He will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations.”
– Thomas Jefferson

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens…”
– George Washington, Farewell Address, Sept 17, 1796

“Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand.”
– John Adams, Letter of June 21, 1776

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not to violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.” – “Yes, we did produce a near perfect Republic. But will they keep it, or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the surest way to destruction.”

We discover there is a profound bond between the worldview founded by Christ and the American experiment of democracy, as revealed in the early charters and compacts that provided the Christian religious foundation for our government.  And even those who have been so profoundly denied the freedoms of democracy, such as the great writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn and those imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain under communist totalitarianism, understood that Christianity and the ethics that flow from it provided hope in a world split apart.

Human history points to no other moment so much as the moment that Jesus Christ was born in that dusty stable more than 2000 years ago.  Because of the birth, the life, the teaching, and the work of Christ to die in our place so that we might have forgiveness of sins and enjoy fellowship with a holy god, countless human lives have been radically transformed.  And human civilization itself has been transformed – even in lands that have never fully embraced the Christian Gospel.

We therefore thank God for sending the Son into the world.  And just as “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” on Christmas we celebrate the other-centered sacrificial love of God in Christ by trying to practice the same for our fellow precious human beings who are all around us.

Merry Christmas!








Clinton Administration Sought Advice From Fraud King Madoff

December 18, 2008

Before we get too far into the media narrative that tells us all about how Bernie Madoff and his $50 billion securities fraud represent yet another example of the Bush administration’s “disastrous policy of deregulation,” let it be known that the Clinton administration not only , but even went one step further.  And if the media WERE fair, the narrative would at the very least include the part about how the Clinton administration actually stupidly, idiotically, and moronically turned to the worst securities fraud king in the world for advice.

You know what I’m talking about.  Watch Saturday Night Live reruns: Bill Clinton is presented as a charming rogue, as someone who cleverly spins everything to his side; but he’s never presented as a moron.  That’s only reserved for Republicans like “Dubya.”  Clinton is crafty; Bush says, “strategery.”  Over and over again he has been depicted as a bumbling, incompetent imbecile.

Credible and specific allegations regarding Madoff’s financial wrongdoing go back to at least 1999, and yet:

But Mr. Levitt, who served as chairman for all eight years of the Clinton administration, also occasionally turned to Mr. Madoff for advice about how the markets worked, and appointed him as a member of a large advisory commission that included a wide range of industry representatives that explored the rapidly changing structure of the financial markets.

But we’re not going to hear about how the SEC under Clinton asked financial fraudster Madoff for financial advice; what we’re going to hear about is how the SEC under Bush completely screwed everything up.

Arianna Huffington wrote a piece pretty much painting coat after coat of scarlet-red-colored blame on President Bush for his failure to know about Madoff’s shenanigans.  But, again, what about Clinton’s failure to catch the guy?  Was Bush the only President who failed to catch on to Madoff?

As the Wall Street Journal has reported, one individual more or less laid out the issue for the regulators in language that does not get much clearer, nor much further from the actual truth:

Harry Markopolos, who years ago worked for a rival firm, researched Mr. Madoff’s stock-options strategy and was convinced the results likely weren’t real.

“Madoff Securities is the world’s largest Ponzi Scheme,” Mr. Markopolos, wrote in a letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 1999.

We saw this same pile of journalistic cowpies during the Presidential election.  The media took careful notes on Democratic talking points, and then broadcast them as fact.  “Bush’s failed economic policies”; “Republican deregulation”; that sort of thing.

Did the media tell the real story?  Was this disaster Bush’s fault?

According to The Wall Street Journal:

Beginning in 1992, Congress pushed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase their purchases of mortgages going to low and moderate income borrowers. For 1996, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gave Fannie and Freddie an explicit target — 42% of their mortgage financing had to go to borrowers with income below the median in their area. The target increased to 50% in 2000 and 52% in 2005.

For 1996, HUD required that 12% of all mortgage purchases by Fannie and Freddie be “special affordable” loans, typically to borrowers with income less than 60% of their area’s median income. That number was increased to 20% in 2000 and 22% in 2005. The 2008 goal was to be 28%. Between 2000 and 2005, Fannie and Freddie met those goals every year, funding hundreds of billions of dollars worth of loans, many of them subprime and adjustable-rate loans, and made to borrowers who bought houses with less than 10% down.

Fannie and Freddie also purchased hundreds of billions of subprime securities for their own portfolios to make money and to help satisfy HUD affordable housing goals. Fannie and Freddie were important contributors to the demand for subprime securities.

It points out:

Fannie and Freddie played a significant role in the explosion of subprime mortgages and subprime mortgage-backed securities. Without Fannie and Freddie’s implicit guarantee of government support (which turned out to be all too real), would the mortgage-backed securities market and the subprime part of it have expanded the way they did?

There’s more.  Much more.  The New York Times had this story back in 1999:

“Fannie Mae, the nation’s biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits. . . .

Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990’s by reducing down payment requirements,” said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae’s chairman and chief executive officer. ”Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.” . . .

In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980’s.

”From the perspective of many people, including me, this is another thrift industry growing up around us,” said Peter Wallison a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ”If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.” . . .

So, no.  The foundations of the financial meltdown were laid before President Bush took office.  And once these bureaucracies are in place, they never go away.

We saw why Government Sponsored Enterprises like Gannie and Freddie are such a terrible idea: the profits are privatized and the risks end up becoming socialized.

Whose fault was it that GSEs Fannie and Freddie didn’t have appropriate regulation?  Was it Republicans’ fault, the way we kept hearing in the media over and over again?

On September 11, 2003 The New York Times announced:

The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

But that effort at regulatory reform, along with a similar effort in 2005/06 – at a time when it actually would have averted the disaster that has overtaken our economy – was killed by Democrats like Barney Frank, who is quoted in the same article as saying:

”These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

Even as late as July 14, 2008, Barney Frank was taking the line that the GSEs Fannie and Freddie which were under HIS direct oversight as the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was spouting the same line:

I think this is a case where Fannie and Freddie are fundamentally sound, that they are not in danger of going under. They’re not the best investments these days from the long-term standpoint going back. I think they are in good shape going forward.

This even as Fannie and Freddie stock plunged 90% while Democrats presided over Congress.

Even Bill Clinton of all people laid the blame for failing to regulate Fannie and Freddie squarely on Democrats:

Bill Clinton on Thursday told ABC’s Chris Cuomo that Democrats for years have been “resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress or by me when I was President to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

But the media are no longer in the business of reporting the facts.  They are in the business of serving as the propaganda wing of the Democratic Party.  In order to get the truth you have to do your own digging, because the media is inherently dishonest and corrupt.

I don’t mind reporting that the Bush administration dropped the ball on Bernie Madoff, and has dropped a lot of other balls during the last 8 years.  I’m just asking the media to have the integrity to point out that Bill Clinton dropped a lot of balls, too.  In fact, he dropped a lot of the very same balls.

By the way, fraudster Bernie Madoff was a big-time Democrat donor, with fully 88% of his contributions going to Democratic Party causes.  Thought I’d tell you that, because CBS and NBC (among many others) wouldn’t dream of pointing that little factoid out to you.

Liberals Beginning To Face ‘Financial Armageddon’

December 17, 2008

You remember the Bible story in Genesis 41 about the fat cows and the lean cows, representing years of plenty and years of famine?  And how Joseph wisely proposed to Pharaoh that he store up the extra during the time of plenty to get the nation through the time of famine?  Liberals sure don’t.  Too bad they don’t bother with the Bible; it’s wisdom would have helped out a lot right about now.

The media would never dream of telling you this, but 3/4ths of the Bush presidency – in spite of being handed an economy already stumbling into recession, the 9/11 attack and the resulting hit to the economy, the two wars that followed, Hurricane Katrina, and myriad other phenomenon – saw strong economic growth.  Amazingly, nearly 60% of Obama voters didn’t even know that Democrats have been in control of both the House and the Senate during the last two years as the wheels finally came off the economy.  While Fannie and Freddie stock were plunging 90%, sending our housing market plunging into a crisis, the man who oversaw their regulation, Barney Frank, was assuring the country that everything was fine as late as July 14 of this year:

I think this is a case where Fannie and Freddie are fundamentally sound, that they are not in danger of going under. They’re not the best investments these days from the long-term standpoint going back. I think they are in good shape going forward.

They’re in a housing market. I do think their prospects going forward are very solid. And in fact, we’re going to do some things that are going to improve them.

But I digress.  Enough sour grapes.  We voted for the foxes to guard the national chicken coop, and that’s that.  My main point is that when times were good, no one seemed to be pitching the “Joseph solution.”  And surprise, surprise, what goes up must come down, and yet no one was ready for it. Especially liberal-voting states that live by more and ever more and more social spending.

We leveraged our housing market by as much as a hundred fold in complex derivatives and bundled subprime mortage securities.  And all it took to break the whole system was for housing prices – again what goes up must come down – to go down, and the whole economy was sent spiralling down the drain.

Things are tough all over, of course, but liberal states like California are literally facing “financial armageddon.”  Ballooning budget deficits due to years of out-of-control government spending are eating state after state alive.  And so much of the crisis was based on the ABSOLUTELY STUPID reasoning that projected that the good times gravy train would keep chugging along forever:

SACRAMENTO — A frustrated Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger warned Wednesday that California is headed toward “financial Armageddon” if legislators continue their standoff over how to solve the state’s ballooning budget deficit.

With the recession sending state tax receipts plummeting, Schwarzenegger announced that the state faces a budget shortfall of $14.8 billion in the current fiscal year, up from an earlier estimate of $11.2 billion. Looking ahead to mid-2010, the gap could grow to as much as $40 billion if nothing is done to cut spending or generate new revenue, administration officials said Wednesday.

And we’re about to see what happened to housing prices happen to the dollar as we embark on TRILLIONS of dollars of government socialist spending: you can only bid up the dollar – just like we could only bid up housing prices – for so long before the balloon pops.  We’re spending trillions of dollars, and the obvious result of such madness is a dollar that loses much of its former value.  And our whole economy will come crashing down because we refused to face reality.  And we’re going to be no different than any of the other third world banana republics when that day comes.

California, Michigan, and New York are among the states that are facing insolvency (yes, that DOES mean bankruptcy!) as they reach the point of being unable to pay unemployment benefits.  And what are they going to do? Suck on the federal government teat.  What they won’t do is make the necessary adjustments to save themselves.

When times were good, California gave all kinds of pension benefits to its unionized government (city, county, and state) employees.  And now – surprise, surprise – we’re watching a pension tsunami.  One article in particular should leave you stunned: “Land a State Job and Become an Instant Millionaire.”  And now we face massive underfunded liabilities that are the economic equivalents of the iceberg the Titanic crew saw too late to change course.  I saw a choice phrase that sums it up:  “One has only to behold the vise grip with which the teachers’ and prison guards’ unions squeeze the testicles of the California Legislature to realize fully just how screwed we poor taxpayers are.”

So what is California seeking to do?  They’re taking their cues from Barack Obama and planning to raise taxes on the wealthiest residents:

California has long had a reputation for soaking the rich, claiming a particularly large slice of their earnings to feed its growing government. Now, legislative Democrats want to push it further.

Their plan to balance the state budget would raise the wealthiest Californians’ income taxes – already the highest in the nation – to a level not seen anywhere in the country in years. After years of income taxes steadily dropping elsewhere, California would raise the effective rate on those earning at least $1 million to 12%, more than twice the rate in most other states that have income taxes.

But even if it happens one thousand out of one thousand times, liberals fail to understand that it is basic human nature to avoid paying high taxes:

Economists and money managers, though, are wondering whether California would be returning to this well one time too many. There is, they say, a point at which the cash infusion is outweighed by damage done to the economy: Entrepreneurs get driven away. Profits get stowed in tax shelters. Companies shelve plans for expansion.

“The more a tax sticks out like a sore thumb, the more taxpayers will look for ways to avoid it,” said Robert Ward, deputy director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany, N.Y. California’s income tax on its highest earners “would be a significantly higher rate than in any other state.” Rhode Island’s is the next highest, at 9.9%.

Robert Brown is well aware of that. The 72-year-old small-business owner from Thousand Oaks isn’t a million-dollar earner, but his income is in the high six figures, and the state tax on it would jump from 9.3% to 11% under the Democratic plan. He’s considering bolting.

“These people have no concept that when you raise taxes, you drive people away,” he said. “Quite a number of my good friends have moved – to New Mexico, to Arizona, to North Carolina. We are thinking about doing the same.”

In 1991, liberals pushed through a tax increase that they projected would raise $1.2 billion.  But much of the money they expected to generate didn’t materialize, and collections fell hundreds of millions short as the rich either moved or else moved their money into shelters.

As for the small businesses Barack Obama assurred us would be unaffected by his plan?

Small businesses typically file their taxes under the personal income tax rules instead of paying the corporate tax. According to the California Taxpayers’ Assn., that means half the state’s businesses would be affected by the proposed hike.

The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, a national trade group, and the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C., say the state’s tax system is among the least business-friendly in the country. Both groups ranked California in the bottom four. Only New Jersey fared worse in both studies.

THAT’S the answer for dealing with the prospect of insolvency over unemployment benefits: tax businesses right out of the state, and discourage other businesses from locating here.  Thank God we have such geniuses running our government.

A Wall Street Journal article title pegged it: “Meathead Economics: Hollywood liberals drive productive Californians to leave the state.”  It begins:

It takes hard work to drive anyone away from California’s sunshine and scenic vistas, but politicians in Sacramento have been up to the task.

The latest Census Bureau data indicate that, in 2005, 239,416 more native-born Americans left the state than moved in. California is also on pace to lose domestic population (not counting immigrants) this year. The outmigration is such that the cost to rent a U-Haul trailer to move from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho, is $2,090–or some eight times more than the cost of moving in the opposite direction.

What’s gone wrong? A big part of the story is a tax and regulatory culture that treats the most productive businesses and workers as if they were ATMs. The cost to businesses of complying with California’s rules, regulations and paperwork is more than twice as high as in other Western states.

But the worst growth killer may well be California’s tax system. The business tax rate of 8.8% is the highest in the West, and its steeply “progressive” personal income tax has an effective top marginal rate of 10.3%, or second highest in the nation. CalTax, the state’s taxpayer advocacy group, reports that the richest 10% of earners pay almost 75% of the entire income-tax revenue in the state, and most of these are small-business owners, i.e., the people who create jobs.

And things may soon get worse, thanks to Rob Reiner, who played the liberal “Meathead” on the “All in the Family” sitcom in the 1970s and now plays the same part in real life. He and his rich Hollywood friends have put an initiative on the state’s June ballot that would add a 1.7-percentage-point income-tax surcharge on “millionaires” with income over $400,000, with the proceeds earmarked for universal pre-school.

The article documents that43% of millionaires had left California during a 3-year period, with the decline costing the state $9 billion a year  in uncollected tax revenues.

At least now we Californians are in good company: now the whole country is being run by Hollywood liberals.

We’re about to bail out Detroit automakers because the UAW makes them totally uncompetitive.  They get $73 in wages and benefits an hour versus $48 an hour in wages and benefits for workers in US-based Japanese carmakers in right-to-work states.  As a result, it cost the big three nearly $2000 more to build every car than their Japanese rivals.  If President Bush gives up another “bridge to nowhere” loan, you can bet that President Obama and the Democrats won’t allow any harm to come to their beloved union base.  And one way or another, we will socialize our auto industry rather than allow them to become self-sufficent.

But that’s just a drop in the bucket: Barack Obama is going to spend at least a trillion dollars that will largely go to heavily unionized industries in a move to spend us out of our economic woes.  Sadly, the spending will do absolutely nothing to address the actual underlying problems that got us into this gigantic mess in the first place, and in fact amount to merely more of the same toxic Kool-Aid that we’ve already been drinking.

The Absurdity Of Life Without God – William Lane Craig

December 16, 2008

The following is my own transcription of one of the most powerful lectures that I have ever heard.  I am delighted to see that it is now readily available in both video of the lecture and as a transcript in PDF format.  Since I personally don’t care for PDF if a good HTML source is available – and since this is such a staggeringly powerful lecture – I thought I should make it available in a more usable transcript format.

Every religious believer, and every non-believer, should read this powerful presentation of the absurdity of life without God.

The Absurdity of Life Without God by William Lane Craig, a lecture given at Biola University on 5 March, 2002

(Painstakingly transcribed from tape)

This a topic that is most serious and somber: the absurdity of life without God.

Loren Eisley writes, “Man is the cosmic orphan. He’s the only creature in the universe who asks, ‘Why?’ Other animals have instincts to guide them, but man has learned to ask questions: ‘Who am I?’ ‘Why am I here?’ ‘Where am I going?'” Ever since the Enlightenment, when men threw off the “shackles” of religion, man has tried to answer those questions without reference to God. But the answers that came back were not exhilarating, but dark and terrible: you are the accidental by-product of nature – the result of matter, plus time, plus chance. There is no reason for your existence; all you face is death. Modern man thought that when he got rid of God he freed himself from everything that stifled and oppressed him; instead, he found that in killing God, he had only orphaned himself. For if there is no God, then man’s life becomes, ultimately, absurd. If God does not exist, then both man and the universe are inevitably doomed to death. Man, like all biological organisms, must die. With no hope of immortality man’s life leads only to the grave. Compared to the infinite stretch of time, man’s life is but a brief infinitesimal moment; and yet this is all the life that he will ever know. And therefore every one of us must come face to face with what theologian Paul Tillich has called, “the threat of non-being.” For even though I know that now I exist, that now I am alive, I also know that someday I will no longer exist, that I will die. I will no longer be. And this thought is staggering and frightening; to think that the person I call I, myself, will no longer exist, that I will be no more. It is an overwhelming thought that the majority of us encounter first as children. Most of us simply grow to accept the fact, as we all learn to live with the inevitable. But the child’s insight of horror remains true. As the French existentialist, Jean Paul Sarte, observed, “Several hours or several years make no difference, once you have lost eternity.”

And the universe, too, faces a death of its own, scientists tell us that the universe is expanding, and the galaxies are growing further and further apart. As it does so it grows colder and colder as its energy is used up: eventually all the stars will burn out, and all matter will collapse into dead stars and black holes – there will be no light at all. There will be no heat. There will be no life. Only the corpses of dead stars and galaxies, ever expanding into the endless darkness, and the cold recesses of outer space – a universe in ruins. The entire universe marches irretrievably toward its grave. So not only is the life of each individual person doomed, the entire human race is doomed. The universe is plunging toward inevitable extinction; death is written throughout its structure. There is no escape. There is no hope.

If there is no God, then, man and the universe are doomed like prisoners awaiting execution; we await our inevitable death. There is no God. There is no immortality. And what is the consequence of this? It means that life itself becomes ultimately absurd. It means that the life that we do have is without ultimate significance, value, or purpose. Let’s look at each one of these.

First, there is no ultimate meaning without immortality and God. If each individual person passes out of existence when he dies, then what ultimate meaning can be given to his life? Does it really matter whether he ever existed or not? It might be said that his life was important because it influenced others or affected the course of history. But that shows only a relative significance to his life, not an ultimate significance. His life may be important relative to certain other events. But what is the ultimate significance to any of those events? If all of the events are meaningless, then what can be the ultimate significance of influencing any of them? Ultimately it makes no difference. Or look at it from another perspective: scientists say that the universe originated in a great explosion called ‘the Big Bang’ about 15 billion years ago. Suppose the Big Bang had never occurred: what ultimate difference would it have made? The universe is doomed to die anyway; in the end it makes no difference whether it ever existed or not. And therefore it is without ultimate significance. The same is true of the human race; mankind is a doomed race in a dying universe. Because the human race will eventually cease to exist, it makes no ultimate difference whether it ever did exist. mankind is thus no more significant than a swarm of mosquitoes or a barnyard of pigs, for their end is all the same: the same cosmic process that coughed them all up in the first place will eventually swallow them all up again. And the same is true of each individual person; the contribution of the scientists to the advance of human knowledge, the researches of the doctor to alleviate pain and suffering, the efforts of the diplomat to secure peace in the world, the efforts of good people everywhere to benefit the lot of the human race, all these come to nothing; in the end they don’t make one bit of difference. Not one bit. Each person’s life is therefore without ultimate significance. And because our lives are ultimately meaningless, the activities that we fill our lives with are also meaningless. The long hours spent in study at the university, our jobs, our interests, our friendships, all of these are, in the final analysis, ultimately meaningless. This is the horror of modern man. Because he ends in nothing, he ultimately is nothing.

But it’s important to see that its not just immortality that man needs if life is to be meaningful. Mere duration of existence does not suffice to make that existence meaningful. Man and the universe could exist forever, but if there were no God, that existence would still have no ultimate significance. To illustrate one science fiction short story told of a space traveler who was marooned on a barren chunk of rock lost in outer space. And he had with him two vials: one containing a potion that would give him immortality, and the other a poison to end his life. Realizing his hopeless predicament, he gulped down the vial of poison. And then, he had discovered to his horror, that he had drunk the wrong vial; he had swallowed the potion for immortality. And thus he was doomed to exist forever in a meaningless, unending life. Now if God does not exist, then our lives are just like that. They could go on, and on, and on, and still be utterly without meaning. We could still ask of life, ‘So what?’ So its not just immortality that man needs if life is to be ultimately significant. He needs God and immortality. And if God does not exist, then he has neither.

20th century man came to understand this fact. Read Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett; during this entire play two men carry on trivial, mind-numbing conversation, while waiting for a third man to arrive, who never does. And our lives are like that, Beckett is saying. We just kill time waiting – for what, we don’t know. In a tragic portrayal of man Beckett wrote another play – Breath – in which the curtain opens revealing a stage littered with junk. And for 30 long seconds the audience sits and stares in silence at that junk; and then the curtain closes. That’s all there is. The French existentialists Jean Paul Sarte and Albert Camus understood this as well. Sarte portrays life in his play No Exit as hell. The final line of the play are the words of resignation, “Well, let’s get on with it.” And thus Sarte writes elsewhere of the “nausea” of existence. Camus also saw life as absurd. At the end of his brief novel The Stranger, Camus’ hero discovers in a flash of insight that life has no meaning, and that there is no God to give it one. The French biochemist Jacques Monot seemed to echo these sentiments when he wrote in his work Chance and Necessity, “Man finally knows that he is alone in the indifferent immensity of the universe.” Thus if there is no God, then life becomes ultimately meaningless. Man and the universe are without ultimate significance.

Secondly, there is no ultimate value without God and immortality. If life ends at the grave, then ultimately it makes no difference whether one has lived as a Stalin or as a saint since one’s destiny is ultimately unrelated to one’s behavior. You may as well just live as you please; as the Russian writer Dhostyevsky put it, “If there is no immortality, then all things are permitted.” On this basis a writer like Ayan Rand is absolutely correct to praise the virtues of selfishness. No one holds you accountable; you might as well simply live totally for self. Indeed, when you think about it, it would be foolish to do anything else since life is too short to jeopardize it by acting out of anything but pure self-interest. Sacrifice for another person would be stupid. Kai Nielson, an atheist philosopher, who attempts to justify the viability of ethics without God, in the end admits, “We have not been able to show that reason requires the moral point of view, or that all really rational persons, unhoodwinked by myth or ideology, need not be individual egoists or classical amoralists. Reason doesn’t decide here. The picture I have painted for you is not a pleasant one; reflection on it is depresses me. Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.”

But the problem becomes even worse. For regardless of immortality, if there is no God, then there can be no objective standard of right and wrong. All we are confronted with, in Jean Paul Sarte’s words, is “the bare, valueless fact of existence.” Moral values are either just expressions of personal taste, or else the by-products of socio-biological evolution and conditioning. In the word of one humanist philosopher, “The moral principles that govern our behavior are rooted in habit and custom, feeling and fashion.” In a world without God, who is to say whose values are right, and whose are wrong? Who is to judge that the values of an Adolf Hitler are inferior to those of a Mother Theresa? The concept morality loses all meaning in a universe without God. As one contemporary atheistic ethicist points out, “To say that something is wrong because it is forbidden by God is perfectly understandable to anyone who believes in a law-giving God. But to say that something is wrong, even though no God exists to forbid it, is not understandable. The concept of moral obligation is unintelligible apart from the idea of God. The words remain, but their meaning is gone.” In a world without God, there can be no objective right and wrong, only our culturally and personally relative subjective judgments. But that means that it is impossible to condemn war, oppression, or crime as evil. Nor can one praise love, brotherhood, or equality as good. For in a universe without God, good and evil do not exist. there is only the bare, valueless fact of existence. And there is no one to say that you are right, and I am wrong.

Thirdly, there is no ultimate purpose without immortality and God. If death stands with open arms at the end of life’s trail, then what is the goal of life? To what end has life been? Has it all been for nothing? Is there no purpose at all for life? And what of the universe? Is it utterly pointless? If its destiny is but a cold grave in the recesses of outer space, then the answer must be yes. It is pointless. There is no goal, no purpose, for which the universe exists. The litter of a dead universe will just go on expanding and expanding forever. And what of man? Is there no purpose at all for the existence of the human race? Or will it simply peter out someday, lost in the indifference of an oblivious universe? The English writer H.G. Wells foresaw such a prospect. In his novel, The Time Machine, Wells’ time traveler journeys far into the future to discover the destiny of man. And all he finds is a dead earth except for a few lichens and moss orbiting a gigantic red sun. The only sounds are the rush of the wind, and the gentle ripple of the sea. “Beyond these lifeless sounds,” writes Wells, “the world was silent. Silent? It would be hard to convey the stillness of it. All of the sounds of man, the bleating of sheep, the cries of birds, the hum of insects, the stir that makes the background of our lives, all that was over.” And so, Wells’ time traveler returned. But to what? To merely an earlier point on the same purposeless rush towards oblivion. One reading this might exclaim, “No, no! It can’t end that way!” But this is reality in a universe without God. There is no hope; there is no purpose. Reflect on T.S. Elliot’s haunting lines:

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

And what is true of mankind as a whole, is also true of each of us individually. We are here to no purpose. If there is no God, then your life is not qualitatively different from that of a dog. That may sound harsh, but it’s true. As the ancient writer of Ecclesiastes put it, “For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. (Ecc 3:19-20). In this book that reads more like a piece of modern existentialist literature than a book from the Bible, the writer demonstrates the futility of pleasure, wealth, education, political fame, and honor, in a life doomed to end in death. His verdict? “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” (Ecc 12:8). If life ends at the grave, then we have no ultimate purpose for living.

But more than that, even if life did not end in death, without God life would still be without purpose. For man and the universe would then be mere accidents of chance thrust into existence for no reason. Without God the universe is a result of a cosmic accident, a chance explosion. There is no reason for which it exists. And as for man, he’s nothing but a freak of nature, a blind product of matter, plus time, plus chance. There’s no more purpose in life for the human race than for a species of insect – for both are the result of the blind interaction of chance and necessity. As one philosopher has put it, “Human life is mounted upon a sub-human pedestal, and must shift for its self alone, in the heart of a silent and mindless universe.” And what is true of the universe and of the human race is also true of us as individuals. We are here to no purpose. We are the results of certain combinations of heredity and environment. We’re victims of a sort of environmental roulette. Psychologists following Sigmund Freud tell us that our actions are really the result of repressed sexual tendencies. Sociologists following B.F. Skinner argue that all of our choices are really determined by conditioning so that freedom is an illusion. Biologists like Francis Crick regard man as an electro-chemical machine which can be controlled by altering its genetic code. If God does not exist, then you are just a miscarriage of nature, thrust into a purposeless universe to live a purposeless life. So if God does not exist, that means that man and the universe exist to no purpose (since the end of everything is death), and that they came to be for no purpose (since they are only blind products of chance). In short, life is ultimately without reason.

Do you understand then the gravity of the alternatives before us? For if God exists, then there is hope for man. But if God does not exist, then all we are left with is despair. Do you understand why the existence of God is a question that is so vital to man? As one writer has aptly put it, “If God is dead, then man is dead too.” Unfortunately, the mass of people do not understand this fact. They continue on as though nothing had changed. Consider the story told by Frederick Nietzsche of The Madman, who in the early morning hours burst into the marketplace, lantern in hand, crying, “I seek God! I seek God!” Since many of those standing about did not believe in God, he provoked much laughter. ‘Did God get lost? They yelled. Or, is He hiding? Or, perhaps He’s gone on a voyage, or emigrated! And thus they yelled and laughed and taunted the madman. And then, Nietzsche writes, the madman turned in their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried. “I shall tell you! We have killed him! You and I! All of us are His murderers! But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe up the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually backward, sideward, forward in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night and more night coming on all the while? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? God is dead! And we have killed Him! How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves?” The crowd stared at the madman in silence and astonishment. At last he dashed his lantern to the ground. “I have come too early!” He said. “This tremendous event is still on its way. It has not yet reached the ears of men.” People did not truly comprehend what they had done in killing God. And yet, Nietzsche predicted that some day, people would realize the implications of atheism, and this realization would usher in an age of nihilism that is the destruction of all meaning and value in life. “This most gruesome of guests”, he said, “is standing already at the door. Our whole European culture is moving for some time now with a tortured tension that is growing from decade to decade as toward a catastrophe, restlessly, violently, headlong, like a river that wants to reach the end, that no longer reflects, that is afraid to reflect.” Most people still do not reflect upon the consequences of atheism, and so, like the crowd in the marketplace, go unknowingly on their way. And yet, when we realize, as did Nietzsche, what atheism really implies, then his question presses hard upon us: “How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves?”

About the only solution which the atheists can offer is that we just face the absurdity of life bravely and live valiantly. Bertrand Russell, for example, wrote that “we must build our lives upon the firm foundation of unyielding despair. Only by recognizing that the world really is a terrible place can we successfully come to terms with life.” Camus said that we should honestly recognize life’s absurdity and then live in love for one another.” But the fundamental problem with this solution is that it is simply impossible to live consistently and happily within the framework of such a world view. If one lives consistently, he will not be happy. If he lives happily, it is only because he is not consistent. Francis Schaeffer explained this point well, saying, “Modern man lives in a two-story universe. In the lower story is the finite world without God. Here life is absurd (as we have seen). In the upper story are meaning, value, and purpose. Now modern man lives in the lower story because he believes that there is no God. But because he cannot live consistently and happily in such a world, he therefore makes leaps of faith into the upper story to affirm that life has meaning, value, and purpose, even though he has absolutely no right to since man and the lower story does not believe in God. Modern man is totally inconsistent to make this leap because these values cannot exist without God, and man and the lower story does not have God.”

Let us look again, then, at each of those three areas in which we saw that life was absurd without God, to show how modern man cannot live consistently and happily with his atheism.

First, the area of meaning. We saw that without God life has no ultimate meaning. And yet, philosophers continue to live as though life were meaningful. For example, Sarte argued that one may create meaning for his life by freely choosing to follow a certain course of action. Sarte, himself, chose Marxism. Now this is utterly inconsistent. It is inconsistent to say that life is objectively meaningless and then to say that one can create meaning for his life. If life really is absurd, then man is trapped in the lower story. To try to create meaning in life represents a leap to the upper story. But Sarte has no basis for this leap. Without God, there can be no objective meaning in life. Sarte’s program is thus actually an exercise in self-delusion – for the universe doesn’t really acquire a meaning just because I happen to give it one. This is obvious. For suppose you give the universe one meaning, and I give it another. Who is right? Well, the obvious answer is neither one. For the universe without God remains objectively meaningless no matter how we happen to regard it. Sarte is really saying, ‘Let’s pretend that life and the universe have meaning.’ And that is just fooling yourself. The point is this: if God does not exist, then life is objectively meaningless. But man cannot live consistently and happily as though life were meaningless. And so in order to be happy, he pretends that his life has meaning. But this is of course utterly inconsistent; for without God, man and the universe remain without any real significance.

Turn now to the problem of value. Here is where the most blatant inconsistencies occur. First of all, atheistic humanists are totally inconsistent in affirming the traditional values of love and human brotherhood. Camus has been rightly criticized for inconsistently holding both to the absurdity of life, on the one hand, and to ethics of human love and brotherhood on the other. The two are logically incompatible. Bertrand Russell, too, was inconsistent. For although he was an atheist, he was also an outspoken social critic, denouncing war and restrictions on sexual freedom. Russell admitted that he could not live as though ethical values were simply a matter of personal taste and that he therefore found his own views, and I quote, “incredible.” “I do not know the solution,” he confessed. The point is that if there is no God, then objective right and wrong do not exist. As Dhostovesky said, “All things are permitted.” But Dhostovesky also showed that man cannot live this way. He cannot live as though as though it’s perfectly all right for soldiers to slaughter innocent children. He cannot live as though it’s perfectly acceptable for dictatorial regimes to follow systematic pograms of physical torture of political prisoners. He cannot live as though its all right for dictators like Stalin or Pol Pot to ruthlessly exterminate millions of their own countrymen. Everything in him cries out to say that these acts are wrong, really wrong. But if God does not exist, then he cannot. And so, he makes a leap of faith to affirm values anyway. And when he does, he reveals the inadequacy of a world without God.

The horror of a world devoid of value was brought home to me with new intensity several years ago as I viewed a BBC television documentary called “The Gathering.” It concerned the reunion of certain survivors of the Holocaust in Jerusalem where they shared experiences and rediscovered lost friendships. Now I had heard stories of the Holocaust before and even visited camps like Dachau and Buchenwald. And I thought I was beyond being shocked by further tales of horror. But I found that I was not. One woman prisoner, for example, a nurse, told how she was made the gynecologist at Auswitzch. She observed that certain pregnant women were grouped together by the soldiers under the direction of Dr. Mengele, and housed in the same barracks. Some time passed and she noticed that she no longer saw any of these women. She made inquirees: “Where are the pregnant women who were housed in that barracks?” she asked. “Oh, haven’t you heard,” came the reply, “Dr. Mengele used them for vivisection.” Another woman told how Mengele had had her breast bound up so she could no longer suckle her baby. The doctor wanted to learn how long an infant could survive without nourishment. And desperately this poor woman tried to keep her baby alive by giving it bits of bread soaked in coffee. But to no avail. Each day the baby lost weight – a fact which was eagerly monitored by Dr. Mengele. Finally a nurse then came secretly to this woman, and said to her, “I’ve arranged for a way for you to get out of here. But you cannot take your baby with you. I’ve brought a morphine injection which you can give to your child to take its life.” And when this woman protested the nurse said to her, “Look, your baby is going to die anyway. At least save yourself.” And so this poor woman took the life of her own child. Mengele was furious when he learned he had lost his experimental specimen, and he searched among the corpses of the discarded babies until he could find the body to have one last weighing.

My heart was torn by these stories. One rabbi who survived Auswitzch summed it up well when he said “It was as though a world existed in which all of the Ten Commandments had been reversed: Thou shalt kill, thou shalt lie, thou shalt steal, and so forth. Mankind has never seen such a hell.” And yet, if God does not exist, then our world IS Auswitzch. There is no absolute right and wrong. All things are permitted. But no atheist, no agnostic, can live consistently with such a view. Nietzsche himself, who proclaimed the necessity of living beyond good and evil, broke with his mentor, Richard Waugner, precisely over the issue of the composer’s strident German nationalism and anti-Semitism. Similarly, Sarte, writing in the aftermath of the second World War, condemned anti-Semitism. He declared that a doctrine that leads to extermination is not merely an opinion or a matter of personal taste of equal value with its opposite. In his important essay, “Existentialism is a Humanism,” Sarte struggled vainly to elude the contradiction between his denial of divinely pre-established values in his urgent desire to affirm the value of human persons. He could not live with the implications of his own denial of ethical absolutes.

A second problem is that if God does not exist and there is no immortality, then all the evil acts of men go unpunished. And all the sacrifices of good people go unrewarded. But who can live with such a view? Richard Wombrandt, who was tortured for his faith in communist prison, wrote, “The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe when man has no faith in the reward of faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil. There is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil which is in man. The communist torturers often said, ‘There is no God. There is no hereafter. No punishment for evil. We can do what we wish!’ I have even heard one torturer say, ‘I thank God in whom I don’t believe that I have lived to this hour when I can express all of the evil in my heart.’ He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflicted on prisoners.”

The English theologian Cardinal Newman once said that, “If I believed that all of the evils and injustices of life throughout history were not to be made right by God in the afterlife, why, I think I should go mad.” Rightly so. And the same applies to acts of self-sacrifice. A number of years ago a terrible mid-winter air disaster occurred in Washington, D.C. A plane leaving Dulles Airport smashed into a bridge spanning the Potomac River, plunging its passengers into the icy waters. And as the rescue helicopters came attention was focused on one man, who again and again pushed the dangling rope ladder to other passengers rather than be pulled to safety himself. Six times he passed the ladder by, and then when the helicopters came again, he was gone. He had freely given his life so that others might live. The entire nation turned its eyes on this man with respect and admiration for the selfless and good act that he had performed. And yet if the atheist is right, that man was not noble; why he did the stupidest thing possible. He should have gone for the rope ladder first, pushed others out of the way if necessary in order to reach it. But to give his own life for other people for whom he had never even known, all the life he would ever have, what for? For the atheist there can be no reason. And yet the atheist, like the rest of us, instinctively reacts with praise for this man’s selfless action. Indeed I think one will never find an atheist who lives consistently with his system. For a universe without moral accountability and devoid of value is unimaginably terrible.

Finally let’s look at the problem of purpose in life. The only way that most people who deny purpose in life manage to live happily is either by making up some purpose for their lives, which amounts to self-delusion, as we saw with Sarte, or else by not carrying out their view to its logical conclusions. Take the problem of death, for example. According to psychologist Ernst Block, the only way that modern man lives in the face of death is by sub-consciously borrowing the belief in immortality which his forefathers held to. Even though he himself no longer has any basis for this belief, since he does not believe in God. Block states that the belief that life ends in nothing is hardly (in his words) sufficient to keep the head high and to work as if there were no end. The remnants of a belief in immortality, writes Block, modern man does not feel the chasm that unceasingly surrounds him, and will most certainly engulf him at last. Through these remnants he saves his sense of self-identity. Through them the impression arises that man is not perishing, but only that one day the world has the whim no longer to appear to him. Block concludes, “This quite shallow courage feasts on a borrowed credit card; it lives from earlier hopes and the support that they have once provided.” But modern man no longer has any right to that support, since he rejects God. But in order to live purposefully, he makes a leap of faith to affirm a reason for living.

We often find the same inconsistency among those who say that man and the universe came to exist for no reason or purpose but just by chance. Unable to live in an impersonal universe in which everything is the result of blind chance these people begin to ascribe personality and motives to the physical processes themselves. It’s a bizarre way of speaking – and it represents a leap from the lower to the upper story. For example, the brilliant Russian physicist, Zodovitzchen Novakoff, in contemplating the universe, asks, “Why did nature choose to create this universe rather than another?” ‘Nature’ here has obviously become a sort of ‘God substitute,’ filling the role and function of the Creator. Similarly, Francis Crick, halfway through his book “The Origin of the Genetic Code” begins to spell ‘nature’ with a capital ‘N’ – and speaks of natural selection as being “clever” and “thinking” of what it will do. similarly Fred Hoyle, the English astronomer, attributes to the universe itself the properties of God. For Carl Sagan, the cosmos, with which he always spelled with a capital letter, obviously fulfills the role of a God-substitute. Though all of these men profess not to believe in God, they smuggle in a God-substitute through the back door because they cannot bear to live in a universe in which everything is the result of impersonal forces.

And it’s interesting to see many thinkers betray their views when they are pushed to the logical conclusions. For example, feminists have raised a storm of protest over Freudian sexual psychology because, they say, its chauvinistic and degrading to women. And, some psychologists have nuckled under and revised their theories. Now this is totally inconsistent. If Freudian psychology is really true then it doesn’t matter if its degrading to women. You can’t change the truth because you don’t like what it leads to. But the problem is that people can’t live consistently and happily in a world where other persons are devalued. And yet, if God does not exist, then nobody has any value. The only way you can consistently support women’s rights is by belief in God. For if God does not exist, women have no more rights than a female goat or a chicken has rights. In nature, whatever is, is right. If God does not exist, then natural selection dictates that the male of the species is the dominant and aggressive one. In nature, whatever is, is right. But who can live with such a view? Apparently not even Freudian psychiatrists who betray their theories when pushed to their logical conclusions.

Or take the sociological behaviorism of a man like B.F. Skinner. This view leads to the sort of society envisioned by George Orwell in his novel “1984,” where the government controls and programs the thoughts of everybody. If Pavlov’s dog can be made to salivate when a bell rings, so can a human being. And if Skinner’s theories are right, there can be no objection to treating people like the rats in Skinner’s rat boxes – they run through their mazes coaxed on by food an electric shocks. According to Skinner all our actions are programmed anyway. And if God does not exist, then no moral objection can be raised against treating people like human guinea pigs – because man is not qualitatively different from a rat. For both are the result of matter, plus time, plus chance. But again who can live with such a dehumanizing view.

Or finally take the biological determinism of a man like Francis Crick. The logical conclusion is that man is like any other laboratory specimen. The world was horrified when it learned that in camps like Dachau and Auswitzch the Nazis had used prisoners for medical experiments on living human beings. But why not? If God does not exist there can be no moral objection to using people as human guinie pigs. A memorial at Dachau says, “Nie vida,” never again. But this sort of thing continued to go on. It was recently revealed, for example, that in the United States after the war certain minority group persons where injected unbeknownst to them with a sterilization drug by medical researchers. Must we not protest that this is wrong? That people are more than just electro-chemical machines? The end of this view is population control, in which the weak and the unwanted are killed off to make room for the strong. But the only way that we can protest this consistently is if God exists. Only if God exists can there be purpose in life.

The dilemma of modern man is thus truly terrible. And in so far as postmodern man (so called) denies the existence of God and the objectivity of value and purpose, this dilemma remains unrelieved for postmodern man as well. Indeed it is precisely the awareness that modernism issues inevitably in absurdity and despair that constitutes the anguish of postmodernism. In some respects postmodernism simply is the awareness of the bankruptcy of modernity. The atheistic world is insufficient to sustain a happy and consistent life. Man cannot live consistently and happily as though life were ultimately without meaning, value, and purpose. If we try to live consistently within the framework of the atheistic view, then we shall find ourselves profoundly unhappy. If we manage to live happily, it is only by giving lie to the worldview of atheism. Confronted with this dilemma, man flounders pathetically for some means of escape.

In a remarkable address to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in 1991, Dr. LD. Rue, confronted with the predicament of modern man, boldly advocated that we deceive ourselves by means of some “noble lie” into thinking that we and the universe still have value. Claiming that the lesson of the last two centuries is that intellectual and moral relativism is profoundly the case, Dr. Rue muses that the consequences of such a realization is that one’s quest for personal wholeness or self fulfillment, and the quest for social coherence, become independent from one another. This is because on the view of relativism the search for self fulfillment becomes radically privatized. If each person chooses his own set of values and meaning, Rue says there is no final objective reading on the world for the self. There is no universal vocabulary for integrating cosmology and morality. If we are to avoid what he calls “the madhouse option,” where self fulfillment is pursued regardless of social coherence, and if we are to avoid what he calls “totalitarian option,” where social coherence is imposed at the expense of personal fulfillment, then, he says, we have no choice but to embrace some “noble lie” that will inspire us to live beyond our selfish interests and so achieve social coherence. A noble lie, he says, is one that deceives us, tricks us, compels us beyond self interests, beyond ego, beyond family, nation, and race. It is a lie because it tells us that the universe is infused with value – which is a great fiction. Because it makes a claim to universal truth when there is none, and because it tells me not to live for self interest – which is evidently false. But, says Rue, without such lies, we cannot live.

This is the dreadful verdict pronounced over modern man. In order to live, he must live in self deception. But even the noble lie option is, in the end, unworkable. For how can one believe in these noble lies while at the same time believing in atheism and relativism? The more convinced you are of the necessity of a noble lie, the less you are able to believe in it. Like a placebo, the noble lie only works on those who believe it is the truth. Once we’ve seen through the deception, the lie has lost its power over us. And thus ironically, the noble lie cannot solve our human predicament for anyone who has come to see that predicament. The noble lie option only leads, therefore, at best, to a society in which an elitest group of Illuminati deceive the masses for their own good by perpetuating the noble lie. But then, why should those of us, who are enlightened, follow the masses in their deception? Why should we sacrifice self interests for a fiction? If the great lesson of the past two centuries is moral and intellectual relativism, then why, if we could, pretend that we do not know this truth and live a lie instead? If one answers, “Well for the sake of social coherence,” one may legitimately respond, “Why should I sacrifice my self interest for the sake of social coherence? The only answer the relativist can give to this question is that social coherence IS in my best interest. But the problem with this answer is that self interest and social coherence do not always coincide. My interest and the interest of the herd are not always the same. Beside, if out of self interest I do care about social coherence, the totalitarian option is always open to me. Forget the noble lie, and simply maintain social coherence, as well as my own self fulfillment, at the expense of the personal wholeness of the masses. Generations of Soviet leaders – who extolled proletarian virtues while they rode in limousines and dined on caviar on their country dachas – found this alternative quite workable.

Now, Dr. Rue would undoubtedly regard such an option as morally repugnant. But therein lies the rub; Rue’s dilemma is that he obviously values – deeply – both social coherence and personal wholeness for their own sakes. In other words, they are objective values – which according to his philosophy do not exist. He has already leaped to the upper story. The noble lie option thus affirms what it denies – and so refutes itself.

But if atheism fails in this regard, what about biblical Christianity? According to the Christian worldview, God does exist, and man’s life does not end at the grave. In the resurrection body man may enjoy eternal life and fellowship with God. And biblical Christianity therefore provides the two conditions necessary for a meaningful, valuable, and purposeful life: namely, God and immortality. Because of this, we can live consistently and happily. The Bible affirms that life is ultimately significant because we have eternal life which is the knowledge of God forever. This is the fulfillment of human existence, it is what we were made for. moreover, moral values are rooted in the nature of God Himself, and God’s moral commandments constitute for us our objective moral duties. Moreover the moral choices that we make in this life have an eternal significance because we will be held accountable for them by the holy God. The purpose of life, as the Westminster Catechism states, is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever. And thus biblical Christianity succeeds precisely where atheism breaks down.

Now, I want to be perfectly clear that none of this shows that biblical Christianity is true. But what it does show, I think, is to spell out clearly the alternatives. If God does not exist, then life is futile. If the God of the Bible does exist, then life is meaningful. Only the second of these two alternatives enables us to live consistently and happily.

And therefore it seems to me that even if these two options were absolutely equal, the rational person ought to choose biblical Christianity. That is to say, it seems to me positively irrational to prefer death, futility, and despair to hope, meaningfulness, and happiness. As Pascal said, “we have nothing to lose, and infinity to gain.” The cosmic orphan can come home.

Obama’s “Transparency” Many Shades Of Gray In Blagojevich Scandal

December 15, 2008

One of the more annoying things Obama promised us over and over again was that his would be “the most open and transparent administration” in history.  Year after year we see politicians selling us the same cans of goods, and year after year we end up getting rotten snake meat.

Well, newsflash to those who forgot to pay attention when Obama promised to serve his entire six-year Senate term and NOT run for President:

MR. RUSSERT:  Before you go, you know there’s been enormous speculation about your political future.  Will you serve your full six-year term as U.S. senator from Illinois?

SEN.-ELECT OBAMA:  Absolutely.

Or when he promised to accept public campaign financing:

Common Cause: “If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?”

Obama: “Yes.”

Obama lied.

In the immediate aftermath of the Blagojevich arrest, Obama told Americans that:

“I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.” — Barack Obama on December 9th

But that didn’t hold water, given this photo of the two men take just one week earlier:

Blagojevich shaking hands with Barack Obama on December 2nd

Blagojevich shaking hands with Barack Obama on December 2nd

Now, it doesn’t seem to me that this is one of those moments where the experts have to study the tape from several different angles in slow motion.  I see “contact” in that handshake.  They were together.  And the most relevant thing they had to discuss between themselves would have been Barack Obama’s open Senate seat, and who should fill it.

As Fox News puts it:

Compounding the headache for Obama is a statement made and since retracted by Obama top adviser David Axelrod that Obama and Blagojevich had discussed the Senate seat.

Axelrod told FOX News Chicago on Nov. 23: “I know he’s talked to the governor, and there are a whole range of names, many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.”

Axelrod retracted his statement to spin the truth at the same velocity as his boss, but come ON.

The really incredible thing about this is that it would only make total SENSE for Obama to talk to Blagojevich about who would replace him.  There would have been nothing illegal, unethical, or even improper for him to do so.  Furthermore, I can’t for the life of me figure out why President-elect Obama would even contemplate risking his presidency to pay a bribe to buy back the Senate seat he’d vacated.  How could it possibly be worth the risk to him?  And yet the denials and the obfuscation of the truth.  You get reminded of Shakespeare’s words, “Methinks thou dost protest too much.”

Then we find out that there was a November 10 2-hour long conference call during which Gov. Blagojevich specifically asked for what he could get for Obama’s vacated Senate seat.  It appears as though the conference call – recorded as part of the FBI wiretap – details criminal conspiracy.  Obama claims that he and his staff had no knowledge of these activities, and yet within hours of that call “CNN reported that ‘two Democratic sources close to President-elect Barack Obama tell CNN that top adviser Valerie Jarrett will not be appointed to replace him in the U.S. Senate.'”

You have to start asking: what did Obama know and when did he know it?

The Volokh Conspiracy has an article that sums up the issue: “The Blagojevich Timeline: Everything Fits Easily Except Obama’s Monday Denial.”

And now we’re beginning to find out that President-elect Obama’s own chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was himself picked up in the FBI wiretaps.

And I don’t think I need to define “open” and “transparent” for you to demonstrate that the Obama camp isn’t doing much of either:

Emanuel has refused to comment as to whether he is the un-named presidential adviser cited in the FBI affidavit filed in the Blagojevich case. “You’re wasting your time,” Emanuel told a Chicago Sun Times reporter yesterday. “I’m not going to say a word to you.”

Without having heard the tapes containing the Emanuel-Blagojevich conversations, I can only safely say one thing: we can expect a prolific use of every tense of the F-word.

And the most “transparent” administration EVER is already saying, “Stop asking questions” more than two months before they even assume the White House.

Fox News ran this story about just how “Open for Questions” the Obama team is:

The Obama-Biden transition team has launched a new feature on its Web site called “Open for Questions” which is designed to be an open forum for users to ask policy and issue questions. However, it is subject to what amounts to censorship by other users because the more votes an entry gets the higher it moves on the overall list. But some questions are being downplayed by Obama supporters who are trying to remove the entries entirely.

Postings concerning Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich are being flagged as “inappropriate” by some users — leading the questions to be removed from the main list. Only by searching key words such as “Blagojevich” can one find those questions.

“Is Barack Obama aware of any communications in the last six weeks between Rod Blagojevich or anyone representing Rod Blagojevich and any of Obama’s top aides?” asks Phil from Pennsylvania. But the text underneath that posting reads, “This submission was removed because people believe it is inappropriate.”

Another flagged entry reads, “Why are reasoned questions about Blagojevich being flagged as inappropriate and voted down? I would personally like to hear more from our president-elect about the state of politics in his home state.”

I don’t see this issue being over Obama trying to buy his own Senate seat back.  Rather, I see it more about “Questions Arise About Obama/Blagojevich Relationship.”  It is embarassing enough that Barack Obama TWICE enthusiastically endorsed Blagojevich for Governor – even in 2006 AFTER he was already embroiled in political scandal and investigations.

In 2002 we have Barack Obama in an interview:

State Senator Barack Obama (D-Chicago): …right now, my main focus is to make sure that we elect Rod Blagojevich as Governor, we—

Jeff Berkowitz: You working hard for Rod?

Barack Obama: You betcha.

We can go back to Jeremiah Wright and Trinity United Church, where Obama spent 23 years listening to hateful, racist, and anti-American sermons, and question Obama’s personal judgment.  We can go back to Tony Rezko and several other Chicago figures and question Obama’s willingness to look the other way while scumbags acted like scumbags.  We can look at Obama’s relationship with figures like William Ayers, Rasheed Khalidi, Michael Pfleger, and others and question Obama’s ties to extremely radical behavior.

The beauty of Rod Blagojevich is that it puts the whole package – personal judgment, willingness to look the other way, and radical associations – all into one basket.

And this brings back a lot of behavior that the media was simply unwilling to look at during the campaign.  Tony Rezko was a top Blagojevich bag man, using bribery, pay-to-play, and intimidation to get money and favors for Democrats.  Rod Blagojevich’s wife Patricia was part of the incredibly suspicious house deal in which Obama and Rezko teamed up to buy property in an arrangement that was clearly intended to benefit a Barack Obama who at the time did not have the money for such a venture.

The media have fallen all over themselves to point out for all to know that Barack Obama is innocent of any wrongdoing.  But in the background, the very bleeping vitriole of Blagojevich’s language about Obama directly implies that Blagojevich had a conversation about selling the seat with Obama surrogates, and didn’t like the answer he got.  And that undermines Obama’s denials, and also raises the question why Obama’s team didn’t notify law enforcement of such blatant official corruption.

The thing I wonder about – as this fiasco slowly moves forward – is what Rod Blagojevich will say about Barack Obama as he starts to name names in an effort to reduce his sentence.  Blagojevich has been dirty for years, and Barack Obama came out of the most corrupt political establishment this country has ever seen; what does Blagojevich know about Obama’s dealings?

Backgound articles:

http://jeffberkowitz.blogspot.com/2008/11/obama-blagojevich-rezko-fitzgerald.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/services/newspaper/printedition/friday/chi-patti-feds07dec07,0,1600720.story

http://www.amightyriver.com/content/obamas-hidden-background

Green Cars Won’t Grow Money

December 13, 2008

Barack Obama and the Democrats think they know more about making cars than the people who’ve actually been making them for the past century.  It would be worth noting that Senate Democrats couldn’t even run their cafeteria without going millions of dollars into the red.

Barack Obama talks about the future in “Brave New World” terms, but one troubling thing about the future is that we don’t know for sure what will happen

As we contemplate bailout out the automakers to the tune of billions of dollars – which will surely require subsequent bailouts of tens of billions of dollars more in the near future – we should at least briefly contemplate the sheer idiocy of the Democratic plan to require automakers to go green even as they continue to force them to subsidize massive UAW compensation inequities.

The Washington Post had a story  by Steven Mufson titled “The car of the future–but at what cost?” that begins:

Many members of Congress believe they know what the car company of the future should look like.

“A business model based on gas — a gas-guzzling past — is unacceptable,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said last week. “We need a business model based on cars of the future, and we already know what that future is: the plug-in hybrid electric car.”

But the car company Schumer and other lawmakers envision for the future could turn out to be a money-losing operation, not part of a “sustainable U.S. auto industry” that President-elect Barack Obama and most members of Congress say they want to create.

That’s because car manufacturers still haven’t figured out how to produce hybrid and plug-in vehicles cheaply enough to make money on them. After a decade of relative success with its hybrid Prius, Toyota has sold about a million of the cars and is still widely believed by analysts to be losing money on each one sold. General Motors has touted plans for a plug-in hybrid vehicle called the Volt, but the costly battery will prevent it from turning a profit on the vehicle for several years, at least.

“In 10 years are they [at GM] going to solve the technological problems with respect to the Volt? Sure,” says Maryann Keller, an automotive analyst and author of a book on GM. “But are they going to be able to stake their survival, which is really more of a now to five-year proposition, on it? I’d say they can’t. They have to stake their future on Malibus, the Chevy Cruze, and much more conventional technologies.”

U.S. automakers faced a barrage of demands last week that they provide evidence and assurance that they would use federal bailout money to transform their companies to produce automobiles of the future, using advanced technologies and featuring hybrid or plug-in vehicles. And in his “60 Minutes” interview on Nov. 16, Obama said that before backing a big loan package he wanted to be sure “that we are creating a bridge loan to somewhere as opposed to a bridge loan to nowhere.”

But there’s no guarantee that the new business model would be any more viable than the current one. Automobile experts estimate that the battery in a plug-in vehicle could add at least $8,000 to the cost of a car, maybe considerably more. Most Americans will be unwilling to pay the extra price, especially if gasoline prices languish around $2 a gallon.

Barack Obama has talked about subsidizing the new technology to make it reasonable enough for Americans to buy (which is another way to say, “socialize one thing to make it cheaper than something that ACTUALLY IS cheaper”).  But the Post story continues:

Eager to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, Obama proposed a $7,500-a-vehicle tax credit for plug-in vehicles during his presidential campaign. Roughly half of Americans don’t earn enough to take advantage of such a big tax credit. (A head of household would need to earn almost $50,000 to have a federal tax liability that large.) Many others don’t have the cash to purchase an expensive vehicle then wait for a federal refund. To spur sales of new vehicles, the price must be reasonable at the point of sale, say many industry experts.

In other words, the government subsidies WILL bring the cost of cars down (by socializing the REAL cost), but most Americans STILL won’t be able to afford them.

It has been noted that one could paint string yellow and sell it to the government as gold.

Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but environmentalists have played exactly that trick on Democrats with the green agenda.

The saddest thing of all is that the whole “Global Warming” thing is increasingly being revealed to an even bigger joke:

The killer frost for global warming

What the Science REALLY Says About Global Warming

What You Never Hear About Global Warming

Voters don’t want anything to do with expensive global warming measures when they actually get a chance to vote on them.  But they rarely ever DO get to vote directly for them.  And Democrats don’t have to worry about their policies blowing up because the media continually produces disinformation to protect the liberal agenda.

Green cars don’t grow money.  But liberalism does seem to grow plenty of suckers.

Bailing Out The Auto Bailout And The Path To Socialism

December 12, 2008

Why did the Republicans stand against the auto bailout?  Well, one reason might be that being thrust into the minority made them rethink a few things, and come to the reason that they lost power because they stopped acting like Republicans.  And this time they have most of the country – which opposes the auto bailout – is with them.

More specifically, the Democrats are protecting the UAW and Republicans are trying to get the necessary concessions up front because they know that when the Democrats are in complete control after inauguration day, the unions will be protected at the detriment of a viable American auto industry and the economy.  When the massive gold-plated union benefits are figured in, UAW workers make $73 and hour, compared to only $48 an hour for comparable workers in foreign car factories located in America.  GM pays more for health care than it does for steel.  Worker compensation packages result in American automakers being in the hole for up to $1800 per car.  That discrepancy leaves the US automakers unable to compete, even if they do everything else right.  And Republicans know that if these necessary UAW concessions aren’t made prior to a bailout, and prior to Democratic control, they will never be made at all.  And one bailout will be followed by another.  And then another.

Charles Krauthammer made this prediction Thursday during the discussion on Fox News Special Report, prior to the failure of the Congressional bailout bill:

KONDRACKE: What the Democrats are hoping is that the Bush administration caves in the end, that they are so terrified of these jobless numbers that — I’m telling you, this is what they’re hoping for, is that Hank Paulson will be driven to use some — [of the TARP money].

KRAUTHAMMER: I think [the UAW] will hold out, and the administration under Bush will rescue the companies and not allow it to go under under his watch. That’s my prediction.

KRAUTHAMMER: He won’t want to leave a dead industry at the foot of Obama on Inauguration Day.

And it looks like both Kondracke and Krauthammer are right.  President Bush is now signaling that he will do precisely that – even though he has steadfastly opposed that measure up to this point.  The UAW played a game of chicken with the auto industry – and didn’t budge – because they knew that someone would ultimately blink.  In this case, the “chicken” is President Bush.

What burns me is that Barack Obama has already repeatedly slapped the “kick me” sign on President Bush in every way possible.  He’s already blamed the bailout-laden federal deficit – which HE HIMSELF SUPPORTED AND VOTED FOR – as being all on President Bush.  And now President Bush is going to undermine the Republican efforts to get this bailout right and keep the automakers and the UAW from doing what is necessary until Obama can come in and impose a socialist pro-union, pro-green, and ultimately anti-competitive agenda on the American carmakers which will insure they are NEVER profitable.

A CNN/Money article titled “Behind Ford’s Scary $12.7 Billion Loss” written nearly two years ago lays much of the currentAmerican automaker crisis on organized labor:

Structural inequities between the U.S. and Japan – notably in labor costs and currency – account for a big chunk of Detroit’s problems.

And:

A big reason is the cost of labor. As analyzed by Harbour-Felax, labor costs the Detroit Three substantially more per vehicle than it does the Japanese.

Health care is the biggest chunk. GM (Charts), for instance spends $1,635 per vehicle on health care for active and retired workers in the U.S. Toyota (Charts) pays nothing for retired workers – it has very few – and only $215 for active ones.

Other labor costs add to the bill. Contract issues like work rules, line relief and holiday pay amount to $630 per vehicle – costs that the Japanese don’t have. And paying UAW members for not working when plants are shut costs another $350 per vehicle.

Here’s one example of how knotty Detroit’s labor problem can be:

If an assembly plant with 3,000 workers has no dealer orders, it has two options. One is to close the plant for a week and not build any cars. Then the company still has to give the idled workers 95 percent of their take-home pay plus all benefits for not working. So a one-week shutdown costs $7.7 million or $1,545 for each vehicle it didn’t make.

But the UAW refused to agree to bring their benefits packages in line with Japanese carmakers:

Republicans, breaking sharply with President George W. Bush as his term draws to a close, refused to back federal aid for Detroit’s beleaguered Big Three without a guarantee that the United Auto Workers would agree by the end of next year to wage cuts to bring their pay into line with Japanese carmakers. The UAW refused to do so before its current contract with the automakers expires in 2011.

If President Bush blinks – and the exhausted and defeated President very likely WILL blink – the Obama administration and the Democratic controlled-Congress will make sure that unions continue to receive complete protection as a profit-killing “green” agenda is imposed on the automakers.

Democrats will ensure that the American taxpayers – as well as their grandchildren-  continue to pay the UAW’s shockingly-out-of-line wages as part of their left-wing agenda.

The auto bailout signals something even more frightening: while the financial bailouts were deemed necessary because EVERY aspect of the economy required financing, bailing out businesses simply because they are “too big to fail” marks a new policy that will require far more bailouts.  One industry after another will now be coming forward shouting that THEY employ thousands of workers as well, and that they need money too.  Will the most liberal President and the most liberal Congress in American history use this opportunity to truly socialize the US economy?

Hope you like that idea: because you voted for it.

Blagojevich Scandal And Chicago Politics Coming Home To Roost

December 9, 2008

Newsflash: Chicago politics are corrupt.  Illinois politics are corrupt.  FBI Special Agent Robert Grant said that “if [Illinois] isn’t the most corrupt state in the United States, it is one hell of a competitor.”

You don’t get rise in Chicago politics without getting dirty.  That is simply a statement of the way things are.  If you want to say that Barack Obama wasn’t corrupted by “the Chicago way,” the most positive thing you can say about the man is that he was devoid of personal courage and made a career out of looking the other way and playing the game.

You see, when Bill Clinton said that Barack Obama had “the political instincts of a Chicago thug,” he understood something about Obama’s former playground and the man who emerged from it.

As this Governor Blagojevich thing explodes all over the place, I can’t help but be reminded of the worst of the Obama campaign.

Obama told reporters, “I had no contact with the governor or his office, so I was not aware of what was happening,” clearly distancing himself from his home state and its governor, whom he previously had endorsed for re-election.  But only three weeks ago (November 23) before the truth became a liability his key adviser said something completely different:

I know he’s talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.”

But then the fecal matter hits the rotary oscillator and suddenly David Axelrod comes out and says, “I was mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the President-elect has spoken directly to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy.  They did not then or at any time discuss the subject.”

Way to lie, Barry and David.  Rod Blagojevich couldn’t have done it any better himself.

Let’s not forget that the man who is going to be making appointments that – given the state of the economy – could literally determine our national survival twice  endorsed the biggest sleazeball governor of at least the last quarter century.  Just like he endorsed the spiritual leadership of the biggest sleazeball pastor of, well, pretty much all time.

And I’m flashing back to how Barack Obama spent 23 years in a racist anti-American church and somehow was never around when Wright said anything troubling.  Or heard about it.  Or read about it in the issues of church publication Trumpet Magazine that had Obama on the cover.  And imagine how surprised he was to find out for the first time ever that Jeremiah Wright had said one hateful thing after another.

Barack Obama hasn’t even taken the oath of office yet and he’s already taken “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”-style lies to a whole new level.  He’s the kind of politician who can be caught red-handed in bed with one scumbag after another (Rezko, Wright, Pfleger, Ayers, Khalidi, ACORN, etc.)  and talk his way out of it every time with the help of a completely complicit and corrupt media that has been only too willing to believe fall for every, “Are you going to believe me or are you going to believe your lying eyes?” story the Obama campaign has told.

Chicago Tribune writer John Kass explained the media’s utter refusal to look into Obama’s political dealings in Chicago thusly:

The national media have never wanted to understand, much less expose, political corruption here, or examine how Obama prospered under the Daley machine’s guidance. A trip down the Chicago Way would force them to re-examine their ridiculous narrative that sets Obama as a political reformer riding a white horse, or is that a winged unicorn?

I wrote back in August, “Barack Obama brings with him the two very worst elements of the Democratic Party: the corrupt Chicago political apparatus and the radical leftist ideology.”  That’s pretty much another way of saying, “You can take the politician out of Chicago, but you can’t take the Chicago out of the politician.”

In a way, you can’t blame Blagojevich.  He just wanted the same kind of goodies that Barack Obama got.  He wanted his wife to get lucrative positions on corporate boards – you know, just like Michelle Obama got because of her husband’s influence.  He wanted to collect from the same kind of sweetheart deals that Barack Obama got to collect from slumlord Tony Rezko.

That article on Rezko ends with the words:

So the house (or mansion) that Obama built allegedly has some interesting foundations. Of course, the mainstream media is nowhere to be seen covering this explosive combination. Still, the old axiom of dogs and fleas proves true. One does not have to look far to find an infestation inside Obama’s house.

When we voted for Barack Obama to become our next president, we voted for Chicago politics.  Let’s not be suprised if we see a whole lot more of them.