Carter is a Disgrace to America

07/31/2005: Yesterday, I lost any respect for Jimmy Carter that I might have had. In his diatribe before the Baptist World Alliance in Birmingham, England, Carter showed exactly why he was only a one-termer: with the exception of the Camp David Peace Accord, he was never on the right side of a conflict that mattered. That is because he lacks the moral clarity to fight battles that count.

Consider that he was the same enlightened one who spoke of murderous dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu: “Our goals are the same: to have a just system of economics and politics . . . We believe in enhancing human rights.” The Great Prince from Plains lauded great praise on North Korea’s own version of Stalin, Kim Il Sung: “I find him to be vigorous, intelligent, surprisingly well informed about the technical issues, and in charge of the decisions about this country.

Yes, I am using very strong words for an ex-President. He continuously roots against America, and undermines very legitimate military conflicts that involve not only American lives, but also those of Iraqis, Brits, and Afghans. He represents all that is wrong with the DNC today.

On Guantanamo Bay detainees: “I think what’s going on in Guantanamo Bay and other places is a disgrace to the U.S.A.” What is a disgrace? That we are bending over backwards to respect the religious practices of our detainees? That we provide them with plenty to eat, ample opportunity for recreation (soccer), their own prayer mats, their own Korans? I guess maybe we could provide them 72 virgins…

Does Carter understand that we are not dealing with French or German soldiers? We are dealing with people who would just as soon fly jets into our buildings, blow themselves up, or mercilessly cut the heads off Americans or other westerners. Has Carter condemned the Fallujah massacre? Has Carter condemned the savage beheadings of Daniel Pearl or Nicholas Berg? Has Carter condemned the brutal executions of Nepali hostages?

Considering that Al Qaeda did not sign the Geneva Conventions–nor do they abide by them–we are giving the Gitmo detainees far better treatment than they deserve. These terrorists were not representing a nation-state. They were not wearing the uniform of a regular army. They are not combatants under the rules of warfare governed by the Geneva Conventions.

So Carter: what is so disgraceful about what we are doing at Gitmo? Come on…say it!

In his same diatribe, Carter (implicitly) blasted President Bush for prosecuting the war in Iraq: “I thought then, and I think now, that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and unjust. And I think the premises on which it was launched were false.

Unjust?

Tell that to the Kurds, hundreds of thousands of whom died at the hands of Saddam!

Tell that to the Shi’Ites, hundreds of thousands of whom died at the hands of Saddam!

Tell that to the family of Leon Klinghoffer, whose terrorist assailant–Abu Abbas–received safe harbor from Saddam Hussein.

Tell that to the families of those killed in the WTC bombings of 1993, the mastermind of which–Ramsi Youssef–received safe harbor from Saddam.

Tell that to the families victimized by Abu Nidal, who received safe harbor from Saddam Hussein.

Tell that to the Israeli families who lost loved ones because your hero–Saddam Hussein (whom we “unjustly” removed)–paid families of suicide bombers $25,000.

The low blow of all this is Carter calling Bush a liar for listening to his advisers, who–incidentally–are far more knowledgeable than Carter with respect to any foreign matter.

Of course, I can’t blame Carter for being so vocal about his successors: in order to cover up his failed legacy, he must resort to attacking those more honorable than he. God knows he had to really bite his pride and attend the Reagan funeral, as we celebrated a President who took Carter’s debacle and–in 8 years–left America strong and prosperous while liberating over hundreds of millions of people.

Carter should do the whole world a favor and stick to working for Habitat for Humanity. After all, every time he opens his mouth on anything else, he shows the world what an inept President he was.

London Refrain: Team Thoene Continues Zion Covenant

07/30/2005: Bodie and Brock Thoene are probably the finest one-two punch in the world of Christian fiction. Specializing in historical fiction, they tend to bring actual events to life through the lives of Christians. Ten years ago, I became hooked on their writing. I picked up Vienna Prelude, the first book in the Zion Covenant (ZC) series. I could not put them down.

Having studied a bit about the rescue movement during the Holocaust, I found the ZC series to be quite fascinating. In that series, one sees the entire gamut of players during World War II: hard-core Jew-haters, Nazi sympathizers outside of Germany, the minority of Christians who tried to make a difference in the face of unspeakable danger, Jews struggling to survive (or ensure that at least one person in their family made it out alive), German soldiers torn between patriotism and what they knew to be clearly evil, denialists who insisted on dialogue and pacifism even as the Nazi slaughter machine broke promise after promise, and–most damning of all–cynics who never (pardon my expletive in a Christian blog) seemed to give a damn.

From Vienna Prelude to Warsaw Requiem, you see the full face of evil in all its horror, and yet God continues His work through His remnant who dare to obey Him in the face of death.

Reading the ZC series, you’ll get angry and saddened at the depths of human depravity, yet see portraits of God’s grace in humanity’s darkest hours.

Enter London Refrain, book seven in the ZC series.

This one is particularly devastating for several reasons:

(1) Neville Chamberlain makes promise after promise, but his lack of resolve only emboldens Hitler and his murderous bands of thugs. By the time the Nazis invade Poland, England and France are in no position to do anything but talk. Their declarations of war against Germany are as useful as a post-mortem colonoscopy.

(2) In the midst of unspeakable bloodshed in Poland, England and France–rather than engage the Germans with any sense of of urgency–merely talk and threaten Germany. And the United States is merely yawning.

(3) The reality of genocide and unprecedented military assault provokes no one to serious action.

To ZC fans, many of the characters are familiar: the Lubetkin family, John and Elisa Murphy, Lori Kalner, and Samuel Orde. In addition, the books of the London Refrain cycle–London Refrain, Paris Encore, and Dunkirk Crescendo–contain many of the characters and scenes from Twilight of Courage: Josie Marlow, David Meyer, Mac MacGrath, Andre and Paul Chardon, and the mad scientist Richard Lewinski.

Fair warning: London Refrain will make you very angry. Not because the Thoenes misrepresent anything, but rather because there is no mistaking the truth: the price for appeasement and cynicism is utter destruction. Trying to “get along” in the face of evil–as Horst Von Bockman first tried–only gets blood on your hands, yet standing up to it–as Elaine Snow did–can be fatal.

Americans should take heed when reading these books: whether the Thoenes intended this or not, the ZC series is an indictment against American isolationism. A fair reading of these books raises questions for which the answers are not simple.

Today, we have very incorrigible enemies–Islamic nihilists and their nation-state supporters–that are every bit as brutal and ruthless as the Nazis of old. Islammunst terror groups operate within nation-states, often with active and passive support of their hosts. Their hatred of the United States extends far beyond our support of Israel.

In the face of Islammunist terrorism, many are calling for the United States to cut ties to Israel, while other academic elites rage against American capitalism.

In the face of Islammunist brutality in Afghanistan, and quasi-Islamic brutality in Iraq, many opposed United States military action “because it is not in our national interest”. Others contended that Middle Eastern countries did not have cultures that were suited for democracy.

Yet doing nothing would only assure us of more terrorist attacks on the scale of September 11, or worse.

Sixty years ago, the world nearly fell to tyranny because we listened too long to the appeasers and the cynics. If not for the attack on Pearl Harbor, all of Europe might be specken Deutche today.

Today, appeasers and cynics–as their forbears of threescore years ago–are making the same arguments.

We in the free world have a serious choice to make: appeasement and cynicism, or decisive action and sacrifice.

There is nothing pretty about war, even a just war. Sometimes, however, the choice is not between peace and war, but rather war versus something far worse.

The Europeans faced that choice sixty years ago, and suffered terribly for their indecision.

Today, Western civilization faces that very choice. May we not make the same blunders.

The Thoenes–in London Refrain–bring that reality to life.

Why I’m Pro-Life (Part 4: What About War?)

07/29/2005: Is war consistent with a pro-life framework? Now there’s a loaded question.

When I was a kid, I learned of Hitler and his genocide against Jews. I learned of Stalin and Mao and their massacres of tens of millions of people. I learned of Pol Pot, who slaugtered 25% of all Cambodians in his killing fields. I learned that–even today–a mere profession of Christian faith is a capital crime in many Muslim countries.

On top of that, we had countries–governed by Communist idealogues–whose sworn goal was world domination. Their regimes were murderous, and had no regard for the most basic of human rights. President Reagan was absolutely right: the Soviet Union was indeed the “evil empire”.

More recently, in 1994 Hutus slaughtered nearly a million Tutsis in Rwanda, while the world community–especially the United Nations–turned and looked the other way. In Sudan, Muslims are killing Christians with impunity, as the United Nations languishes with all the credibility of a Bill Clinton seminar on marital fidelity.

During the 1990s, the Taliban–a mass of thugs run by radical Muslim clerics–hijacked Afghanistan, and subjected Afghans–especially the women–to savage brutality. Their leader–Mullah Omar–provided safe haven for Osama bin Laden and transformed Afganistan into a home base for Islammunism.

In Iraq, Saddam Hussein made the Saudis look like Mother Teresa and the Franciscans. He massacred hundreds of thousands of Kurds; he and his sons and his Fedayeen thugs raped women with impunity; he had a third of the population on his payroll of informants. He developed innovative ways of killing people with savage cruelty. He provided safe haven for terrorists: Ramsi Youssef and Abbu Abbas and Abu Nidal.

What is a proper response for these evils? More negotiations? More dialogue? More prayer meetings? Or a combination of those coupled with decisive military action?

I hope we’ll agree on one fundamental truth: war is absolutely horrible. Anyone who ascribes glory to it is seriously deranged. Justifiable homicide is still homicide. Even a just war involves the deaths of innocent people. After all, bullets and bombs don’t discriminate between terrorists and good guys. Many good, honorable people will come home maimed, crippled, or–worse–in body bags.

Any decision for war must carry the conclusion that military action–even with its horrible realities–is preferable to the lack of such.

I believe there is a legitimate case for a just war, and I believe that our current military actions–including Iraq–meet this threshold. My reasons are personal and theological.

From a theological standpoint, I support the premise of just war because there are times in which the enemy leaves no choice. England and France tried appeasing Hitler and negotiating peace. Stalin even signed an “I won’t bother you if you don’t bother me” agreement with Hitler.

6 million Jews, 28 million Russians, 400,000 Americans, 340,000 Czechs, 88,000 Belgians, 31,000 Albanians, 18,000 Bulgarians, 560,000 French, 500,000 Brits, 1.5 million Yugoslavians later, the Nazis surrendered.

That was the price of negotiating with nihilists who care not about human life.

Former Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu rightly called the September 11 attacks “a wakeup call from hell.” For decades, we failed to take decisive action against Islamic terrorist groups and the countries that supported them. (One notable exception: our bombing of Libya during the Reagan administration, but even Reagan took the easy way out after the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut.)

Even during the 1990s, we provided little response to acts of war against Americans:

1993: Islammunists bombed the World Trade Center. Our response: treat it like a criminal act.
1996: Islammunists bombed a military barracks in Saudi Arabia. Our response: we sent in the FBI.
1998: Islammunists bombed two of our embassies. Our response: we lobbed a few cruise missiles into Afghanistan and Sudan.
2000: Islammunists bombed the U.S.S. Cole. Our response: Nothing.

Islammunists are determined to destroy Western civilization and impose their Islamic totalitarianism on us. For them, 9/11 was the beginning. A suitcase nuke–or series of such attacks–on our cities is their objective. They wish to destroy us.

Negotiations will be as useful as breasts on a boar hog. Dialogue will prevent nothing. The nuclear genie has been out of the bottle for 60 years, and our biggest threat is not coming from a nation-state. Today, a group of highly-educated, industrious thugs can inflict the devastation once limited to a massive army. And they are as determined as the German and Japanese foes we once faced.

The price of inaction later is far greater than the price of action now.

From a personal standpoint, I support just war. After all, if I were among the oppressed of Rwanda, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Sudan, I would hope that some body of people had the guts and decency to intevene with decisive action.

Why I’m Pro-Life (Part 3: What About the Death Penalty?)

07/29/2005: Of the “pro-life” issues, very few will split people like the death penalty. This is an issue on which pro-life advocates are not in complete agreement. Feminists for Life, for example, opposes the death penalty. Some of my friends who are in the ministry also oppose both abortion and the death penalty. On the other hand, most evangelicals I know oppose abortion but support the death penalty. There are cases to be made for both views. I will discuss both, and articulate my view.

The wackiest view, however, comes from some of the hard-core lefties, who support abortion but oppose the death penalty. I have zero respect for them.

A minister friend of mine–a former fellow seminarian–recently articulated that the death penalty is contrary to a pro-life ethic. He also articulated that the death penalty removes any opportunity for Christian regeneration.

I agreed with him initially, but–after further review–I disagree on both points.

Typically, a death row inmate will not face execution for at least ten years after conviction; in fact, for many, it is closer to twenty years. There are mandatory appeals, there are stays of execution. Unless you are dealing with Timothy McVeigh–who voluntarily waived his appeals–a convict will have ample opportunity to receive the Gospel. The argument that one facing a death sentence has no opportunity to receive Christ is a non sequitur.

As for whether the death penalty is consistent with the pro-life ethic, I answer in the affirmative. It is perfectly appropriate to demand restitution of life for life when one takes the life of another person in an unjustified, calculated, premeditated fashion. We are not talking about accidental deaths or even negligent homicide; we are talking about egregious, unjustified, premeditated murder.

In such a case, the death penalty is a societal affirmation of the value of both the victim and the criminal.

(1) It affirms the value of the victim’s life in that we are demanding the life of the offender as restitution.
(2) It affirms the value of the offender’s life in that we are–as a society–accepting the offender’s life as restitution for the crime.
(3) It affirms the virtue of society in that we value justice, and do not tolerate unjustifiable, pre-meditated killing.

I support the death penalty in principle.

Here’s the kicker: I oppose the death penalty in practice. There are two fundamental reasons for this.

(1) Our justice system is rife with corruption. Innocent people have been sentenced to death due to flagrant improprieties by prosecutors, and there is significant probability that innocent people have been executed. Thanks to the hard work of students at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, three death row inmates were freed: they were in fact innocent. Their real crimes: being run over by unscrupulous prosecutors.

(2) Our society is inconsistent in its application of the death penalty. Some murderers get death while others who commit the same crimes get life. This is a disservice to the victims, and also to the criminals. In our inconsistency, we are saying that some victims are more valuable than others. Diane Zamora and David Graham–honor students and service academy cadets–shot to death Adrianne Jones over a sexual relationship. It was pre-meditated. They got life. On the other hand, in the same state of Texas, right before their trial, Karla Faye Tucker–a drug-addicted prostitute who killed two people with a pickaxe–was executed.

Matters of terminal justice are no place for partiality. If we cannot exercise justice–that includes fairness to the accused, and proper respect to all victims and their families–then we are far better served by having no death penalty.

Currently, I vote no confidence in our justice system. Therefore, I do not trust our justice system to exercise terminal justice.

The Battle of the Roberts Nomination: The Real I$$ue

07/29/2005: The battle over the John Roberts nomination for the Supreme Court is not about abortion or affirmative action or even property rights. Every left-wing senator from Ted Kennedy to Barbara Boxer knows this. Every left wing group from NARAL to the ACLU to MoveOn.org knows this.

As Mark Felt once told Bob Woodward: just follow the money.

Right now, we are less than a year away from the 2006 election cycle. The DNC is running low on money; Screamin’ Dean has done a terrible job raising money for the DNC, and without a larger war chest the Democrats stand to lose more House and Senate seats 15 months from now.

The Left needs a cause against which to inspire their faithful to give more money. The Supreme Court battle is their way.

Unless Roberts has been secretly downloading child porn, he will win confirmation with more than 65 votes, and the DNC will add about $50 million to their 2006 war chest. Both sides will get exactly what they want.

The addition of Roberts to the bench will tilt the Court slightly to the right, but not by much. Even if he is pro-life, that will only make the score 5-4 in favor of Roe.

At the end of the day, this is all about money: Roberts is the DNC’s fund-raising vehicle.

Besides, if Bush really wanted to be bold, he would have nominated my favorite right-wing sweetie: Ann Coulter. Too bad she won’t marry a dumb hick like me, but I digress… 😉

Why I’m Pro-Life (Part 2: What About the “Hard Cases”?)

07/27/2005: In any discussion over the abortion issue, someone somewhere is going to ask the question: “What about the hard cases?” That usually means, “What about rape? Incest? Danger to the woman’s life?”

And yes..those are indeed “hard cases”. In fact, the plaintiff in the Roe v. Wade case–Norma McCorvey–claimed to have become pregnant due to rape. (Note: she has long since admitted that this was a lie, and has long since converted to Christianity and ditched her long-standing support for abortion. Just this year, she petitioned the Supreme Court to reverse the very Roe v. Wade decision she helped pass.)

Before we discuss the morality or legality of the “hard cases”, it is important to remember that they represent less than 2% of all abortions. The most fervent supporters of abortion rights are perfectly aware of this, and merely use the two percent of hard cases as a means to justify the other 98% of abortions, all of which are clearly a matter of convenience.

With respect to danger to the woman’s life: abortion has always been legal in those cases, and always will be. It is almost universal throughout history that killing is allowed in cases when one’s life is in imminent danger. Allowing abortion in this case is perfectly consistent with a pro-life position. Medically, there are cases in which abortion is necessary to save the woman’s life: it is rare, but it happens. Those abortions are not the issue of debate: again, those were legal before Roe, and always will be.

As for rape or incest, that is a particularly thorny issue. This is where even pro-lifers are not in complete agreement. The case for abortion in such cases stems from the argument that it would be cruel to force a woman to carry–for 9 months–a baby conceived through a violent act. Some may even argue that a child conceived in an incestuous relationship is a high risk for birth defects; abortion may be a “cleaner” way of dealing with such cases.

Before we discuss this scenario, I’ll state for the record: any realist knows that–even if Roe were overturned today–any pro-life legislation would include a provision for rape and incest victims. Even if pro-lifers are not in agreement in terms of morality, it’s a matter of realism: such provision will be necessary to pass any significant legislation.

In terms of morality, emotionally I want to agree with the feminists on the rape/incest argument. On the other hand, I can’t do it. Here’s why.

(1) Aborting a child conceived in violence–i.e. rape or incest–is tantamount to punishing a child for the father’s crime. A woman who has been raped or incested has had something taken from her which can never be replaced through any act of society. I’ll not deny that. Even executing the rapist–a position I used to support–does not bring back what the victim has had stolen.

I’ll also admit that it would be very difficult for a woman so violated to carry the child for nine months. Even without a pregnancy, her hands will be full. A pregnancy adds to the difficulty. No argument here.

That said, the child has committed no crime.

If the child in utero is a person–and, whether we want to admit this or not, society has implictly said so in the Scott Peterson case–then we must afford the child in utero the most basic of human dignity and pursue a solution that recognizes the personhood of the victim and the child.

With the proper support system, this is doable: I’ve met children conceived in rape. I’ve even met their mothers. What do the mothers say? That the child was the only positive thing that came from the experience.

While I’ve met many a woman who has had an abortion and regrets the heck out of it, I have yet to meet a woman who has had the baby and wishes she had aborted. Even from a rape case.

(2) Abortion in cases of incest provide an easy way for a criminal to get off the hook. A girl who is carrying her father’s child is carrying evidence of an egregious felony. The father knows this: a drive to the clinic will destroy that evidence. And guess what? The poor gal will end up blaming herself for the pain she suffers from the abortion.

In too many cases, the radical feminist groups wish to persuade through emotional arguments. The objective here is to get society to punt on the hard cases.

It would be far better for society to affirm and respect the personhood of all parties: including the child in utero.

Why I’m Pro-Life (Part 1: A Common-Sense Case Against Roe)

07/27/2005: If all that mattered was women’s rights, I’d be the most ardent supporter of abortion on demand. Unfortunately, the wanton killing of a child is a right that no human being should be allowed to have.

And that’s exactly why abortion is a human tragedy all the way around: abortion involves snuffing a human being–having a heartbreat, measurable brain waves, and his or her own genetic fingerprint–who has committed no crime.

That evidence is irrefutable: ultrasound and fetuscopy have brought those very realities to life. Where I work, it is very common for expectant mothers to come in, proudly showing their ultrasound photos.

The unborn child has a heartbeat inside 3 weeks, measurable brain waves at about 6 weeks, every organ system in place at 8 weeks.

In fact, most abortion advocates completely avoid the issue of life in utero: they often concede that the unborn child is alive while contending that the child is not legally a “person” and therefore not entitled to Constitutional protection. In 1973, Harry Blackmun–the Justice who wrote the Roe v. Wade opinion, completely sidestepped the human life side of this matter.

Ergo, we have become a society where the value of human life is up to the whims of our convenience.

On one hand, an expectant mother who wants the child celebrates the child she is carrying. On the other hand, we casually dismiss as garbage a child in utero whose mother wants to abort.

In the current debate over embryonic stem cell research, we are seeking to exploit the very humanity of unborn children, turning their bodies into spare parts factories.

In California, voters recently approved $6 billion dollars in stem-cell research funding, giving scientists taxpayer-funded carte blanche to slaughter chilidren in utero to harvest their stem cells. In the same state, Scott Peterson was convicted of double murder–and sentenced to death. His crime: He killed his wife and their unborn child.

Either the child in utero is a person or not; we cannot have it both ways and claim any level of principle. If the unborn child is a person, then the whole Roe v. Wade framework is a sham.

Some on the left–notably Fuller Theological Seminary professor Glen Stassen–support the Roe framework while pleading to support initiatives that make abortion less prevalent.

That dog won’t hunt: Stassen certainly would not apply the same line of reasoning to rape, child molestation, or cruelty to animals. Furthermore, by supporting Roe, Stassen–a career peacenik–guarantees that abortion is the only “life” issue for which Americans have no means of democratic resolution.

Abortion is an issue that all Americans need to engage. We need a proper resolution to this issue in a way that either affirms the life of the child in utero, or leaves open that possbility in the future.

That cannot happen until Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton are reversed.

WP Paints Roberts as Die-Hard Pro-Lifer

07/27/2005: MSNBC is reporting a WP story based on old Roberts memos from his Reagan administration days. Those memos appear to show a very conservative Roberts who would use a constructionist framework to undermine Roe v. Wade.

Many leaders on the right are jubilant over this: Roberts appears to be the dream candidate. Abortion rights groups are on the prowl for exactly that reason.

Again, remember–these memos are almost 25 years old. I’m still not convinced that he will be someone who moves to overturn Roe. Other nominees were billed as Constructionists–Souter and Kennedy come to mind. Today, they are almost as liberal as Breyer, Ginsberg, and Stevens.

Personally, I hope Roberts is as much a Constructionist today as he was back then. I’m sick and tired of every court nominee being hijacked by the abortion issue. Resolution of that matter should be left to the legislative branches of the several states. Overturning Roe–and remanding the issue to the states–would be a great start toward allowing Americans to resolve the abortion issue democratically.

Some have asked me what I would think if my state voted to keep abortion legal. I would not like it, but at least it would be a democratic resolution to the issue. That would be far better than what we have today.

SCOTUS Nominee’s Wife: Former Exec VP of Feminists for Life

07/20/2005: The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that John Roberts’ wife–Jane, also a distinguished attorney in her own right–was once the Executive Vice President of Feminists for Life, a pro-life feminist organization that opposes both abortion and the death penalty. (I used to be a member myself. Fine bunch of people.)

NARAL and the lefties are running for their heart medications now.

While he–not his wife–is up for confirmation for SCOTUS, this little wrinkle definitely will keep many radical feminist leaders awake at night.

::::Holding my tongue in cheek:::: If Jane is still pro-life, then His Honor will almost certainly have to vote against Roe v. Wade. Call it the “PW” factor. 😉