Archive | Politics

Peggy Noonan Strikes Again

Peggy Noonan offers a biting critique of the hubris of Washington politicians in her weekly column in the Wall Street Journal. The title pretty much says it all: “Conceit of Government: Why are our politicians so full of themselves?” One of the great things about this essay is that she is an equal opportunity criticizer—that is, she directs her censure at both sides of the aisle. What she writes is harsh, but I think it is sorely needed. There seem to be less and less statesmen in Washington and more and more men who like to state their own virtue.

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Stomping Your Baby To Death: Just or Unjust?

There are at least 30 states “that recognize the unlawful killing of an unborn child as homicide in at least some circumstances.” The laws that forbid such killing have come to be known as “Fetal Homicide Laws.” There is a situation brewing now in Lufkin, Texas that might call some of these laws into question from a constitutional perspective.

A 19-year-old young man in Lufkin, Texas was just sentenced to life in prison for ending his girlfriend’s pregnancy (source). The man was accused of stepping on his girlfriend’s stomach and causing her to miscarry. The hitch here is that he did this deed with the apparent consent of his girlfriend who wanted to end the pregnancy (source). Could he not argue on appeal that his girlfriend has the constitutional right to choose to end her pregnancy (à la Roe v. Wade), and he was just helping to carry out her wishes?

The case brings into sharp relief an inconsistency in our laws—an inconsistency that illustrates the immorality of abortion. John Piper has commented to this effect on the fetal homicide law in Minnesota:

“There is a fetal homicide law in Minnesota. According to the Minneapolis Tribune it ‘MAKES IT MURDER TO KILL AN EMBRYO OR FETUS INTENTIONALLY, EXCEPT IN CASES OF ABORTION.’ Now what makes the difference here? Why is it murder to take the life of an embryo in one case and not murder in the case of abortion? Now watch this carefully, because it reveals the stunning implications of the pro-choice position. The difference lies in the choice of the mother. If the mother chooses that her fetus live, it is murder to kill it. If she chooses for her fetus not to live, it is not murder to kill it. In other words in our laws we have now made room for some killing to be justified not on the basis of the crimes of the one killed, but solely on the basis of another person’s will or choice. If I choose for the embryo to be dead, it is legal to kill it. If I choose for the embryo to live, it is illegal to kill it. The effective criterion of what is legal or illegal, in this ultimate issue of life and death, is simply this: the will of the strong. There is a name for this. We call it anarchy. It is the essence of rebellion against objective truth and against God” (“Challenging Church and Culture with Truth”).

Pro-choice forces are aware of this tension, and that is why they are generally opposed to fetal homicide laws. Pro-choicers argue that these laws grant an unborn child legal status distinct from the pregnant mother, and this is a notion that they cannot reconcile with their own pro-abortion ideology. Therefore, they “prefer to criminalize an assault on a pregnant woman and recognize her as the only victim” (“Fetal Homicide Laws–What You Need To Know”).

It remains to be seen whether the 19-year-old Texas teen will have any success on appeal. But one thing is certain. The Texas state law is just and reflects the intrinsic value and personhood of the unborn. There is, therefore, nothing wrong with the Texas Fetal Homicide Law. I wish I could say the same for our ailing culture. Believe it or not, there are actually those who would want it to be legal for a father to stomp the life out of his unborn children. God help us.

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Chuck Colson vs. Mark Felt: Who’s the Hero?

Did you know that Chuck Colson went to prison for the very thing that “Deep Throat” is being lauded as a hero (click here)? Both men broke the law by leaking confidential FBI files to reporters. Both men’s crimes eventually came to light. Yet Colson went to prison, while “Deep Throat” (a.k.a. Mark Felt) got a pension. It seems so strange, therefore, that the big question on everybody’s mind is whether Mark Felt is a hero. Hardly.
In this Jan. 20, 1958 picture, Salt Lake FBI chief Mark Felt shows off his pistol skills. Breaking a silence of 30 years, Felt stepped forward Tuesday, March 31, 2005, as Deep Throat, the secret source to the Washington Post that helped bring down President Nixon during the Watergate scandal. (AP Photo/Deseret Morning News, Howard Moore)

So who is the real hero? Watergate was a national tragedy in which the whole nation got to see that some of its greatest generation had feet of clay. But God turned the scandal into a moment of sweet redemption for one of the villains, Chuck Colson. While in prison, Colson was born again into a new life of faith in the One who came to seek and save those who are lost. Chuck Colson never went back to politics but began a ministry to prisoners all around the world. Chuck Colson is not the hero, nor would he claim to be. The real hero is the One who takes broken men and puts them back together again. This One has become Colson’s hero, and He’s mine too.

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Disenchanted with Nixon and with “Deep Throat”


W. Mark Felt, a.k.a. ”Deep Throat”

The big story. “Deep Throat,” the anonymous source that toppled the presidency of Richard Nixon, has finally been identified in Vanity Fair as former FBI second-in-command, W. Mark Felt. The Washington Post confirms that Felt is indeed the man who provided critical information to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in their quest to expose the sinister machinations of Richard Nixon and his subordinates in the Watergate scandal.


Watergate reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward and editor Ben Bradlee, center, confirmed “Deep Throat’s” identity on Tuesday. (Katherine Frey/Washington Post)

The coverage of this revelation has been pretty predictable so far. The old lines are still drawn. There are those who continue their loyalty to President Nixon who feel that Felt is a “snake” (e.g. Pat Buchanan), and others showing an obvious antipathy for the former president laud Felt as a national hero (e.g. John O’Connor). Republican talking heads seem to favor Nixon over and against Felt, while Democrat talking heads tend to favor Felt over Nixon.

Yet I don’t think an honest evaluation of the Watergate scandal allows us to be so blindly partisan. I am, quite frankly, disenchanted with the behavior of both President Nixon and Mark Felt. Both were duplicitous and told outright lies. For the President’s part, even if he did not direct the Watergate break-in (which is still up for debate, I suppose), he certainly tried to cover it up. The tapes reveal that much, as well as his not-too-infrequent ethnic slurs against Jewish people.

Felt also betrayed a trust when he leaked information to the reporters. Certainly he was under pressure, but he should have just resigned his position as second-in-command at the FBI, called a press conference, and told the world about the cover-up. Now that would have been heroic.

While I am thankful that the scandal finally came to light, I don’t want to be forced into the position of endorsing the actions of either man. They both had feet of clay.

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From the Halls of the M.A.S.H. Unit to Shores of the Abortion Clinic

The opinion editors of The New York Times have struck again. In one of today’s editorials, an attempt to be patriotic on Memorial Day weekend appears to be just one more cynical tip-of-the-hat to the culture of death. With a manipulative appeal to the compassion that Americans have for victims of rape and incest, the editors urge that our patriotic duty includes financing abortions for military women serving overseas who might not have access to affordable “healthcare” (In case you didn’t know, “healthcare” has become one of the left’s euphemisms for abortion).

Here is one more example of why the abortion debate in America remains stifled. The piece contains no serious engagement of pro-life arguments, just the same old hackneyed accusation that pro-lifers don’t care about victims of abuse. I guess the editors think that supporting the right of military women to have tax-payer financed abortions is the same thing as supporting the military. If they think they can use this ploy to trick pro-military conservatives into being pro-abortion, they have another thing coming.

Sources:
“Disrespecting Women Soldiers,” The New York Times, May 29, 2005.
“
California Democrats try to allow abortions for troops overseas,” Associated Press, May 25, 2005

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Pro-Choice Groups: “No Comment” on Killing Infants Born Alive


President George W. Bush signs the Born Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 in Pittsburgh, Pa., Monday, Aug. 5, 2002.

In April, President George W. Bush issued a directive instructing doctors to make every effort to save the lives of premature babies born after failed abortions. The new measure is a step towards enforcing the 2002 law known as the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. Under this law, an infant that survives an abortion procedure is no longer a fetus, but a person entitled to emergency medical care and protection against child abuse and neglect.

This law was aimed at preventing situations created by botched abortions, where the baby survives the abortion procedure but is nonetheless left to die. Hearings in Congress on this topic produced disturbing testimony about failed abortions. One medical worker testified concerning one baby who survived an abortion: “the child was breathing, the heart was beating and the child continued to live for several hours” before finally dying.

According to the New York Times, Naral Pro-Choice America and the Center for Reproductive Rights were asked to comment on the new enforcement measure. Their response was a “no comment.”

I think it is remarkable that Naral and the CRR cannot recognize the absolute atrocity of letting a little baby die on the operating table. I know that Naral and the CRR are clear about their support for legalizing the killing of unborn babies. But why can’t they be just as clear in condemning the killing of babies born alive?

Maybe it’s because these pro-choice advocates would have to admit that there is no morally significant difference between the baby inside the birth canal and the baby outside the birth canal. If the baby is treated as a human person immediately after birth, why is not treated as such immediately before birth? Does the baby go through some magical transformation from non-person to person in the inches that separate the pre-born form the born?

I think the pro-choicers know that if life is treated as precious just outside the womb, then there is no reason not to treat it as precious just inside the womb. And they don’t want to go there. This is why the pro-choice group had “no comment.” Truly there is no sane comment that could justify their morally indefensible position.

Source: “New Attention for 2002 Law on Survivors of Abortions” – New York Times

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Exploding the Myths of Pro-Choice Arguments

The results of a new study in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology say that women who have an abortion are 1.7 times more likely to give birth prematurely in a later pregnancy. This finding has the potential to explode some of the myths of pro-choice advocates who do not want to admit that any adverse consequences result from abortion. The only way to keep this bomb shell from going off is to keep it buried and out of public view. Let’s see if we hear anything about this story in the news in the coming weeks. Don’t hold your breath.

Sources:
“
Revealed: how an abortion puts the next baby at risk,” by Michael Day, The London Daily Telegraph, May 15, 2005.
“
Previous induced abortions and the risk of very preterm delivery: results of the EPIPAGE study,” by Caroline Moreaua, et al., BJOG (April 2005).

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Does God care about filibusters?

Sometimes I read things that are so pitifully erroneous that I feel compelled to set the record straight. This is one instance.

Recently Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D.-Ill., complained about Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist’s participation in a simulcast to religious conservatives. The simulcast will include pro-family leaders — such as James Dobson — who have portrayed Democrats as being “against people of faith” for blocking President Bush’s judicial nominations.

Durbin was not at all happy that Frist was participating in such an event. Durbin groused: “I cannot imagine that God — with everything he has or she[1] has to worry about — is going to take the time to debate the filibuster in heaven.”[2]

I will not deny the rhetorical effectiveness of Durbin’s statement. It appeals to peoples’ common sense that a transcendent God would hardly stoop to concern Himself with the mundane details of human existence — much less the jaded world of power politics. After all, isn’t God above all that? Aren’t there more important things in the universe than what happens in one small city located on the galactic speck known as planet earth? The reasoning goes something like this: “God doesn’t care about petty things such as politics, so why should we care what He thinks about our public policies?”

I think Durbin’s statement merely reflects another cynical attempt to remove God from the public square — in this case, from the give and take of political discourse. But the main problem with Durbin’s ill-informed words is that nearly every phrase is chocked full of biblical and theological error. In one fell swoop of misinformation, Durbin manages to turn the biblical portrait of God’s providence on its head. God’s Providence refers to His constant care and control over every aspect of His creation (Ephesians 1:11). And Sen. Durbin misses it.

For starters, Durbin’s “I-cannot-imagine” appeal to common sense gets his listeners off on the wrong foot in their reflections about God — as if what one “imagines” matters one whit in the determination of reality. We shouldn’t be surprised by kooky theological reflection when the source of it is the mere musing of a misguided muckraker. What really matters is not the god of Durbin’s or anyone else’s imagination, but the God who has revealed Himself in the written canon of Scripture. And it is to the Scriptures that we will have to look if we want to know what God thinks about anything.

Jesus taught about the Father’s stooping to be involved in the affairs of men: “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31). In other words, God is very much involved in the day-to-day mundane events of our lives.

When Jesus refers to falling “sparrows” and numbered “hairs,” He teaches that God’s providential concern extends to the smallest details of our existence, to what in our terms would be the molecular level of existence.[3] In other words, there is no aspect of our lives that is beneath God. All of life belongs to Him and only finds its proper meaning and purpose in relation to Him. This truth would of course include the mundane world of politics.

Durbin intimates that God has more important things to do than to “worry” about our politics. Yet God’s Providence in Scripture is not depicted as something that stresses God out. As if He can’t have anything else added to His plate because He’s already got too much to do (like preventing the universe from imploding). God’s meticulous providence does not cause Him worry. On the contrary, biblically speaking, our worry is relieved by our knowledge of His providence. In Matthew 10:30, it is this truth that is to be a comfort to disciples who suffer at the hands of evil governments. If God’s care over His creation extends even to the smallest animal, then it certainly extends to His people.

For Durbin to suggest that God doesn’t care about the judiciary that will decide whether abortion-on-demand will remain legal is to make a grave error indeed. If God cares about the sparrows, you can be sure He cares about the babies. Their justice will not tarry long as God Himself eventually will call to account their oppressors (Psalm 82:3, 8; 146:9), a fact I’m sure many pro-abortionists would like to ignore. And the pro-abortionists will cause many others to ignore this truth so long as God and our accountability to Him are banned from the public consciousness.

So let us not keep silent when dinky theology is substituted for substantive, sound statements about God. Remarks like Sen. Durbin’s may be clever, but they are not true.
______________________
[1]A critique of Durbin’s dithering on the gender of God will have to wait for another time, but this issue in itself is important nonetheless.
[2]David D. Kirkpatrick and Carl Hulse, “Frist Accused of Exploiting Religion Issue,” New York Times, April 16, 2005. Accessed Online: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/16/politics/16judges.html.
[3]John Piper used this phrase in connection with this text, that the Lord’s Providence extends to the “molecular” level. He used it in a radio interview concerning the tsunami disaster.
______________________
This article appeared in the Baptist Press on August 20, 2005.
http://www.bpnews.net/bpfeature.asp?ID=1803

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State of the Union Address 2005

Article II, Sec. 3 of the U.S. Constitution says that the President, “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Tonight, President Bush did just that, setting forth his vision and plan for the nation in a 53 minute address to the Congress.The most poignant moment in the speech occurred when he recognized the mother of slain soldier Byron Norwood, who was killed last year in Iraq during the attack on Fallujah. In an unscripted but emotionally powerful moment, the mother of the slain soldier leaned forward to embrace an Iraqi woman whose father was killed by Saddam Hussein. Even the President fought back tears as he watched this scene unfold in the gallery above him.

The most ambitious item on the President’s domestic agenda is his intention to overhaul Social Security. He irritated his opponents in Congress in this section of the speech, drawing loud heckles from the Democrat side of the aisle. The palpable tension in the room portends a gigantic political battle that is certain to unfold in the coming months. The President said tonight that benefits for people who are now 55 years old and older will not be affected by any of the proposed changes. The Democrats will ignore this in the coming months and will try to frighten seniors into thinking that Bush desires to cut benefits to current recipients of social security. This will be a bitter fight indeed.

I was encouraged to hear the President’s clear resolve to support a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex “marriage.” This commitment has been called into question of late. In an interview with the Washington Post last month, President Bush seemed to indicate that the amendment would not be a priority as long as the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act stands unchallenged in the courts. The amendment was noticeably absent from the list of top-10 legislative priorities that Senator Bill Frist released on January 24.

A group of prominent religious conservatives (including James Dobson and Gary Bauer) responded to these developments by sending Karl Rove a letter threatening to withhold support for Bush’s social security plan if he doesn’t make the gay marriage ban a priority. The President’s spokesman came out shortly after and reaffirmed the President’s commitment to traditional marriage. I think he did well again tonight to reaffirm his support for the amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

I wish that the President would use the bully pulpit more effectively in defense of the unborn. I understand the political calculation that goes into his not attending the annual “March for Life” in person. What I don’t understand is why he doesn’t try to use speeches like the State of the Union to try and win Americans to the pro-life cause. At the “March for Life” on January 24, 2005, Bush phoned in his remarks and said that “a true culture of life cannot be sustained solely by changing laws. We need, most of all, to change hearts.” If he really believes that hearts have to change, then he has to use the bully-pulpit to make the case for the pro-life cause. People will not change their minds on this issue unless they are compelled to do so by force of argument. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t done that yet.

Overall, this was a great speech.

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The Gender Wars and Harvard University

President of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, has gotten himself into a catfight because of comments he made recently at a session on the progress of women in academia organized by the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass. Although there is no transcript of his remarks, he reportedly claimed “that the shortage of elite female scientists may stem in part from ‘innate’ differences between men and women.”[1]

He shared an anecdote about his daughter to illustrate the point. He once gave his daughter two trucks in an effort at “gender-neutral parenting.” His daughter soon began referring to one of the trucks as “daddy truck” and the other as “baby truck.”[2] The event led him to ponder whether there was any truth to the notion that certain proclivities are connected to gender. For his daughter, at least, despite his best effort it seemed clear that something inside her compelled her to play what little girls are often wont to play. His is the kind of observation that many parents make when they actually deal with reality and not with ideology. Boys and girls are different.

Not surprisingly, Summers’ concurrent analysis of the shortage of women in math and sciences was not received well by the dogmaticians of political correctness that inhabit the halls of academia. Indeed, at least one listener received his words as a personal vote of no confidence with respect to the role of women in the academy. Nancy Hopkins, a biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, actually got up from her seat in the middle of the speech and walked out. She said, “I felt I was going to be sick . . . My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow . . . I was extremely upset.”[3]

A faculty committee of Harvard University has responded to Summers’ remarks with a reprimand, saying that his words “did not serve our institution well. Indeed, they serve to reinforce an institutional culture at Harvard that erects numerous barriers to improving the representation of women on the faculty, and to impede our current efforts to recruit top women scholars. They also send at best mixed signals to our high-achieving women students in Harvard College and in the graduate and professional schools.”[4]

Dr. Summer’s remarks were hardly an assault on women or modern feminism. He has subsequently said that he did not mean to imply that women were mentally inferior or somehow less apt for scholarship in math and sciences than men are. His words were merely an observation concerning the differences between men and women. Yet the storm of controversy that has erupted reveals the extent to which feminist dogma has gripped the popular consciousness. One cannot even make the suggestion anymore that there are innate differences between boys and girls without causing an uproar.

It never ceases to amaze me how anti-feminine the feminist movement has become. At least in some of its more radical wings, the movement encourages females to pretend that there are no differences between men and women beyond the biological accidents of their anatomies. The practical effect of this ideology has not really been a thoroughgoing egalitarianism, but a suspicion of everything male. Ironically, women are encouraged to act less and less like women, and more and more like men. Who would have thought 100 years ago that the feminist movement would result in a suppression of traditional femininity? Yet this seems to be what has happened.

The controversy surrounding the Harvard President’s remarks reveals that there is still a pitched battle going on over the meaning of gender in our culture. Ultimately, this conflict can only be resolved by a willingness to listen to what the Creator of gender has to say about who we are and what he intends for us. As long as the feminists keep up their effort to shut Him out of the conversation, however, the fight will have to continue.
_________________________
[1]Washington Post, Wednesday, January 19, 2005; Page A02, accessed on-line: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19181-2005Jan18.html.
[2]Washington Post, Wednesday, January 19, 2005; Page A02, accessed on-line: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19181-2005Jan18.html.
[3]Ibid.
[4]New York Times, Wednesday, January 19, 2005, accessed on-line: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/19/education/19harvard.html.

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