Friday, August 28, 2009

Liberal Lion or Liberal Lyin'?

With the death of longtime Massachusetts Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy this past week, the American people are provided another "teachable moment" in this summer of teachable moments. According to the mainstream media, with the exception of a few courageous pundits on Fox News, Kennedy was "the Lion of the Senate," a shaggy but noble figure whose very presence in the world's most exclusive club brought progress and bipartisanship to an otherwise unruly and divided collection of decidedly lesser beings. Whatever the measure before the Senate, he could forge an alliance with a colleague across the aisle and craft a compromise bill that made both sides giddy with feelings of accomplishment and victory.

Okay, time to wake up from our trip to Fantasyland.

Granted, Kennedy was by all accounts an affable, likable fellow in public and private and certainly toward those who shared his liberal vision. It is also true that he spent 47 years in the Senate making deals with moderate or liberal Republican Senators to push through legislation that incrementally accomplished his goals. Finally, it is difficult to find even political enemies of his who will speak disparagingly of him as a person, especially now that he is dead. Evidently, despite his money, power, position, and "Kennedy aura," he was a jovial, amiable man.

Yet, here is the teachable moment: Notwithstanding the charming veneer, Ted Kennedy was not a good man, and his politics were not beneficial for the United States. All of this begs the question: Why are Americans constantly duped by well-dressed, well-spoken snake-oil salesmen posing as concerned advocates for needed progress? From Franklin Delano Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy to Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton and now to Barack Obama, Americans seem to love liberals who promise utopia yet produce only more government control and spend more of our money.

In spite of the mainstream media's self-imposed silence on the matter, Ted Kennedy's sins are well-known. His appetites for alcohol and women are legendary. The most notorious incident of his life occurred in July 1969 on Chappaquiddick Island. Young Mary Jo Kopechne died in a fathom of water under Dike Bridge, after the first-term Senator, who was married, panicked and left the overturned, submerged car in which they had been driving home from a party. Kennedy later returned with two friends to rescue her, but he never reported the accident to authorities. The car was pulled from the water the following morning and identified as his, whereupon he gave a statement to the police.

He later pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury. The judge gave him a suspended two-month sentence, and his license was suspended for about sixteen months. At the inquest, requested to be held secretly by Kennedy-family lawyers, the presiding judge found that Kennedy had been negligent, but the district attorney decided not to pursue manslaughter charges against him. The next year, Kennedy was reelected to his seat, receiving 62% of the vote.

His actions at Chappaquiddick affected the lives of only a small number of people, but his numerous political actions throughout his Senate career involved millions of Americans. His first major piece of legislation was the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the law that in essence opened the floodgates to millions of illegal aliens, producing the immigration fiasco this country now faces. About it, Kennedy declaimed on the floor of the Senate:

First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same. . . . Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset. . . . Contrary to the charges in some quarters, [the bill] will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and deprived nations of Africa and Asia. . . . In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think. . . . The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs.

In fact, the critics were correct, as subsequent events have proved.

He is also known for his devastating, Senate-floor attack on Judge Robert Bork, only minutes after his nomination to the Supreme Court was announced by then-President Ronald Reagan. Judge Bork is a highly intelligent, civilized, even witty man, but one would think he was nothing short of Hitlerian after hearing Kennedy's scathing verbal assault:

Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.

In this spirit, he and other Senators engaged in an unprecedented offensive to scuttle Bork's nomination, an action that has become a recognized verb, "to bork." Judge Bork has since written that Kennedy later said it was "nothing personal," but as vicious as the attack was, that is hardly likely.

Lastly, the present healthcare reform legislation is as much the product of his mind and ambitions as anyone's. With his death, Democrats are seriously considering placing his name on the bill, changing it from the wounded "Obamacare" to "Kennedycare," a more sympathetic moniker. No matter what it will ultimately be called, it will still be horribly damaging to American freedom, the healthcare system, and the free-market economy.

Which bring us back to the "teachable moment." How long have we known and repeated the old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover?" It is clear that, as a nation, we have not learned the lesson. Have we in God's church learned it? Can we tell a good man from a bad one? Can we discern a servant of God from a servant of Satan? Can we tell the difference between true, godly love and human nature's counterfeit? Remember Paul's command in I Thessalonians 5:21: "Test all things; hold fast what is good."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Nonsense and Senselessness

When did the world stop making sense? Perhaps it has not made much sense for a long while, but lately it seems to have taken a definite turn toward the nonsensical, especially here in the United States. We Americans pride ourselves on being grounded and self-sufficient, full of practical know-how and a can-do attitude that can solve any problem or overcome any obstacle to our ambitions. Four centuries of history on this continent chronicles the efforts of a nation of pioneers and achievers in just about every area of endeavor. We filled a continent, fed the world, split the atom, and put men on the moon, not to mention our building the world’s most powerful military and becoming the world’s lone superpower. Much of this occurred because men and women used sound knowledge and reason to find ways that work.

Such soundness of mind appears to be rare these days. Unlike the overhyped swine flu, America’s loss of her senses seems to be a true pandemic. All over the country and in many different areas of life, people are making foolish choices, based not on facts and outcomes but on hopes and fears ginned up by Madison Avenue blitzes and eloquent hucksters. All it takes is a pretty or handsome face, a bit of enthusiasm, some flash and sizzle, and the average person is hooked.

The so-called solution to this crisis—healthcare reform, Obamacare—is itself mindboggling in its absurdity. On his August 20, 2009, radio show, Rush Limbaugh, never shy about saying what he thinks about liberal policies and initiatives, commented insightfully:

Obama's health care plan will be written by a committee whose head, John Conyers, says he doesn't understand it. It'll be passed by Congress that has not read it, signed by a president who . . .smokes, funded by a Treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese, and financed by a country that's nearly broke. What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, his comment does not even consider the details of the massive reform bill passed by the House of Representatives, many of which will radically alter the way Americans will receive and pay for healthcare. In short, the proposed bill will take healthcare choices out of the hands of patients and doctors and give them to government bureaucrats and appointees. Clearly, its proponents eventually want to drag Americans into a single-payer system along the lines of Canada’s or Britain’s government-run healthcare monopolies.

What seems to be lost in all of the dickering over details is the fundamental matter of constitutionality. Does the Constitution of the United States even allow the federal government to run a healthcare system? Instead of being ignored, this should have been the first question America’s elected leaders—sworn to uphold the Constitution—asked themselves, but they are willing to let their negligence pass quietly unnoticed because healthcare reform will accrue far more power to government and its allies than just about any other scheme. In fact, the present hullaballoo created in these town hall meetings does not concern them, as it only deepens and widens the confusion and exasperation among the electorate and validates the idea that healthcare reform is legitimate, necessary, and urgent.

Could this senselessness and confusion be a fulfillment of Bible prophecy? In the blessings and curses chapter, God promises to send a kind of foolish madness upon Israel when the people fail to obey Him:

The LORD will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me. . . . The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of heart. And you shall grope at noonday, as a blind man gropes in darkness; you shall not prosper in your ways; you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no one shall save you. (Deuteronomy 28:20, 28-29)

His spiritual people, however, His church, can be spared this plague of irrationality: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7). “We have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16), giving us the ability to see, ponder, and choose the right with wisdom and foresight. We can expose the nonsense of this world and provide the proven answers from God’s Word (Ephesians 5:11-13).

The apostle Paul advises, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17). As the confusion and nonsense mounts in the world, Christians must make no delay in seeking God and His Word for what makes eternal sense.