EUROPE CHANGES WHILE US PRE-OCCUPIED

British Prime Minister Theresa May, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet at the German Chancellery in Berlin, Germany November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
British Prime Minister Theresa May,  Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet at the German Chancellery in Berlin, Germany November 18, 2016.       REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

When newspapers around the world reported that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been assassinated in Sarajevo, nobody would have thought it would lead to the First World War, the worst war in history.  The subsequent war started in the Balkans, a part of Europe that frequently saw conflict; it didn’t seem anything to worry about.

25 years later, another world war followed on from the first, again started in Europe.

You would think that, consequently, the world would want to know what’s happening in Europe!   But the mention of Europe is likely to see wide-mouthed yawns in an audience – Europe is a continent of the past, not the future; a quaint place to visit but of no relevance.

However, Europe is a continent that is unraveling as old rivalries rise to the surface.   The end result could be a Europe that is very different from what we see now.

What we are witnessing is the return of nationalism, the root cause of both world wars.   Right now, we are in the dark, just as the world was the morning after the Archduke’s assassination.   Another seemingly insignificant event could lead directly to global conflict, just as the assassination did over a century ago.

After six decades of the European Union and its predecessor, Europeans are turning against the idea of “an ever closer union.” Now, they want to put their own country first.   It started in the United Kingdom with the Brexit vote.   Outside of Europe, the Americans voted earlier this month to put “America First.”   Austrians seem likely to elect their “far right” candidate to the presidency on December 4th.   If he wins, he has promised to dissolve parliament and to hold a vote on whether or not the country should stay in the EU.   A referendum in Italy on the same day could also have a profound effect on other countries in Europe.

However, the biggest two upcoming elections will be in France in May and Germany four months later.

France just had its primaries for the center-right party, resulting in the selection of Francois Fillon as their presidential candidate. He will run against the leader of the Socialist Party.   It’s not likely that their candidate will be the current socialist president, Francois Hollande, as his approval rating is down to only 4%.   A third party candidate, Marine LePen, of the National Front, could beat the two establishment figures.   Ms. LePen is against both the EU and immigration, two popular positions that could give her victory.

Elections next year in France and Germany may see a continuation of the trend toward nationalist parties.

Brexit has already led continental Europeans to move ahead with a European Army, independent of NATO.   This has been talked about for some time, amid growing concerns about Russia and Islamic terrorism.   Donald Trump’s victory in the US led, hours later, to a German call to quickly move forward – without Britain this is now possible.   It’s also the case that, until the UK actually exits the EU, it will have to help pay for the combined military force.

Europe and America differ on Russia, even more so now that Trump will be president.   Note the following from The Orange County Register, November 25th.

“Russian and American interests in Europe do not align.   Although both powers do share the general goal of preventing Islamic terror networks from spiraling out of control, Russia’s tacit support for some acts of terrorism, through its close relationship with state sponsors of militant jihad, is well known.   The truth is that Putin’s regime wants instability in Europe, by hook or by crook, so as to replace U.S. dominance on the continent.” (“High-stake Russian relations”)

The editorial continues:   “And the reality is that Putin is well on his way to getting it.   NATO allies like Turkey, Bulgaria and Hungary have joined in a clear pendulum swing away from Western liberalism.   At the same time, reactionary parties on the ascent aim to shake off the political bonds economically forged by the international institutions that give the US its influential stake in European affairs.   Few in Europe wish to become satellites of Moscow.   But few realize that, absent a robust American role in Europe, there is no European force powerful enough to keep its patchwork of small states from slipping into Russia’s shadow.

“Were the US capable of defending a persuasive liberal agenda abroad, friendlier European relations toward Russia wouldn’t necessarily be cause for such profound alarm.   But today, America’s leadership – like public opinion – is divided and unsure about just how much support free trade and international agreements deserve. Without clarity and confidence, even a little resurgence in traditionally pro-Russian sentiment in Europe could trigger a stampede away from the kind of American influence that has helped build and maintain security and order on the continent for generations.

“Is that a price America’s pro-Russian right and left are willing to bear?   Whatever Trump’s actual preference around Russian relations may be, he is well advised to take into account the answer to that question.   Nothing can ruin a presidential legacy like losing Europe.” (The last sentence was italicized by myself for emphasis.)

Five days earlier, another editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette addressed European issues:

“President Obama spent Thursday and part of Friday in Germany, underlining the importance of the relationship with Chancellor Angela Merkel and, particularly, their personal rapport.   With Obama’s imminent disappearance from the world stage, the transition to a Donald Trump administration is creating international disquiet, as world leaders prepare for the unknown.   The German chancellor is arguably the most important figure of stability in international politics . . .   They met in Berlin, increasingly the capital of Europe, although Brussels still hosts the headquarters of both the European Union and NATO, British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Francois Hollande and Spanish Prime Minister Maariano Rajoy all traveled to Berlin for their farewell-as-president meeting with Obama.”

Continuing:   “Germany is the economic and, thus, probably, the political center of Europe, an ironic epilogue to its loss of two major wars in the last century.”  (“Obama’s last key European stop.”  Italics mine)

Put these two articles together and what you have is this:

Europe is increasingly likely to break away from America; and Germany is the leader of Europe.

But . . . not yet!

The Economist magazine’s Charlemagne column adds that Germany and its Chancellor Angela Merkel “are still too hesitant to be able to lead the free world” (“Iron Waffler,” Charlemagne, November 19th):

“Now, after an election campaign in which Mr. Trump trashed immigrants, vowed to rewrite trade deals and threatened to withdraw America’s security guarantee, the West’s indispensable nation appears to have dispensed with itself.   Desperate for a candidate to accept the mantle of leader of the free world, some alighted on Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor.”

Yet Mrs. Merkel’s options are limited.   “We are protected by our terrible history,” says Joschka Fisher, a former foreign minister.   “You cannot say, ‘Make Germany Great Again’.”

Times are changing – and further changes are likely as a result of Donald Trump’s victory in the US.   “The Westbindung (Western integration), a staple of German foreign policy since Adenauer, is fraying as extremist parties on the left and right cozy up to Russia.”

Konrad Adenauer was Germany’s first chancellor after the formation of the Federal Republic in 1949, four years after Adolf Hitler.   Germany’s foreign policy since then has been firmly rooted in both NATO and the EU.   Extremist parties in the country threaten this and could destroy this policy after next year’s election.

“Germany’s stake in the global liberal order is immense.  Its export-led economic model relies on robust international trade; its political identity is inexorably linked to a strong EU; its westward orientation assumes a friendly and engaged America.   All of these things may now be in jeopardy, and Germany would suffer more than most from their demise.   But do not look to Mrs. Merkel to save them, for she cannot do so alone.”

A different chancellor, a stronger chancellor, perhaps with more extremist views of either left or right, could make a huge difference in the 2017 general election.

It’s very difficult to predict what will happen in the next twelve months in Germany or other European nations, but the continent is going through a peaceful turmoil that could see radical changes in the months ahead.

The biblical books of Daniel and Revelation both wrote of the Roman Empire and successive attempts to revive the empire down through the ages.  In 1922 Mussolini proclaimed a revived Roman Empire; in 1957, the Treaty of Rome was signed to lay the groundwork for another attempt at European Union.   A final group of European nations will soon come together, with Germany as its leader.   Bible students have expected this for years — now the world’s media sees Berlin as the new European capital and Germany as the driving force behind the world’s biggest single economic grouping.

 

Does any reader have 60,000 frequent flyer miles they are not likely to use?  I would like to go over to Europe to research and write on developments on the continent.

POST ELECTION NEWS

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Among America’s oldest and truest allies, the reaction to the election of Donald Trump has ranged from horror to terror, sometimes including large elements of each.  Nowhere, though, does the reaction look more dangerous than inside the most powerful state on the European continent, Germany. (“America’s Friendship with Europe has been horribly damaged,” David Frum, The Atlantic, 11/15/16)

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WASHINGTON / BERLIN (Own report) – Under German pressure, the EU is pushing toward the establishment of military structures, independent of NATO, as is evidenced by recent decisions taken by its defense ministers.   At their meeting, ending yesterday, the defense ministers decided, as a first step, that particular EU countries should enhance their military cooperation.   The EU will establish a logistic hub and explore the creation of a European Medical Command.   They planned the setting up of a nucleus for an EU civilian-military headquarters that, according to Italy’s foreign minister, could grow to become a European general staff.   These structures could serve NATO, but in the end, are suitable for an EU army.   Berlin’s attempt to pit the EU against the USA, by ostentatiously taking a distance to President-Elect Trump, has encountered opposition from the UK and several eastern EU countries.   Leading European foreign policy makers called the EU a “superpower” expected to be a “global security provider.”
(more at http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/fulltext/58985)

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POST-BREXIT

‘Don’t you dare stop us!’ German defence chief blasts Britain for blocking EU army

GERMANY has hit out at Britain for blocking plans to create a massive European army which experts have warned will seriously undermine the NATO alliance.   (dailyexpressukonline, 11/17/160

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German far-Right extremists teaming up with gangs in America and Europe to plan attacks, intelligence chief warns

Far-right extremists in Germany are joining forces with like-minded groups across Europe and even the United States as they prepare to carry out more attacks, the country’s intelligence chief has warned.  Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of the Verfassungsschutz, said the agency had been forced to step up its efforts to foil plots by neo-Nazi and fascist groups following a surge in extremist violence in 2015.  “This is not just purely a German phenomenon,” he told Reuters, “the Right-extremist scene is networking on a European level, and in some cases, with connections in the United States.” (Daily Telegraph, 11/16)

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BETTER DAYS (recommended book)

“To be an aristocratic Englishman in the late nineteenth century meant being surrounded not merely by the lavish benefits of imperial power but  by its equally vast responsibilities.  Covering more than a fifth of the world’s land surface, the British Empire had come to rule about a quarter of the human race — more than 450 million people living on every continent and on the islands of every ocean.  It was the largest empire ever known, easily outranking the once mighty Spanish Empire, which had been the original object of the awe-filled description “the empire on which the sun never sets.”  It was five times the size of the Roman Empire at its zenith, and its influence — over people, language, money, even time, for the clocks in every time zone were set to Greenwich mean time — was unrivaled.”

(Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a daring escape and the making of Winston Churchill, by American biographer Candice Millard, 2016.  p 7 & 8)

 

GERMAN CALL FOR EU ARMY MORNING AFTER TRUMP VICTORY

daniel-craig-and-queen-elizabeth

Fears that America is turning inward were often expressed during the election campaign that resulted in Donald Trump becoming the next president.

As if to prove the fears well-founded, US media has concentrated on domestic concerns for the new presidency.

But, overseas, there is also great concern, as evidenced by the following report from Europe.

“Donald Trump’s victory, as well as Brexit, ought to speed up plans for EU defense integration, Germany has said.

“Europe needs the common political will for more security policy relevance. The outcome of the election in America could provide an additional impetus,” German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen said in an opinion article in the Rheinische Post, a German newspaper, on Thursday (10 November.)

“The Brexit decision and the election in the United States have set a new course” for Europe, she added.

She said it was “difficult for Germany and Europe, on the day after the election, to assess what to expect from a Trump presidency.”

She predicted that the US would initially turn inward “to heal the tremendous internal turmoil in the country” that arose from Trump’s divisive campaign.

She said EU security would continue to depend on the US and on NATO, but she said Trump’s victory meant that Europe, and Germany as “a great nation in the centre of Europe”, would have to be “more self-reliant on security issues”.

Von der Leyen spoke of “building a common security and defense organization” that would concentrate on stabilizing African and Middle East countries in order to alleviate the flows of refugees coming to Europe.” (italics mine)

(Andrew Rettman, “Germany:  Trump victory to speed up EU military union,” EU Observer)

An army to rival Russia:  Germany calls for joint EU defense budget to take on Putin (Nick Gutteridge, Daily Express, October 19th)

Two weeks before the US election, Nick Gutteridge of the Daily Express (UK) wrote that Germany wants a European military force to rival Russia’s.  This would, of course, also mean that it would rival America’s.

The European Union has approximately 500 million people without Britain.  It is also the world’s biggest single market with a currency that is used more widely than any other.  It, therefore, has the potential to be the world’s greatest military power.

These articles are particularly significant in the light of President-elect Trump’s comments that NATO countries are not contributing enough to their own defense.  He is also on record as saying that NATO has outlived its usefulness.  However, on Monday he made it clear that he is committed to the military alliance.  The alliance was founded in 1949.  At the time it was said the organization was intended “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down”.  That cynical comment is effectively negated by Germany’s new dominant role on the European continent, the leader of the EU and the country set to dominate the EU’s military force.

The proposed military force was not possible until June’s Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. Britain has always opposed a European military union believing that it will undermine US-led NATO.   Some other countries in the EU are not in favor, either.   When the military union comes into existence, possibly as early as next year, it’s likely only a dozen countries will join.

Note the following from Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading news magazine:

“For 100 years, the United States was the leader of the free world.  With the election of Donald Trump, America has now abdicated that role.  It is time for Europe, and Angela Merkel, to step into the void.

The West was constituted in its modern form in January 1917. World War I was raging in Europe at the time and in Washington, D.C., President Woodrow Wilson told his country that it was time for Americans to take responsibility for “peace and justice.”  In April he said:  “The world must be made safe for democracy.”  He declared war on Germany and sent soldiers to Europe to secure victory for the Western democracies — and the United States assumed the leadership of the Western world. It was an early phase of political globalization.

One hundred years later:  Trump.”

While President Wilson did say the words quoted above, his enthusiasm was soon dampened by Congress and America did not really get involved in the world until 25 years later. It wasn’t until after World War II that the US rose to prominence, replacing Great Britain in it’s super power role.   February 1947 was the month when it was first realized that Britain was handing over its international policeman role to the Americans. You can read about this in “Picking up the reins” by Norman Moss.   So, when President Trump is sworn in, it will be just a few days before America’s leadership role turns 70.   Babylon, the world’s first super-power was at the top for only seventy years.   President-elect Trump wants to put “America First” – is it possible for the US to turn its back on the rest of the world? Mr. Trump says no.  But others are not so sure.

Today’s Wall Street Journal carried the headline:

“European Union Backs Plan to Expand Military Coordination”

Britain’s decision to leave the EU and the election of Donald Trump give fresh impetus to Europe to come up with new plans for security cooperation.”

While Donald Trump is reassuring the European NATO allies of America’s commitment, the continental Europeans are hedging their bets.

The next few years could see the alliance unraveling.

Bible students are well aware that the biblical book of Revelation, which describes events in our age, tells us that ten nations will come together in Europe to form a formidable political and military union.   These ten are the next prophesied super-power.  They are also the last, as their brief period of dominance ends with the Kingdom of God.

“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.  These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast.  These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:12-14)

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POLLSTERS WRONG AGAIN

We used to get frequent annoying and intrusive calls from pollsters asking all kinds of questions to try to determine our views on different issues and what we thought of the candidates.  This year we got no such calls.

I suspect the reason is that we no longer have a landline.   Perhaps this goes part of the way to explaining how the polls got it so wrong.  Most young people only have a cell phone — that’s also the case with many older people who can no longer afford to have both a landline and a cell phone.

This may partly explain why the polls were wrong.   They were also wrong over Brexit, predicting the people would vote to “Remain” in the EU.   The “Leave” campaign used a company called “Cambridge Analytica” to help them win.  The UK company used data from over 5,000 people to determine the best way to get their message across.

Donald Trump hired the same company for his campaign.

In both campaigns they found that 3% of voters were “shy Tories.” This was the term they used to describe very conservative people who kept their views to themselves.   Many people felt intimidated in conversations with intellectuals who would try to bully or shame them into supporting “Remain.”   The same “shy Tories” in the US were secret Trump supporters — after Mr. Trump’s more outrageous comments it didn’t seem respectable to hold to pro-Trump views.

But support Trump they did.

These voters want change.

As with Brexit, a big issue was immigration and the perception that many new immigrants refuse to assimilate and even threaten national security.   They also want to “drain the swamp,” to reduce both the size and the cost of the federal government.

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Germany:  Government Carries Out Raids, Bans Religious Organization

Germany’s government has banned an Islamic organization known as True Religion, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, the New York Times reported Nov. 15.  The announcement comes as German authorities carried out raids on nearly 200 properties associated with the group across the country.  De Maiziere said the group was a recruiting pool for potential militants, adding that 140 supporters of the group have traveled to Iraq or Syria to join the Islamic State.  Though police confiscated materials during the raids, no arrests were made.   A number of attacks in Germany over the past year have fueled fears of migrants.  (Stratfor, 11/15/16)

 

BREXIT 2 AND MARTIN LUTHER

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Next year marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany, an act that is considered the start of the Protestant Reformation.   Luther was particularly upset about the sale of indulgences, whereby wealthy members of the Roman Catholic Church could buy a certificate, which would reduce the time they would spend in purgatory, itself an invention of the church.

The revolution that Luther started soon spread to other countries.

Europe has seen a number of revolutions that have spread from nation to nation, leading to significant change.   1989 was one such year when communist governments in Eastern Europe were brought down by the people they claimed to represent.   1918 was another such year, as World War One ended and ancient monarchies were overthrown.   Going back further, in 1848, revolutions took place across Europe as the people demanded more democracy.

This year started another revolution that could spread.   The vote for Brexit in the United Kingdom was a vote against globalization and mutliculturalism and the elites who have forced these upon the people.   A second Brexit may follow in a few days when the US holds its presidential election.   A victory for Donald Trump will be a vote against globalization and multiculturalism; a vote for Mrs. Clinton will be a vote for continuity, for more of the same, led by the same elites that have dominated for five decades.

Like the Church 500 years ago, the Clintons have been selling indulgences.   For a gift of a few million dollars to their own private Foundation, foreign leaders were granted access to Mrs. Clinton, then Secretary of State.   “Government for sale” does not sit well with the American people – she may very well lose the election because of the ensuing scandal.

Donald Trump has his problems, too, particularly with women. He is not winning the female vote due to his reputation as what was once called a “male chauvinist pig.”  He has also made outlandish remarks in the past that have led many to conclude he is not suited to the presidency.

The following letter from our local newspaper sums up the dilemma that many voters face:

“Being a voter this year is kind of like being a condemned man the warden likes so he lets you choose the method of your death.  Donald Trump is a sexist pig, (Bill Clinton is, too) and he has the maturity of a 10 year old.  Hillary C is a pathological liar who is probably already selling ambassador jobs for a “contribution” to the Clinton Foundation.  If characters were gun powder, these two combined would not have enough to kill a fly.  Someone will smile and be declared the winner Nov 8.  We’re all losers with these two wretched candidates.”  (Lansing State Journal)

In four days it should all be over.

Mr. Trump has claimed the voting is rigged.   While there may or may not be problems in the voting booth (both before and after), voting is rigged in at least two ways.

Firstly, media bias, which manifests itself in many ways.   The mass media in the United States is overwhelmingly supportive of the Democrats.   Fox News is the only television network that is different and it’s only available on cable. One example of bias was just this morning. Fox showed footage of illegal immigrants crossing into the US across the southern border, in a last-minute attempt to get in before Trump builds his wall; such footage would sway many Americans to vote for Trump so, naturally, nothing was said or shown on the main TV networks.  If the electorate knew that 1,000 people a day are now crossing illegally into their country, they would be alarmed.

Another example of bias is from the New York Times, which did not even mention Hillary Clinton’s problems with her emails until it had to.   I’ve been reading the Sunday editions of the Times for a few weeks and it is clearly one-sided.

Secondly, there is another way in which the election is rigged.   Immigration.

It was the Democrats who brought in the 1965 Immigration Act which has flooded the country with people from developing countries, most of whom support big government programs and vote for the Democrats at every election.   Every four years when a presidential election is held, the percentage of whites is down a further 1% — it is the white population that has dominated America in the past.   They generally support traditional free enterprise and small government.

There are an estimated 11 million illegal aliens in the country. Mrs. Clinton favors a fast-track to citizenship, enabling them all to vote for her party; Mr. Trump wants them to return home and then apply for legal entry.

Elections are always difficult to predict, but I will say one thing for the benefit of those who live outside of the United States – there are more Trump signs on front lawns than there are Clinton signs.   There may be a lot of silent Trump supporters, people even who have never voted and are therefore not receiving calls from pollsters.

One final thought: whoever loses only has himself or herself to blame.   A biblical principle that keeps coming to mind is found in Numbers 32:23:   “be sure your sins will find you out.”   Whoever loses will be losing partly because of personal indiscretions.

This brings us back to the Roman Church and Martin Luther.   At the time, the corruption in the Church was pervasive – from the top down, popes, cardinals, archbishops and priests all had their fingers in the pie.   The result was rebellion on the part of the people.   The descendants of those same people today have the same attitude toward the elites that have grown fat at their expense.

This is what Brexit was all about.   It’s also the biggest issue in the US election.

But Brexit was not the end of the matter. In the United Kingdom, the elites are putting up a fight to reverse Brexit.  A decision of the High Court on Wednesday ruled that parliament must vote on the issue before the country can apply to leave the EU.  As two-thirds of the members of parliament are against Brexit, this is a definite blow to a people who want freedom from globalization and multiculturalism.   Theresa May, the UK’s prime minister, will appeal the decision to the country’s Supreme Court.   Mrs. May herself was against Brexit when the vote was taken in June, but now stresses that the will of the people must be upheld.

The globalist elites will resist change just as the kings did decades ago.   A Trump victory will be challenged in every way – if elected, he will not find it easy to “drain the swamp”!

At stake is America’s leadership of the western world.   Sixty years ago this week Britain and France invaded Egypt in an attempt to get back control of the Suez Canal, which they had built and owned.   US intervention ended the conflict.  It was, effectively, the end of the British and French Empires.   It’s a sobering reminder to Americans that just one error of judgment, particularly in the Middle East, can bring down the American Empire.   Don’t think it cannot happen to the United States.

GRANDCHILDREN, THE DEBATE AND THE CANADIAN CROWN

Evan very upset he couldn't have that "juice."
Evan very upset he couldn’t have that juice.

We’re visiting our daughter, Alix, her husband, Mike, and their family in Indianapolis.   Seven of our grandchildren are with us in the house. Our son’s two girls had to stay behind for basketball try-outs on Sunday.

The 5-hour drive south was stressful, to put it mildly.   Not only did we have to contend with road construction that seriously impacted our speed but we had three young children in the van, one of whom hates traveling and kept asking to go home.   Even after we arrived, he still wanted to go home, asking Grandpa if we could leave late at night just to get away from it all. He must have sensed my stress!

It’s now Friday lunchtime.   Just as I sat down to write, Evan, one of Alix’s twins, rode in a laundry basket down the steep stairs and crashed into the front door.   He’s ok – I’m not sure about the door and the laundry basket has definitely seen better days!  (Not to mention Alix’s heart failure!)

A few moments earlier, our autistic grandson who has a tendency to run away and get lost, knocked on the front door.   We’ve no idea how he got out but at least he came back.   He’s 4.   He’s a late developer – I ran away when I was 3.

Evan is clearly a troublemaker.   I have been sipping whisky in an attempt to kill a sore throat, though it doubles as a coping mechanism with all the activity around me.   I just looked up to find Evan took my whisky bottle over to his mom and asked her to pour him some “juice.”

In spite of the occasional stress of sheer numbers, I still think that the opportunity to have time with grandchildren is a tremendous blessing and we truly enjoy every minute of it.

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We are, of course, in Mike Pence territory. He’s been Governor of Indiana for four years and is highly spoken of by, seemingly, everybody.   He’s done a good job governing the state, which has a financial surplus.

I thought he was treated badly on Monday by his opponent Tim Kaine in the Vice Presidential debate.   Mr. Kaine kept on interrupting Mr. Pence so that he could not get his points across.   Kaine was rude while Pence responded like a gentleman.

Another difference between them was over the issue of abortion. Kaine squirmed and waffled while trying to explain how he supports abortion when his own church, the Church of Rome, is against it.   He said he felt it would be wrong of him to force his own view on women who want abortions.   Mr. Pence, a Protestant and regular church-goer, reaffirmed his total opposition to abortion and said that, as Governor of Indiana, he has been promoting adoption as a means of encouraging women to give birth, rather than have their unborn child murdered.   He reminded viewers that Mrs. Clinton supports partial-birth abortions, allowing women to abort babies when they are close to delivery.   He even quoted Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

Mrs. Clinton supposedly takes her Christianity seriously – she’s a Methodist, a church now opposed to abortion.

Kaine and Clinton can only be described as hypocrites, supporting the murder of innocent children, while claiming to both be people of faith.

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This year’s US presidential election cannot be encouraging any country to adopt the American system of government.   Comments heard overseas are along the lines of:   “Out of 330 million people, this is the best you can come up with?”

The ignorance of the rest of the world shown by Gary (“What’s Aleppo?”) Johnson, who is now claiming that knowledge of world affairs is “over-rated,” must be another influencing factor.

So, it’s not surprising that Canadians welcomed Prince William, his wife and two children, to British Columbia and Yukon.   The future King and Queen of Canada, with their son, Prince George, who will succeed his father on the throne 40 or 50 years from now, ensure that Canada’s current system of government will endure for the rest of this century.

Canada is a constitutional monarchy, just like the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.   There are also 13 other Commonwealth Realms over which the Queen reigns.   In addition, she is Head of the 53-nation Commonwealth of former British colonies.   The British government has no authority over any of these countries.

Although many people think the 90-year-old Queen doesn’t do anything, the left-wing Independent newspaper in Britain wrote the following on her responsibilities:

“Her schedule is incredibly regimented, with multiple formal proceedings, events and processes she has to adhere to every day.

Meetings with ministers and officials take up a large portion of her day and, like most of us, she spends a big chunk of her time at work.

Morning

The Queen’s working day begins at her desk scanning the daily newspapers.   She then proceeds to go through some of the 300 letters she receives from the general public every day.   Some of these letters the Queen reads and replies to herself, while with others she tells members of her staff how she would like them to be answered.

Her Majesty will then see two of her private secretaries with the daily quota of official papers and documents.   She receives a huge number of correspondences from Government ministers and her representatives in the Commonwealth and foreign countries.   All of these have to be read and, where necessary, approved and signed.

A series of official meetings or ‘audiences’ will often follow.   Each meeting usually lasting 10 to 20 minutes.

If there is an Investiture, a ceremony for the presentation of honors and decorations, it begins at 11.00am and lasts just over an hour.

The Queen will then lunch privately although every couple of months, she and The Duke of Edinburgh will invite a dozen guests from a wide variety of backgrounds to an informal lunch.

If Her Majesty is spending the morning on engagements away from her desk and other commitments, she will visit up to three venues before lunch, either alone or jointly with The Duke of Edinburgh.

Afternoon

In the afternoons, the Queen often goes out on public engagements and prepares for each visit by briefing herself on who she will be meeting and what she will be seeing and doing.   Her Majesty carries out around 430 engagements (including audiences) a year and will regularly go out for the whole day to a particular region or city.

The afternoon draws to an end with a meeting of the Privy Council with several government ministers.

Evening

Early evening can involve the weekly meeting with the Prime Minister, which usually takes place on Wednesdays at 6.30pm.” (Independent, 9/9/15)

She is also available to all Commonwealth leaders.

Prince Charles will inherit the same responsibilities, as will Prince William, then George, in turn.

In contrast to the US, where party politics has seriously damaged the unity of the country, the Queen brings people together in a non-political way.

Western democracies, in the main, have one of three distinctly different forms of democracy.

The US presidential system is one.

The “Westminster” (British system) is another.   This is just as democratic.   People elect their representatives to parliament.   The dominant party’s leader becomes the prime minister.   The Queen remains outside of politics, but contributes greatly to political stability and national unity.

The third option is a mix of the two, with a parliamentary form of government and a prime minister but, instead of a monarch, there is an appointed figurehead president, with similar powers to the British monarch.   The Germans, Italians and Irish have this form of government.   A serious weakness was shown with this system in 1934, when the German president died suddenly and the new Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, simply abolished the office and had himself proclaimed “Fuhrer.”   This could not happen in a constitutional monarchy – when the Queen dies, automatically Charles becomes King.

Although some people in Canada would like to see the tie with the Crown abolished when the Queen dies, Canadian John Fraser summed up their arguments this way:   “Queen Elizabeth has done a great job for Canada; therefore let’s make sure there is no monarchy when she dies.”  (“The Secret of the Crown,” John Fraser, 2012)   The reasoning really doesn’t make sense.

Fraser points out that Canada is one of the most successful countries in the world, thanks partly to its political system, which includes a major role for the Crown.   The country’s birth owes its origin to the Crown and the people’s allegiance to it. Even the current Liberal Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, is committed to maintaining the tie with the Crown – indeed, he invited William and Kate to Canada, along with their two children.   Next year, Prince Charles and his wife will be in Canada to join in celebrations for the 150th anniversary of confederation.

 

PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

Ethan and Evan on their 4th birthday
Ethan and Evan on their 4th birthday

I’ve been going through a box of old papers from my college days at Bricket Wood in England.   The box is over 40 years old.

In it was a letter from the first minister I knew well, a man called Vivian Bassett.   He was the Methodist minister who first influenced me when it comes to religion.   It must be 50 years since I last saw him. I’m sure he’s been dead for quite some time.

He was a really nice man, a good example of Christian love, compassion and mercy, three qualities that are rarely found even in ministers of religion.

He was also a great servant.   He visited all his parishioners twice a year on foot, even if they rarely attended church.  He didn’t scold them, but rather encouraged them and listened if they wanted to talk about their problems.

Before he left our church he was ministering to thirteen widely scattered congregations – and did so without a car!

Thinking about him reminded me of what Jesus Christ said in Matthew 20:

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.   And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 NKJV).

Vivian Bassett was not an ambitious man.  There wasn’t a political bone in his body.  He had no desire to head the Methodist Conference.  He simply wanted to serve the people at the pastoral level, which is what he did.

I remember his last service well.  There was standing room only in the church as people we rarely saw at church turned up to honor a highly respected and deeply loved man.

The new minister arrived a few days later after the Bassetts vacated the parsonage.  The new man was a highly academically qualified minister who knew his Bible better than most.   His name was Dr. Letch (we teens called him “Lurch” after a popular character in a hit TV show at the time) but knowing your Bible isn’t enough.  He did not have the same rapport with people that his predecessor had and did not come over as caring and compassionate, which are more important qualities in a minister representing Jesus Christ.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Jesus Christ.”  (Phil 2:5)

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The twins in Indianapolis, Ethan and Evan, are now four years old.

Their mother, our eldest daughter Alix, reported a few days ago that she had gone to the bathroom and found the floor covered with water. She asked the boys what they had been up to (a question she frequently asks!).

This time they proudly told her they had washed their own feet — in the toilet bowl — and “look how clean they are!”   Yes, being a mom is a mixture of Aawww and Eew . . .

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Meanwhile, their three-year-old cousin Leeson in Lansing has added a new word to his vocabulary.

That word is “Never!” as in “Never! Never! Never!” (or more accurately with a British accent “Nevah nevah nevah!), his typical response when asked to do anything.

At first, I didn’t think he knew what it meant, until I asked him if he wanted an ice cream and did NOT respond with “Never! Never! Never!”

He also knows how to tease with the three-word expression.   When I wanted to give him a hug before he left for school, he again responded with “Never! Never! Never!” but very quickly afterwards ran to me and gave me a big hug, loudly proclaiming that “I wove you, Gwampa!” (As the chief supplier of his drug of choice – ice cream – he can’t afford to upset me.)

But when it comes to following instructions, depending on his mood, we most often hear “Never! Never! Never!”

Jesus Christ told us to be like little children.   When I think of Leeson, I’m mindful of how his words should be our attitude to sin at all times: “Never! Never! Never!

Most Christians would likely agree with that.

But what about the words in Matthew 7:1-4?

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? For how can you say to your brother “let me remove the speck from your eye”; and look, a plank is in your own eye?”

When it comes to judging others for their sins, few Christians would exclaim:  “Never! Never! Never!”

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The BARNA Group that studies religious trends and attitudes in America illustrated this in 2013 when they published the results of a survey of thousands of conservative Christians.  They had been asked a series of questions to determine how much they were like Jesus Christ.

Only 14% had the mind of Christ.   51% of these conservative Christians were like the Pharisees.   They defined the Pharisees as people who judge others harshly for their sins while justifying their own.

That’s 51% of conservative Christians!

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Yes, Leeson and his brother have started school. Leeson, aged 3, is in the Head Start program that lasts three hours each morning, Monday through Thursday.   His brother Aubren, ten months older, is in the Great Start program that is seven hours a day.   Both are thriving in their new school setting.

The first few days were difficult, especially for their mother and, perhaps more so, for their grandparents.   There was lots of crying, weeping and wailing – and that was just from Grandpa!

My wife and I were about to look for a Grandparenting Support Group to help us get through the emotional trauma of taking our grandchildren to school.

Fortunately, we found a support group of sorts, in a Quality Dairy we stopped at.   It had a really good display, a “group” of fresh donuts!

Comfort food – that’s exactly what you need after dropping off two young children at a new school.   I don’t think we are going to need any other support group – we have about a dozen donut shops en route back from the school.

 

 

RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE – IT’S ALL ABOUT RACE!

Anti-refugee demonstrations in Cologne, Germany.
Anti-refugee demonstrations in Cologne, Germany.

An anti-police riot, Islamic terror attacks and a massive increase in the numbers of immigrants all add to America’s growing racial strains.  In spite of all this, the Establishment continues its rapid push for a dramatic increase in the numbers of non-whites and the end of conservative white America.

The terror attacks at the weekend did not result in any fatalities but were an unpleasant experience for people in three states.   More will certainly come.   The result will likely be a swing to the right politically.

Bret Stephens, a former editor of the Jerusalem Post, who now writes a weekly column for the Wall Street Journal, observed this week that “as terrorist attacks become more common, tolerance for liberal pieties will wane.”

England was the first country to react with the anti-foreigner Brexit vote; Germany has voted in three regional elections in the last few weeks, each time rejecting the liberal immigration policy of Chancellor Angela Merkel; now the US is set to vote.   It will be a close election, but Donald Trump has the advantage when it comes to security.   Neither Mrs. Clinton nor President Obama can utter the words “radical Islam” and, following three terror attacks at the weekend, both are calling for more Muslim immigration.

In Germany, the AfD (Alternative for Deutschland Party), with an anti-immigrant program, gained the most in regional elections.   Some are saying that this is reminiscent of the 1930’s, that the AfD is composed of neo-Nazis.   Note the following from the London Daily Mail:

“Are the anti-immigration AfD exactly the same as the Nazis?   No, of course not.   And it would be a mistake to write off all their voters as racists or extremists.

Many of them are ordinary, working-class Germans, alarmed by the influx of so many newcomers and by the reports of sexual assaults in cities such as Munich and Cologne.   In that respect, they are not so different from the 3.8 million people who voted for UKIP in our last general election.

Well, up to a point.  For what’s truly disturbing is that AfD officials tried to book a rally in Munich’s Hofbräukeller, the beer hall where Hitler gave his first speech as a member of the Nazi Party in October 1919.

And they have also tried to revive the word ‘volkisch’ — conjuring up folksy images of the country’s home-grown culture — which the Nazis used to set Germans apart from their supposed racial inferiors.”  (Dominic Sandbrook).

Clearly, the current invasion is having a dramatic effect on domestic politics.

In the Muslim world, most people believe the West is at war with Islam.   Long memories of the Crusades, when western Christendom was at war with Islam for two centuries, continue to drive national direction – Israel is “the crusader state,” the modern equivalent of the medieval Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem established by the Crusaders in the eleventh century.

The Muslims are not the only ones driven by history.   Central Europeans are mostly against taking in refugees.   They remember that Islamists got to the gates of Vienna as recently as 1683.   The Siege of Vienna took place on September 11th of that year, resulting in the defeat of the Muslims by the next day.   It was the end of another push for the destruction of Christianity by Islam.   It’s interesting to note that the re-emergence of extremist Sunni Islam appeared on the same date, September 11th, 2001.   A message was clearly being sent:  “we’re back – and this time we will defeat you.” Their goal is the destruction of the West.

And how does the West react?   With compromise.  “Let’s bring them all to America and they will change!!!”  The naivety is sometimes astounding, but it shows just how deeply entrenched is the ideal of multiculturalism.   Here’s a few lines from Bloomberg News in an editorial from today’s Lansing State Journal:  “Refugees go to the considerable strain of moving to the US because they seek opportunities to work hard and improve their lives.   Thus, they can be a boon to their new communities – creating jobs, stabilizing shrinking school districts, revitalizing blighted neighborhoods, and helping communities thrive”.   Think about the stabilization of shrinking school districts – with a higher birthrate, Islam would soon be the dominant religion in many of our schools.

These statements are at variance with former Muslim writer, Salman Rushdie who addressed an audience in New York on C-Span.   He pointed out that when a Muslim moves from the Middle East to Detroit, he is NOT looking to better himself and take advantage of the American way of life.   Rather, he sees himself as part of the advance guard to spread Islam to America.”   On a television news program yesterday, Muslims in the Minneapolis area (mostly Somalis) were stopped and asked if they liked the US or would prefer to live in a Muslim country.   Every single one said they would prefer to live in a Muslim country.

The Bloomberg article ended with this message of compromise:  “On the other hand, consider the costs of denying entry to any more Syrian refugees.  It would feed Islamic State’s narrative that the US is anti-Muslim, and weaken America’s global leadership.”

In other words, we must just lie down and play dead.   Let the invasion continue!

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There are enough racial problems at home, without inviting more into the country.   A few nights of rioting in Charlotte, North Carolina, started with the death of another African-American male at the hands of the police.   Hardly mentioned by the liberal US media was the fact that the shooter was a black police office.   The BBC, to its shame, did not mention it, for over 24 hours.

High rates of unemployment amongst African-Americans deserve a mention in the context of the ratcheted up rate of immigration by refugees – the Syrians will be helped to find jobs by government agencies, at the expense of mostly black Americans and Hispanics. Clearly, Democrats feel secure with their non-white base, even as they make life harder for them!

President Obama has also shown his “racist” side by badgering blacks to vote for Hillary, claiming he will feel personally insulted if they vote for Trump.   This reminds me of one of the he worst aspects of African politics, when a tribal chief tells everybody in the tribe who to vote for – it makes democracy impossible.

The race to end white America, traditional America, is speeding up. Soon whites will be a minority, which is what Senator Edward Kennedy had in mind back in 1965 when he sponsored a new Immigration bill.   At the time he promised that it would not change the demographics in the country.

Today, Friday, it has been revealed that the Obama Administration has instructed the FBI to rush through approval for citizenship for those entering the country from sensitive (i.e. Middle Eastern) areas. This will give the Democrats more votes and is a clear sign that politics comes before what’s best for the country.   A further 110,000 refugees from the Middle east will start arriving October 1st.    Already 85,000 have arrived this fiscal year (USA Today 9/15).

Perhaps Mr. Obama is feeling guilty.   Having badly let down Syria, he now wants to give a home to many Syrians as possible, even though some are likely to be terrorists.  ISIS has said more than once that it is sending its soldiers to Europe and America alongside the refugees.

There is clearly no true security in this world when our leaders make some irrational decisions.

It’s not surprising that I’ve received an invitation from the local police to attend a “Safety and Security” seminar for area churches. With an influx of people from the Middle East where attacks on churches have been routine, plus the additional factor of homegrown terrorists, churches need to boost security.

Christians should not lose heart faced with these growing threats. Rather, we should be encouraged by the words of the Apostle Paul:

and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:7).

 

"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened." — Sir Winston Churchill