Tag Archives: Michigan

A VERY BRITISH REVOLUTION

Sun headlines BREXIT

“See EU Later!” – front page headline in The Sun.

“No one was hurt. But still a revolution that will lead to profound change.” (BBC Assistant Political Editor, Norman Smith).

The most important election this year has already taken place.  No, I haven’t forgotten the one in November that has still to take place here in the United States.   Nor am I overlooking the election in Australia next week.

The referendum in the United Kingdom on membership of the European Union was a once in a lifetime vote that will actually lead to significant change, something that normally doesn’t follow a general election.

The British people voted yesterday to leave the European Union.  Or, rather, 52% of those who voted, opted to “Leave;” 48% voted to “Remain.” Even that does not reveal the whole story – London and Scotland voted to “Remain.” The English voted overwhelmingly to leave. London, a city which, at best, is only 50% ethnic English, voted to remain.

The pace of change that is taking place right now is staggering.   Britain is OUT; so is David Cameron, who resigned this morning; it’s only a year since he led the Conservative Party to a surprise win in the last election.  It’s less than two years since the Union with Scotland was secured in the Scottish referendum.  Scotland voted yesterday to stay in the EU.  The First Minister of Scotland is now insisting that Scots be given another opportunity to vote on leaving the UK.  What a change in just a few months!

Even the Leader of the Opposition Labor Party may choose to resign – while he supported continued membership of the EU, the party’s supporters did not.

London’s first Muslim Mayor is even talking of the capital city somehow maintaining a special relationship with Europe.

The prospect of the United Kingdom breaking up is a serious one.  Only England (outside of London) and Wales voted to “Leave.”   Even Gibraltar, the first British territory to vote, voted overwhelmingly to “Remain” – the Spanish Prime Minister, seizing an opportunity, is now calling for joint British and Spanish control of the peninsula.

Meanwhile, there is turmoil on the international financial markets, which will likely continue until some sort of an agreement is reached between the UK and EU, reassuring markets.

It’s a big mess all round!

POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES

  1. Changes could come to the EU.  Other nations may withdraw, forcing change on those that remain.   Financially, the European Union received a lot of money from the UK. This spigot will be cut off.  To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, the EU has finally run out of other peoples’ money!
  2. The future of the European Union itself is also uncertain.   One thing is absolutely clear – the bureaucrats who control the Union are out of touch with the common people.   Demands from the people of other countries for their own referendum will increase.   Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, is calling for a quick resolution of uncertainty, hoping to stop any contagion.   Anti-Establishment revolutions, even non-violent ones, have a habit of spreading from one country to another – 1989 is a recent example; 1918 and 1848 are two others.
  3. Scotland is more likely to leave the United Kingdom, taking England and Wales back to the seventeenth century.  Northern Ireland’s future is also uncertain.
  4. Germany will emerge from this as a more powerful force in Europe. This was one concern some British people had. Ironically, by voting to leave, they will have helped strengthen Germany as the dominant power in Europe. As the EU progresses, fulfilling its goal of an “ever closer union”, it will inevitably mean a greater role for Berlin.
  5. The referendum was an anti-Establishment vote.  For 43 years the British people have lived under the growing authority of the bureaucratic socialist super-state that is the EU, having to comply with thousands of dictates they did not want.  Some people have done very well out of the EU.  Prominent Brits have jumped aboard the European gravy train and done very well out of it, with high salaries and an even higher expense account.  There has been little or no accountability.
  6. The vote was a vote against globalization.   The driving force in western thinking, since World War II, has been globalization. Multiculturalism, free trade deals, massive numbers of immigrants, have all profoundly changed the western world; yesterday’s vote was the first big sign that the people are hitting back. Half the people (actually a little over half) feel that they are missing out and don’t like the way things are going. That’s true in other countries as well as the UK.
  7. Migration was a major issue.   People don’t like the sheer numbers of Syrians, Iraqis, Poles, Bulgarians, Rumanians, Pakistanis, etc that now live in Britain.   The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim whose family migrated from Pakistan, sensing this significant change in national thinking, campaigned against a Brexit and now wants London to continue an association with Europe.

In this context, it’s interesting to note the prophet Daniel’s observation about the interracial condition of the ancient Roman Empire and of its modern-day successor founded by the Treaty of Rome:

“42 And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. 43 As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.” (Daniel 2:42-43).   Whereas America was a melting pot, the European Union was a union of 28 different nations and cultures, each with its own languages and customs.   Mixing was never going to be as successful as in the United States.

  1. Yesterday’s vote could start a populist movement – even the US may follow in November.   Presidential candidate Donald Trump, on a private visit to Scotland, said this morning that Brexit is a good thing: “the British have gotten their country back.”   Brexiters have a lot in common with Trump, who may capture the mood of Americans in the same way. Hillary Clinton supported the “Remain’ campaign but was out of touch with the people.  (There was no reason for her to get involved in the first place.)   President Obama warned on a recent visit to the UK that if the country left the EU it would go to the “back of the queue” (a British term) to wait for a new trade deal with the US.   Trump today said that will not happen if he becomes president, that the UK has been a close ally of the US for decades and deserves better than that.

Note the following comment on Twitter from Michael Moore, leftist documentary filmmaker who lives in Flint, Michigan:   “Hail Trumptannia!   Fear wins out in UK.   Britain votes to “build a ‘wall’” by leaving EU.  Hatred of immigrants, xenophobia, nationalism reign.  Fellow Americans – we’re up next!”  This is a typical comment from the not-so-intellectual elite, who insult the voters when they lose!  Expect more of the same from the EU as well as the US.

  1. However, financial concerns are justified.  The pound dropped 10% in hours, even before the final tally was realized (trading continued in the Far East due to the time difference) and stock markets are in freefall.  But this was to be expected.   It should soon calm down.   The Emperor Napoleon once dismissed the English as “a nation of shopkeepers”, a quote from Adam Smith in “The Wealth of Nations.”   But this will only help Britain – Germany sells 20% of its cars to the UK, they will not want to lose that market.
  2. The vote for Brexit will have an international effect as well as a domestic one.   Relations between the EU and Russia may change.  The Mayor of Moscow today said that without Britain, the EU will be less likely to continue economic sanctions on the country.

Today we are witnessing a seismic shift in world history.   We don’t see those every day. What we are seeing is England waking up to the consequences of globalism.   Others will follow.   But, the world has changed in the last 43 years.   Whereas the UK was a constant in the pre-EU world, it no longer is.   The EU offers Scotland and Ireland a viable alternative.   The Brexit could mean the end of the United Kingdom.  British historian Paul Johnson wrote in his 1972 book “The Offshore Islanders,” written between Britain’s application to join Europe and its actual membership, that disunity has always been fatal to the offshore islanders (the British).   The country has not been this divided in centuries and will likely see further division ahead.

Europe has already meant the end of David Cameron, who joins his two Conservative predecessors, John Major and Margaret Thatcher, in being brought down by divisions over Europe.   Whoever replaces him as prime minister will have to try and unite the party and the country at a very difficult time in history.

At the same time, there is going to be a lot of lingering bad feelings, in both British major parties and between the UK and the rest of Europe.  Mr. Juncker has just announced an emergency meeting of the other 27 leaders of the EU, to take place on Wednesday. We will soon see what the EU has in mind for a Europe without the UK.

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RHODES ON ROADS

Leeson
Leeson, 3, playing in the driveway.

I was sitting on the front porch yesterday evening, watching our 3-year-old grandson, Leeson, digging in the dirt that constitutes our circular drive way.   He had his back to me and happily played for over two hours.   I think he was enjoying some alone time as his 4-year-old brother, Aubren, had gone to play golf with his dad.   His younger brother no longer likes golf after falling off the golf cart (it was parked) and getting a couple stitches over his eye.   And Grandpa hasn’t liked golf since making a fool of himself the last time he played!  It was so bad, the city closed down the golf course soon afterwards, though this may have been a coincidence.

Back to the driveway.   I couldn’t see exactly what he was doing, but when he finally came in to the house to eat his dinner (or, rather, not eat it) I walked over to where he was playing and looked at his handiwork.

What Leeson had done was dig his own little pothole.

Clearly influenced by driving on Michigan’s roads, where potholes are ubiquitous, this future citizen is growing up thinking this is the norm.   I’m going to have to tell him, when he is old enough to understand, that once upon a time there were no potholes in Michigan.  In fact, when Grandpa and Grandma left Ghana for the United States in 1990, they naively thought that potholes were a thing of the past!

We never expected that, 25 years later, Michigan would be worse than Ghana for potholes.

Presumably, the United States has the technology to fix the roads, so that can’t be the problem.   A recent letter to our local newspaper was written by a man who had driven from Florida to Michigan, driving through a number of states, and remarked on how the roads deteriorated as soon as he crossed the state line from Ohio into Michigan.   He rather unkindly wrote that he didn’t need a sign to tell him he had reached Michigan – the state of the roads was enough to say where he was.

It’s been like this for a while, two or thee years.   Nothing is ever done about it.   For all the roadworks that seem to take place here, there are still potholes galore.

Perhaps all our taxes are going to Flint to improve the water quality before the entire population dies from lead poisoning.   I doubt it. Infrastructure does not appear to be a priority.

The question is: where are our taxes going?

We pay road taxes in different ways – our gas is amongst the most expensive in the United States.   Before we cross back into Michigan from Indiana, where our daughter and family live, we fill up our gas tank to save money.  If we smoked, we’d buy our cigarettes there, too; and if I drank a lot, I’d buy my beer there as there’s no deposits on bottles or cans.

An attempt was made last year to raise the sales tax (on everything except food) from 6-7%, but was rejected by the voters. Quite simply, the people did not trust their government to actually use the money to fix the roads. The 6% should be enough, together with a high tax on gas and car registration fees. Again, where’s all the money going?

Michigan taxpayers had to bail out the city of Detroit to the tune of $191 million, following years of corrupt administration in the city, where officials pocketed a great deal of the local tax revenue.   More recently, Michigan taxpayers have had to bail out the city of Flint to rectify its water situation.   Again, the problem was caused by the local city council.   The inevitable lawsuits will themselves run into millions, every dollar of which could be used to fix the roads.

Meanwhile, voters are forking out thousands each year on car repairs, made essential by the state of the roads.   At least the body shops are doing well!

It’s time the Legislature made a determined effort to solve this problem.   It might be more of a priority for the Governor if he didn’t fly around in a helicopter – from his perspective, the roads look fine!

To be fair, there is only one pothole in my drive.  I suspect, however, that Leeson will be out there again today digging up more of our own little road, until there are a dozen potholes in the drive, making it a more authentic stretch of Michigan road!

Perhaps, 15 years from now, when he graduates from High School, Leeson can work for the Transportation Department and help fix the roads.   I’m convinced those potholes will still be there.

JUST ONE FRONT PAGE

 

Sunday Telegraph 5:8:2016

A British quality Sunday newspaper is a joy to behold.  Only three are left, now that The Independent on Sunday has folded.  The three are the Sunday Times, the Observer and the Sunday Telegraph.  Friends brought me a copy of the latter, a conservative paper, when they arrived in the US from England a few days ago.   I am very grateful for the paper, even though it’s a few days old.

In actual fact, it’s now eight day old, but still very relevant.

On the front page are two articles that reveal a great deal about Britain today.

The lead article, “Migration pressure on schools revealed,” by Tim Ross, highlights the reality of an extra 700,000 foreign language pupils in British public (state) schools.   (Multiply that by five to get the US equivalent.)   Additional funds are needed when pupils speak multiple languages.   The cost to the UK taxpayer will run into the multiple millions.

The immigrants profiled in the article are from other EU countries. They do not include the latest refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, nor do they include Indians and Africans who have been entering the UK for decades.   Free movement of peoples within the European Union, including the United Kingdom, has led to this situation.  It may be a decisive factor in June’s referendum, when the British people get the opportunity to vote on remaining or leaving the Union.

A second front-page article bears the headline “Terror suspects win human rights battle” by Robert Verkaik and Robert Mendick.  The first two paragraphs read:   “Six Algerian terror suspects with links to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda are to be allowed to stay in Britain after the Home Secretary admitted defeat in a 10-year legal battle to deport them.  The move follows a challenge under the Human Rights Act which found that the men were at risk of torture if they were deported to Algeria.”   No doubt these men, linked to terror, will be entitled to receive state benefits in the UK.  This means that their terrorist activities will be financed by the British taxpayer.   The taxpayer has already had to pay out for ten years of legal fees to cover both sides in the dispute.

After finishing the paper yesterday (Sunday) I read the Lansing State Journal.   A front page article informed readers that Michigan is about to see a “surge” of Syrian refugees.   Again, the taxpayer will have to foot the bill, pushing much-needed road repair further down the list of priorities.   Additionally, there is also the prospect of future terrorist acts.

Is anyone in government sane???

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TRUMP vs CAMERON

Staying in the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron described Donald Trump’s attitude to Muslim immigration as “stupid, divisive and wrong.”  This does not bode well for the Atlantic alliance or the Special Relationship that has existed between Britain and America since FDR and Churchill.  Mr. Trump said earlier today that he does not think he and Mr. Cameron will have a very good relationship should he enter the White House.

Considering the terrorist acts that have been perpetrated against the West by Islamic terrorists, we should also ask who is really “stupid” here?   I wonder why leaders throughout the Western world seem so determined to encourage the Islamization of their countries?   As Donald Trump put it today:   “It sounds like he (Mr. Cameron) is not willing to address the problem either.”

The Islamic presence, fairly recent in the context of US and British history, has itself led to division.   A further comment from the BBC’s website followed:

“He (Trump) is also involved in a spat with new London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The US presidential contender said he would not forgive Mr. Khan for calling him “ignorant” – and challenged the Mayor to take part in an IQ test, an offer mocked by Mr. Khan’s team.”

Further division no doubt lies ahead.

Mr. Trump is also calling on Muslims “to turn people in.”   In a television interview shown on British television’s ITV (not the BBC) the presumptive Republican nominee said he is not anti-Muslim, but rather anti-terror. He called on practicing Muslims to cooperate with the police in their fight against Islamic terror.

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EU FACES ‘POPULIST UPRISING’

Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of Britain’s intelligence service, MI6, warned today of the consequences to Europe if the continent does not get on top of the migrant crisis.   “If Europe cannot act together to persuade the majority of its citizens that it can gain control of the migratory crisis, then the EU will find itself at the mercy of a populist uprising which is already stirring.   The stakes are very high and the UK referendum is the first roll of the dice in a bigger, geopolitical game.”

“Sir Richard also warned against offering visa-free travel to Turkish nationals, describing the move as like storing gasoline near a fire.” (BBC News website.)

 

 

INDIANA’S CRUCIAL VOTE

Mike Pence, Indiana Governor, endorses Cruz
Mike Pence, Indiana Governor, endorses Cruz

Our eldest daughter, husband and children live in Indianapolis, about a 4-hour drive away from us.   We go down there as often as we can to see them, but we always wish we could see more of them.

Diane, my wife, is down there now to help look after the four children while our daughter recuperates from routine surgery.  I stayed behind as our youngest daughter is about to have her third child.

That will make a total of nine grandchildren.  Two of them live with us.  Soon that will be three.   All boys.   All full of life, with lots of energy.   They can be a lot of fun.   I often wish we’d had grandchildren first!

Our frequent visits to Indiana have impressed us.   The state is more conservative than Michigan.   It has a positive, upbeat feel about it, while Michigan can sometimes be a bit depressing – the economy has struggled for as long as we’ve been here and the weather doesn’t help!

Tuesday will be a big day in Indiana, which is holding a crucial primary.

Friends in Indiana have been saying that Ted Cruz will win the Republican primary as he’s the most conservative candidate and, besides, Donald Trump is crazy and unpredictable.  The popular Governor of the state came out and endorsed Cruz last week, even though he has a lot of respect for Trump.

But the latest opinion poll shows that Trump is winning the Republican primary in the state.   He’s winning by 15%.   Mrs. Clinton is winning the Democratic primary, but only by 4%.   Donald Trump is confounding everybody.   Why is he so popular?   Although he does hold some conservative views, Ted Cruz is definitely more conservative, so why does Trump appeal to so many Republicans?

It seems to come down to two issues and an additional third factor.

The first issue is the economy.   Although there are pockets around the country that are doing well, many Americans do not feel that it is.  They blame trade deals with other countries for taking away the good paying jobs; they also blame government.   The federal government seems to take more and more of the national pie, paying employees well and giving them annual increases.   This is not the reality for people in the private sector, who are paying for it all.

Donald Trump has become the national spokesman for blue-collar workers, many of them going under in this economy.   A cover story in the latest Atlantic Monthly magazine is about America’s secret shame, that almost 50% of families cannot put $400 together in an emergency.   That means they cannot fix the car or get urgent medical treatment for one of their children.

It’s ironic but the Republican Party of Donald Trump is the party of the working-class; whereas the Democratic Party of Hillary Clinton is the party of the intellectual elite.

Whereas Bernie Sanders received donations that averaged $27, Mrs. Clinton held fundraisers where those in attendance had to donate a minimum of $33,000.

The political system has been turned upside down.

If the party conventions nominate Trump and Clinton, polls suggest the latter will win by 10% and become the first woman in the White House.

That brings us to the second issue – immigration.   Tied in with that is terrorism.   The two are often linked in people’s minds.

Donald Trump said what many think, questioning further immigration from the Muslim world until we see clearly what’s going on.

He’s also proposing a wall to keep Mexicans out.

Mrs. Clinton takes the opposite view on immigration.   That overlooks the fact that poorer people, blue-collar workers, have to compete for jobs with many of the immigrants.   It’s an example of how out of touch many politicians are.

Which brings us to the third factor.   Trump is not a professional politician like his opponents, in both the Republican and Democratic parties.

People don’t trust professional politicians.  They have been seeing a progressive decline in their standard of living and no longer feel secure thanks to five decades of myopic immigration law.

They have had enough.

Tuesday’s vote in Indiana will be a good indicator of what the future will bring.

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The same can be said for Thursday’s mayoral election in London, 4000 miles away.

A Muslim is expected to win.

This will make London the first major western capital to be led by a Muslim.

Again, it’s an indicator of what the future is going to bring!

WHO WILL MAKE THE BEST PRESIDENT?

Bernie Sanders

A bearded stranger came to the door this evening, a young man who turned out to be campaigning for Bernie Sanders. Michigan has a primary tomorrow, Tuesday. This is an opportunity for both Republicans and Democrats to choose the person they would most like to be their parties’ nominees for the presidency in the general election, still eight months away.

In a brief conversation on our porch, I asked the campaigner why he was supporting Mr. Sanders.   He answered truthfully and I listened. He said there is no hope in the present situation. Millions of young people like him are struggling financially, saddled with enormous student debt but finding it difficult to get a job. Additionally, they are bearing the brunt of Obamacare.  Only “democratic socialism” can solve the problem.

I asked him what he meant by “democratic socialism.”  He replied that’s where the people control their government.  I said that’s what a republic is supposed to be.  He responded by saying that the present system (a republic) has led to 1% taking everything, leaving 99% with nothing.

I told him that I do have a certain level of respect for Mr. Sanders but that I cannot vote for him.  I respect him because he is fighting to win the Democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton, who has the advantage of great personal wealth (the Clintons’ combined income in 2014 was $30 million, placing her firmly in the 1%) and the financial support of Wall Street.   She also has most of the media behind her.   Although her husband seems bewildered when she is described as part of the Establishment, she truly is a member of the “ruling class.” The Clintons have done well out of the system and want to preserve the status quo. They do not want change.

Bernie started out with little hope of being nominated but has led a very successful campaign against his opponent.   He has a great deal of support from young people, including our young visitor.

But, I added, I could not vote for Mr. Sanders because I’ve been there before.

I’ve experienced the democratic socialism that has been embraced by European countries. High taxation is needed to pay for all the “freebies,” the benefits that most people want. The result is that hard work is often penalized and, now, millions of migrants are attracted by all those benefits, resulting in a veritable invasion of their countries.

He asked me if I would be voting tomorrow.  I said I didn’t think so.  I’m not happy with any of the candidates, but I find the election fascinating.

What I can say is that I DO understand those who support both Mr. Sanders and Donald Trump.  These are both anti-Establishment candidates.

Conservative columnist Monica Crowley said on television, commenting on the primary results coming in on Saturday evening: “a major theme of this whole campaign is rejectionism . . . rejecting decades of the ruling class, the Establishment”  — “they have disappointed and betrayed this voting base for decades on end . . . ”

Others have described what is happening this year as a “revolution” without the bullets.   Donald Trump may be causing panic among Establishment figures, the “ruling class” that Monica Crowley talked about, but at least his supporters are still willing to aim for change through the ballot box.

If the desire for change is thwarted, then there could be trouble.

Consider the following observed by Sean Hannity on his program on February 29th:

“95 million Americans are out of the labor force

“50 million live in poverty

“46 million are on food stamps” (actually, 47 million is the usual figure quoted).

Additionally, it was revealed the following day that 51% of Americans are now earning less than $30,000 per annum.

These are reasons why people are so frustrated and turning to anti-Establishment figures like Trump and Sanders.   Clinton and Rubio are Establishment figures, wanting more of the same.   Ted Cruz is somewhere in-between. John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, seems an honest and decent man, often described as “the only adult in the room,” but, again, representing an Establishment that has been in power for fifty years. It’s time for a change.

The problem is that nobody can deliver what people want.

The challenges are daunting –

A falling standard of living;

Government spending out of control;

Uncontrolled immigration that’s threatening the American way of life;   (conservative commentator Tucker Carlson described this as the top concern on “Fox and Friends” on Sunday morning);

Terrorism;

Domestic violence.

The same problems afflict other western nations.

These are the end result of five decades of leftist-liberal thinking.

A reaction is coming, either peacefully at the ballot box, or through other means.

It might not be pleasant.

Jesus Christ said that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Christians should not be naïve, thinking that any presidential candidate can make all the changes needed.   Rather, we should remember the admonition He gave us to pray fervently “Thy Kingdom Come” (Matthew 6:10).

 

 

BORIS JOHNSON MAKES BREXIT MORE LIKELY

Boris Johnson

Donald Trump has a new rival, a fellow New Yorker no less.  Like Mr. Trump, the newcomer is causing just as much turmoil in political circles. He can even rival The Donald with his famous hair.

Boris Johnson (born 19 June, 1964, in New York) is a British politician, popular historian and journalist who has served as Mayor of London since 2008 and as Member of Parliament (MP) for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015.  Mr. Johnson is a popular figure in British politics.

Mr. Johnson attended the same exclusive private school that Prime Minister David Cameron attended.  Later they both attended Oxford University at the same time.  They are two members of Britain’s elite and have been best friends for decades.  That could change now.

While Mr. Cameron is fighting to keep Britain in the European Union (EU), Boris Johnson on Sunday declared himself opposed.  Mr. Johnson will support the “Leave” campaign.  He is in favor of a Brexit, a British exit from the organization.

As the Wall Street Journal put it:  “Mr. Johnson is the most prominent politician to break with the prime minister ahead of the June 23 referendum.”

It should be noted that if the vote goes against Mr. Cameron, he will likely face a “No Confidence” vote in parliament.  If he loses, Mr. Johnson could be his replacement as prime minister.  Unlike Americans, the Brits don’t have laws precluding those born overseas from holding office.  Besides, Mr. Johnson’s parents were both upper middle class English.   Mr. Johnson recently wrote a biography of fellow Conservative Winston Churchill, a predecessor who also had definite American connections.   (His book, “The Churchill Factor” is well worth reading.)

If this sounds awfully like the 1930’s all over again, there are definite similarities, though nobody is threatening violence this time, not right now anyway.

The pro-European faction in parliament is led by Mr. Cameron.  He returned from Brussels late on Friday, promising the equivalent of Neville Chamberlain’s “peace in our time.”   The prime minister announced that agreement had been reached with EU leaders that will serve Britain well.  Consequently, Mr. Cameron will recommend Britain remain a member of the European club.

It came as a surprise on Sunday when Boris Johnson came out publicly against continued membership.  Like Mr. Churchill in 1938 he is concerned to protect Britain’s sovereignty in light of European developments toward a trans-national super-state.  This time it’s not Berlin that concerns him so much as Brussels, the capital of the EU.   But Berlin is a factor as the European project is dominated by Germany.

The European Union began with the 1957 Treaty of Rome, which pledges member countries to form “an ever closer union.”   This does not mean a United States of Europe along USA lines. This could never happen, as the dynamics are very different.   What is far more likely to emerge is something akin to the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted for a thousand years until it was broken up by Napoleon in 1806.

Dictionary.com defines the Holy Roman Empire as follows:

“a Germanic empire located chiefly in central Europe that began with the coronation of Charlemagne as Roman emperor in AD 800 . . . and ended with the renunciation of the Roman imperial title by Francis II in 1806, and was regarded theoretically as the continuation of the Western Empire and as the temporal form of a universal dominion whose spiritual head was the pope.”

The EU has been working toward something similar since its inception almost six decades ago.   It’s already the world’s biggest single market and trading power.   The common currency called the euro rivals the US dollar as a global currency.     Politically it’s more united than ever and there is some progress toward a European military.

For Britain, all this is bad news.  Not even the pro-EU politicians want the UK to be a part of a European super-state.  They want to keep their independence or, rather, what’s left of it.  They want to stay out of the euro and do not want to go any further toward an “ever closer union” or join a European military force.  Mr. Cameron received assurances from the other 27 members of the EU that Britain can stay out of all three.  He was also given some relief on the financial costs to British tax-payers having to pay benefits to EU migrants from the East, but only for seven years.

But anti-EU politicians and members of the public are still insecure about the future.

It’s not surprising really when you consider Britain’s history.  For centuries Britain looked beyond the seas to its colonies and, later, the Commonwealth and the United States, remaining outside of Europe, only getting involved when threatened by a Napoleon, the Kaiser or Hitler.

In 1962, former US Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, observed that: “Britain has lost an empire and not yet found a role.” In the same year, US President John Kennedy expressed his support for Britain joining what was then called the Common Market.  Canada’s Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, was very much against Britain joining, expressing his concern that it could mean the end of the Commonwealth of which Canada was a founding member.

America wanted Britain “in” so as to have a reliable pro-American voice in the European club.  The US also wanted free trade to boost American exports to Europe.

If the United Kingdom votes to leave the EU, there will likely be far greater repercussions than can presently be seen.  These will not just be economic.  44% of Britain’s exports go to other EU nations – a “no” vote could jeopardize these exports as tariffs exist on imports from non-member countries.

Other repercussions could include the following:

  1. The EU could be less co-operative with the USA.
  1. A British exit from the EU could encourage a Scottish exit from the UK, as it seems most Scots want to stay in the EU.
  1. Ireland would be negatively affected, with 40% of its imports coming from the UK and 17% of its exports going to Britain.
  1. Germany will become more dominant.  Only Britain and France are big enough right now to restrain the central European giant.  Take away Britain and it’s down to France.   France’s priority right now is Islamic terrorism. Germany will be able to go full steam ahead toward its dream of a revived European empire, already referred to by some as the Fourth Reich.  The Holy Roman Empire was the first reich (or empire), that lasted a thousand years; the Kaisers were the second reich; Hitler promised his Third Reich would last a thousand years like the first one, but it only lasted twelve.
  1. There will be a lot of bad feeling if Britain leaves.  Other EU members will not be inclined to bend over backwards to help the Brits through a difficult transition period.   Concessions on trade will be unlikely.  It could also end shared security arrangements at a time when there are increased security risks with Islamic militancy.
  1. International companies operating in Britain could move to other countries.  Many companies have based themselves in the UK to gain advantage in selling goods to other EU countries.  Faced with high tariffs to keep out non-EU goods, they are likely to move elsewhere, leaving greater unemployment in their wake.
  1. There is also a possibility that some other EU members may follow Britain out the door.   Whereas countries at the center of Europe have a long history of strong government from the center, those on the northern periphery have not.  Although some may sympathize with the British position, they may decide it’s not economically feasible to leave as trade with Germany and other nations is too great.

Some of the southern members may also opt to leave so that they can print their own money and boost employment.

Bible prophecy shows that a revived European super-state will include ten nations.

“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.” (Revelation 17:12-13)

However, this does not rule out the possibility of other countries being closely tied to the ten.  This would be very similar to the Holy Roman Empire where some territories were ruled directly from the center, but others were more loosely attached.

Additionally, dozens of countries around the world are tied to the EU through the Lomé Convention, named after the capital of Togo.  The agreement came into being a couple of years after Britain joined the EU.  It tied British former colonies to the European trading system, along with French, Belgian and Portuguese.  The EU is by far the leading world trading power.

It’s surprising then that there’s little interest in the outcome of the British referendum in the American media.  Any mention of the European Union solicits a big yawn.  But the reality is that Boris Johnson may out-Trump Donald Trump in the upheaval he may cause across the pond!

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TRAGEDY IN KALAMAZOO

Kalamazoo is a big city that’s only an hour’s drive from where we live.  Saturday night it fell victim to the latest American mass shooting, when a 45-year-old Uber driver shot dead six people and seriously injured two others.  In between killing people, he picked up and drove passengers to their destinations.

The lack of motive is disturbing.  So is the following paragraph from the BBC’s website:

“One of the seriously injured, a 14-year-old girl, was believed to have been dead for more than an hour when she squeezed her mother’s hand as doctors were preparing to harvest her organs, police officer Dale Hinz told Michigan Live.”

 

 

IS THIS TO BE THE FATE OF THE WESTERN WORLD?

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Michigan winters can be depressing, a real downer.   Add to that, the state of the world as 2016 begins and it’s amazing anyone can function.

A cartoon in yesterday’s paper showed half a dozen people nervously peeking into a dark room labeled “2016” – clearly, nobody wanted to go in.

Who knows what the year will bring?

Adding to my sense of foreboding has been a couple of books I’ve been reading.   Perhaps I should stop reading!   Then I could stop thinking and become like lots of other people.   It’s difficult, though, to watch hours of mindless drivel on television or at movie theaters when there are so many good books to read.

The books I’ve been reading are “The End of Byzantium” by Jonathan Harris  and “Isabella” by Kirstin Downey.   The latter is about the famous queen of Spain, but includes a long section on the fall of Byzantium and what followed.

Byzantium was the name of the Eastern Roman Empire, founded by Constantine the Great in the fourth century.   It survived the fall of the (western) Roman Empire by a thousand years.   Byzantium was the greatest power in Christendom during that period. Constantinople, its capital, was known as “the Queen of Cities.”

Yet it fell.

It fell to the Muslim Turks in 1453.   It’s fall was as dramatic and interesting as the fall of Babylon to Persia in 539 BC.   The consequences for both were dramatic.

Residents of both had considered their capitals impregnable.   Most Americans and Britons today would describe their own countries similarly.   After all, they have nuclear weapons.   The US has the greatest military on earth.

But, as the falls of Babylon and Constantinople show, it doesn’t mean a thing!  And, just as the “handwriting was on the wall” for Babylon (Daniel 5), so it is today for the West.

I went to see my primary doctor recently, shortly after San Bernardino.   He couldn’t understand why so many people brought up in the United States could become “radicalized.”   I know that Britons, Australians, Canadians and people in other western countries don’t understand this, either.

An article in yesterday’s Lansing State Journal called for more Muslim immigration into the US.   The reasoning was simple – the more people from the Middle East who come here, the better, because they either go back enthused about the American way of life, or they stay here committed to America.

This is naïve thinking at best.   At its worst, it’s downright dangerous.

Both my doctor and this writer represent 1960’s liberal thinking.   They believe that our western way of life is superior and that anybody who moves to the West will naturally see things that way given a short period of time to adjust.   And their children, naturally, will be just as committed to the American (or British) way of life as anybody else born here, embracing our liberal values.

This reasoning fails to understand that there is a major difference between Islam and the West – one means “submission” (or “surrender”), while the other believes in freedom.   These two cannot be reconciled.   Any child brought up in the former, while living in the latter, is inevitably going to be confused.

Why can’t people see that?

If they cannot grasp what is written above, then they can at least read some history and learn lessons from the past.

Note the following from “Isabella,” describing the fall of Christian Constantinople to the Muslim Turks.  Don’t think this can’t happen again – it’s happening right now in the Middle East as Christians are being driven out by Muslims.   After the fall of Byzantium, it happened to other European nations as the Muslims moved into the heart of Europe.   Again, hundreds of thousands have moved into central Europe in the last few months.

(When I was on a tour of Turkey a few years ago, I asked our tour guide three times what happened to all the Christians when Constantinople fell to the Muslims.   Three times, I failed to get an answer.)

“On the last day, a crowd of men, women, children, nuns and monks, “sought refuge” in Hagia Sophia . . . (the sixth century cathedral built by Justinian) . . . the Turks broke down the doors of the church with axes and dragged the congregants off to slavery.   The statues of the saints were smashed; church vessels were seized.   “Scenes of unimaginable horror ensued,” historian Franz Babinger writes.”

“The Turkish soldiers killed four thousand in the siege and enslaved almost the entire population of the city.   They plundered the churches, the imperial palace, and the homes of the rich, and they did considerable damage to much of the city’s fabled architecture . . . unique and rare classical manuscripts were torn apart for the value of their bindings and thrown into the garbage.” (“Isabella”, page 172, 2014)

“By the end of 1459, all of Serbia had fallen under their control.   About 200,000 Serbs were enslaved by the Turks…..Soon, he (Mehmed, the sultan) attacked the city of Gardiki, in Thessaly, killing all 6,000 inhabitants, including women and children.   He had accepted the surrender without struggle of the Genoese colony of Amasra, on the Black Sea coast, where he enslaved two-thirds of the population.” (p. 175)

ISIS continues to treat Christians the same way.   There was, and is, no respect for other religions.

In the fifth century, the Roman Empire was invaded by barbarians (non-Romans).   This is a reason they no longer exist.   Spain itself was overrun by Muslims in the eighth century, a reason why Isabella took the stand she did centuries later.   When the Holy Land fell to the Muslims, it was necessary for the West to intervene to enable pilgrims to travel there safely.   After Constantinople fell, the West was in shock, rather as it would be if the United States fell.

The historian Niall Ferguson wrote after Paris that the West has the feel of Rome about it, that we are in danger of falling the same way; conservative columnist Mark Steyn wrote that “the barbarians are at the gate, and there is no gate!” – a reference to the fact that Angela Merkel and others are welcoming the invaders.

There clearly are genuine and justified concerns about allowing more Muslims into western countries.  Just yesterday, the BBC has reported that Germany has been shocked by how many German women were sexually assaulted and even raped over New Years, a direct result of the recent surge in immigration from the Middle East and North Africa.

TV reporters and those who write for newspapers advocating more immigrants are clearly ignorant of history.   They endanger all of our lives.

Reporting right now is focused on the growing Saudi-Iranian conflict, a continuation of the 1400-year-old struggle between Sunni and Shia Islam.   Neither can respect the other.   They just want to kill those who believe differently from themselves.  We can see it clearly when looking at the two branches of Islam – why do the same reporters find it so difficult to see the threat Islam poses to Christians and secularists in the West?

Christians for centuries have prayed “Thy Kingdom Come” (Matt 6:10) as Jesus Christ taught us to do in His model prayer.   Never has the need for that kingdom been greater.  Only He can put an end to false religion and the religious confusion that threatens the end of our civilization.