Tag Archives: Winston Churchill

GOVERNMENT FOR THE PEOPLE

Margaret Thatcher defined socialism as “equal shares of misery for all,” the best definition I’ve ever read of the economic theory and subsequent reality.

The following is a more matter-of-fact explanation that I got when I googled “socialism,” looking for the exact definition.

“a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole;……

  • (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism  and the realization of communism.”

Basically, what it’s saying is that government controls everything and it’s a stepping-stone to communism.  Keep in mind that Marxists believe that, when communism is achieved, everybody lives in paradise – although, of course, they don’t actually believe in paradise, heaven or any other nirvana.

The reality, of course, is that people actually live in hell.

The best example of communism today is North Korea, where everything is controlled by the government, even thoughts.

Another example is Cuba, where almost everything is controlled by the government.

China is not a very good example.  Not any more.  Whereas the government still controls every thought, the economy is more of a free for all.   So long as you keep your mouth shut, you can be a millionaire!

Until the latest British election, many people thought socialism was dead.   Mrs. Thatcher herself had rolled back socialism in the UK and helped the nations of Eastern Europe send the communists packing. But the latest election in the United Kingdom showed that socialism is alive and kicking – and may even be the next government.

Why the appeal?  Because when people feel the inequities of capitalism, they naturally favor the opposite, thinking everything will be put right by the firm hand of government.

Somebody once said that “conservatives believe in the exploitation of man by man; while socialists believe the exact opposite!” Think about it before moving on!

Venezuela has been in the news a great deal over the last few days. There, an incompetent socialist government has destroyed the nation’s economy.  An attempt was made by a member of the country’s military to overthrow the government.  The sight of the helicopter flying over the capital city of Caracas brought back memories of a similar situation in Ghana almost 40 years ago.

Ghana is a case study in the failings of socialism, well-meant but a disaster.

Ghana got its independence from Great Britain in 1957.  It was the first black African country to receive independence, first because it was the most promising, with the greatest number of highly educated citizens and the most money in the bank.   Within four years, it was bankrupt and a dictatorship.   Eventually, the military had to take over to save the country.

A second attempt was made at democracy, which also failed; the military then took over again.   Whereas the politicians were generally well educated, military men were not well-versed in running an economy.   Soon, there was a high rate of inflation and serious shortages.   These led to a coup on June 4th, 1979, a coup my wife and I experienced first-hand.

The helicopter flying overhead, filmed by somebody on a balcony, reminded me of how Diane watched a similar scene during Ghana’s coup.   In Ghana, the helicopter opened fire and she quickly went indoors.   At the time, I was trying to get back to the house using side roads to avoid the fighting.   At one point, I was held up at gunpoint by rebel soldiers who wanted to take my car.

The coup was successful.   A new government came to power led by Flight Lt. J.J. Rawlings, an avowed socialist who was enamored by the way things were done in Eastern Europe.   The people said the “J.J.” stood for “Junior Jesus.”

He immediately started setting things right, freezing the price of eggs at 8 cedis a dozen and controlling the price of beer, two priorities!   The problem was that farmers could not produce eggs to sell at that price as chicken feed was too expensive; with beer, there was a shortage of hops.   I thought that a national shortage of beer would lead to revolution fairly quickly, but I was wrong.   Ghana remains the only African nation I know of that did not experience civil unrest when the beer ran out!

Serious shortages became a major problem.   Supermarkets had next to nothing on their shelves.   Basic commodities could only be obtained through barter – I remember bartering shirts for gasoline and toilet paper for rice!

As the economy went into freefall, so the government was made more oppressive.   Foreigners were blamed for just about everything – in August, we were told to leave the country.

Elections had been scheduled before Rawlings took over.   Under pressure, he allowed them to go ahead and a new, still socialist, government came to power, led by a nice man who was also an alcoholic.   At least beer was now available!

Eventually, he was overthrown and J.J. was back, followed by even greater economic disaster.   It wasn’t until Rawlings started to reverse socialism and encourage free enterprise that things started to improve.

Government control of the economy = disaster.   Mrs. T got it right!

So why is socialism “in vogue” again?   The rising gap between rich and poor is one answer; another is the youth vote – most young people have no memory of when Europe was largely socialist.   As Winston Churchill once said:   “If you’re not a socialist at 20, you’ve got no heart; if you’re still a socialist at 30, you’ve got no head”.

In I Samuel 8 we read an account of how Israel wanted a human leader like all the other nations around them.   God warned the people that it would mean greater financial hardship, as government would constantly expand and the people would have to pay for it.  The warning was of 10% taxation.  Today, taxes run much higher.

10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. 11 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men,[a] and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”

Don’t just assume that this only applies to kings and kingdoms.   In the last century, new nations have come into existence, most of them with a president rather than a king.   It turns out the kings were cheaper.   Note the following from Ecclesiastes 10:16-17:

“Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
And your princes feast in the morning!
17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles,
And your princes feast at the proper time—
For strength and not for drunkenness!”

Elected politicians think they have an automatic right to take everybody else’s money and spend it how they want.   Again, Margaret Thatcher put it well when she observed:  “the trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money!”

That’s exactly what Jeremy Corbyn of Britain’s Labour (socialist) party is promising the people – more taxes to help government expand.

That’s what Venezuela got with Hugo Chavez, the socialist president who presided over the collapse of the country’s economy.   His successor, Nicolas Maduro, has not been able to improve things.

The great lesson here is: there’s a lot of evils in capitalism, but don’t think government will make things better!

Just ask the Venezuelans….!

 

 

 

AUTISM ENTERS POLITICS . . . and other news

Pauline Hanson delivering her comments on autism in schools. (http://www.2gb.com/podcast/pauline-hanson-comments-on-autism/)

Pauline Hanson is an Australian Member of Parliament.  She has her own political party, “Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party,” and often speaks out on immigration and related issues.

This week she spoke out on autism.   Specifically, she is calling for autistic children to be separated from other children, so that the others are not held back in their education.

Our eldest grandson, Aubren, who is five, is autistic.   I drive him to school most days and collect him from school seven hours later.    Because of this, I interact with his teachers a great deal.

All are aware of his autism.  Their approach is very different to Ms. Hanson’s.

About half of the pupils in his pre-kindergarten class do not have special needs.  Those who do have special needs participate in everything.  In addition, they have private sessions with speech therapists and others to help them keep up with the other children.  From what I have seen, this works very well.

There could be a case for separating autistic children if it is found that they will benefit.   What Ms. Hanson is suggesting is that autistic children be educated separately as their presence in the classroom is having a negative effect on non-autistic children.   Again, I’ve not seen any evidence for this.  And with so many children with autism, normal children need exposure to this to understand it, handle it, and see these children as potential friends, not objects of scorn and derision.

Nobody knows for sure what causes autism.  There are plenty of theories.  Some of these are put forward quite volubly by their adherents, but it remains the case that nobody knows for sure what causes the problem.  What is known is that the number of autistic children is increasing.  It is now one in 68.

The correct name for autism is Autism Spectral Disorder.  There is a wide spectrum when it comes to autism.  Many autistic children function well in different areas; but there are others, at the other end of the spectrum, who find it difficult to carry on a conversation, or indeed, speak at all.    Communication is a major challenge for autistic children.   So are emotions and affection.   In addition, many autistic people need “sameness” – they do not adjust well to a different environment or any change to their routine.  We are anxious about Aubren’s first day at kindergarten in August – new school, new teacher, new environment; he may bolt, trying to escape from it as it could be overwhelming for him.  His teacher, Miss Sue, from the last school year has volunteered to regularly take him to his new school and new playground to familiarize him with his future environment.  The right teachers make all the difference!

Aubren is a delightful boy.   Everybody loves him.   He plays well with other children.  He’s affectionate and loving.  I for one am very much against the idea that autistic children should be separated from other children of the same age.   After all, when they finish school at 18, they are going to have to mix with others in the working world.   Why not start now?

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BRITISH COMPROMISE

The news from England can be quite discouraging, with terrorism and Brexit dominating everything.  Britain’s position on just about everything reminds me of a verse in the Old Testament about Ephraim.   In Hosea 7:8 we read:   “Ephraim compromises with the nations; he’s a half-baked cake.” (International Standard Version.)   A half-baked cake is of no use to anybody.

Julius Caesar put it somewhat differently, when he described Britain as “perfidious Albion.”   England is no longer ruled by those ancient Britons, having been taken over by Angles and Saxons shortly after the Romans left the country.   Perhaps it’s the weather, which is very unpredictable.

Whatever the reason, Mrs. May is perfecting “compromise.”   It’s been the British way all my lifetime.

Consider the following:

After a “terror” attack outside of a leading London mosque, she had the opportunity to boldly speak some badly needed truths.  The attack was by a “lone wolf,” a man from Cardiff in Wales who was obviously upset about recent terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists. He drove his car into a crowd outside of the mosque.   Nothing can excuse this, but it provided Mrs. May with an opportunity to say that people are understandably scared after the recent terror attacks. Instead, she condemned “Islamophobia” and said the government was going to stamp it out. Islamophobia is a natural and reasonable response to Islamic terror – the only way to defeat Islamophobia is by Muslims themselves doing something about terrorism.

Also, was the driver of the car really a terrorist?   He had no links to any terror organization, domestic or foreign.  Describing him as a “terrorist” puts his act on a par with the real terror attacks that have taken place, when they are very different.   His was motivated by a fear of Muslims.

Thirdly, Mrs. May is promising more security for mosques.   There is no such protection for churches.  What the prime minister is doing is inadvertently giving Islam a special status.

Today, there was yet more compromise, this time with the European Union, as Britain negotiates itself out of the 27-member organization.

Mrs. May announced this morning that 3 million people from other EU countries can remain in Britain after Brexit.   Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, responded with: “It’s not sufficient.”  Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, was equally dismissive.   Neither man was elected by the people.  They are professional bureaucrats — with all the arrogance that comes with it.

The UK is going to find that compromise doesn’t work with the EU – or with Islam!   Britain will keep on compromising with both, until another Winston Churchill arises – if there is one.

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ROYAL DEPRESSION

It’s surely a depressing time for the Queen.   The multicultural dream she has spent decades developing seems to be crumbling.   It’s not just Islamic terrorism.   Even the fire at the 24-storey apartment block in London brought it out. Most of the residents were from other cultures with no understanding of the way Britain works. After an incident like this, there’s usually a government inquiry and then changes are made based on recommendations received.

On this occasion, residents were quick to protest and even riot, storming the local county offices who are responsible for building safety.   Mrs. May had to quickly promise new accommodation in a luxury apartment block.   The taxpayer will have to foot the bill.

It turned out the fire was started by a faulty fridge.   It spread quickly because of the insulation used.

In view of all these problems, it’s not surprising that nobody in the royal family wants to be king, according to Prince Harry in an interview this week.

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MEDIA BEWILDERED BY VOTE

I don’t know if the Queen has ever been to Georgia, a colony (now a state) named after her ancestor, George II, who reigned from 1727-1760.

Georgia was the center of attention this week due to a by-election in the 6th Congressional district.

As the election got nearer, TV news people were ecstatic at the prospect of a Democratic victory.   It had to happen as Donald Trump is so unpopular!  The election was even described as “a referendum on Trump.”

The party that represents the wealthy elite, the Democrats, spent more than eight times as much money contesting this seat, as the Republicans, now the party of the working man.   In spite of this massive outlay of cash, the Democrats lost.   If this truly was a referendum on Trump, he must be doing ok.

The BBC was totally discombobulated.   Commentators kept repeating that the president has less than a 40% approval rating, so how could this possibly be the result?   It won’t happen again when the mid-term elections take place in November next year, they assured viewers.

Haven’t they learned yet that polls are not reliable?

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ISRAEL’S TICKING TIME BOMB

“The southern neighborhoods of Tel Aviv have been overrun in recent years.   The number of African asylum-seekers and economic migrants now living there is approaching 100,000.

Some have been repatriated.   But most remain in the country illegally.

Israel finds itself in a conundrum – how can it turn away or deport those in need considering the Jews’ own history?   At the same time, how can the tiny nation of Israel absorb such numbers without taking a serious hit to its economy?

And time’s running out to find a solution.

According to Oved Hugi, a social activist from southern Tel Aviv, the “infiltrators’ birthrate stands at 10,000 per year.   That means 50,000 children in five years, and that should cause the Prime Minister to lose sleep.   South Tel Aviv is a ticking time bomb.”   (Israel Today)

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SAUDIS BETRAY REAL FEELINGS

On June 8, 2017, the Saudi national football team met the Australian national team for a match in Adelaide as part of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The match began with a minute of silence for the victims of the London Bridge terror attack on June 3, among whom were two Australians.   However, while the members of the Australian team observed the minute of silence, the Saudi players appeared to ignore it and continued moving around the pitch. (MEMRI 6-21)

Why are people surprised, when Wahhabism is the official religion of Saudi Arabia? Wahhabis support violence against infidels (non-believers) and believe violence is justified to spread Islam.

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Canadian sniper makes record kill shot                                                                    A sniper with Canada’s elite special forces has shot and killed an Isis fighter in Iraq from a distance of 2.1 miles, shattering the world record for the longest confirmed kill shot previously held by a British sniper.  The shot took 10 seconds to reach its target and the sniper would have had to consider distance, wind and the curvature of the earth when taking aim.  (Globe and Mail) 

Refugees in Germany to be jobless for years                                                       Up to three-quarters of Germany’s refugees will still be unemployed in five years’ time, according to Aydan Özoğuz, the country’s commissioner for immigration, refugees and integration. The stark admission of the challenges Germany faces in integrating its huge migrant population comes as Angela Merkel seeks a fourth term as chancellor in elections in September. (FT)

THE ECLIPSE OF THE CHURCH

I lost a good friend this week.

We worked together a long time ago.   For many years we’ve been hundreds of miles apart, but we were always able to see each other, with our wives, at our annual church conference.

That is, until the latest split took place.   He and his wife went one way and we went the other.   So, for the last few years of his life, we did not get together.

Church splits can be devastating on relationships.   Even marriages have fallen apart when partners don’t see eye to eye on church affiliation.   More than one church I know of teaches that its followers should have nothing to do with people in other church organizations, even when they are family.

It’s ironic when you consider that Jesus Christ said:  “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another” (John 13:35).

Unfortunately, churches are not immune from selfish ambition, differences over administration or doctrinal disagreement, three of the primary causes of splits.

True Christians will always strive to fulfill the words of Jesus Christ; even as others in their midst will deliberately cause division, believing that God is on their side.

One of the root causes of division is that people have a tendency to follow men.   The Apostle Paul wrote about this in I Corinthians where some were following Apollos, some Peter and some Paul.   As Paul said elsewhere, we should only follow one man and that man is Jesus Christ.   That means we should all live in accordance with His words.   What a novel idea!!!

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ECLIPSE OF THE CHURCH

Church splits are one reason why churches are in decline.   This is true of all churches, including mainstream Catholic and Protestant churches.   The vacuum is often filled by other religions. Note the following headline from the Gatestone Institute:

Londonistan:   423 New Mosques; 500 Closed Churches          by Giulio Meotti  •  April 2, 2017

Londonistan is a term often used to describe contemporary London, Britain’s capital.   It is, like many cities in the UK, becoming increasingly Islamic.   But that’s not the only problem churches face, on both sides of the Atlantic.

“For most of the country’s history, white Christian America —the cultural and political edifice built primarily by white Protestant Christians—set the tone for our national conversations and shaped American ideals.   But today, many white Christian Americans feel profoundly anxious as their numbers and influence are waning.    The two primary branches of their family tree, white mainline and white evangelical Protestants, offer competing narratives about their decline.   White mainline Protestants blame evangelical Protestants for turning off the younger generation with their anti-gay rhetoric and tendency to conflate Christianity with conservative, nationalist politics.   White evangelical Protestants, on the other hand, blame mainline Protestants for undermining Christianity because of their willingness to sell out traditional beliefs to accommodate contemporary culture.”   (“The Eclipse of White Christian America,” Robert P. Jones, The Atlantic)

Many people still believe in God – they just don’t want to join a church.   Consequently, churches are becoming irrelevant, arguably the worst thing that can happen to a church.

One reason for irrelevancy is that churches have failed to understand the dramatic changes that have taken place in the western world in the last few decades.

The writer and former atheist Peter Hitchens, now a deeply religious man, wrote an interesting book in the late 1990’s, showing how much Britain had changed in one generation.   The book “The Abolition of Britain” compared the United Kingdom at the time of Churchill’s funeral (in 1965) with the country at the time of Princess Diana’s funeral, in 1997.

Whereas the people who witnessed Churchill’s funeral were little changed from those who stood in the crowds at Victoria’s funeral in 1901, by the time of Diana’s funeral the mourners were a nation of emotional basket-cases, rather like Diana herself.   In the interim, churches had been replaced by psychiatrists, prescription drugs, mental health workers, television, movies and celebrities.

At the same time, we have witnessed the collapse of the traditional family.   Many people today don’t even know what a family is – they call friends family and won’t even speak to people to whom they are related.

All of this shows a crying need for churches, for the restoration of basic Christianity and biblical teachings on marriage and the family.   (Forget the doctrinal differences that separate Christians from one another.)   Yet churches are not comfortable with the “un-churched.” That was not a problem with Jesus Christ.   Note the following from Matthew 9:10-13:

“Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.   And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’  For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

This passage of scripture could be speaking to us today.   Many of Christ’s followers were appalled that He was mixing with “publicans and sinners.”   But those publicans and sinners needed Christ and His healing.

Just like people today.   Only today, the problems are different.   It’s unlikely that anybody joining a church today will not have an addiction, whether it be an eating or mental disorder, a sexual or drinking problem.   Each of these requires professional help from outside of the church; but there’s also a need for spiritual healing, to remove the cause of the problem.   This can only come from the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.

The need for Christ has never been greater.   It’s churches that are at fault – many Christians will judge and condemn, when what’s needed most is love and compassion, two qualities sadly lacking today.

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CHURCH AND STATE

It’s not just churches that are divided.

Our countries are also seriously divided, perhaps more so than ever before.   This is especially true of the United States and the United Kingdom.

The British historian Paul Johnson, now 88, observed in his 1972 book, “The Offshore Islanders,” that “disunity has always been fatal for the island nation.”

The book was about Britain’s relationship with the European continent – ironically, that’s the issue dividing the country today.   Although the majority of voters want to leave the EU, there’s a solid hardcore that will stop at nothing to remain in the organization.

A different division exists in America.   There are those who are very loyal to Donald Trump, but others who will seemingly stop at nothing to get him removed from office.

The “antis” on both sides of the Atlantic do not care how much damage they cause – their hatred and anger knows no bounds.   Our countries are in danger of falling apart.   Once again, selfish ambition and greed are at the core.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRUMP AND MAY’S BIGGEST MISTAKE

President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May have just made their biggest mistake.

The American president received Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House last week.   At a press conference, he clearly made the German chancellor uncomfortable when he publicly called for Germany to bring its military budget up to the full 2% of GNP agreed on by NATO.   This would raise military spending from 37 billion euros a year to 60 billion.   It would also restore German military might.

Across the ocean, Mrs. May is seeking closer military ties to Germany at the same time as pursuing Brexit.   The idea is to keep Germany close.   It would also contribute to restoring German military might.

British war time leader Sir Winston Churchill promised at the end of World War II that Germany would never rise again; 45 years later British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opposed German reunification following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Attitudes change.   It’s now over seventy years since the fall of the Third Reich.   Today’s leaders see Germany as a model democracy and think it will always be that way.

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LONDON TERROR

Mrs. May has other things on her mind right now.   A terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge on Wednesday afternoon left 5 dead, including the terrorist and an unarmed policeman; also 29 hospitalised, seven of them critically.   The terrorist was known to the police as a “radical Islamist.”   No surprise, there.

As the terrorist was “British born,” the implication is that somehow it’s Britain’s fault and that more can be done (costing more, of course) to avoid such incidents in the future.

What will not be considered is this – Islam means “submit;” it’s the exact opposite of “freedom” which is what Britain is all about.   Muslim children raised in Britain will inevitably struggle with internal conflict, unable to reconcile the two opposing ideals.

A few weeks ago the BBC interviewed Somalis on the streets of Minneapolis, asking them how they felt about life in America and related issues.   Clearly better off than they were in Somalia, nevertheless every single one of them said they would rather live in a Muslim country and that America would be a better country if it embraced sharia law!

I first heard the news of the terror attack when I was having lunch with a friend.   A man sitting alone at the next table was checking his mail on his phone and suddenly exclaimed “there’s been a terrorist attack in London.”   He had no idea I was from the UK.   When I told him, his first question was “why don’t they arm the police?   How can a policeman defend himself when attacked like this?”

I explained that one third of all the police are now armed and you see a lot of them in London, protecting the main tourist sights.   But Wednesday’s murder shows that every policeman needs to be able to defend himself, even if it’s only with a stun gun.

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BREXIT MOVING AHEAD

Mrs. May has also announced that she will invoke Article 50 of the Treaty of Rome on March 29th.   This will formally begin Britain’s exit from the European Union.   Failure to reach agreement on terms within a two-year period will automatically mean a “hard Brexit,” with Britain simply leaving the EU and signing trade deals around the world with other countries.   There would be no trade deal with the 27 remaining EU countries.

Such a failure would likely impact any military agreement between Germany and the UK.   It would be hard for the two countries to maintain a good friendship when they cannot even reach an agreement on future trade.

The formal triggering of Article 50 will put a dampener on celebrations in Rome, for the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome.   All 27 leaders of the EU will be there – Mrs. May will not be attending.   Interestingly, all 27 leaders will also be meeting with the pope.

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SCOTTISH REFERENDUM #2

The Scottish leader, Nicola Sturgeon, continues to mimic a “Rottweiler.”   With her teeth firmly latched onto Mrs. May’s pants, she will not let go of her demand for a second referendum on Scotland’s independence.   (If the vote goes against her, she will ask for a third and a fourth, until she gets what she wants!)

Scotland depends heavily on subsidies from England.   Ms. Sturgeon should concentrate first on improving the nation’s finances, showing that Scotland can go it alone.   Then she could go back to the Scottish electorate and claim an independent Scotland would do better on its own.

But that’s not what’s happening.   Rather, Scotland is hoping Germany will come to its rescue.   Edinburgh has even opened a trade mission in Berlin (whisky for cars?).

Don’t get me wrong.   I’m not trying to make light of a serious situation.   The United Kingdom is better with Scotland.   It would be a real shame if England’s northern neighbor pulled out after more than 300 years of unity within one nation.

It would also present a potentially serous security issue if Germany replaced England as Scotland’s benefactor.   Scotland’s independence would be compromised — the Irish parliament already finds it cannot agree on a budget without Berlin’s agreement.

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1400 YEARS OF SECTARIAN CONFLICT

There’s a big battle going on in Mosul between ISIS and government forces.   Optimism has been expressed on the imminent defeat of the terror organization.

Overlooked is the fact that Shia militias are operating in Iraq, without restraint.   The government is majority Shia.   Many Sunnis identify with ISIS.   If the terrorists are defeated, another organization (perhaps worse than ISIS) will arise to protect the Sunnis from the Shia.

Western countries, led by the US, have been sucked into the ancient Sunni-Shia conflict in the Middle East.   Whereas the West sees things ideologically, Middle Easterners see the situation from a sectarian viewpoint.   To us, ISIS is bad because it’s a violent terrorist organization; to Sunni Muslims living in a majority Shia country, ISIS is their protector.   To the Sunnis, this is also America’s fault – until the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the country was dominated by Sunnis. They lost out when America came in!

There’s two lessons here for the West – 1) Get out of the Middle East and stay out!   2) Stop importing the region’s sectarian conflicts through immigration policies that do not take into account national security.

In other words, let’s get back to the pre-1914 Middle East, before the war that brought down the Ottoman Empire and led to the fragmentation we now see in the region.   The war led to increased British dominance of the region, and now American domination.   It’s a mess.   It’s time to get out.

On another note – why is the US getting involved in Yemen, another territory witnessing increased fighting between Sunni and Shia?  A US Navy Seal was killed there last month in a raid by American forces.

The Sunni-Shia conflict has gone on since the 7th century, almost seven times as long as the United States has existed as a nation.   Do we really think that our involvement is going to end the conflict between the two major branches of Islam?   Do we really think that moving Shia and Sunni from the Middle East to the US (and Europe) will suddenly make them love each other?   After the London attack on Wednesday, one security expert interviewed mentioned that the UK knows of 850 British passport holders, fighting with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. If they are British raised, why are they still identifying with Sunni Islam and anxious to fight Shia Muslims?   It’s a question that needs to be addressed.

It’s just been announced that the perpetrator of the London attack was Kent-born and raised Khalid Masood, aged 52.   He was the son of immigrants and  a convert to Islam.

It should also be noted that the perpetrator was unusually old for a terrorist.

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If you can find it on pbs.org, this week’s Frontline examined the rise of the Shia militias in Iraq and the (Shia) government’s failure to address the problem.

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ANOTHER BLESSING OF BRITISH RULE

“Among some contemporary Israelis the British Mandate has come to be viewed nostalgically.  Although Palestine did not have the elephants, maharajahs and tigers of the Indian Raj, the same culture of Highland reels, polo and pink gins in the King David Hotel flourished.  So did an incorruptible civil service, possibly a novelty in the region.”  (‘Blood and Rage”, by Michael Burleigh, 2009, page 89)

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THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

A few days ago a friend gave me a copy of the Seventh Day Adventist magazine, “Amazing Facts.”   The cover story was titled:  “The Power of Forgiveness.”   Forgiveness is sadly lacking, even amongst Christians.   Church organizations often find it hard to forgive, so how can they teach their members to forgive others?

Yet our eternal life depends on it.

When the Apostle Peter asked Jesus Christ how often should he forgive his brother, Peter suggested that seven times would be enough; the Messiah’s response was “seventy times seven”, meaning an unlimited number of times (Matthew 18:21-22).

Jesus expounded on one of the points in His model prayer, adding:

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”   (Matthew 6:14-15)

If Christians always practiced forgiveness, we would no doubt have more Christians.

Perhaps, given time, even the Muslims would follow and learn to forgive a 1400-year-old schism.

 

 

 

 

 

AMERICA’S GROWING DIVISIONS

trump-and-obama

On the same day as the Inaugural in Washington, The Gambia was in the midst of a major constitutional crisis.   Gambia is a slither of a country in west Africa.   Until the weekend, it was ruled by the same dictator for over twenty years.

A recent election gave victory to Mr. Adama Barrow, but President Yahya Jammeh refused to step down.

Neighboring countries in the region invaded to remove the former president and replace him with the new one.   Mr. Jammeh has now gone.

It’s different in America.   No coups or counter-coups were needed to remove President Obama.   Canadian and Mexican troops were not needed, either.

America has had smooth transfers of government for a very long time.   That is to America’s credit.

But some commentators, including some religious ones, are doing a disservice to the United States when they describe America as “unique” in this regard.   They also overlook an area of grave concern, deeply rooted in American history.

America’s peaceful changes of government are not unique.   England has had peaceful transfers of power since 1689, to name just one country.   Ed Morrow, CBS’s American wartime correspondent during World War II, marveled that, when faced with foreign invasion and possible extinction, the United Kingdom maintained a democratic system of government and people were free to criticize Winston Churchill.   He did not think America would fare so well when faced with similar threats.

It can truthfully be said that America is unique in one respect – it is the only presidential system in the world that always has peaceful transfers of power.   Others, like Gambia, have a bad history in this regard. It has taken over 50 years of independence for The Gambia to get a new elected Head of State – and the change was not peaceful.   Zimbabwe has had the same president for 38 years following its independence – there is no sign of change in the country, though people talk increasingly of “nature taking its course” – the president is well over 90 years of age.

So, credit to America.

But not so fast.

In 1860, the election was peaceful, but a few weeks later, fourteen southern states seceded from the Union.   Four years of civil war followed. 2% of the people were killed.

Go back even further, to 1775, and we see another civil war that claimed 6% of the people’s lives.   (The population was less then so the total number was less, but the impact was, arguably, greater.)   This war is known as the Revolutionary War or the American War of Independence.   It lasted seven years.

Both wars saw incredible divisions in America.   Both saw “brother against brother.”   Both were truly civil wars of the worst kind.   Is another civil war possible?   It is not out of the question.

Again, we are seeing great division in American society.   Roughly half the voters supported Donald Trump, while the other half supported Hillary Clinton.   The latter seem no more inclined to accept the result than voters in 1860.   That is not to say there will be another civil war, but there could be a great deal of civil unrest; and, eventually, another civil conflict, this time between conservatives and liberals, with race as a contributory factor.

Hundreds of thousands, some would say millions, of angry women were out on the streets of a number of cities, demonstrating over threats to women’s rights; an issue that did not even exist in 1860.   The term “women’s rights” is a euphemism for abortion, the murder of babies.   There was no support for abortion in 1860 – that’s a new phenomenon that is directly due to the nation’s gradual rejection of Christianity.   Over 60 million abortions have been performed since legalization in 1973 – those children, who would now be adults, have been replaced by over 60 million immigrants, some from countries that are hostile to the United States.   It really doesn’t make any sense.

Many of those immigrants are now with the demonstrators against the new Administration.   This adds an ethnic dimension that did not exist in the two previous civil wars.   Some of the most outspoken critics of the new administration in Washington are Muslims.   Liberals come quickly to their defense. I even heard one prominent liberal on CNN yesterday extolling the virtue of an Islamic female leader who “is pro-gray, pro-LGBT.”   Do they really believe that?  The gay lifestyle is totally at variance with Islam.   Gays have no civil rights in any Muslim country.

These divisions in America, primarily over abortion (sorry, women’s rights) and race, will continue to worsen during the Trump presidency.   They have already resulted in some violence.   In time, they could explode into greater conflict.

Americans can pride themselves on being part of a presidential republic that has seen many peaceful changes of government, but America is not unique where peaceful change is concerned.   The challenge now is to make sure peaceful transfers of power continue. This is not likely to happen in a period of increasing diversity. Tribalism was a big factor in Gambia’s electoral disaster – tribalism is now a growing threat in America.

Diversity is just another word for “tribalism.”

We should not become complacent.   Jesus Christ warned that:  “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  (Matthew 12:25).

 

 

 

 

 

 

BINGE WATCHING RECOMMENDATIONS

war-and-peace

Diane and I spent Saturday night and too much of Sunday afternoon watching “War and Peace”, the BBC adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 novel that has been described as the greatest novel ever written.

It’s set during the period of the Napoleonic Wars, concentrating on the years between 1805 and 1812 when France turned its attentions to Russia, arguably Napoleon’s biggest mistake.

It isn’t just about the military and endless battles.   There’s the usual romantic entanglements that make a good novel, which keep you enthralled until the end.

The television series lasts eight hours.  According to a website I checked, it takes 32 hours and 40 minutes for the average person to read the book.   So you can save yourselves almost 25 hours by watching the series, even if you do feel guilty about “wasting” a Sunday afternoon binge watching.

Warning:  once you start, you won’t want to stop!!!

(It’s even led to me starting to read the 3 volume set that has been on my bookshelf for fifty years.)

NETFLIX:  THE CROWN

the-crown

We also binge-watched “The Crown” over Thanksgiving when our eldest daughter, her husband and children were with us.  This is the most expensive online production ever, showing on Netflix.  They reportedly spent over 100 million pounds on it (approx. $125 million).  As it’s the first of four seasons, they will be spending a good $500 million before it’s over.   One newspaper said that Netflix is hoping to bury cable with this and other upcoming productions.

“The Crown” tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II, from her marriage to Prince Philip in 1947, up till the present time.  As flashbacks go back to the Abdication in 1936, it effectively covers her life from the moment she learned she would become Queen when her uncle abdicated, until the present day.   The first series ends in 1955, when Sir Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister.    Coincidentally, with the recent deaths of the King of Thailand and Fidel Castro, she is now the only political figure who was around in the 1950’s.

Although many of the conversations that take place in the series are pure conjecture, the production is remarkably accurate in its portrayal of the 1940’s and 50’s and its attention to detail.   The deep spiritual and historical meaning of the coronation is brilliantly conveyed to audiences that are unfamiliar with the biblical significance of the ceremony, which has its origins in the coronation of Israel’s King Solomon and his anointing by Zadok, the priest.

Politically, the series will help people to understand constitutional monarchy.   43 countries around the world are monarchies, not all of them constitutional.   Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State of 16 of those countries.  Each country chose to remain a constitutional monarchy at the time of independence.

All four of us recommend the series and look forward to the following three seasons.

Footnotes:  In one scene Prince Philip says something negative about visiting Australia; in a later episode, he is asked to go there alone for the opening of the Olympic Games in 1956 and, again, expresses a complaint.  I question the series’ interpretation of events here.   Mark Steyn, a Canadian of decidedly conservative views who now lives in New Hampshire, wrote an article some years ago about a dinner he had with others at Buckingham Palace, where he was hosted by the Queen and Prince Philip.  In the article he recounted a private conversation with the Prince in which they both compared and discussed the Canadian and Australian constitutions.   It didn’t seem as if the Prince was not interested in the two countries.  The trips were undoubtedly a challenge as they went by sea and were away from their children for months at a time.    This fact is alluded to in the later episode.

Personal footnote:  Our son was helping his eldest daughter, Paris, prepping her for a test on Canada the following day in her fifth grade exam.   One question was “What kind of government does Canada have?”  Kurt told her Canada is a constitutional monarchy.  It turned out to be the wrong answer.  What the teacher wanted was:  “Canada has its own government.”   Even teachers don’t seem to understand “constitutional monarchy,” which has a very good track record of preserving democracy.

ANTENNA

the-hollow-crown

A third series we’ve started binge-watching (well, every Sunday evening for a couple of hours) is “The Hollow Crown,” adaptations of Shakespeare’s historical plays.  The series is showing in the Sunday night “Masterpiece Theater” slot on PBS.  It stars some of the world’s greatest actors. Somehow, we missed the first series, which we’ve now requested through our public library system.   But we’ve started the second series, which begins in 1422 with the death of Henry V and the ascension to power of his son, Henry VI.   Actually, it was not that simple – the new king was only nine months old, the youngest monarch in English history.  In view of his age, there had to be a regency – and that was the start of his problems.   Out of this came the War of the Roses, a civil war that lasted over thirty years.

SERIOUSLY

“Britain’s oldest manufacturing firm put its business up for sale.  Based in East London, Whitechapel Bell Foundry was established in 1570 and cast the original Liberty Bell in Philadelphia as well as Big Ben and bells for St Paul’s Cathedral.  Fewer churches mean fewer orders for large bells.  But the success of “Downton Abbey” has wrought a new market:  for handbells to ring for tea.”  (The Economist, December 10th.)

 

ISTANBUL TERROR ATTACK SHOWS WEAKNESS!

 

Secretary of State John Kerry
Secretary of State John Kerry

Now I understand!

After the latest terror attack on Istanbul airport and a death toll that’s already 41, with over 200 injured, US Secretary of State John Kerry, says that the increase in the number of terrorist attacks represents “weakness” on the part of ISIS – sorry, ISIL (we shouldn’t mention Syria, the Administration’s biggest single foreign policy failure!).

Just last week, the Administration tried to remove all references to Islam, the Quran and the IS leader, in an attempt to water down the Orlando attack.

A short video I saw yesterday showed a journalist interviewing youngish (18-34) people on the streets of Brooklyn, asking them who was behind the Orlando shootings.  Not one thought the attack had anything to do with Islam; blame was placed on the Republicans! It seems to me that the US is singularly incapable of dealing with the greatest security threat to the West since World War II.

The month of Ramadan still has some time to go, so expect more terror attacks.   It’s just their way of celebrating holy days!

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BERLIN – NOW EUROPE’S IMPERIAL CAPITAL

“One thing is certain:   Britain’s departure from the European Union will not make the union more democratic.   The hierarchical structure of its supranational institutions will want to reinforce itself:  Like all dying ideologies, the union knows only how to forge blindly ahead.   The roles are already cast — Germany will lead the way, and France will obligingly tag along.

Here is a sign:   President François Hollande of France, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy and acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain take their lead directly from Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, without running through Brussels.   A quip attributed to Henry Kissinger, “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?” now has a clear answer:   Call Berlin.”

(Marine LePen,   “After Brexit, the People’s Spring is inevitable.  NY Times, 28th June.”)

Nietzsche, German philosopher: “The German is an expert on secret paths to chaos.” 

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NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, never misses an opportunity to push for Scotland to break away from the United Kingdom.

She’s on the continent today talking to EU officials about keeping her country in the EU.   62% of Scots voted to “Remain” in the EU.   If something can be worked out with the EU, Scotland could remain in the organization, while England would be outside of it.   This could only happen with a break-up of the United Kingdom.

Ms. Sturgeon’s scheming with EU leaders would have been treason not so long ago!

Prior to the two kingdoms uniting under one king, back in 1603, Scotland posed a major security threat to England.   Remember Mary, Queen of Scots?

The worst-case scenario following Brexit is that Scotland and Northern Ireland will leave the United Kingdom and remain in the European Union, with Berlin as its new de facto capital.

Can you imagine what this would have meant for Winston Churchill in World War II?

Long-term this development could be a major security concern for England.

Perhaps a future John Kerry type British Foreign Secretary could put a positive spin on this.   No doubt a Scottish death-blow to the United Kingdom is really a good thing!

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TRUMP AND BREXIT

Donald Trump has been very supportive of Britain’s Brexit vote, promising a speedy trade deal with the UK (or what’s left of the UK) if he becomes president.   He is hoping Americans will vote the same way in November – to reject globalization and internationalism and “make America great again.”

This could be very interesting – the two English-speaking powers lined up against the EU globalist socialists.

The European Union has even gone so far as to stop the use of English in meetings.   This will, in effect, make their meetings more secretive as foreign languages have never been a strong point of the Anglo-Saxons!

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LONDON BANS SWIMSUIT ADS

Another threat posed to England comes from the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim to hold the post.   Twenty years ago it wouldn’t have mattered as the role was ceremonial.   Then, the law was changed to make London and other major metropolitan centers, more like New York and other US cities, granting the Mayor an executive role.

Mr. Sadiq’s first decision was to ban ads showing women in swimsuits on British Transport, including the London Underground.

No vote was taken on this.  It’s a clear case of Mr. Sadiq forcing his Islamic beliefs on non-Muslims.

He would also like to take London out of the United Kingdom so that it can continue its association with the European Union.

What a mess!   No wonder David Cameron has quit.

Syndicated anti-Trump columnist Kathleen Parker observed:   “His resignation essentially marked the death of the establishment and a rebirth of people who have risen in protest of a world they refuse to accept” (“Brexit – meet Trexit – Trump’s political rise”  (LSJ, 6/28).

The two recent prime ministers who have contributed most to this mess are Mr. Cameron and Tony Blair.   It was Mr. Blair who let Scotland have its own parliament, laying the groundwork for the latest attempt to break away.   Then David Cameron called the referendum.

We should not, however, forget Edward Heath, who was PM from 1970-74.  He’s the one who took the kingdom into Europe, one of the biggest mistakes the country ever made.  IMO.

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NOT EVEN A GOOD METHODIST

Pressured by Donald Trump, Mrs. Clinton declared a few days ago that she is a Methodist.

The United Methodist Church in America came out last month against abortion, a decision that is not binding on members.   The majority of delegates, however, felt strongly enough on the issue to make a statement.   Since 1973 the church had been supportive of Roe vs Wade.

Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, is pro-abortion.   Even more so than the average person as she believes abortion should be available in the third trimester.

This is murder – the murder of innocent children.

It’s hard for me to understand how anybody calling themselves “Christian” can support abortion.   The Bible tells us that children are a blessing.   They are not an inconvenience, which is what abortion is all about.

Psalm 127:3 says:   “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”